The February issue

Our clean eating issue is out now, packed with super lunch bowls, gluten-free desserts and more - including our cruising special, covering all luxury on the seas.

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Fig recipes

Figs. We can't get enough of them. Here are a few sweet and savoury ways to add them to your summer spread.

Australia's best rieslings

We’re spoilt for variety – and value – in Australia when it comes to good riesling. Max Allen picks the top 20 from a fine crop.

Top Australian chefs to follow on Instagram in 2017

A lot has changed since we first published our pick of the best chefs to follow on Instagram (way back in the dark ages of 2013). Here’s who we’re double-tapping on the photo-sharing app right now.

Curtis Stone's strawberry, elderflower and brioche summer puddings

"Think of this dessert as a deconstructed version of a summer pudding, with thinly sliced strawberries macerated in elderflower liqueur and layered between slices of brioche," says Stone. "A dollop of whipped cream on top is a cooling counterpoint to the floral flavours."

Christine Manfield recipes

As the '90s dawned, darling chefs were pushing the boundaries of cooking in this country. A young Christine Manfield, just starting out at this heady time, soon became part of the generation that redefined modern Australian cuisine. She shares some of her timeless signatures from the era.

Most popular recipes summer 2017

Counting down from 20, here are this summer's most-loved recipes.

Sleep in a Grampians olive grove this autumn

Under Sky are popping up with a luxe camping hotel experience at Mount Zero Olives this April.

Chorizo hotdogs with chimichurri and smoky red relish

A hotdog is all about the condiments. Here, choose between a smoky red capsicum relish or the bright flavours of chimichurri, or go for a bit of both.

November

Well, I couldn't resist, I now have my very own herbaceous border, small compared with those magical gardens I saw in England but glorious nonetheless. It has been a team effort with my gardener doing the heavy work, her garden designer friend advising and laying out a lovely plan and all curbing my enthusiasm for too many different things, and the result is a delight. As I write the plants are just starting to flower. I am in love with the foxgloves and the new roses. I have Madame Isaac Pereire, Stanwell Perpetual and Tess of the d'Urbervilles. My border will be mostly in luscious purples, rose-pinks, white and some silver-grey. I have salvias and verbena, and campanula and aquilegia and many, many more. I have been warned that it will take 12 months to attain its full glory.

I did have an anxious couple of weeks when all the existing shrubs had to come out for relocation or to go to foster homes. Passers-by worried too. There were many inquiries as to my intention, and one woman asked my gardener, "Does she intend to plant more vegetables?" A Greek neighbour leant over the fence and asked if she could have one of my globe artichoke plants in exchange for some rocket seedlings. I dug up one of the smaller plants but cannot believe that her rocket clump will grow. I usually select an enclosed space, such as a wine tub, and broadcast rocket seed freely. It is important to keep rocket picked so it doesn't become leggy and impossibly bitter. And if it has, pull it up and probably it will have seeded itself and new plants will emerge.

Elsewhere in the garden, the sweet peas I purchased at the Chelsea Flower Show are growing well and should soon be covering their frames with pastel-coloured flowers. The blossom on the peach and the nectarines has all finished for the year and the fruit is setting. This month I am looking forward to the glory of my five crabapple trees all about to flower. I have an anxious eye on the new miniature cherry. Will it produce even one cherry this year?

The collard greens that I planted out in June have been luxuriant. I am about to pull them out to give me space for some summer prettiness but they were delicious in late winter cooked with smoked ham hocks as is traditional in the southern states of America. I have always loved the sound of pork with collards and "pot likker". The greens become soft and mellow with long cooking and are more reminiscent of kale than of regular cabbage. The largest leaves were nearly 50cm long. They became enormous plants and I don't think I shall grow them again, preferring to give the space to sprouting broccoli which is such a generous plant and much more compact. Apparently commercial growers ignore the side shoots - it's not economical to go over the plants again, I expect - but I love being able to pick these super-tender side shoots that can continue for weeks after the main head has been cut.

The warmer soil has encouraged me to plant some capsicum plants and soon I will move my tomato seedlings into open ground. I have seedlings of black Russian, black Krim (my favourite last season) and an unknown oxheart variety that I saved seeds from in February. I cut back the eggplant bushes last season and they have started to grow back. Just in case they don't flourish, I have also started a few new plants of listada di Gandia eggplant.

Two months ago I wrapped each of my celery plants in many folds of newspaper and tied each one firmly with twine. I've been thrilled at the result. Quite a few very small snails and slugs had enjoyed the protection of the newspaper, but I also have the crispest, whitest, crunchiest stalks. Once well-washed and free of the afore-mentioned invaders, my celery has featured in many a lunchtime salad tossed with frilly leaves, soft goat's cheese, or anchovies. I also made a very lovely soup in the tradition of potato and leek, substituting a lot of sliced celery for the leeks. When both potato and celery were quite soft I added several handfuls of very fresh watercress leaves. I turned up the heat for just a few minutes before puréeing the lot and straining it. The result was a beautiful pale-green soup with a little bite from the watercress.

The French rarely serve butter with cheese. An exception is Roquefort, which is almost always offered with butter. I squashed about one-third unsalted butter with two-thirds Roquefort and made a very retro party appetiser by piping this soft mix into the channels of my perfect white celery sticks. And still on my celery theme, I made another classic - Waldorf salad - using more of my celery, orange segments, toasted walnuts, and a little sour cream. I also added thinly sliced nashi pear (which I did not grow).

I am still enjoying broad beans and peas and am starting to wonder where the beans will go. It is a dilemma in a small garden space, not just for reasons of rotation, but a question of where to put the next crop when the earlier one is still producing. Not a bad problem to have though.

Until next time.

PHOTOGRAPHY ARMELLE HABIB

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

MORE INFO

For more information on Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Foundation and schools, check out her website.
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Sydney’s heatwaves are affecting your croissants
22.02.2017
Recipes by Christine Manfield
21.02.2017
How to grow rocket
20.02.2017
On the Pass: Danielle Rensonnet
16.02.2017
Four ways with furikake
13.02.2017
The trailer for Chef's Table season three is here
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