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Prego rolls

"This is a Mozambican specialty and one of the foods that changed my life in terms of African cuisine," says Duncan Welgemoed. "The best spot to get a prego roll in South Africa is the Radium Beerhall. It's run by my godfather, Manny, and is the oldest pub in Jo'burg. The meats are grilled out the back by Mozambican staff and are still done the same way today as they were 30 years ago." Start this recipe a day ahead to marinate the beef.

Lebanese-style snapper

"This dish is Lebanese-peasant done fancy with all the peasant-style flavours you'll find in Lebanese cooking, but with a beautiful piece of fish added," says Bacash. "The trick to not overcooking fish is to be aware that it cooks from the outside inwards and the centre should only cook until it's warm, not hot. If it gets hot in the middle, it will become overcooked from the residual heat. It takes a little practise getting to know this - be conscious of the inside of the fish and not the outside. Until you get it right, you can always get a little paring knife and peek inside the flesh when you think it's ready; it won't damage it too much."

Coleslaw

"Store-bought and pre-cut coleslaws, and bottled dressings have given the humble slaw a lacklustre rep over the years," says Stone. "Taking a little time (just 10 minutes!) to whip one up yourself reminds us why this salad became popular in the first place. This creamy, crunchy coleslaw comes together in a pinch and can be piled atop a thick piece of brisket or served as a side."

Green salad with vinaigrette

"Our seven-year-old, Arwen, has been making this vinaigrette since she was five - she tastes it as she goes," says Levy Redzepi. "It's fresh and acidic and as good as the leaves. Frillice lettuce is crunchy but it's thin so it's like a perfect mix of cos and iceberg."

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April: Walnuts


You'll need

360 gm (1 cup) honey 250 ml (1 cup) pouring cream 250 gm (2½ cups) walnuts, roasted 1 orange, finely grated rind only

Method

  • 01
  • Combine walnuts and orange rind in a bowl. Heat honey and cream in a saucepan over medium heat, bring to boil, reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes or until it reaches 121C (firm ball stage) on a sugar thermometer. Pour honey mixture over walnuts, stir to combine and place tablespoonfuls on a lightly oiled oven tray. Refrigerate until set. Store in an airtight container between layers of baking paper in refrigerator or a cool place.

The walnut has long been one of the world’s most prized nuts. It fetched high prices in ancient Rome, where it was thrown at weddings as other cultures might throw rice or confetti. These esteemed nuts were thought to have been domesticated thousands of years ago in an area stretching across north-east Turkey, the Caucasus and northern Iran. They were introduced to England from Gaul, and their English name derives from the old English wealhhnutu, meaning ‘foreign nut’.

Today, walnut trees can be found growing across many temperate regions of the world, including France, Italy, China, Japan and Argentina. The US state of California is the world’s biggest producer of walnuts. In Australia, they are grown in the Riverina district of New South Wales, Victoria’s Ovens Valley and areas of Tasmania and South Australia. The Australian walnut industry has been bolstered recently by management investment schemes, and at present its annual production is 500 tonnes, expected to reach 22,000 tonnes in five years. The Australian walnut season runs from April to May.

Varieties
In the same family as pecans and other hickory nuts, there about 21 species of walnut, though it is rarely sold by variety in Australia. Most commonly available are the darkly-coloured American walnuts, which have a strong flavour and an ability to withstand cooking, unlike other varieties such as the milder Persian walnut.

In south-west France, walnuts are known by their varieties – typically Corne, Mabot and Grandjean, and the hazelnut-sized noix noisette.

Walnuts have a smooth, green outer husk, which splits as it matures to bear the hard, oval creamy-brown shell within. The shell then dries out and hardens, making it easier to crack, revealing the brain-like kernel (in fact, the word for walnut in Afghanistan means ‘four brains’) which splits into two halves.

Walnuts are harvested at varying stages throughout maturation and even green walnuts may be eaten in their entirety. The green fleshy skin is used in France to make a liqueur originally formulated by the Chartreuse monks, while in parts of Europe and Asia they are pickled or made into sauces and jams. In the Middle East and Greece, half-ripe walnuts are preserved in a heavy syrup and used to accompany desserts. In Italy, Nocino, or walnut liqueur, is produced by infusing black and other walnuts in brandy for two years.

For the production of walnut oil, nuts are stored for up to three months, allowing their milky juices to run clear, then pressed. The oil can be used in salad dressings or to drizzle over roasted vegetables.

How to buy, store…
Walnuts become rancid quite quickly because of their high oil content and are best bought as required.

Anna Del Conte writes in Secrets from an Italian Kitchen, “…old walnuts first develop a piquant taste that tickles your tongue unpleasantly, and later they become rancid. A single piece of rancid walnut can ruin your dish.”

Whole nuts may be stored for up to three months. Shelled nuts are best stored in an airtight container and refrigerated to slow their deterioration.

And cook
Walnuts are used in sweet preparations such as cakes, biscuits and confectionary – one of the most well known is baklava. They also appear in many savoury dishes, like the famous Waldorf salad, as well as in stuffings and sauces, or blended into soups. Of course, they can be simply eaten raw or toasted, sometimes as an accompaniment to cheese. Some recipes call for the nuts to be peeled. To do this, blanch them in boiling water, then remove as much of the papery skin as possible with a small knife.

* For a walnut, pear and radicchio salad, combine sliced pear, toasted walnuts, thinly sliced celery and torn radicchio leaves. Mix walnut oil and red wine vinegar and season to taste, drizzle over salad and toss to combine.

* For a fig an


At A Glance

  • Serves 30 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 30 people

Additional Notes

 

ALSO IN SEASON

Fruit and nuts

Apples, bananas, cumquats, custard apples, feijoas, grapes, kiwifruit, lemons, limes, mandarins, melons, nashi, nuts, pears, persimmons, quinces, rhubarb.

Vegetables

Asian greens, avocados, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers, celeriac, celery, daikon, eggplant, fennel, garlic, ginger, horseradish, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, okra, olives, onions, parsnips, peas, potatoes, pumpkins, shallots, silverbeet, spinach, squash, swedes, sweet potatoes, taro, tomatoes, turnips, witlof, zucchini.

Seafood

Calamari, garfish, John Dory, mullet, octopus, perch, rock lobster, snapper, trout, trevally, whiting.

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