The Christmas issue

Our December issue is out now, featuring Paul Carmichael's recipes for a Caribbean Christmas, silly season cocktails and more.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller before 28th December, 2016 for your chance to win a share of $50,000!

Gourmet digital

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad or Android tablet.

Mango recipes

Nothing says summer like mangoes. Go beyond the criss-cross cuts - bake a mango-filled meringue loaf with lime mascarpone, start off the day with a sweet coconut quinoa pudding with sticky mango, or toss it through a spicy warm weather Thai salad.

Chilled recipes for summer

When the mercury is rising, step away from the oven. These recipes are either raw, chilled or frozen and will cool you down in a snap.

Shark Bay Wild Scampi Caviar

Bright blue scampi roe is popping up on menus across Australia. Here's why it's so special.

Dark chocolate delice, salted-caramel ganache and chocolate sorbet

"The delice from Source Dining is a winner. May I have the recipe?" Rebecca Ward, Fitzroy, Vic REQUEST A RECIPE To request a recipe, email fareexchange@bauer-media.com.au or send us a message via Facebook. Please include the restaurant's name and address, as well as your name and address. Please note that because of the volume of requests we receive, we can only publish a selection in the magazine.

Koh Loy Sriracha Sauce, David Thompson's favourite hot sauce

When the master of Thai food pinpoints anything as his favourite, we sit up and listen.

Summer feta recipes

Whether in a fresh salad or seasonal seafood dish, feta's creamy tang can be used to add interest to a variety of summer dishes.

Paul Carmichael's great cake

"Great cake, also known in Barbados as black cake or rum cake, is a variation of British Christmas cake that's smashed with rum and falernum syrup," says Momofuku Seiobo chef Paul Carmichael. "This festive cake varies from household to household but they all have two things in common: tons of dried fruit and rum. It's a cake that should be started at least a month out so the fruit can marinate in the booze. Start this recipe up to five weeks ahead to macerate the fruit and baste the cake."

Gifts under $100 at our pop-up Christmas Boutique

Whether it's a hand-thrown pasta bowl, a bottle of vodka made from sheep's whey or a completely stylish denim apron, our pop-up Christmas Boutique in collaboration with gift shop Sorry Thanks I Love You has got you covered in the $100 and under budget this Christmas.

June

Many of my friends have already visited Rose Creek Estate, a family vineyard and farm created with passion and unbelievable hard work by Tony and Lina Siciliano and their children on three hectares of steeply sloping land in suburban East Keilor, less than 30 minutes from the centre of Melbourne.

The Sicilianos have recreated the lifestyle that they knew from their life in Italy, specifically their home town of Varapodio in Calabria. In Italy, land was highly valued and you were obliged to cultivate it and to live on what it produced. The Sicilianos rarely buy a vegetable, and after a wonderful tour of the gardens with Lina and Tony, I'm not surprised. Many Italian and Greek migrants to this country cultivated crops in their back and front gardens, but few would have had access to as much land as the Sicilianos.

The original property was bought 30 years ago, slap bang in the middle of Melbourne suburbia, and when neighbouring land became available Tony bought that too. Lina says the property then was bare save for rocks and weeds. I believe her, though looking around at this verdant landscape it's difficult to do so. Now there are avenues of vineyards that Tony tends and son Angelo turns into lovely wines. I sipped a glass of the dry rosé at an afternoon tea a week or so later - delicious accompanied by a nut cake.

There are at least seven varieties of figs planted, and avenues of olive trees - the most recent pressing of oil won the champion ribbon at the 2011 Royal Hobart Fine Food Awards. Tony crushes the olives himself using a very small machine he imported from Italy. There's an extensive two-metre-high poultry run with all manner of hens, roosters, guinea fowl and peacocks, and the vegetable garden is similarly expansive. My visit was in autumn and there were plenty of tomatoes still on the vines. Lina says that last year she picked her last tomato in mid-July!

I was jealous of her many scarlet capsicum; my own have sulked this year and refused to colour. Lina says her bushes are four years old and still producing. Everything was lush and so healthy. Enormous pomegranates, bursting figs, heavy bunches of grapes, a tree laden with cedro - a citrus beloved in Sicily where it is candied, sliced thinly and used to decorate cassata.

The last borlotti and another podding bean were drying on the bushes, giant globular eggplant Lina identified as violetta were as large and round as baseballs. Rows and rows of chicory and broccoli were already in the ground, and the first broad beans were ready to pick. Mine are just starting to grow.

Wherever I looked there was a mix of the familiar and the unknown. Many varieties of tomato or bean or oregano were identified in dialect and would be impossible for others to find. The Sicilianos save their own seeds to keep their preferred varieties growing. They sell their produce at several Melbourne farmers' markets, including the Collingwood Children's Farm market and the Slow Food market at the Abbotsford Convent, and most generously open their estate for people to visit. I came away with a basket laden with samples, a recipe for peperonata and another for Lina's favourite way to cure olives, and with boundless admiration and astonishment at the energy of the family and the output of the estate.

Suitably inspired, I've planted chicory under my lemon tree and am interested to see how it fares. I do enjoy these bitter Italian greens, usually softened with olive oil, and maybe mixed with something else. Rosa Mitchell, another fine Italian cook with a love of traditional recipes, has just published a lovely book, Rosa's Farm, and in it she has a recipe for blanched chicory sautéed with cooked potato in olive oil. Delicious, and as she says, it makes a beautiful frittata.

I've had great success with broadcasting mixed lettuce seed in a wine barrel. The baby lettuces have germinated over quite a few weeks and I can go out with a bowl and scissors and cut myself a salad of the most advanced leaves knowing there will be more tomorrow. Having pulled up the summer-flowering petunias, I shall refresh the soil in their pots and broadcast more salad seeds.

It's time to spray the bare fruit trees with Bordeaux spray, a fungicide. This essential preventitive measure must be finished before there's any sign of an opening flower bud or a new leaf. I've added a doughnut peach to my mini-mini-orchard. This year I'm going to try bagging fruit in addition to protecting it with the net I've had constructed on a polypipe frame. The net can be dropped over the miniature trees like a curtain. If only the birds and the possums could understand that I'm willing to share, but I object to a bite being taken out of almost every fruit.

Until next time.

PORTRAIT ARMELLE HABIB

This article is from the June 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

MORE INFO

For more information on Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Foundation and schools, check out her website.
Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
Explainer: wild scampi caviar
30.11.2016
GT's Christmas hamper
29.11.2016
David Thompson's favourite hot sauce
28.11.2016
Our 2016 Christmas issue is out now
28.11.2016
Bruce Pascoe’s crowd-funded Indigenous agriculture project
27.11.2016
Where to start with French beef cuts
18.11.2016
GT
Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
The GT x STILY
Christmas Boutique is now open

The smallgoods, homewares, art and more from the pages of GT are now all under one roof, ready to take their place under the tree.

Read More
Gourmet TV

Check out our YouTube channel for our latest cover recipes, chef cooking demos, interviews and more.

Watch Now

You might also like...

Italian breakfast recipes

The flavours of the old country meet Australian cafe panache...

Pizza recipes

Mmm, pizza… Rustic tradition and contemporary thinking meet ...

Chef's spaghetti Bolognese recipes: L to Z

We quizzed the best kitchen talents on their secrets to the ...

Chef's spaghetti Bolognese recipes: B to K

We quizzed the best kitchen talents on their secrets to the ...

Mother's Day recipes

Mum deserves nothing but the best, so why don't you make her...

Easter recipes

Hot cross buns, a whole lot of lamb, some chocolate treats (...

Classic Italian recipes

From spaghetti Bolognese to lasagne and tiramisu to panna co...

Easter lunch recipes

With the cooler autumn weather, heartier flavours begin to e...

Cupcake recipes

Scaled down to little more than a mouthful, tiny cakes take ...

Thomas Keller's sandwich recipes

America's most famous chef takes the smarts and good taste t...

Grilling recipes

Dust off the tongs, fire up the barbecue, and get grilling w...

Neil Perry's Spice Temple recipes

At his new Spice Temple, Neil Perry calls on the more exotic...

Pickle and preserve recipes

When it comes to last-minute entertaining, a lovingly made p...

15 (shameless) chocolate recipes

Mousse, souffle, mud cake and more... welcome to the dark si...

Coconut recipes

There's nothing like a coconut to put you in a tropical mood...

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

×