Oriental Eggplant

These pretty lavender-coloured eggplants look like long fat fingers, a shape which makes them super easy to prepare. There are actually many varieties of long eggplant from the Orient, so you might spot some with a mottled skin, some pale lilac and some a richer purple.  Their skin is often thinner than the better-known, darker-skinned eggplant, which means they’re great for stir-frying, sauteing and other … Continue reading Oriental Eggplant

Holy Basil

Three types of basil are used in Thai cuisine: sweet, anise flavoured, purple-flowered horapa (which we call Thai basil); maenglak – lemon flavoured and least commonly used, and kaprao – holy basil, the type most dear to Thai people. Last spring I found Holy Basil seedlings for sale at the Avondale Markets  (look for the Thai family selling herb seedlings and bromeliads, at the beginning … Continue reading Holy Basil

Best in Season: Lebanese Cucumbers

There’s something alluring about miniature incarnations of vegetables – Brussels sprouts, baby carrots, turnips and beetroot, and cute, summery little Lebanese cucumbers. It’s not just that these smaller cucumbers are fairer of face; they also tend to be sweeter, crunchier and less prone to bitterness.With over 90 per cent water content (they were traditionally used in Europe to quench thirst) cucumbers make a refreshing bite … Continue reading Best in Season: Lebanese Cucumbers

Crispy-Soft Tofu on Buckwheat Soba

    So here’s something easy to do with those garlic scapes I was raving about. Another thing, I’ve realised they’re a lot easier to come by than I thought, and I’ve eaten them often in the past without knowing exactly what they were, having bought them at Asian supermarkets (Tai Ping, Silver Bell and the like). There they’re called garlic shoots and are sold … Continue reading Crispy-Soft Tofu on Buckwheat Soba

Garlic Scapes

Here’s a little bunch of cuteness I bought at Huckleberry Farms organic store yesterday. They’d labelled them ‘garlic shoots’, but I think the term garlic scapes is more commonly used for these – the long, curling shoots that grow up form a garlic bulb to form a flower bud. Most growers will lop garlic scapes off in early summer, to channel the plant’s energy back … Continue reading Garlic Scapes


Nasturtium plants are easy to grow, invasive even, and are found in many a back yard without anybody recalling having planted them. The rounded leaves and bright-hued blooms are strikingly pretty, and can both be used in the kitchen, possessing a snappy peppery bite similar to radish. When using whole flowers, you may either pluck the petals or use whole, but do remove the centre … Continue reading Nasturtium

Corn Salad

This small salad leaf is also known as (here we go): lamb’s lettuce, lamb’s tongue, field lettuce, mâche, rapunzel and nussli or nut lettuce. So many names for such a little leaf! It was traditionally a foraged green and first became cultivated in France by Louis IV’s gardener. It grows wild in many parts of Europe and North America and gained the name corn salad … Continue reading Corn Salad

Best In Season – Grapefruit

*Best In Season is a new category where I’ll take a look at something in season, and why you should eat it. This week’s offering is the humble, ever-generous grapefruit. Zebras, monkeys and grapefruit were among the things Sir George Grey, then governor of New Zealand, introduced to our shores in the mid 1800s. This citrus variety grew well here and crops were abundant, leading … Continue reading Best In Season – Grapefruit