Spring is a time of birth and a chirpy stall of baby chicks drew children and adults at the Southside Farmers Market last Sunday. Lindy Ross has been in touch from Cambrey Farm in Pialligo (Kitchen Garden, April 9) to say their young hens have started laying.
Bob Ross has shared a recipe from Gourmet Traveller (November, 2010, by Alice Storey), for a favourite main course which they serve at al fresco lunches using their own eggs. Ross buys their trout from a seafood store and it comes already cooked, filleted and prepared. He picks the trout apart as part of the preparation so it is broken into smaller pieces and does it thoroughly so no bones are left in the trout.
Jenean Spencer of Garran (Kitchen Garden, October 22) reports that her King quail have just started laying too and the eggs are tiny, like the birds. The Japanese quail eggs are speckled. Her household eats them on toast and she says they are a perfect size for glazing a pie with egg wash. They can also be boiled and the shell is soft but hardens if soaked in cold water for 20 minutes.
Something else to go on the toast. On October 13 the best marmalades in Australia were awarded at Beaumont House in Adelaide. From 250 entries across Australia, New Zealand and Europe, this year's champion homemade marmalade maker is Reuben Kooperman of Western Australia (Kitchen Garden, April 23). His winning conserve was a tangelo and Sullivan's Cove malt whisky (an ultra-superior dram) and it was entered in the "With a Twist" category. Other champion marmalades were Seville orange with Loch gin and a gin and tonic marmalade.
With Floriade extending beyond Commonwealth Park this year, it was a delight to see the three large planters filled with flowers at Commonwealth Place. Lots of us visited them a number of times and the particular joy was to bend down and smell each of the major plant groups.
Australia Pollinator Week runs from November 10 this year and kitchen gardeners should plant flowers to attract the bees.
Sweet Alice or Alyssum (Lobularia maritima) has been regarded as old-fashioned but the strong scent of honey was attracting human noses, bees, ladybirds and hoverflies. Plant Alyssum among your vegetables.
Dianthus or pinks are back in vogue with their frilly, starry petals which smell of cloves and low blue/green foliage. They are bee-attracting as is Nemesia, another perennial plant seen at Commonwealth Place which smells of vanilla so I am growing it for the first time.
Matthew Reid, Operations Leader at Citywide, said they installed the plants at Commonwealth Place for the National Capital Authority. Citywide is also responsible for the flowers in Braddon and they have 40 crates (1000+ plants) scattered across the Canberra CBD for the City Renewal Authority. Reid said if you give nemesias a good cut back after the flourish and some upkeep (watering) they will flower again and again to help the bees produce floral honey for our toast.
Herb crepes stuffed with ricotta and smoked trout
400g firm ricotta
finely grated rind of 2 lemons, juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup (loosely packed) each of soft herbs such as dill, flat-leaf parsley and tarragon, finely chopped
450g smoked trout, coarsely flaked
1 fennel bulb, thinly shaved on a mandolin, plus fronds, reserved to serve
lemon wedges to serve
125g plain flour, sieved
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup (loosely packed) each of soft herbs dill, flat-leaf parsley and tarragon, finely chopped
For crepes, place flour in a bowl. Heat milk, butter and a pinch of salt in a saucepan over a low heat until butter melts. Remove from heat, whisk in eggs. Gradually add milk mixture to flour, whisking until smooth, add herbs, refrigerate for it rest for one hour.
Meanwhile, process ricotta, rind and juice in a food processor until smooth, add herbs, pulse to combine, season to taste, set aside.
Heat a 22cm diameter crepe pan over a medium heat, brush with a little butter, add about 40ml batter, swirl to cover pan, cook until just set, turn and cook until golden. Transfer to a plate, keep warm, repeat with remaining batter. Makes 12.
Spread crepes with ricotta mixture, scatter with trout, fold into quarters and serve with shaved fennel, fennel fronds and lemon wedges. (Alternatively you can roll the crepe instead of folding it.)