Archive for April, 2010

Posted on 14th April 2010

Grow | Mushrooms

By MEREDITH KIRTON

mushroom

Mushrooms can be grown anywhere that is dark and where the temperature remains fairly constant, without experiencing any extremes of either hot or cold, and without being too wet or too dry.  For this reason, many unused old railway tunnels are used for commercial production.  It sounds more complicated that what it is, especially these days now that you can buy mushroom kits ready to go.  Whilst you might not have a tunnel at home, many houses built on piers have the perfect environment for mushroom growing, or even down the south side of some houses where the sun rarely shines can be a good spot.

To start your mushroom kit off, you simply need to place the spawn layer down and then cover it over with the peat material provided.  Water it well, but not so it’s sodden.  Don’t let it dry out and place in a well ventilated, shaded spot.  In 3 weeks or so you should have the first fruiting bodies of your fungus appear.  These are the mushrooms which you pick.  Use a sharp knife to cut them cleanly from the main fungal body, and you should continue to get a few subsequent flushes.

Once your mushrooms have finished cropping, you can dig the spent compost into your veggie patch…cauliflowers and cabbages love it.  Grow mushrooms when humidity is fairly high but temperatures are not too hot.  Autumn and winter is normally the ideal time.  Kits available include Portabello, or Swiss Browns, Oyster Mushrooms and regular white caps, which grow if left into quite large field mushrooms with dark chocolate coloured gills.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under grow
Posted on 14th April 2010

Harvest | Mushrooms

By MANDY SINCLAIR

frozen mushrooms

Storage:
Store mushrooms, unwashed, in a brown paper bag the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Mushrooms will sweat and go soft if stored in plastic. Before using, trim stem and brush or wipe with kitchen paper to remove any dirt.

What to do with glut

  • Freeze:

Wipe any excess dirt from mushrooms and place in a clip lock bag. Freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw and slice when ready to cook.

  • Preserve:

Scatter mushrooms, cap side down on a baking tray. Drizzle with oil and top with a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Bake at 180c or 160C fan for 10-12 mins. Season well and pack into sterilized jars. Cover with vegetable oil, pressing mushrooms down to release any air pockets. Seal and store in a cool place for up to 3 months.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 14th April 2010

Cook | Mushrooms

By MANDY SINCLAIR

mushrrom fetta bruscetta

Mushroom & fetta bruschetta

4 field mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
25g fetta
4 bruschetta slices, lightly toasted
1 cup basil leaves
¼ cup vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Lay mushrooms on tray and drizzle with oil. Bake for 5 mins. Crumble over fetta and season well. Bake for another 5 mins, until mushrooms are tender.
2. Meanwhile, make basil oil. Place basil and oil in a small food processor. Process until smooth.
3. Spread basil oil over each bruschetta. Top with a mushrooms and serve with extra basil oil for drizzling.


tip ….
You could use brown or button mushrooms in this recipe. Leave whole or chop and cook as per step 1.

try this ….
Mushrooms ragout…

Melt 30g butter in a large frying pan. Cook 300g mixed chopped mushrooms for 2-3mins, until golden. Add 1 cup of beef stock and 2 tsp wholegrain mustard and simmer for 5 mins, until liquid has reduced by half. Stir through 2 tbsp cream. Serve with beef or chicken.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under cook
Posted on 1st April 2010

Harvest | Pomegranate

By MANDY SINCLAIR

Pomegranate fruit

Storage:
Store pomegranates in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.

What to do with glut

  • Freeze:

Cut pomegranate in half. Using a wooden spoon, firmly tap the skin to dislodge seeds. Squeeze excess juice from fruit. Pour into an airtight container or ice cube tray and freeze for up to 6 months.

  • Preserve:

pomegranate cordial

1 cup water
1 ½ cups caster sugar
½ cup lemon juice
2 tsp tartaric acid
2 pomegranates

Stir water and sugar in a saucepan on low heat until sugar dissolves. Add lemon juice, tartaric acid and pomegranate seeds and juice and simmer for 5 mins. Remove from heat and allow to infuse for 20 mins. Strain, pressing down seeds with back of a spoon. Pour into hot sterilized bottles and seal. Refrigerate.

To serve – combine 1/3 cup of cordial with 2/3 cup mineral or soda water.

Tartaric acid – is a plant-derived preservative and is available from most supermarkets.

homemade pomegranate cordial recipe

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 1st April 2010

Grow | Pomegranate

By MEREDITH KIRTON

pomegranate flower

Image from Harvest by MEREDITH KIRTON

Throughout December and January, gardens with pomegranates are lit up by the vermillion shades of these spectacular flowers.  Revered by sultans, these blooms look like their petals are made from tissue paper yet have the colour intensity of embers in a fire.  The highly unusual fruit that follows in late summer and autumn is another marvel, with the many seeds inside, covered with a jelly-like sac of juice, glowing garnet.  The pith that segments the fruit is bitter and inedible, as is the rind.

Pomegranates are tough too, coping well with heat and drought and even cold, with temperate or tropical climates both acceptable.  A tree bearing well should produce about 40kg of fruit and they start to produce fruit from about 3 years of age, and will continue for hundreds of years.  Pick the fruit using scissors or secateurs one if has started to show good colour.  It will continue to ripen post pick too.

Pomegranates don’t like humidity, so need to be lucky to bear well on the coast.  Deep loam is ideal, but their tolerance of sandy, slightly alkaline and even poorly drained soils is testament to their adaptability. Although they are adaptable to extremes, they will bear better crops if not under water stress and fed regularly with either citrus food or chicken manure and blood and bone.

Grown either as a tree or bush, depending on how they have been pruned from a young age, there is also dwarf forms available, though these are grown for their blossoms and ornamental fruit rather than for food and make excellent pot plants.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under grow
Posted on 1st April 2010

Cook | Pomegranate

By MANDY SINCLAIR

Recipe for Pomegranate Duck Breast

Crispy duck breast with pomegranate sauce

4 x 200g duck breasts, skin scored
2 tbsp olive oil
seasoning
sauce
1 tsp oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 pomegranate, seeds removed (see tip)
½ tsp Cajun seasoning mix
juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp brown sugar
½ cup chicken stock
mashed potato, to serve
coriander and chervil salad, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan.
2. Rub half of the oil over duck breasts and season well. Heat remaining oil in a large frying pan on high. Cook duck, skin side down for 2 mins, until skin is crisp and golden. Turn and cook for another 2 mins, to seal. Transfer to a baking tray and bake for 10 mins. Cover loosely with foil and rest for 5 mins.
3. Meanwhile, make sauce. Heat oil in same frying pan on low. Cook onion and pomegranate seeds for 5 mins, until onion is soft. Add Cajun seasoning and stir for 1 min, until fragrant. Add lemon juice and sugar. Simmer for 2 mins, until reduced by half. Stir through stock and simmer for 2-3 mins, until reduced and thickened slightly,
4. Serve duck breast with pomegranate sauce spooned over with mashed potato and coriander and chervil salad.

Serves 4


tip ….
to make coriander and chervil salad, pick leaves from 1 bnch of coriander and 1 bunch of chervil. Place in a bowl. Combine 1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp brown sugar. Pour over salad and toss to combine.


try this ….
Toss together 100g baby spinach, 1 chopped small red onion, ½ cup toasted walnut halves and seeds from 1 pomegranate. Mix together pomegranate juice and a little olive oil. Add to salad and toss to combine.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under cook