Ottolenghi feast

 

I recently watched the television series ‘A meditteranean feast’ with Yatam Ottolenghi. I have heard of him before but have never really spent the time to look into his recipes.

Once i finished the series, i immediately went to the book store and purchased Jerusalem.

I actually cooked this meal a little while ago when the weather was cooler, but forgot to share it!!  I love a one pot meal…..and you won’t be disappointed if you make this dish!

I always buy free range and when possible organic chicken.

IMG_4149Roasted chicken with clementine and Pernod

  • 100 ml arak, ouzo, or Pernod
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp grain mustard
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs (500 g in total)
  • 1 large organic or free- range chicken, about  1.3 kg, divided into 8 pieces
  • 4 clementines, unpeeled- 400 g in total, cut horizontally into 0.5cm slices
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish

Put the first six ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add 2½ teaspoons of salt and 1½ teaspoons of black pepper. Whisk well and set aside.

Trim the fennel and cut each bulb in half lengthways. Cut each half into 4 wedges. Add the fennel to the liquids, along with the chicken pieces, clementine slices, thyme and fennel seeds. Stir well with your hands then leave to marinate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight (skipping the marinating stage is also fine, if you are pressed for time).

Preheat the oven to 220C.  Transfer the chicken and its marinade to a baking tray large enough to accommodate everything comfortably in a single layer (roughly a 30cm x 37cm tray); the chicken skin should be facing up. Once the oven is hot enough, put the tray in the oven and roast for 35-45 minutes, until the chicken is coloured and cooked through. Remove from the oven.

Lift the chicken, fennel and clementines from the tray and arrange on a serving plate; cover and keep warm. Pour the cooking liquids into a small saucepan, place on a medium-high heat, bring to the boil then simmer until the sauce is reduced by a third, so you are left with about 80ml. Pour the hot sauce over the chicken, garnish with some chopped parsley and serve.

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My delicious chickpea burgers

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This week is national vegetarian week! So, in celebration i wanted to share one of my favourite recipes and a regular dish in my house.

It is soooo easy and delicious!

INGREDIENTS 

  • 800 g cooked or canned chickepas, drained
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 handfuls chopped coriander
  • 1 handfuls chopped flat-leaf parsley 
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (seeds removed, if preferred)
  • 120 g wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

To serve

  • Greek or natural yoghurt
  • leaves of lettuce
  • flat-leaf parsley
  • finely sliced red onions
  • sliced tomatoes
  • sweet chilli sauce
  • burger buns

METHOD

1. Put the chickpeas, eggs, 1 teaspoon of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper in a food processor and blitz until nearly smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and add the coriander, parsley, spring onions, lemon zest, chilli and breadcrumbs. Stir together and leave for 5-10 minutes.

2. Moisten your hands with water and shape the mixture into 8 large patties, or 16 small ones if you prefer.

3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook the patties for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until browned.

4. Serve the patties with labne or yogurt dressed with olive oil and paprika, watercress, parsley, red onion, tomato and some chilli sauce. Alternatively, use these ingredients to fill wholemeal burger buns, spreading the cut sides with the labne or yogurt.

 

Belvoir Park, Zurich

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My 2 year anniversary of living in Switzerland is near approaching and this is only my second time visiting this park. Shame on me!! The last time i went was during my first Summer in Zurich and i rode through on my bike one day.

The reason i actually ventured here was because a friend of mine had been and highly recommended i go to see the Iris in bloom.

It was a really hot day…actually only 27 degrees……but for me that is hot. 5 years ago i would have thought that was cold (after living in Australia and then Singapore) but i have now definitely acclimatised to the Swiss weather, which is much much cooler, even in Summer. You may get the odd 30-35 degree day but its rare.

I spent about an hour there just photographing the flowers. It was so beautiful!! I wish i could have stayed longer but unfortunately all the seats in the shade were taken.

I’m planning on going back next week with a blanket, book, wine and cheese and showing my friend this park. She is new to Zurich and we met though German class…so I am showing her my favourite parts of Zurich.

I have many favourite spring flowers…but my top 3 would be Iris, Peony and Wisteria.

What is your favourite spring flower?

 

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How to make the perfect herb garden

I love fresh herbs! They can turn any dish into something quite special, and when they have been grown yourself, it is even more special.

Most herbs are easy to grow, and the more you grown them the more you’ll want to use them.

Depending on the size and layout of your garden you could create a designated herb garden in any style you would like. Formal or informal.

Use the shrubby herbs, such as rosemary, sage, bay and thyme to create some structure. You could easily make a herb garden in a raised bed which makes picking easy and the most herbs enjoy the conditions containers and pots provide. They can also be grown amongst ornamentals.

Perennial herbs

Perennials once planted, will come back year after year and therefore tend to be easiest to grow. By picking them regularly for consumption you will keep them nice and compact. Some will also appreciate a hard clipping in spring to get rid of any old foliage.

Mint- Best grown in pots or within a large garden where you can let it roam free. My Mum always had a mint plant growing beside a tap in the backyard and it always thrived…..note to remember- mint loves water!

As well as common mint there is pineapple mint, chocolate mint and ginger mint.

Sage- Forms neatly rounded bushes when regularly picked or clipped. There are quite a few varieties with different leaf colours, such as purple sage and golden sage.

Thyme- Most Thymes make excellent garden plants. Many varieties are low creeping so make good ground covers and soften paths or used in between stepping stones. The foliage comes in a range of colours from golden yellow to variegated silver and they also flower with pink or purple flowers in summer.

Bay- Evergreen shrubs that can be topiarised (think lollipops, pyramids, balls etc) or allowed to grow loose. They look great in pots as a focal point and one plant is more than enough for the kitchen.

Rosemary- Extremely easy to grow with blu, lilac or white flowers.

Oregano- Beautiful pink/purple flowers that the bees love. Also available in golden oregano.

Annual herbs 

Annual herbs can be grown from seed or bought as small as pot plants and planted into the garden yourself. They need to be picked regularly to stop them flowering and seeding and this will encourage new strong growth.

Basil- A very tender plant. Sweet basil is the most commonly grown but try Greek, Thai and purple.

Coriander- Fast growing and can quickly go to seed in hot dry weather. Grow in some shade.

Chervil- Delicious with anise flavoured feathery leaves. It too likes a little shade and a spot thats not too dry.

Image from bystephanielynn.com

Image from bystephanielynn.com

Image from bystephanielynn.com

Image from bystephanielynn.com

Image from bystephanielynn.com

Image from bystephanielynn.com

 

Plant of the month – Tibouchina

About 10 years ago i was working in a retail nursery. The only time i was asked about ‘the purple flowering trees’ was when they were in flower! (of course) and the rest of the year they go unnoticed. Which is ashame really…..

Tibouchinas have purple or pink flowers in late summer or autumn, with some varieties flowering in winter. Popular varieties include ‘Alstonville’ (tree to 5m with violet/purple flowers), ‘Kathleen’ (tree to 7m pink flowers) and ‘Jules’ (dwarf shrub to 1m with purple flowers). Tibouchinas will grow in most warm to cool temperate regions but are not suited to cool mountain districts, or warm tropical areas.

Tibouchina ‘Jules’ has exactly the same flowers as the ‘Alstonville’ although a little smaller.

Tibouchinas like a sunny spot and a light friable soil with plenty of moisture during the growing season. Protect from frosts. Their square stems are brittle, so they also need protection from strong winds, especially when young.

Tips for caring for Tibouchina 

1. Give plenty of water in the first few weeks after planting.

2. After 2 or 3 years give it a light prune to promote new growth.

3. Tibouchinas flower heavily in both Spring and Autumn, so choose a location in your garden that you use at that time of year.

4. Use a slow release fertiliser in early spring to give your plant a good feed for the flowering season ahead.

5. Choose your Tibouchina well. They range in size and colours, so know what you want before you purchase.

General pruning tips prune at just about any time of the year prune so that you think the whole thing either works better or looks better always take your time and cut carefully and gently aim for a clean, neat wound when pruning large branches first make a small cut underneath to stop the bark tearing when you’re unsure, prune in stages; you can always take more off but it’s hard to stick bits back on again don’t leave stubs poking out that might injure somebody. 

Tibouchina 'Kathleen'

Tibouchina ‘Kathleen’

Tibouchina 'Alstonville'

Tibouchina ‘Alstonville’

 

 

Designing a balcony garden

Sometimes designing a small space can be more difficult than having a large backyard with a blank canvas!

Follow my rules for putting together the perfect small space:

Space- what do you want your space to look like? Do you want it to be uncluttered, have a seating area, perhaps a green wall or water feature?

Planting- do you have a theme in mind? You could have formal, native, cottage? or maybe you have a favourite colour you would like to use throughout. Or create a vegetable or herb garden? Try and choose things that reflect your interior style as well.

Site- what is your area like? Is it exposed to harsh sun, wind or is it in a shady position? This will effect what type of plants you choose.

Bring the outdoors in- A balcony has the greatest impact as an extension of indoor space, and it’s important to ask yourself how you will want to use your balcony in relation to your indoor space. For small balconies, the goal is to bring the outdoors in.

Keep it interesting with colour- Use annuals, bulbs etc to give ‘pops’ of colour. They have a short life, but will give you the brightest colours.

Keep evergreen plants as a base- These will give you colour all round.

Use a colour palette- If your space is small then choose a small colour palette. Two or three colours is enough.

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Beautiful images found on Pinterest

How to plant Autumn bulbs

It’s Autumn my Australian readers!!
Spring-flowering bulbs are easy instant growing packages that can be planted now in gardens or pots. Here are some inspiring ideas on how to use bulbs in your garden to make the most of their colour, perfume and mass appeal. Get planting!

Autumn is the time to plant bulbs for colour later in the year. There are many ways to enjoy bulbs in your garden. For a wild look, mass-plant bulbs in lawn areas or scatter them under trees. Good choices include freesias and narcissus of all types. For success, choose a position that’s sunny throughout winter and early spring, such as among deciduous trees.

For a pretty cottage garden effect, select easy-to-grow bulbs such as anemones or ranunculus, and team them with late-winter- and spring-flowering annuals such as Iceland poppies, alyssum, pansies or violas. Add contrast and splashes of colour with the occasional clump of Dutch iris, tulips or daffodils. If space is tight in your garden, or you lack the sunny spots that spring-flowering bulbs enjoy, you can grow bulbs in pots.

Select an attractive container, with drainage holes in its base, and fill the pot with a good-quality potting mix. Bulbs planted in pots can be grown more closely together than the recommended spacing. Grow just one type of bulb per pot, such as hyacinth or tulips, or overplant the bulbs with annuals, such as pansies, to extend the flowering period.

To ensure success with bulbs, always follow the instructions on the packet, plant in autumn and select a sunny, well-drained spot. In warm or humid climates treat bulbs as annuals, replanting them each year.

1 Prepare well Remove weeds and incorporate lots of compost or other organic matter when planting bulbs. Bulbs grown in pots need good drainage so put plenty of small rocks in the bottom and use a well-drained compost. Specialised bulb composts are expensive and only necessary in pots with poor drainage.

2 Time it right Garden centres sell bulbs for autumn planting from February to May.

3 Big, fat and firm When buying bulbs, reject any that are soft or showing signs of mould. Small bulbs may not flower in their first year.

4 Dig deep Bulbs should be planted in holes three to four times as deep as the bulb itself. So, for example, a 1in crocus bulb needs to be planted in a hole 3-4in deep.

5 Which way up? If you are not sure, plant the bulb on its side: its stem will find its own way up.

6 Bulbs for shade Not all bulbs need full sun. As well as woodland bulbs such as Wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa), many Mediterranean bulbs grow well in shade. Scilla peruviana has blue flowers the size of tennis balls and soon forms large colonies in cool, shady situations.

7 Plot with pots Fill large plastic pots with your favourite bulbs and, just before they are about to flower, use them to fill holes in the border planting. Plastic pots can also be slipped inside more elegant terracotta ones and whipped out when the bulbs are over. Store the pots behind a shed to allow the foliage to die down, keep them weed-free, top-dress with a layer of compost in the autumn, and bring them out again the following year.

8 Mark the spot Plant labels can look ugly but are indispensable for marking the position of bulbs whose foliage has died back. A discreet wooden label will prevent the frustration caused by plunging a fork into a border and spearing a clump of your favourite alliums.

9 Viola partners Wallflowers or forget-me-nots are the traditional partners for tulips. In pots and window boxes use violas instead – they will start flowering long before the tulips and provide a wide range of colour combinations. The Sorbet series is robust and floriferous.

10 More please For sheer flower-power, bulbs are the cheapest plants available, so don’t stint on the quantities you plant. Even in small gardens, massed plantings of a limited number of varieties is always most effective. In pots, allow for a dozen tulips per 12in container.

11 Lift and repeat Left in the ground, tulips degenerate each year until they die; lifted, stored and replanted the following November they re-flower well. After flowering, remove the seed head and wait for the foliage to yellow and die back, then lift the bulbs, clean off any soil and store in boxes or net bags in a cool, dry place.

12 Limit your layers Plant pots and windowboxes with no more than two layers of bulbs to prevent the unsightly spectacle of later-flowering plants appearing through the dying foliage of earlier ones.

Some of the beautiful tulips in Zurich

Some of the beautiful tulips in Zurich

 

Travel diaries – Brussels and Brugge

The only reason we ended up choosing Belgium for a short holiday was because i was browsing the internet for cheap fares and Belgium came up. We had originally wanted to go to Paris but the train was sold out and flights were crazy expensive.

Belgium was definitely on our list of countries to visit while in Europe but we hadn’t planned to visit for a while.

Brussels exceeded my expectations. So many people i had spoken to about Brussels, didn’t have good things to say about it. But i really liked it….we basically ate our way through Brussels. Trying all the famous things about Belgium- mussels, fries, beer, waffles and chocolate!! and yes the beer is fantastic!!

Brugge was a gorgeous town with neo gothic buildings and beautiful canals. I had read so much about Brugge and how cute it was….what i didn’t read is that every single person in Europe knows about it and was there on the same weekend we were! It was overrun with tourists….majority of them in tour groups on buses, and can you imagine how difficult it is when you get stuck behind a tour group or happen to be at the same restaurant…..Not really the image i had in mind when i booked my flight.

But if you timed your visit outside of any long weekend or the summer months, i think it would be a much more enjoyable town.

We did plenty of walking and explored all of the city on foot. We took a short canal and horse drawn carriage ride (but only because it was included in our room rate at the hotel)

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The above photos are from Brussels, and the below are from Brugge.

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An update on my balcony garden

Today its cold, grey and raining…it actually reflects my mood. I am sick with a cold, from too much travelling i think!

I should be at German school…but I’m not. My plan for the day is not a lot……sit on the couch, and enjoy the book i am reading, and since i am not at school, then i must do some German study!

Have a lovely day everyone.

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This photo was obviously not taken today….i took this a few days ago when the sun was shining!

 

What to do in the garden – May

Things are really busy for me at the moment, so i never seem to be at my computer on the weekend! Ive decided not to do a Sunday post anymore, but will definitely have something up every Monday for you.

Thursday was a holiday here in Switzerland, so my boyfriend and i had booked flights to Brussels. We spent 2 days in Brussels and 2 days in Brugge. I have soooo many photos, so it will take me a few days to go through them and then i shall post them later in the week.

But for now, here is some info on what to do in the garden this month!

 

Southern Hemisphere

1. Watch out for snails on young seedlings. If you have a pet, you can always buy pet friendly snail repellent

2. Reshape your hibiscus plants before winter

3. Plant snow peas, english spinach and garlic

4. Prepare garden beds for bare rooted roses and fruit trees. Add compost and well rotted manure

5. Add gypsum to heavy clay soils to improve drainage

6. Choose any large trees for your garden now

7. Trim any hedges before the onset of winter

8. If you have orchids, they should now be placed in a sunny position to encourage good flower spikes

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Northern Hemisphere

1. Protect frost tender plants from any late frosts

2. Mow lawns weekly

3. Lift and divide overcrowded clumps of daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs

4. Regularly check for weeds and remove them

5. Start to feed citrus plants

6. Feed hungry shrubs and roses

7. Divide bamboo

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