Archive for April, 2011

Posted on 14th April 2011

grow | capsicum

By MEREDITH KIRTON

growing capsicum

Peppers, as Capsicums are also known, are the mild mannered cousins ofchilli.  The sweeter, larger fruit form all summer and autumn and can be eaten immature, (green) or fully ripe (red).  There are also long and bellshaped peppers, and some have orange, purple or yellow skins.

Capsicums love the hot weather, and in fact can only be grown when the temps get above 21 degrees, so don’t bother sowing in winter or early spring unless you have a glasshouse or similar.  Six plants should feedthe family, spaced about 60cm apart.

Your soil should be well fortified with manure as capsicums love a bit of fertiliser, especially chook poo!  Whilst they happily grow in the heat and thrive in full sun, they do need regular and even water supply in order to set fruit.

Pick capsicum when the fruit is firm, at whatever colour stage you prefer. Heavily laden bushes may need staking.  Like tomatoes, the fruit can suffer from fruit fly attack so baits will help and nets can protect them from bird attack.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under grow
Posted on 14th April 2011

harvest | capsicum

By MANDY SINCLAIR

harvest capsicums

Storage:
Once picked, capsicum are prone to mould and become soft and wrinkled if not stored correctly. Leave part of the stem attached and store in a paper bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

What to do with glut

Capsicum can be eaten raw or cooked, peeled or unpeeled. If using raw and you would prefer no skin, you can use a vegetable peeler. If you prefer a soft and sweet texture then roasting or chargrilling is best. Once cooked, store in a sterilized jar, covered with oil and sealed for up to 1 month.

  • Roast

Brush whole capsicum with a little oil. Place on a baking tray and bake at 220C or 200C fan oven for 20 mins, turning occasionally, until the skin is blistered and flesh soft. Transfer to a plastic bag and leave to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel away skin, remove stem and pull out seeds. Cut or tear flesh.

  • Chargrill

Place whole capsicum on a preheated barbecue or chargrill. Cook, turning often, for 10 mins, until skin is burnt and blistered. Cool and peel as above

  • Preserve

Roast capsicum pesto

3 roasted capscicum, peeled, seeds removed
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
100g feta, crumbled1 garlic clove, chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Place capsicum, pine nuts, feta and garlic in a food processor. Process until finely chopped. Add oil and process until smooth.
2. Stir pesto through hot pasta, as a dressing for potato salad or as a dip with crackers.

Makes 1 cup

roast capsicum pesto recipe

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 14th April 2011

cook | capsicum

By MANDY SINCLAIR

stuffed capsicum recipe

Piedmontese capsicum with tomato & capers

2 red capsicum, halved lengthways
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tbsp capers
basil leaves
2 egg or roma tomatoes, halved lengthways
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 balls buffalo mozzarella

1. Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan. Grease a small baking dish.
2. Remove seeds from capsicum and discard. Place in prepared dish. Divide garlic and capers between capsicum and top with a basil leaf. Season well.
3. Place a tomato half inside each capsicum, cut side up. Season again and drizzle with a little oil. Cover with foil and bake for 35 mins. Remove foil and bake for another 25 mins, until capsicum is soft.
4. Top tomato with basil. Serve with torn mozzarella and drizzle over remaining oil.

Serves 4


tip ….
Add a few chopped anchovies to capers and garlic if you like.

try this ….

Add a layer of roasted capsicum to lasagne or moussaka, stir through bolognaise sauce or casserole. Wrap a thick slice of haloumi with roasted capsicum and sear on barbecue for delicious finger food.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under cook
Posted on 1st April 2011

grow | almonds

By MEREDITH KIRTON

almonds growing on tree

Middle eastern and Mediterranean countries have long loved the almond, but Australia does have some fine areas for growing our own nuts, like the Adelaide Hills and Riverina.  In fact, almonds just like mild winters, no severe spring frosts, which damage developing kernels, and warm, dry summers and humidity and water logging can be a problem.  Water requirements are minimal compared to many fruit trees, and they are drought resistant once established.

Growing to about 6m in height and width, the tree is ideal for the backyard, but does need to either be one of the self pollinating types, or planted with another variety to cross with and make sure bees are about to do their work!

Depending on your taste and microclimate, almonds are either picked in January/ February, when they are young and bitter, or in March/April, when the kernel is sweeter.  Simply spread out a sheet, knock the nuts off the tree and gather up the sheet and your crop.  Peel off the flesh and the nut lays inside.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under grow
Posted on 1st April 2011

harvest | almonds

By MANDY SINCLAIR

almond kernels

Storage:
Once picked, almonds will keep in their shells for up to 1 year. Store in a cool dark place. Shelled nuts, however are prone to rancidity and therefore should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer for several months.

What to do with glut

The best way to remove kernels from their shells is by using a nutcracker. Once the kernel has been extracted, store as above or prepare and freeze ready for different uses.

  • Blanch

To blanch almonds, place in a large heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water and stand for 1 min. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again. Place on a clean dry tea towel and rub dry, the skins should easily slip off. Transfer almonds to an airtight container or clip-lock bags and refrigerate or freeze, until ready to use.

  • Ground

Once the almonds have been blanched, dried and skins removed, you can ground them in a food processor. Ensure the nuts are very dry and do not process the almonds for too long or they will become pasty! Store in an airtight container and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

  • Preserve

Toffee coated almonds

90g butter, chopped
½ cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup blanched almonds

1. Melt butter, sugar and vanilla together in a saucepan on medium heat, until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 5-7 mins, until caramelized. Remove from heat, add almonds and stir to coat. Pour onto a tray lined with baking paper and set aside to cool. Break up toffee almonds and store in an airtight container.

how to preserve and store almonds

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 1st April 2011

cook | almonds

By MANDY SINCLAIR

Almond and Orange Cake recipe

Almond & orange cake

125g butter, at room temperature
¾ cup caster sugar
2 eggs
grated rind and juice of 1 orange
1 cup ground almonds
1¼ cups self-raising flour, sifted
3/4 cup sour cream
blanched almonds, for topping

1. Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan. Grease a 22cm springform pan.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add orange rind. Fold through ground almonds and orange juice followed by flour and sour cream, until combined. Fill prepared pan.
3. Smooth top of cake and decorate with almonds. Bake for 35-40 mins, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Serves 10


tip ….
The cake can be baked without the almond topping or swap for slivered or flaked almonds if you prefer.

try this ….

Tamari roasted almonds
Toss together 1 cup blanched almond, ½ cup sunflower seeds, 2 tbsp tamari and a dash of Tabasco sauce. Season. Place on a baking tray, in a single layer, and bake at 180C or 160C fan oven for 20-30 mins, until crisp and golden. Delicious to snack on during the day or with pre-dinner drinks.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under cook