Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

The silverbeet is bolting in the garden (so is the lettuce you will notice). 


It must be time to stop picking all the outer leaves, harvest the whole plant and make spanakopita.


I picked most of the plant on the right (between the alyssum and the broad beans), and a couple of spindly ones from a container out the back.


Enough to fill a LARGE bowl or basket.


It took me several trips to set all the drowning ladybirds (and one earwig) free when I was washing and trimming the picked silverbeet. There was one caterpillar too - but he went in the chook food bucket.


Cook some rice - you only need about half a cup of cooked rice. I used organic medium grain (and made plenty for the inevitable moment when our six year old announces she doesn't like spinach pie and could she just have rice and soya sauce instead please...). Slightly undercooked is good so it will absorb any spare juice in the spanakopita.


Toast some pine nuts. They're expensive (hand gathered from pine trees often), and not local (they could be grown in Victoria and Tasmania - someone should get onto this!!), but I love them. Still a very cheap meal all up though.


Take some eggs out of the fridge to get to room temperature. Take your fillo out of the freezer (make sure it's nice and thawed before you try to use it - I had mine out for about three hours, just sitting in the packet on the bench before I started - the pastry works much better if it's thawed slowly and thoroughly)


Grab a lemon, an onion, some garlic. Sautee the finely chopped onion and some garlic in olive oil until soft.



Add the chopped silverbeet and heat, stirring, until just soft and still very green. The silverbeet filled this pot completely - look how far it shrinks down!

Drain all of the juice (and oil) out of the pan until there is no liquid visible at the bottom of the pan. 



Get the other stuff together. This is:

- goat's cheese fetta (200g - you could use more - up to 400g maybe. NB more expensive cheese is smoother, sweeter, less smelly, less sour, more delicious, worth getting)

- grated parmesan (about 150g - could have used up to 300g probably)

- grated vintage cheese (about 150g) - just because I didn't have as much parmesan as I thought in the fridge, but I did have some of this...

- two pekin bantam eggs, a duck egg, and a hen's egg (from our chooks and our neighbours' birds) - equivalent to about three eggs

- a good glob of mustard

- a good glug of olive oil

- salt and pepper

- the pine nuts

- about half to three quarters of a cup of slightly undercooked rice

- some chopped capers

- a glug of cream, because I had some that needed using (i.e. it's optional)

- grated zest of about one third of a lemon


My dill is too small to use yet (I must get round to transplanting those leeks).


So I used dried dill leaf tips, and some grated nutmeg.


Get some more of your nice olive oil...


...and grease a big baking dish.

I've made my own puff pastry before, but the thought of making my own fillo scares me silly! ;)

Use five sheets on the bottom, brushing every second sheet with melted butter - use UNSALTED (cultured) butter for this, it makes a big difference, it's much nicer.


Here's the recipe on the packet - I take it very loosely as you can see...


The thing about cooking from the garden is that I cook what I have, not what the recipe asks me to get - it's a very different starting point. So I have learnt to cook by approximate proportions, and feasible substitutions. The idea of identifying a recipe, going to the shop to buy the ingredients and then cooking them is very foreign to me. All those years in student share houses were a great help - every evening was like the 'mystery box challenge' in MasterChef - your challenge: make a meal out of whatever random items happen to be in the fridge and the cupboard ;P

Mix all the filling up, and fill up the pie.

Use five sheets on top, brushing melted butter on each sheet.

Sprinkle with something on top - I used nigella seeds and coarsely ground rock salt. Sesame seeds are nice too.


I baked it at 200 degrees (not 180 like it says on the packet) for about 30 minutes. Note that the silverbeet was still very warm and all the eggs/ pastry etc were room temperature.

It's a little bit oozy if you cut it straight away (you're meant to wait ten minutes).
But it cools down very nicely. It's delicious cold or hot.
Our six year old eats the pastry then requests rice and soya sauce... ;P
But our nine year old says it's delicious and so do we! :D

We're enjoying it here with our homemade elderflower cordial. Excuse the kids watching TV - we never usually do this, but it was the MasterChef Junior grand final (we've been watching Horrible Histories, and the kids discovered it was on and requested we watch the last week of it - we rather enjoyed it too. The way those young kids cook is AMAZING!!!)
And it's one of those things that's even better the next day :D

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Mmmmmmm! If you've other Silverbeet left it freezes without blanching. Just wash, trim and package it in whatever-sized packets meets your needs. I don't blanch anything anymore before freezing since I can never get enough ice to quickly quench and everything ends up rubbery. No blanching, no rubbery beans or whatever. And Tomatoes done this way just peel so easily when thawed that there's no need to peel them first, just take out the core before freezing.

I have silverbeet coming out of my ears - I'll give it a go :)


Wow, silverbeet bolting .... I'd keep the seeds and try to localise!  Mine always dies before then :(

I had silverbeet that went to seed in Brisbane as well - usually around now. I had some that lasted most of the summer as well, in a miserable kind of way, but it usually succumbed to a stem rot in late summer (when we would often be away as well - maybe it was drying out when I wasn't there and getting stressed? so I don't know if it's possible to keep it over the summer or not) and I had to start again in March.

The soil round your way is very low on organic matter. Have you tried adding charcoal? It might really help. 


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