Ravioli alla Zucca (Pumpkin filled Ravioli)

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See recipe for basic fresh pasta – https://backyardfarmer.co.nz/2015/05/05/pappardelle-al-ragu-di-quaglia-egg-pasta-with-quail-sauce

For the Pumpkin Filling

Use a small 1.5 Kg pumpkin, sliced in half, remove seeds, place the halves face side down and bake at 200 C until soft. Dry the seeds for next year’s planting and feed the peels to the rabbits. Scoop the flesh out of the peel. Mash the soft pumpkin and mix with two beaten eggs, 100 g grated parmigiano cheese, 100 g  dried breadcrumbs, 5 crumbled amaretti biscuits, salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg to taste.

Roll out the pasta until it passes through the number 6 setting on the pasta machine and cut circles as large as you prefer. Place some pumpkin filling on the center of a circle, brush the edges with egg and cap with another circle. Press the edges down using a fork to prevent them from leaking while cooking.

Boil enough salted water to cook the ravioli until they raise to the top and float (al dente), which should take only a few minutes. In the mean time heat 100 g butter in a large pan with a handful large of sage leaves. The butter should just begin to burn and should be brown but not black when you dump the well drained cooked ravioli in the pan. Toss and cook for another minute. Serve immediately topped with the burnt butter sauce and crisp sage leaves and generous helpings of  grated parmigiano. Do not forget the wine.


The off cut pieces are being used for maltagliata pasta, for another day, which goes very well with any ragu.

Rapa (swedes, turnips, kohlrabi, ?)

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I was given, as a present, a bag of something the farmer that gave it to me, called turnips. They were organically grown and much too good to feed to the rabbits. Unfortunately the tops were beyond saving and the rabbits got those. Our experience with this vegetable is limited, so we decided to experiment and started to look up recipes, but soon had to consult our gardener across the street as to what swede, rape, turnip, kohlrabi, rapa, etc all are.  After much consulting, discussion and research, the subject is still open for more opinions.

Brassica rapa – Turnip –  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turnip

Brassica oleracea – Kohlrabi – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohlrabi

Brassica napus – Swede / Rutabaga / Neep  / Rape – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rutabaga

Call it Turnip, Swede, Rape, Kohlrabi, Rutabaga or Rapa, I had a crack at cooking some according to a recipe adapted from Carluccio, and Mrs BYO invented her own after reading some recipes and not finding anything to her taste. The surprising result was one of the most memorable meals we have ever had.

In our house we always have this competition as to who can cook what best! In this case Mrs BYF – 1 :: Mr BYF – 0 (At least I made the pork sausages she used)

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RECIPE (Mrs BYF) serves 2 with some left over

6  small pork meatballs, well seasoned. Leftover sausage meat worked well

2 roasted and peeled red pepperoni  (capsicum / sweet pepper)

1 rapa (swede) sliced into bite sized pieces

few garlic cloves

1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup of chicken stock. Home made is best and we always have some on hand

Choose a pan big enough to hold everything. Brown the meatballs in one tablespoon of olive oil, remove and set aside. In the same pan add the rest of the oil, the garlic and rosemary. When the garlic has softened add the chopped Rapa and fry on medium, stirring until well covered with the oil. Add hot stock, cover and simmer on medium / low heat until the Rapa has softened. Do not cook too long, as you don’t want mush. Add the pepperoni, stir and heat through. Add the meatballs, stir and heat through. Serve very hot. Some people will have bread with this, but we found we did not need anything more.

RECIPE (Mr BYF)  – RAPA  ALLA  FRIULANA  (adapted from Carluccio)

As most of the Southern Italians consider Rapa to be cattle feed, the predominant recipes for this vegetable are from the North. This recipe from Friuli is very easy and tasty.

Take a heavy cast iron pot and ad 20 gram of castor sugar and 100 gram of butter

Heat the butter and sugar and allow to caramalise a bit

Now peel and dice one average size Rapa and place in the cast iron pot with the butter and sugar. Stir and cook for about ten  minutes

Ad 50 ml of good white wine vinegar, 20 gram of plain flour and stir gently while gradually adding 250 ml of chicken stock

Adjust for salt and pepper and cook slowly until the Rapa is soft

Serve hot with any meat dish

Do not forget the home made wine


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Cardi alla Parmigiana – Back Yard Farmer’s Lunch

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Today’s all home produced lunch was beautiful!. Firstly the Ancona cockerel that did not make the breeding pens was slaughtered at 12 weeks of age. At this young age the meat is soft and tender, but not as tasty as an old hen, which I prefer for slow cooked poultry dishes such as “Pollo alla cacciatora in bianco”. Nevertheless, it was very good. I vacuum seal the chickens (and all other animals) when slaughtered and keep them in the fridge for some three to four weeks to age – never frozen. The organic carrots were from a friends garden and I wish that I could have claimed origin as they were so tasty. The cardoons were from my garden and they grow so well in Dunedin that the rabbits have a serving every day. Whatever is left over, we eat.

Cardi alla parmigiana went well with the chicken and carrots and of course some home brewed wine. I am drinking from a damigiana of cherry wine which is dry and fruity and a good compliment to any meal. The only criticism may be that it lacks some body, but all the other wonderful attributes overrides any shortcomings.  The wine of the house is not always perfect!

Cardoon Recipe

Select the biggest outside leaves of the cardoon and strip the leaves of the stem and use  a potato peeler to peel the strings from the outside, (almost like preparing celery)  of the stem.  Cook in salt water and the juice of one lemon until tender. Drain and set aside. Dip the dried cardoon in flour and egg and fry until golden in a bit of olive oil. Prepare bechamel sauce and arrange the cardoon pieces in a baking dish, ( I use individual serve cast iron pots)  cover with bechamel, parmigiano and cracked black pepper and repeat the layers until the dish is full. Place some butter pieces on top and bake in the oven at 180 C for 20 minutes.

Do not forget the wine.


Making Compost


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Today was compost aerate day at Back Yard Farmer, but it was not such a huge effort as I fortunately had a lot of help, as can be seen.

Organisms such as those we want to propagate in our compost heaps require oxygen to survive (Aerobic), therefor all high temperature aerobic composting needs to be aerated frequently for rapid odor free decomposition. The process of turning over and aerate the compost heap also helps to reduce the initial high moisture contents, but also turn those materials that were on the outsides to the center and expose these to higher temperatures as well.  It is also an opportunity, if turned by hand as most small gardeners would do, to sort larger pieces which are slower to decompose as well as any foreign materials such as rocks, etc from your compost.  A good healthy compost heap would smell like good fresh soil with a loose consistency with no compaction and slimy wet parts and contain a ton of worms, which more than often is a good yardstick of the general well being of the compost.

At Back Yard Farmer we keep a number of bins under the sink in the kitchen and sort our waste immediately when generated. We have bins for Compost, Worm Farm, Rabbits, Chickens and Quails as well as waste for disposal. Then all of our garden greens, poultry and rabbit used bedding and manure also goes into compost.