Mango and avocado panzanella
Instead of serving up the same old salad every time friends come around for a barbeque, surprise them with this simple mango and avocado panzanella
Panzanella is a traditional Tuscan recipe which literally translates to peasant salad.
Like so many recipes from Italy, it makes use of common ingredients that would have been available to even the poorest families, hence the name.
It’s usually based around stale bread, tomatoes and onions. Three ingredients that are always on hand in every Italian kitchen.
At my family’s recent New Year gathering, one of my jobs was to bring along a salad. I didn’t want just any old salad though, I wanted something different, something interesting . . .
I started thinking about what is fresh and in-season here in the tropics in summer.
I started thinking mangoes.
Forty years ago Innot Hot Springs farmer Bill Godden planted one of the few pecan nut orchards in the Far North.
Each winter, the nuts are harvested and sold mostly through word-of-mouth and local markets, providing top-quality produce for those who are lucky enough to be in the know.
I visited Bill at his property recently and found not only a first-class product, but also a true character of the Australian bush.
To tell you the truth, up until about a week ago, I didn’t know much about pecan nuts. Sure, I had heard of them – even used them from time to time – but they were always just something I’d bought off the supermarket shelf, with no idea of where they came from.
I just assumed they were something I couldn’t source locally . . .
How to catch doggie mackerel for the table
Learning how to catch doggie mackerel for the table has become a family tradition in my house and recently my son had a chance to put his skills to the test.
Ever since I was a boy, early morning fishing trips in search of the humble doggie mackerel have been a winter ritual.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve sat in a small aluminium dinghy in the pre-dawn cool as it glides over the swells of the Coral Sea, on the way to one of the local hot spots.
I didn’t come from a fishing family. My father, and grandfather for that matter, weren’t fishermen.
But for me, it was different. I loved fishing . . .
Star fruit upside down cake
Looking for the perfect treat for your guests next time you invite them over for morning tea? Try serving up a star fruit upside down cake.
At least a couple of times a week, I try to go for a walk in the afternoons. Partly because I need the exercise, and partly because I live near a river and it’s relaxing to walk along the bank and enjoy the view.
I usually take my two English staffies with me (they enjoy getting out of the backyard), and occasionally my teenage kids join us.
I follow a footpath which runs along its eastern bank, flanked by houses, then under a bridge and up alongside the town’s high school. The high school hasn’t always been a high school though.
For a long time, it was a TAFE College where adults could study a variety of courses designed to help them find a job, change their job, or start their own business.
I was a teenager myself when it first kicked off and it was a roaring success. It had all sorts of subjects on offer and in its heyday, had a lot of really cool infrastructure in place.
One of these was an orchard.
Making cordials at home is almost a lost art but creating your own refreshing blend is surprisingly easy.
It’s certainly the time of year for citrus here in the Wet Tropics and I think everyone would agree it has been a bumper crop.
Every tree I see, whether it be orange, mandarin, lemon, lime, grapefruit or lemonade, is dripping with fruit.
With such a bounty, it’s hard to ensure as little as possible goes to waste. . .
Homegrown basil pesto
Once you’ve tasted the flavour of homegrown basil pesto, you’ll never buy the bland, mass-produced supermarket stuff again.
Sweet basil is one of the few Mediterranean-style herbs that grow well in the tropics and using it to make traditional Italian pesto is a fantastic way to enjoy its spicy flavour.
Basil is one herb you just have to grow in your garden.
In Northern Australia, very few European herbs can be grown in the ground. Most only just manage to survive in a pot through the cooler months.
Basil is an exception.
It grows vigorously and as long as you can keep the grasshoppers and grubs away from it, bountiful crops are pretty much guaranteed . . .
Mandarin and chicken salad
North Queenslanders love their mandarins and this delicious citrus fruit is one of the most popular backyard trees grown up this way. While they are usually just peeled and eaten as a snack, adding them to an Asian-style salad is a great way to bring some zing to your dinner table . . .
Foray into fungi
The world of edible wild mushrooms is not for the faint-hearted. Mistakes can land you in hospital – or worse – but with thorough research it is possible to enjoy some fine fungi at your dinner table . . .
As June begins, so does winter here in the southern hemisphere and for those of us who live in the tropics, it is the beginning of the busiest time of year in the vegetable patch. Ask someone who lives here in Far North Queensland and chances are, they will tell you it’s the best time of the year . . .
Bird’s-eye chillies grow like weeds in Far North Queensland. You find them springing up everywhere. In gardens, banana paddocks and along the edges of the rainforest. Most people have no use for them, believing they are way too hot to be enjoyable to eat. It’s a shame because with little effort, they can become a very handy ingredient . . .