The summer issue

Our summer-packed January issue is out now - featuring our guide to summer rieslings, strawberries and seafood recipes, as well as a look at the best of Bali.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller for just $6 an issue - offer ends 29th January, 2017.

Gourmet digital

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad or Android tablet.

Recipes with peaches

Whether caramelised in a tarte Tartin, paired with slow-roasted pork on top of pizza or tossed through salads, this sweet stone fruit is an excellent addition to summer cooking.

Knives and Ink chef tattoos

What is it about chefs and tattoos? A new book asks the inked to answer for themselves.

Ben Shewry's favourite souvlaki restaurant in Melbourne Kalimera Souvlaki Art

Attica’s chef isn’t happiest when eating soils or smears on his days off, it’s souvlaki. We follow him to his favourite spot.

Black Star Pastry to open in Carlton, Melbourne

Instagram’s most famous cake, plus a few other sweet hits, is heading south.

Seabourn Encore luxury cruise ship

Australia is about to get its first glimpse of Seabourn Encore, a glamorous new addition to the Seabourn fleet.

Berry recipes

Whether it's raspberries paired with chocolate in a layer cake, or blueberries with lemon in a tart; berries are a welcome addition to any dessert. Here are delicious recipes with berries.

Light and healthy recipes

With fresh ingredients and lots of spices, these light and healthy recipes are perfect for summer.

Coconut crab and green mango salad

"This salad bursts with fresh, vibrant flavours and became a signature on my Paramount menus," says Christine Manfield. "I capitalised on using green mangoes in many dishes as they became more widely available. Blue swimmer crabs from South Australia have the most delicious sweet meat. It's best to buy them whole, cook them yourself and carefully pick the meat from the shell - a tedious task but it gives the best flavour. This entree also works well with spanner crab meat (you can buy this in packs ready cooked from reliable fishmongers). The sweetness of the crab, the richness of the fresh coconut and the sourness of green mango make a wonderful partnership. It's all about harmony on the palate and using the very best produce."

How to grow your own lettuce

This garden stalwart takes root at the mere spill of a seed packet no matter what the season, and never more so than now, writes Mat Pember.

There isn't too much to get excited about in the garden in winter, but there is lettuce, the Border collie of the vegetable world - loyal and easy to please. Throw any season at a lettuce and you're bound to get some produce in return. In fact, lettuce seems to thrive best in winter and is crunchier than ever come August.

If you go to the supermarket to buy a head of lettuce, you'll have three, maybe four choices. Go to a good nursery and there are enough varieties to start a leafy cult. Lettuces are categorised as either hearting (iceberg, for example) or non-hearting (mignonette, say), which indicates how they should be harvested: hearting lettuces should be plucked as whole heads, while non-hearting lettuces are harvested in our preferred leaf-by-leaf manner. Having said that, with a home vegetable patch you're more likely to pick all lettuces leaf by leaf to encourage a perpetual harvest.

The hardest part about growing lettuce at this time of year, aside from choosing the variety, is dragging yourself outside in the cold to plant it.

But once it's in the patch, the weather gods take care of the rest. Being a leaf vegetable, lettuce needs nitrogen to satisfy its needs, so mix compost or slow-release chook manure into the patch before planting, then splash the seedlings with liquid seaweed concentrate every couple of weeks.

Choose the sunniest spot available, but lettuce also tolerates partial shade. If you can't find a spot in direct sunlight, choose one that gets reflective light, and avoid planting lettuces too close to established crops. Despite the undemanding shallow root zones of lettuce, larger, hungrier crops will bully it about.

All lettuces germinate and grow with such ease that you needn't do more than spill a packet of seeds and you'll end up with a crop. If you want to be a bit more precise, create shallow trenches with your fingertip no more than a centimetre deep and 15 centimetres apart, and place a couple of seeds every 10 to 15 centimetres; they're usually minute, so leave the gloves off. However, given how well lettuce seedlings cope with transplanting (and our need for instant gratification), we prefer planting seedlings rather than seeds.

Separate the plants in the punnet and space out to the required distance. Once in the ground, water them well and continue to do so every couple of days, or as the weather demands. Since we're still locked in winter, the patch will hold on to moisture, so the greatest risk is overwatering seedlings and having them rot. Unlike an automated irrigation system that comes on regardless of the conditions, use your human senses to see what's going on. Overwatering is often an invitation for snails and slugs to venture around the patch, and sweet lettuces are a favoured snack.

Within a month - perhaps less if there are early signs of spring - the lettuces will be ready for the first harvest. Start with the outer, more mature leaves to free up energy for the next generation to come through. If you find that your plants are becoming congested, harvest some as entire heads to make space for the others to thrive. If you want dense hearts, you'll need to be patient - it's usually a two to three-month commitment.

As spring breaks through, your lettuces will intensify in texture and flavour. The longer they're left in the ground, the tougher and more bitter the leaves become, so keep your plants in the ground for as long as your palate can cope. By spring, there will be plenty of other goodies in the patch to tempt you, but remember: there will always be lettuce.

TIP OF THE MONTH: MAKING COMPOST
The art of making compost is not unlike that of making bread. Much like fine-tuning a mix of yeast, flour and water to create the ultimate dough, a master compost-maker will strike a fine balance between green and brown wastes, creating compost utopia. Unfortunately, too many of us are not great at making compost (or bread), so here are some tips.

Excess moisture
If your compost is too wet, it will get stinky and won't break down properly; if it's too dry, nothing will happen and it will never become compost. Your compost should feel damp, not wet.

The right mix
Much like making the perfect loaf of bread with the right balance of ingredients, the first thing to remember when making compost is that it isn't just about the A-lister kitchen scraps - green waste. The less-fancied scraps also require consideration. Brown waste, which includes straw, shredded paper and dried leaves, is essentially the compost-maker's flour. Mixed with green waste, it helps create the perfect conditions for compost to thrive.

WHAT TO PLANT
Cool/mountainous
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Carrot seed
Celery seedling
Coriander seedling
Fennel seedling
Herbs (all except basil) seedling
Kale seedling
Lettuce seedling
Parsnip seed
Peas seed
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Silverbeet seedling
Spinach seedling
Spring onion seedling
Turnip seed
Strawberry seedling
Swede seed

Temperate
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Carrot seed
Celery seedling
Coriander seedling
Fennel seedling
Herbs (all except basil) seedling
Kale seedling
Lettuce seedling
Parsnip seed
Peas seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Silverbeet seedling
Spinach seedling
Spring onion seedling
Turnip seed
Strawberry seedling
Swede seed

Sub tropical
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Carrot seed
Celery seedling
Coriander seedling
Herbs (all except basil) seedling
Kale seedling
Lettuce seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Peas seed
Silverbeet seedling
Spinach seedling
Spring onion seedling
Strawberry seedling

Tropical
Beans seedling
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Carrot seed
Capsicum seedling
Celery seedling
Chilli seedling
Cucumber seedling
Eggplant seedling
Herbs (all) seedling
Lettuce seedling
Pumpkin seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Silverbeet seedling
Spinach seedling
Spring onion seedling
Squash seedling
Strawberry seedling
Sweet Corn seedling
Tomato seedling
Zucchini seedling

Newsletter

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

Latest news
How to grow the red beard onion
17.01.2017
Three ways with mangoes
17.01.2017
The most-Googled food terms of 2016
14.12.2016
Myrtleford Butter Factory reopens as King Valley Dairy
12.12.2016
The best cookbooks of 2016
12.12.2016
Patrick Friesen’s most Canadian dish of all time
08.12.2016
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
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...

How to grow chillies

This is the time of year for vegetables that like it hot and...

How to grow garlic

Garlic has a long growing time, but low maintenance and fres...

How to grow broccoli

Broccoli is the most prolific member of the brassica family ...

How to pickle fruit and vegetables

I’m keen to get in on this pickling thing. Where’s a good pl...

How to plant broad beans

Plant broad beans now, when the weather is cool, and they’ll...

How to cook wagyu

I’ve been noticing restaurant-grade wagyu in good butcher’s ...

Classic Sunday roast ideas

What’s the key to nailing a really good classic Sunday roast...

Quick meals with chilli bean paste

This handy Chinese condiment is a sure-fire speedy way of ad...

What is Buddha’s hand?

This freakishly shaped fruit, aka fingered citron, hails fro...

Best meat for big parties

What can you suggest that’s low maintenance and high impact ...

How to grow your own strawberries

A real ace of the garden, strawberries may require attention...

get the latest news

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

×