What’s happening

Spring menu: shades of green

So many shades of green!

 

I love to see all the great greens that are appearing in the spring markets.

 

Natural oysters

Oysters are always best when harvested in cold waters. Now is a good time to enjoy them.

 

Squid pie

These individual pies are generously filled with a rich savoury mixture of squid and tomato – and very delicious.

 

Warm broccoli and broccoli romanesco salad

These two look great together. Keep them a bit crisp and crunchy!

 

Chocolate self-saucing pudding

This is a great recipe to prepare with your kids. You do the boiling water bit though!

Artichoke

Italian memories

The first three dishes have strong connections with Italy. I have had such delicious food on many Italian holidays. So often the dishes were simple, designed to celebrate just one ingredient, as with the artichokes and sardines in two of the dishes in this menu. This menu is perfect on a warm day when you can eat outside.

 

Artichokes Trastevere

These crunchy morsels are the speciality of the Trastevere quartiere of Rome. Young artichokes are opened out like a flower and fried till crisp. They need plenty of good clean olive oil to be successful and I like to cook them outside in a wok or heavy pot on the barbecue so the smells stay outside.

 

 

Sardines with fennel and chilli paste, wrapped in vine leaves

Another dish for the barbecue. The vine leaves must be young and tender and the sardines very fresh

 

 

Sicilian lemon lamb, a recipe from food writer Carol Field

Baked curly kale with potatoes,olives and garlic is a perfect accompaniment, and this recipe is from vegetable expert Elizabeth Schneider

 

 

Strawberry shortcake

American rather than Italian but always well-received. There must be plenty of strawberries!

A fishy dinner

 

We are fortunate to have a wide variety of seafood available all year. Somehow seafood seems especially well suited to warm weather and the following menu mixes delicacy with spicy flavours – perfect for springtime.

 

Carpaccio of salmon with fines herbes

This looks lovely with just a few edible blossoms scattered as well as the fines herbes- marigold petals, heartease and borage are all good. Drizzle with a very little stunning Australian extra virgin olive oil.

 

 

Donovan’s baby squid with parsley and rocket stuffing and sage fritters

So popular at this great Melbourne beachside restaurant that it was very hard to ever take it off the menu. The sage fritters are sandwiched with an anchovy for extra zing.

 

 

Blue-eye cutlets with cumin, served with Potatoes in paper parcels

Blue-eye is a wonderful fish with firm flesh and large even flakes. It performs beautifully oven-baked or grilled particularly when rubbed with a spicy paste. Other varieties of fish that do this well are John Dory and Hapuku.

 

Watercress, orange and black olive salad

Maybe you will see mache leaves also in the market –they are little round rosettes of tender deliciousness.

 

 

Cherry and almond tart

The local cherry season is short, so be lavish with them.

Spring pastels menu

Spring pastels

 

Delicate pinks and greens and lemons breathe springtime.

Arrange some spring flowers nearby to complement this dinner

 

Gnocchi with asparagus and marjoram cream

Use white or green asparagus for this dish, or a mixture. The asparagus is kept warm for the few minutes it takes the gnocchi to simmer in the asparagus cooking water.

 

 

Poached salmon with mojo verde, wrinkly potatoes, green peas and carrot crisps

Depending on your number of guests and whether you have a deep pan, you could poach individual portions of salmon, or else ask your fishmonger for a boned single chunk of salmon that will look very elegant served on a platter.

Poach the fish in court-bouillon or even water. The coriander sauce (mojo verde) has plenty of flavour.

 

 

Beetroot and avocado salad with baby spinach

This salad is quite substantial and could be served alongside the salmon, or if you prefer, serve it as a plated starter before the gnocchi course

 

 

Lemon roulade with lemon curd

Such a luscious dessert. The sharpness of the lemon curd contrasts beautifully with the soft texture of the sponge. In the recipe I have suggested that lemon curd and cream are alternative fillings. Actually I use both!