The silverbeet solution

We have lots of silverbeet and rainbow chard in our garden. It’s about the only thing we grew this winter, and I kind of forgot about using it until suddenly there was so much I was a bit overwhelmed by it!

I had in mind some kind of silverbeet tart or pie, so I went looking through my recipes books. Have you tried Eat Your Books? It’s the perfect solution for someone like me, with an embarrassingly large collection of cookbooks! It’s an online recipe index with not only the recipes indexed but the ingredients in each recipe too—you add all your recipe books, magazines, even blogs, to your library and then when you are looking for a recipe, you type in the ingredients or type of recipe you’re looking for and it tells you what recipes are in what books, and a list of ingredients required! It’s fantastic!!

In the end, though, I didn’t find quite what I was looking for, so I made it up as I went along. My recipe is loosely based on this recipe, but I have changed it a fair bit, most noticeably by adding lamb! I also added a spice blend from a local middle eastern supermarket. It’s a Lebanese blend of allspice, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, fennel, anise, nutmeg, mahlep and galangal, known as Seven Spices (I know, I know, there are 10!), and it just gave the pie filling a subtle boost of flavour without overwhelming it.

It ended up being a perfect meal, served with a green salad to add some crunch. And I think it would be just as nice with chicken instead of lamb.

Lamb and Silverbeet Parcels

Serves 6

2 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
500g lamb mince
1 large bunch of silverbeet or rainbow chard
300g ricotta cheese
100g feta cheese, crumbled
grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp Seven Spices blend or a similar middle eastern spice blend
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
6 sheets of puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten with a splash of water for the pastry wash

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Cut the silverbeet/chard leaves away from the stems. Slice the leaves into ribbons and finely chop the stems.

Fry the onion and garlic gently in about 1 Tbs olive oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until soft and golden.

Add the mince and silverbeet stems and fry until the meat browns. Then add the silverbeet leaves handful by handful, allowing it to wilt between each addition.

Stir through the cheeses and the spice blend, then season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Finally stir the beaten egg through and allow to cool slightly.

Divide the mixture into 6 portions and place each portion in the middle of a square of puff pastry. Fold the corners over each parcel to fully enclose and brush with the egg wash.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Serve immediately.


1. Filo pastry could be used instead of puff pastry. In that case, brush with olive oil or melted butter instead of the egg wash.


Roast chicken with a twist

I’ve been in a bit of a food rut recently. We’ve been busy busy busy and while I’ve been doing a lot of cooking, it hasn’t been super exciting.

But I came across this Neil Perry recipe in the weekend paper yesterday and something about it just appealed to me. I love Asian flavours, and I love roast chicken, so the idea of marrying the two together is just inspired! It’s really easy to put together and tastes fantastic.

Neil Perry suggests serving it with steamed Asian greens. We ate it with homemade fried rice, steamed asparagus and green beans and just picked silverbeet and rainbow chard, sauteed and wilted with garlic and seasoned with a splash of soy sauce and a drizzle of sesame oil.

Lemongrass and Ginger Roast Chicken

Adapted from a recipe by Neil Perry, published in The Age, 20 October 2012.

Serves 4-6

2 stalks lemongrass, white part only, finely sliced
1 Tbs grated ginger
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 eschalots, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 Tbs fish sauce
1/2 tsp caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, diced and softened to room temperature
1.5 kg free range chicken
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
sesame oil 

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Using a small food processor, chop the lemongrass, ginger, garlic and eschallots until very fine. Add the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar and blend to a paste. Using a fork, mix through the softened butter.

Gently loosen the skin of the chicken over the breast and legs and push the butter under the skin. Place chicken breast side up in a baking dish. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 1 hour or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced.

Rest for 10 minutes before cutting into pieces. Drizzle with sesame oil just before serving.


Mismatched Art Bead Earring Swap and Blog Hop

Diana Ptazsynksi from Suburban Girl Studio regularly hosts earring swaps on her blog, where jewellery designers are paired up and asked to create a pair of earrings for their partners. Her latest version is the Mismatched Art Bead Earring Swap, which reveals today. Although Diana restricts her swaps to bloggers in the USA and UK due to the potential for postal delays, she kindly let a couple of us Aussies join in an unofficial swap on the side! So fellow beader and blogger Karen Mitchell, from Over the Moon Design, and I have partnered up to swap earrings.

The rules are that art beads must be used in each earring, and the earrings shouldn’t match, although they should go together, if you know what I mean!

This is what Karen sent me. Aren’t they gorgeous??

The lampwork daisy bead and the two lampwork spacer beads are from Journey Beads. They are such a bright and cheerful pair of earrings, and I’m going to enjoy wearing them very much indeed!

This is what I sent Karen. I used a pair of lampwork beads from Tania Tebbit at Tanglebeads , threaded onto 3 colours of waxed linen cord, with tiny Czech beads in coordinating colours knotted onto the ends. The lampwork beads are topped with a Czech bead in aqua and sand, and Trinity Brass antique silver-plated earring hooks.

You can find the rest of the participants in the Mismatched Art Bead Earring Swap Hop here:

Diana Ptaszynski

Lisa Liddy

Kari Asbury

Jayne Capps

Rebecca Anderson

Lesley Watt

Lori Bowring Michaud

Renetha Stanziano

Holly Westfall

Theresa Fosdick

Ali McCarthy

Shai Williams

Iveth Caruso

Carolyn Collins

Elaine Ray

Kristen Stevens

Charlene Jacka

Jan Onipenco

Stephanie Woods

Eleanor Burian-Mohr

Shelby Foxwell

Pam Sears

Mary Harding

Lisa Johnson

Kashmira Patel

Penny Neville

Dee Elgie

Sarah Small

Carolyn Lawson

Karin Slaton

Ashleigh Becker

Kay Hand

Rana L. Wilson

Sandra McGriff

Dawn Pierro

Shelley Graham Turner

Karen Mitchell

Melissa Trudinger YOU ARE HERE!


The Waterlily Maiden necklace — The History Hop

I couldn’t resist joining in Leah Curtis’s History Hop, which reveals today! Leah picked 14 periods from history to inspire jewellery design, and I have to say, it was hard to choose! In the end, I went with Art Nouveau, the artistic and architectural movement that flourished as the 19th century passed into the 20th.

Art Nouveau got its start in France in the last couple of decades of the 19th century, during a period of growth and prosperity later named “La Belle Époque” by the French. It was both a philosophy and a movement of art, architecture, and decorative arts that was characterised by the use of flowing organic forms drawing inspiration from nature, fantasy and the female form. Artists associated with Art Nouveau include the Czech artist Alphonse Maria Mucha, whose poster of opera singer Sarah Bernhardt epitomises the graphic design of the period;

photo credit: grumlinas via photopin cc

architect Hector Guimard who designed the Paris Metro entrances;

photo credit: stevecadman via photopin cc

and Emile Gallé, who created carved and etched glass from his factory in the French town of Nancy. Other artists and architects strongly influenced by Art Nouveau include Gustav Klimt, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, René Lalique, Antoni Gaudí and Louis Comfort Tiffany (source: Wikipedia).

Typically, Art Nouveau jewellery used motifs from nature such as dragonflies and waterlilies. There was a strong Japanese influence, especially in Lalique’s work.The stones tended to be more natural, semi-precious gems including opals as well as organically shaped pearls, rather than precious gems like diamonds and rubies. Silver and gold were popular metals, which surprised me a bit as many of theArt Nouveau stampings available these days from companies such as Vintaj and Trinity are brass. Brooches were very popular, such as the eponymous Lalique dragonfly, and many necklaces were relatively simple — a decorative pendant on a fine chain.

Dragonfly Woman Corsage Ornament
by Rene Laliquephoto credit: sprklg via photopin cc 

One of the characteristics of Art Nouveau jewellery was the use of enamel. Several different enamel techniques were popular including cloisonné, champlevé and plique à jour. In my design I have paid tribute to these techniques by highlighting some of the details with Vintaj patina inks on the brass stamping I used as my focal pendant.

The necklace I made is called The Waterlily Maiden, for the brass stamping focal pendant. I used Vintaj patinas in Ruby and Opalite mixed with a bit of the glaze extender to thin it to give the waterlilies some colour, and a blend of Jade and Moss patinas for the leaves. The maiden was left uncoloured and a wash of diluted cobalt across the background hints at water. A coat of glaze over the top has given it a subtle sheen. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out — the flowers could be a little neater but it’s a pretty good first attempt. The stamping itself came from the Vintaj Salvage Etsy shop, which is a destash shop for the Vintaj company, and is full of fabulous treasures.

Rather than just stringing the pendant on a plain chain, I attached it to another stamping, and then linked it to brass peanut chain interspersed with faceted nuggets of very pale, almost colourless, translucent amethyst, green fluorite and rose quartz, with a small Art Nouveau-style connector between two of the green fluorite stones.

Please take some time to visit the other participants of the History Hop!

Ahowin – Art Nouveau
Alicia Marinache – Victorian
Becca’s Place – Renaissance
Beti Horvath – Ancient Egypt and Art Deco
Cherry Obsidia – Ancient Mecynae Greece
Jennifer Davies-Reazor – Medieval
Kathleen Douglas – Indus Valley
Kashmira Patel – Etruscan
Lady Grey – Victorian
Laney Mead – Pre-Columbian
Leah Curtis – Ancient Roman
LiliKrist – Persia
Melissa – Mesopotamian
>>Melissa Trudinger – Art Nouveau ME!!!!<<
Micheladas Musings – Ancient Romans
Sandra Wollberg – Art Nouveau
Sharyl McMillian-Nelson – Art Deco
Tracy Stillman – Victorian
And make sure you come back on Tuesday for the Mismatched Art Bead Earring Swap!