Monday, April 30, 2012

Going Nuts

It's sweet chestnut time again - love the smell of these nuts roasting... Thank you to to wonderful growers Colleen and Daryl from Preolenna, near Wynyard, for providing not only bags of chestnut joy but also tips on how to store and cook with them. Here are a couple of recipes from their treasure trove, generously shared with hilbarners. 

Chestnut Soup
500g chestnuts, cooked
2.5 cups  milk
7.5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 Tbs flour
1 Tbs butter
3 Tbs sherry (optional)
Puree chestnuts, add stock, milk and flour with melted butter and cook for 20 minutes stirring every now and then. Just before serving, add the sherry.

Chestnut Dip
250g chestnuts, peeled
Pinch salt & a little butter
20ml cream
Squeeze lemon juice
Fresh chives & crackers
Cook chestnuts in stock with just enough stock to cover. When cooked the liquid should be considerably reduced. Rub through a sieve or blend with a dash of water until a smooth puree is formed. Return puree to pan, add a pinch of salt and butter to thicken. Leave to cool. Add cream and lemon juice to the puree mixture and mix  until smooth. Sprinkle with chives and serve with crackers.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Autumnal Scene

It was a beautiful scene in the Holm Oak vineyard at Rowella as we wended our way around the gentle coves of the West Tamar last weekend to collect magnificent organic walnuts from Lucy and Chris for this week's hilbarn boxes. The twisted trunks were as shapely as dancers' legs, and the neat rows lined up as if they were about to start the Can-Can.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Eggs Sunny Side Up

It was a perfect autumnal day when we turned off the Bass Highway and headed for Forth to meet Andrew (partner Caroline was on a trip to town) and their 200 hens. Their extremely friendly free range chooks fossick during the day alongside neighbouring echidnas, possums and wallabies on a combination of grassed paddocks and bush. As refugees from western Australia, the couple established their sustainable farm On The River Bank three years ago with the aim of supplying the local community with good quality, DPIPWE-approved free range eggs. While Andrew showed us through the hens' spacious sleeping and feeding quarters he explained how the girls are fed on a formulated chicken feed mix, produced locally by a fellow free-range egg producer, and how the paddocks are maintained without the use of chemicals, herbicides or pesticides. Andrew and Caroline's eggs feature in hilbarn boxes this week for people who tick the egg option.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cheesy Matters

This morning started with an early pick of herbs from the hilbarn garden (left), still wet with a heavy overnight dew. Today, a racy selection of hardy rosemary, tender lavender (third cut!), silvery curry plant, river mint, variegated oregano, apple mint and common thyme, chosen to be sitting pretty on cheese platters at Yondover Goat Dairy.
We first met Gina and Mike Butler at the Lilydale Market selling their farmhouse cheeses, while we were selling herbs, plants and fresh produce. We heard about their plan to open a cheese tasting room at their goat dairy in nearby Tunnel.

Since then, the Butlers have appeared at markets across the State. They've opened their cafe and tasting room-with-a-view, made wonderful cheeses served on sumptuous platters (above, with a sprig of hilbarn lovage), and won one or or two impressive awards in the process. Like every primary producer, they work incredibly hard and deserve every success. We snapped a shot of one of their more curious and irresistible goats this morning while Gina and Mike were at market and Kellie was manning the tasting room.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Baked Quince

Autumn's quinces star in our double boxes this week. With thanks to Suzanne from nearby Lalla we've discovered a stunning way to eat quince - with cream. There's a recipe included in this week's double box, and we've shared it here for anyone else who might be interested.

Baked Quince

Peel quinces, cut in quarters, cover with water or wine and sugar (they usually need at least 1 cup sugar to 2 cups liquid), add a vanilla bean and some lemon juice. Bake fruit in a covered casserole, in a 150C oven for 4 hours or longer, until quince is deep red. Do not stir as the fruit may break up. Cool and serve as a dessert. Delicious with cream or icecream.

Recipe supplied kindly by Suzanne from Lalla