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Seasonal Recipes

SUDDENLY SEPTEMBER – AND NEARLY OCTOBER!

GREEN TOMATO CAKE

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups sugar; 1 cup vegetable oil or melted shortening; 3 eggs; 2 teaspoons vanilla; 3 cups flour; 1 teaspoon salt; 1 teaspoon baking powder; 1 teaspoon cinnamon; 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg; 1 cup pecans or walnuts; 1 cup raisins; 2 1/2 cups diced green tomatoes; coconut (optional)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°. In mixing bowl, beat sugar, vegetable oil or shortening, eggs and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg; slowly beat into egg mixture. Blend well. Stir in pecans, raisins and tomatoes. Pour into greased 9×13-inch pan. Top with coconut if desired. Bake for one hour, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. .

GREEN TOMATO MARMALADE WITH GINGER

Green Tomato Marmalade
Makes 5 to 6 250 mL jars

Ingredients

2 oranges; 1 lemon; 1 cup water; 4 pounds (about 9 cups) green tomatoes, cut in small pieces; 5 cups sugar 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, minced

 Instructions

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the top layer of rind from the oranges and lemon, being careful not to remove any of the pith. Sliver the rind. Set aside.

Remove the pulp from the orange and lemon. Set pulp aside.

In a small saucepan, boil the slivered rind in 1 cup water for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse.

Core the green tomatoes. Cut them into small pieces. Make sure these pieces are the size you want in your jam.

Place the citrus rind and pulp, green tomatoes, sugar and ginger in a large pot. Bring to a boil and boil uncovered for 2 hours or until the jam thickens.

Prepare the preserving jars.

Fill jars with hot marmalade, leaving a 1/4 inch head pace. Wipe the rims clean. Seal according to manufacturer’s directions.

Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

STILL JULY – AND STILL ZUCCHINI

Zucchini in process…and getting ready to become Carpaccio!

Ingredients: 2 medium zucchini; Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper; 1 tablespoon extra-virgin oil; 1/2 lemon, juiced; 1 leek, white part only, sliced thinly; 1/4 pound piece Parmesan; Fresh mint leaves, for garnish

Directions Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice zucchini into very thin rounds. Overlap zucchini disks in 1 layer on a plate; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over the olive oil and lemon juice and scatter with leeks. Using a mandoline or a veggie peeler or cheese grater, shave very thin slices of Parmesan and place them over leeks. Garnish with mint leaves. Serve immediately.

JULY – AND SUDDENLY ZUCCHINI!

Towards the end of June the bright yellow blossoms started to appear in the plots signalling the glorious beginning of the zucchini season. Battered and fried tempura style the blooms could have been served as a gourmet touch to a meal. But left on the vine, they – the females at least – turn into zucchini. In the garden, there are various varieties but the most obvious difference is colour: some are yellow, some the basic zucchini green (although there is a super dark green kind that look mysterious).  Eithr colour zucccini – or both –  would work, together or separately in this colourful salad. All ingredients could come from your plot: zukes, tomatoes, basil (for the pesto if you have enough time or use store bought), parsley, with the exception of the tomato and spinach flavored tri-colour couscous – Bob’s Red Mill – which can be bought from your favorite health food/specialty store/supermarket. And of course, this could be just the start. One could also imagine ribbons of chard, fresh peas, crumbs of feta,  being added to this tasty concoction.

Ingredients: 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 cup Pearl Couscous, 1 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup pesto (or to personal taste), 12 cup diced zucchini; 1/2 cup cherry or chopped tomatoes, parsley (optional).

Method: Heat the olive olive in a 2-quart sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add Pearl Couscous and stir until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Slowly pour in the water. Lower heat and simmer gently with the lid on until liquid is absorbed (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in pesto. Stir in vegetables. Finish with a scattering of parsley. Serve at room temperature as a side dish or salad!  (Recipe courtesy Bob’s Red Mill)

Radishes!

There’s nothing like the sight of a radish popping up from the ground. Its rouge demeanour, its slight shyness at revealing its entire being, prompts the tastebuds to consider delectable ways of eating it.  Lovely to grow – its Greek name – Raphanistrum –  means quick growing. And indeed that’s true: a radish can be planted as seed, and within three days – voila! – leaves appear.  To eat add to salads (see one with Italian Parsley below); or butter a favorite bread, apply thinly sliced radishes, and a sprinkle of sea salt – smoked or not –  and consume. You may also drop the bread and just eat them as the French do – whole and dipped in butter,  as a sort of pre-dinner or bar snack.  If this suits, mark the butter-dipping tip with an “x” first!  Don’t discard the radish greens. They are edible – and suit those who like a bit of peppery-ness. Slice them and add to salads. Or do as Chocolate & Zucchini do and make a pesto: http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2009/05/radish_leaf_pesto.php

Parsley, Radish & Celery Salad with Capers

Plot veggies combine here!

Ingrediens: Small bunch of Italian Parsley, leaves only, roughtly torn; 7 – 9 long French radishes, trimmed and quartered; 1 shallot, peeled and very finely sliced into rings; 3 small celery stalks, taken from the heart, cut into sticks; 2 teaspoons capers, together with 2 teaspoons of their vinegar; squeeze of lemon juice; salt and freshly ground pepper; 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil.

Method: Mix everthing together in a large bowl and turn out onto a serving dish. Eat with buttered slices of warmed baguette.

From: The Vegetarian Option, Simon Hopkinson (Stewart, Tabori, Chang).

June – Rhubarb & Salad Greens!

It doesn’t take much to enjoy rhubarb. You can harvest it, take it home, chop it up, and stew it in a tiny bit of water and sugar (with or without a strawberry or knob of ginger) to make a delicious compote to serve with whatever – custard, ice-cream, clotted cream, yogurt. Add vinegar to the mix and it makes a great chutney. You can also use it for a muffin, a tart, or crumble – strawberry/rhubarb being a popular combo. there. The other day, at Nadege on Queen there were rhubarb-stuffed croissants. However, you serve or prepare it, the season is short, so enjoy it fresh while you can! Alternatively, its an easy-freeze!

 Rhubarb and Ginger Jam
(makes six 8-ounce jars)
Ingredients:

3 pounds of trimmed rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces;3 cups granulated sugar; 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped; 1/4 cup grated fresh ginger.

Combine the rhubarb, two types of ginger, and sugar in a large saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to bubble. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring frequently, until jam thickens. Adjust heat accordingly to maintain a steady simmer and stir often during the thickening process to prevent scorching. Cook for about 20 to 25 minutes, skimming and discarding the foam that collects on the top of the mixture.

After 20 minutes, test for doneness. Turn off the heat under the jam and test for “doneness” by  placinga small spoonful of jam on a plate and placing the plate in the freezer for 35-45 seconds. Remove the plate and run your finger over the top of the jam. The surface should “wrinkle” in your finger’s wake. If it does, the jam is done.

Ladle the mixture into hot, sterilized 8-ounce jam jars leaving about 1/4-inch of space between the jam and rim of the jar. Cover with lids and rings and process the jars for 10 minutes in a hot water bath. The lids should vacuum seal shortly after removing the jars from the processing bath. If you do not hear the telltale “pop” of some or any of the lids, return the unfinished jars to the boiling water and process for an additional five minutes.

Place the sealed jars on a kitchen towel and allow to rest and cool completely overnight. Store in a place with a moderate temperature. © Huffington Post

 DRESSING YOUR SALAD 

Plot grown salad greens are fragile things and usually needs the lightest of salad dressings – say a classic vinagrette created by the combo of oil, vinegar (the 1:3 ratio is advised) with added flavoring/seasoning – garlic, black pepper, sea salt, a shallot or your choice, mustard – French, Dijon – Honey or otherwise.   While olive oil is the oil of choice usually – and the more virgin the better, there are other choices to explore – walnut/hazelnut/macademia nut (if allergies allow), hemp, sesame, or you can forget oil altogether and substitute buttermilk or yogurt. For the acid vinegary part you can try: lemon or lime juice, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, red wine, white wine or any of the flavored vinegars available.  For additional interest: blend the lot with a raspberry, or chopped up basil. Whatever works to your taste. Toppings you can add what you will: a shaving of parmesan cheese, a sprinkling of hemp seeds, walnuts, crumbles of blue cheese, a scattering of berries, marinated oranges. For bitter greens like dandelions, you may want to add some opposing flavors:  the combo of sweet apple and smoked cheese…To start the salad season, two light dressings. (More to come throughout the season…Submit your favorite!)

Lemon Vinaigrette

3 tbsp fresh lime or lemon juice; 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard, optional; 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil; Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;

Combine all the ingredients except the oil and then adding the oil slowly while whisking vigorously. Using a blender will help to emulsify the vinaigrette. Shake well before using.

Ginger Asian vinaigrette

3 tbsp rice vinegar; 1 large piece fresh ginger;2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil; 1 tbsp sesame oil; Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Peel the piece of ginger and grate with a box grater, then squeeze the resulting grated ginger to obtain about 1 tbsp ginger juice and discard the grated ginger. Whisk together in a bowl the grated ginger juice and the rice vinegar. Whisk while incorporating the olive oil. Add the sesame oil and season to taste.

 HEALTHY, HEARTY, KALE

Kale is the new arugula, or maybe its mache. Sturdy, and apt to last through to the first frost, this is a great cruciferous to grow in the plot.  It works in salads just as well as it  entices as a warm (steamed & dressed) side dish to a main course. Anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, cholesterol lowering, adding it to your diet helps detoxify the body (which may be why it is now being so liberally used in the juicer and added to smoothies.)  Eat 2 – 3 times a week with servings of at least one cup! This Kale recipe comes to the blog via social media…A kale-loving friend passed it on to a kale-loving chum. It’s hands on (literally) and yummy. When your kale is mature enough (and it should be by now), give it a shot!

Ingredients: Kale leaves (as many as required) center stalk removed, and sliced into ribbons, 1 avocado, olive oil, sea salt, cherry tomatoes, 2 spring onions, juice of one lemon.

Method: Add a little bit of oil to kale and using your hands, lightly to coat the kale with it. Add sea salt and repeat the massage motion, then add avocado and continue to work the two together… Then add tomatoes sliced in half, sea salt, onions sliced, and juice of lemon and toss. For an optional and crunchy finale, sprinkle with hemp seeds.

If your taste buds are used to imbibing “green smoothies”, you will appreciate the benefits of this anti-oxidant and kale-rich version.

Beginner Blueberry Kale Smoothie

1 large ripe banana, peeled; 2-4 kale leaves; 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries; 1 packet of stevia (optional) 1 cup pure water

Pour the water and toss the banana and kale into the blender. Blend. Then add the blueberries and stevia. Blend again until smooth. Enjoy! 1-2 servings

©  Smoothie-Handbook.com)

Basil made Easy…

Yes, there’s pesto, but why not try basil-infused oil, butter, mayonnaise or marinade. A great way to enjoy that harvest of genovese!

Basil Mayonnaise

1 cup loosely packed basil leaves

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

Blend in food processor or blender until smooth.

Basil Puree

4 tablespoons olive oil

8 cups washed and dried basil leaves

Blend until pureed. Transfer to clean jar. Store in refrigerator. Each time you use it stir and then top with a thin layer of oil. It will keep one year by doing this.  A nice baste for grilled chicken or fish or used as a spread on bread.

Basil Butter

1 stick butter, softened

1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. salt

pepper to taste

1 tablespoon finely chopped basil

Cream butter, beat in garlic and lemon juice. Mash in basil; season with salt and pepper. Place bowl in refrigerator to firm butter. Serve at room temperature on grilled pieces of baguette or French bread.

Late April: Picking Sorrel

A harvest of sorrel, later served with eggs.

On April 22nd, Earth Day, while volunteer gardeners from FYCG helped out in the historic Kitchen garden, a harvest was made of some fresh and lovely greens: sorrel. The only thing worth picking in plots which winter had divested of anything edible, the leaves were scissored off and taken to the kitchen to be later served up, braised, as a bed for poached eggs.  But the same harvest could have occurred in our own herb garden where sorrel is growing in a thick and lovely bunch.

Planted last year and yet I suspect, seldom picked, perhaps this is the year gardeners discover sorrel.  A herb, it has a flavour that has been compared to that of kiwi fruit or sour cherries. It contains oxalic acid; not bad in normal eating,  fatal in large doses. Often used in eastern Europe, it finds itself in soups, and dishes, like the Greek spanokopita,, when it is mixed with spinach. It can also idle with other greens in salad. Here’s a recipe where it teams with eggs.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter; generous handful of sorrel leaves (trim away the stalks); sale and freshly ground pepper; 3 large free run eggs; 1 scant tablespoon sour cream; I teaspoon chopped chives.
Melt half the butter in a small pan, add the sorrel leaves, and season lightly. Stew until soft and turning a muddy green color, then cook briskly until almost all the moisture has been drawn off. Tip onto a plate and keep warm. Beat the eggs with the sour cream, add the chives, and season lightly. In an omelet pan, heat the remaining butter until foaming, and then tip in the egg mixture. Cook the omelet in the usual way and, when almost ready, spoon the stewed sorrel over, flip over, and turn onto a warmed plate.

From: Simon Hopkinson, the Vegetarian Option, Stewart, Tabori & Chang.

APRIL

A Forager’s Delight – Dandelion

An edible weed, that is also grown as a food source, the dandelion provides us with a host of benefits: its dark green, bitter tasting leaves providing good source of calcium, As well, it is a diuretic and is used as a “detox” for the benefits it brings to the liver. Now readily available in supermarkets (and growing here and there), its an acquired taste, but one worth acquiring. This recipe comes from chef Andrew Cohen of Monterey Certified Farmers Markets. If foraging for dandelions, pick leaves before the plant flowers, and also make sure it is in a natural, dog-free location. There might even be some growing in your plot!

 

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup brown onion, fine diced

1-2 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed

2 bunches dandelions, stemmed, rinsed, and chopped coarsely

2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and de-germed, minced

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sugar (taste the greens to see how much you need for balance)

1 cup of liquid (water, vegetable stock, or a mixture. Apple juice is a variation as well)

1 teaspoon vinegar (sherry, white balsamic, or cider)

 

METHOD:

Heat a ten-inch skillet that has a tight fitting lid over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan, and when you can see it shimmering, add the onions. Toss to coat the onions, and sauté until soft and just coloring. Add the dandelions and cook until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper.Make a well in the center of the greens, and add the garlic. If there is no oil standing in the bottom of the pan, add a little to the garlic. Sauté until garlic is softening and aromatic. Toss to evenly incorporate the garlic into the onion and dandelion mass.Sprinkle the sugar over the lot and toss. Cook a couple minutes to caramelize the sugar.Add the liquid at this point. Put the top on the pan and simmer until the greens are tender. Remove the top and cook off the remaining liquid. Drizzle with the vinegar, toss to mix in evenly, and serve.

 

VARIATION: Use some apple juice and vegetable stock combined for the liquid, and use cider vinegar to finish. While the greens braise, sauté some apple wedges in a little butter. Fold these into the greens just before adding the cider vinegar. This is a nice sweet and sour type dish that is a good foil for dishes like Pork Chops with Apples and Cream. If apples are not available, you can still use some apple juice and toss the dandelions with some kasha (buckwheat groats) for a nice hearty side dish. (Note: we make this variation at home, substituting pears and Loblaw’s Fresh Pressed Pear and Apple Juice)

 YIELD: 4 servings


MARCH

The Plot Is Bare – So Go For The Roots!


Garlic shoots may be peering through in the plots, but any real “harvest” is a months off.
This means if you are thinking “seasonal” and “local”  roots are it. (Although, of course, most of our
parsnips seem to come from Texas.) Here’s Nigel Slater’s Potato and Parsnip croquette served with a tomato sauce.
Although, of course, you could use this as a basis for different root combinations.
Parsnip and Potato Croquettes

Makes 8, serves 4
parsnips 350g
potatoes 500g
butter a thick slice
ground cumin 1 tsp
hot smoked paprika 1 tsp
eggs 2, beaten
breadcrumbs 150g, fresh and white

For the sauce:
onion 1
olive oil 2 tbsp
canned chopped tomatoes 400g
sherry vinegar 1 tbsp
sugar 2 tsp

Peel the parsnips and potatoes and cut them into large pieces.

Steam separately (they are unlikely to take the same time to cook), then remove from the steamer.

Melt the butter in a shallow pan over moderate heat, then add the cumin, paprika, potatoes and parsnips. Let them fry for 10 minutes, until lightly golden here and there. Season with salt and black pepper then crush with a potato masher or fork. Beat for a minute or two with a wooden spoon, then allow to cool until comfortable to handle.

Take scoops of the mash and pat them into fat cylinders about 5 or 6cm long. You will get about 8 of them, enough for 2 each. Put them on a lightly oiled or floured plate and refrigerate for an hour to firm up.

Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Put the egg on a saucer and the breadcrumbs on a plate. Lower the croquettes, one at a time, into the egg, roll them over so they are coated, then drop them into the breadcrumbs. Turn each one, patting the crumbs all over. Remove and place on a plate.

Warm a layer of oil in a nonstick frying pan. When it is hot, lower the croquettes in a few at a time and cook until golden. As each is ready, lift on to an ovenproof dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until hot throughout. Serve with the sauce.

To make the tomato sauce, peel the onion, finely chop and cook in the oil until soft and pale gold. Tip in the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, salt and black pepper, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Courtesy The Guardian, March 11, 2012,

Contributions for seasonal recipes are invited!

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