Healthy Eating

After fresh ideas for meals that are healthy but still pack a flavour punch? We've got salads and vegetable-packed bowls to soups and light desserts.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller before 24th July, 2017 and receive 6 issues for only $35!

Gourmet digital

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad or Android tablet.

Pea and ham soup

Coffee culture: A history

Australia’s love affair with coffee is stronger than ever; it’s become a way of life. But exactly how did a beverage manage to shape our country’s culture?

Tarta de Santiago

"Gordita makes a splendid version of the Galician almond cake Tarta de Santiago, with its dramatic design. Would you please publish the recipe?" Michael MacDermott, Taringa, Qld 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.

Event: Bacon Week

A celebration of one of our favourite breakfast foods.

Curry recipes

When you're in need of rejuvenation, there's nothing better than a warming bowl of curry, whether it's gently spiced potato and egg, a punchy Jamaican goat number or an elaborate Burmese fish curry. Here are our favourite recipes.

Bread and butter pudding

Just what you need on a cold winter's night; a bowl of luscious pudding. Make sure to leave room for seconds.

Bali's new wave of restaurants, hotels and bars

The restaurant and hotel scene on Australia's favourite holiday island has never been more exciting and Australian chefs, owners and restaurateurs are leading the charge, writes Samantha Coomber.

Automata opening in Singapore

One of Sydney’s hottest restaurants is about to branch out in Asia.

How to grow chillies

This is the time of year for vegetables that like it hot and when it comes to heat, chillies love to both give and take, says Mat Pember.

The final throes of the warm season bring out the true lovers of heat, and the chilli is a summer pro. Chillies derive their spice from capsaicinoids and the intensity is measured by Scoville heat units (SHU), but no one pays too much attention to the specific ratings. There are mild ones, hot ones, those that tingle the back of your eyeballs, and those that seem to threaten your survival and could send you to an asylum.

Chillies demand a hot, sun-drenched space, preferably up against a north-facing wall to capture extra warmth. But don't let their infatuation with heat lead you to neglect their basic needs; like any other plant they require free-draining soil and adequate watering to cope with the baking.

Enrich the soil with compost and chook-manure pellets before planting and space the seedlings 20 to 30 centimetres apart. Given the time of year, plants will need daily watering, maybe even twice daily if conditions are hot (see below). It also pays to mulch immediately after planting, so apply sugar cane, pea straw or lucerne hay to a depth of two to five centimetres to help reduce evaporation by locking in moisture. Ensure you keep the mulch away from the stem of the seedlings as they are prone to stem rot.

If your patch is exposed to the hot summer winds, strong gusts can throw the plants about and play havoc with their root systems. It's therefore worthwhile staking the plants or installing a windbreak. This could be as complicated as building a small structure or as simple as leaving the double-pram parked wind side of the plants.

Once the chillies are settled - three to four weeks after planting - thin out the seedlings to a spacing of 40 to 60 centimetres and cut back the frequency of the water, but increase the volume.

A deeper soaking of the patch will send the roots in search of these reserves and form a stronger plant. This is where drip watering systems really earn their keep - by applying water directly to the root zone and penetrating deep into the soil. And when you're on holiday, they're much more reliable than your teenagers or busy neighbours.

After a couple of months, your plants should be sprouting little flowers that develop into little bullets of spice. Those well versed in chilli production believe the hot ones shoot skyward in search of sun to intensify their heat, but don't be fooled by those that hang. The birdseye, for example, chases the sun, but according to Scoville rates only 100,000 to 250,000 SHU. The bhut jolokia, meanwhile, comes in at 1,041,427. This chilli does not point skywards.

As the first flowers appear, apply liquid potash to help promote the forming of the fruit and production of more flowers. Green chillies form quickly, but ripening may take another month or more. Earlier in the season, ripening occurs relatively quickly and then begins to slow down as the weather cools into autumn.

Pick chillies individually with sharp nails or sharp scissors. I can't tell you the number of times I've hastily gone to harvest them but dislodged an entire branch with multiple flowers hanging onto it. Sadly, these guys will never realise their potential.

In the right position a chilli plant can survive the cooler months and still hold fruit - but they'll take an eternity to ripen. Rather than let the plant suffer like this, cut it back to a bare skeleton to hibernate over winter. When warmer temperatures return, the plant will shoot new growth and away we go again.

One-minute skills: hot-day watering
February is a month for heatwaves, so how should you handle watering your plants when they're wilting and barely surviving? Well, the first thing to do is to keep a cool head. As much as it might seems like the logical thing to do, refrain from submerging your patch in a torrent of water. Instead, here are some tips on how hydrate your plants effectively.

1 When your vegetables are flagging under the duress of the mid-summer heat, they appreciate a drink but it must be administered correctly. Leaving the plant's leaf matter wet and sitting under direct sunlight is akin to giving it a drink and then setting it on fire. Water droplets can magnify under the intense light and burn the plant.

2 Make sure to keep the water stream low and directed over the root zone. This is where it's best used and where plants need water most. To avoid any catastrophes, you could wait until the sun has subsided, however, this should not change you strategy. Repeat after me: aim low and apply to the root zone.

What to plant
Cool/mountainous
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Capsicum seedling
Carrot seed
Chilli seedling
Eggplant seedling
Herbs (all) seedling
Lettuce seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Silverbeet seedling
Spinach seedling
Spring onion seedling
Strawberry seedling

Temperate
Beans seed
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Capsicum seedling
Carrot seed
Chilli seedling
Eggplant seedling
Herbs (all except coriander) seedling
Lettuce seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Silverbeet seedling
Spring onion seedling
Strawberry seedling

Sub tropical
Beans seedling
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Capsicum seedling
Chilli seedling
Cucumber seedling
Eggplant seedling
Herbs (all except coriander and dill) seedling
Lettuce seedling
Pumpkin seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Silverbeet seedling
Spring onion seedling
Squash seedling
Strawberry seedling
Sweet corn seedling
Zucchini seedling

Tropical
Beans seedling
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Capsicum seedling
Chilli seedling
Cucumber seedling
Eggplant seedling
Herbs (all except coriander and dill) seedling
Lettuce seedling
Radish seed
Rocket seedling
Silverbeet seedling
Spring onion seedling
Squash seedling
Strawberry seedling
Sweet corn seedling
Zucchini seedling

Newsletter

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

Latest news
Focaccia's comeback
26.06.2017
Bacon Week 2017
19.06.2017
On the Pass: Jorge Vallejo, Quintonil
29.05.2017
Our June issue is on sale now
25.05.2017
What is rou jia mo?
28.04.2017
OzHarvest opens Australia’s first free supermarket for people in need
27.04.2017
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
Recipe collections

Looking for ways to make the most out of seasonal produce? Want to find a recipe perfect for a party? Or just after fresh ideas for dessert? Either way, our recipe collections have you covered.

See more
2017 Restaurant Guide

Our 2017 Restaurant Guide is online, covering over 400 restaurants Australia wide. Never wonder where to dine again.

See more

You might also like...

Blame the flame

Chef Lennox Hastie worked the coals at Spain’s famed Etxebar...

Prepared chestnuts

A fresh chestnut is a hard nut to crack, so we’re lucky, the...

Home-dried herbs

I’ve got a surplus of herbs in the garden; how do I get the ...

How to carve a jack-o'-lantern

We ask three American chefs to share their pumpkin carving s...

get the latest news

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

×