Collector is a small village just off the Federal Highway between Goulburn and Canberra. It is home to some great friends of ours and the kids and I have just returned from a gorgeous weekend there (Tim was in Melbourne for a certain football match). James and Kate McKay live in the heart of this village and are a central part in its fabric. Co-founders of the now enormous Collector Pumpkin Festival, Kate also runs Lynwood Preserves, and writes a regular cooking column for the Canberra Times‘ food and wine section.
Kate is one of the best, most natural cooks I’ve ever met and it was just fantastic to hang out in her kitchen and cook and eat together. Particularly when we had such fantastic produce on hand; most of it thanks to our Saturday morning trip to the nearby Capital Region Farmers Market.
Oh it was nice to visit the markets as a punter not stallholder! Held every Saturday on the outskirts of Canberra (Sydney side), this market brings an enormous range of produce together under one roof. We filled our bags with everything from local kiwi fruit to locally grown flowers, bread, apples, bright green new season olive oil, cheese, a thumb-sized piece of freshly un-earthed truffle (all we could afford), stunning coral-coloured mushrooms and organic short-grain rice.
1 brown onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups semi-brown Koshihikari rice (Randall Organic Rice) or arborio rice
3/4 white wine
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups roughly chopped mixed mushrooms
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 small black truffle, very thinly sliced or shaved (of course optional, but it is truffle season here in NSW and if you feel like splurging, they are such a big treat)
3 tbsp new season olive oil (we used La Barre from Central NSW)
Heat the butter in a heavy-based saucepan on medium. Cook the onions for about five minutes or until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add the rice and cook, stirring for a minute until every grain is coated in the buttery mixture. Pour in the wine and let bubble down then begin to ladle in the stock, one slosh at a time, stirring between each addition until the stock has been absorbed. Keep doing this until the stock is almost all in the risotto, check the rice every now and then, once it is al dente (only slightly crunchy in the middle), remove the saucepan from heat. Very gently stir through the butter, cheese, mushrooms* and half of the truffle). Place the lid on the pan and set aside for 10 minutes. Just before serving, scatter over the remaining truffle and drizzle with the green olive oil. Serve with a green salad and warm bread. Serves 4.
*If your mushrooms are very fresh and quite small, this should be enough to cook them but if you are worried at all, add them in the last ten minutes of cooking instead.
Wholemeal apple and jam cake
250g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 tart cooking apples, chopped into small pieces (unpeeled)