Monday, January 30, 2012

January in the Garden

The garden has grown into a jungle of fennel, thai basil, tomatoes, sweet basil, lemongrass, dill, french tarragon, golden beetroot, yellow squash, red beetroot, purple carrots, orange carrots, cos lettuce, mesculun and rocket, parsley and chives, thyme, mint, lemon thyme, an abundance of sage, rosemary, garlic, jap and butternut pumpkin, many more tomatoes and celery! It is difficult to harvest because there are various layers of tomatoes and the walkways have been overgrown. I have learnt a lesson from this - I have overplanted the tomatoes and they are taking over everything. The other thing taking over is the butternut pumpkin. Here are the pics....see December pictures for a 1 month comparison!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pan fried Salmon on Potato & Pumpkin mash and Squash bruschetta

I tried to make this look interesting and classy instead of just a bunch of veg slopped on the side of the plate next to the fish. I had fun practicing cutting the tiny dice and making the different mash. I learn that mashing actually doesnt break all the cell walls of the potato and doesnt release the 'sticky' starch so that it is like a glue (unlike pureeing in a food processor). I love gooey things with salmon, but this dish I think is nicely balanced because you find yoruself wanting something to crunch on and the tiny dice satisfy that urge.

Boil two large sebago potatos and mash them (do not process them this will make them like glue) with 1 tsp butter, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 2 tbsp milk.

Boil equivalent amount of pumpkin with two long yellow squash. Remove Squash and set aside. Mash pumpkin with 2 tbsp milk.

Mash half an avocado with 1 tbsp lemon, salt and pepper.
Finely chop 1/4 cucumber into tiny dice after removing skin.
Do the same for 1/4 of red capsicum, 1/2 tomato and 1/4 skinned carrot.

Heat 3 tbsp butter in a frypan on high and add 12 sage leaves. Cook till crisp. Wipe pan clean.

Add 1 tbsp olive oil. Pan fry salmon skin side down for 4 minutes on high then 3 minutes on other side.

Form the bruschetta by slicing the squash lengthways and placing a tbsp of avocado on the end of each squash half and top with tiny diced vegetables.

To assemble make a yin yang symbol out of the potato and pumpkin mash.
Scatter over half the sage. Place two pieces of salmon on top and the squash on either side as shown in photo. Garnish with dill sprigs and rest of the sage.

some of these ingredients came from my garden.

French Spaghetti Bol

This is a recipe from a book called 'The sharper your knife the less you cry' by Kathleen Flinn. The book is about an american woman who goes to the French Cooking School attended by Julia Childs : Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Her friend in class is actually italian but makes a french version of her Bolognese. Its very meaty and creamy. I added peas because I was brought up on peas with my Spag Bol!

Serves 6 to 8

2 large onions. chopped (about 2.5 cups)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 kg lean ground beef
1 bottle of dry red wine minus one glass
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp italian herbs
1 cup thickened cream
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
500g spaghetti, cooked and drained
Parmesan, grated


In a heavy bottomed saute pan, cook the onions in olive oil over medium heat until softened. Stir in the garlic, add the beef, and stir until the meat cooks through and is separated into crumbly pieces.

Add the wine after pouring yourself a glass.
Turn the heat up to high so the wine bubbles continuously. Reduce by about half. Skimm off any grey foam.

Add the tomato paste and stir. Cover and turn down the heat to very low. Cook for a minimum of two hours and up to four. Stir from time to time and scrape the bottom to ensure nothing burns.

Shortly before serving stir in the cream, and italian herbs. Taste then add salt and pepper.
NB: I tossed some green peas in at this point.
Let simmer uncovered for another ten minutes. Taste again. Adjust seasoning. Stir in parsley.

Serve tossed with pasta sprinkled with parmesan.

Mango, Citrus & Passionfruit Frozen Yoghurt

Gav and Ania gave us an ice-cream maker for a wedding present last October, and I have been making use of it with fresh fruit. My friend Anya from round the corner gave us some beautiful big mangoes from her Mum's farm up in QLD and I used one to make this tangy frozen yoghurt.


1 very large mango the size enclosed by two large hands, or two small mangoes, one handful each.
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup orange juice (about 1)
1/4 cup passionfruit pulp (about 3)
1/4 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup milk
500g greek style yoghurt

Whiz the first 6 ingredients in a food processor till smooth
Transfer to the ice cream maker with the milk and yoghurt and churn for 45 minutes.
Transfer to a container and place in freezer.
Alternatively, if you dont have an icecream maker you can just put it in the freezer. The difference for this frozen yoghurt is that it will just be a bit harder and more crystallized. To remedy this stir it every few hours after you have made it and remove it from the freezer 20 minutes before serving to 'ripen'.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Jufa Pasta

This traditional type of pasta from the Trentino Alto Adige northern region of Italy.  It is meant for eating in the mountains during the cold months.


1 glass of water
1 litre of milk
100g flour
50g granoturco (cornflour)
1 egg
pinch salt

Making it

Place a saucepan on a hot flame or ideally a cauldron on an open fire in a clearing in the Alpine woods.

Bring the water to boil, adding the milk and salt and let boil for a couple of minutes.

Slowly add the two types of flour which have been mixed together, then stir the water energetically with a hand whisk. Continue to stir well for 15-20 minutes on a low heat.

Crack open an egg, whisk it briefly and pour it over the mixture or 'mosa'.

Finish by dripping melted butter over the mixture to add flavor.
Add any edible herbs that can be found around the campsite.

Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Random moments in life

My favourite hummous dip with way too much garlic, my loving little border collie puppy, my parents on a bushwalk together in the Budawangs, New Years Day 2012 at Lake Conjola, Dad and I cooking Dhal, Painting the Bendalong beach house, and Daniel's favourite indulgence, LYCHEES!

Summer Salads

Yellow Zucchini, Herb and Feta Salad

Spicy Garden Salad

For the Zucchini Salad:
1 large homegrown yellow zucchini (allow it to grow for 2 weeks) or 2 small ones
Fresh garden herbs: basil & mint
Marinated Feta
1 tbsp Lemon Myrtle Olive Oil
1 tbsp Lemon juice

Shave long slices of zucchini with a peeler into a bowl.
Toss the lemon juice, oil and half your herbs through.
Garnish with herbs and Feta.

For the Spicy Garden Salad:
A few handfuls of mixed spicy lettuce
A handful of heirloom cherry, grape and pear tomatoes
1 fresh young fennel, white part finely sliced
Fresh herbs: basil, dill, chives
White caramelised balsamic vinegar

Lay the lettuce out on a nice big salad plate
Arrange the tomatoes, fennel and herbs over the top.
Drizzle with the balsamic.
Garnish with Nasturtium leaves - they are spicy too.

We had these with Morrocan BBQ Chicken:

Salted Caramel Fudge

Salted caramel fudge. Addictive. Melts in your mouth. Perfect when you're too full for dessert but you want something gooey and sweet with your after dinner tea (rooibos chai for me).


• 395g can sweetened condensed milk
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1/4 cup golden syrup plus 1 tbsp
• 125g butter, chopped
• 180g white chocolate, finely chopped
• sea salt flakes
*optional decorative icing sugar shapes (butterflies)


1. Grease pan a 4cm deep, 20cm (base) square cake pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang on all sides. You can also grease it with butter or spray oil.

2. Place condensed milk, sugar, golden syrup and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, without boiling, for 10 minutes or until mixture is glossy and sugar has dissolved.

3. Increase heat to medium-low. Bring to a simmer, stirring. Cook, stirring constantly, for 6 to 8 minutes or until mixture thickens and comes away from side of pan. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate until combined and melted. Spoon into prepared pan. Smooth top. Sprinkle with salt and decorations, pressing in with the back of a spoon to secure. Set aside for 30 minutes. Cover with plastic. Refrigerate for 6 hours or until firm.

Cut into pieces!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gardening January 2012

Manuka is scared of the mower.

The fennel and tomatoes have really grown well in the warmer weather. The strawberries taste great because I have had cold nights and hot days - this makes them produce two different chemicals that make them taste sweet as well as flavoursome. Good things to note during the year of observation...still so much to learn for me.