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.


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.

Sourdough Diaries. Wholemeal and Spelt.

It’s 6 degrees outside and Kevin Bacon springs to mind! An odd thought to start the day, I know. Any plans to garden or gather plants have been shelved in favour of baking. I am experiencing separation anxiety from my lonely sourdough starter waiting for me at the back of the fridge. Time to light the fires and get ‘Celia’ into action.

50% wholemeal sourdough
50% wholemeal sourdough

Last week I made three different loaves using the basic foolproof tutorial provided by Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.  My first loaf was white and gorgeous. Loaf number two was more appealing, made with half baker’s white flour and half wholemeal flour. The third started as pizza dough, but as time ran out in the evening and the dough wasn’t fully risen, it became the next day’s spelt and white sourdough loaf. The latter contained a mixture of 20% spelt flour to 80% white baker’s flour. I am keen to increase the spelt content on this one. The young visiting lads enjoyed the spelt loaf, eating all the crust, a good sign, and asking for more. This is the best compliment a bread can have. It is now two days old and while a little firm, is excellent grilled for bruschetta.

Some spelt added to the mix
Some spelt added to the mix

Now I am in search of some decent large packets of rye flour in Melbourne.  I found a large bag of Rye flour at Bas foods, Brunswick, but it contained added salt, sugar and oil and appeared to be a bread mix. The health food shops tend to pack things in tiny quantities and charge an arm and a leg. Any hints anyone?

20% spelt adds a nutty flavour.
20% spelt adds a nutty flavour.