Still life pumpkins and a recipe to follow

Pumpkin x 6 illustration resizeSo many pumpkin recipes to choose from but in the end I have chosen a type of pangratto that we tested for Gatherings, our cookbook that hasn’t been published yet.  The hill-side garden behind the Carousel studio offers a welcoming home for pumpkins to self-seed and any baby ones that don’t mature and enlarge can be used for home styling.

Good for a vegetarian lunch or to accompany venison sausages.

1kg pumpkin (peeled, seeds removed & cut into large bite-sized pieces)

3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
5 tblsp olive oil
1 mild red chilli (thinly sliced)
1 tblsp fresh rosemary (finely chopped)
Zest of 1/2 orange
Handful fresh parsley (roughly chopped)
4 handfuls fresh white breadcrumbs
40g butter
little more olive oil (for drizzling)

Heat oven to 180 degrees.  Steam pumpkin for about 15-20 minutes until tender. Put chopped garlic into a shallow pan with olive oil and fry over a moderate heat.
Add the chilli to the pan with the rosemary and orange zest.  Add in the parsley and breadcrumbs, stirring until they colour a little.
Put the pumpkin into a shallow baking dish, add salt & pepper and small knobs of butter.
Tip the breadcrumb mixture over the top and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for about 35 minutes until deep golden in colour.

Getting to know your materials

Mother's Day Wreath resizeRachel and I wanted to experiment combining dried and fresh ingredients in this Mother’s Day wreath.  When considering your design,  it’s worthwhile thinking about what the occasion is,  where the wreath will sit (ie. table decoration or hanging on a wall, inside or out) and most importantly how long you want it to last.

Sometimes we’ll weave a flowering vine, perhaps honeysuckle or jasmine,  into a simple wreath for an evening celebration knowing we will only be able to enjoy it for those few hours.  But today we combined fresh materials that we know have a long life out of water (sedum, succulents) or improve with age (hydrangea, eucalyptus) with dried materials (bronze yarrow and bleached gum bark). Sometimes these trials work and sometimes they don’t.  But it’s all about not being afraid to experiment and really getting to know your materials and how they perform.

Fresh materials that last well include magnolia, camellia and pohutukawa foliage, succulents, leucodendron and leucospernum;  generally the woodier the stem, the longer it will last.

Foliage that dries well includes eucalyptus  (apart from fresh green shoots or the very large-leafed variety), stems of bay and buxus. Garden roses, cornflowers and marigolds will dry well if you take time to prepare them carefully.  Remove all leaves from the flower stems first, then air-dry in bunches hanging upside down, trying to avoid individual flower heads touching each other.  Position these rather beautiful hand-tied bouquets in well-ventilated rooms out of direct sunlight.

The last of the season’s hydrangeas


Desperate to preserve the last hydrangeas before bushes are pruned back for winter, I sent a pleading email to friends, neighbours and loyal Carousel fans. So yesterday, secateurs in hand, we visited gardens all around the neighbourhood, gathering the last of the flowers, truly taken aback by the spectrum of shades we discovered – ranging from lime green, sky blue, blush pink to the deepest red and every combination in between! Once home I tied bunches of stems together, hanging these exquisite bouquets upside-down on hooks and curtain poles all over the house! The petals have already started evolving; their texture becoming as fragile as paper, and colours fading into beautifully-muted shades of raspberry pink and antique blue. Drying flowers is such an incredibly therapeutic process and somehow makes them even more precious than when freshly-picked from the garden. My advice is to seek out the largest flower heads you can find (keep eyes open at all times and secateurs always at the ready!) and keep the stems as long as possible when cutting. A few long stems in a tall vase create wonderful drama and have a rather romantic, vintage effect.  Combine antique-blue flowers with sun-dried bronze yarrow for arrangements reminiscent of  the Botticelli palette.

rachel gathering hydrangeas