Wednesday, 11 February 2015

a summer reverie

this summer has been lovely in melbourne
a few less hot northerlies..a few more mid twenties days
not quite as beastly hot as the last few summers
mulching my garden with mountains of pea straw has helped my garden cope better too
my tomatoes are the best they've been in years
the butternut pumpkin is prancing around sending its tentacles in all directions and producing lots of fruit
the pomegranate and cumquat tree's branches are in danger of snapping with the weight of all the fruit they're bearing
no beans yet..nearly ready..late because i was tardy
same with the zucchini and cucumber..although i have picked a few immature cucumbers..couldn't wait
and i'm picking a handful of alpine strawberries daily..they crop all year round..planted in the shade they crop in summer and in winter if planted in full sun..found out by accident..the good sort of accident
there's lettuce, silver beet, celery, rocket, spring onions and watercress
 and the scent of a freshly picked bunch of roses
'cause the soul needs food too 

i planted a packet of way past its use by date digger's heirloom mixed tomato seeds this year and this is what i got..
six varieties..the green ones are took me a while to realise..

roast tomato and capsicum soup with sweet corn, chilli and cheese

roast tomato and capsicum soup with sweetcorn, chilli and cheese
tea with hazel

ingredients soup base

2 kilos tomatoes cut large
2 large capsicum cut large
1 red onion cut into quarters
4-6 unpeeled garlic cloves
1 fresh red chilli
2 litres chicken stock (i used homemade)
1 teaspoon (tsp) sugar
salt and white pepper
olive oil

ingredients to serve

1 sweetcorn cob per person
freshly grated parmesan
finely cut green chilli
finely cut spring onion
salt and pepper


~ place the vegetables in a roasting tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and sugar
~ cover the tray with foil and bake at 180 deg c for an hour or until the vegetables are softened
~ remove foil and continue to bake until the vegetables are just starting to darken on the edges
~ place the ingredients in a saucepan with the stock and boil for about 10 to 15 minutes
~ press the soup through a drum sieve and return the soup to the saucepan
~ boil or chargrill (for a smoky flavour) the sweetcorn and then remove the kernels

to serve per person

~ place the kernels in bowl, sprinkle with a tablespoon of parmesan, top with the hot soup and garnish with extra parmesan, spring onion, green chilli and salt and pepper

so, tell me, how's your summer been so far?

Sunday, 11 January 2015

cypriot black lava salt

i was chatting about salt with my local providore owner a few weeks ago and during the conversation he mentioned cypriot black salt*..oh..that would be interesting i thought..should buy some..then i remembered that my son was in cyprus..oh..hang on..i'll see if he can get me some..long story long i contacted him about it..he brought me some back when he arrived home from his 6 month holiday just before christmas..apparently it was very hard to find though..luckily he had a close friend and cafe owner who helped him find it..seems to just be an export item and that the locals don't use it..he brought me a bottle of home produced cypriot olive oil too..he knows his mother well! i used the oil and salt in a greek style warm wilted greens salad the other day..eating it i was in greek heaven..

*   black lava salt is sea salt that has purified volcanic charcoal added to it..apparently the charcoal aids digestion and detoxifies the body although i'm skeptical about the health benefits considering it's used as a garnish only and not meant for cooking and thus the amount of charcoal consumed tends to be very small

i mulched my garden heavily with pea straw this year and it's sprouted
lots of pea plants that i've let grow just for the heck of it..but bonus..
i'm now picking a handful of snow peas every day

warm wilted greens salad (horta salata) with homegrown spinach,
purslane, snow peas and garlic and garnished with shaved pecorino,
a drizzle of cypriot olive oil and a sprinkle of cypriot black lava salt

have you come across any interesting ingredients recently?