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Spring has certainly sprung, and with it a new season of fruit and vegetables. One such vegetable is the beetroot; with its firm, rich, naturally sweet, maroon-red roots and its lusciously green leaves it is a versatile, healthy and delicious vegetable. Beetroots are a good source of fibre, folate and vitamin C and it can be cooked in a variety of ways such as roasted, grilled, boiled or baked. They can even be served grated raw in salads and that’s just the roots! Did you know that the leaves of beetroots are also edible? You can use them in salads or stir-fries. But one of my favourite ways to use a beetroot is as a dip.

Here is a recipe for a delicious beetroot dip, so get in while they’re still in season; eating foods in season has lots of benefits in terms of health and nutrition, budget and environment.

beetroot dip

Roasted beetroot dip

Ingredients

  • 2 large beetroots, washed and trimmed
  • 1/3 cup chopped mint
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ¾ cup Greek yoghurt
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Wrap each beetroot individually in foil and bake in the oven at 200°C for 40–60 minutes, until tender. When beetroots have cooled, peel and chop roughly.
  2. Place beetroot mint, garlic, lemon juice and spice into food processor and process until smooth.
  3. Place in a bowl and fold in yoghurt and season to taste.
  4. Season dip with salt and pepper and serve with dry biscuits and chopped vegetables.

Three of our tips when making this recipe are:

  1. If running short on time, use drained, canned beetroot (although we do recommend using fresh beetroots)
  2. Other flavours that go well with beetroot include allspice, bay leaf, cloves, chives, dill, garlic, mustard seed, thyme, and citrus.
  3. To avoid staining your hands, wear rubber gloves when handling beetroots.

What ways can you include beetroot in your diet this spring?

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It’s Easter time! And you know what that means? Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate! It’s a glorious time where we can all indulge a little in our favourite cocoa treats. When we think about chocolate and Easter, most people immediately think of chocolate eggs and bunnies, but there are also a plethora of other chocolate treats you can make.

 Perhaps consider making a Chocolate and Marshmallow WeetbixSlice (recipe below), it’s a delicious alternative to traditional homemade chocolates that you can share with family and friends over a cuppa. This slice is a favourite of The Food Book team as it has a crunchy chocolate base topped with deliciously smooth marshmallows. It will be a definite winner with young and old this Easter.

Chocolate and Marshmallow Weetbix™ Slice

Ingredients

Base

  • 3 Weetbix, crushed with hands
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 125 g butter

Marshmallow

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon gelatine dissolved in a little water (or equivalent gelatine leaves)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • few drops of pink food colouring (optional)
  • ½ cup desiccated coconut

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180oC and grease a 20cm square tin.
  2. Crush Weetbix with your hands and add to mix together with flour, coconut, cocoa and brown sugar.
  3. Melt butter and stir through dry ingredients.
  4. Press mixture in tin and bake for 20 minutes, and allow to cool.
  5. Make marshmallow by dissolving sugar in the water in saucepan over a low heat.
  6. Add gelatine (or gelatine leaves) and stir until dissolved.
  7. Allow to cool before adding vanilla extract (and colouring) and beating with an electric beater until thick and light.
  8. Pour over biscuit base and allow to set.
  9. Sprinkle with coconut and cut into squares.

It’s back to school for many children – one of the challenges is to provide healthy, tasty, easy-to-prepare lunches that are suitable for the warmer weather.

Sandwiches are often a typical choice for school lunches, but this doesn’t mean it has to be a boring choice. There are lots of different types of breads to select from – consider using baguettes, lavash and tortillas (there are a range of different bread options on p. 71 of The Food Book). Fillings for sandwiches are up to your imagination.
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January 26 is Australia Day – a public holiday that commemorates the establishment of the first settlement at Port Jackson in 1788. The settlement was later named Sydney after British Home Secretary, Lord Sydney, who was responsible for the colony. There are no hard and fast rules about how to celebrate Australia Day, but generally it is seen as an opportunity for Australians to come together to celebrate their country and culture, and we typically include  food in our celebrations.

Lamb is synonymous with Australia Day –the anticipated spruiking by Sam Kekovich about how we should consume lamb on Australia Day took an unexpected twist this year when he reminded us through song the song I’m A Barbie Girl. Check out the range of lamb recipes mentioned in the September post for meal ideas.

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Bananas are definitely back on the shopping list as their prices have finally come down. The high prices were due to the devastation that Cyclone Yasi caused to banana crops in Queensland last year. It has been quite a while since bananas prices were this low, so it’s the perfect time to include them on your menu, not only because bananas are inexpensive at the moment but because they are a versatile ingredient in a range of sweet and savoury dishes, adding richness and texture.

Add some sliced banana to a fresh fruit salad – they offer a distinctive texture when compared to other fruits. Try the Simple Fruit Salad on p. 126 The Food Book or make up your own recipe with your favourite fruits – you can’t go wrong.

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If you missed the glorious offerings of the 2011 Good Food & Wine Show in Melbourne recently, never fear! This food-show extraordinaire is making its way up to Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane in the next few months.

In the meantime, try your hand at this warm, spicy laksa from The Food Book (p. 247) — inspired by Poh Ling Yeow’s Malaysian segment at the Melbourne 2011 GFW show. There are many types of this popular Malaysian dish, but the most common is the coconut-rich curry laksa. Some say ‘laksa’ comes from the Sanskrit lakh (meaning 10,000), referring to the many ingredients used to make it. You can use various noodles – from very thin vermicelli to thick udon.

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With Autumn upon us, Food Book author Anne Prescott raids her garden for some seasonal inspiration to share!

Depending on your climatic zone you are likely to have an excess of smaller cherry style tomatoes in your school, community or home vegetable plot at some time of the year. While you can swap or give these tomatoes away there is still often an excess. These tomatoes can be quickly made into a fresh tomato sauce suitable for pizzas or served with pasta, vegetable or meat dishes.

This sauce freezes well, and would be perfect for a school or community pizza night later on in the year.

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Barbeque season is finally here and ’tis the season for eating outdoors! The Food Book has a dedicated barbeques section, although many of these recipes can also be cooked inside using a grill pan or similar. These lamb burgers from page 303 of The Food Book are delicious in a bread roll with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, feta and tzatziki dip.

Lamb burgers

Spring has arrived and to celebrate here is a lovely and simple pavlova recipe which will also give you the opportunity to use those early spring mangoes which are starting to arrive. Adding vinegar and cream of tartar to the meringue mixture helps give pavlova a crisp crust and marshmallow centre. A range of other ingredients can be used to decorate it, including peeled, sliced kiwifruit, banana slices, fresh berries, grated chocolate and finely chopped Cherry Ripe or Peppermint Crisp bars.

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Working our way around Australia with The Food Book professional support workshops and various conferences, many teachers have asked us about Indigenous Australian recipes in The Food Book. We are always pleased to be asked this question because the answer is yes, The Food Book includes many recipes that include some of our beautiful native ingredients. Here is one such recipe to whet your appetite.

 

Baked barramundi with lemon myrtle

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July 14 marks the French national holiday, Bastille Day and what better way to celebrate than with some French cooking! Niçoise salad is a substantial salad originating from the French city of Nice. Traditionally, the potatoes are simply steamed or boiled but in this recipe from The Food Book they are roasted for added oomph. The key ingredient is just-seared tuna but you can make a quicker version with a smoked trout fillet or a 425g can of tuna.

Nicoise Salad

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It’s Wednesday and it’s cold outside – this recipe should warm you up and make you smile at the same time. Sweet potatoes are in season right now, and being high in vitamin C, they are full of natural goodness. The spice mixture on these sweet potato chips is absolutely delicious and can also be used on other root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips and beetroot.

Sweet potato chips

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Memories are no doubt powerful in their ability to evoke a sensory response from us – but food memories? Food memories are singular in their ability to take us back to a particular time and place – to transcend the present, and take us back to a particular smell and taste.

Beef Stroganoff

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In celebration of the first week of winter we hope you enjoy this free excerpt from the soups section of The Food Book. Literally meaning ‘the big soup’ in Italian, minestrone is a hearty stew-like soup made from vegetables, dried beans and pasta. A range of beans can be substituted for kidney beans, including cannellini, lima and borlotti.

Minestrone soup

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