Saturday, April 27, 2013

Getting in the Mood for Summer: Blackberry Blast Cocktail

We picked 40-quarts of fresh blackberries last season.  In order to justify hanging out in the blackberry patch this summer we needed to use the remaining few quarts of berries from the freezer.  What better way to use up the summer stash of berries than making a good cocktail.

The warm, soon to be sweltering heat is returning to North Florida.  Our spring weather is generally short and our summers long.  This is the perfect time of year for us after a day in the garden, to turn on the patio ceiling fans, with a good cocktail in hand, and watch the late afternoon turn to dusk.

Blackberry Blast Cocktail
Serves 2
Recipe from Saveur

1 cup blackberries, plus more garnish
2 oz. simple syrup
2 oz. good quality rum
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice, plus wedge for garnish
1/4 oz. Angostura bitters

Blend berries and syrup; strain.  Return syrup to blender along with rum, juice, bitters, and 1-1/2 cups ice; puree.  Pour into glasses; garnish with fruit.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Daytona Strong 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Keeping it Simple: Creamy Tomato Soup

We often forget that there are simple foods that nourish us body and soul.  What comes to mind is a  bowl of creamy homemade tomato soup.   The only thing that might be missing from this bowl of perfection is a grilled cheese sandwich.

Creamy Tomato Soup
Serves 6
Recipe from Cooking Light

1.  Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add 1 tablespoon canola oil (or other oil) to pan; swirl to coat.  Add 1-1/2 cups chopped onion, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon hot smoked paprika to pan; cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Increase the heat to medium-high.  Add 4 minced garlic gloves; sauté  1 minute, stirring constantly.  Stir in 1 (14.28 ounce) can chopped unsalted San Marzano tomatoes, undrained, and 2 cups unsalted chicken stock; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 cup half-and-half.

2.  Place half of tomato mixture in a blender.  Remove center piece of blender lid on blender ( to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid and blend until smooth.  Pour into a large bowl.  Repeat process with remaining tomato mixture.  Top with fresh parsley and ground black pepper.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Beverly Frankeny at Bee Haven Acres

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dirt to Table Experience: A Salad that is Dressed to Impress- A Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad with Citrus Dressing

You can create a salad with incredible flavors, colors and textures.  A good salad is worthy of recognition and is remembered after it is experienced.

There are so many people who have no relationship with salad-they consider it a "diet food" something they should eat  "more of"  they purchase a couple of "on sale" bags of lettuce along with a bottle of processed salad dressing and call it salad.  We expect more of the same with our entree at the local feeding trough too.   Yet salad is so deeply ingrained into our food culture and somewhere along the way we have forgotten how to enjoy it, and more importantly forgotten how to give salad our best ingredients.

According to Food and Wine Magazine this salad won their "Best-Ever" First Course Salad.  I can believe it.  It takes a little extra-time, there are a few extra ingredients, but when it comes together you realize what salad is all about-

Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad with Citrus Dressing
Serves 6
Recipe from Jaime Oliver

1 pound medium carrots
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 fresh red chili
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 orange,  halved
1 lemon, halved
Four 1/2-inch-thick slices of ciabatta bread
3 Hass avocados-pitted, peeled and cut into 6 edges each
8-ounces assorted greens, such as watercress, spinach or mesclun
2 cups baby arugula
2 tablespoons unsalted roasted sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
3 tablespoons low-fat sour cream mixed with 1 tablespoon of water

1.  Preheat the oven to 375degrees F.  Bring a deep skillet of salted water to a boil.  Add the carrots and simmer, covered over moderately low heat until crisp-tender, 10 minutes.  Drain and transfer the carrots to a large roasting pan.

2.  In a mortar, crush the cumin seeds, chile pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.  Add garlic and thyme and pound into a paste.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of the oil and 2 tablespoons of the vinegar.

3.  Pour the cumin dressing over the carrots and toss.  Add the orange and lemon halves to the roasting pan, cut side down.  Roast for about 25 minutes, until the carrots are tender.

4.  Meanwhile, toast the ciabatta until the edges are golden brown.  Tear the bread into bite-sized pieces and, in a large bowl, gently toss with avocados, greens and arugula.  In a small bowl, combine the sunflower, sesame and poppy seeds.

5.  Using tongs, squeeze the hot orange and lemon halves into a measuring cup until you have about 1/3 cup of juice.  Whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar and 1/3 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Add the warm carrots to the bowl along with the citrus dressing and toss to coat.  Transfer the salad to plates and drizzle with the sour cream.  Sprinkle the salad with the seed mixture and serve.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photos submitted by Berl Childers 
Berl's Stuff
Proof it is Spring

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Meyer Lemons: The Joys and Sorrows

I am a guest blogger at  Kitchen Butterfly.  Oz, is a native Nigerian who has a reflective nature about food and culture.  She is spontaneous, adventurous and you will always come away from her blog read with something new.

Oz has fallen in love with Meyer Lemons.  I could not resist bragging and letting her know that my tree this season produced an abundance of Meyer Lemons.  She took me to task for bragging and I agreed to submit a post.

I enjoyed sharing my experience and I hope that you will Click below for a fun read.  This is also a great opportunity to discover a new blog and say hello to Oz who has a passion for everything food.

Meyer Lemons: The Joys and Sorrows

The citrus blossoms have already formed for next year's bounty and the abundance of bees are helping to ensure a bumper crop.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Ton Vanvliet and Anneke Lukkezen
Spring in the Netherlands