Popular Posts

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Oranges and Lemons (and Grapefruits)

For those observant readers you may have noticed that I now have a "Follow by email" gadget and have taken off the "Followers" gadget.  When I put the "Follow by email" gadget on I could no longer see your lovely faces, so I decided to remove the "Followers" element altogether from the blogsite.  I did not mean any disrespect to any of you!   The "Follow by email" link appears to be working properly if you would like to use this to get an email alert when I publish a new post (I tested it using my email address and I got an email alert about 20 hrs after I published my post).

I thought I would write this week about some of my favourite citrus recipes as we (in Australia) are in the middle of winter and citrus is abundant.  I am sure that those of you in the Northern Hemisphere would also have some sort of access to citrus fruit however if you like to eat seasonally you will have to hold onto these recipes until winter.

I have never been a fan of grapefruit, but now that we have our own grapefruit tree which is burdened by a very large number of fruits I have decided that I am going to learn to like them.  My friend "google" advised me that it is actually the pith of the grapefruit that is the bitter part, so in order to avoid this you need to remove all of the pith and eat just the segments.

I have included recipes for oranges, lemons and grapefruits as a separate page (I just have soooo many favourite recipes for oranges and lemons that they wouldn't all fit in this post).

There is no related story to this post as there was nothing amusing about the harvesting of the fruit - I just went and picked it and nothing strange or unusual happened (which in itself is a bit odd as there is usually something weird happening in our lives)!  The lemons I got from one of the craft ladies and the oranges came from one of our three orange trees and the grapefruits from our grapefruit tree.

Enjoy your week!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Lilli Pilli Hedge

Lilli Pilli is the name of both the native berry and tree that inhabits the rainforests of Queensland and New South Wales.  They were one of the first edible plants noted during Captain Cooks visit to Australia in 1770.  They have a tart/spicy taste and I think they are not dissimilar to cranberries.

The fruits of the many different species can be as small as blueberries or as large as cherries. The colour of the fruit can range from white through soft pink to red or pale lilac. The flowers are usually small, white and fluffy.

The berries are a favourite food of many native Australian animals and birds.  They are grown in many Australian gardens as a hedge plant.  The berry juice stains very easily so it is best not to plant them near a light colour driveway or pavement.

We have a Lilli Pilli hedge which separates the driveway from our front garden.  It does not bear a lot of fruit but I managed to pick about 1 kg of the berries and made some Lilli Pilli Chutney and a Vinegar infused with Lilli Pillies.  For those of you not in Australia, you may like to try this with cranberries or other readily available tart tasting berries.

Lilli Pilli Chutney
Deseed 1/2 kg of lilli pillies.  Place in a saucepan along with juice of 4 oranges, zest of 1 orange, 1/2 cup honey, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 5 whole cloves, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon allspice and 1 peeled and chopped green apple.  Cook until the fruit softens and the liquid becomes a more "sticky" consistency.  Pour into sterilised jars and refridgerate until ready to use.

Vinegar infused with Lilli Pillies
Sterilise a bottle, half fill with deseeded lilli pillies.  Top up with white vinegar and place in a dark cupboard until the lilli pillies stain the vinegar pink.  Gives a nice spiciness to your vinegar for salad dressings.

Himself has been busily taking photos of some of the items that we have been cooking/collecting and very soon (I promise) I will attempt to put a photo gallery on this site.  I don't want to insert photos into the text of each post as I find that when I am reading a blog with a recipe that I want to print the photo content can extend a simple 1 page recipe over several pages.  That in my opinion is a waste of paper, so maybe a photo gallery will allow those of you who have asked for photos to take a look at them.  Hope that is ok (and hope that I can do it)!

Next week I am planning to bring you some recipes using some of the citrus fruits that are now becoming very abundant in Australia (and our garden) at the moment.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Time to pick the olives

A big hello to the students at EPPS and the lovely ladies I met last week at TAFE.

A few weeks ago the olives over the fence were again ready for harvesting.  As we needed to trim the branch back a bit we decided it was easier to simply put an old sheet on the ground and collect the olives that fell off as we cut the branch off.  The olives didn't want to make things easy for us and stubbornly hung on so we had to pick them off by hand.  After quite a bit of bribing I finally had my two little helpers assisting me (in between playing games under the branch) and by the end of the day we had harvested a very large pot of olives.  Then we preserved them (see post from February 2011) as well as freezing some (haven't done this before but I ran out of jars to preserve them in brine so I thought I would give it a try).  I still had heaps of olives so I deseeded the rest of them to make 4 jars of olive tapenade (details in post from February 2011).  One of the jars of olive tapenade went with me on a girls weekend and was part of a cheese platter along with my fig and walnut roll and quince paste (see previous posts if you would like to know how to make these).  Our fresh walnuts also appeared on the girls weekend in a pear, parmesan and walnut salad as well as in an apple crumble.

I also had quite a few cherry tomatoes that had ripened up so these have been dehydrated and put into a jar of chilli oil.

Not much is happening in the garden at the moment as autumn is over and winter is about to set in.  Himself is planning to fence off the back part of the garden so we can have a vegie patch that the rabbits won't attack when they are out of their hutch free ranging in the garden.  They have eaten both of my heirloom minature chocolate capsicum plants as well as the beetroot leaves and anything else that stands still long enough to be eaten.  Himself wants to eat them to teach them a lesson but that is an absolute no no.  He calls them "Barbie" and "Stew" (I don't think the kids fully understand why he calls them this which is a good thing).

Till next week......

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cooking with Weed(s)!

I was collecting quinces and checking to see if the oranges and grapefruits were ripe at our new house.  While I was there I picked some of the flat leaf parsley that is growing wild and some more spinach.  Himself asked me why I wasn't also picking the wild lettuce.  Now I know my lettuces and there was no "wild" lettuce in sight.  He pointed to a heap of "weeds" that were growing under one of the trees and tried to tell me that it was wild rocket (you may know it as arugula).  Mmmm - no it was not rocket, but he is a stubborn man so to prove a point he started eating it, commenting that it was bitter so it must be rocket.  I had visions of once again visiting the Emergency department (another story - those in the know call him "Bottletop man") but he didn't start foaming at the mouth or convulsing so all was good.  I came back home and using my superior computer skills, (another joke as I am technologically backwards - it is a surprise to many that I can get this blog thing happening!) I discovered that there are many "weeds" that are in actual fact edible and quite nutritious, however most are quite bitter so you need to try to use young leaves and make them palatable.  It is also advisable to only pick them from areas where you are certain they haven't  been sprayed with chemicals.  We are still not sure what the weed in question actually was - it most closely resembled a dandelion but there are a couple of other broadleaf weeds that it could have been.  Anyway as I am a big chicken, to be doubly sure I did a search for weeds poisonous to humans.  No pictures of anything resembling our weed so we decided to give it a go in the kitchen.

We had some friends coming to dinner in an hours time so I thought that they could be my "weed" guinea pigs.  I had some ready made gnocchi in the pantry so we knocked up a quick pasta sauce using what we had available as an entree:

Thoroughly wash your weeds to make sure you remove all traces of dirt and bugs.  Chop them into small strips and plunge into boiling salted water for about 3 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  Fry 1 chopped onion in butter and then zest of 1 lemon (we have a Meyer lemon tree which is a really sweet lemon) add the wilted weeds and cook a little longer.  Add some white wine and cream, salt and pepper (I used my recently purchased truffle salt).  Bring some more salted water to the boil and cook the gnocchi - when it floats to the surface it is done.  Add the gnocchi to the sauce and place in serving bowls.  Top each bowl with some chopped roasted walnuts and parmesan cheese (I used truffle infused parmesan).  It was delicious and nobody had to go and have their stomach pumped so it was a successful experiment!