Share in Maggie Beer’s Spring Harvest – and enjoy the bounty through summer »
Maggie’s memories and recipes from spring in the Barossa Valley
By Larna Pittiglio
There is nothing quite so invigorating for someone who loves to cook than the first signs of spring (or any season) in the garden or orchard. The anticipation of harvesting delicious ripe produce is enough to inspire both the imagination and the taste buds.
Taken from her landmark book Maggie’s Harvest, Maggie Beer’s Spring Harvest brings together her favourite recipes and memories of spring produce in the Barossa Valley.
Maggie collates the stories and recipes for each of her favourite ingredients of the season, making it much more than a cookbook. Instead, Maggie provides a showcase of exceptional spring produce from the Barossa region (she also lists producers of the same ingredients in other states), and an insight into her childhood and time at Pheasant Farm Restaurant.
What I enjoyed most were Maggie’s reflections. She shares how some ingredients, like potatoes, parsley and vine leaves, were once not on her list of favourites. In fact, she rarely cooked with them in her early years, but has since learned of varieties and ways to cook them that she now enjoys.
She also shares her stories and methods of cooking wild foraged or unique ingredients like loquats, quandongs and watercress. If I ever have the opportunity to access these I will be sure to revert to Maggie’s recipes and advice on how to prepare them.
We share some favourites like goat’s cheese, snapper, beetroot and asparagus, so I am planning to sample some of her recipes over the warmer months. I love freshly picked asparagus for breakfast with poached, farm fresh eggs and will be pairing it with Maggie’s Verjuice Hollandaise in future.
I also found her advice on some produce very helpful, for example, her tips on how to prepare spring greens like sorrel and Swiss chard.
Recipes include the Santin Family’s Preserved Baby Artichokes; Artichokes and Mushroom Braised in Verjuice and EVOO; Cheong Liew’s Salt Water Duck accompanied by Asparagus; Horseradish-flavoured Pickled Beetroot; Beetroot Sauce for Kangaroo, Pigeon or Hare; Saskia’s Wedding Cake; Almond and Cumquat Tart; Cumquat Sauce, and many more.
I love Maggie’s food philosophy of using only the freshest, seasonal, ethically-raised ingredients, prepared simply, allowing the ingredients to ‘do the talking’. However given that the season for many of these ingredients extends into summer, this book has great utility beyond the end of spring.
Although access can sometimes be an issue, Maggie reminds us of the importance of the decisions we make when purchasing food. She describes herself as a ‘country cook’ who cooks from the heart, and she loves to inspire others to feel confident to explore their own instinct and personal taste. I believe she has achieved this with Maggie Beer’s Spring Harvest.
In any case, the Barossa region is back on my list for a visit again sometime soon. But what season might be the best time for such a food adventure? They all have their highlights, as Spring Harvest amply shows.
Maggie Beers’ Spring Harvest is published by Penguin Books (Imprint Lantern, NSW, Apr 2016; PB, 153 pages) and retails in Australia for A$29.99. It is available at good bookstores.
There are four books in the series, one for each season.
You can also purchase Maggie’s Harvest online via Booko here »
Larna Pittiglio is a former ‘city girl’ now living on a large farm in the Midlands of Tasmania. As a mother of 6, (5 of whom are now adults living their lives elsewhere) she has long been passionate about cooking and understanding where our food comes from. These days she spends her time studying Alternative Agriculture while tending to their farm animals and developing a self-sufficient vegetable garden.
Larna also runs a small catering business called Mulberry Pie Catering servicing the Midlands specialising in home-style country cooking served as you would serve it at your family table. She dabbles in food writing, recipe development and social media marketing for local producers and is developing her own food and lifestyle blogs.
Larna also volunteers her time to support the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance to pave the way for a fair, diverse and democratic food system for the benefit of all Australians. (http://www.australianfoodsovereigntyalliance.org)
- Barossa Valley (SA)
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