Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Em's Menu

This is a YamDaisy Menu. Each day a YamDaisy Cafe would produce 4 delicious dishes using local, seasonal produce. The soup, 2 mains, and a fruit dessert would be cooked through the day by the chef in the small cafe kitchen. Customers can eat there or takeaway. Check the YamDaisy Menu site for more information. We ask for sample menus and this one is Em's.


SOUP: Lentil and Silverbeet Soup with Crusty Bread:
What a delicious, nourishing soup this one is! And perfect for August in Melbourne, because if there is no other fresh local vegetable available - there will be silverbeet. When I was growing up we thought silverbeet was spinach. Other people will know it as Chard, or Swiss Chard. If you don't know it, it is from the beet family, but doesn't have the big beet root! It is more robust than spinach, in texture and growing habits!
The soup recipe could use spinach, but since we are here in Melbourne... we will have silverbeet thankyou very much!
I know two basic lentil and spinach recipes. One starts with a fry of onion, garlic, celery and carrot and I think of it as the French recipe. The other is more Middle Eastern and adds spices like cumin and chilli to the onions and garlic, and finishes with a squeeze of lemon juice.
When I asked Em about her recipe she explained that she tended to add all sorts of veggies to the mix; but for this menu she was thinking to keep it simple, maybe adding some barley, because she wants it really yummy and hearty. Mmm, yummy and hearty! That is YamDaisy Food!

MAIN 1: Eggplant Pilaf with Sauteed Green Beans on the side:
Yes! That is it pictured! And I had to make this recipe so that I could take the picture! Thankyou Em! It is such a wonderful recipe. It comes originally from Greg Malouf. I am not sure how much it has changed by the time it got to me, but here is how I did it:
(of course the chef at the YamDaisy cafe will be making enough for 50 or 60, but they'll be professional and work out bigger quantities I am sure!)
2 medium eggplants cut into chunks about 2.5cm cubes. (I am very sensitive to the bitey taste in eggplants, so I put them in salted water for 20 mins, and then put them to dry). Brush them with oil (sprinkle with salt if you didn't salt them earlier) and place on a tray in a hot oven for 25 minutes or until they are softened and browned.
In the meantime, fry a chopped onion in 3 tbsps of oil until soft and golden.
Add 3 tbsps of pine nuts, and when they are starting to colour add a cup (200g) of rice and stir until it is coated with oil.
Then add two diced tomatoes and 1 1/2 tsp of sugar (I couldn't find tomatoes worth buying, so I added half a tim of diced tomatoes instead). Simmer 5 minutes.
Next in is 2 tbsp of currants, salt and pepper, a tsp of ground cinnamon and 1/2 a tsp of ground allspice (pimento). Add 350ml of water and stir gently.
Cover and simmer softly until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove the lid for a while if it needs to dry out, but hopefully it will be done perfectly if you turn it off and put a teatowel over and the lid back on top. This way the steam is soaked up, but the heat remains and it becomes fluffier.
Stir in a few tbsp of oil and chopped dil: I missed this out as mine didn't need more oil, and I didn't have dill.
Then gently mix the eggplant chunks through.
It can be served at room temperature, but we had it still steaming. The sauteed beans went with it perfectly. It was a lovely, lovely meal.
I remember thinking, when I ate it, that it would be exactly what I would want if I had been ill and my appetite was just coming back. It is a comforting, nourishing meal that is so delicious and yet has a feeling of lightness.

MAIN 2: Stirfried Vegetables and Tofu with Lemongrass and Ginger, served on Rice Noodles.
I love the way Em has thought through this menu. This main is so different to the other, and so provides a great choice for customers. Also, everything can be prepared in advance and then quickly cooked up as needed in the wok. This would give even greater flexibility as people could choose which vegetables they want included or not.

FRUIT DESSERT: Baked Stuffed Apples with Custard.
Yum, say no more! The conversation we had about this one was the issue of the custard! Em makes a cornflour based one, I use a brand of custard powder, and Teri the wonderful chef makes proper egg custard. Since the Yamdaisy Cafes rely on food cooked from scratch, we thought this could be the perfect place to have Gabriel Gate's Orange and Polenta Custard. It is delicious and easy and good for people who can't have wheat in their diet!
Orange and Polenta Custard
1 1/2 tbsp polenta, make a paste with 2 tbsp milk
Heat 1 1/2 cups of milk and then stir in the polenta paste, 1 tbsp orange zest, 1 tbsp sugar or honey and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring, and simmer for 1 minute.
The consistency is runny with the little lumps of swelled polenta.

Thanks Em for a wonderful days menu.


  1. I've been looking for a recipe to use the eggplants that came in my organic crate, thanks for the idea! The baked apples sound SCRUMPTIOUS.
    I love the idea of havin on soup, two mains and a dessert. Perfect way to keep things fresh and simple.

  2. The eggplant pilaf sounds similar to a dish we make-but I'm guessing our version is on the spicier side ;-)

  3. They are warm lovely spices in this recipe, not the sort where you say: O that is spicy! But I bet your one is delicious too!