Osso Buco Recipe with Beetroot and Rosemary

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“The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.”

~ Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

Slow-cooked real food. Is there anything more nourishing, more heart-warming and soul comforting?

This recipe came about by happy accident, as I was debating what remnant vegetables in the bottom of my crisper drawer would be relegated to the soup pot or the worm farm. A fist-sized beetroot was begging to be used up.

The seasons are doing their slow slide from summer to autumn here at the farm. The days are still warm but there’s a chill in the air come late afternoon, and I’m airing the blankets ready to put on the beds now that the nights are cool again.

Osso Buco is a cut of meat ; traditionally cross-cut veal shanks that expose the marrow bone. The meat is best cooked slowly, and the bone marrow and cartilage from the osso buco will create a velvety sauce with all the benefits of bone broth.

I’ve diverged from my traditional osso buco with a few simple ingredients that bring an earthy rich sweetness to this humble but classic dish. The beetroot really makes this recipe.

Enjoy! 🙂

Ingredients:

6 pieces of osso buco, 1 tablespoon of oil or ghee, 2 stalks of celery, 2 large carrots, 1 large beetroot, 1 large onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 cups of fresh tomato (or one can of diced tomatoes), 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary, 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 2 cups of good quality chicken or veal stock, 1 tablespoon of cornflour (cornstarch), 1/2 to 3/4 cup of white wine (or use stock instead), 2 tablespoons of Davidsons Plum jam or your favourite ‘tart-sweet’ jam such as rosella, cranberry or cherry, salt and pepper. (The jam is optional but it really does give this dish a little something extra!)

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Method:

Preheat oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit). If you’re using a slow cooker, put this on to warm up.

Place a tablespoon of oil into a heavy-bottomed pan and bring to a medium heat. Lightly pan fry the meat in batches until brown. Then place the meat into a large baking dish. Don’t wipe the fat out of the frying pan. You’ll be needing it again in a minute.

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Now chop all of your vegetables and the parsley. Top and tail the beetroot and then peel before cutting. Crush or finely chop your garlic. Keep the tomatoes aside for later.

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Add the chopped vegetables into the frying pan, and stir over moderate heat for a few minutes until the vegetables soften and brown slightly. The beetroot will stain things pink, but that’s okay.

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Now add your chopped tomatoes and the rosemary. Stir for another few minutes over medium heat and then pour in the wine. Keep stirring every so often. Let the tomatoes soften slightly (if using fresh ones).

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Finally, take some of the stock and mix in the cornflour until it makes a smooth milky paste. Tip into the pan to thicken your mixture and then add in the tomato paste, stock, and jam. Give this all a good grind of black pepper and a little salt to taste. It should taste GOOD!

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Carefully tip the beetroot mixture over the meat, making sure that everything is well covered.

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Cover with a lid, or place some baking paper on top, followed by a ‘lid’ of aluminium foil tucked in around the sides. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, and then turn the heat down to 150 degrees celcius if fanforced (300 degrees fahrenheit) or 160 degrees celcius (320 degrees fahrenheit) if not. Cook for a further 2 hours and thirty minutes.

If using a slow cooker, cook for 3 to 5 hours, testing after 3. The meat should fall easily off the bone and be soft and silky.

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Serve on its own, or on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes with some fresh seasonal vegetables. Make sure to ladle plenty of the gravy over the meat. That’s the best bit!

As you can see from the picture below I served ours with mashed Nicola potatoes and some pan-fried fresh green beans and sweet cherry tomatoes with a little garlic and olive oil to dress them.

And it was YUM!!! 🙂

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Slow Cooker Italian Lamb Shank Recipe

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“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.”~ Jane Austen

 

I’m totally in love with my slow cooker right now. Just ten minutes of preparation in the morning and the slow cooker does all the work so that by nightfall I have a luscious, melt-in-the-mouth dinner, brimful of goodness and with next to no effort. It also makes for wonderful left-overs!

This recipe can just as easily made with lamb neck or lamb chops.  The flavour is wonderfully Italian; the orange gives a hint of sweetness and the herbs, garlic, bacon and tomato create a rich sauce to ladle over the meat.

I served my lamb shanks with roasted cauliflower (have you tried this? seriously addictive and good!) and a sweet potato mash for Wednesday’s dinner, and used the leftovers last night for a delectable ragu sauce with rustic pasta.

This recipe also freezes well, and is easily reheated for an easy meal later in the week. If you don’t have all the ingredients, feel free to experiment. Slow cookers make everything taste good!

Ingredients:

6 to 8 frenched lamb shanks (or other lamb cuts with bones in them eg chump chops or neck), 1 large onion, 8 to 10 cloves of garlic, 1 cup of olives with the seeds removed (kalamata olives are good!), 1 large carrot, 2 sticks of celery, 2 tins of diced tomatoes or 4 cups fresh chopped tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 cup of red wine, 1/2 cup of red capsicum (bell pepper), 1 teaspoon of mixed dried Italian herbs,  1 cup of rich chicken or vegetable stock, 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley, 2 thick slices of orange with the skin on, 2 rashers of bacon or 3 tablespoons (75 grams) of pancetta, salt and pepper to season.

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Chop onion, carrots, celery, capsicum (bell pepper) and bacon or pancetta. Chop parsley finely.

Brown your lamb shanks in a large frypan over medium heat. Place the lamb shanks in layers, alternating with a sprinkle of the vegetables, garlic, herbs, bacon and olives.

Add the stock, orange slices, tomatoes, tomato paste and wine. Give a good grind of pepper and a little salt. Cover and cook.

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Don’t be put off by the long cooking times.  The longer you cook the meat the more tender it will be, and the more nutrition will be imparted to the sauce. Slow cooked meats are very good for you – packed full of fat soluble minerals, amino acids, easily digestible proteins, gelatin and other health-promoting things!

Cook on low in a slow cooker for 6 hours.

Cook on low heat in a saucepan on the stove for 4 to 5 hours.  Turn your shanks at least once during this time, and re-baste with sauce.

Cook in a moderate oven (180 degrees celsius/ 350 degrees fahrenheit) for 30 minutes, and then reduce heat to 150 degrees celsius/ 300 degrees fahrenheit) and cook for 3 hours.  Turn your shanks at least once during this time, and re-baste with sauce.

Serve with your favourite seasonal vegetables, and some mash, rice or pasta if it suits you. Perhaps a slice or two of rustic sourdough bread to mop up those juices?

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When cooked low and slow the marrow and gelatin from the meat help thicken the sauce. Don’t waste any of it!  Whatever is not eaten with dinner can be used as a basis for a pasta sauce, or as a gravy over other meats or vegetables.

Leftovers?

Strip the meat from the bones, add back into the sauce, heat and serve with cooked pasta as another meal. This is comfort food at its finest!

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Heal-All Chicken Soup Recipe

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“If you’re blue, have the flu, or can’t seem to … then Chicken Soup is for you.” ~ Anon

Looking for a quick meal to throw together? This is not it!  My Heal-All Chicken Soup recipe takes time – 8 to 12 hours minimum. I make this soup as medicine in a bowl…

Home-made chicken soup is filled with nutrients, is easy to digest, and has proven anti-inflammatory ability as well as boosting your immune system (read more about that here).

The beauty of this soup is that it’s a bone broth, and over time all of the fat and water soluble minerals and good bits dissolve into this magical elixir.  One of the things this soup is chock full of is glycine. The amino acid glycine is great for liver detoxification and regeneration.  Chicken soup is rich in collagen and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), one of which you’ve probably heard of – glucosamine – stunning for artery, bone and joint health.  The gelatin produced from dissolving bones and cartilage in the making of this soup helps heal leaky gut, and also reduces your need for meat and protein.

In Chinese Medicine, bone broths are considered to support the kidneys and kidney meridians, and as such are also useful for healthy teeth, bones and adrenal gland function. So if you have adrenal fatigue this is a super recipe for you!

Note: Where possible choose organic and fresh local produce. 🙂

You’ll need the following equipment and ingredients:

A large saucepan or crockpot and a colander

Ingredients – First Step

1 whole chicken – best if organic and free range, one onion chopped into quarters (I use a brown onion and leave the skin on), a tablespoon of peppercorns or cracked black pepper, three bay leaves, two large celery stalks, two carrots, a bunch of parsley, a large twist of lemon rind, up to 8 cloves of garlic (don’t be afraid of garlic – garlic is your body’s friend), two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Note – The vinegar is important for helping extract the calcium and other minerals from the bones.

Method:

Place chicken in your large saucepan and cover with cold water. Add in your peppercorns, vinegar and bay leaves. Leave this sit while you prepare the rest of your vegetables.

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Lightly crush the garlic under a heavy bladed knife, peel off the skins and toss the whole cloves into the pot.  Then roughly chop your celery and carrots and add that in with the parsley and onion. Take a large slice of skin off a lemon and throw that in too.

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Bring the water slowly to the boil, and then reduce the heat to a slow simmer.  Cover and let cook for 2 to 3 hours.

Turn off heat, and let stand for ten minutes, then carefully remove chicken from pot, placing on a large dish until it cools enough to handle.

Strip as much flesh as you can from the bones, setting the skin to one side. Reserve the cooked chicken meat, cover and place in the refrigerator. Then add the skin and bones back into the pot.

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Bring the broth back to the boil and then reduce the heat, cover and simmer on very low heat for 6 to 8 hours.

Cool, and strain the broth into a large container. Pick over the bones if you want to retain any more chicken flesh, and then discard the strained contents.  I often leave my stock to cool in the saucepan overnight and finish it the next day. This is a sensible idea if you want to complete the second step and make a full bodied meat and vegetable soup.

The soup is now ready to serve as a simple broth, or to use in other recipes as a stock base. It also freezes well.

Ingredients – Second Step

6 to 8 cloves of garlic, 2 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, fleshy part of half a leek, one onion, one to two parsnips, up to one cup of diced pumpkin or sweet potato, some of the reserved chicken meat, another bunch of parsley, the remaining lemon, 1/2 cup of pearl barley, brown rice or pasta/small noodles of your choice (optional).

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Method:

Pour the broth back into the saucepan. Finely chop your garlic and onion and add that into the pot.Cut the lemon in half and drop that in too.

Then chop your chicken meat and other vegetables into small pieces and place in pot. Finely chop the parsley, and reserve some to sprinkle over your cooked soup.  Add the rest into your soup.

If you want, you can add in some pearl barley, rice or pasta for extra body.  This turns the soup into a filling meal, but it is also fine to leave out so that the soup is more of a broth consistency.

Bring the pot up to a simmer and then cover and cook for one hour. If you’ve added barley or rice etc, give the soup a good stir a few times during the cooking process to move things up off the bottom of the pot. Top up with a little water if needed, but if the heat is low and the lid is on you probably won’t need to do this.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the lemon halves and discard. Serve soup with some of the reserved fresh parsley sprinkled over the top. The soup can be refrigerated for two to three days – just remove individual portions to heat up, and it also freezes well. Eat and enjoy. Wishing you the best of health! ♥ Nicole xx

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Farmers’ Markets – Nom Nom Nom!

“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” ~ Michael Pollan

Have I told you how much I love food?

I do, you know.  Food is one of life’s great joys for me.  There is nothing better than fresh food – from produce grown with love and care. Good food is medicine for the body and nourishment for the soul.

Byron Shire, where my little farm is situated, is plush with Farmers’ Markets. I rarely need to buy anything but toilet paper and dried staples from the big grocery stores. Instead I get my food seasonal, local and freshly harvested. Thursday, I can head to the Byron Bay Farmers’ Market, Friday I can visit the markets at Mullumbimby, and Saturday there’s a market behind the pub in Bangalow.

This morning I’m heading out to Mullum (Mullumbimby!). We’ll stock up, have a fresh juice and a really good local coffee from beans grown right here in the Shire, and then we’ll consider our breakfast options… There’s always entertainment, and lots of friendly faces. And I’ll come home laden with hand crafted breads and cheeses, eggs, fruit and vegetables and a few extra goodies. I always seem to gather lots of hugs too, which is the pleasure of shopping in your local community (emphasis on community!).

Here’s a taste of some of my previous market forays…

The Mullum Food Court – LOL – not a fast food in sight. That’s my kind of dining experience!

Food for the Soul.

Seedlings for my garden.

Potatoes!  Dutch Creams and Nicolas. Mmmmm….

Delicious hand crafted cheeses and cultured butter from the Bangalow Cheese Company.

Red Dragon Fruit – a breakfast favourite with a squeeze of lime.

 

Better get some lime to go with that Dragon Fruit.

Eggs and lavender, so I can do a spot of baking, and make a little meditation tea.

 

Juicy Coopers Shoot tomatoes – famous throughout the Shire.  Once you’ve eaten one of these you’ll never want a shop-bought tomato again!

And a little ‘nom nom nom’ to take home…

Maybe there’s a local Farmers’ Market near you. Why not go for a visit?  There’s nothing like the taste of fresh food, and I think it’s important to support our farmers who put so much care into looking after their land and feeding us from the efforts of their devotion.

Good fresh food raises your vibration too – perfect for sensitive souls and those of you wishing to develop or strengthen your spiritual and psychic ability. Enjoy! ♥

 

And finally, a song to nom along to! LOL

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slow-Cooked Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe

Spaghetti bolognese – a firm favourite in our house.  Sorry about the steam obscuring this pic – did I mention it’s cold here?

It’s been a cold, wet week at my farm. One of my favourite easy dinners in this sort of weather is home-cooked spaghetti bolognese. When we come in from the paddocks at the end of the day, all muddy and cold, there’s nothing better than a hot shower to warm back up, and then a bowl of spag bol in front of the fire, with a glass of red wine. It’s a great meal for feeding a crowd, or a cohort of hungry workers!

My grandmother taught me this recipe, and taught me that the secret is the slow cooking. I usually make the sauce during the day and simmer it for at least a couple of hours – the longer the better as it gives the bolognese sauce a divine, silky richness.

Ingredients:

500g lean beef mince, 1 onion, 3 cloves of garlic, one stick of celery, 1/2 capsicum (bell pepper), 2 bay leaves, olive oil, 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs (oregano, basil, thyme, sage, rosemary and basil) *note – if you can’t get this blend use oregano, 1 cup of mushrooms, 2  x 400g tins of diced tomatoes, 1 empty tomato tin of water, 1 heaped teaspoon stock powder, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, 3 tablespoons tomato paste, 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, 1 cup of red wine.

500g of dried spaghetti, and some parmesan cheese to serve. This will give four hearty serves, or six moderate serves.

♥ The meat I’m using is our own organic beef, and the onion, garlic, celery, capsicum and parsley have all come from the vegetable garden.  I’m also using some home-grown zucchini and field mushrooms from a neighbour instead of pasta for my own dinner!  There is something very satisfying about eating food that has been sourced locally, or grown by us.

Method:

Finely chop the onion, garlic, capsicum (bell pepper), celery, mushrooms and parsley. Put a large heavy-bottomed saucepan on to low heat.  Add a slug of olive oil and cook the garlic, onions, celery and capsicum until fragrant but not coloured.  Add in the meat, turn the heat to medium and brown off the mince, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon.  Season well with the herbs, salt and pepper.

Add in the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, stock powder, sugar, mushrooms, bay leaves, vinegar, water and wine. Stir well to combine.  Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer, and slow cook the sauce, stirring occasionally for two to three hours or until the sauce has reduced and thickened.  Keep an eye on it, and if it looks like it is drying out, add a little more water or another slurp of wine!

To serve, cook your pasta until al dente.  Drain and place a generous portion of meat on top of each plate or bowl of pasta.  Grate or shave a little fresh parmesan cheese over the sauce.  This meal goes well with a crisp green salad and some crusty bread.  You may also like to drink the remainder of the red wine.

Fresh crusty sourdough baguette – perfect with dinner! (And the cook maybe ate one or two pieces with butter and vegemite as a pre-dinner snack…)

My lazy salad is a bag of greens from the Byron Bay Farmers Markets with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Low carb/gluten free option: Grill a large field mushroom per person.  A few slices of zucchini (courgette) are also good.

Grilled vegetables are a great low carb, gluten-free alternative to pasta

Top with the Bolognese sauce, and some cheese, if desired.

I often cook a double batch of the bolognese sauce, as it freezes really well.  The mince is  delicious on toast for breakfast (or lunch), and is also good for stuffed baked potatoes.  I sometimes substitute the mince for the beans in this easy recipe, so that it becomes Easy Italian Bake.  Enjoy!