Archive for October, 2011

Posted on 18th October 2011

grow | parsley


Parsley in the herb garden
Flat-leafed parsely in the home garden

Parsley actually has quite a few forms, from common curled parsley that most people recognize as the garnish from butchers windows of prawn cocktails in the ‘70s right through to the lesser known types like French Parsley, which is also known as Chervil.  All are actually related to the carrot and parsnip, which is no surprise to those of you who know of Hamburg parsley, the cultivar that develops a carrot like white root with a delicate parsley flavour.  All parsleys can actually have both the seed, root, stalk and leaf eaten, so long as they are washed properly.

In vogue today is Continental or Flat leafed parsley, which is also known as Italian parsley.  It features in recipes like tabouleh and has a stronger flavour and leaf less prone to wilting. Coriander, or Chinese parsley, is also very popular, probably because of the increase in Asian food, and it lends an almost citrus-like freshness to foods.

The trick with growing all types is to sow seed directly into position.  None of this family really likes transplanting, and the stress of doing so can trigger plants to prematurely “bolt” or go to seed. To encourage healthy, vigorous growth, plant in full sun in well drained soil, and feed every 3 weeks with a liquid feed like seaweed solution or fish emulsion.

Actually, one of the easiest ways to always have a supply of parsley is actually to let plants mature a seed naturally, that way they will pop up when the climatic situation is perfect.  Also, the flowering heads of this whole family are great at attracting beneficial insects to the garden, which in turn will help keep your plant attacking insects in check.

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Posted under grow
Posted on 18th October 2011

harvest | parsley


freshly picked parselyStorage:
Pick or cut parsley with a good length of stalk attached. Place stalks in a jug of water and store in the fridge for 3-5 days.

What to do with glut

Newly picked parsley has the most delicate texture, flavor and smell. Use in salads, sauces, pies, stews, scrambled eggs. The most versatile of all herbs, the options for use are endless.

  • Freeze

Parsley butter

Combine 125g softened butter with 1/4 cup chopped parsley and season well. Spoon onto a large piece of baking paper and roll into a log. Seal ends and refrigerate until for 1 hr, until firm. Store, refrigerated for up to 1 month. Use on grilled meat or chicken. As a base for a white sauce or to pan-fry fish in.

parsley butter

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 18th October 2011

cook | parsley


parsley quiche recipe

Parsley & garlic tart

2 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
1 small head garlic
1 ½ cups cream
2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 cups flat leaf or curly parsley leaves, washed, dried
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup mint leaves
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 200C or 180C fan. Wrap garlic in foil and bake for 45 mins, until tender. Set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, cut one sheet of pastry into 4 even strips. Press pastry strips around the edges of remaining sheet of pastry, to form one large square. Ease into a greased 23cm loose-based flan pan to line base and sides. Trim edges. Chill for 20 mins.
3. Reduce oven temperature to 180C or 160C fan.  Cover pastry with baking paper and fill with pastry weights, rice or dried beans. Blind bake for 20 mins. Remove paper and weights and bake for another 10 mins.
4. Squeeze garlic from skin. Place flesh in a saucepan with cream and mustard. Bring to boil on medium heat. Remove from heat. Add 2 cups of the parsley and stir until parsley wilts. Remove from heat. Using a hand blender, blend until smooth. Season.
5. Add eggs to warm parsley cream, whisking until well combined. Pour into prepared pastry shell. Bake for 30-35 mins, until filling has just set. Sit in pan for 10 mins.
6. Toss together remaining parsley, mint and extra virgin olive oil. Season. Serve tart in wedges topped with parsley salad. Can be eaten warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6

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Posted under cook
Posted on 7th October 2011

community | Allsun



Joyce Wilkie and Michael Plane, both “retired” academics have turned a bush block into a productive farm and are happy to share their keen insights.  If you’re up for the drive, the outing is worth the trouble.

The Allsun Farm between Gundaroo and Canberra is having specialist talks and tours all weekend on the 29th-30 October 2011.  Entry fee is $10 and there will be everything from tools to chooks, tractors and books, and of course, tasty produce that biodynamic and organically grown.  For details check out the Australian Open Garden Schemes 2011/2012 Catalogue or website.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

Posted under community
Posted on 1st October 2011

grow | strawberries


strawberries grown in pots

September is the month of strawberries in Australia, ripening first in Queensland and then the season works its way down the coast towards Victoria, each week signaling another flush somewhere of yet another plump, juicy fruit.

Growing to about 0.5m in width and only 20cm or so high, the strawberry is ideal as a groundcover, or as a strawberry patch, but can also be grown in pots, baskets and window boxes.  In fact, this berry is ideal for the backyard, so long as you can protect the ripening fruit from birds and even the pet dog, who all love the taste of the fruits.  Try nets and empty glass jars to prevent them from getting to your crops.

To grow your own, it’s important to protect these fruit not only from hungry mouths, but also from the ground where they can get fungal problems easily.  That’s where the name “straw”berry actually comes from, as originally straw was placed around each bush to protect the fruit from landing on the damp ground.  Commercial growers often use plastic, but growing your fruit in baskets and pots also has the same effect.

Strawberries need full sun to flower, and there are both white and pink flowering types.  There is also a yellow fruited Alpine or non-spreading strawberry, which is said to be harder for birds to see.  It is, however, just as tasty!  Dig in lots of manure prior to planting rhizomes or seedlings, and feed regularly with liquid manure or liquid blood and bone to encourage recropping.

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Posted under grow
Posted on 1st October 2011

harvest | strawberries


freshly picked strawberries


Strawberries are delicate and should be handles with care. As they do not ripen after picking, harvest your strawberries when they are bright red and plump. Store in a bowl in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.

What to do with glut

  • Freeze

Wash and hull strawberries. Pat dry with kitchen paper, lay on a tray and freeze. Transfer to clip-lock bags and freeze for up to 3 months.

  • Preserve

Strawberry jam

750g strawberries, hulled, halved
750g caster sugar
¼ tsp tartaric acid
Jamsetta, see tip

1. Place strawberries in a saucepan and heat on low, stirring occasionally, for 15 mins, until slightly softened. Add sugar and tartaric acid. Stir until sugar dissolves.
2.  Increase heat to medium. Boil for 20mins, the test for setting point. To test, place a teaspoon of jam on a cold saucer. Sit for 2 mins, until cool. Run finger through the centre, if jam is ready it will stay in two halves.
3.  If not, remove from heat and stir through 16g jamsetta. Return to the heat and boil for 5 mins, stirring occasionally. Divide jam between hot sterilized jars and seal.

tip ….
Jamsetta is powdered pectin and assists in setting the jam. It is available at supermarkets.

strawberry jam recipe

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 1st October 2011

cook | strawberries


strawberry shortcake recipe

Strawberry & almond slice

150g butter, at room temperature
¾ cup caster sugar
3 eggs
2 cups almond meal
¾ cup plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
300g strawberries, hulled
1 tbsp icing sugar, plus extra to serve

1. Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan. Grease and line 20cm x 30cm slice pan.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold through almond meal, flour and baking powder, until just combined.
3. Fill prepared pan. Arrange strawberries over batter, pressing down lightly. Sift over icing sugar. Bake for 40-45 mins, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan.
4. Dust with icing sugar and cut into squares.

Serves 12

try this ….
Strawberry & smoked salmon salad

Combine 150g baby rocket, 100g sliced smoked salmon, 100g torn brie cheese and 1 small sliced red onion in a large bowl. Hull and slice 250g strawberries. Add to salad. Whisk together ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp raspberry vinegar and 1 tsp Dijon mustard. Season well. Add to salad and toss to combine.

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Posted under cook