Archive for June, 2011

Posted on 14th June 2011

grow | fennel

By MEREDITH KIRTON

fennel

fennel flowers

There are a few types of Fennel, but the one that gets most chefs excited is the form that develops and swollen root just above the ground called Florence fennel (Foeniculum vulgare var. azorium).  The foliage herb doesn’t do this at all, and in fact can be considered a weed as it self seeds very easily, popping up along the roadside.  There is also a less easily seeding purple version of this herb, which looks particularly beautiful in the garden with its bronze feathery fronds adding a wonderful foliage contrast in the garden.

All types are perennial and smell distinctly of aniseed.  Known as finnicchio in Italy, it is popular as a vegetable both cooked and raw. It’s even delicious served as a young bulb with a cheese platter, to be sliced like apple as an accompaniment to hard cheeses.

Planting time for Florence Fennel varies depending on your climate. Pop in seeds in spring in colder areas, but in autumn in warm and tropical areas. To get a white heart, mulch over with straw, or hill with earth, then lift approximately 6 months later, or when the bulbs are tight and white, but not too large and fibrous.  The purple can be planted at any time, but needs to be protected from frost whilst small.  Over watering can cause rot, but otherwise this plant is relatively trouble free.

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Posted under grow
Posted on 14th June 2011

harvest | fennel

By MANDY SINCLAIR

fennel

Storage:
Always store fennel with feathery tops attached. Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

What to do with glut

  • Freeze

Trim fennel then halve or leave whole. Blanch in a large pan of boiling water for 5 mins. Drain and refresh under cold water. Drain very well and pat dry with a clean tea towel. Pack fennel in clip lock bags and freeze for up to 1 month.

  • Preserve

Fennel Oil

2 fennel bulbs, ends trimmed, bulb chopped
2 cups extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 120C or 100C fan. Place fennel in a large baking dish. Pour over oil. Bake for 2hrs, until fennel has collapsed and very soft. Cool.
2. Strain oil, discarding solids. Pour oil into a sterilized jar or bottle.

Use when cooking fish, brushed on pizzas or tossed through pasta.

fennelm oil recipe

Pickled fennel

Combine 3 cups white vinegar, 1½ cups white sugar and 2 tbsp salt in a pan on medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and boil for 5 mins. Add 2 trimmed and chopped bulbs of fennel. Cover and remove from heat. Stand for 10 mins. Pack fennel into sterlised jars and cover with vinegar mixture. Seal and tore in a cool dark place for 1 week before using.

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 14th June 2011

cook | fennel

By MANDY SINCLAIR

fresh fennel recipe

Prawn & fennel stew

1 tbsp olive oil
1 fennel bulb, fronds reserved, bulb thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1½ cups fish stock
½ cup water
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 potato, diced
2 strips lemon rind
pinch saffron threads
750g green prawns, peeled, deveined, tails intact
400g blue eye fillet, roughly chopped
crusty bread, to serve

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium. Cook fennel and onion for 5 mins, until very soft. Add garlic and cook for 1 min, until fragrant. Add stock, ½ cup of water, tomato, potato, lemon rind and saffron. Simmer for 15 mins, until potato is tender.
2. Reduce heat to low. Stir through prawns and fish and cook for 3-5 mins, until prawns are pink and fish cooked through.
3. Ladle stew into shallow bowls. Top with reserved fennel fronds. Serve with crusty bread.

Serves 4

tip ….
Add mussels, calamari rings and scallops to turn this dish into a delicious seafood hot pot.

try this ….

Fennel gratin
Place 2 bulbs sliced fennel in a saucepan. Add enough water to just cover. Cook for 7-10 mins, until tender. Drain. Transfer fennel to a shallow dish. Top with ½ cup grated parmesan and bake at 180C or 160C fan for 5-10 mins, until golden.


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Posted under cook
Posted on 8th June 2011

community | Newington

By MEREDITH KIRTON

Recently Gavin Smith, environmentalist and honorary life member of The Wilderness Society came to speak at Newington College’s Wyvern House as they implemented a composting Friday scheme where green waste is collected from the boys each recess and lunch and goes into their compost bins, worm farms and black soldier fly larvae pods instead of the bins.

Gavin’s enthusiasm for the environment, and in particular composting, was infectious, and the boys, ranging  in ages from Kindy to year 6, lapped up his demonstrations. “I volunteer in a number of ways. I speak to high school students about volunteering, wild life preservation, conservation and biodiversity” explains Gavin, “Last year I helped train trainers to develop community gardening projects around Sydney with Michael Mobbs, author of” The Sustainable House”. This is an ongoing group which meets monthly at Carriageworks, Redfern”.

If your community group or school wants to  have a similar demonstration, enquiries should be made to Gavin Smith, Phone:  95682331. Mobile: 0438 686 696. Email: gavinsmithwilderness@gmail.com Being a part time school teacher, he has all the necessary clearances.

bio pods

The fly has been around since the 1940s. My contact is David Watson with whom, I recall, you have already made contact: david@circle3.com One of the best You Tube presentations may be found at Black Soldier Fly Larvae Revisited by “the compost fellow”. Dr Oliver is the author. 2005 is the earliest reference I can find. Larger versions of the pods are available in the US and Vietnam is building home made ones for local waste conversions. There are many You Tube references and footage of their ability to consume huge quantities of putrescent waste. There is a humourous article worth a read – “So you want to be an urban chicken farmer? Read this first.”

Photography by MEREDITH KIRTON  | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under community
Posted on 1st June 2011

grow | caulifower

By MEREDITH KIRTON

caulifower

Cauliflower is one of those cold hardy vegetables that come into their own at winter when choices from the garden start to diminish.  It’s actually the flower head in bud that is eaten traditionally, but the stalks are also edible and can be peeled and then sliced up and added to stir fries and the like. Cauliflower is not a repeat harvesting plant, so the best way to ensure continuous cropping is to stagger planting times.  The first row could go into the ground in early March and then every fortnight plant another half dozen plants right up until May so that they all mature at different times and you have a continuous succession to nibble on.

Cauliflowers need a well dug over patch with added lime to “sweeten” the soil and stop it getting a condition where the stem and heart rots and turns black, which is a result of lack of available calcium caused by overly acid soils.  Many people also mix sage intro their rows of cauliflowers to try and repel white cabbage moth, which can also attach the outer leaves of the cauliflower.  Try mixing in other crops to distract them from their targets too, and even try the green-headed type as a novelty.

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Posted under grow
Posted on 1st June 2011

harvest | cauliflower

By MANDY SINCLAIR

caulifower

Storage:
Once picked cauliflower should be stored, leaves attached, in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

What to do with glut

  • Freeze

Cut cauliflower into florets. Blanch in a pan of boiling salted water for 2 min. drain and refresh under cold water to cool. Pack into freezer bags and freeze for up to 3months.

Spicy cauliflower patties

1 small head cauliflower, florets chopped
1 potato, diced
½ cup frozen peas
1 green onion (shallot), chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp turmeric
1 egg, lightly beaten
few drops Tabasco
1 cup breadcrumbs, plus extra to cook

1. Cook cauliflower and potato in a pan of boiling water for 10-12 mins, until tender. Drain and mash. Place in a bowl and set aside to cool.
2. Add remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Shape mixture into patties. Stack in an airtight container, placing baking paper between each layer. Cover and freeze until ready to use.
3. Thaw fritters. Roll in extra breadcrumbs to coat. Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a frying pan on medium. Cook for 2-3 mins, each side, until crisp and golden. Serve with natural yoghurt.

Makes 14

Cauliflower patties recipe

  • Preserve

Cauliflower pickles

Place 3 cups chopped cauliflower, 1 sliced onion, 5 cups white wine vinegar, ¾ cup white sugar, 1 tbsp mustard seeds,1 tsp turmeric and 1 chopped red chilli in a saucepan. Heat on low until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Cook for 10 mins, until cauliflower is tender, but not soft. Pack into sterilized jars and seal.

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 1st June 2011

cook | cauliflower

By MANDY SINCLAIR

caulifower soup recipe

Cauliflower & blue cheese soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 medium potatoes, chopped
1 medium head cauliflower, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
150g soft blue cheese, chopped, plus extra to serve

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium. Cook onion for 5 mins, until softened. Add potato and cauliflower. Cook for 2 mins, stirring. Add stock and 1 cup of water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 mins, until vegetables are tender.
2. Using a hand blender, puree until smooth. Add cheese and stir until cheese has melted. Season to taste. Serve in bowls topped with extra blue cheese.

Serves 6

tip ….
Freeze soup in containers for up to 1 month. Thaw and reheat before serving.

try this ….

Pan-fried cauliflower with bacon & spinach
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan on high. Cook 2 cups cauliflower florets for 5 minutes, stirring, until golden. Remove from pan. Cook 4 chopped rashers of bacon and 1 bunch trimmed and shredded silverbeet for 5 mins, until leaves are wilted. Return cauliflower to pan with 2 crushed garlic cloves and 2 tbsp chopped parsley. Toss together for 1 min, until fragrant. Serve drizzled with a little extra virgin olive oil.

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Posted under cook