(In My Kitchen is a monthly post linked to the figjamandlimecordial.com blog. It’s creator, Celia, hosts IMK blogs from around the world and it is such a fun peak into other kitchens.)
January in Alice Springs is pretty laid back. It is usually very hot, and all of us are ready for some summer ease after the build-up to Christmas. Most of my motivation to cook arises from loving to eat well, so when the weather is very hot, my appetite goes a bit dormant and therefore the cooking efforts head that same direction. I do especially take pleasure in simple summer produce that doesn’t require much preparation. I mean even with air conditioning, who wants to bake or eat heavy food when it is 40C (that’s 104F in old money)?
I love the light in my kitchen, especially in the summer. The sun shines in from very early, changing rapidly and as it highlights and casts shadows I just can’t help enjoying and photographing, but who cares? It’s a wonderful way to start the day.
One of my favourite summer mixes of fruit is fresh blueberries, peaches and banana with a dollop of Greek yogurt. It is a subtle combination of flavours, and at the peak of the season they are delicious. I like Lady Finger bananas better than the Cavendish style (that’s my telltale sweet tooth!).
In my kitchen sit two lovely bottles, the contents of which are quickly disappearing. I found these when we were in Coonawarra last year. Wine tasting was the goal, but at 10 in the morning, oil and vinegar were much more appealing to me. Wha?–the Vinegar is still made from grapes! The blood orange infused oil has a deep orange flavour but without being overpowering. The merlot vinegar is a lighter, fruitier version of Balsamic style vinegar, similar to Vincoto but different, and just the perfect touch of sweet and sour for summer eating.
For Christmas I gave some of the oil and vinegar (purchased from Patrick’s of Coonawarra)** plus some homemade Dukkha to friends… this year’s ‘consumable gifts’. To those unfamiliar with Dukkha, it is an Egyptian spice mix that is often served with a small dish of oil and sometimes a small dish of balsamic type vinegar, into which you dip small pieces of bread, as an appetiser. The oil allows the Dukkha to stick to the bread. The Sophie Grigson recipe for Dukkha is on my Pages under Food. I’ve used it for years. It has the balance of Middle Eastern flavours that we enjoy but you could easily adjust it to suit your own palate. When we were in the markets in Sydney, I noticed someone was adding desiccated lime zest to their Dukkha and I thought it an interesting idea. Our limes are just coming good, so I scraped the zest from a couple and dried it to mix with my Dukkha. Nice. If you try this let me know what you think. Lately I have eaten grilled fish, dusted with Dukkha and also used it to give my cole slaw a different flavour.
Those of you in the depths of winter may not be eating many salads just now, but for some of you wanting a taste of summer, or not wanting to cook in the heat, here is my Green Salad and Dressing. Delicious. Leftover roast chicken, walnut pieces, avocado, cucumber and mixed greens. I use baby spinach leaves and cos (Romaine) lettuce. It is the ‘green’ dressing that gives it real life. Fresh basil leaves (a must), Greek Yogurt, a small chunk of avocado, salt and pepper. Whiz in a small dish with your stick blender. The dressing brings all the flavours in the salad together.
And finally, here is a Christmas gift from a friend that I probably would have never bought for myself, but which has turned out to be a very good thing! I seldom use an entire avocado and so how do you store the half that is left over? I used to put it in a zip lock bag, or stretch cling wrap over it, and that worked ok if I used it within a day or two. This avo keeper is good because it keeps the avo from getting so knocked about in the fridge, and it also seems to keep the avo for a day or two longer, and the keeper is, of course, reusable, so no plastic wrap going into the bin. There are other versions, if you’d like to Google… and who doesn’t?
Have a delicious day!
**Since the Pendleton oil and vinegar are not made by Patrick’s I had to ring them to order, they were not listed in the online shop… It appears Pendleton don’t sell directly but only through their retail distributors, so phone orders through Patrick’s seems the way to go.