On Saturday morning at 7.18am, I was woken by the beep-beep of a text message. It was my friend, U.
The message read: “Come to abbotsford market! Me on the cake stand.”
U. was dressed in a little gingham apron and working at the store of her friend, who makes the ‘Frank, Food & Me’ cakes.
We bought a little rhubarb cake and a chai cake, which was sprinkled with pistachio pieces. Delicious!
We also bought some d’Agen prunes from Murray Valley Prunes, which are grown in Cobram. I’m unsure what we will do with these. Probably just eat them, though I can imagine them in a little tart or dessert of some description.
There was some Australian garlic at a few stores, which we snapped up. It isn’t quite as dried out as it should be yet but I have been using it regardless. The store-owner suggested putting the bulb and stalk in a food processor with olive oil and pine nuts and turning it into a spread for toast.
At the Glenora Heritage Produce store, we bought some little elongated radishes with a white foot, and some nettles. We bought some spinach elsewhere.
In December’s Gourmet Traveller, it says that this variety of radish is called the ‘French Breakfast’. I’m rather partial to radishes and this morning I had them sliced on toast with a fried egg, a handful of wilted spinach and a little garlic.
I bought the nettles because I’ve never used them before, and I remember having the nettle butter with John Dory at Cutler on my birthday.
The store-holders gave me a piece of paper with some recipes for using the nettles. It suggested Nettle Soup, Nettle Carbonara, and Nettle Risotto. I was feeling a little lazy so I decided to downgrade the Carbonara to my own version of ‘Nettle, Aglio e Olio Spaghetti’. (For Lethlean’s traditional version and related musings, see here.)
I firstly blanched the leaves and tender tips of the nettles in salty water to remove the stings – quite important, I imagine.
I fried up some garlic in olive oil with anchovies and a finely diced long red chilli. I added this to cooked, drained spaghetti and stirred through the nettles. I sprinkled this with parmesan and pepper.
This is usually one of my favourite dishes when I make it with flat leaf parsley rather than nettles. I think that the garlic, anchovies and chilli overpowered the subtle flavour of the nettles in this instance. They ended up tasting a bit like waterlogged thawed frozen spinach. Nevermind, you live and learn. Next time, I think nettle soup would be the best bet.