It’s been the winter of soup for us. Most weekends have found me in the kitchen at some point, throwing vegetables into a large pot of boiling stock. No recipe most of the time, just faith in my knowledge of flavours and methods, and inspiration drawn from whatever odds and ends lurked in the fridge. One with chicken, fennel and barley was particularly good and I almost wrote up the recipe to share here. But all of a sudden it’s too late. Spring is officially here and I am officially over soup.
Just when I was also getting over mandarins and apples the markets became stocked with rhubarb and strawberries. I’m normally reluctant to eat rhubarb due to the excessive amount of sugar that it needs to become palatable, but roasting it with strawberries, a little honey and orange juice produces a delightfully fragrant, subtly sweet compote. The recipe comes from My Darling Lemon Thyme, a wonderful gluten-free food blog by New Zealander, Emma Galloway. I use Emma’s recipe as a guide really; one time using the spicy liquid left over from poaching pears in place of the honey and juice, and another time including cinnamon and a finely sliced apple that was getting old in the fruit bowl. In the photos I’ve paired it with oat porridge for breakfast, but my favourite way to eat it is with creamy coconut yoghurt. It would be fantastic used as the base for crumble.
I almost didn’t post this recipe because last weekend at the market there wasn’t a stalk of rhubarb to be found. However, I learned from Mum that, despite signs of spring in New Zealand, the rhubarb and strawberry season hadn’t yet begun. This recipe is therefore for friends, family and readers back home; Australians may have to wait another year. I’m always waiting for specific ingredients to come into season before trialling recipes. Northern hemisphere food blogs are deep into the tomatoes and peaches of summer when we’re slogging away with pumpkin and apples down under. I have hundreds of recipes bookmarked and these are a great repository of ideas, but there’s nothing like seeing a recipe, being griped by inspiration and having the ability to act immediately.
Australian and New Zealand blogs make up a sizeable portion of my regular reads so fortunately for me, I can experience this frequently. I recently updated my Link page to organise my favourite reads geographically so this is a good place to start if you are looking for local blogs. If you have an interest in nutrition, as I do, then I recommend Apples Under My Bed (try Heidi’s tasty yet virtuous Banana, Fig & Walnut Bars) or the ever creative Sarah at Highgate Hill Kitchen (I love Sarah’s method for crispy lentils in this recipe). Lucy at Nourish Me doesn’t post very frequently these days, but her blog is still a major source of inspiration. I make her Red Lentil & Lime Soup and Quinoa Millet Pilaf several times a year. Food from Michelle’s Kitchen is another favourite (try the tasty Roasted Cauliflower & Za’atar Carrot Salad) and Wholefood Cooking is a new and welcome discovery. I have my eye on Jude’s Easter Fish Pie and Beetroot & Lentil Hummus.
My other favourite Australian and New Zealand food blogs may not be so explicitly focused on wholefoods but they are no less inspiring. Genie’s Bunny Eats Design is my go-to place for foodie news and fresh ideas and frequent appearances from Tofu the Rabbit keep things not-so-serious in a quintessentially-kiwi way. Foodwriter Lucy Corry blogs at The KitchenMaid and is a great source of recipes, both nostalgic (try her DIY Vogel’s Bread) and new (Black Doris Coconut Ice Cream). Sandra at Please Pass the Recipe brings a lifetime of cooking and travel to her interesting recipes, like the delicious-sounding Olive Oil & Fennel Seed Wafers. Finally, Stephanie’s The Dessert Spoon is a great blog for decadent desserts and cocktails such as the aptly-named, Brisbane Daiquiri.
Really, I could go on. There are so many creative people out there. Happy reading, happy cooking, and happy spring to all my friends, family and readers in Australia and New Zealand!
Roasted Rhubarb & Strawberry Compote
250g punnet strawberries
zest and juice 1 orange
1/4 cup runny honey
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 200°C / 395°F.
Wash the rhubarb and cut into 3cm lengths. Wash the strawberries, hull them and halve any large ones. Combine the fruit, orange zest and juice, cinnamon and honey in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Transfer to a large, flat ovenproof dish and spread out in a single layer.
Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before serving over porridge. Alternatively, chill completely and serve with yoghurt (coconut or regular).