Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Edible Wall Update

As March draws to a close I thought I would give you an update on the Junglefy ecoVert herb wall that was installed in late January.

As you can see the plants are enjoying the direct winter sun that is now drenching this wall in the morning.

The top section has lush warrigal greens, feverfew, some mignonette lettuce, sorrel, vietnamese mint, and marigolds

The bottom section has some mustard greens, catnip, more mustard greens, chives, mint julep and coral lettuce and some dead zatar!

The zatar needed more direct sunlight and couldn't hang in there. I'm going to have to pull it out and replace it with maybe some Asian greens.

The warrigal greens seem to be thriving in these vertical conditions

And the chives are doing well too..

I'm harvesting the sorrel regularly in salads and steamed with main courses

The mignonette is really tasty and I have to control my culling to give it a chance to thicken up.

I bought these mustard greens as seedlings from the herb stall at the Sydney Fox Studio Farmers Markets.
They're pungent and crunchy.

All in all they're all looking so much happier. Bring on the sun!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Recipe: Risotto with edible balcony zucchini flowers, peas and fresh pistachio nuts

I have been looking forward to this moment since my zucchini seeds went in on February 10th. Today I get to eat my first zucchini flowers from the balcony. I wanted to feature them in a dish where their true colours and flavours would still shine through. It had to be this risotto.

Recipe: Risotto with zucchini flowers, peas and fresh pistachio nuts

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
2 1/2 cups good quality chicken stock
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fresh peas, blanched and refreshed in iced water
4- 5 zucchini flowers with stems attached sliced lengthways
1/4 cup fresh pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Heat olive oil and half the butter in a heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add the garlic until aromatic. Add the rice and stir for 30 seconds until grains are well-coated with the oil and onions and slightly opaque. Pour in the white wine and stir until it is aborbed. Lower the heat slightly and proceed to add the hot stock a little at a time until it has all been aborbed. Keep stirring gently. This action will break down the outer starchy layer of the raice grains creating the creamy texture you're after. This should take 15-20 minutes. Add the zucchini stems reserving the  flowers and cook for 3-5 minutes.Add the peas and the pistachios and stir through . Turn off the heat and add the flowers, butter and parmesan and mix through. The risotto should be slightly sloppy. Serve immediately with a grating of parmesan.

delicate flavours and wonderful textures....

Indian summer in a bowl. This dish will knock the socks off your family and friends.

I came across these fresh, raw pistachio nuts at the Fox Studio Farmers Markets yesterday. Having only ever had pistachios roasted and salted they were a taste revelation.

Still subtley pistachio-flavoured but with the delicate texture of a cooked broad bean.
Look out for them! You will be amazed.

Monday, March 22, 2010

First Car Share Space On My Street

This post is not to do with food but it is to do with urban sustainability which I'm equally passionate about.
My street in Potts Point has just got its first City of Sydney-approved car share space. The green and white striped space is used to park a GoGet car. 

I'm a GoGet member so this is really exciting and wonderfully convenient.

Australia's city councils have been woefully slow in supporting car share schemes. These schemes have been running successfully in Canada, the US and Europe for decades.

Maybe with fewer cars on the road my balcony zucchini will breathe a little easier!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Edible Balcony - Colour Snap-shot

I get almost as much pleasure from the colours of my edible balcony as I do from its taste.
Here's an autumn Sunday morning snap-shot....

male bud of a zucchini flower

just opened and ready to pollinate

red oak lettuce

thai silk chillies

spicy turbans of colour

crunchy warrigal greens on the wall

soft petalled nasturtiums

red horn peppers

a candy cane forest of rainbow silverbeet

long black purple eggplant

compact marigold

refreshing mint

tiny mauve petals of a basil flower

he-loves-me he-loves-me-not feverfew

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Edible Balcony - Winter Plantings

Well it's time to get the winter crop in. But first I needed to sort out my seed packets. They looked worse than the jumble in my make-up drawer!

I used an old black and white-striped gift box...

... cut out some month dividers using a cardboard box.... all my wayward seed packets had a place to live that was dry and cool.

Et viola! Order and clarity.

Now for the planting. I decided to trial these fabric potato planters I ordered online. They're made from recycled materials, have drainage holes, handles and can be folded away and reused - music to a balcony gardeners ears!

I've used seeds from my Diggers collection to plant some Waltham Broccoli because it reputedly has a high yield and long harvest.

And in the other planter I popped in some Delicata Pumpkin seeds, from Diggers Space Saver Collection.They are a non-running bush that give small green and yellow-striped fruit in about 3 months' time.

And thankfully the lower winter sun has finally started to move onto my western wall, giving my vertical edibles some much needed direct sunlight! Hopefully they'll really start bushing up now.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Edible Balcony - Look what I woke up to!

My first zucchini flower opened as the morning sun touched its petals. And what a beauty! Easily the size of a saucer and glowing a deep burnished yellow of a Van Gogh painting...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Edible Balcony - First Zucchini Flower

Apologies for my week-long absence from the blogosphere. I have been spending way too much time in the 'real' world tackling a lengthy writing assignment.
I've emerged briefly to update you on the zucchini plants which are taking over the balcony like triffids.

From tiny sprouts on February 17th the 3 zucchini plants have now filled the eastern corner of the balcony

I will move them to the roomy western end when I've cleared out the two tomato pots later this week.

I can see why zucchinis have an easy-to-grow reputation

With no problems so far from pests or mildew there are already dozens of flower stalks

In fact this one may be ready to pick by Friday

softly wrapped orange-tinged petals sitting on a tiny zucchini stalk 

Even the large papery leaves seem to grow as you watch them.

These definitely get my vote for the vegetable any dummy can grow!