In My Kitchen, March 2017

In my kitchen, I am surrounded by summer’s bounty, despite the seasonal peculiarities. The tomato crop has been ordinary: most people who live in, or near, Melbourne are complaining. There will be no passata making day for us in 2017. The zucchini and cucumbers have also been slow, but are now getting a new life with a dry, warm autumn. I am quite happy with the trade-off, with abundant plum, blackberry and fig crops this year, the seasonal surprises in my kitchen.

First bowl of blackberries. They are flushing every week.
First bowl of blackberries. A flush every week.
Today's garden pick
Today’s garden pick . Some will go on top of a pizza.
Pizza 5 Tesori
Pizza Cinque Tesori

Today’s ‘Five Treasure Pizza’ includes yellow pear tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, grilled baby zucchini, finely sliced red onion, and a handful of shrimp, scattered with tiny Greek basil leaves. This week’s dough was based on a mix of doppio zero white flour ( tipo ’00’) and a small proportion ( 50 g) of wholemeal spelt to give the dough a little more body. I like yeasted pizza more than sourdough, with long rises in the fridge, ( up to three days) making it even better.

bread-lot

I am trying to vary my bread flavours and methods, and have been inspired by Maree’s new facebook group, dedicated to Sourdough making. The sourdough loaves above were loosely based on a recipe from the Bourke Street Bakery Cookbook, and includes 60% wholemeal spelt. I like these nutty loaves, especially with soft blue cheese or zucchini pickle. The loaves below are my “Stand By Your Fam” high hydration loaves courtesy of Celia. I can now make these everyday loaves on autopilot, made in the evening, put to sleep for 8 hours or more, then shaped into loaves in the morning. These are favoured by the man and the extended family, with 75% baker’s white and 25% wholemeal.

Stand by your fam sourdough loaves.
Stand by your fam sourdough loaves.

A quick summer dish, spaghetti al nero di seppia, (squid ink spaghetti), is topped with a good commercial mix of seafood marinara, cherry tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and torn basil. The black pasta by Molisana is surprisingly good. Thanks Signorina at Napoli Restaurant Alert for reminding me about this pasta last month.

A quick Spagetti marinara
A quick Spaghetti marinara

I made these preserved lemons back in December. They have provided a lemon boost to many a dish this summer, especially given that lemons have been scarce, in contrast to limes which are now common place.

Preserved lemons, bridging the lemon gap.
Preserved lemons, bridging the lemon gap.

Oh no, there’s a chook in my kitchen, again! Mischa has been carting a red chook into my kitchen since she was 5 years old. At the old house, she used to sit on a garden swing with Hermione and put the chook to sleep. The red chook is always called Hermione, even though we don’t usually name our hens, and there have been at least six generations of ‘Hermiones’ since that first one. The conversation usually goes like this.

“Please take that chook out of the kitchen, Mischa.”

“But it’s Hermione”, said in a child- like voice, even though Mischa is now almost 20!

That’s what I like about my kitchen, the mad stuff. The other rooms of the house are dull and lifeless, sedentary rooms dedicated to kitchen recovery.

Mischa and Hermione.
Mischa and Hermione no. 7

Thanks Liz at Good Things, for hosting this monthly roundup. If you have ever thought about blogging, the monthly IMK is a good place to start. Most of my bread inspiration and support has come from friends found in this forum.

58 thoughts on “In My Kitchen, March 2017”

  1. Waving hello to Micsha and Hermione. A lovely IMK post, Francesca. Despite the poor harvest, you still have a great crop there. I was so busy with the book, I planted nothing. Thank you for the lovely shout out, happy March, happy cooking xxx

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  2. Beautiful looking produce, Francesca, am especially envious of your blackberries. Hermione is very beautiful. We have one remaining chook (Mrs Pumblechook) and because we are planning to sell and move soon we don’t want to get any more just yet, but poor Mrs Pumblechook has been coming into the house at night and looking for a roost! I have seriously considered nailing a chook-sized teddy to the perch so that she has someone to cuddle up to. I love your love of your kitchen and the relegating of the rest of the house to recovery areas – I’m sure only glad hearts and stable souls could issue forth from such a place – perhaps all ‘world forums’ should be held in such a kitchen with the smell of baking in the air:)

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  3. Your harvest is inspiring — our unseasonable late winter weather is very warm, but of course we are 6 months out of sync with you!

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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  4. I think Mischa and Hermione have stolen the show this month! I agree that sourdough pizza dough is not quite the same so I’ll try using yeast and then giving it a long rise in the fridge, your pizza looks fab. I love blackberry jam on fresh bread with a dollop of cream, brings back childhood memories.

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  5. I’m learning that vege gardens don’t produce to order, that I can’t grow everything, to be happy & go with the flow of what grows to inform our cooking & eating. Despite the vagaries of the season you’ve had a great summer.
    I ♡ Mischa & [the] Hermione[s] are friends.

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  6. We have a Hermione too, ours is one of our little bantam hens! Everything in your kitchen always looks so delicious, it always makes me hungry just looking at it and it also makes me long for spring and summer and the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables that come with it. Sorry the tomatoes were ordinary this year, but it appears others things made up for it!

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    1. Just catching up with things Susan, now that I’m back from our long camp at the beach. Funny about chook names: Hermione is very appropriate for a hen, as well as Dot, and all old fashioned English names.
      Yes, Autumn is bringing on some lovely fruits so I am not missing the tomato loss too much.

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  7. The pic of the lemons is gorgeous but I am smitten with Hermione and Mischa. I too agree re the pizza dough and I so wish we did seafood here. I really miss it and only threaten to make it if I’m angry, just to see the allergic reaction. Haven’t followed through yet in 33 years but you never know when it might just be needed. Thanks for the shout out! 🙂

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  8. We had the same problem with tomatoes and courgettes last summer with over the top heat. The cherry tomatoes fared better, but many things just dried to a crisp. I would love to have a bowl of those blackberries! Strawberry season is just beginning here – the only local berry that is commonly found. Hermione (1 to 7, and counting?) is a lovely ‘mad’ family tradition.

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  9. What a lovely post – I’m especially taken with your baking! I also make Celia’s so-simple sourdough, although we are without an over, or even a kitchen, at the moment.
    We don’t name our hens either, although I always give the rooster a name. Our current one is called Larry, although I’m not sure we can keep him. The hens have gone off the lay since he came and I suspect it’s because he’s wearing them out.

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  10. It’s interesting to note that those living in varying geographical locations hanker for what produce grows elsewhere. However, in the tropics we do have some rather yummy options. We (after 2 years) discovered a tropical cherry tree (Grumichama – great name) and to eat them in the freshness of the morning perched waveringly on the step-ladder is a taste cluster-explosion. The season is very short but something fruits all year round in our garden. This enables us to stroll through the property with our B&B guests to pick ‘n pluck their breakfast with extras for them to travel on with. That said: Oh! for a handful of fresh blackberries!

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  11. Your garden produce looks really amazing to me – though I have heard that lemons are scarce this year! (My little lemon tree is only fruiting on one side which is so odd) Your blackberries look wonderful and that pizza is so gorgeous – treasures indeed!

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  12. Reading through the comments I am not sure there is anything else to add. I hope to have chickens again in the near future, they are such calming birds and I love their little sounds when I am in the garden (not to mention the wonderful eggs). Your kitchen sounds like a very happy place.

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  13. It has been such a weird season here too Francesca. The zuccs were so slow to start now they are a production line as is the cuc. I won’t talk about tomatoes ..no passata in this house either. Preserved lemons Yummo .. with a stick of cinnamon, bay leaf, coriander seeds … Loved seeing the pic of Mischa and that gorgeous chook! I love your blog too btw 😃

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  14. A wonderful addition to the IMK posts, Francesca. Cannot wait until I can start reaping the benefits of my little garden. Your pizza sounds delicious and it was a momentous day when I learned to let the dough rise in the fridge for more than a day. You’re bread0making prowess is remarkable. Those loaves look beautiful! Thanks for giving us a peak at where the magic happens. 😉

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  15. Your breads are beautiful! And that pizza has me looking in my pantry for flour to make some dough for tonight. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  16. Francesca, your Five Treasure pizza sounds and looks wonderful. I’ve never had shrimp on pizza before, but you’ve inspired me to do it! Such gorgeous photos, especially that last one. Your kitchen is full of treasures!

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  17. What beautiful, vibrant and fresh looking produce you have in your kitchen. That pizza look so delicious and making me hungry right now. I also remember my sister getting very attached to farm animals at home. Gorgeous post 🙂

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  18. Blackberries make me think of my Melbourne childhood, and mum’s jam every summer You don’t really see them up here in Queensland much. How clever of you with all that lovely bread. I very occasionally make one of those refrigerator breads in the fridge for 12 hours and no kneading necessary My kind of bread.

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    1. I’m not so clever Sherry. Bread making just needs a bit of routine. Some weeks I let the team down totally. Ah yes, blackberry jam and Melbourne seem to go hand in hand.

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    2. I’m not so clever Sherry. Bread making just needs a bit of routine. Some weeks I let the team down totally. Ah yes, blackberry jam and Melbourne seem to go hand in hand.

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