Mmm....apples! Both the air and the apples are getting nice and crispy these days and I'm ecstatic because it's coming around to baking season once again, if only just. Lovely 'Indian Summer' weather has been keeping things simple in the kitchen and the new chest freezer (recommended beyond anything else for anyone who wants to attempt a bit of self-sufficiency-it's our life-saver) is gradually being filled with bags and bags of organic home-grown tomatoes, perfectly ripe and promptly preserved peppers and kale, chard and purple French beans, and lots and lots of grated zucchini- prepared and ready for use at any time should the urge hit me to bake a zucchini cake or muffins for a tea-time snack.
For the moment though, there's a lot of fresh produce to be picked or bought at the farmers' market in the midst of all the awesome autumn bounty. Next year I've set myself a challenge to sample all of the different produce available at the market, to widen my cooking field when I'm most at risk of only cooking with the relatively limited, although tasty, produce from my garden. A few goodies I bought last week were winter savoury (a gorgeous herb tasting and smelling like a combination of thyme and sage but looks more like long sticks of thyme), golden beets- the sweetest variety available and they don't stain, tomatillos for their zesty flavour and firm texture, some excellent super-fresh apples, and a bag of sweet rainbow carrots that range from yellow to orange to purple with orange in the middle!
With my pantry full of fall goodness inspiration was fast to follow. A quick tapas-like lunch and an impromptu dinner created these two easy and tasty salads:
Zesty Carrot and Apple &
Melon and Pear salad
For the Carrot and Apple salad:
2 grated carrots- the fresher and more local the sweeter they'll be
1 grated dessert apple (not tart)
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp of ground sea salt
1/4 cup of roasted cashews crushed with the back of a knife
a sprinkling of sesame oil
Grate the apple into a bowl and quickly add the lime juice, followed by the grated carrot. Add the salt and stir. Then add the crushed cashews and the sesame oil. Transfer to a small serving dish. Note: You may want to double this recipe if serving as the main salad. Alternatively, this size makes a great tapas-size salad.
For the Melon and Pear salad:
1" or bite-size cubes of cantelope (or orange) melon
1 slightly crunchy/green pear cut lengthwise, with core removed, and cut in bite-size chunks or long 1/4" thick pieces
2 spring onions (aka green onions or scallions), finely chopped
1 small salad turnip (a small, white turnip resembling a radish), grated
Use equal quantities of pear and melon, or slightly more melon. There's a trick I was taught that helps to remove the 'smelly breath' factor from spring onions/scallions/green onions. After chopping the spring onions place them in a bowl and sprinkle them with a very generous pinch of salt. Next, pour boiling water over them, then strain and rinse under cold water to remove the salt. Add to the cubed melon and pear, then divide between the salad bowls. Garnish the top of each salad with the white salad turnip and serve with either a Balsamic crème or Balsamic vinegar.