Archive for October, 2010

Posted on 13th October 2010

Grow | Chard/Silverbeet

By MEREDITH KIRTON

Silverbeet, or Rainbow chard as the coloured stemmed versions are known, is one of the most versatile crops the home gardener can plant.  It can be eaten raw, finely sliced into a slaw, or cooked, or wrapped around rice and veggies like a dolmades, still holding its shape.  In the garden too it’s supremely adaptable, coping with all climates Australia can throw at it, and living for a few seasons in many zones, giving up tasty leaves tirelessly for many months.

Plants can be sown or planted out as seedlings from punnets, and you’ll notice if growing your own from seed that actually a few plants will germinate, as it’s a conglomerate seed.  Soaking them for a few hours will improve your strike rate too, and, like most leafy veggies, the trick to it is to grow it quickly, with regularly feeding and water promoting the juiciest growth.

A dozen plants is enough to feed a whole family, and you pick the outside leaves a few at a time, always leaving a clutch of at least 4 in the centre from which to regenerate.  Keep any flowers pruned off.  They grow best in full sun, but will like some shade in the afternoon, especially over summer in warmer areas. A rich, free draining soil is ideal.

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Posted under grow
Posted on 13th October 2010

Harvest | Chard/Silverbeet

By MANDY SINCLAIR

Storage:
Whilst silverbeet is a hardy vegetable when growing, once picked is not quite as robust. Trim stalks and store refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to 4 days.

What to do with glut

  • Freeze:

Wash, trim and roughly chop silverbeet and chard leaves. Blanch in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 1-2 mins, until just wilted. Drain and run under cold water until completely cool. Drain again and press out any excess moisture. Transfer to an airtight container or clip lock bag and freeze until ready to use. Can be frozen for up to 3 months.

  • Preserve:

Spinach puree

Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan. Place a whole knob of garlic in a small baking pan and drizzle with a little oil. Bake for 30mins. Set aside to cool. Blanch 100g baby spinach leaves and 100g ruby chard leaves. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain again, pressing out any excess water. Transfer to a food processor. Squeeze garlic from cloves and add to spinach with 75g toasted pine nuts and 1 tbsp lemon juice. Process until finely chopped. With the motor running, add ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil and process until smooth. Store refrigerated, in an airtight container for 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 13th October 2010

Cook | Chard/Silverbeet

By MANDY SINCLAIR

Best ever spinach & ricotta pie

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
1 bunch silverbeet, trimmed, washed, shredded
100g ruby chard leaves
200g fetta, crumbled
125g ricotta
2 eggs, lightly beaten
7 sheets filo pastry

1. Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium. Cook onion for 5 mins, until golden and very soft. Add silverbeet and cook, stirring for 5 mins, until soft. Season well, remove from heat and stir through chard leaves. Set aside to cool.
2. Preheat oven to 200C or 180C fan. Lightly grease a 20cm springform pan. Add fetta, ricotta and eggs to spinach mixture and mix to combine.
3. Spray 3 sheets of filo with oil. Fold each sheet in half and lay over base and up the sides of prepared pan. Spread half of spinach mixture over pasty. Spray 2 sheets of filo and fold into quarters. Lay over spinach mixture. Spread remaining spinach mixture over pastry. Spray the remaining 2 sheets of filo with oil and fold in half. Lay over spinach and fold in edges to enclose filling. Bake for 40-45 mins, until crisp and golden.
4. Serve in wedges with salad and lemon wedges.

Serves 8


tip ….
Use any variety of spinach that you wish, English, baby leaves, chard and silverbeet. Wash leaves well before using as dirt can be caught in the many folds of the leaf.


try this ….
Silverbeet and chard can be used in many different ways and I urge you to be adventurous. Chop and stir through soups, casseroles and stir-fries. Shred, blanch and add to mashed potato and bolognaise. Use in stuffings for pork, chicken and turkey.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted on 1st October 2010

Grow | Coffee

By MEREDITH KIRTON

Coffee is one of the most loved beverages in the world, with Australia’s consumption at around 55,000 tonnes annually. However what many people don’t realise is that it’s also one of the most sprayed food crops. Fortunately, in Australia we don’t have the pests and diseases that plague it overseas, so growing it here means it’s easy to produce an organic crop. Make sure you plant an arabica as these have the best flavour.

Related to gardenias, they are actually are very attractive addition to the garden and easy to grow.  They have glossy foliage, white perfumed flowers in spring and cherry red fruits appearing in November and grow into a small tree and can be pruned frequently to hedge them or make harvest easier.  Coffee trees can also be grown in pots, and will even survive inside providing the position gets plenty of sunlight.  Coffee trees like a frost free position with well drained, slightly acidic soil and regular fertiliser.

To harvest fruits, pick them whilst they are still bright red.  Next, pulp the berries and soak them for a few days allowing the flesh to slightly ferment and fall off the seed, and change from being slippery to having a grainy texture.  Rinse them out a few times and then lay them in the sun till the husk starts to split and reveals the inner bean, which is now ready for roasting!


tip ….
Got a pest problem with snails and slugs? Try giving them a morning coffee they won’t live to regret!  Mix one part espresso to 3 parts water and spray all over leaves and soil of susceptible plants every week to deter them from your salad crops.

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Posted under grow
Posted on 1st October 2010

Harvest | Coffee

By MANDY SINCLAIR

Storage:
Once coffee has been picked the bean must be peeled, dried and roasted. Roasting develops the typical coffee flavour and aroma that we are so used to. Once roasted, store the beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Once ground, the storage time is greatly reduced as the coffee goes stale rapidly and loses flavour.

What to do with glut

  • Roast:

Preheat oven to 240C. Spread coffee beans in a thin layer on a baking tray. Roast for approximately 10-12 mins. The bean will become deeper in colour, swell and open. The colour and flavour will depend upon the length of time roasted and will need some experimentation for you to achieve the desired result. Remove from tray and spread out to cool as quickly as possible, as the residual heat in the bean will continue the cooking process.

Choc coated roasted coffee beans

Chop 50g dark or milk chocolate. Place in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir until chocolate has melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Using tweezers dip one coffee bean at a time in chocolate to coat. Place on baking paper to cool and set. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 1st October 2010

Cook | Coffee

By MANDY SINCLAIR

Coffee panna cotta

900ml pure cream
100ml milk
1/3 cup caster sugar
¼ cup roasted coffee beans
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 x 2g leaves gelatine
raspberries, to serve

1. Place cream, milk, sugar, coffee beans and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Stir on low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium and bring slowly to boil. Remove from heat.
2. Meanwhile, soak gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 mins, until soft. Squeeze out excess water from gelatine and to hot cream mixture. Stir to dissolve. Set aside to cool.
3. Strain into a jug, discarding beans, and fill 8 x ½ cup dariole moulds. Refrigerate panna cotta overnight to set.
4. When ready to serve, wrap a warm cloth around each mould to soften pannacotta slightly. Invert onto serving plates. Top with raspberries.

Makes 8


tip ….
Gelatine leaves vs gelatine powder
Gelatine powder is the most commonly used form of gelatine, simply because it is readily available from supermarkets. Leaf gelatine is available from specialty delicatessens and generally results in a smooth, clearer consistency, which is why I have chosen to use it in panna cotta. However they can be interchanged with each other, 3 tsp of powdered is roughly equivalent to 4 leaves.


try this ….
Coffee meringues
Combine ½ cup strong black coffee, ½ cup water and 1 cup caster sugar in a saucepan on medium heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat and bring to the boil, without stirring, for about 5 mins, until a thick syrup. Using an electric mixer, beat 3 egg whites, until stiff peaks form. Add syrup in a slow steady stream, beating constantly, until thick and glossy. Drop tsps of meringue onto a lined baking tray and bake at 150C, non-fan, for 30-40 mins, until firm. Cool and store in an airtight container.

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