Brassicas in winter...

It has been a strange winter, we have had little rain, hot and sunny days and now very cold nights. The vegies and plants are as confused as we are- My fennel is in flower again, the borage is blooming much earlier than usual and the rocket is in flower and going to seed. Luckily the kale and snow peas are thriving and continue to produce enough to harvest.

I have enjoyed my first harvest of fennel and there are four more bulbs that are fattening up. It was such a pleasure to pick my own and we enjoyed the freshly picked fennel gently braised in white wine and olive oil, it was tender and sweet with charred brown edges, that we had on freshly baked and grilled sour dough bread and sprinkled over with lots of grated parmesan. I couldn’t bear to throw out the fennel fronds which I normally only use as a garnish – but looking at it I decided to pick the best and after washing and spinning dry the fronds, I made a pesto. It was fresh and green and sweet, whizzed up with olive oil, garlic, pepper and pine nuts – we loved it stirred through pasta and also heaped on fresh salmon with buttered new potatoes.

The markets are stocked with great brassicas: Cabbage, Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and Broccoli. I love them all and recently have been making Cauliflower soups as well as using the florets to make a mock pizza crust. We love it and use a variety of toppings – fresh salmon, proscuitto or chorizo or just vegetarian. So many delicious possibilities for experimenting.

I have also loved illustrating them – not easy, especially the cauliflower and after 3 failed attempts I am finally pleased with the result. Brussels sprouts were as challenging, but both were great to cook with and eat later.

So the winter garden continues to flourish, next for harvesting is sorrel, and the parsley is growing thick again. My broad bean seedlings are starting to flower and I can’t wait to pick their fat pods again. The leaves too are a lovely addition to stir fries.

Check out the 2 cauliflower recipes: a curry and a pizza crust, [pictured above] very different but both delicious.