Summer being the season of abundance should result in a busy kitchen preserving for the leaner months. Today the leeks were harvested, cleaned and boiled for 5 minutes in apple cider vinegar with some bay leaves and black pepper corns. Drain and discharge the vinegar. Neatly pack the leeks, bay leaves and pepper corns in preserving jars and fill and cover completely with extra virgin olive oil. Wait one moth before using.
It will be hard to find a better light dinner than quail eggs topped with truffles and home cured salmon on the side. All washed down with good hand crafted Home Made Wine (organic and preservative free)
Crabapple jelly and jam
Fresh South Island salmon from our friend Ross Hutchinson at Blue Water Products in Dunedin is an excellent product for this easy to make delicacy.
Fillet and de – bone one FRESH salmon. Mix 800 gram coarse sea salt and 200 gram granulated sugar with the grated rind of two organic fresh lemons. In the bottom of a large enough stainless steel container to have both fillets lying flat and not touching, place a layer of the salt mixture. Now lay the fillets, skin side down, on the salt mixture and cover well with the rest of the salt mixture. The fillets should be totally covered. Refrigerate for 24 hours, then turn the fish over and again completely cover it with the salt mixture. Refrigerate again for 24 hours. Remove the fillets and wash very well under cold running water until all the salt is washed off. Pat dry with paper and your salmon is ready to eat. I normally cut it into four pieces and vacuum seal those pieces I am not going to eat immediately. In the vacuum sealed bags in the fridge these should last a good four weeks.
Today we had quail eggs topped with truffles Mrs BYF brought back from the promised land, with cured salmon and fresh garden salad – sprinkled with ground black pepper and a dash of olive oil. Excellent with home made ciabatta and home made wine.
Another, and a big favorite in our house, is to place a bit of home made ricotta on a piece of fresh pane di casa and top it with cured salmon and caper berries, freshly ground black pepper and a dash of good olive oil. Wash all of this down with the best Italian Prosecco you can afford and pretend you are in heaven
Mrs BYF is fanatical about not wasting any food that the garden produces. Her attitude has resulted in many memorable dishes ranging from fantastic, better that any world class restaurant, etc. etc., to (seldom, I might add) never to be attempted again, EVER!
I was going to let the cardoon buds flower, because the bees love them, and ‘they’ say that only the stems should be eaten, but Mrs BYF commanded me to “bring them in!”. After all the cardoons grow so well in Dunedin and my plants were well over 3 meters high with lots of flowers. They were all boiled in a big pot of water, with a squeeze of lemon and some salt, then peeled, chokes removed and the hearts put under oil. The taste and texture of the hearts proved to be sensational, perhaps a bit more starchy, at the same time almost creamy, than artichokes. We eat them as antipasto or on panini with roast bell peppers (peperoni) and fried eggplant (melanzane). The real taste of Italy in Dunedin. Unbelievable !
Just to take the non wastage policy a bit further, Mrs BYF used the inedibles for a lovely vegetable arrangement of rosemary, flowering cardoon and fennel fronds. The cardoon flowers are beautiful and, surprisingly, sweet smelling.
I love eating fresh produce in season and preserving all the excesses during the growing season for the rest of the year. Summer fruits and vegetables are expensive in winter and in summer there is a lot of glut and waste, especially at the small local green grocer who sells his fruit and vegetables fresh, in season and does not keep things in cool rooms for years. The supermarkets hold fresh foods over until they can hike the price so I avoid them. Why buy expensive bad produce, albeit blemish free if one can have uglier and tastier produce for less .
I do not have a glass house ( green house? ) and find it impossible to grow the vegetables that are important for Italian food like capsicum and eggplant in Dunedin. My solution is to have a good relationship with the local shop and to buy fresh produce that he can not sell. A small blemish or spot of rot, a wrinkle here and there, a few tomatoes that are too ripe for locals but just ripe and soft enough for a great sauce can be had for very little money. The shop keeper gets in money he would not have had, and it helps me to process things like eggplant, capsicum, tomatoes and a variety of fruits for use out of season without going bankrupt. I prevent, in a small way the waste of good food and wish I could convince more people to do the same.
Vegetables can be preserved in many ways, as sauce or ingredients for soups and stews or dried. Fruits are made in to jam or pitted and vacuum sealed to bake in to pies and tarts. I always sort fruit and the best specimens are devoured by the troops before being processed.
We have been pretty busy. The worst thing to process are the delicious cherries. Every one has to be pipped before jam can be made or the can be pasteurised for baking. I have a stiff shoulder and my arm and hand hurts. My hands and nails are stained purple and I have purple juice spots on my face. Keeping going is essential, though, because in dealing with this type of product ” time is of the essence “, seriously!
Cured olives (picked last year in Cromwell), dried tomatoes, garden salad, peperoni sott’ olio (capsicum under olive oil), peperoni grigliati (roasted capsicum), calabrese salame, pickled onions, provolone cheese, focaccia and, of course, dry wine (apple and black currant) – ALL HOME MADE. I am very happy with the result of all the hard work. A few more kilograms tomatoes, capsicums and eggplants processed should see us through the winter.