Monday, January 8, 2007

Salted eggs

I found these huge, salted geese eggs at a farmers' market in Lower Hutt last Saturday. I was so pleased because for days, I've been craving for salted eggs.

Nostalgia. The last days of classes during my primary school years were always fun. Our teacher/adviser would tell us to bring our lunch to school so we could all have lunch together inside our classroom. We normally had lunch at home on school days because school is just a few minutes walk from home. Aside from that, I feel miserable eating a cold meal at lunch time. And because there were no jollibees yet during those days, students' lunches would almost always be steamed rice with deep fried bangus belly with ripe, fresh tomatoes, or fried chicken/pork chop, adobo chicken/pork, etc. It was proper food, you know. Nothing from fast foods. Some years, I would have steamed rice wrapped in banana leaves and at the center of it was a shelled salted egg and a very ripe, fresh tomato. If I was lucky and pico mangoes were on sale, I would buy one from the public market on my way to school, or else, I made do with the indian mango.

The salted egg also figured in our picnics with friends, especially if the picnic was just a spur-of-the-moment decision. Salted eggs were always handy - they do not spoil easily, are easy to prepare and very cheap compared to meat.

Food we grew up with would always have a special place in our tummy, you know, so even the nicest and yummiest pasta dish would not beat the satisfaction you get from eating salted eggs, ripe fresh tomato, slices of green mango and steamed rice wrapped in fragrant banana leaves.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Stuffed Marrow

Last year, we had a bumper crop of golden zucchini and we tried several recipes using this. We made zucchini pickles, zucchini fritters, zucchini and mint soup, zucchini this and zucchini that. This year, we decided that we want the green one. Zucchinis are fantastic to have in the garden - they are easy to grow and need little attention. But not when they have begun fruiting because the zucchinis seem to grow vigorously and could become marrows overnight.

Two weeks ago, we noticed an overgrown zucchini and so allowed it some more days of sunshine before we decided to pick it. David suggested that we stuff the marrow and bake it like we did with the yellow marrow last year. The recipe is called Stuffed Marrow which was from the book "The Cooks' Garden" by Mary Brown, Helen Leach and Nancy Tichborne.

For this recipe, you will need a large vegetable marrow (1.5 kg). Cut it evenly in half and use a spoon to remove the seeds and the soft pulp inside.

For the stuffing:

1 small onion chopped
2 tbs butter
250 g mince
60 g fresh mushrooms chopped
1 tb chopped parsley
1/2 tsp chopped thyme
50 g soft breadcrumbs
freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 small egg
2 tbs butter, melted

Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the onion and saute for a few minutes. Add the mince and mushrooms and continue to cook until browned. Remove from the head. Add the remaining ingredients except for the melted butter. Mix thoroughtly with a fork.

Pack the stuffing carefully into the marrow. Place in a large roasting pan and brush with melted butter. Cover with a piece of foil. Bake at 190 degrees. A large marrow will need 1 1/2 hours and a small one will need 45 minutes in the oven, Serve with Neapolitan sauce.

Neapolitan sauce

250 g ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1 tb cooking oil
1 tsp chopped basil or parsley

Saute the tomatoes, garlic and seasoning in oil for a few minutes. Do not allow the tomatoes to become pulpy as the fresh taste will be lost. Add basil or parsley and serve with the stuffed marrow.

This sauce also goes well with spaghetti and topped with grated cheese.