I decided to go for an indigenous Australian spice in the form of Mountain Pepper Leaf.
Mountain Pepper trees are found in the Alpine Rainforests of Tasmania. The leaves are harvested from the wild and are then dried and ground. This results in an olive green powder which has smoky notes and a peppery aftertaste.
When cooking it's best to use this near the end of your cooking time to maximise it's flavour. When used to marinate, the flavour will intensify with time. It's advised that 1 teaspoon of ground Mountain Pepper leaves will flavour 500 grams of ingredients.
Having found the spice it was now time to focus on finding the ingredients I'd be using - even though it's winter there's still quite a choice.
The bounty of winter vegetables include Butternut Pumpkin, Cavolo Nero, Yellow Button Squash, Carrot, Red Capsicum, Potato, Zucchini, Sweet Potato, Red Onion, Swede, Turnip, Field Mushroom and Eggplant.
In the end I could think of no better dish to make then a Vegetable Frittata.
Roasted Vegetable Frittata
2 potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 kilogram assorted vegetables of your choice
ground Mountain Pepper Leaf
freshly ground salt
½ cup cream
¾ cup milk
4 baby bocconcini, roughly ripped.
The method behind this frittata is a little different. Apart from the potatoes (and in this case the Cavolo Nero), all the other vegetables will be roasted in the oven first, to soften and develop a little caramelisation. This is done to help develop the vegetables flavour.
Depending on the vegetables used, you should cut them in sizes that will allow them to cook at roughly the same kind. For softer vegetables like zucchini and mushroom you would cut them larger then say pumpkin and onion.
Once your vegetables are cut, place them into a bowl with a little olive oil and 1 teaspoon of ground Mountain Pepper Leaf. Stir well and let this sit for a few hours to enhance the flavour.
Roast in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are cooked.
While the vegetables are roasting, boil the potatoes until just softened and the cavolo nero until soft. Drain and set aside.
Line your baking dish with baking paper, this will help when it comes to serving and removing it from the dish.
Sprinkle the base with the softened potato slices - this gives you a solid base on which to build your frittata. Stir the Cavolo Nero through the roasted vegetables and then sprinkle half of this over the potatoes. Stud with the ripped Bocconcini before topping with the remaining vegetables.
Whisk the eggs with the cream and milk, season with a little salt and a half teaspoon of the ground Mountain Pepper Leaf. Pour this over the vegetables and then sprinkle over with a little grated Parmigiano.
Return to the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes or until cook through and golden.
Cool slightly before removing from the pan and slicing. Word of warning, you've got to be quick...
once you've plated it, it will be flying off your table!