Friday, 20 July 2018

Apricot Panna Cotta

I love apricots, and I regret very much that they are a bit hard to find and have such a brief season.  When I get my hands on them I dry a bunch, and can some, and gorge on them fresh. And if there are still a few more, then I might make something fancy like this. Actually, this was so very, very good that I'm going to have to move it up the list.

4 to 6 servings
30 minutes prep time
3 hours to overnight to set

Apricot Panna Cotta

Cook & Purée the Apricots:

500 grams (1 generous pound; 12 medium to 18 small) fresh apricots
1 cup water
the finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons rum
1 teaspoon arrowroot

Wash the apricots, split them in half and remove the pit, and put the halves in a pot with the water, lemon zest, rum and arrowroot. Mix in the arrowroot to dissolve it.

Bring up to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir frequently. When the apricots are falling apart, which should take 10 to 15 minutes, remove from the heat and let cool for just a few minutes. Run the mixture through a food processor or blender until very smoothly combined. 

Finish the Panna Cotta:
the juice of 1 small lemon (1/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon powdered gelatine
1 cup hot apricot purée
1 1/2 cups light cream or rich yogurt, or combination

While the apricots are cooking, squeeze the lemon juice and mix in the almond extract. Sprinkle the powdered gelatine over it and let it soak.

When the apricots are puréed, measure out one cup and mix it into the lemon juice and gelatine until the gelatine is completely dissolved - this is why the apricot purée must still be hot. If it is not you should re-heat it until it is steaming hot.

Let the mixture cool for 10 or 15 minutes, then mix in the cream or yogurt. Pour the mixture into a lightly oiled mould. Refrigerate until set, probably 3 hours at least. It's best to make this a day in advance.

Unmould the panna cotta onto a serving plate. The remainder of the puréed apricots should be passed with it as a sauce. 




Last year at this time I made Devillish Egg & Broccoli Salad.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Spicy Ginger-Garlic Cream Sauce

I really wrestled with what to call this. It is not quite the sauce used to make Butter Chicken. I consulted various versions at length, though; and if you cooked chicken in it and called it Butter Chicken it wouldn't be the stupidest thing anyone has ever said. I was aiming for something a little more lightly spiced, but with plenty of verve, and I wanted some vegetables.

If I made this again with chicken - and I very well may - I would use boneless pieces, and mix the yogurt and sour cream into the paste the day before cooking, and let it marinate in the fridge. Then I would melt the butter and scrape the whole mess in to cook. I can see putting this on fish too, but in that case I would cook the fish separately and pour the sauce over it. 

I'm saying this serves 4, because it really should, but 3 of us fell on this like starving jackals and finished with licking the bowl.

4 servings
45 minutes prep time

Spicy Ginger-Garlic Cream Sauce on Beans & Cabbage

Make the Paste:
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated
3 or 4 pods of green cardamom
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or similar)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a few scrapes of nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chick pea flour
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey

Peel and finely grate the ginger and garlic into a small mixing bowl. Crush the cardamom, and extract the papery hulls. Grind the remaining seed and add it to the bowl, along with the rest of the seasonings and the chick pea flour. Mix well.

Mix in the tomato paste, vinegar, and honey until smooth and well-blended.

Cook the Sauce & Vegetables:

500 grams (1 pound) vegetables of choice, about3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup yogurt

Wash, trim, and chop your vegetables in advance; I used yellow beans, cabbage, and an onion. I can also see this with snap peas or cauliflower. Put a pot of water on to boil or steam them, and start them cooking at the appropriate time - it will take about 20 minutes for the sauce to cook.

Melt the butter in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the prepared paste and cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes.

Stir in the sour cream and yogurt, reduce the heat to medium, and continue cooking for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until smooth and thickened. Don't worry if the dairy products look a bit curdled early on; the sauce will smooth out again as it cooks. If the sauce wants to stick to the pan, reduce the heat a little more.

When the sauce is ready and the vegetables are cooked, drain the vegetables very well and toss them with the sauce. Serve at once, with rice or pasta.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Zucchini & Ricotta Phyllo Roll

Okay, here come the zucchini! They seem to be the one thing the heat doesn't slow down, as long as they are watered. 

There is, of course, a distinct resemblance to Spanakopita here. Since zucchini is less robust in flavour than spinach, I paired it with a mild cheese and kept the herbs fairly discreet. It's still a lovely summer dish, and would do well served with a pasta or potato salad.

6 to 8 servings
1 hour 15 minutes- 30 minutes prep time

Zucchini & Ricotta Phyllo Roll

450 grams (1 pound; 3 medium) zucchini
2 medium carrots
1 medium onion
3 tablespoons finely minced parsley
2 tablespoons finely minced mint
1 tablespoon finely mince dill
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil

450 grams (1 pound) ricotta cheese
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon flour
225 grams (1/2 pound) frozen phyllo pastry, thawed
1/4 cup olive oil

Wash, trim, and grate the zucchini. Put them in a strainer, sprinkled generously with salt, and let them drain as you prepare the other vegetables.

Peel and grate the carrots. Peel and chop the onion. Wash, dry, and mince the herbs.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the carrots and onions. Rinse and squeeze the zucchini dry, and add it to the pan. Cook until wilted and somewhat reduced in volume, stirring regularly. Mix in the herbs, then turn the vegetables into a mixing bowl. Let them rest for 15 minutes or so to cool.

When they are cool enough to work with, crumble in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Break in the eggs, add the flour, and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 375°F

Lay one or two sheets of phyllo at a time on a large baking sheet, and brush them with olive oil, until you have a stack of about 3/4 of the phyllo in a neat rectangle. Spoon the cheese and vegetable mixture into a long mound along the middle of the phyllo, parallel to the long sides.

Brush the remaining phyllo sheets with oil, and lay them over the vegetables, aligned with the rest of the sheets of phyllo. Fold the sides in, then fold up the top and bottom long sides; they should overlap slightly. Roll the finished packet over so the seam is on the bottom.

Bake the phyllo roll for 30 minutes, until golden-brown and crisp. Let the roll rest for at least 15 or 20 minutes before serving, or serve just warm or at room temperature.




Last year at this time I made Curried Baked Chicken Thighs.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Chinese Style Chicken Salad

This was a pleasant one-dish meal for another hot, dry day. There is something just very appealing about cold noodles in a zingy sauce. I'm calling for you to poach the chicken, but this would be a great use for leftovers from a purchased rotisserie chicken, which in turn is a good way to keep the heat down in the kitchen. If you can't stand the heat in the kitchen, outsource it!

I picked about 8 little zucchinis the other day so stand by for zucchini action. Beans should be showing up soon too.

4 servings
45 minutes prep time

Chinese Style Chicken Salad

Make the Dressing:
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon 5-spice powder
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
a bit of chile-garlic sauce or other source of heat, as desired

Mix the sugar and 5-spice powder in a small bowl, then add the sesame oil and mix well to a smooth paste. Mix in the soy sauce and vinegars. Add a little chile garlic sauce or chile oil if you would like some.

Make the Salad:
450 grams (1 pound; 4 medium) chicken thighs, poached
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
1 or 2 stalks of celery, finely sliced
2 or 3 green onions
1 medium zucchini
200 grams (1/2 pound, scant) Chinese egg noodles

The chicken needs to be poached in advance; cook it in a covered pot in a small quantity of lightly-salted chicken broth or water. Ten to twelve minutes should do it; then leave it covered in the pot until it is cool enough to store. The chicken should be cold. You could also use other leftover cooked chicken, such as from a roast chicken.

Finely shred the cabbage. Wash, trim and slice the celery and green onions. Wash, trim and cut the zucchini into fairly long, thin, narrow slices (julienne). Put the zucchini in a strainer, and salt well. Leave it to drain in the sink while you cook the noodles.

Put a large pot of lightly salted water on to boil. Cook the noodles according to package instructions; it is a good idea to add an extra minute or two to the time, especially if the package is under the impression that you are going to go on to add these to soup or stir-fry them.

Pour the boiling water from the cooked noodles over the salted zucchini in the strainer, thus blanching them, and dump in the noodles on top to drain. Rinse well in cold water until cool, then drain very well. Put the zucchini and noodles into a large mixing bowl with the other prepared vegetables. (You may wish to save a bit of the green onion to sprinkle over the top.) Toss with about two-thirds of the dressing.

Shred the chicken and toss it with the remaining dressing, then mix it into the salad.





Last year at this time I made Fattoush, and Turkish Style Zucchini in Yogurt Garlic Sauce.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

A Hot, Dry, Midsummer Garden Update


Has it only been one month since I posted a garden update? Apparently! It looks amazingly different. It always does, between early June and early July. It looks pretty good from a distance, and lots of things are doing well. As usual, there are problems too, not least that our total rainfall since then has been 20mm (1"), all of it in one day. Let's take a closer look.


This ought to be an excellent year for watermelons. Somehow, it is not. Mostly because I just could not get the little buggers to germinate in any reasonable quantity. I tried direct planting, and I tried starting them in damp coffee filters in little plastic bags, and between the 2 techniques we ended up with a barely adequate number of plants. Then they struggled to get started in the drought. At last I am starting to see some flowers, but this is not going to be the bumper watermelon year I was hoping for.

Next to them, the herb bed has had a complete melt-down and is an unspeakable weedy mess. I am presently working on it, but it is bad enough that it will take a few days to clean up. It is so dense and so dry it is extremely tedious work. 


Zucchini went in late, but have roared into production. If we can keep them watered, we should be eating ridiculous amounts of zucchini. Cucumber have yet to start but are flowering, and otherwise look good. Melons seem to be doing well.


 It would be impossible to keep things watered without this soaker hose. Mr. Ferdzy or I move it every half hour for several hours each morning and evening, and we seem to be keeping up adequately. The lettuce is long over though, and whatever is left will just go to seed.


Speaking of seeds, the hardy leeks we saved to go to seed are starting to bloom. I am a little surprised to see some signs of Inegol lineage in their characteristics; I had thought they were mostly Verdonnet crossed with Bandit. But apparently not. At any rate I am looking forward to growing them out next spring.

Behind them, the tomatoes look good. I'm starting to think, though, that we will get 2 distinct waves of tomatoes. There are quite a few forming, which look like being our earliest tomatoes ever. But then it looks like there is a gap, and I suspect that very few tomatoes were set at the peak of the heat and drought. Hopefully that will change and some more tomatoes will form now that we are at least having some cooler days interspersed with the really hot ones. 


Peppers and eggplants look good as plants, but again there is very little sign of any fruit being set. They have been flowering a bit more determinedly this week, so hopefully soon. You can see the other watermelons next to them, looking quite sparse. Behind them the squash plan for world domination. Well, looks like they will at least be able to achieve bed domination. 


To the right, potatoes grown from seed this year are almost as big as the potatoes grown from potatoes grown from seed the year before. Behind them, the onions are finely looking adequate, and some are even forming bulbs. On the left, we finally gave in replanted the carrots, which came up promptly and in large quantities. Why does the first planting of carrots never take well? I don't understand it at all. 


You may have noticed a certain amount of mulch in the preceeding pictures. We asked our lawn mower if he could hook us up with some woodchips for mulch, and he called a guy he knows who cuts trees. We got one load delivered. A week after that some dude turned up at the door asking if we wanted to have our driveway paved, on the spot, for $8000. We looked at each other (and another driveway they were doing up the road) and decided we did. So they hauled the mulch off, paved, and hauled the mulch back on. For better or for worse, our drive is paved and I hope never to have to think about it again.

Then the tree-cutting company showed up again, in the middle of our one and only pouring rain, and delivered ANOTHER load of mulch. When I went running out to ask about it, they said "we were told you would take all the mulch you could use." I said, "This IS all the mulch we can use." Well, they didn't charge us any more for the second load of mulch. And guess what Mr. Ferdzy is doing for the rest of the summer. Still, it really helps keep the moisture in place so we are piling it on and very glad to have it.


Cauliflowers look fabulous. Pusa Meghna  has already formed itty-bitty cauliflowers which went to seed and are now ripening. We planted some more in the hopes they will be more in line with other varieties. Goodman is now the next one to be forming some heads. I hope others will do so soon. Behind them, the broccoli is struggling a bit. In the next bed, cabbage and Swiss chard are doing okay, celeriac is okay, and the leeks have just been transplanted for the final time. The can barely be seen in this picture, but they are doing okay. They will need a lot of watering in the next week though. In the third bed, Brussels sprouts are looking good.


One month ago these beans were about 6" tall and untrellised. Now they are reaching for the top, or even coming back down. All them are at least in bud, and some have started to form small beans. We should be picking our first beans within a week, I would say. This is a mixture of tried and true varieties, and some experimental crosses that I am quite excited about.

I haven't said too much about the peas. They are definitely somewhere between slowing down and over. We have gotten a decent crop, but the heat and drought has kept them from being a really good crop.

We are also having a lot of trouble with rabbits eating the garden; peas, beet tops, chick peas, and sweet potato tops are their favourites. They were eating the lettuce but gave up on it about the same time I did. This should be a fabulous year for sweet potatoes, but the tops keep getting munched to the ground so maybe not. Peanuts are flowering - I can see it clearly because all the top leaves have been eaten - so I hope we will have enough for seed, at least. Chick peas I think have been eaten to death, which is too bad as that was 3 years of selection.

All in all, it's an average year in that some things are doing well, and some things are not. On the other hand, it's a strange and difficult year in how very hot and dry it is. I drive around and see how bad the corn and soybeans look; you can expect that to show up at some point as higher meat prices I expect.

How are all you doing out there? Are you dry-dry-dry or are you getting a bit of rain?

Monday, 9 July 2018

Garlic-Dill Cabbage with Peas & Sour Cream

Apart from a bit of extra chopping and mincing, this is not really any more difficult or time consuming than serving a simple boiled vegetable. It seems so much fancier, though! The rest of the meal can be pretty straightforward - some grilled or broiled fish or chicken; some rice or noodles. Potatoes would be lovely but we are still waiting for the first of them to show up. Very soon, I hope!

Stored cabbage with frozen peas are a favourite combination in the winter; they go together even better when both are fresh and summery.

4 servings
20 minutes prep time

Garlic-Dill Cabbage with Peas & Sour Cream

1/4 cup minced garlic scapes
1 cup shelled peas
3 cups finely chopped cabbage
2 teaspoons minced fresh dill
1/4 to 1/3 cup sour cream
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Wash and trim the tops and tough lower stems from the garlic scapes; mince the remainder fine. You will likely need 4 to 8, depending on size. Shell the peas. Wash and chop the cabbage.

Bring about 2 cups of water to a boil in a pot. Add the garlic scapes and cabbage and boil for 2 to 4 minutes, then add the peas and boil for a further 2 to 3 minutes. While they cook, mince the dill.

Drain the vegetables very well - press them gently to ensure they are as dry as possible. Return them to the pot, and stir in the dill. Add the sour cream, and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and transfer to a serving dish.





Last year at this time I made Strawberry Upside Down Cake - so popular it has been made a number of times since.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Cheesy Pea & Pasta Salad

I have to say right up front that this isn't the best pea and pasta salad ever; that would be this one, because everything is better with bacon. However, you can't have bacon with everything, so I will grudgingly admit that this one is pretty good too. It's still quite rich, lack of bacon not withstanding. I see it more as a salad that will do well as part of a menu consisting of a medley of assorted salads, rather than a meal in itself.

I am amazed we have gotten any peas at all, given how hot and dry it has been. We are currently aiming to get up at 6:00am and out, and back in from working in the garden not much later than 10:00am. Anything else rapidly becomes unbearable.

4 to 6 servings
30 minutes prep time

Cheesy Pea & Pasta Salad

Make the Dressing:
150 grams goat cheese (chevre)
the juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup mayonnaise (light is fine)
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

Cream the cheese with the lemon juice, then mix in the mayonnaise. Season with the salt and pepper.

Wash, dry, and finely mince all the herbs. Mix them into the dressing. 

Make the Salad:
150 grams (6 ounces) conchigliette, orzo, or similar pasta
2 cups shelled peas
1 stalk celery

Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta and peas. Cook the pasta for the time listed on the package, plus 1 minutes. Add the peas when there is 3 to 5 minutes left for it to cook. Rinse in cold water and drain them very well.

Wash, trim, and finely chop the celery.

Mix the celery with the pasta and peas, then gently mix in the dressing until evenly distributed. 





Last year at this time I cooked a beef tongue and made Tongue Tacos.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

See Three Peas, Oh

The last few years, Mr. Ferdzy has gotten mildly annoyed at my propensity to want to try new peas every year. They take up room, they may or may not be productive, they are something else to store and keep track of. So I was prepared to not try any new peas this year.

When we were ordering seeds though, he said "let's pick out 3 new peas to try" and I just exercised the smart spouse's ability to keep their tongue under control; I said "sure" and left it to him to pick some. So! Here we are with some new peas and I have not even had to listen to any grumbling. But the peas - how are they doing?

All these peas came from Prairie Garden, which is where we get our favourite Knight peas from.  I never updated that post! Knight peas do very well for a fast early crop that gets something else planted after it, quite possibly an early dry bean. In spite of selecting varieties from the earliest peas, we did not expect any of these others to be as fast, and we have not been disappointed. Only one of them might do for that technique.

Below, Hatif d'Annonay in the front are just about done, while the Early Onward behind them are just getting started (and flopping all over the path). Behind them, in the next bed in the upper right, you can see the last of the Strike peas, which have distinctive, blue-tinted foliage. 

Hatif d'Annonay and Early Onward Peas in the garden

Hatif d'Annonay is the one that might do for succession planting. The plants were impressively loaded with pods, and they are early enough that we could probably use them in the same way as Strike and Knight. On the other hand, both plants and peas seem a bit pale and insubstantial. The pods are small, and don't contain high numbers of peas. Descriptions say 6 to 8 peas; 6 seems much more typical - at best. I'd say their days to maturity was about 65, which is pushing it - 60 is the number we are aiming for if we are following them with beans. It's close though. There are lots of other things that could be planted after them.

Mr. Ferdzy placed a spine of tomato cages down the centre of the pea beds, and they seem to have been helpful in keeping things upright. The Hatif d'Annonay have flopped badly though, and they look like dying down quite quickly. The dying down would be fine, if they are to be pulled and replaced; the flopping is a bit annoying.

Hatif d'Annonay Peas

Given their die-away looks and small pods and peas, I was a bit surprised to realize that they are on track to produce a noticeable amount more peas per square foot than the Strike. I may have planted them more densely, though, and the Strike definitely had some problems with germination so they are not as densely planted as usual. The Hatif d'Annonay are tender and tasty, but care must be taken to not let them get overripe as they will get starchy fast. It's possible their pale and floppy qualities have somewhat to do with how very hot and dry it has been this summer. They might look better in a more pea-friendly year.

They are said to be very cold-hardy - one source said down to -18°C - and I understand that in France they are planted to essentially overwinter, producing peas up to a month earlier than spring-planted peas. The dry (seed) peas are round and yellow, as is common in cold-hardy peas; these contain less sugars than wrinkled green (when dry) peas, which is why you must be so careful not to let them go too long. Even when picked at their peak though, I don't think they are quite the equal in flavour of the other 2 new peas this year.

Early Onward Peas

Early Onward is an oldish English pea, not nearly as early as you would suppose from the name. Most sellers say they reach 2 feet in height, but ours are much taller. Mind you, we planted them around some parsnips left to go to seed so they are competing for space (water, light, etc). I did find a few people saying up to 5 feet in height, so maybe most people are just wrong... it happens! Also, sellers tend to give you the height at which peas start producing but they often go on for a fair bit beyond that. Ours have toppled the tomato cage put in the middle of them to keep them upright, and they are only just starting to have a few ripe peas, while the Hatif d'Annonay are essentially over. So, 70 to 75 days to maturity would be my estimate. Definitely a "second early" rather than an early pea, and I think they may produce for a while which would be one of the reasons they are popular with home gardeners elsewhere.

A few sellers have mentioned that they are good for eating the fresh tips as greens. I have not tried them, but since I have an outbreak of trying to grow peas for "dau miu" (pea greens) every few years, I may save a few seeds to test them out at some point. I would say, from the few I have eaten so far, that these are the best-tasting of the 3 new peas this year. In spite of the heat, they are rich, sweet, and tender. I do wonder if we are getting some poor setting due to the heat and drought.

I can't find much about their history; the date 1908 gets mentioned, and an origin in East Anglia. Beyond that, everyone simply mentions their extreme popularity. And yet, they are very hard to find here in Canada and the only company carrying them at the moment seems to be Prairie Garden.  Again, they are described as having 6 to 8 peas per pod and this year I'd say the figure of 6 is more accurate.

Aristagreen peas

Aristagreen: about the only reference I can find for these says: "Breeder: WECO. Vendor: Ellis. Characteristics: extensive root system under wide range of soil conditions, same maturity as Dark Skin Perfection, very concentrated pod set normally three, three-four, three and three. Resistance: fusarium wilt race 5; tolerance to fusarium wilt race 6. Similar: DST Maturity. 1983." So there you have it. I don't see them being sold anywhere but by Prairie Garden.

These are nice, but perhaps not quite as tasty as the Early Onward.  The peas are a little smaller and more tightly packed, but volume produced seems pretty similar.

Aristagreen peas concentrated at the top of the plant

What the description above means when it say "very concentrated pod set" is that all pods are produced at the top of the plant. I was enticed by the description at Prairie Garden, which says "Most pea varieties are double-podded, i.e. having two pods growing at each node, but this is one of three of our triple- (and occasionally quadruple-) podded cultivars (number of pods growing at each node)." 

True, but the number of nodes at which peas are produced seems smaller than with other, double-podded varieties. Overall, the amount of peas produced per plant is about on a par with most other varieties. 

These also grew quite tall before they started to produce peas; they are probably 4-footers. I suspect they will also turn out to be quite determinate. If properly trellised, that would make them very good for processing (freezing) and pulling. Unfortunately we really don't want to go to the work of trellising our processing peas, and they are just not quick enough for our 2-crop plan, at a good solid 75 days to maturity. Unless these surprise us and produce a fair bit more than I think they are going to, they are probably out of the picture for future growing.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Stir-Fried Zucchini

First zucchini of the season! Purchased, alas - our zucchini went in kind of late. We're seeing signs of some forming, though, which is exciting. This heat is good for something. Oddly enough, our first zucchini look like being yellow ones too.

This was quick, simple, and tasty; words I always like to hear. Best served with some rice or noodles. We ate it with some broiled fish and noodles; any simple protein will do.

2 to 4 servings

Stir-Fried Zucchini

Make the Sauce:
1 to 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
chile-garlic sauce OR dry chile flakes to taste

Mix it all in a small bowl and set aside.

Cook the Zucchini:
1 small onion, with greens if possible
2 medium (500 g, 1 pound) zucchini
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil

Peel the onion and cut it in half, then into slivers. Chop the greens and set aside by themselves, if you have them. Wash and trim the zucchini, and slice them into large bite-sized pieces. Peel and mince the garlic.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, and when it is very hot add the zucchini and onion. Cook stirring frequently, for 4 to 7 minutes, until the zucchini is browning and is nearly cooked to your liking.

Add the garlic and onion greens if possible, and stir them in well; continue cooking for another minute until the garlic is nicely fragrant. Scrape in the sauce, and mix in well. Continue cooking and stirring until the vegetables are well-coated in the sauce and it has been absorbed or clings to the vegetables; just another minute or so. Turn out onto a serving dish and serve at once.




Last year at this time I made Haskap Frozen Yogurt.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Pasta with Sausage & Turnip Greens

I planted some little Goldana turnips about 5 or 6 weeks ago, along with some radishes. The radishes are pretty much over,  but the turnips are just filling out. Also, they needed thinning! I used the thinnings for this dish, and was quite impressed by them. In spite of how hot and dry it has been they were not bitter or tough. If you can't get turnip greens, this would also work with kale.

Like a lot of leafy greens they did have some astringency to them though, so they were well paired with some carbs and nice rich and greasy sausage to mellow them. A very easy meal, too. The range in pasta quantities reflects the amount we used to eat, versus the amount we are eating these days (less). Use whatever amount you think is right for 2 portions.

2 servings
30 minutes prep time



150 to 250 grams (1/3 to 1/2 pound) stubby pasta
1 fresh onion with greens attached
OR 3 or 4 green onions
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
1 bunch turnip greens
300 grams (10 ounces) raw sausage
a teaspoon or 2 of bacon fat, if needed
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. When it boils, cook the pasta for the amount of time suggested on the package or until done to your liking.

Meanwhile, wash, trim, and chop the onion, using both the bulb and the greens. Keep them in separate piles. Peel and mince the garlic. Wash, trim, and coarsely chop the turnip greens. Cut up the sausage into bite sized pieces or remove the casings and crumble it.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and white portion of the onion and cook until lightly browned all over - if the sausage is not fatty you may need to add a small amount of fat to keep things from sticking as they cook. Season with salt and pepper, keeping in mind the relative saltiness of the sausage you are using.

The sausage should go into the pan when the pasta has 10 to 12 minutes to cook. When there are 4 to 6 minutes left, add the garlic and mix in well; let it cook for a minute or so then add the green onion tops and the turnip greens. Mix them in and turn them to wilt and cook them evenly. Add a ladleful or two of cooking water from the pasta

When the pasta is cooked, drain it and toss it with sausage and greens, either in the pasta pot or the skillet, whichever seems more accommodating. Serve at once.




Last year at this time I made Sorrel & Ricotta Bread Pudding. This year my sorrel has gone to seed by now! It's a very different year.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Green Garlic & Pea Bruschetta with Chevre

These little cheesy pea toasts would be lovely with a bowl of soup, or cold cuts, or tuna salad, or a light green salad for lunch. Or if  you are prepared to eat enough of them, just a radish or two on the side. They would also do nicely passed as an appetizer. 

It would be a bit fiddly to prep the peas just to make this - maybe worth it! - but it is an ideal way to use up leftover cooked peas, which is what I did. Prep time does not include cooking the peas. 

I ended up only using the bulbs of my "green" garlic. The hot and dry weather we have had rendered the rest of it so tough and hard as to be unusable, even the just-forming scapes.

4 to 6 servings
20 minutes prep time

Green Garlic & Pea Bruschetta with Chevre

1 cup shelled and cooked peas
20 slices baguette
2 heads of green garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint OR basil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
150 grams (5 ounces) soft goat cheese

If your peas are not already cooked and shelled, then you must do so. They should be tender but not mushy. Mash them lightly.

Slice the baguette and arrange it on a pan to go under the broiler.

Peel the green garlic cloves and mince them finely. Any parts of the scape which are tender may also be finely minced and used. Wash the herbs, drain them well, and mince them.

Heat the butter in a skillet and cook the garlic in it over medium heat, until fragrant and just showing signs of turning brown. Remove it from the the heat. Mix in the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Add the lightly mashed peas. Crumble the cheese and mix it in. Set this aside as you toast the bread.

Light the broiler and toast the bread lightly on both sides. Spread the garlic, pea, and cheese mixture evenly over the slices of toast and return to the broiler. Toast until the topping is well heated through. Serve at once.




Last year at this time I made Haskap Sauce for Broiled Fish or Chicken.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Smoked Trout & Wild Rice Salad with Peas

I  always want to do more with wild rice but it is not the easiest thing to find and when you do find it, the price is also a consideration. I was really pleased with how this turned out though; it is the essence of early summer grounded by the earthy wild rice and smoked fish. This is a dish worthy of a special occasion. Of course, I am firmly of the opinion that lunch on the back deck is a special occasion.

2 to 4 servings
30 minutes prep time, including cooking the peas
but not including cooking the wild rice

Smoked Trout & Wild Rice Salad with Peas

Cook the Wild Rice & Peas:
1 cup wild rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups shelled peas (2 quarts in the pods)
1 1/2 cups snap or snow peas (or combination)

Put the wild rice, salt, and water into a rice cooker; turn on and cook. Or, you can do it on a pot on the stove but it will need much more attention. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to very low and cook, covered, until the rice is tender and the water s absorbed; about 45 minutes. Let cool.

Shell the peas and break off the stem ends of the peas, pulling off any strings along the top and bottom of the peas at the same time. Put a pot of water on to boil, and add the prepared peas and snap/snow peas to it once it boils. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, then drain them at once and plunge into cold water to stop them from cooking any further. When cool, drain well.

Make the Dressing:
the juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl or jam jar, and whisk or shake together.

Finish the Salad:
200 grams (1/2 pound) smoked trout
1/4 cup finely minced fresh chives
1/4 cup finely minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh dill
a few leaves of lettuce for serving

Remove the skin from the trout and discard it, along with any bones. Break the trout into bite-sized pieces and mix it with the cold cooked wild rice and peas. Wash, dry, and mince the herbs and add them. Toss the salad with the dressing, and serve it arranged over a few lettuce leaves.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Haskap Barbecue Sauce on Chicken

Yeah, I know I just did a fruity barbecue sauce. So now I have done another one. And yes, there are definite points of resemblance. Still, there are a fair few points of difference as well, and put on chicken thighs this was a quite different dish.

I will probably try this with some other berries. Blueberries or raspberries strike me as a good idea, although I might use a heavy hand with raspberries and then strain the sauce to get the seeds out. I made this with fresh haskaps but I can see no reason not to make it with frozen ones, which means you could make it all year, providing you freeze your haskaps now.

3 or 4 servings
20 minutes to make sauce
45 minutes to an hour to cook chicken

Haskap Barbecue Sauce on Chicken

Make the Sauce:
1 medium onion OR 4 large shallots
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
1 cup fresh or frozen haskaps
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Peel the onion or shallots and chop it finely. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and cook the onions gently for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until very lightly browned.

Meanwhile, wash and pick over the haskaps. Add them to the onions with the maple syrup, vinegar, ketchup, and spices. Simmer for a further 10 minutes until the haskaps have completely broken down and the sauce has thickened. Stir frequently.

Use at once or transfer to a storage container, cool, cover, and keep refrigerated until needed,

Bake the Chicken:
4 to 8 chicken thighs

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Arrange the chicken thighs in a reasonably snug fitting baking dish. Brush them generously with the sauce. You can also put some under the skin if you like. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the chicken is done.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Haskap Upside Down Cake

This is pretty similar to last years Strawberry Upside Down Cake, and why shouldn't it be? That was a fabulous cake. Since Haskaps are incredibly tart - the American name of Honeyberry is really not accurate - I have upped the amount of sugar mixed in with the fruit. I used 1/3 cup, and thought it was enough, but I can also see some people wanting even more so I have suggested up to 1/2 cup. I also added another egg, to make the cake part a little richer and stand up to the sour topping.

Anyway! This is a very easy cake, as long as you are not the one who has to pick the haskaps. Pretty sure that is half the work right there, and the half that is harder on the back. We are having an absolutely bumper crop of haskaps this year, and I am going a bit cross-eyed picking them all. When I eat a slice of this, though, I think it is definitely well worth while.

8 to 12 servings
1 hour 20 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

Haskap Upside Down Cake


Prepare the Haskaps:
2 cups fresh haskaps
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons arrowroot
1 teaspoon butter

Wash, drain well, and pick over the haskaps. Mix them with the sugar and arrowroot.

Line a 9" square pan with parchment paper and butter the bottom of it. Put in the haskaps and spread them out evenly.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Make the Batter & Bake:
1 1/2 cups soft (pastry) whole wheat flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup mild vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs

Measure the flour and mix the baking powder and salt into it.

Measure the sugar and place in a mixing bowl. Add the oil and vanilla and mix well. Beat in the eggs.

Add the flour and mix until well blended, but no longer. Scrape the batter over the prepared haskaps and smooth it out evenly over them. It will seem like a skimpy amount of batter, but do your best. If you can get it to within half an inch of each edge that will be fine.

Bake the pudding for 50 to 55 minutes, until firm on top to slight pressure, or use a toothpick inserted in the centre to determine that no batter or crumbs stick to it.

Let cool to just warm before turning it out onto a serving plate. Peel off the parchment paper carefully. Serve just warm, or when completely cool.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Radishes with Lime Juice, Chile, & Mint

Well I've given you the title, which is also basically the recipe, if we want to call this a recipe, and since I have nothing else on the go today, we do. At least I do.

I was surprised at what a nice little salad this was. I've been trying hard to keep the radishes watered and it seems to be paying off. They are not the best radishes ever, but not bad either considering some of the temperatures we have had, not to mention the lack of rain. They are French Breakfast radishes, which we have not grown for a few years. I am thinking they need to return to the regular rotation.

Keep each serving fairly small; the flavours are intense. It's almost more of a relish than a salad.  I left the leaves on because they were so nice and fresh and untouched by bugs - I can count on an infestation of flea beetles hatching even as I say this - and because they made a pretty presentation and a nice handle for that insouciant eating with the hands thing. We didn't eat the leaves though, as we consider them a bit too tough and hairy to eat raw.

per serving
5 to 10 minutes, possibly including pulling the radishes


Radishes with Lime Juice, Chile, & Mint

1 or 2 lettuce leaves
2 or 3 radishes
lime juice
fine red chile flakes, maybe Aleppo pepper
salt
2 or 3 leaves fresh mint

Wash the lettuce and dry it, and arrange it on a small plate. Wash and trim the radishes, and cut them into quarters. Arrange them over the lettuce.

Squeeze enough lime juice onto the radishes to moisten them well, then sprinkle them with red chile flakes and salt to taste.

Wash and dry the mint leaves. They will be easier to mince very finely if they are well dried, and that's what you want to do. Mince them very finely, and scatter them over the radishes.

And that's it! We're done here. Other than sitting down and eating them.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Strawberry Cucumber Salad

One of my earliest recipes on this blog was for a salad with strawberries and cucumbers. This take is a little lighter and simpler; a side salad rather than a meal in itself. Still, although I have omitted a great deal of cheese and replaced it with a sprinkling of toasted pumpkin seeds, I was surprised to take a look back and see how similar my thought about strawberry-cucumber salad are still, eleven years later. Some things are classics for a reason, I guess.

We are picking massive quantities of strawberries at the moment, as well as haskaps. We came home from 2 days away to discover that we got 7 millimetres of rain while we were gone, and it went a long way towards reviving the garden and gave the fruit a final push into ripeness. I expect to be very busy over the weekend dealing with it all. 

4 servings
20 minutes prep time

Strawberry Cucumber Salad

Make the Dressing:
1 tablespoon honey
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoon olive or sunflower oil

Whisk or mix the above ingredients in a small bowl or jam jar.

Make the Salad:
3 to 4 small greenhouse cucumbers
6 medium-large leaves of lettuce
1 cup sliced strawberries
2 to 4 tablespoons toasted and salted pumpkin seeds

Wash the cucumbers and cut them into very thin slices; I used a vegetable peeler and was happy with how that turned out. Salt them and put them in a strainer. Let them drain as you prepare the other ingredients.

Wash and dry the lettuce, and arrange it in a salad bowl. I cut off the top thirds and arranged them around the edge of the bowl, then chopped the remainder into bite-sized pieces and spread them over the bottom of the bowl. It did make the salad a little easier to eat.

Wash and drain the strawberries. Hull them and slice them.

Rinse the cucumbers and pat them dry with a towel. Strew them in layers over the lettuce with the strawberries and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with the dressing. 





Last year at this time it was Blogaversary week. Guess that means the blog is now eleven years old!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Strawberry Oat Bars

It seems to me I now have a series of recipes which consist of classic recipes calling for some other type of fruit than strawberries, in which I have replaced that classic fruit with strawberries, the results then being something better than the original. Strawberry Cream Pie (bye, bananas) and Strawberry Upside Down Cake (adios, pineapple) being the others so far. This one ditches dried dates for fresh strawberries, and wow! So good. I want these again already.

I would be more than willing to try other berries as well, and I know for a fact that frozen strawberries work quite well in this.

20 - 24 bars
1 hour - 20 minutes prep time

Strawberry Oat Bars

Make the Base:
1 1/2 cups soft whole wheat flour
2 cups quick-cook rolled oats
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
the finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix the flour, oats, sugar, salt, lemon zest, cinnamon, and ginger well in a mixing bowl.

Cut the butter into chunks and rub it into the dry mixture until none of it appears white and powdery. It will form some clumps, and it is fine is pea-sized bits of butter still remain. Mix in the eggs until the mixture forms clumps throughout and is fairly evenly moist. It is easiest to do both of these actions using your very clean hands.


Make the Filling & Finish:
2 cups sliced strawberries (or other berries, rinsed)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch

Line 9" x 13" pan with parchment paper. Put in 2/3 of the base; press down into a firm, flat layer. Mix the berries with the sugar and starch and spread over the base. Sprinkle the remaining base mixture evenly over the top. Bake at 350°F. for 40 to 45 minutes.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Early Summer Garden Update


How dry I am! Well not me, personally, but the garden. We need some rain so desperately. As usual, I watch the radar map showing torrential downpours to the north-west and south-east; we get nothing. We are already watering on drought rations. Very bad at this stage in the proceedings.

Above are some strawberry plants in one of our established beds. They are blossoming profusely, but the berries are small and are coming out a little odd due to the lack of water. We have picked a few though, and hopefully many more to come.


This is a strawberry plant that showed up as a seedling next to some blueberries. I recognized it as not a wild strawberry, so we have been letting it grow. Last year it sent out runners all over, but no berries. This year it is flowering and producing quite a few nice large strawberries.


They are rather long and thin and oddly shaped, and not huge although I consider them a very decent size. They have no commercial potential in other words. However, they are very tasty and look quite productive so when the strawberries in the first photo are ripped out - which will happen after the fruit is done as it is time to renew that bed - they will be replaced at least in part with this plant.


Tomatoes are in and doing well. They are easier to water than many things and also deep rooted from nearly the beginning so they are tolerating life quite well. We are getting flowers on them already though, which is by far the earliest I have ever seen flowers. Whether that translates to earlier tomatoes or not remains to be seen.

They were planted around some leeks from last year. These were the ones that came up from overwintered outdoor seed last year, much to my surprise. There were some very nice leeks that looked really good in the spring so of course we did not eat them, we are saving them for seed. It would be excellent to have a strain of leeks that are good for spring eating.

Other things planted in between the tomatoes include some carrots and some shallots for going to seed. It turns out that the spaces between the tomatoes are good for putting things to go to seed. We'll continue to do this more, I expect.


 Another view of one of the tomato beds. It looks like it has a straw mulch, and it sort of does. This is where we grew Red Clover last summer. We are really pleased with it. It was quite weed suppressing, with the exception of a little wild clover which we obviously overlooked while weeding due to it looking too much like the Red Clover. No biggie, though - it pulls out easily now. Also the Red Clover died completely over the winter leaving a straw-like mulch and it does not appear to have self seeded. I think we will be cover cropping more beds with Red Clover in the future.


 Mr. Ferdzy has one of the bean trellises up; 2 more to go along with all the tomato and melon trellises. So far most things are not growing quickly though, due to the lack of water.


 We are still trying to germinate carrots. I think it is time to do our usual re-seeding after the partial failure of the first seeding, after which both seedings will germinate and there will be far too many carrot seedlings. There does not seem to be any other way to do it, it does not seem to matter when we plant. Grr.

Garlic in the background looks pretty good. We were unsure how it would do, given how virus-ridden it all looked last year. A few of the Tibetan did not come up but otherwise it is enjoying this years hot dry weather much more than last years cold and wet. Next to it we have some radishes just about ready to pick.


The larger plants here are selections of potatoes we have grown from seeds in the last year or two. The smaller ones on the right are from seeds planted this year, including from my really exciting (!!!) seedball from a Russet Burbank. Most of the rest are from some Latvian potatoes which I got at the potato breeding workshop we went to a while back.


Shelling peas for freezing are flowering in the 2 far beds here. There is also a row of parsnips we have left to go to seed. In the front are some peas and beans I am growing out from crosses to see how they do. Behind them are Lima beans, which is why we are still prepared to cover the beds. There have been some cool nights and the Limas won't be happy about that.


And finally, the side section is shaping up. The new asparagus is really settling and looking good - we should be able to start picking it next year, no problem. The strawberries here are in great shape and look like being quite productive this year. The old cutting-flower and herb bed that went so completely to pot over the last few years of parental upheavals needs a good weeding, but it is within the bounds of reason. The transplanted peonies are struggling a bit, between being transplanted, very dry, and having some kind of fungus problem. But there is always something. So far the drought and the peony fungus seem to be it. Plenty of time for other problems to shape up of course, but so far fairly manageable. Now all we need is for it to RAIN.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce on Ribs

The rhubarb has risen up and is at its prime, so the question also arose: what to do with it? It would go well in a barbecue sauce, I thought, and sure enough when I searched there are lots of recipes out there. Most of them suffered from my usual complaint about vegetable-flavoured sweet things: too much sweetener and not enough of, in this case, the rhubarb. Well I fixed that! There is still a lot of sweetener, by my books, but that rhubarb is awfully tart, it has to be admitted. All the better to sing and dance with the rather rich and fatty pork.

I would also give this a try with chicken. Whole legs or thighs sound like the best idea. They would need to be cooked for much less time, of course - probably not much over an hour.

4 to 6 servings
2 1/2 to3 hours - 30 minutes prep

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce on Ribs

Make the Sauce:
2 cups finely diced rhubarb stalks
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
3 or 4 pods green cardamom

Wash, trim, and dice the rhubarb. Put it in a pot with the vinegar and salt, and bring to a boil. Simmer gently until the rhubarb disintegrates; 5 to 10 minutes. Stir frequently.

Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the ketchup, mustard, and honey. Finely grate the ginger and add it. Crush the cardamom pods and discard the husks. Grind the remaining seeds finely and mix them in.

Cook the Ribs:
1 to 1.5 kilos (2 to 3 pounds) fresh pork ribs

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

If you like, cut the ribs into sections of 2 to 4 ribs. Brush them with the sauce and lay them in a single layer in a shallow baking (lasagne) pan. Bake them for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the ribs are done to your liking. You may wish to turn the ribs and brush them with more sauce half way through the cooking time. Keep the sauce in the fridge and discard any not used, especially if you think there is any chance you have gotten any juice etc into it from the ribs.

Let the ribs rest for 10 minutes before serving.


 

Last year at this time I made Buttermilk Buckwheat Waffles

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Asparagus Salad with Garlicky Dried Tomato Dressing

I see lots of recipes calling for both asparagus and tomatoes, but I am never really convinced that they go together all that well. In spite of that I decided to try making a dressing that would use up some of our large store of dried tomatoes and last season's garlic. I really loved the resulting dressing, and it went well enough with the asparagus, although I think it would go just as well with many other things. That's a good thing since the recipe makes a lot more than will be needed for the salad. Use the extra on other salads, as a spread for sandwiches, or as a sauce for plain grilled meats.

This salad is mostly asparagus and home-made croutons, which seems like a fine idea to me. I tried the dressing both with and without the mayonnaise added, and we both agreed that the mayonnaise-free version was just too strong.

Both the dressing and the croutons could be made up to a day in advance, making final salad preparation quick and simple.

2 servings
45 minutes prep time

Asparagus Salad with Garlicky Dried Tomato Dressing

Make the Croutons:
2 cups cubed stale bread
2 tablespoons bacon fat OR chicken fat OR olive oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon rubbed basil

Cut the bread into bite-sized cubes. Heat the fat or oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Toss the bread cubes in it, distributing the fat as evenly over them as you can. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bread is dry and toasted. About halfway through the process, sprinkle them with the salt, pepper, and basil. When done to your liking, remove them from the heat and set them aside until wanted.

Make the Dressing:
1/4 cup dried tomatoes
1/2 cup water
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons sunflower or olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons rubbed basil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise  - light is fine

Put the tomatoes in a small pot with the water. Bring to a boil, then cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, peel and chop the garlic, and put it in the bowl of a food processor with the oil, salt, pepper, basil, and balsamic vinegar.

Add the tomatoes with the soaking liquid and process until smooth. Process in the mayonnaise. Remove to a serving container and keep refrigerated until wanted.

Finish the Salad:
500 grams (1 pound) fresh asparagus
2 to 3 cups lettuce or mixed salad greens

Wash, trim, and cut the asparagus into bite-sized pieces. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook the asparagus for 3 to 5 minutes, until done to your liking. Promptly drain it and rinse it in cold water to stop it from cooking further. Drain well.

Wash and tear up the lettuce or greens, and drain them very well. Arrange them on a serving platter or individual serving plates. Mix the asparagus and croutons and arrange them over the lettuce or greens. Drizzle with the salad dressing.




Last year at this time I made German Radish, Cucumber, & Apple Salad.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Lebanese Spicy Roasted Potatoes (Batata Harra)

Here's another one that we ate at a restaurant and then went home and made it for ourselves because it was so good. It's roasted potatoes (restaurants are probably just as likely to fry them) tossed in a spicy garlic-cilantro dressing with lemon, kind of like gremolata gone wild. 

I used about a quarter cup of cilantro in this because that was how much I could scrounge up out of the garden, but I'm pretty sure I would have liked twice as much. On the other hand I'm sure lots of people would say it was just right. You should put in however much seems right to you, and the same as usual with the hot pepper. 

The available potatoes are getting a bit tired but I liked this enough that I may go out and buy some more anyway, at least if it gets cool enough again that I can stand to have the oven on.

4 servings

Lebanese Spicy Roasted Potatoes (Batata Harra)

Roast the Potatoes:
1 kilogram (2 pounds) baking potatoes
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Wash and trim the potatoes - peel them if you like - and cut them into largish bite-sized chunks. Put them into a pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Drain well.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. 

Toss them in a shallow roasting pan - I used my 9" x 13" lasagne pan - with the oil, salt, paprika, and pepper.  Spread them out in a single layer. Roast for 50 to 60 minutes until lightly browned. Stir them once in the middle of the process.

Toss them with the Garlic & Herbs:
4 to 6 cloves of garlic
the finely grated zest of 1/2 a large lemon
1/4 to 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper, or to taste
the juice of 1/2 a large lemon

About 10 minutes before the potatoes are ready, peel and finely mince the garlic. Wash and dry the lemon, and grate the zest finely. Mix it with the garlic and set aside.

Wash, dry, and  finely chop the cilantro.

A couple of minutes before the potatoes are ready heat the oil in a small skillet, over medium heat. Cook the garlic and lemon zest until just barely golden. Remove from the heat and mix in the Aleppo pepper and the lemon juice.

When the potatoes come out of the oven, immediately stir in the cilantro, mixing it in well until it is completely wilted. Mix in the garlic-lemon mixture, stirring well until the lemon juice is completely absorbed. Serve at once.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Turkey Sorrel Rolls

These were lovely. Apparently there are stuffed sorrel rolls in Turkish and Balkan cooking, but it's a slightly different variety that is probably sturdier. The French sorrel leaves which I am growing were a bit delicate. Still, they held together well enough with gentle handling. Turkey went well with the mild flavours of the vegetables.

Serve these with rice, or bread, or as part of a selection of meze/tapas dishes.

4 to 8 servings (32 small rolls)
1 hour 15 minutes - 1  hour prep time

Turkey Sorrel Rolls

500 grams (1 pound) lean ground turkey (or chicken)
the finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon cumin seed
3/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 or 3 green onions
1 medium carrot
1 large egg
32 large sorrel leaves
1/3 cup thick yogurt
2 tablespoons finely minced chives or fresh dill
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put the ground turkey or chicken in a mixing bowl; to it add the finely grated lemon zest. Grind the coriander and cumin seeds and add them, with the salt and pepper.

Trim and finely chop the green onions. Peel and finely grate the carrot. Add them to the meat, with the egg. Mix well until thoroughly combined.

Put a large shallow pot of water on to boil. Place a large shallow pot of cold water next to it. Dip a sorrel leaf into the boiling water for 5 to 10 seconds, until just wilted. Do not swish it around; it is important to not let it fold up on itself or you will have to spend time laying it out flat without breaking it. Dip it in the cold water as soon as it comes out of the boiling water, then lay it on a clean flat surface. Cut out the stem 2 or 3 inches up the leaf, leaving as much of the leaf as possible.

Put 1/32 of the meat mixture in the middle of the leaf. (I pat it down flat, cut it into eighths, then work with 1/8 of the mixture at a time, dividing that into quarters.) Wrap the sorrel leaf neatly around the meat filling, covering it completely. Set it aside on a plate while you complete dipping and filling the rest of the sorrel leaves.

Put a steamer on to boil. Meanwhile, arrange the rolls carefully over the bottom of the steamer insert in a single layer. When the water boils, steam them for 15 minutes.

Let cool to warm or room temperature. Serve them with yogurt, with the finely minced chives or dill added, and seasoned with salt and pepper.




Last year at this time I made Chervil or Other Herb Vinegar.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

White Bean & Asparagus Salad

I thought this was going to be a fancier salad, but as I was making it I kept thinking, "But it doesn't really need that", and I left it out, and lo, it didn't really need it.  Simple is good especially when it is the freshest and best-tasting simple things.

I used some nice big fat Deseronto Potato beans for this but any large white bean will do. You will need about 2/3 cup dry beans to cook up to about 2 cups cooked beans, or I promise not to tell on you if you use a tin. Go easy with the salt if you do, though.

2 to 4 servings
20 minutes prep time, not including cooking the beans


Make the Dressing:
1/4 cup finely minced fresh chives
1/4 cup olive or sunflower oil
the juice of 1/2 large lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Wash, trim and finely mince the fresh chives.

Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl, or shake together in a jam jar. Set aside.

Make the Salad:
500 grams (1 pound) asparagus
2 to 3 cups torn lettuce, spinach, OR mixed salad greens
2 cups cooked large white beans

Wash and trim the asparagus, and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Put a pot of water on to boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until done to your liking. Drain and rinse in cold water  until cool.

Wash and tear up or chop the lettuce, spinach, or mixed greens. Arrange them in your salad bowl. Toss the beans and asparagus with the dressing, and spread them over the greens.




Last year at this time I made Sorrel, Chive, & Mustard Salad Dressing

Monday, 28 May 2018

Haskap - Rhubarb Nectar

Haskaps aren't quite ripe yet - I made this last year. Given that they have about a two-week season though, you should be ready for them when they are ready. 

Given the proportion of rhubarb to haskap that I used, I expected this to taste much more rhubarby. It's there in the background but that mysterious unidentifiable haskap flavour predominates. Quite delicious, in fact.

I like this best mixed with club soda and drunk cold, but I mixed some with some hot tea and that was surprisingly good.

This was made with drinks in mind; it's a little thin for pouring over ice cream, yogurt, etc. but if you don't mind it being thin that would certainly be tasty.

6 x 250 ml
30 minutes initial prep
overnight to strain
about 2 hours to can

Haskap - Rhubarb Nectar with Club Soda

8 cups diced rhubarb stems
2 to 3 cups haskap berries
4 cups water
1 cup sugar

Wash and trim the rhubarb, and cut it into dice. Wash and pick over the haskap berries. Put both into a pot with the water, and bring to a boil. Simmer steadily for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Put the mixture in a jelly bag or clean old pillowcase (now in use solely as a jelly bag) and suspend it over a pot - it can sit in a strainer as long as the strainer will not touch the liquid in the pot. Strain overnight. You can squeeze the bag to get as much liquid out as possible.

Put the jars to be filled into a canner and cover with water to an inch above their tops. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. As the water approaches the boil, put the fruit liquid into a kettle and add the sugar. Bring it up to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes. You should also have the lids and rims in a pan of water, and boil them for 1 minute.

Remove the jars to a clean board, tipping half the water in them back into the canner of boiling water. Fill the jars with the hot syrup. Wipe the rims carefully with a piece of paper towel dipped in the boiling water, then put the rims and lids on and finger tighten. Place the jars back in the canner and boil for 10 minutes.

Either let the jars cool in the canner, or remove them 5 or 10 minutes after being removed from the heat and let them cool on the clean board. Check the seals. Store in a cool, dark spot. Keep refrigerated once open.

To use, mix with cold or boiling water, club soda, or tea in the proportion of 1/3 to 1/2 syrup to other liquid. Should keep, unopened and properly stored, for 1 year.




Last year at this time I made Rhubarb-Almond Crisp.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Crustless Fiddlehead or Asparagus Quiche

I had a more traditional quiche in mind, but when push came to shove there were yogurt, sour cream, and cream cheese in the fridge all clamoring to be used up.  It didn't seem right to go out and buy more dairy products. Actually, the light  tartness of the yogurt, sour cream, and cream cheese went really well with the vegetables, which are delicate spring greens after all. I used a mixture of fiddleheads and asparagus, but it could be all one or the other. I'd throw in a good handful of finely chopped spinach if I had it too.

4 to 6 servings
1 hour 20 minutes - 20 minutes prep time - plus cooling time

Crustless Fiddlehead or Asparagus Quiche


2 cups fiddleheads OR chopped asparagus OR combo
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions OR shallot greens
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon rubbed basil, savory OR thyme
250 grams (1/2 pound) cream cheese
1 teaspoon butter

If using fiddleheads, wash them well and trim off any brown bits (the stem ends will need trimming). Put a pot of water on to boil; drop them in and boil for 4 or 5 minutes. Rinse in cold water and drain well.

If using asparagus, wash and trim, then cut into half-inch pieces. Boil them as above but for only 2 minutes. If you are using a mixture of the two, drop them in when the fiddleheads have 2 minutes to go. Rinse to cool and drain well.

Preheat the oven to 375°F

Wash, trim, and finely chop the green onions or shallot greens. 

In a mixing bowl, mix the yogurt, sour cream, and green onions. Beat in the eggs. Mix in the salt, pepper, and other seasoning. Crumble or glop in by spoonfuls (depending on the texture) the cream cheese, and mix it in but leave it fairly lumpy.

Use the butter to grease a 10" pie plate. Put most to all of the prepared vegetables in and spread them about - any you don't put in are for use in garnishing the top of the quiche. Pour the yogurt mixture over the vegetables and stir very gently to mix. Arrange the reserved vegetables over the top, pressing them gently down to be level with the surface.

Bake at 375°F for 1 hour. Let cool some before serving; it can be served warm or at room temperature. If made in advance, take it from the fridge 20 minutes before eating to take the chill off.




Last year at this time I made Asparagus with Onions & Mushrooms.