Archive for December, 2011

Posted on 19th December 2011

grow | rocket

By MEREDITH KIRTON

rocket

rocket

rocket flower

For many people the dream of having salad greens ready to pick is an everyday reality, and one of the easiest of all to grow is rocket, known botanically as Eruca sativa but also known commonly as Arugula and Italian Cress, as it is naturally from the Mediterranean.

This fast growing, nutty flavoured leaf has a little peppery overtone, making it a delicious addition to your salad.  To grow rocket, you can either so seeds direct into place or buy ready sprouted seedlings, but be careful not to over cover them; 2mm of earth is enough. Seed successive batches every 2 weeks so you have continual supply and feed regularly liquid fertiliser so they grow vigorously and are not bitter. They need at least 4 hours sun to develop full flavour, and will tolerate full sun.  In the heat of summer they are prone to bolting, or going to seed quickly themselves, but they readily self seed, ensuring that new rocket plants will quickly fill up any holes. If you don’t want this to happen, cut them back hard and they will reshoot with a fresh batch of edible leaves.

There is also another similar tasting plant called wild rocket, or Duplotaxis tenufolia, which has more deeply indented leaves and a more complex flavour.  Growing conditions and treatments are the same.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

Tags: , , ,

Posted under grow
Posted on 16th December 2011

harvest | rocket

By MANDY SINCLAIR

freshly picked rocket

Storage:

Rocket is best picked just before using, however if you do need to store rinse well and place in a plastic resealable bag. Refrigerate for up to 3-4 days.

What to do with glut

  • Preserve

Rocket & pine nut pesto

Wash and dry 1 bunch of rocket. Place in a food processor with ¾ cup of grated parmesan, ¼ cup toasted pine nuts and 1 chopped garlic clove. Process until finely chopped. Season well, add ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil and process until smooth. Transfer to a sterilized jar, cover the surface with a little extra oil and seal. Store refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Use as a spread on bruschetta or as a sauce for pasta or gnocchi.

Makes 2 cups

rocket and pine nut pesto recipe

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

Tags: , , ,

Posted under harvest
Posted on 16th December 2011

cook | rocket

By MANDY SINCLAIR

rocket and haloumi salad recipe

Rocket & olive salad with crisp haloumi

1 bunch rocket, ends trimmed, halved
250g grape tomatoes, halved
2 lebanese cucumbers, quartered, seeded, chopped
1 red capsicum, sliced
1 small red onion, halved, thinly sliced
½ cup pitted black olives
½ cup mint leaves, torn
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
180g haloumi, thickly sliced
1 tbsp plain flour

1. Place rocket, tomato, cucumber, capsicum, onion, olives and mint in a large bowl.
2. Mix together extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and sugar.
3. Heat olive oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium. Dust haloumi slices in flour, shaking off excess. Cook haloumi, turning, for 2-3 mins, until golden all over.
4. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to combine. Serve with haloumi.

Serves 4

Tip
Haloumi is best eaten immediately after being cooked, that way the outside remains crisp and the inside soft.

try this …….
Wilted rocket in balsamic with steak

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan on medium. Add 2 bunches rocket. Cook for 1-2 mins, until just wilted. Add 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Simmer for 1 min, until vinegar is syrupy. Serve alongside chargrilled beef.


Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

Tags: , , ,

Posted under cook
Posted on 1st December 2011

grow | peaches

By MEREDITH KIRTON

peaches growing on tree

peach crop from back garden

Peaches (Prunus persica) are one of the quintessential summer fruits, with the season running from late October right through to April, and a real glut coming onto the market around December/January, the perfect time for al fresco eating and light desserts. What many people don’t realise is just how easy peaches are to grow, or how beautiful they can be…

Peaches can be grown in many areas of Australia, as the variety available range from tropical selections that cope with the heat right through to cooler temperate varieties. They also can be bought in dwarf varieties, suitable for small gardens and pots, or espaliered to be able to grown along walls and in narrow spaces, or kept as a beautiful small tree. Another idea is to plant more than one type in the same whole, known as duo and trio planting, or grow multi grafted plants to allow for a few different types, and even other stone fruit, on the one plant. Known as fruit salad trees with these multigrafts it is possible nowadays to have the one tree bear a white fleshed peach, yellow fleshed peach and even a plum, all on the same bush!

Dwarf peaches are also available. Sold as Trxzie® grow about 1.5m x 1.5m. Their fruit is full sized, despite their diminutive statue! Over the last few decades there has been a lot of breeding going on in the peach world. Check out the newest cultivars from Flemings Nureseries (www.flemings.com.au ‘Daisy’, ‘Tasty Zee’ and Double Jewel.)

Peaches also have the added bonus of being self fertile, which means that they don’t need another variety to still be able to cross pollinate and set fruit, which can be a problem in the back yard situation for some other fruit tree.  The biggest problem you will face is likely to be the birds, who, just like you, love the juicy sweet flesh but will also eat them greener, ruining the crop.  Nets are essential for keeping them out of reach.  Peaches also get fruit fly in some areas of Australia, so you will need to be vigilant for this as the fruit ripens.

Peaches are normally planted in winter they can be purchased bare rooted and the range is widest and cheapest.  They can be bought year round though if potted, and many of the multigrafts and dwarf types will be available now.  They like a full sun position and are quite hardy, but don’t like being water logged so you will need to ensure that the soil drains will.  Dig a hole, fill it empty with water and check that it drains away completely in 10 minutes.  If it’s acting like a bucket, build
up your planting level to above the ground in either a mound or raised bed, to ensure drainage is adequate.

Peaches will take about 3 years before they bear reliably, and need particular training to keep the bearing.  To do this, each winter remove any branches that grow inwards, and shorten the remaining branches, all the time creating an open vase like shape, just like you do with rose bushes but on a much bigger scale.  Also watch that you remove suckers, or the shoots that appear below the bud union, as they appear as these can overbear your plant and have no guarantee of being a tasty fruit…they are just chosen for their disease resistance and vigour as an understock. Each winter, check your plant for scale insects and spray with a suitable copper spray at bud swell to stop the disease peach leaf curl attacking your plants.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

Tags: , ,

Posted under grow
Posted on 1st December 2011

harvest | peaches

By MANDY SINCLAIR

freshly harvested peaches

fresh grown peaches

Storage:

A perfectly ripe peach will feel slightly firm and have the most deliciously sweet fragrance. Peaches do not ripen once picked but will soften slightly when left at room temperature. Fortunately, for those of us that don’t have a peach tree in the backyard, commercial growers are picking fruit as ripe as possible before sending to market.
Store ripe fruit in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and bring to room temperature before eating.

What to do with glut

The natural sweetness of ripe peaches makes them ideal for chutney.

  • Preserve

Peach & ginger chutney

20g butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4cm piece of ginger, finely shredded
8 peaches, peeled, cut into wedges
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup raisins

1. Heat butter and oil in a saucepan on medium, until butter melts. Cook onion for 5 minutes, until soft. Add ginger and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add peaches, vinegar, sugar and raisins.
2. Bring to boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until peaches have collapsed and mixture has thickened.
3. Spoon into hot, sterilized jars and seal. Refrigerate after opening.

Makes 2 cups

peach chutney recipe

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

Tags: , ,

Posted under harvest
Posted on 1st December 2011

cook | peaches

By MANDY SINCLAIR

Barbequeue pancakes with fresh peach compote recipe

Barbecue pancakes with fresh peach compote

2 cup self-raising flour, sifted
¼ cup caster sugar
1¾ cups buttermilk
2 eggs
thick cream, to serve
peach compote
4 peaches, peeled, chopped
¼ cup maple syrup, plus extra to serve
½ cup pistachios, toasted, chopped

1. Combine flour and sugar together in a large bowl. Whisk buttermilk and eggs together and pour into a well in centre of dry ingredients. Whisk, to form a smooth batter.
2. Preheat flat barbecue plate and lightly grease. Drop ¼ cup measurements of batter on barbecue and cook for 2 minutes, until bubbles appear on surface and begin to pop. Turn pancake and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until golden. Repeat with remaining batter. Stack pancakes on a plate and keep warm.
3. Meanwhile, make compote. Combine peaches, maple syrup and pistachios. Spoon over pancake stack, drizzle over extra maple syrup and serve with thick cream..

Serves 4

try this ….
Vanilla poached peaches

Combine 3 cups water, 1 cup sauterne wine, 1 cup caster sugar and 1 split and scraped vanilla bean in a large saucepan. Stir on low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and simmer for 10 minutes. Add 6 peeled peaches, reduce heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with thick cream.


Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

Tags: , ,

Posted under cook