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Seven ways to do dumplings

Dumplings may be bite-sized, but they pack a flavourful punch. Here are seven mouth-watering recipes, from Korean mandu to classic Chinese-style steamed dumplings.

Best feta recipes

Feta's tang livens up all sorts of dishes, from beef shin rigatoni or blistered kale ribs to Greek-style roast lamb neck.

Recipes with zucchini

Whether served raw with olive oil, grated with fresh herbs, or pan-fried in a pancake - zucchini is a must-have ingredient when it comes to spring cooking.

Pickett's Deli & Rotisserie, Melbourne

Here’s Pickett’s inside running on the menu at Melbourne's new European-style eatery and wine bar Pickett's Deli & Rotisserie.

Apfel kuchen

"This is my mother's famous apple cake. The apples are macerated with sugar, cinnamon and lemon, and this lovely juice produces the icing," says Brigitte Hafner. The apples can be prepared the night before and kept in the fridge. This cake keeps well for four days and is at its best served the day after it's made."

Nougat, salted peanut caramel and milk chocolate tart

What's not to love about a Snickers bar? All the elements are here, but if you don't feel like making your own nougat, you could always scatter some diced nougat in the base of the tart instead. The caramel is dark, verging on bitter, while a good whack of salt cuts through some of the sweetness - extra roasted salted peanuts on top can only be a good thing.

Chicken stir-fried with holy basil and chilli

Melbourne's best late-night bars

As the shutters come down in other Australian capitals, Melbourne's vibrant nightlife is just hitting it's stride. Michael Harden burns the midnight oil at the city's best late-night bars and diners.

Inner city vegie patch

Living in a flat in inner Melbourne with a small concrete and brick balcony, I figured my attempts at vegie growing were unlikely to get much further than the existing pots containing a depressed looking bay tree and a plucky-despite-the-odds rosemary bush. But that was before I’d read Fabian Capomolla and Mat Pember’s excellent gardening book The Little Veggie Patch Co: How to Grow Food in Small Spaces. In the interests of full disclosure, I must tell you that after I’d flipped through its humorous, easy-to-follow pages, I got the authors around to do a number on my outdoor space, and now the rosemary bush and the bay tree – re-potted, fed and looking much better for it – share the balcony with thyme, oregano, marjoram, lemon balm, sorrel, chives, cos and mignonette lettuce, chicory, tatsoi, and lime and peppermint geraniums, and will soon be joined by a couple of varieties of bush tomatoes that fruit without the need for staking.

The best thing about all this greenery (aside from the improvement to my cooking – sorrel omelettes have become a weekend mainstay) is the way the plants actually make the balcony feel bigger than it did before.

One of the principles of the gardening philosophy of Pember and Capomolla is that gardens, no matter how small, should always look good, because, as they write in their book, “an uninviting patch… will help you become an even better procrastinator.” They’re also keen to stress that your vegie patch shouldn’t rule your life, so when it came time to design mine, the boys asked me how I used my balcony and what vegies and herbs I was likely to use: “You need to find a balance between your overwhelming enthusiasm, your needs, and the means at your disposal.”

On my now-lush balcony I have plants in a number of different containers, my favourite being the bespoke vegie patch/barbecue stand made from recycled packing crates. My small barbecue sits to one side of a 40cm-deep planter box, and there is enough room underneath for the gas bottle, a watering can, and space to hang barbecue implements and gardening tools.

To take advantage of a brick wall that gets a lot of morning sun and so will be ideal for tomatoes, an old, metal ammunitions box (painted a nicely weathered blue) has been planted with seedlings, given holes for drainage and attached high enough to catch all the sun.

Another ammo box sitting on the ground contains two rosemary bushes (both heavily in purple flower at the moment), and a series of brightly coloured glazed pots sport the bay tree, the marjoram and the thyme. On the balcony ledge are three long, narrow concrete pots ideal for quick-growing leafy greens.

There’s more to The Little Veggie Patch Co gardening book than just step-by-step set-up instructions. There are tips on everything from watering to scarecrows (something my daughter has expressed the most interest in) and an extensive list of food plants best suited to spaces like my balcony.

I understand that self-sufficiency with a space like mine is a ludicrous notion, but the huge leap in production on my balcony is enormously satisfying. I’m already eyeing off the other planters available and trying to work out what new plants I can fit. I’m thinking garlic, perhaps some broad beans and radishes, maybe an espaliered dwarf pear tree…

The Little Veggie Patch Co by Fabian Capomolla and Mat Pember is published by Plum/Pan Macmillan Australia ($45, pbk).

PHOTOGRAPHY JOHN LAURIE

This article is from the November 2011 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

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