Freshfield Grove

Tales of Tasmanian Adventures in Olive Oil


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Recipes From My Kitchen – Farmer Fi’s Banana Bread

This is the quickest banana bread recipe I know – the ingredients are really easy to mix together and you can have it in the oven in under 15 minutes. The tricky bit is not eating it as soon as it’s baked, because the aroma is amazing! I eat it as it is, but you may like to toast and / or butter it. It’s a great snack or breakfast on the go – try a piece of fresh fruit to go with it.

There’s already a good dose of healthy fats with the extra virgin olive oil and walnuts, but try making it with wholemeal flour and brown sugar to increase the fibre content, and reduce empty calories further.

Calories: 232 per serving

Farmer Fi's Banana Bread

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Incredibly quick and easy banana bread recipe - a perfect snack or brekkie on the run.

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 50g chopped walnuts
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 125g sugar
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • grated rind ½ lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g raisins

Directions

  1. Mash bananas.
  2. Mix with all other ingredients and beat ‘til smooth.
  3. Pour into greased or lined loaf tin (23x13x8cm).
  4. Bake at 180°C for approximately 1h 10minutes. You can check for done-ness with a skewer 5 minutes before time is up.

Possible substitutions and additions:

  • You can substitute wholemeal flour in place of all or half of the self-raising. If it’s not self-raising wholemeal flour, add 3tsp baking powder per 200g flour (in addition to the baking powder and bicarb that’s already listed).
  • Sugar can be granulated, caster, or brown. Flavour and texture will vary a little.

Other tips:

  • Bananas freeze well, just place them in a plastic bag or other container. Either buy when they’re ripe and put them straight in, or buy them unripe and pop them in the freezer when they ripen. This means you avoid the scenario where you want to make banana bread, but all the ones at the shop are green! They’ll be a bit wet and floppy when they come out, but it’s no problem for this recipe!
  • You can do things to ripen bananas faster. I’ve never tried, but this site covers the different methods… https://food-hacks.wonderhowto.com/how-to/ripen-bananas-faster-with-these-3-simple-tricks-0167554/
  • Grated lemon zest can be frozen.
  • If you don’t have a loaf tin this size, then other size tins will work, but the quantity or cooking time and temperature may need to be adjusted. The mixture should only come about half to two thirds up the pan to best allow the loaf to rise and cook through.
  • Alternatively, bake as 12 muffins (approx. 20 mins at 160°C).
  • Lining the pan with greaseproof paper or baking paper can make the loaf easier to remove.
  • I slice the cooled loaf and freeze as individual portions – grab one on the way out of the door and it will have defrosted by the time you get to work.


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How to Cure Olives at Home – Part 2 – Ferment in Brine

In part 2 of this series I’m dealing with brine cured olives. 

If you want to read about water-curing olives, then go my previous post here.

This takes the longest of all the methods, but is also the easiest. The lack of contact time is a huge bonus for me, and although the months, and months, and months of waiting seem impossible at the start, if you hide them in the back of the pantry you’ll forget they’re there! Until, one day, you remember, and it feels as if someone’s given you a super special yummy gift! And if you do this every year, you’ll always have a supply of these little treats to hand anyway, so it won’t matter that the new batch can’t be touched!

Brine curing relies on a natural fermentation process. Basically, you put the freshly picked olives in an acidified brine solution which creates a selective environment Continue reading


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How to Cure Olives at Home – Part 1 – With Water

This is a multipart series of posts to give you the confidence and know-how to cure yummy olives yourself at home. You’ll obviously need fresh olives in order to even get started, and for some people this will be the trickiest part! I know some greengrocers in Australia stock them, for example the Harris Farm stores in NSW, so keep your eyes open. However, if you have the good fortune to be in Tasmania during olive season, then get in touch with me and arrange to come and pick some of ours!

Manzanillo olives

Olives are too bitter to eat straight off the tree, and must be cured in some way to make them palatable. Several methods are described, Continue reading


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Recipes From My Kitchen – Colourful Roast Veggie Pasta

Cooking veggies in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) increases the antioxidant-rich phenols of the vegetables. Phenols are known to be anti-inflammatory and have a preventative effect against cancers and chronic illnesses. They’re present in vegetables and EVOO, but cooking them together by frying or baking increases their availability. Cooking veggies like this obviously increases the calories, but EVOO has been shown to keep us feeling full for longer after meals, so it reduces calories from snacking!

These veggies can all be grown in the area where I live in the Coal River Valley region of Tasmania, but my vegetable patch is still in its infancy! I’m lucky to be able to find many of them at local markets when they’re in season though.

This recipe takes a while because of the time for the veg to roast, but the chopping is the most difficult and time consuming part! I scale this up or down depending how many people I want to feed, Continue reading


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Recipes From My Kitchen – Cauliflower Cheese Pasta Bake

This recipe is like a cross between cauliflower cheese and macaroni cheese, and it’s perfect comfort food! The weather’s picked up again in Tassie and we’ve got some beautiful sunny days as we head into autumn, but it was getting a bit chilly for a while and I dug this recipe out! Make this to enjoy on its own, or pair it with some BBQ food. It’s great as a veggie dish, but chicken or bacon are tasty additions. I sometimes add a bit of broccoli too, for a little more colour. It can also be prepared in advance, Continue reading


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Recipes From My Kitchen – Spaghetti with Beans, Walnuts, and Mascarpone

I created this dish as a way to use some of the beans that are currently cropping really well in my new veggie patch. These borlotti beans (aka tongue of fire) are so pretty with their red streaky pods (although this colour disappears on cooking). I’ve picked these young and am eating them pods and all. Regular green beans, or French beans, would also work really well in this, but the ones I’m growing aren’t quite big enough yet!

I wanted to make a quick meal for dinner, and a rummage in the pantry and fridge revealed walnuts and mascarpone. I had a vague idea of what to do and found something similar without the beans in this great pasta sauce book by Dianne Seed (a fab gift from my Mum!) Mascarpone cheese can be frozen, so if you don’t use the whole tub, you can pop the rest in the freezer til next time.

Spaghetti with Beans, Walnuts, and Mascarpone

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Use this recipe combining fresh beans in a creamy pasta sauce with the lovely added texture of walnuts, to make a speedy light dinner for 2

Ingredients

  • 100g spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • a handful of beans, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 4 tablespoons of chopped walnuts
  • 80g mascarpone cheese
  • 25g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Cook the spaghetti in salted water, and while that’s happening…
  2. Pour the extra virgin olive oil into a frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the chopped beans, crushed garlic, and lemon zest, and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chopped walnuts and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat, add the mascarpone and stir to combine.
  6. Return to the heat, add the grated parmesan, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce a little (use boiling water from the kettle if you’ve already drained the pasta).
  8. Drain the pasta, tip it into the sauce, and combine to coat the pasta with the sauce.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

Possible substitutions and additions:
– A variety of different beans would work well here – French beans, young runner beans, double podded broad beans…
– I think double cream could be substituted for the mascarpone, and this would give a more decadent, creamy result.
– The parmesan could be increased to make it cheesier, or perhaps substituted for a blue cheese, in which case I’d omit the lemon and garlic.
– Spaghetti works well with this creamy sauce, but other pasta shapes would be just fine. Wholewheat pasta could be used to increase the fibre content.

Other tips:
– Make sure the walnuts you use are fresh – old rancid ones will ruin the dish. Fresh walnuts tend to have a paler colour, while old ones can be rather darker.
– You can freeze any leftover mascarpone cheese.


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Recipes From My Kitchen – Spicy Zucchini Tomato Rice

I made this earlier in the week, after being gifted some zucchini (aka courgettes!) from our lovely neighbours. I obviously forgot to take photos of the zucchini, but they were a mixture of yellow and green which made for a very pretty dish. Also forgot to take pics of the cooking process and final result, as it came after a busy day at work and I was just trying to get food into my belly as quickly as possible! I was delighted with the result of this experiment though. Filling but not heavy, and with leftovers for lunch a couple of days later 🙂

Spicy Zucchini Tomato Rice

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A quick, easy, healthy dish for zucchini season.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 4 tbsp fresh extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed or chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • jalapeno rings to taste, chopped (optional, I only used 4!)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

  1. Cook the rice, and while that’s going on, continue with the following…
  2. Put the extra virgin olive oil in a medium saucepan and turn onto a medium heat.
  3. Add the sliced zucchini, cover and cook, shaking occasionally for 5 minutes until just tender.
  4. Add the garlic, and salt and pepper to taste, and cook for a further minute.
  5. Add the tinned tomatoes, chopped jalapenos (if using), and red wine vinegar.
  6. Simmer uncovered for a few minutes until the tomatoes have reduced.
  7. Add the cooked rice and stir to combine.
  8. Serve into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan if desired.

Possible substitutions and additions:
Brown rice instead of regular basmati would add a great flavour and texture, while increasing the fibre content.
Other small squashes could be substituted for the zucchini.
Fresh tomatoes would be wonderful, but will take just a bit longer to cook.
Garlic paste is absolutely perfect if you’re out of fresh.
Lemon or lime juice would add a fab extra zing instead of the red wine vinegar.
Add a cup of black beans when you put in the tomatoes, to bulk it up and increase the protein value.

Other tips:
Freezes well, so make extra and reheat.
Also great as a side dish.
I sliced the zucchini using the slicer on the side of my cheese grater – they were a bit wonky but it didn’t matter!


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Adopt an Olive Tree

I’ve been working on this for a little while, and I’m excited to announce this new way for more people to get involved with our adventures. We’ve decided to put our trees up for adoption!

Each of our trees is unique, and so they each have their own name – Spanish of course since Picual and Manzanillo are both Spanish varieties!

We’ve got three different packages to suit every budget, and they would all make an amazing gift for food lovers 🙂

The packages include:

  • An emailed adoption certificate that you can print straight away (fab as a gift if you’ve left it ‘til the last minute!)
  • A digital photo of your tree, with his or her name.
  • A map image and a Google Earth placemark showing YOUR tree’s exact location in our grove, so you can really get a feel for where your tree lives.
  • A printed adoption certificate including a photograph of YOUR tree, sent by post.
  • We would love you to visit your tree here in Tasmania, and we’d be delighted to give you a tour of the grove on selected Fridays and Saturdays throughout the year. Just get in touch to let us know when you’d like to come.
  • Delivery of our next harvest of Extra Virgin Olive Oil delivered to your door!

All the details are on our special “Adopt a Tasmanian Olive Tree” website – click here to take a look.


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Iced Olive Leaf Tea

iced tea olive leaf lemon mint tasmania

We’re coming into spring in Tassie, although with what looks like a dusting of snow on Mount Wellington again today and highs of 14degC with an icy wind, it’s not feeling as spring-like as it was yesterday!

Anyway, my mind is filling with thoughts of (hopefully!) warm sunny days ahead, and so I decided to use my olive leaf tea as a base to create an iced version. I tried a few combinations of ingredients, but my favourite is this unsweetened iced olive leaf tea with lemon and mint. The olive leaf tea provides a rich, complex base, while the mint and lemon give it a fabulous fresh lift. (You can add sugar to taste if you’ve got more of a sweet tooth!)

This method takes a little while, as I prefer to chill the tea in the fridge so it doesn’t get too diluted. If you’re in a hurry though, just throw in a few ice cubes!

This is great on a warm day, and would be a brilliant grown-up non-alcoholic drink for the party season.

Ingredients

  • 4 level teaspoons of olive leaf tea
  • Handful of mint leaves (I used about 8 large leaves)
  • Zest peeled from half a lemon.
  • Ice, more mint, and lemon slices to serve.

Method

  • Put the olive leaf tea and the mint leaves into a large cafetiere (mine takes a bit under a litre).
  • Boil the kettle.
  • Wait for a minute to allow the water to cool just a touch, then fill the cafetiere and stir before putting the lid on.
  • Allow to infuse for four minutes, then plunge and pour the tea into a bowl or jug suitable to go in the fridge, leaving the tea leaves and mint in the cafetiere.
  • Add the lemon zest.
  • Cover, allow to cool for a while, then place in the fridge until chilled.
  • Serve over ice with fresh slices of lemon and gently muddled mint. (If you don’t know what muddling is, it’s a fancy term for crushing gently – read about how to do it here!)
  • Relax, and take a moment to be mindful, while you enjoy the fruits of your labour 🙂


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A Tale of Two Brownies…

olive oil chocolate brownie

Wholemeal version on the left, Lucero version on the right.

I’ve baked brownies a couple of times recently. I’ve mentioned brownies before, and I still don’t feel they’re something I’m good at! This recipe from Lucero Olive Oil has been my go to (yes, using olive oil instead of butter – hooray!), but I’ve wanted to do some experiments using fewer refined ingredients. I found this one, on the lovely Passionate About Baking blog using wholemeal flour and raw sugar and decided to give it a go! The result is much cakier, but I have a confession… This second recipe calls for baking powder, and for some reason (well there are several, I’ve been a bit frazzled…) I read this as baking soda (aka bicarbonade of soda), and promptly added 1tsp of the stuff. I didn’t even realise what I’d done until partway through baking [“Oooh, how funny – that’s rising really well… oh noooooo!”] And I used all extra virgin olive oil in place of the combo of butter and oil (90ml in total).

So, the flavor is ok, the bicarb is mostly hidden by the chocolate, but overall these are a bit too cakey and crumbly for my perfect brownie. But I don’t think the use of wholemeal flour and soft dark brown sugar caused problems. I want to try this second recipe again, but would change the following:

  • Melt the chocolate alone, and then whisk in the oil – the only reason being that the aroma of good extra virgin olive oil being added to melted dark chocolate is simply divine. And much better than when the oil and chocolate are heated together!
  • I’d add maybe a tablespoon of full fat milk, just to increase the moisture level a little. Probably wouldn’t be needed if I’d used some butter.
  • Another top tip is that if you’re adding walnuts as I do because I LOVE the added texture of these, they should be added AFTER the flour has been folded in. If you add the walnuts and the flour together, the flour gets stuck in all the little walnut crevices, and it’s really REALLY hard to combine it all without beating the mixture. Which can tend to make the finished product rubbery 😦
  • And finally, I will pay attention to the recipe, and try and select the right ingredients!

If you want to read more about chocolate brownies, The Guardian did one of their excellent “How to make perfect…” series on the topic. But I’m off for now, I have brownies to eat 🙂 FFx

PS. Would love to know YOUR favourite brownie recipe – please share in the comments!