Sunday, 17 February 2013

The $3.80 veggie shop

Last Saturday I spent exactly $3.80 on my veggie shop for the week. That consisted of  a hand full of red onions ($1) and three red capsicums ($1) from the "one dollar, one dollar" ladies at Vic Market and a punnet of "tomatoberry" ($1.80) basically the latest novelty cherry tomato that's been bred in the shape of strawberry- mmmm if only it weren't for the dammed rats I would have had a $2 shop!

I must confess it might be cheating slightly to admit I was mostly cooking for one last week and I did have a few left overs but thanks to the abundance of zucchinis and eggplants coming out of the lane way at the moment I was well set up for the week.

Here's a run down of the week.

On Saturday I pulled up the last of the carrots  from my first planting in the planter box. They were steamed with a zucchini and some chat potatoes (ok cheating I bought them the week before) and served with a piece of fish.

On Sunday I cooked up one of my favourite season recipes Ethiopian roast chicken with roast veg based on a recipe by Cath Claringbold's (founder of Mecca Bah). See below.

Zucchini and Lebanese eggplant (note one plant seems to be on steroids)
And later in the week I cooked up a yellow curry. I normally don't use the all in one sachets (but oriental merchant- the curry import people were having a crazy sale at their stall for  Chinese New Year). Despite the made in Thailand pedigree it tasted more like 'Japanese' Curry-  but with the bonus is was minus the palm oil! (the blocks of Japanese curry is full of it! so banned from my place).

More zucchni and eggplants ready for Thai curry with chili and Thai basil

This week I am hoping for a similar effort (I think just over $5). My one item a day challenge has been a cinch. To add to that- Boss laid her first egg post babies which was also a nice surprise because she is still moulting.

Ethiopian Roast Chicken:

The first step for the dish is mixing up a Berber spice rub for the chicken as follows:
  • 1tbs coriander seeds*
  • 1tbs cumin*
  • 1tbs black peppercorns*
  • 8 cloves*
  • 1tsp ground cardamon
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp all spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • dried chillies to suit
  • 2tbs sea salt
*roast whole seeds in a hot pan before mixing with finely chopped chillies and sea salt and pounding with a mortar and pestle (adding in the pre-ground spices at the end)

Take a whole chicken (or for shorter cooking time use chicken pieces- skin on. I used thigh pieces on this occasion). Rub with olive oil and spice mix. Depending on how generous you are with you measuring out of the spices the mix should do about 2 smallish chickens.

The next step is to prepare the other ingredients used in this dish:
  • coarsely chopped eggplants, zucchini. and red onion wedges
  • cherry tomatoes
  • jar of marinated goats cheese (eg. Meredith brand)
  • red wine vinegar (40-50ml).
The original recipe suggests baking the chicken and veggies in separate roasting pans. But I took a short cut by using a large roasting pan with a rack. I placed the chicken on the rack and the veggies (eggplant, zucchini, red onion) underneath. Generally the veggies don't take as long so its wise to kick start the chicken and add the veggies in later (10 minutes or so if using chicken pieces - slightly longer for a whole chook- the veggies should take around 30mins).  Prior to placing the veggies in the oven coat generously with oil oil (or use some of the oil marinating the goats cheese) and for a bit of extra flavour you can sprinkle on more of the spice mix.

Bake the chicken and the veggies at around 200deg C. Five-ten minutes prior to the veggies being ready, add the tomatoes.

If cooking the chicken separately collect the pan juice and add to the red wine vinegar. With my cheating version I just splashed the vinegar over both the chicken and veggies prior to serving. After you have turned off the oven mix some pieces of the marinated goats cheese through the veggies and leave to warm in the over for a couple of minutes.  If using the two pan method, splash the vinegar and pan juices over both the chicken and the veg as its being served.

Ethiopian roast chicken with summer veg.


  1. You can even save more if you do the vegie swap with the locals in the weekend, i found the produce are abundance, fresh and generous from the gardeners. Last weekend I came home very happy with some chicken eggs, ruhbarbs, figs, purple carrots, lemon, vietnamese mints. I am hooked to the weekly vegie swaps now!

  2. Hi Yvonne, I couldn't agree more...I look forward to our local event which was held on Sunday. I brought home some delicious 'feral' apples that will make a great dessert at some stage this week.

  3. Very nice! The chicken dish sounds wonderful!

  4. That chicken recipe sounds delicious. At the moment I am only buying onions (and occasionally carrots when I forget to pinch them from mum & dad). Isn't it lovely to not have to buy veg.