Horseradish in the garden

I recently posted some images of freshly made horseradish mustard on a forum page and was fascinated to receive quite a few questions about growing horseradish.  So for anyone who may be interested, I have put together the following information.

Botanical name

Horseradish in the garden – Version 2

Horseradish in my garden

Armoracia rusticana

Family

Brassicaceae

Description

Horseradish is a hardy perennial and the perfect cold-climate crop capable of surviving winter temperatures to -20°F (-28°C). With leaves reaching between 60 and 90 cm high, its long tapering roots, which can be rich in vitamin C, calcium, sodium and magnesium, grow to be approximately 5 cm thick and up to 60cm long. The delicious, pungent flavour of the root is released by grating or cutting the root, but is neutralized by heat. Whereas the young tender leaves of the plant can be added to your salad leaves for a little zing.

With all this being said, one must be aware of the invasive nature of the horseradish plant and take this into consideration when planting it.

Growing

Cuttings taken from the roots of healthy horseradish should be planted out into enriched soil, in the spring (in Australia), taking care to plant it where its invasive nature is not going to create problems in the future. Green leaves will sprout in the spring and die back in late Autumn/Winter. Established plants may send up sprays of white summer flowers which are best removed so that the plant can put all its energy into the roots, and prevent unwanted seedlings. Keep free of weeds.

Difficulty: Easy
Soil: Deep well drained, enriched soil.
Position: Sunny to lightly shaded.
Spacing: 30cm apart.
Propagation: Root cuttings, division.
Sow and plant: Spring (in Australia)
Watering: Keep soil moist (it doesn’t like dry soil).
Climate: Cold to cool temperate.
Frost tolerant: Yes
Feeding: Feed established plants through spring and summer with an organic liquid plant food. Add a mulch of aged manure around the emerging plants in spring.
Enrich the soil regularly with compost and manure.
Do not over-fertilise with nitrogen as this causes roots to split.
Companions: Potatoes, fruit trees, brambles, grapes, sweet potatoes, strawberries, asparagus and rhubarb.

Problems

Cabbage white butterfly caterpillars and small snails are the main pests to watch for. Regularly check plants for caterpillars and remove and squash any that are found.

Harvesting

Plants need one or two seasons in the ground before they are ready to be harvested. While roots from an established clump can be harvested whenever you need it, it is at its best, and has the strongest flavour, if harvested from late autumn to early spring.

To harvest, use a garden fork and loosen the soil in a wide circle around the plant. Then use your hands to locate the direction that the taproot has grown. The main horseradish root will not be found going down, but running virtually horizontal in any direction it chooses! Follow this root, gently working the soil, to ensure you get the biggest and best roots. The roots easily break off if you just try to pull them out.

Horseradish - Picked and Washed

Freshly dug horseradish from my garden.

Storage

Roots the same diameter as your fingers are the easiest to work with. I use a scourer to wash and scrub them with and then leave them to dry on some paper towel. You can store unpeeled horseradish in an airtight container in the fridge for several weeks, or alternatively freeze them. If you freeze the horseradish you can grate what you need while it is still frozen and return the unused portion back to the freezer for another day.

For a little more convenience you can prepare some horseradish and keep it in the refrigerator. Simply add 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar to a clean jar and stir in 1 teaspoon of sugar and ¼ teaspoon of sea salt. Then using a microplane, finely grate your horseradish, adding it as you go, ensuring that is totally coated with the vinegar solution. With this on hand you can quickly add it to any dish you choose, in no time at all!

Horseradish - grated

Note: When peeling and grating horseradish, make sure you wear rubber gloves and work in a well ventilated area, preferably outside, it is worse than working with onion and chillies!

Uses in the Garden

As a spray, horseradish can prevent apple scab, and if sprayed at leaf fall and bud swell may lessen the incidence of bacterial infection in fruit trees.

To make the spray, pour 1 litre of boiling water over the top of 3 firmly packed cupfuls of roughly chopped horseradish leaves. Cover and leave to stand for 30 minutes. Strain, cool and use within a few hours. This spray is a good general fungicide.

By growing horseradish under fruit trees it helps to protect them from fungal issues.

Uses in the Kitchen

The more finely the roots are grated, the stronger the flavour – I like

Horseradish Mustard - Ready for the store of preserves (and gift

Horseradish Mustard prepared for a gift.

to use a microplane to grate horseradish with. A couple of things to note though, when peeling and grating horseradish make sure you wear rubber gloves and work in a well ventilated area, preferably outside – it is worse than working with onion and chillies; also horseradish is not cooked because it looses its pungent flavour during the heating process.

Horseradish grated into cream is the traditional way to use the root, but it can be added to other foods, including coleslaw and beetroot, or added to mustards and mayonnaise to liven the flavour. You can even steep vinegar with horseradish and then use the vinegar for pickling beetroot or livening up a salad.

Egg, smoked salmon and horseradish cream canapes-r

Egg, smoked salmon and horseradish mustard cream cheese served on a pumpernickel style bread – a quick and easy canape!

Until next time…

Happy gardening & bon appétit!

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Links & Sources:

Figs

 

Figs evoke such wonderful memories…

 

Fig tree - 2

To eat figs off the tree in the very early morning, when they have been barely touched by the sun, is one of the exquisite pleasures of the Mediterranean. (Elizabeth David)

The beautiful big fig tree down by the creek at our old family home – we always knew that if the creek flooded in the spring and/or summer that we would have a wonderful crop. Then there is the Christmas cake and pudding that I make every year, that has a jar of fig jam included in the recipe – I am happy to say it is always fig jam from our store cupboard. And who could forget a day at the races in the country, with my beautiful friend Sophia, where a platter scattered with fresh figs, feta, walnuts and prosciutto, drizzled with honey was handed around to get the day started. This is where I totally fell in love with the flavour of the fresh fig.

Freshly picked figs - 4

A great fig should look like it’s just about to burst its skin. When squeezed lightly it should give a little and not spring back. It must be almost unctuously sweet, soft and wet. (Yotam Ottolenghi)

We both have very fond memories of our time with an elderly couple in France where I received some of the best advice ever. Over breakfast, we were talking about the fruit grown on their property and how it was stored… Genevieve told me that the apples were stored in the old stone chapel across the way, and, in fact, we were eating the last of what they had stored away from last season for our breakfast. I asked, what to do with excess figs, apart from drying them or making jam etc. She told me that she just threw them in a bag in the freezer, then whenever she was cooking a roast, she would grab a few out and scatter them around the roast as it cooked – she assured me that they would keep their shape and not become mush, and she was spot on!

So whenever anyone asks if I could use some figs, I never turn them down. I bring them home, wash them, and throw them in a bag in the freezer.

This year I don’t know how many kilograms we have received, but I recently weighed what is left and there are still 11 kilograms frozen and waiting for me to use. I follow Genevieve’s advice and toss them around a roast, but I also take them out and dehydrate them. Occasionally I grab a few, slit them down squish in some feta and wrap them in prosciutto, grill them and then scatter with some toasted walnut and drizzle with a little honey or fig vinegar glaze.

Last week the weather turned very wintery providing the perfect opportunity to use some of the figs from the freezer, together with some dried figs and fig vinegar. This Slow Cooked Pork Scotch with Figs and Fennel Seeds was the perfect warming meal on such a bleak, cold day. The pork just fell apart and was perfect with all the sticky figiness!

Slow Cooked Pork Scotch with Figs and Fennel Seeds

This delicious winter warmer was inspired by the onset of winter and the need for some yummy comfort food - the thought of combining some delicious Coltish Pork with figs and fig products I had been making over the last month or so seemed obvious!

Ingredients

  • 1 kg pork neck
  • 150g diced onion
  • 80g diced celery
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup fig vinegar
  • 2 tsp fennel seed
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped sage
  • ¼ cup dried figs, diced
  • 2 cups pork stock
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 150˚C.
  2. In a mortar and pestle, pound the fennel seeds, peppercorns and salt to a powder.
  3. Cut the pork neck into four even sized, thick slices and season lightly with the spice powder.
  4. Heat oil in a large heavy based, ovenproof pan or casserole and fry the slices of pork in two batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Remove from pon and set aside.
  5. To the same pan, add the onion, celery and garlic and sauté until the onion is tender. Add the remaining spice powder and stir.
  6. Turn up the heat and the fig vinegar and diced fig, stirring to deglaze the pan. Cook until the fig vinegar has reduced by half, then reduce the heat, and stir in the sage.
  7. Place the pork in a single layer in the pan, add the stock and bring back to the boil.
  8. Cover with the lid and place in the preheated oven for 1½ – 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.
  9. When the meat is cooked. Remove it to a plate and cover to keep warm.
  10. Skim the fat from the juices in the pan, then place the pan over a medium heat to reduce the sauce to a nice syrupy consistency.
  11. Serve hot with steamed greens, creamy mash potato, and if you wish, some grilled fresh figs.

Notes:

  • Source: SBA’s Kitchen
  • If you do not have pork stock, I would suggest using chicken stock.
  • I prefer to purchase the pork neck in the piece and portion it myself, but you could ask your butcher to do this for you.
  • If you do not have fig vinegar, try using a combination of cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar.
  • I love to support our local farmers, so purchase my pork from Coltish Pork. It is wonderful to get to know the producer and become friends with those who are providing such a wonderful quality of product to work with.

 

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Finally just this weekend we had our great friends, Caitlin and Paul visit, and to start a long, leisurely evening meal we prepared a Salade de Chevre et Figues. I love it so much when our guests join in the food preparation – I had such fun cooking and chatting and catching up.

Of course there is always a good supply of figs waiting in the freezer so that I can make another batch of fig vinegar, which is fast replacing balsamic vinegar in a lot of dishes in our meals.

Until next time…

Happy cooking & bon appétit!

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Links:

Birthday Bonfire

This year our cousin’s husband, Colin turned 70, and to celebrate, their annual bonfire became a very festive affair. Held on the property where our grandparent’s home once was, people travelled from everywhere to join the party – the yard looked like a caravan park when we pulled in on the Saturday night.

To get there, Gary and I left home at 10 am and travelled to Melbourne where we stopped to pick up my sister Sonya. Then we continued on to Stawell and had a lovely visit with my mother for a couple of hours before finally arriving at Navarre just after 6. It was dark and cold. But with the power and water turned on, we soon had the house warmed up and dinner cooking. We were all a tad weary…

After listening to the rain on the tin roof through the night, we were wondering how the bonfire would fire up the next night, however when we got up in the morning, the rain seemed to have cleared, even if the skies hadn’t! Sonnie and I had work to do… Sonnie had made the birthday cake and had to decorate it, she had also made a pavlova that needed to be finished off. I needed to make a dessert as well. This is where the fun started….

Sunset at Navarre

Firstly I set to making the dessert, it was to be a gateau of rhubarb, apples and almonds. The recipe for the base was in French, but I knew that I could follow it. I had brought all the ingredients from home including rhubarb from our garden and bottled apples from our store. So I drained the apples and got the rhubarb into the oven to bake. Then it was time to make the cake. With the mixer uncovered I got all the ingredients ready and got to work. The egg whites whipped up beautifully. Following the recipe I then whipped up the egg yolks and sugar, and added the dry ingredients – ughh, the mixture seized – what to do… I grabbed another egg and added that in, it helped to loosen the mix a little, so then I started to fold through the egg whites, not perfect, but it would have to do. With the mixture poured into the lined tin, it went into the oven to bake while we set to cleaning up the mess! The timer went off and when I took the cake from the oven, I saw that it was very uneven and very thin in one corner, really – what next. I shouldn’t have been surprised though. The house is very old and the land is subject to flooding… The cake looked OK, even if a little lop-sided.

 

Next it was Sonnie’s turn. She needed to make the butter cream for the birthday cake. The problem here was that the mixer seemed to have only one speed – very fast! So with the butter in the mixer, the bowl was almost ready to take off!! Then the icing sugar went in, or should I say, went out, up, and everywhere, including over Sonnie! We threw a tea towel over the whole thing to try and calm the situation down a little. All we could do was laugh. With persistence, the butter cream was made and Sonnie set to decorating the cake. She dropped a couple of little round sweets on the floor and they all rolled to one corner – yes, we decided that the reason for the crooked cake was because we were in a crooked house.

Our other sister Jan arrived and we all had a lovely afternoon sitting and chatting, then set to filling the pav and finishing off the cake. I carefully sliced a slither from one of the higher corners and used some of the fruit syrup to attach it to the lower corner. Sonnie whipped the cream for both the pav and the cake and we decorated them.

All ready, we just needed to await the arrival of the younger members of our family – they were all traveling from Melbourne and running a little late. Sonnie rang Sandra to find out what time they wanted us down there, it was about 6 pm when she rang. They had already finished the main and were on to the speeches. Sonnie, Jan and Gary quickly loaded the cake and desserts into the car and headed down, while I waited for the kids to arrive. Finally with everyone there, we joined the rest of the family at the bonfire and, as usual, it was a wonderful friendly night.  We got to catch up with members of our family, listen to music, and all the time, we were kept warm (at times very hot) by the roaring bonfire.

As we were to late for the food, when we got home we quickly prepared a supper of soup and fried rice, before all turning in for the night.

Oh and I have now translated the recipe as it was written in French, and yes, I had followed the instructions. So the version here is a much revised version!

Gateau of Rhubarb, Apples and Almonds - Gluten Free

I offered to take a dessert to a birthday party. I wanted to use rhubarb from our garden because it was looking amazing. A magazine arrived from France early in the week and had a recipe for a rhubarb and strawberry cake and that was my inspiration for this beautiful cake.

Ingredients

  • 500g rhubarb
  • 5 medium sized apples
  • 1 orange
  • 60g sugar
  • 90g brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • 200 ml whipping cream
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
  • For the cake
  • 200g almond meal
  • 50g custard powder – gluten free
  • 1½ tsp baking powder – gluten free
  • 6 eggs
  • 140g caster sugar
  • pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C.
  2. Wash the rhubarb, trim the ends and cut into 2 cm pieces and place into a shallow baking dish in a single layer. Pare two very thin strips of zest from the orange using a sharp knife, or a peeler and then juice the orange.  Tuck the rind in amongst the rhubarb, sprinkle over the brown sugar, and drizzle with the orange juice. Bake for 20 minutes until the rhubarb is tender. Carefully remove the rhubarb from the dish and strain the juices and set both the juice and the rhubarb aside.
  3. Meanwhile peel, core and quarter the apples, add to a saucepan with the 60g of sugar and just enough water to cover the apples. Bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the apples are tender, gently turning them now and then so they cook evenly.   Strain the apple and set aside the fruit and the syrup.
  4. Place both the rhubarb juices and apple syrup into a clean pan. Bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook until the syrup is reduced by half. Set aside to cool.
  5. Preheat oven to 190˚C and line a swiss roll baking pan with baking paper. Separate the egg yolks from whites. Place the whites together with the salt into the large bowl of a stand mixer and mix on high speed until soft peaks form. Add yolks and beat, then add the 140g of caster sugar gradually. Beat well. Sift in the almond meal, custard powder and baking powder and carefully fold through the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden. Turn out on to a wire cooling rack and remove baking paper. Allow to cool completely.
  6. When you are ready to assemble the gateaux, whip the cream, 1 tbsp of caster sugar and the vanilla bean paste until stiff peaks form.
  7. Heat a pan over low heat and add the flaked almonds. Carefully toast until they turn golden. Be careful not to burn them. Set aside.
  8. To Assemble the cake, spread a little of the syrup over the cake, then spread a layer, no thicker than 1 cm of the whipped cream on top of that. Arrange the apple and rhubarb on top of the cream, sprinkle over the toasted flaked almonds and drizzle with the remaining syrup.

Notes:

  • Baking the rhubarb helps to retain its shape and stops it going mushy, it also intensifies the flavour.
  • I like to cut each apple quarter into chunks before arranging it on top of the cake.
  • You could replace the whipped cream with crème pâtissière

Until next time…

Happy  cooking & bon appétit!

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Links

Gateau of Rhubarb, Apples and Almonds – Gluten Free

Mrs Collins’s Pavlova

Fresh yeast!

Ever since we moved to Maffra, we have been in search of fresh yeast. It seems that bakers around here use dried yeast, which meant that whenever we went to Melbourne we would have to stock up, bring it home, portion it out, and then vac seal it to help retain the freshness and viability of the product.

Recently Gary has made it his mission to find fresh yeast locally. He googled, then he hit the road. He found a place in nearby Sale, that sell it frozen – it seemed to work ok. But last week he went to Traralgon, and guess what…. We have fresh yeast!

Fresh Yeast

When he came home he presented me with a lovely little package, but stated that there was a price to pay…. That price – I need to send a recipe for pizza dough that has fresh yeast in the ingredients, to the lady that served him. Oh, and the recipe is to be one using “normal” flour. I haven’t made normal pizza dough in years – I only make gluten free, it’s just easier to do it that way, so that I can eat it.

Now, I have a wonderful Italian cookbook, The food of Italy (2000) J Price (ed) (Murdoch Books), so grabbed it down, and yes, there was the recipe needed.

DSC08170-r

I couldn’t share the recipe without testing it, so that decided what our evening meal was to be that day. I would need to make “normal” pizza dough and a gluten free option for me.

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The recipe was, as expected, perfect, which means that I can not only share it with Rosa, I can share it with everyone.

Pizza Dough

  • Servings: Makes 2 large pizzas (or 4 individual pizzas)
  • Print

I was asked if I had a pizza dough recipe using fresh yeast, I didn't, but found this recipe in my favourite Italian recipe book, I am told that it is perfect, but I cannot try it, because it is not gluten free.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 15 g fresh yeast or 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 220g lukewarm water
  • 450g plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Directions

  1. Put the sugar and yeast into a small bowl and stir in 90 ml of the water. Set aside in a draught-free place to activate – it should take about five minutes
  2. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl, or in a food processor fitted with the plastic kneading blade. Add the olive oil, remaining water and the yeast mixture.
  3. Mix just until the dough comes together. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes, adding a little flour or a few drops of warm water if necessary, until you have a soft dough that is not sticky but is dry to the touch.
  4. Rub the inside of a large bowl to coat it with oil, then cut a shallow cross on the top of the ball with a sharp knife. Leave the dough in the bowl, cover with a tea towel or put it in a plastic bag and leave in a draught-free spot for 1 – 1½ hours until double in size (or leave in the fridge for 8 hours to rise slowly).
  5. Punch down the dough to its original size, then divide into two portions (At this stage the dough can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 hours, or frozen. Bring back to room temperature before continuing.)
  6. Working with one portion at a time, push the dough out to make a thick circle. Use the heels of your hands and work from the centre of the circle outwards, to flatten the dough into a 30cm circle with a slightly raised rim. (If you find it difficult to push the dough out by hand you can use a rolling pin.)
  7. Place the dough on a lightly oiled tray dusted with cornmeal, add your favourite toppings and get it into the oven, pre-heated to 240˚C, as quickly as possible.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Notes:

  • Source: The food of Italy (2000) J Price (ed) (Murdoch Books) p 281

Oh, and for those looking for fresh yeast down our way, Manny’s Market in Traralgon is the place to go.

Until next time…

Happy  cooking & bon appétit!

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Links:

Apples for pie

A couple of months ago we visited Picnic Point Apple Orchard, about an hour’s drive from here, to pick up some new season’s apples. We purchased a box of Picnic Apples, which were very juicy, but the flavour was not as intense as I expected.

We decided to store them in a cupboard in the hallway of our home, and as time went by you would catch the delicious aroma of apples as you passed by. They softened a little, but cooked up well and held their shape, which I was thrilled with.

With that in mind, I decided to preserve them, there is no room in the freezer, so they had to go into jars. On Tuesday I set to peeling, coring and quartering them. They were then added to pots with sugar, water and lemon juice and cooked until just tender. After leaving them to cool over night,

I packed them into jars, before sealing and waterbathing them ready for use in pies and other apple treats throughout the year. As I said to Gary, all I need to do is take a jar of apples, roll out some pastry, maybe add some rhubarb from the garden, bake it and we have a quick, easy and delicious dessert.

Before the apples were bottled, I decided that we needed a treat! First I removed some apples from the pot and set them in a strainer over a dish to drain off all the liquid  Then I rolled out some gluten free sweet shortcrust pastry and prepared a delicious dessert for our evening meal. I think that apple pie has to be one of the most comforting, homely desserts one can ask for. Add some vanilla ice cream or a dollop of luscious double cream and you’re set.

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Sweet Shortcrust Pastry - Gluten Free

  • Servings: makes one large tart which serves 8
  • Print

The perfect pastry for making your favourite fruit pie or delicious little lemon curd tarts.

Ingredients

  • 210 g Gluten free flour blend
  • 70 g pure icing sugar
  • 1 tsp xanthum gum
  • 125 g butter, softened
  • 100 g ricotta cheese, drained (or homemade cheese)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Directions

  1. Add the flour, icing sugar and xanthum gum to a bowl and mix together.
  2. Place the butter, cheese, egg yolk and vanilla into the bowl of a food processor and then add the dry ingredients.
  3. Pulse only until the dough starts to form a ball.. (TM speed 3, 20 seconds)
  4. Remove the dough to a large sheet of baking paper or a pastry sheet and knead to form a smooth ball.
  5. Divide the dough in half and flatten into two discs.
  6. Cover each disc closely with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Notes:

  • You can store the dough in the fridge for up to two days, or freeze it until needed.
  • If you have time, make a batch and freeze it for when you need to whip up a quick tart or pie.
  • I always blind bake the tart base for 10-15 minutes in a preheated oven at 200˚C, then add the fruit and if required a pastry lid, before continuing baking.

The other benefit of having jars of delicious apples in the store, is that you have a quick delicious breakfast treat when served with some natural yoghurt and crunchy gluten free granola!

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Until next time…

Happy  cooking & bon appétit!

 

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Links:

Crunchy gluten free granola

Gluten free flour blend

Sweet shortcrust pastry – gluten free

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