Monday, January 18, 2016

How Does My Garden Grow: Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Hazelnut, Orange, and Saffron


Winter has finally arrived in North Florida and my garden remains utterly confused.  The garden pests feasted on young fresh winter greens with wild abandon, and procreated endlessly in the warmth of the sun.  War was waged in the garden and we emerged in victory when Old Man winter made an official appearance, and got the garden show on the road.

My main victory this garden season was my cauliflower.  Now, before you shake your head too much from left to right, hear me out. CAULIFLOWER ROCKS!  It needs a little extra attention but its blank canvas explodes in flavor with minimal effort.

I am a big fan of roasting vegetables.  All vegetables have natural sugars that when roasted come alive.  Cauliflower is no exception and it is dressed to impress, when the roasting flavors are orange, hazelnut and saffron.  The roasted cauliflower is returned to the oven, and steamed in coconut milk.

Next time you're at the farmers market or your local grocery store toss a cauliflower head into your basket and get your Veg feast on!



Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Hazelnut, Orange, and Saffron
Serves 4
Recipe from Vegetarian Times yummybeet.com

Ingredients:
1 large head cauliflower, green leaves removed
1 Tbs. roasted hazelnut oil or olive oil
1 orange, juiced ( 1/4 cup) and zest grated (2 Tbs.)
1 pinch saffron
1/4 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1/3 cup roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Place cauliflower in large Dutch oven or other high-sided ovenproof dish.

Stir together oil, orange juice, orange zest, and saffron in small bowl.  Pour mixture over cauliflower, rubbing with hands to distribute evenly.  Season with salt and pepper, if desired.  Put dish in oven, and bake uncovered, 40 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together coconut milk and 1/4 cup water in small bowl.

Remove cauliflower from oven, and pour coconut-milk mixture over top.  Bake 10 to 15 minutes more, or until cauliflower is tender.  Slice cauliflowers into quarters, and sprinkle with parsley and hazelnuts.

Enjoy!

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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Meyer Lemon Gimlet Cocktail with Rosemary


"There is more to life than increasing its speed" -Ghandi

We rang in the New Year quietly at home.  Exhausted from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and spending the year moving in a million different directions has produced a lot of noise in my life, and has left me feeling hurried and stressed.

The New Year Resolution is old and tired and "resolutions" have been replaced with a new buzz word "themes" (honestly, I prefer themes to resolutions).  People will argue and say "everyday is a new day and you can start on any of the other 364 days."  Yes, but a new year symbolically provides us with a blank canvas to attempt once again to get it right.

So at least for now, I got it right. I slowed down this week to a crawl.  Counted my blessings, and my steps, and practiced quieting my mind by getting comfortable with sitting and doing nothing.

On New Year's Eve I soaked in the quiet abundance of my backyard Meyer lemon tree and the sprawling rosemary bush to create a twist of flavors on a classic gimlet cocktail.

Happy New Year to you and your families. May 2016 bring you everything you hope for and more.



Meyer Lemon Gimlet with Rosemary 
Serves 1


Ingredients:
2 ounces good quality gin
3/4 ounce fresh Meyer lemon juice (or other variety)
3/4 ounce rosemary infused simple syrup
Lemon slice and a sprig of rosemary for garnish

Rosemary Simple Syrup:
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
Handful of fresh rosemary sprigs 
2 lemon slices (optional)

Directions:

Simple Syrup
In a small saucepan, on medium heat, add water and sugar. Bring to a boil.  Stir until sugar dissolves .  Add rosemary and lemon wedges.   Let steep for 2 hours or overnight. Place in a jar and refrigerate up to a week.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and pour in the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup. Shake hard until very cold.

Strain into a cold coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge and rosemary sprig.  Serve immediately.

Enjoy!


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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Mixed Crudités with Fresh Green Goddess Dressing

Skip the traditional crudités platter this year.  We are taking the crudités platter and transforming it into an elegant finger salad.  The key here is to step-up your ingredients by using unlikely vegetables like thinly sliced turnips or rutabagas, tart apple slices, kohlrabi or jicama. These slightly off the vegetable platter grid are easily found at your local grocery store or farmers market. The crudités are finished off with a handful of toasted almond halves and a shave of Percorino Romano Cheese.

At every opportunity I try to convince people to ditch the bottled salad dressings. Making your own salad dressing is simple, far more healthy, and without a doubt more delicious than anything you can buy bottled. This simple Green Goddess dressing gets its stunning color of green from the garden including, cucumber, chives, parsley and avocado. Yogurt replaces the traditional mayonnaise base for a healthier option. (Note: The original Green Goddess dressing typically contained mayonnaise, sour cream, chervil, chives, anchovy, tarragon, lemon juice and pepper).

This is the perfect start for a healthy and hearty holiday meal.



Mixed Crudités with Green Goddess Dressing
Serves 10-12
Recipe from Food and Wine

Ingredients:

Dressing:
1 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley
1/2 English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and chopped
1/2 Haas avocado
1 small shallot, chopped
2 tablespoons full-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon snipped chives
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Crudités:
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1/2 small rutabaga (or turnip), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick halves
1/2 head of cauliflower cut into bite size florets
2 kohlrabi bulbs (1/2 pound) cut into 1/2-inch thick halves
1 crispy sweet apple, such as Granny Smith or Honey Crisp, halved, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup shaved aged Pecorino Romano Cheese
2 tablespoons sliced toasted almonds
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 head of Bibb lettuce leaves, separated for serving

Directions:
Make the dressing in a food processor, combine all the ingredients except for the olive oil, salt and pepper .  Pulse until very finely chopped.  With the machine on, drizzle in the olive oil and process until the dressing is nearly smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  Scrape the dressing into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until chilled, 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the crudités. In a large bowl, whisk the lemon zest and juice, with the olive oil, chives and parsley.  Add the rutabaga, cauliflower, kohlrabi, apple, Pecorino and almonds and toss well.
Season with salt and pepper.  Serve the crudités in the lettuce cups with the Green Goddess dressing on the side.

Note: The green Goddess dressing can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.



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Monday, November 16, 2015

Spiced Apple Pie Slab

November is peak apple season here in the south.  Each year we typically trek north to the Georgia mountains and there we pay our respects to Mercier Orchards by buying our weight in bushels and pecks, and then hauling our apple loot home.

On a recent cool autumn day I peaked into the freezer and noticed a box of puff pastry and was reminded of the apples languishing in my refrigerator outside in my garage.  My approach to baking is cautious, especially, when I am preparing to bake on a whim with no instruction.

You will be glad I took the leap. What I turned out was a delicious, easy to put together apple slab pie.  A perfect addition to the fall table to share with family and friends.



Spiced Apple Pie Slab
Serves 8


Ingredients:
4 large cooking apples (it can be a combination of apples) peeled, cored and chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
Fresh squeeze of lemon juice
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 sheet puff pastry- thawed, cut in half lengthwise
1 egg, beaten
 Handful of coarse sugar (prefer raw sugar)

Directions:
Preheat oven to  400 F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl toss the apples with a few squeezes of lemon juice.  Set aside.

In a large skillet or Dutch oven melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add apples to skillet and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ground cloves. Stir to combine.  Reduce heat to low.  Add cornstarch and a pinch of salt. Continue cooking until apples are soft and caramelized about 5-6 minutes.

Remove apple filling from heat and cool.

Lightly flour the puff pastry sheets. Arrange the puff pastry sheets lengthwise (make sure you cut the pastry sheet lengthwise) next to each other. Spread the apple filling down the middle of one pastry sheet with 1-inch space on all sides. Place the second pastry sheet on top.  Seal all the edges.

Cut several 1-inch slits down the center to create vents.  Brush the pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle sugar.

Place the pastry on the parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy!





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Monday, November 9, 2015

Herb Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes

I was searching for a recipe to highlight the use of both fresh and dried herbs, and stumbled upon this great recipe from Elise at simplyrecipes .  This recipe creates a oven dish wonder.  The dish is layered with potatoes, onions, and garlic cloves, which will roast in the pan juices.  The seasoned chicken thighs will roast on top of these layers.  To bring it to the next level, a combination of fresh and dried herbs (Think fresh thyme and tarragon and a quality dried herbes de provence) will be sprinkled on, and tucked along the sides and in the crevices. To finish it off,  a basic vinaigrette to raise the level of flavor and moisture.

Simply stated herbs can lift a dish from ordinary to extraordinary. This dish makes for a fabulous Sunday Supper meal or entertaining a crowd.



Herb Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes
Serves 4-6
Recipe from Simply Recipes



Ingredients:

Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried herbes de provence
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Chicken:
2 pounds chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on, trimmed of excess fat
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 large Yukon gold potatoes (peeled and thinly sliced)
1 cup peeled onions
3-4 whole garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
Several whole sprigs of fresh tarragon or thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Sprinkle all sides of chicken thighs with kosher salt and set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together the red wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, herbs de provence, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper.

Spread one tablespoon of olive oil in a 9x13 baking pan.  Cover the bottom of the dish with the potatoes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Distribute the onions over the potatoes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken thighs, skin-side-up, on top of onions.  Wedge the garlic cloves between the pieces of chicken.  Use the sprigs of herbs to line the border or wedge in between chicken.  Whisk the vinaigrette again and pour it over the chicken, making sure it is well distributed.

Bake uncovered for 50 minutes, or until the thighs are well browned and cooked through.

Enjoy!

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Atlanta on my Mind

Who say's you can't create an urban farm in your neighborhood on less than an acre? After a stay at the The Social Goat Bed and Breakfast in downtown Atlanta Georgia I am rethinking my situation. Gone is the 5 acre dream!  Folks, I just need a new neighborhood to move into.  I promise to share my vegetables, eggs, and honey with my neighbors.

I love my husband.  We were planning a weekend trip to Atlanta and he came across this bed and breakfast while looking for accommodations.  I think the first phrase he uttered when he was perusing the site was "Woman, this bed and breakfast has your name all over it"  Yes, it did!  My discovery of a real urban farm setting with a bed and breakfast worries my husband (as it should).










We visited the President Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in the morning and spent the afternoon walking the Atlanta BeltLine 

Its no secret that our travel is centered around eating and this was no exception.  We enjoyed a hip sandwich and cocktail joint called Victory Sandwich Bar.  We spent part of a late afternoon roaming the Krog Street Market and the grand finale ended at the Miller Union Restaurant a sustainable and modern approach to farmstead cooking.  Chef Steven Satterfield's approach was responding to what was in season and available at the local farmers market.  Vegetables are front center and a little less on the proteins.  He sums it up very nicely by saying "seasonal cooking begins with the harvest."  To honor our great meal I ordered his cookbook Root to Leaf and prepared a traditional southern favorite Slow-Simmered Field Peas.


Slow-Simmered Field Peas
Serves 6 to 8
Recipe from Millers Union



Ingredients:
4 cups fresh shelled field peas (lady peas, pink eyed peas, blackened peas crowder peas, zipper peas, or a mix)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced (1/8-inch) yellow onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced fennel bulb
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 thick slice country ham or a small ham hock
1 sprig fresh thyme

Directions:
Place the peas in a large pot, cover with water, and agitate them gently.  Pull them out in small handfuls and check for blemishes or debris.  Set the washed peas aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, celery, and fennel; season with a little salt and pepper: and sauté  until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the ham, peas, and thyme, and add water to cover by 1 inch.  Simmer on low heat until peas are tender, skimming all the while, 45 to 60 minutes.

Enjoy!










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Saturday, September 12, 2015

How Does My Garden Grow: Summer Basil Oil


In life there is a struggle for simplicity.  We rarely achieve it.  There are moments we catch glimpses, or experience short bursts that bring a full appreciation of what life might be like if we knew how to live simply.

If you follow my blog you know, I feel most centered when my hands are in the dirt or my mind and body are in my kitchen.  Nature provides to us free of charge, incredible flavors, colors and textures.  When food is prepared closest to how nature intended it is “simply” the best. 

In north Florida summer stays late.  It stays long past its welcome but there are gifts to be enjoyed as the long days begin to wind down.  This means summer herbs are abundant, and if you are growing basil, it is at its peak.

One of the best ways to reap this gift of nature is to preserve your summer basil with a good olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and a few good grinds of cracked black pepper.  What is created is a intensely fragrant and flavored oil that is a perfect addition to soup, roasted vegetables, vinaigrettes and marinades. It also makes for a perfect gift to share with family and friends.





Photo from driftless organics
Basil Oil Recipe
Makes about 3/4 cup
Recipe from Epicurious


Ingredients
1-1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
3/4 cup olive oil

Directions:
Blanch basil in a medium saucepan of boiling water 10 seconds.  Drain.  Rinse under cold water.  Pat basil dry with paper towels.  Transfer to blender.  Add oil; puree until smooth.  Transfer to small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.

Note: Can be made 3 days ahead.  Cover and chill.  Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.

Enjoy!


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