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Rhubarb and strawberry coppi.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - 7
pring is nature’s way of saying, “Let ’s
party!” — Robin Williams
Spring heralds the first of the
strawberries and asparagus; rhubarb
shoots healthy red stalks and it is
the official start to the whitebait season.
All are excellent reasons to celebrate.
Considered a delicacy (and a luxury), New Zealand
whitebait are the young of five different native
fish measuring four-and-a-half to five-and-a -half
centimetres long and are caught during spring in
tidal river estuaries as the fish move upstream from
They are not related to the European whitebait
which are small herrings.
Rhubarb is available all year round, however in
spring it flourishes. Rhubarb’s medicinal uses were
first recorded in China in 2700BC. Marco Polo, who
knew all about the Chinese rhizome rhubarb, talked
about it at length.
In Italy — in 1608 — rhubarb was first planted for
curative purposes and it was not until 1778 that is
was used as a food — as a filling for tarts and pies.
The inner part of the rhubarb stalk cooks very
quickly — the tougher outer stalk takes longer. It
pays to strip or string any tough stalks so they cook
Rhubarb is often sold with its leaves attached as
they help prevent the stalks wilting. However, the
leaves should be discarded as they contain toxic
amounts of oxalic acid.
Asparagus was first cultivated about 2500 years ago
in Greece and also played a key role in traditional
folk medicine. It has since been used as a tonic and
a sedative and also as a treatment for neuritis and
Freshly picked asparagus has the best flavour. Buds
opening on the stalk signal that the spear was picked
too late and could be tough. Conversely, if the white
ends extend too far up the stem, then the asparagus
has been picked too early. I like to store asparagus
wrapped in wet paper towels in the refrigerator.
To prepare it for cooking, first remove any tough
white ends. Bend each spear until it breaks at a
natural point. Remove any tough scales with a
vegetable peeler. Boil in salted water in a frying pan
or tie in bundles and steam.
A few years ago strawberries were a summer fruit.
Now New Zealand hydroponically-grown, sweet
luscious strawberries hit the markets in spring. A
Rhubarb and strawberr y coppi
A coppi is a rustic, free-form, Italian-style pie. To
ensure the butter is cold, pop it in the freezer for 15
minutes before using.
11⁄4 cups plain flour
1⁄4 cup ground almonds
1 tablespoon sugar
125g very cold butter
3 tablespoons icy water
400g strawberries, hulled and sliced
4 cups 3cm rhubarb pieces, about 400g
4 tablespoons sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
3-4 tablespoons sugar extra for sprinkling
1 tablespoon butter, diced
Combine the flour, ground almonds, sugar and salt
in the bowl of a food processor. Quickly pulse to
Cut the butter into 2cm pieces. Drop pieces into
the food processor. Pulse in short bursts, until the
mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Add the icy water all at once. Pulse until clumps
start to form. If it looks a little dry, add a little more
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and gather
into a ball. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap
and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
To bake the coppi, first preheat the oven to
220degC. Remove the dough from the refrigerator.
Combine the strawberries and rhubarb in a bowl.
Toss together with the sugar. Stir gently until the
On a lightly floured sheet of baking paper, roll the
dough into a round about 33cm in diameter. Pinch
any rough edges together.
Pile the filling onto the centre of the pastry to
within 5cm of the edge. Fold the edges of the pastry
up and over the fruit, squeezing together any gaps
Brush the pastry with the beaten egg. Sprinkle
generously with the extra sugar. Place a few dots of
butter on top of the exposed fruit filling.
Carefully slide the baking paper (with the coppi
on it) onto a baking tray. Bake for about 30 minutes,
until the juices inside the crust are bubbling and the
crust is browned.
Cool for about 15 minutes then transfer to a wire
rack to cool. Great ser ved with custard or whipped
cream. Ser ves 6.
strawberr y toppo
The tangelo is another
spring treat — a hybrid
of two different types of
grapefruit grafted to a tangerine.
1⁄2 cup tangelo juice
2 tablespoons each: sugar, orange liqueur
2 cups small strawberries
Heat the tangelo juice, sugar and liqueur in a
saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove from the heat and add the strawberries.
Mix carefully. Cover and stand for at least 1 hour.
Just before ser ving, cook on low heat until the
strawberries start to soften. Spoon over ice cream,
cheesecakes or plain cake. Ser ves 4.
Classic whitebait omelette
A great West Coast tradition.
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons cold water
salt and white pepper to taste
Place the eggs, water and seasonings in a bowl and
whisk with a fork. Melt the butter in a medium-
sized, non-stick frying pan on low heat. Add the egg
mixture and cook on low heat until half set. Slide a
spatula under the edges as it cooks.
While the top is still a little runny, spread the
whitebait over it. Continue to cook until the egg is
almost set. Remove from the heat, cover and stand
for a few minutes. Fold the omelette in half and cut
into 2-4 pieces.Ser ves 2 as a main and 4 as starter.
Asparagus deli bread
If using a silicone loaf pan, brush with oil but it is
not necessary to line it.
250g asparagus spears, trimmed
11⁄2 cups self-raising flour
1 teaspoon each: dried oregano, thyme, basil
100g grated tasty cheese
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
100ml each: milk, olive oil
8 each: sundried tomatoes, pitted black olives,
Preheat the oven to 190degC. Lightly oil a 21cm x
10cm x 6cm loaf pan. Line the base, if preferred. Cut
the asparagus into 5cm lengths. Blanch in boiling
water until crisp-tender. Drain and pat dry.
Combine the flour and herbs in a large bowl. Add
the cheese, reser ving a little for the top.
Combine the eggs, milk and olive oil. Stir into the
flour mixture. Reser ve a little asparagus, sundried
tomatoes and olives for the top. Add the remainder
to the dough mixing carefully.
Spoon into the prepared pan and place the
reser ved asparagus, sundried tomatoes and olives
on top. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake
for about 35 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the
centre comes out clean.
Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn on to a
wire rack to cool completely.
oting time again.
should I bother?
What difference can
You make those decisions every
time you buy a beer or a wine. You
vote for cheap beer every time you
buy a Ranfurly Dozen.You want to
keep the price of beer down.
When you buy a craft beer
— Epic, Tuatara, Emersons,
Harrington, Monteith’s — you are
voting for quality and character,
to hell with the price, and you are
causing the sales of mainstream
beers to slide 3% a year and craft
beers to increase 10%.
It is the same with wine when
you buy nothing over $10 or when
you always buy over $16.
You might vote green and always
try to find an organic beer or
wine. You would be pleased to see
more and more of these on the
shelves these days. You feel that
extra bit of pleasure with every
glass knowing that it is clean and
You might like novelty and risk
and choose a different beer or wine
every time. You bet on the races
according to the jockey ’s colour.
You vote conservative and buy
the same wine or beer every time.
You want reassurance with your
You vote for the feel, the shape,
the design, the colours of the
bottle and the label. You can not
drink something that does not
look good. You look at what the
candidates are wearing.
Perhaps you choose the wines
or beers that have some special
context. Perhaps you have been to
the winery or brewery. You like to
associate people or place to your
purchase. You want that personal
context when you vote. You want
candidates to come to your door.
You ask other people who to
vote for. You belong to a mail-
order wine club and get a dozen of
wines or beers every month — no
Remember to vote with your
dollar. You have the power.
Bolero — Stir with ice 45ml (3
nips) amber rum (light rum, not
white rum), 15ml fruit brandy, Â1⁄2
nip sweet vermouth and strain into
a cocktail glass.
The latest wine fashion is skinny
wine. It ’s like having a skinny latte
where the basic drink is there but
the dangerous part is reduced —
the fats. The dangerous part of
wine is the alcohol and that is
reduced to two-thirds or less in
‘skinny ’ wine.
The wine producers have different
label names for these like ‘light ’ or
‘flight ’ and the alcohol is usually
9%. It is due to become very
fashionable this summer and
wineries are bottling them now
— m ainly Sauvignon Blanc but
also Pinot Gris, Riesling and
The only problem is that they
do not taste as good because they
are picked before the ripe flavours
have developed and they are more
acidic. But fads are fads.
“ Wine makes a man better
pleased with himself; I do not say
it makes him more pleasing to
— Dr Samuel Johnson, 1791
White wine choice
Mount Riley Pinot Gris 2013 — Lovely
fruit flavours of rockmelon and pears that
balance the light acidity and hints of spice.
Very morish and easy to quaff. Drink now
till 2016. Off dry. $17.
Red wine choice
The Clyde Pinot Noir 2012
The light red colour belies the intense
flavours of this Central Otago wine from
the very reputable producer Rockburn.
Cherries and berries will fill your palate
with light acids and tannins to a rich
aftertaste. Drink now till 2015. $17 to $24.
Harringtons Ngahere Gold — Big malty
number, which is perfect in the cooler
months to give you rich caramel mouthfeel
balanced well with savoury hops making a
long aftertaste. 500ml. 7.2%. $6.
Vote with your dollar
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