December 5, 2014

Our local foodie and pickling queen shares some fresh ideas for summer entertaining.

Eat local, from river to orchard
Summer in the Hawkesbury means an abundance of local produce – not just peaches, berries and vegetables, but also local seafood, including river prawns and fish. Out in my garden I’m picking tomatoes, potatoes, snow peas, bok choy, spinach, sweet corn and herbs – and some popping corn just for fun.

Keep it simple in summer
When the weather is hot, meals need to be easy. Fritters are simple and the kids love them (make an extra batch for lunch the next day). Start by making a thick batter using self-raising flour, eggs, milk, oil and seasoning, then experiment with flavour combinations such as corn and capsicum, zucchini and bacon, and spinach and ricotta. They all taste good with some spring onions added to the mixture. Serve the fritters with a salad or steamed vegetables.

Plan a lazy picnic by the river
Picnics are all about sharing so next time you’re gathering a group together, ask everyone to contribute a dish. Our last picnic menu included guacamole and pita chips, savoury pumpkin lasagne, rocket salad and an amazing self-saucing ginger and strawberry pudding.

Julie has kindly shared her summer recipe for Thai Fish Cakes recipe. Serve this as an entrée, or make it a meal with rice and steamed vegetables.

Thai Fish Cakes with Dipping Sauce – serves 4
500g boneless white fish fillets, roughly chopped
2 tbsp red curry paste
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 egg
1 tsp sugar
4 green beans, trimmed and finely chopped
1 kaffir lime leaf, spine removed, finely shredded
4 tbsp vegetable oil, for shallow frying
Dipping sauce
½ cup water
4 tbsp white vinegar
½ cup sugar
½ Lebanese cucumber, deseeded and finely chopped
1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tbsp roasted peanuts, finely chopped (optional)

To make the dipping sauce
Combine the water, vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, then simmer until slightly syrupy (about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat and add the cucumber, chilli, fish sauce and peanuts. Set aside to cool.

To make the fish cakes
Place the fish, curry paste, fish sauce, egg and sugar in a food processor. Process until well combined. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the beans and kaffir lime leaf. Shape 2 tbsp of the mixture into 2cm thick patties – you should be able to make 16 in total. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Cook the fish cakes until golden brown on each side. Serve with dipping sauce. Yum!

Note: If you have younger children, you can replace the red curry paste with mashed potato or pumpkin, and use soy sauce instead of fish sauce.

You’ll find Julie at the Windsor Mall Markets on the second, fourth and fifth Sunday of each month. Don’t miss her popular Christmas chutney and pickle options, including mango, beetroot, apple and rhubarb, caramelised tomato, plum and spiced apricot. And if you’re looking for the essential ingredient for an easy summer dessert, her lemon and lime butters are real winners! For more ideas and recipes from Julie’s Kitchen check out our previous posts – Julie’s Kitchen in Spring, Pickling ideas with Winter produces, Julie’s Autumn cooking tips and A great seasonal pickled carrot recipe that anyone can achieve.

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