In now: Jam-makers are collecting cumquats. Some should be saved to eat fresh, sliced into salads, or roasted with chicken pieces and fennel.
At its best: Passionfruit is in its winter peak. Look for bargains and stock up. Fruit will keep for a month in loose plastic in the crisper, or the pulp can be frozen. At a passionfruit lunch last week at The Butler, I learned two new ways to open a passionfruit. Teach your kids the first way for lunch box treats: hold a fresh, unwrinkled passionfruit between your palms with the stem end pointing away from you. Press your palms together to crack the ‘shell’ and then the passionfruit can easily be broken in two. The other way is to cut the top off like an egg. You’ll lose less juice and pulp on the cutting board than simply cutting it in half. As a bonus, grower Tina McPherson pointed out to me, the passionfruit balances well on its bottom, and can be topped up with Cointreau for instant delicious dessert/cocktail. While Tina’s entertaining tip appeals, my favourite from three courses of passionfruit goodness was chef James Privett’s take on a kingfish ceviche, with passionfruit pulp, thinly sliced jalapeno, a sprinkle of dukkah for crunch, a slurp of macadamia oil and fresh coriander leaves.
Best buy: Broccoli is the bargain of the week. Reduce waste by cooking the stem as well as the florets. Slice away the outer tough part of the stem, then cut the pale inner portion into into batons or slices. Steam or blanch and toss into a peppery beef stir fry.
In the vegie patch: Mid-winter is onion-planting time.
- the new season mussels are my favourites – small and sweet and tender. They make an instant dinner. Fry a chopped shallot in butter. Add some cider or white wine, and the mussels. Put the lid on and after a minute or so when they have opened, slop in a spoonful of creme fraiche and a handful of chopped parsley. Serve.
- boxes of oranges are a bargain
- kumera is a thrifty buy
- celebrate the Queensland strawberry feast