Sunday, December 14, 2008

Getting ready for winter ....

Since arriving in Hokkaido in October, we have wanted to take advantage wherever possible of the amazing local produce. We have been busily bottling and preserving whatever we could get our hands on to get us through the long, cold winter.

Wandering to work one day, out the front of the Reading Room was a table covered in amazing baby Roma tomatoes and white eggplants. After arriving at work and expressing our excitement to M1 we were back with a handful of ¥ ..... there's a great little sign advertising "Locally grown Organic Niseko produce" and an honesty box, asking you to pay what you think the vegetables are worth to you... How cool! But as we arrive back, a little truck pulls in unloading more veg. Conveniently it's the farmer himself, so here the relationship begins with Dennis.

We buy the entire contents of the table, and have arrangements for delivery of whatever else he can spare for us.... There's white eggplants,


& Mini red & yellow Roma's.


We made a delicious eggplant, chili & fig chutney. (Which we're now using on the charccuterie plate) and did some tres cute little jars of pickled eggplants. This recipe was found in Stephanie Alexanders the Cook's Companion and is so delicious. It says they will keep for a few months, but ours are disappearing at an alarming rate on antipasto, panini's, pizza's and everything else!


Pickled Eggplant
adapted from Stephanie Alexanders the Cook's Companion

1kg eggplant (we were lucky enough to have organic white Hokkaido eggplants)
¼ cup kitchen salt
100ml red wine vinegar
about 200ml extra virgin olive oil
For layering1 hot chili, sliced finely or chili flakes
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
mint leaves or thyme sprigs
fennel seeds (optional)

Slice eggplants into 5mm thick rounds. Spread out on a tray, sprinkling each layer with salt. Place another tray on top and something quite heavy, like a large jar of olive oil, and leave in the fridge overnight. This is to remove excess moisture from the eggplants.
Rinse slices very briefly in cold water, and the dry really well.
The slices can then be grilled with a little olive oil. We don't yet have a grill so we fried them in a pan until they were nicely golden on both sides. Remove from the pan and allow to cool a little.
Transfer the eggplant to a stainless bowl or tray and drizzle over the red wine vinegar. Leave the eggplants for 1 hour, to absorb all the vinegar.
Layer the eggplants with tongs or a fork into hot, sterilized jars adding the chili, garlic & herbs alternately. Press down very well and cover with olive oil. Release the slices from the side of the jar with a fork to remove any trapped air. Press down once more and fill to the top with oil.
Seal the jar and leave for at least a week (if possible :)) before eating.
If air has been correctly excluded and the jars are perfectly clean this pickle will last for months. Keep in a cool dark cupboard to prevent deterioration of the olive oil.
Makes 1 x 500g jar.

Then with the tomatoes, 80kg in total, we were constantly drying and semi-drying. Our combi oven certainly had a workout .....


We would love to be using these super sweet dried tomatoes for so many more things, but they only have about a 10% yield after dried, so they've been saved exclusively for our salad on at Sekka. Next year we just need to get in much earlier and have Dennis grow us about 500kg :)


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