The thing about gardeners is that they share - seeds, seedlings, cuttings and even produce - so an extra dimension was added to the recent exhibition A Floral Liaison, by Adele Cameron and Michele England, at Canberra Contemporary Art Space in Manuka. On an end wall was a huge circle with the word "give" and on the floor a similar circle with the word "take".
Visitors to the exhibition were invited to tape flowers from home on a wall and to take home a posy in a glass jar. I chose an onion, shiny, deep purple, with a tangle of white roots growing in the water. It became a dining table feature at home.
The onion was grown by textile artist Adele Cameron who used purple onions to dye her silk velvet.
In fruits and vegetables, the colour purple provides anthocyanin pigments good for health and, with blueberries and blackberries particularly, a superfood status. When it comes to purple sweet potato and carrots they contain a good dose of antioxidants. Cooking may reduce the amount but it is said that cooked carrots are better for humans than eaten raw. Purple cabbage, too, is a great addition to a winter dish.
Recently at Ainslie IGA I bought purple broccolini from Perfection Fresh. The biodegradable tag attached said, "get lost in a forest of flavour". The broccolini cooked to green but tasted sweeter than the usual green variety. I served it in a frittata topped with toasted pine nuts and also broccolini with grilled salmon and a scattering of macadamia dukkah from Summerland in Wardell, NSW, which "puts people with a disability in business".
Have any readers successfully grown broccolini, purple or green, in our district lately? if so, please email: email@example.com
A friendly neighbour has harvested a large bed of purple carrots (Daucus carota) from the "Sunshine" grow-your-own range purchased from Bunnings. The trick is to prepare soil to a fine tilth before planting seedlings or sowing seed. Her first crop filled a large bowl with what looked like witchetty grubs but later harvests were mostly straight.
When given a quick scrub (never peel carrots) then cooked, the smooth rich purple skin revealed deep orange flesh, perfect for vegetable dishes, salads and the soup that was shared with me. The recipe, which follows, was adapted from aseasyasapplepie.com. Christine made double the quantity (adding extra ginger and fresh turmeric). She also added a can of coconut milk at the end, as a Thai touch, and some chopped chives and a garnish of homegrown coriander (Coriandrum sativum) and Vietnamese coriander (Persicaria odorata).
A vital ingredient in most kitchens is extra virgin olive oil. My favourite brand is Cobram Estate Classic style and all their bottles come with a pop up pourer. Recently I bought a 750ml bottle and decided to decant it into two used 375ml bottles. After removing the pourer from the first small bottle, in went the oil, but I could not replace the pourer.
The thinking is that there can be oil residue in the used bottles or in the old pouring spout which can become rancid and taint the flavour of the fresh oil. Also a hint: do not store your evoo in a handy place near a stove top as the heat can contribute to a hasty decline in the quality of the oil.
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion (preferably purple), finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp ground turmeric
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
500g carrots (preferably purple), chopped
1 litre vegetable stock
can of coconut milk (optional)
toasted hazelnuts or macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
1. Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and saute for about five minutes until translucent. Add garlic, ginger, turmeric, orange zest, salt, pepper and saute for two minutes or until the spices are fragrant. Add the carrots and saute for three minutes.
2. Pour in the vegetable stock and orange juice, bring to a boil and lower to simmer. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until the carrots are cooked through. Puree the soup i batches in a high speed blender. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Return the soup to the pan and reheat, adding more liquid if you prefer a thinner consistency. Spoon soup into bowls and top with chopped toasted nuts and a sprig of fresh thyme.
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