Saturday, January 19, 2008

January 13, 2008: Morsels for the Moonlight Cinema

Between Cindy's network of expat-Brisbanites and my stash of $10 tickets, we rounded up quite a gang for a Sunday evening at the Moonlight Cinema in the botanic gardens. The evening's entertainment consisted of a selection of shorts from the Melbourne International Film Festival, but of course the real focus of the evening was the pre-film picnic. After some success with my previous dip-focussed picnic food, I decided to repeat the performance. This time I flicked through our cookbooks rather than Cindy's bookmarks, and came across a couple of relatively easy and tasty-looking choices.

First up was the amazingly straightforward garlic, herb and bean pate from our CookSmart Vegetarian flip book. This takes all of five minutes to make and is really pretty tasty. I might go a bit lighter on the garlic next time, as it really was a bit overpowering.

Given how simple the first dip was, I decided to be a little more ambitious with the second. This beetroot hummus recipe came from our little Vegie Food cookbook and looked a delicious and bright addition to the relatively plain bean dip. It turned out even pinker than the picture in the book suggested and was worth the extra effort. A word of warning though: this recipe makes an awful lot of dip - we're still working through the leftovers.

We brought along a pile of chopped carrot, cucumber and capsicum as well as some Turkish bread to dig into our dips. Really, between these two dips and Cindy's muffins (coming soon!) there was enough food to feed our whole gang, but of course everyone else had prepared for a picnic as well and we were all stuffed to the gills long before anyone's provisions were exhausted. Better to be safe than hungry I guess. Indeed, by the time the films started, we'd all decided that this picnic idea was a winner, and one we could probably replicate without needing to pay for the privilege.

Still, the films were mostly pretty entertaining, with a couple of odd, slow ones that tested the crowd's patience. Unfortunately the cold drove some of our group away before the last couple of shorts, which were easily the best: Advantage (a ridiculously creepy encounter on a tennis court) and Spider (both disturbing and hilarious, watch it here).

Garlic, herb and bean pate

1 410g can of navy beans (the recipe wanted flageolet beans, but we couldn't find them anywhere), drained
125g quark (the recipe specified cream cheese, but Cindy was keen to buy more quark, and it seemed to work fine as a substitute)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons pesto (I used some of the leftover agresto)
2 chopped spring onions
salt and pepper

Stick everything in the food processor and whiz until combined. A splash of olive oil probably wouldn't hurt, if the texture is a little dry, but is otherwise unnecessary. And that's it, you've got your first dip.

Beetroot hummus

500g beetroot
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
410g can of chickpeas, drained
1 tablespoon tahini
1/3 cup plain yoghurt
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup vegie stock

Scrub the beetroot and boil in a large pot of water for about 40 minutes, until they're nice and soft. Drain them and let them cool for while and then peel (the skin should come off really easily).

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a fry pan and cook the onions for about five minutes. Add in the cumin and stir it through, cooking for another minute or so.

Chop the peeled beetroot into manageable chunks and place it in the food processor with all of your ingredients except for the oil. Whiz everything together until it's a smooth paste. Pour the olive oil in with the processor still whizzing and, once everything is combined, you've got yourself a giant, pink mush ready for dipping.


  1. Glad you enjoyed moonlight cinema - it is such a great way to have a picnic - and dips and vegies are easy outdoor food - I like the look of the bright beetroot one but the bean pate also looks pretty tasty too!

  2. I knew that splash of colour would attract you, Johanna! :-) I'm actually thinking that a slosh of pomegranate molasses will do very nicely in the beetroot one next time.

    The bean pate isn't nearly as glamourous-looking, but it was my favourite of the two.

  3. I've been thinking of going to the Moonlight cinemas. I think I will try to organise an outing there now.

  4. You should, Thanh! Check out the program for a movie you like, bake some of those fantastic muffins... oh, and check the weather forecast before leaving the house. :-)

  5. How beetrooty is that beetroot hummus? I keep getting them in my organic veggie bag, and I really hate them. I'm trying to find beetroot recipes that don't make me want to be sick, and there's only so many beetroot chocolate cakes a girl can legitimately make and eat.

  6. Abs, the beetroot flavour is there but not too strong. I think adding a splash of pomegranate molasses or balsamic vinegar would dampen it right out. If you give it a try, be sure to halve or even quarter the recipe! The full quantity is an awful lot, even if you *do* like beetroot. :-)