Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


World turns; sun comes into back yard.

The sun crept across the pale painted wall of the shed in the back garden at 7am for the first time since autumn. It couldn’t reach the wall that early during winter, being lower in the sky. Now we get an extra burst of reflected light in the south-facing kitchen.

The warmth is welcome. Even the creatures think so. Last night I saw the season’s first huntsman, crawling along the side fence. It’s less than a fortnight ago that I passed, while walking home through Yarra Park on a bitterly cold Melbourne night, someone walking one of those snow dogs that has those piercing pale blue irises. Nothing unusual about that? The dog was wearing a coat.

Spring warmth comes in on the arms of a vicious spring wind. Everything is covered in blossom. It would have been nice to see it sit on the trees a bit longer. Seems to have lasted only days.

And the work begins. I pulled out ten metres of rocket and wondered whether we’ll ever plant it again. Put it in pesto; make salad; that’s it. Then it runs to seed. Mustard greens are better and so is silver beet. Both hold their foliage well, don’t quickly run to seed, and are reasonably snail-resistant. They are also handy ingredients in a range of dishes that work well in stews, and with spices. Silver beet disappears into pasta sauces, mustard greens make delicious curry with paneer and tumeric, and most greens pair well with pastry and cheese.

Mustard greens and ricotta parcels.

Chop an onion finely and cook it gently in olive oil in a heavy deep pan. Add a scored clove of garlic and fill the pan with washed, roughly chopped mustard greens and silver beet with the water that clings to them.

Cook gently until they wilt. Stir to coat in the oil. Cook for a few more minutes, let cool slightly and squeeze out excess fluid. Now fold in a tub of fresh ricotta and an egg. Add salt and pepper and a few flecks of dried chili. Cook until the egg is just set.

Lay out a sheet - or sheets if using filo - of pastry, place mixture in middle, fold up corners to make a bundle. Brush oil over pastry, shake sesame seeds over and bake in an oiled dish or on a tray twenty minutes to half an hour.

Hot or cold, they're delicious.

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