While shopping at a growers’ market, STEVE MANFREDI gets back to the land.
Years ago, when I did a cooking demonstration at the Herald’s Pyrmont Growers’ Market, there was a stage with a fold-up table, a couple of burners, some pots and a hand-held microphone. As I was cooking, someone had to follow me around keeping the microphone under my mouth.
My latest demonstration was an altogether different experience. It was the first market of spring, the weather was warm and the facilities a vast improvement on that first outing. But what impressed me most as I shopped for my produce was the quality and variety on offer.
I met vegetable grower Cath Fiefia. She and her husband, Hapi, grow an astounding variety of items at their Field to Feast Farm at Catherine Field, an hour south of Sydney. At their stand, I gathered as much as I could for my dishes: broccoli shoots, treviso, fennel, parsley, fresh spring garlic and red onions.
But what caught my eye were bunches of small, tender, green and purple artichokes twined together; their relative in the thistle family, the cardoon, was stacked nearby.
There are now many growers’ and farmers’ markets in the city and regional centres. For us city folk especially, they provide a direct link to the land that’s missing in a supermarket.
Bells at Killcare is participating in Bread for Good, a Herald and UNICEF initiative where diners donate $2 for their bread when they eat at restaurants. See breadforgood.com.au.
BRAISED ARTICHOKES WITH ONIONS, OLIVES AND CAPERS
Place lemon juice in a large bowl two-thirds filled with cold water. Cut top third off each artichoke head with a sharp knife. Peel off tougher, darker leaves. Cut stalk, leaving about 5cm attached to head. Slice off any leaves attached to stem, then cut artichokes in half from top to bottom. Place in lemon water for at least 10 minutes. When ready to cook, remove artichokes from water and pat dry. Press a pinch of salt into each head on the flat face. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a wide pan and lightly fry artichokes, face down, until well browned. Remove to a tray. Add 1 tbsp oil to pan and lightly fry onions, garlic and chilli until soft. Add artichokes, face down, thyme and wine, then bring to a low simmer. Add olives and capers. Simmer for 10 minutes, then flip artichokes. Continue simmering until wine has almost completely evaporated. Season to taste and place on serving plates. Drizzle with remaining oil.
Serves 4 as a first course or more as antipasto
Wine: Ice-cold dry rosé´
ARTICHOKE AND PECORINO FLAN
Prepare artichoke as per previous recipe but slice thinly before putting into lemon water. Drain and pat dry. Heat olive oil and lightly fry artichoke with garlic and onion. Cool in a tray and add pecorino, nutmeg, bechamel and eggs. Season and mix together well. Prepare souffle moulds greased with butter and dusted with breadcrumbs. Put mix in moulds and cook in a water bath at 180C for about 15 mins. Remove and cool slightly before serving with salad.
Serves 6 as a first course
Wine: Italian or Australian vermentino