Archive for October, 2012

Posted on 24th October 2012

grow | tea

By MEREDITH KIRTON

Tea plants growing

Tea flower

Tea, which is the most popular drink in the world, is, like the saying (all the tea in China) suggests, native to the area.  It is actually a type of Camellia, one of the best loved of all ornamental garden plants. Camellia sinensis, as it is known botanically, provides the foliage for, depending on how it’s treated, all types of black, white and green tea.  To grow tea, you simply need a well drained, fairly good soil with adequate moisture, an open sunny position and fertiliser and regular trimming to encourage the new growth, which is the part of the plant harvested to make this beverage. Other plants regularly used for herbal teas all have their won unique tastes and growing conditions.  Sometimes they are picked and added to Camellia tea to flavour it, and sometimes they are herbal infusions of their own.  The most common include Chamomile, Jasmine, Sage, Lemon Verbena and Mint. Fresh or dried leaves/flowers of these are infused in near boiling water to release their essential oils. Sun is the ingredient that gets plants essential oil content high, so make sure you plant them in as open and sunny position as you can, with at least 6 hours direct light.  To grow most herbs you need a well drained position, but, in the case of mint, you are better off with a damp spot or even a water well container as they love constant moisture.

Photography by JOHN ROBB | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under grow
Posted on 24th October 2012

harvest | tea

By MANDY SINCLAIR

Harvested home grown tea

Storage:

Once dried, tea should be stored in an airtight container away from heat or light. Store for up to 6 months, however the flavour will deteriorate the longer it is stored.

What to do with glut

Home dried tea

  • To dry – varieties

Black, white and green tea all come from the same plant but processed differently, giving quite different flavours.To ferment, roll leaves between hands or use a rolling pin to break up. Spread leaves onto a baking tray, in a single layer. Leave to dry naturally for 2-3 days (for black tea). Transfer to a 120C oven for 20 mins. Cool.
For green tea, wilt leaves under hot water. Drain and pat dry with paper towel. Spread onto a baking tray and dry in oven as described for black tea.

Black tea
Leaves are picked and fermented, by pressing the leaves to allow breaking open of the cells and then standing before drying. The fermentation time aids in establishing the strength of flavour.

Green tea
Is unfermented, so picked and dried straight away.

White tea

Buds that are picked from the bush while still covered with fine white down. Unfermented and dried.

Herbal combinations
These have become more popular in recent years and the flavour combinations seem to be endless. Generally made with a mixture of dried flowers and herbs and green tea and sometimes scented with aromatic oils.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 24th October 2012

cook | tea

By MANDY SINCLAIR

Earl Grey Tea Pannacotta recipe

Earl grey pannacotta

3 cups cream
1 cup milk
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
5 leaves gelatine
2 tbsp earl grey tea leaves
1 orange, cut into segments

1. Place cream, milk, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan. Heat on low until just simmering.
2. Meanwhile, soak gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for 5 mins, until soft. Squeeze out water and add to hot cream mixture. Stir until dissolved. Add tea, remove from heat and set aside for  5 mins, to allow flavours to infuse.
3. Strain cream mixture, discarding solids. Fill 8 x ½ cup dariole moulds and refrigerate overnight to set.
4. Invert onto serving plates and top with orange segments.

Makes 8

 

 

Tip

Remove pannacotta from refrigerator for 15 mins before serving. You may need to wrap a warm cloth around moulds to help with removing pannacotta from moulds.

try this …….
Iced tea
Measure out 1 tsp of tea per serve plus 1 extra and place in a large jug. Pour over the number of serves you would like to make (eg 4 cups for 4 people), of tap water. Set aside to infuse for 4-6 hrs, until brewed to your liking. Strain and add ice cubes, sliced orange and lemon when ready to serve.
Using cold water will give a clear iced tea as opposed to cloudy, however it will take longer for flavours to reach the desired strength. If time is short use boiling water and refrigerate until cold. The tea will be cloudy but still deliciously refreshing.

 

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under cook
Posted on 7th October 2012

grow | edible flowers

By MEREDITH KIRTON

Edible nasturtium flowers

Many of you have probably eaten flowers without even realising. There are so many edible flowers that can be included in your cooking or used to garnish or decorate. The most popular would probably be globe artichokes, which of course are an edible flower bud in the thistle family. Other edible buds include cloves, which are the famous spice used to scent deserts and curries, and Rosella, which is actually an Australian native hibiscus that us commonly seen in syrups that, when added to a glass of champagne, turn a bubbles into an even greater celebration.

For salads, try popping in some nasturtium flowers or  English marigold (Calendula) which should not be confused with French marigold (Tagetes) which is poisonous! Chive flowers also make a pretty addition.

For cakes and sweets, borage, violets, roses, pineapple sage, rosemary, lavender and dianthus are all suitable.

Flowers like these are great grown in the kitchen garden to help pretty it up. They like full sun and free draining soil, and for best results, trim off any faded flowers and feed with a complete plant food every 12 weeks or so.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under grow
Posted on 7th October 2012

harvest | edible flowers

By MANDY SINCLAIR

Edible flowers from your garden

Rose, borage, citrus blossom, chive flowers, mint flowers, calendula (English marigold) and nasturtium.

Storage:

Best picked and eaten or crystallised immediately, however flowers can be pressed and dried. Simply rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Place on a tray and weigh down with books. Leave to dry for about 4 weeks. Store in a cliplock bag.

What to do with glut

crystallised flowers

Crystallised flowers

1 egg white
¼ tsp water
Edible flowers (see above), removed from stem, rinsed and dried
¼ cup caster sugar, sifted

Line a wire rack with baking paper. Whisk together egg white and water until just foamy.
Holding a flower in one hand and using a small paintbrush, gently brush all over with egg white mixture. Carefully sprinkle sugar evenly over both sides of flower. Place on prepared rack. Repeat with remaining flowers. Set flowers aside, at room temperature, for 12 to 36hrs, until dried. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 year.
Use as decoration for desserts and cakes.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 7th October 2012

cook | edible flowers

By MANDY SINCLAIR

white chocolate and lavender cupcakes with crystalised flowers

White chocolate & lavender cup cakes

125g butter, chopped
90g white chocolate, chopped
¾ cup caster sugar
½ cup sour cream
1 egg
¾ cup plain flour
¾ cup self raising flour
2 tbsp dried lavender buds
Topping
60g butter, at room temperature
½ cup icing sugar, sifted
60g white chocolate, melted, cooled

1. Preheat oven to 170C or 150C fan. Line 10 holes, 1/3 cup capacity muffin pan with paper cases.
2. Place butter, chocolate, sugar and sour cream in a saucepan. Stir on low heat, for 5 mins, until melted and smooth. Set aside for 10 mins, to cool.
3. Add egg to chocolate mixture and mix well, to combine. Sift both flours together into a bowl. Add lavender and stir to combine. Add chocolate mixture in four batches, stirring after each addition until smooth. Fill prepared pan, smoothing tops with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 mins, until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool on a wire rack.
4. Meanwhile, make topping. Using an electric mixer beat butter and icing sugar until pale and creamy. Add melted chocolate and stir until smooth. Spread over cakes and decorate with frosted flowers.

Makes 10

Tip

For even sized cupcakes, measure out ¼ cup of batter for each cake.

try this …….

Just as flowers have different perfumes, they also have different flavours. Try a few, and use your favourites in salads.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under cook