In My Kitchen, May 2021

Just when I thought we had turned the corner, and winter had signaled an early arrival, along came a big sunny weekend, throwing me back into the sensuality of summer and late autumn. There’s a hot breeze blowing today: outside a lawn mower buzzes somewhere in the distance and the roar, now approaching now distant, of weekend Harley motorbike riders echoes along the valley below. If you listen carefully, there are insects too, a neighbour’s dog, and other domestic sounds, but still no jet noise above.

My kitchen routines happily shifted into winter mode last month. After the first cup of tea, I get stuck into things early- soaking the beans, feeding the sourdough levain or baking bread, making stock with leftover bits of vegetable, and deciding on the two meals of the day. Anzac biscuits always appear in April and the first of the Nanna soups are made, an old fashioned thing based on Mckenzie’s soup mix, the most comforting of soups. It’s a seasonal shift and one I really enjoy. But with this recent May Indian summer, we are back working in the vegetable patch, getting sunburnt, layering compost, and picking the last of the borlotti beans, small zucchini and yellow cherry tomatoes. Another bucket of late picked figs arrives to laze about on the north facing windowsill- if we leave the doors open, European wasps find their way straight to the ledge to seek out that ruby jammy flesh. The long lasting red peppers keep ripening. I’m yet to find a recipe for these but may dry some, make some Biber Salcasi or preserve them sott’olio, under oil. The summer – autumn season has been hugely productive this year but now I’m looking forward to the chards, bitter leaves, snow peas and brassicas of the coming season.

This month’s In My Kitchen is largely a photo post of the food that I enjoyed picking or cooking recently. As I read the posts of other contributors, especially those of my North American friends, I can almost hear that big sigh of relief and joy as they embark on their first dinner party or interstate family visit, now that they’re immunized. ( See Mae’s post here) It’s a liberating feeling for sure and I feel much the same way. Thanks Sherry for hosting this monthly roundup. See Sherry’s Pickings for other like minded kitchen posts.

Late pickings, transitional season.
Daily pick, the greens. Parsley, lettuce, kale.
the best bean to grow, for beauty and taste, the Borlotti.
Lemon and almond ricotta cake, late window ripened figs.
Autumn apples and rhubarb.. The beginning of a crumble or pie?
Yesterday’s lunch, five spice tempura battered squid on an Asian garden salad
Today’s lunch, Warm pumpkin salad with Halloumi, lentils, rocket, and za’atar.
Stocking the pantry with winter staples: carnaroli rice for risotto, bulgar wheat for Turkish meals, lentils for soups and dals, couscous for a break from potato, besan flour for pakoras.

18 thoughts on “In My Kitchen, May 2021”

  1. Mmmm, wonderful photos. I can see “my” cake! I made it only once for some reason, and it was so good. And I love the greens, and the tempura squid for me too any time. Happy winter! Over here it’s not hot yet at all, especially compared to previous years. Quite good this way. We know what is coming.

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    1. You must make it again, though you need lots of people dropping in to finish it. I recommend adding figs to the plate. Hope the heat stays sensible this coming season. Strangely enough, I’m looking forward to winter.

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  2. All your food looks absolutely luscious. The cake with figs is really tempting; figs don’t grow here, and don’t travel well, so I can only hope to remember when I have eaten them elsewhere. (I think I mention this every time I see them in a blog post).

    I’m really happy that you enjoyed — and mentioned — my post about the return of family time and dinner parties. It was a very long winter! I hope Australia continues to be ahead of all the world on covid control, but I hope we catch up soon.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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  3. thanks francesca for joining us for IMK. i love your photos – so vibrant and colourful.. We’ve just had lots of unseasonal rain tho it’s still warm. Yum to tempura squid. it’s always fascinating to read bloggers in the other hemisphere. they are all looking forward to summer bbq’s etc while we are hunkering down for winter. not that we have much of a winter here in Qld but it does get cold. keep well and warm! cheers sherry

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  4. No-one makes a bowl of garden offerings or plated food look quite as good you are able to. I have been hankering for cold weather food -inspired I think by your Insta photos- because our weather is not quite there yet. However, by all local predictions once it is, this winter will be a cold one. So I too take heart from my pantry stash of soup mixes, barley, split peas, dahl… One of our few summer harvests that did ok were the small red peppers, I simply rinse and dry them and put them in bags in the freezer, ready for a future batch of tomato and chilli jam that has become our favourite.

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    1. That’s good to know Dale. Those same small red peppers, long and hot, a cross between a chilli and a capsicum, are the ones doing so well here. So I just wash them, shove in a bag and freeze ? I’ll give that a go.

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      1. Yes, and when you want to use them put a couple or a couple of handfuls in a bowl to defrost. This is my base recipe for the jam, but I add -lot- extra chillies/peppers, however much garlic I feel like depending on the type, extra ginger and a whole lemon, and ignoring much of the method blitz the whole lot in a food processor before putting in a saucepan and adding the fish sauce, red wine vinegar and sugar. I find it takes much longer to cook down the recipe indicates, and once thickened it sets despite never passing the saucer test. https://www.goodfood.com.au/recipes/tomato-and-chilli-jam-20150413-3tz6t

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          1. We eat the tomato chilli jam on and in many things… with fried eggs or bbq meat/fish, on baked potatoes or wraps with sour cream or mayo, on rice and veges, as a dipping sauce, mixed with cream cheese as a dip…

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  5. Just to say thank you for a wonderful Monday morning read . . . you have such talent to bring a scene to life . . . my memory banks are reminding me of childhood days when I first ‘met’ Mckenzie’s soup mix . . . what a lovely homey feeling . . . and, love your food photos to which I had no chance to comment on Instagram . . . oh, the tempura squid would so have suited . . .

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  6. Can’t wait to see some of this harvest coming from my garden. We’re moving into summer here in the US and the garden is just getting started. Love all of your pictures but I am especially drawn to the bowl of chile peppers. Absolutely beautiful!

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  7. You’ve nailed how we are feeling in the US after being vaccinated, but unfortunately there are too many folks who are reluctant to get it. We’ve had our first indoor and unmasked dinner party, what a joy and freedom! I certainly am enjoying a relative sense of relief. Our NZ trip has been rescheduled yet again, for the 5th time. I hope your borders will be open to us vaccinated folks by March of 2022.

    As always your photos are stunning, and I am very impressed by tempura for lunch.

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  8. Wow I love the colours of all your produce, particularly the chillies! I’ve never tried growing borlotti beans, they are so colourful and I can just imagine them twinkling in the sunshine 🙂 Also adore the look of the rhubarb, winter is coming!

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