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Over the last few months, I have spent many hours in the kitchen garden weeding, planting and mulching. The one thing is though, the weeds never seem to go away. So, I have come up with a way to deal with them – Eat them!

 jaci holding a plate of warrigal greens with oyster sauce

There is always an assortment of greens growing wild in my kitchen garden – kale, nasturtiums, rocket and this year self-seeded red leaf lettuce has lined the patch around the citrus tree all by itself. I am always cooking blanched and braised green. I do love mine braised with white wine, seasoned with a little salt and pepper and finished with some cream.  

I'm going to get back out in the garden and see what weediness I can find.

Braised Warrigal greens with Oyster Sauce

Warrigal greens (Tetragonia Tetragonioides) is a native ground cover found in Australia, New Zealand, and eastern Asia. A little while ago, I visited an urban farm in Melbourne, their nursery was selling very small plants for $20.00 each. Mine just grows wild from a cutting someone gave me and has a spread of about two square metres.

Jaci picking Warrigal Greens

We pick this leafy green in my harvest lunches and serve alongside beef dishes. It turns out I like it boiled and dressed with oyster sauce - just like you would find greens served at the local Chinese restaurant.

To cook your Warrigal greens

  1. Pick as many as you would like to serve. Warrigal greens will not shrink down like spinach so only take what you will need.
  2. Pluck leaves away from stems and wash very well.
  3. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add Warrigal Green and boil for two minutes. Drain.
  4. Place in serving dish and drizzle over the oyster sauce.

Warrigal greens with oyster sauce

 

Tomatillo from the Jacican kitchen garden

Always on the lookout for things to grow to cook, this year, I tried tomatillos for the first time.

Tomatillos need to cross-pollinate with each other, so I pick up four plants from the farmers market.

From the four plants, I ended up with a haul of about 5 cups.

Not enough to made jam, but enough to come up with a cake recipe.

Recipe - Tomatillo upside-down cake

Tomatillo upsidecake recipe from Jacican cooking school Gippsland

Gluten-free, made with tomatillos fresh from the kitchen garden, stone-ground cornmeal and Gippsland buttermilk.

Ingredients

2 cups of tomatillos

1 pinch of vanilla seeds

330 grams of caster sugar

4 eggs

2 egg whites

160 MLS of buttermilk

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

110 grams of cornmeal

90 grams of almond meal

1 teaspoon of baking powder

0.25 teaspoon cream of tartar

tomatillo jacican kitchen garden website

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C
  2. Weigh out sugar into 165-grams, 110-gram and 55-gram portions
  3. Grease and line a 23 cm springform pan. Place the springform onto a sheet of aluminium foil and bring up the sides of the pan to prevent the syrup from leaking during cooking.
  4. Random place the tomatillos in the lined springform pan.
  5. Place the 165-gram portion of sugar in a small saucepan with 80 MLS of water and a pinch of vanilla seeds. Bring to the boil over medium heat. Cook until thickened, but not golden. Pour over the tomatillos.
  6. Separated eggs. Place egg whites, with extra egg white in the bowl of the mix master. Whisk to soft peak. Add cream of tartar and the 55-gram portion of sugar. Whisk until you have stiff peaks
  7. If you only have one bowl for the mix master, scarp out the egg whites and put in a spare bowl. Put aside until needed. Wipe out the mix master bowl, you may want to rise out the whisk.
  8. Combine egg yolks with the 110-gram portion of sugar in the bowl of the mix master. Whisk until egg yolks combine to a ribbon.
  9. Fold the cornmeal, almond meal and baking powder into the whipped egg yolks. Stir in the buttermilk.
  10. Fold in the egg whites. Pour the cake batter over the tomatillo.
  11. Place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes.
  12. To serve, invert on to a plate.

Jaci

 

Tomatillo upsidecake recipe from Jacican cooking school Gippsland

How to cook couscous with cucumber and greens recipe

Braising cucumber and greens is not something that jumps to mind when you are thinking about using this summer’s cucumber crop in dinner.

But years ago, I came across a recipe for braised cucumber and greens.

I think it was served with couscous, but who really knows.

Sometimes I can’t remember where the recipes I have in my head come from!

For this recipe, I use the larger pearl couscous.

Braised cucumber and lettuce with pearl couscous recipe

To cook the couscous

    • Finely dice two shallots. Heat a little butter in a saucepan, that has a tight-fitting lid. Add shallots and fry until translucent.
    • Add couscous and two cups of stock. For this recipe I used turkey stock – that’s what I had in the freezer and I’m trying to use up what I have on hand at the moment – but you could use chicken. Bring to the boil.
    • Place on the lid and reduce the heat to as low as possible. I cook with induction, so down to number one it goes.
    • Leave the couscous alone for the next 15 minutes.
    • After 15 minutes take off the lid and stir with a fork. You have to use a fork, as to not squash the couscous. It should be cooked.
    • If it isn’t, place the lid back on the saucepan and leave for another 5 minutes.

I used Blu; gourmet Pearl Couscous, which I had in the cupboard. At the moment I am trying to use up what I have on hand and not visit the shopping centre, unless really really needed. Gabriel Gate had no part in me deciding to use this product and I would have paid for it sometime in the past.

blu couscous used in Jacican recipe

To braise the cucumber and greens

    • Go to the garden and pick two cucumbers and lettuce.
    • Slice the cucumber into rounds. Wash and break up the lettuce into bite-size pieces
    • Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan, that has a tight-fitting lid.
    • Add the cucumber and fry off for a couple of minutes. Add the greens.
    • Add one cup of white wine (I had to open a bottle for this and drank the rest).
    • Season with salt, white pepper and sugar. Place lid on the saucepan and cook for five minutes over medium heat.

To finish off, fold the cooked cucumber and lettuce into the couscous.

Enjoy!

Jaci

How to quinoa with shiitake mushrooms recipe

I am using up what is in my cupboards, making BM eat the meals that I come up with.

I opened the herb cupboard and there was a jar of dried Shiitake mushrooms, looking back at me, waiting to be re-hydrated, cooked and eaten.

As I am on a ‘how to cook Quinoa’ cooking binge, I thought ‘hey, let’s cook the shiitake with the quinoa’ for tonight’s dinner, what have we got to lose.

I'm going to cook this recipe in the pressure cooker.

Quinoa with Shiitake mushrooms

As the Shiitake mushrooms are dried and need soaking, I put them in the pressure cooker bowl first, then top with two parts boiling water, followed by 1-part quinoa.

You must place the mushrooms, water and quinoa in this order, so the mushroom can re-hydrate a little as the pressure cooker heats up.

For this recipe, I’m calling a part, a 500-millilitre container.

I added a cinnamon stick, some star anise and cardamom pods for flavour and forgot to add salt (which the recipe needed) 

Everything was then cooked in the pressure cooker for 3 minutes on high pressure.

Season with salt, to taste.

learn how to cook Quinoa with lemon and parsley at Jacican cookingPopping up in my feed is pictures of people cooking amazing things – seafood, tagines, roast with all the trimmings – no one is really living on what they have in their pantry.

I’m taking a different approach and trying to use up what I have in the pantry first, cooking what I have on hand.

And it turns out, I have a lot of Quinoa on hand, leftover from now non-existent catering jobs.

As cooking is in my blood, heart and soul, I am going to work out as many ways to cook Quinoa as possible, maybe come up with 100 recipes.

So far, I have three.

This recipe was served as a side dish with last nights dinner (Building Maintenance doesn’t feel like I’ve fed him right unless there are carbs on the plate).

The next night, I stuffed it into zucchini, then baked the lot in the oven covered with fresh tomato sauce.

Quinoa with pickled lemon and parsley recipe.

Cook Quinoa using pressure cooker method, 1-part Quinoa 2 parts water, 3 minutes on high pressure.

Finely mince a 250 ml jar of pickled lemons and a bunch of parsley.

Once the Quinoa has cooked for its three minutes and the steam has released from the pressure cooker, but the quinoa is still hot, stir through the minced lemon and parsley.

Season with salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

Jaci

Walk amongst the weeds

jacican harvest lunch

Cooking Classes

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Acknowledgment of country

Hello, I’m Jaci Hicken, from the lands of the Brataualung clan, which is where I’ve spent most of my life.

I would like to acknowledge all of us here today to cook together and share a meal.

I love sharing my dream of growing the food this country has to offer and share it with you.

The traditional place that we come together today is on the lands Gunaikurnai people

And I’d like to pay my respects to our elders past, present, emerging leaders, along with all the young people in our community.

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