Healthy Eating

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Farro recipes

Farro can be used in almost any dish, from a robust salad to accompany hearty beer-glazed beef short ribs to a new take on risotto with mushrooms, leek and parmesan. Here are 14 ways with this versatile grain.

Aløft

There's nothing new about Nordic interiors - blond timbers, concrete surfaces, warm, mid-century charm without the twee - and thank heavens for that. It's a style that augments the beauty of everything around it, in this case, gorgeous Hobart harbour, which makes up one whole wall. What is new here, however, is the food - by veterans of Garagistes, which once dazzled diners down the road, Vue de Monde in Melbourne and Gordon Ramsay worldwide. There's a strong Asian bent, but with Tasmanian ingredients. In fact, the kitchen's love of the local verges on obsessive - coconut milk in an aromatic fish curry is replaced with Tasmanian-grown fig leaf simmered in cream to mimic the flavour. Other standouts include a gutsy red-braised lamb with gai lan and chewy cassia spaetzle, pigs' ears zingy with Sichuan pepper and a fresh, springy berry dessert. While the food is sourced locally, the generous wine list spans the planet. 

Secret Tuscany

A far cry from Tuscany’s familiar gently rolling hills, Monte Argentario’s appealing mix of mountain, ocean, island and lagoon makes it one of Italy’s hidden treasures, writes Emiko Davies.

Moon Park to open Paper Bird in Potts Point

No, it’s not a pop-up. The team behind Sydney’s Moon Park is back with an all-day east-Asian eatery.

Where to stay, eat and drink in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Beyond Kuala Lumpur's shopping malls, Lara Dunston finds a flourishing third-wave coffee scene, tailored food tours and charming neighbourhoods.

Kisume, Melbourne

Chris Lucas has flown in talent from all over the world, including Eleven Madison Park, for his bold new venture. Here’s what to expect from Kisume.

O Tama Carey's fried eggs with seeni sambol, coconut and turmeric

"I first cooked a version of this dish - inspired by the excellent deep-fried egg dish at Billy Kwong - while working at a restaurant in Sri Lanka," says O Tama Carey. "The lattice-like eggs are doused in a creamy turmeric curry sauce and topped with seeni sambol, a sweet-spiced caramelised onion relish. This dish is equally perfect for an indulgent breakfast as it is served as part of a larger meal." The recipe for the seeni sambol makes more than you need, but to get the right balance of spices you need to make at least this much. It keeps refrigerated for up to three weeks; use as an onion relish. The curry sauce can be made a day or two ahead.

Grilled apricot salad with jamon and Manchego

Here we've scorched apricots on the grill and served them with torn jamon, shaved Manchego and peppery rocket leaves. Think of it as a twist on the good old melon-prosciutto routine. The mixture would also be great served on charred sourdough.

July

Many readers will already be familiar with the wonderful book Preserving the Italian Way by Pietro Demaio. I was fortunate to meet the author when he ran a workshop for some of the specialists employed in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden programs in schools across Australia. Demaio is irresistible. Enthusiasm and knowledge ooze from this man. He demonstrated many traditional Italian ways of pickling and preserving foods to inspire us all to make the most of our excess crops.

Like many others, I have pickled my own olives in many different ways over the years. In the southern states boxes of freshly picked olives have been in the markets for several weeks now. In the past I've soaked olives in buckets of water, changing it every day, or I've split each olive, and after the initial soaking and rinsing stage, soaked them again in a flavoured brine, or layered them with salt. I've tried several methods, and Demaio knew them all and validated most of them. But he did communicate the basic method that his family has followed for generations. And it is so simple.

Pietro Demaio's olive sott'olio
For 2 kilos of freshly picked olives (no bruised fruit), you make a simple brine with 5 litres water and 300gm kitchen salt and bring it to the boil. Place the olives in a clean container and pour over the hot brine. Seal and leave for three months. Drain, transfer olives to a clean container (preferably glass), pour over 1 litre of wine vinegar and leave overnight. Drain again and transfer the pickled olives into clean jars. Add garlic, slices of lemon, mint, fennel, whatever you want. Cover with olive oil and leave for one month.

Demaio advises that once the olives are eaten, you should use the remaining oil in cooking. I will report on my olives in four months' time!

Winter is the time for bare-rooted trees and I have been making inquiries of Fleming's Nurseries to select a suitable persimmon tree for my front garden. Persimmons are described as either astringent or non-astringent. An astringent persimmon is edible only when the fruit becomes jelly-like. A truly ripe astringent persimmon must be eaten with a spoon and one scoops into it like one does a soft crème or custard. Yum! Available varieties are dai dai maru, hyakumo, tanenashi and nightingale.

Non-astringent persimmons are flatter in shape and can be eaten as soon as they are picked, when the light-orange flesh is sweet and as crisp as an apple. They will soften if stored at room temperature and may even develop a texture somewhat like the astringent varieties. Available varieties include fuyu and ichikikei jiro. I enjoy these fruits sliced into salads and they combine particularly well with toasted nuts, goat's cheese, and robust winter greens such as radicchio and witlof. Or you can combine them with a smoked trout fillet or poached chicken breast for a more substantial lunch.

It is pruning time and I leave mine to the experts. Maggie and Colin Beer are coming for a visit, and while Maggie and I chat, Colin gets out the ladder and the clippers and tackles  my ornamental grapevine. I assist by cutting the prunings and bundling them to use in my open fireplace. I still have some of last year's prunings, so we will probably grill quail for dinner. Colin enjoys managing the little fire, while I arrange the marinated birds onto one of the heavy iron grills I bought from an Italian hardware store. And we all have a moment reminiscing about our happy days in Tuscany, when so much of our food was grilled over a fire just like this.

Winter is also the optimum time to plant seed potatoes. Last year I used a grow bag and was very disappointed with the yield. In my opinion the bag was simply not deep enough to permit me to build up the soil around the growing plants, and the plants instead trailed out of the bag and across the paving. This year I am going to use the method advocated by Diggers, and which I have seen in operation in several of our school gardens. One drives tall stakes into the ground, creates a nest of straw and compost, adds the cut seed potatoes, one variety to its own nest, and then covers the potatoes with soil and straw before encircling the stakes with chicken wire. As the plants grow, more soil, compost and straw are added so that only the top few leaves are visible. The theory is that this will result in many more potatoes. We shall see.

When I was visiting Coober Pedy Area school (which has one of our more remote Kitchen Garden programs), I was astonished when the garden specialist there told me she had recently pulled up the potato plants, extracted the largest tubers, and then replanted them, expecting they will continue to grow. Maybe everyone in the potato-growing world except me knows you can do this?

PHOTOGRAPHY ARMELLE HABIB

This article is from the July 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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