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When I was a young ‘tweenager’ my mother started to get me cooking meals. She taught me about preparing all the basics, selection vegetables, different meats and their cuts and about flavouring things with herbs and spices. Later I would find my own ways of experimenting with simple recipes.  One herb which fascinated me was the Bay Leaf (Laurus nobilis). Imagine my surprise when I saw True Bay Laurel trees growing in front of my sisters place on Government street!
The clipped Bay Laurel in front of my sister's place.

The clipped Bay Laurel in front of my sister's place.

It seems very appropriate to be writing about this plant as it is closely associated with   athletic games held in ancient Greece The event winners would receive a Bay Laurel wreath as a prize. The games called the Pythian Games and were held to honour the god  Apollo.
This Laurus noblis is a multi-stemmed shrub which is regularly clipped.

This Laurus nobilis is a multi-stemmed shrub which is regularly clipped.

Apollo was amorous of Daphne who did not return his feelings, she ran off and asked her father (Pereus the River god) for help. He turned her in to a laurel tree which was located near  the bank of a river. In this disguise she was able to escape from Apollo. Apollo found the tree and made himself a wreath from it’s branches in the memory of her beauty. The Laurel tree was one of Apollos’ symbols.
These two True Bay lead into the formal herb garden at Government House, Victoria.

These two True Bay lead into the formal herb garden at Government House, Victoria.

Wreaths were also given to important poets and this is where the term Poet Laureate comes from.  The source of ‘baccalaureate’ is the laurel berry.
Christians held the Bay tree to be a symbol of the resurrection of Christ and triumph of humanity.
The Bay tree even is spoken of in Chinese folklore in the famous story of Wu Gang. Wu Gang was a man who wanted immortality but neglected his work. When the deities found out about his neglect they tricked Wu Gang by making him think that by cutting down a Laurel tree he could join them. Every time he cut the tree down it would miraculously regenerate and never could be fell.
These wonderful True Bay leaves have a spicy scent if rubbed up against.

These wonderful True Bay leaves have a spicy scent if rubbed up against.

The Bay tree and it’s parts are found symbolized in many places as diverse as the American one dollar bill, ten yen coin of Japan, the shield and flag of the Dominican Republic and strangely is the clan plant of the Scottish clan Graham.. It naturally is very important to the country of Greece where it is found in the national emblem of the country.

This Laurus noblis has set flower busd which will bloom later in the year.

This Laurus nobilis has set flower buds which will bloom later in the year.

For most of us it is a flavouring used in stew and other savoury dishes. It can be harvested as single leaves or as branches and used right from the tree or bush. It also can easily be dried and used later. As my mother taught me one leave goes a long way, so care must be used with this flavouring.
The only part of this herb garden which were not replaced was the three True Bays.

The only part of this herb garden which was not replaced were the three True Bays.

The California Bay Laurel (Umbellularia Californica) is sometimes sold as the True Bay. The leaf margins on the plant are smooth whereas those of the True Bay tend to undulated. I would not use the California Bay in place of True Bay in food preparation as it has much stronger volatile oils which are not the same.
Just another happy Laurus noblis growing in a Herb garden.

Just another happy Laurus nobilis growing in a Herb garden.

In its native habitat of the Mediterranean, Laurus noblis has been cultivated for thousands of years where it  grows to about 18m (60ft). Here it more commonly grown as a clipped, shaped shrub which can be used as a formal hedge, container plant, accent or specimen plant. Buy them as a small trees in a container and then shape it as you please. The True Bay like well-drained soil and full sun. It tolerates short droughts very well and does not like to be over-watered. Bay’s live in zones 8 through 11 and tolerate temperatures down to freezing for short periods.

More about Bay Trees:

Wiki has a good page:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_leaf

A good article from Flooridata: http://www.floridata.com/ref/L/laur_nob.cfm

Now on to Kim’s yummy recipes!

Nice to be back at The Garden Palette, between Jen’s move and my busy January it’s sort of comforting to get life back to normal. Hope you guys didn’t miss us too much!

Well…let’s get right down to the nitty gritty of bay leaves. Jen and I picked this herb because of the time of year we’re in and of course I don’t use these much during the summer but mostly in the winter and holiday time when I’m making slow cooked one-pot meals or cooking around Christmas. The bay leaf is of course used for its flavor in soups, stews, and what not. So here’s a few facts about them:


Wet Beautiful Bay Leaves

Usually encountered in dried form, bay leaves are 1-1/2 – 3 inches long and are elliptical or lance shaped. Leaves are greenish-tan, and look leathery and slightly waxy, with a natural wave pattern around the edges and have a central fibrous channel (stem extension) with pronounced branching channels.

In cooking, bay leaves are used to flavor soups, stews, meat, and fish dishes, also excellent when used in tomato-rich recipes. Olive oil and apple cider vinegar seasoned with bay leaves may be used to further enrich a fresh garden salad. And, bay leaves are used to add a woodsy taste during cooking, and are generally removed from the dish before serving.

So when I was preparing this post, I wanted to demonstrate four different dishes using bay leaves in various ways: roasting, stewing, etc. And, since for most of us this has been a cold winter, I thought starting out with a stew and/or curry would suffice to keep you warm and toasty! Here’s the complete menu items:

Slow Cooked Beef Stew
Vegetable Curry
Lemon Roasted Potatoes
Spinach Cheese Lasagna

First Up…

Slow Cooked Beef Stew

Ingredients:
2 lbs. stew meat
1/4 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1-1/2 c. beef broth
vidalia onion, diced
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. paprika
4 carrots, sliced
3 potatoes, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced

Preparation:

Place meat in crockpot, mix flour, salt and pepper and pour over meat. Stir and coat meat with flour. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix well. Cook and cover. Low 9 hours or high for 5 hours. Remove bay leaf and serve hot with cornbread if you like!

Vegetable Curry

Ingredients:
4 large garlic cloves
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp. curry powder
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 c.  canned diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 c.  plain yogurt
1 (14-ounce) can vegetable or chicken broth
6 small red potatoes, quartered
2 c. cauliflower florets
1/2 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 c. canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tsp. kosher salt
Hot cooked basmati or long-grain rice
Mango chutney (optional and you can find this in the grocery store)

Preparation:

Pulse garlic and ginger in a small food processor until the consistency of paste, or mince using a sharp knife. Set aside.

Sauté cumin and next 4 ingredients in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add onion; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in garlic mixture, curry powder, and jalapeño. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and yogurt; cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes.

Add broth and potatoes and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or just until potatoes are tender. Add the cauliflower, green beans, and chickpeas. Cook, uncovered, 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and mixture is thickened. Remove the bay leaf, add salt to taste then serve over rice, and top with chutney, if desired.

Lemon Roasted Potatoes


I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like…


Ingredients:
2 lbs. firm yellow-fleshed potatoes (such as Yukon Gold)
2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. EVOO
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. dried oregano

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Scrub potatoes, but do not peel. Halve them. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, bay leaves, lemon juice, oil, and salt. Toss to evenly coat potatoes. Transfer to a roasting pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Roast until potatoes are soft and golden, turning them regularly, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven, discard bay leaves. Season generously with oregano and more salt to taste if desired.

Spinach Cheese Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. butter
3 c. sliced mushrooms
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil
1 c. chopped onions
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 c. tomato sauce
1 c. canned tomatoes, drain & dice, reserve liquid
Kosher Salt
1 tsp. each oregano & basil
1/2 tsp. pepper, divided
1 bay leaf
2 pkg. chopped spinach, thawed & well drained
2 c. part skim ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
8 oz. lasagna noodles, cooked
11 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Preparation:

In a 10-inch skillet heat butter. Add mushrooms and saute until lightly browned and cooked through 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.

Then, in a 3-quart saucepan heat oil, add onions and garlic. Saute until onions are softened. Add tomato sauce, tomatoes, 3/4 teaspoon salt, oregano, basil, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat 25-30 minutes. Remove bay leaf. In medium bowl combine spinach, ricotta cheese, egg, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; mix well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In bottom of 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish spread 1/2 of tomato mixture, arrange half of the lasagna noodles in dish. Spread half of the spinach mixture evenly over noodles and top with half the mushrooms, spread 1/2 cup tomato mixture and sprinkle with half of the Monterey Jack cheese. Arrange remaining noodles over the cheese. Spread remaining spinach mixture over noodles, top with remaining mushrooms, tomato mixture and Monterey Jack cheese. Bake until lasagna is cooked through and cheese is lightly browned, 40-50 minutes. Remove and stand 15 minutes.

So we’ve baked, roasted and broiled with bay leaves! Hope you try any of these recipes and let us know how they came out! We’d love to hear from you!

Until next month….from Jen and me,
Happy Planting and Happy Cooking!

We’ll Be Back in February!

Hi loyal fans of The Garden Palette!

Just a quick note to you guys that we’ve been plenty busy lately and we’re sorry we won’t have a post for you this month. Jen is moving and so she’s busy packing and getting ready for that and I’m working on a HUGE project for a major client that is due end of this month so we both have our hands full. BUT…

Don’t worry, we’ll be back on schedule next month with a wonderful secret herb of choice so be sure to look for our announcements! You can follow Jen on Twitter by clicking here, or me on Twitter here! Also, we post announcements on the Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet fan page so as you can see there’s lots of ways for keeping up with us!

Thanks so much for your support of The Garden Palette and we’ll see you in February!

Kim and Jen

Saving the Savory… Sage

Well…we’ve come to our last post for the year 2009, can hardly believe that! So…we saved our last herb for this time of the year where it is appropriate to use – Sage. A very robust herb who’s flavor can stand up to any herb or spice and it seems to have a personality all of its own. It’s one of those spices we don’t use much until the holidays although if you’re like me, you keep it around your cabinet all year.

What I like best about sage is that you don’t need much of it to enjoy its flavor to the dish – and therefore I never run out of it as I do with say parsley or basil. Sage has diverse roles in cooking, and can be used in savory dishes, soups, even desserts. So my menu this month features it used in all these types of meals. And you’ll notice when you read the recipes just how much sage is needed. It blends so well with other herbs like thyme, rosemary as a spice rub so when I have something with multiple uses, I try to get all I can out of it! LOL!

As Jen mentioned in her post Sage (Salvia Officinalis) sage is known to be used it in many medicinal ways. Its best known property is that it can reduce perspiration, this is useful for those persons dealing with night sweats. It is also well known as an astringent which has commonly been used as a gargle for tonsillitis, laryngitis and sore throats. Salvia tea in the past was also prescribed for  problems such as nervous conditions, trembling, depression and vertigo. Crushed fresh leaves are used help relieve insect bites.


Fruit Sage Leaves

As an herb, sage has a slight peppery flavor. In Western cooking, it is used for flavoring fatty meats (especially as a marinade), cheeses (Sage Derby), and some drinks. In the United States, Britain and Flanders, sage is used with onion for poultry or pork stuffing and also in sauces. In French cuisine, sage is used for cooking white meat and in vegetable soups. Germans often use it in sausage dishes, and sage forms the dominant flavoring in the English Lincolnshire sausage. Sage is also common in Italian cooking. Sage is sautéed in olive oil and butter until crisp, then plain or stuffed pasta is added (burro e salvia). In the Balkans and the Middle East, it is used when roasting mutton. (Wikipedia.org)

I normally use the dried version because for the most part, I’m usually roasting turkey or chicken and so dry herbs can stand up to the heat whereas fresh of course would burn. However, one of the items on my menu calls for fresh sage! Sage is also not to everybody’s liking. Its strong flavor should not be overdone, otherwise like tarragon if you use too much all you’ll taste is sage. It is definitely an “acquired taste”.  The dried herb can be chopped (cut) into pieces to yield “whole” sage or finely ground, which you can do by rubbing the dried herb between your fingers hence yielding rubbed sage. But, once you use it a lot you’ll learn to really appreciate its aroma! So, I’m sure you’re ready to get away from the facts and down to the menu right?

So we have for you ladies and gentlemen:

Roasted Pork Loin with Sage
Roasted Chicken with Sage
Sage Potato Leek Soup
Parmesan Parsnip Sage Bread

In trying to be a bit different, I opted for the soup rather than stuffing and I thought you might be sick of turkey so I opted for the pork loin instead! Though I like traditions, I also like to mix things up a bit and so for my holiday that was my goal. But, in posting this month I thought I’d tell you this in case you were wondering why I omitted turkey and stuffing!

So let’s first get started with our two main courses:

Roasted Pork Loin with Sage

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. ground sage
2 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp. black pepper
5 lb. boneless porkloin roast
Preparation:
The night before: in a small bowl combine sugar, sage, marjoram, salt, mustard and pepper. Thoroughly rub roast with the herb mixture; refrigerate. Then on the next day, tie and set the meat in a shallow baking pan with a rack. Insert a meat thermometer. Roast uncovered at 325 degrees for 2-1/2 to 3 hours or until thermometer reads 170 degrees. Let meat rest for about 15 to 20 minutes before you cut it.

Roasted Chicken with Sage

Ingredients:
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried rosemary
2 tsp. dried sage
1 chicken, 5-6 lbs., thoroughly cleaned
2 tbsp. soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Minced zest of 2 lemons
Preparation:
In small bowl thoroughly mix butter, oil, garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage and lemon zest. Beginning at the neck opening, slip your fingers between the chicken skin and flesh and loosen the skin on one side of the breast, leaving the skin attached at the cavity opening.
Next work your fingers under the skin of the thigh and leg, leaving the skin attached at the end of the leg. Repeat on the other side of the chicken. Evenly rub the reserved mixture directly onto the meat and in the cavity. Rub the outside surface of the chicken with soy sauce and sprinkle with pepper. Roast uncovered for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Reduce heat to 350 and cook, basting with pan drippings every 15 minutes, until done, about 20 minutes per pound. Let meat rest for about 15 minutes before cutting.

Sage Potato Leek Soup


I adore potato leek soup!
Ingredients:
2 tbsp. butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 leeks, chopped
2 tsp. dried sage
2 tbsp. flour
4 c. chicken stock
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. low fat milk
Preparation:
Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and leeks, sauté gently until soft. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Gradually stir in stock.
Add potatoes and sage, bring to the boil, simmer gently for 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Stir in milk and seasonings. Puree soup in a blender. Add salt and pepper to taste. (be sure that the soup has cooled first before adding it to the blender, you can always return it to the stove to reheat.) Serve with crusty bread on the side OR try your hand at making the parmesan parsnip sage bread below!

Parmesan Parsnip Sage Bread

Ingredients:
175 g parsnips (peeled weight)
50 g parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano) cut into 5mm cubes
1 rounded tbsp. chopped fresh sage
225 g self-rising flour
1-1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs lightly beaten
1 tbsp. milk
For the Topping:
25 g parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano) shavings whole small sage leaves
a little extra flour for dusting
1 tsp. olive oil
small solid baking dish that is very well greased.
Preparation:
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/375F/190C. Sift the flour and salt into a large roomy bowl. Put a grater in the bowl and coarsely grate the parsnips into the flour then toss them around.
Add the cubes of Parmesan and chopped sage and toss that in. Lightly beat the eggs and milk together then add this to the bowl a little at a time mixing evenly with a palette knife. What you should end up with is a rough rather loose sticky dough so dont worry what it looks like at this stage. Transfer this to the baking sheet and pat it gently into a 15cm rough round then make a cross with the blunt side of a knife.
Scatter the Parmesan shavings over the surface followed by a sprinkling of flour. Spoon the olive oil into a dish dip each sage leaf in the oil and scatter them over the bread. Now it should go into the oven on a high shelf to bake for 45 to 50 minutes by which time it will be golden and crusty. Place on a wire rack and either serve it while still warm or reheat it later. A wonderful bread to serve anytime!
Well…that’s it for 2009! So from Jen and myself we wish you a very Happy and Safe New Year! We’ll be back in 2010 with more wonderful herbs and plants to tell you all about so stay tuned …..until next month!
Kim

The year I went to Horticulture school in Vancouver was unusually warm at Canadian Thanks Giving time and i went home on the train for the long weekend. While I was there I saw that someone had harvested the vegetables which I had planted in the small garden which I had kept. There was zucchini, tomatoes, peppers and cabbage there on the back porch when I got home. During the weekend I decided to walk around the neighborhood and see the gardens with my newly educated eyes and brain. To my surprise I saw some culinary Sage (Salvia officinalis) growing in a back garden. I decided as soon as I could I would give my mom a Sage plant to grow and use in her delicious turkey stuffing. She was so thrilled when she could use fresh Sage the following year.

Salvia officinalis 'Purpurescens' and 'Minimus"

Two forms of Savia officinalis are seen here, Dwarf and Purple leaved.

Sage has long seen as a valuable plant, it’s Latin name ‘Salvia’ means to heal. During the centuries past it has been used in many medicinal ways. It’s best known property is being used to reduce perspiration, this is useful for those persons dealing with night sweats. It is also well known as an astringent which has commonly been used as a gargle for  tonsillitis, laryngitis and sore throats. Salvia tea in the past was also prescribed for  problems such as nervous conditions, trembling, depression and vertigo. Crushed fresh leaves are used help relieve insect bites.

Salvia officinalis 'Rosea'

Salvia officinalis 'Rosea' is one flower color variation which makes an attractive addition to a garden.

Sage also has other qualities which were seen to be more important in the past. It was believed to help ward off evil spirits. The quality whhich is most important today is that of it’s ability to flavor savory dishes. The most traditional use at this time of the year is related to it’s use in the Christmas Turkey. Sage imparts a peppery earthy flavor which adds depth to many dishes. It can be used fresh or dried and it often blended with other herbs. It often is used with fatty meats such as duck, goose or pork.

Salvia officinalis 'Icterina'

Salvia officinalis 'Icterina' is also known as Golden Sage and is one of the brightest shrubs in the garden.

Savia officinalis is a low shrub which is evergreen, the leaves are unusual in that they are highly aromatic. There is now a fair selection of color forms ranging from the dusky purple of ‘Purpurascens‘ through the traditional ‘sage green’ through to almost yellow forms such as ‘Icertina’ and ‘Aurea’. There are also an attractive wider leaved form called ‘Berggarten’ and a narrow type ‘Lavandulaefolia’. ‘Tricolor’ is a weaker growing form which blends green, white and purple and commonly reverts to green. ‘Alba’ has the grayest foliage and produces attractive white flowers.

Salvia officinalis 'Purpascens'

Salvia officinalis 'Purpascens' is probably the most attractive and vigorous form of Sage to grow.

Sage is a member of the labiatae (mint) family and has the characteristic square stems and  lipped flowers. It is quite hardy for a herb and tolerates zone 4 -30f(-34c). Salvia officinalis grows to about 2ft(60cm) tall and slightly wider. The one thing which it dislikes is winter wet especially if the soil is poorly drained. Sage is best grown in full sun and sharply draining soil that is average in nutrient content.  Prune back after flowering.  It is a very versatile plant which grows well in many situations such as perennial borders, herb gardens, shrub borders,  rock gardens, container plantings and in areas of low watering or in sites which are not easily watered. You can also plant in places where the foliage will be rubbed to give off its scent. Sage is also a butterfly and bee attractant.

Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten'

Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten' has slightly broader leaves than other Sages.

Pests do not bother Sage. One disease (Verticillium dahliae) called Verticillium or  Sage Wilt will kill the plant. It is important if you have this problem not to replant any Sage in the same place again.  When selecting a plant to buy choose the most vigorous plant with the best coloring in the leaves as it can vary. Most forms are now produced by cuttings which easily root. You can grow the plain Salvia officinalis from seed but it will be more leggy compared to others.

Flowers of Salvia officinalis

The attractive flowers of Salvia officinalis are quite showy compared to other members of the mint family.

More wise advise on Sage:

My favorite site for all things herb and spice: http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Salv_off.html

Wiki page on Sage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvia_officinalis

When Jen asked me about featuring kiwi for November, I have to admit I was a little intimidated. And if you visit my blog, Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet and search for kiwi, you won’t find much. There’s a reason for that. I really don’t work a lot with kiwi and not because I don’t like it cause I like it a lot, but for me it’s usually the kind of ingredient that finds itself in a salad or in a crepe. Nevertheless, kiwi is a beautiful looking addition to any dish and is very sweet in taste which of course I love. So, I got over my initial shock and decided to go to work showcasing how I like to use this fruit.

First thing I wanted to understand was its origins and Jen’s post gives us such great information on how it grows. It reminds me of one of the main reasons I really like our blog is how we can tie in the origins of our chosen plant and then how to cook with it.

Kiwi which is really called “Kiwifruit”, but only shortened in some parts of the world. I had always called it kiwi so this was a new fact to me. Wikipedia says: Kiwifruit was originally known by its Chinese name, yáng táo (sunny peach) or Mihou Tao (Macaque peach). After it was introduced to New Zealand by evangelist Isabel Fraser, people in New Zealand thought it had a gooseberry flavor and began to call it the Chinese gooseberry, although it is not related to the grossulariaceae (gooseberry) family. New Zealand exported the fruit to the United States in the 1950s. Kiwifruit is full of Vitamin C, also it contains Vitamin E and A. It can be grown in most temperate climates with adequate summer heat. If you want to learn more about how to grow kiwi, check out Jen’s post, “All About that Fuzzy Fruit You Have“!

What I also learned from Jen’s post and my research that I thought was interesting is that kiwi flowers come in male and female. Interesting…I found a photo of what both look like and thought I’d post the pics below.


female kiwi plant


male kiwi plant

Another reason I was nervous about featuring kiwifruit was I thought our readers would be bored with my simple menu since like I mentioned earlier, I really only use it in salads or on the side of something, but I’m going bite my nails and take a chance that you won’t! LOL! I do think you’ll like how kiwi is added to each of these dishes and hopefully next time you’re shopping for fruit perhaps you’ll pick up some kiwi and use it more in your kitchen!

So let’s go through the menu for the month:

(A) Kiwi Fruit Crepe

(B) Ham & Melted Cheese over Blueberry Scone with Kiwi

(C) Kiwi Fruit Tart

(D) Kiwi Raspberry Yogurt

(E) Kiwi Strawberry-Topped Lemon Mousse Cheesecake

and finally a wonderful drink…

(F) Kiwi Mango Juice!

Let’s Jump In, shall we!

Kiwi Fruit Crepe
taken from Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet

Ingredients:
2 c. Bisquick
1 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. sugar
3 tbsp. cinnamon
3 eggs
powdered sugar (topping)

Preparation:
Mix all ingredients thoroughly in medium bowl. Fry in large frying pan (greased). Batter should be 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Cook on medium heat until golden brown. Flip then add fruit. strawberry, pears, kiwi, blueberries, pineapples, or any mixture you like – even bananas. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top to make it look pretty. Enjoy for breakfast or brunch!

Ham & Melted Cheese over Blueberry Scone with Kiwi

Ingredients:
Blueberry Scone:
1 c. fresh blueberries, rinsed & drained
2 tsp. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1-3/4 c. flour
3 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. milk
1/3 c. solid vegetable shortening
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 lg. eggs
About 1/3 c. cream
Cinnamon sugar

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir together 2 teaspoons flour and 1 teaspoon cinnamon; toss with blueberries, set aside. In large bowl mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. With pastry blender cut in shortening until size of small peas. In measuring cup beat eggs with a fork. Add enough cream to make 2/3 cup liquid, lightly stir egg mixture and berries into flour mixture. Handle dough as little as possible.

On lightly floured surface divide into 2 parts. Pat into a circle 6 inches across and 3/4 inch thick. Cut into 6 wedges. Place on greased baking sheet, brush top with milk and sprinkle cinnamon sugar. Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees or until lightly brown. Remove and set on a plate.

While scones are cooling, melt some cheddar cheese over ham slices. I do this in the microwave and then place on top of each scone. Let the cheese melt run down the scone too! Serve the kiwi on the side for a delicious breakfast!

Kiwi Fruit Tart

Ingredients:
1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
5 tbsp. chilled solid vegetable shortening
3 tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 tbsp. approx. ice water

Filling:

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 c. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. chilled whipping cream
3 kiwis, peeled, and sliced
Fresh strawberries, hulled, and halved
Fresh orange segments, well drained
1 tbsp. water

For crust: Combine flour, sugar and salt in medium bowl. Add shortening and butter and cut in until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix in enough water by tablespoonfuls to form dough that just comes together. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes. Roll dough out on lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick round. Transfer dough to 9 inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Trim and crimp edges. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line tart with foil. Fill crust with dried beans or pie weights. Bake 15 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely.
For filling: Using electric mixer beat cream cheese, sugar and lemon juice in large bowl until well blended. Add whipping cream and beat until light and fluffy. Spread filling into tart shell. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Arrange fruit in concentric circles atop filling. (Can be prepared 3 hours ahead. Refrigerate). Bring preserves and 1 tablespoon water to boil in heavy small saucepan. Strain into bowl. Brush glaze over fruit and serve.

 

Kiwi Raspberry Yogurt

Ingredients:
1 pkg. raspberries
4-6 kiwifruits
3 containers raspberry yogurt
Sugar to taste
Strawberry extract

Preparation:
Cut kiwi into quarters. Put all fruit in elegant glasses. In a small bowl, combine yogurt, 5-6 tablespoons of strawberry extract and sugar to taste. Mix well. Pour into fruit and blend well. Refrigerate and serve cold.

Kiwi Strawberry-topped Lemon Mousse Cheesecake

A cheesecake that is creamy as a mousse. It can be difficult to cut so dip slicing knife in warm water and wipe dry between each slice.

Ingredients:
Wafer crust
5 tbsp. butter, softened
6 oz. vanilla wafers
1/4 c. sugar

Lemon Mousse Filling:
3 lg. lemons
4 eggs
24 oz. cream cheese, softened1-1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. all purpose flour

Preparation:
For the crust: Coat a 9 x 3 or 10-1/2 x 2 inch springform pan with 1 tablespoon of butter. Seal the outside of the pan with foil. Process the wafers and sugar in a food processor into crumbs. Melt the remaining butter and add to the crumbs in a mixing bowl. Press mixture into the bottom of the pan.

For the filling: Grate 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, squeeze 3/4 cup juice. Set aside. Separate eggs. Put cream cheese in a bowl and beat until smooth. Gradually add 1 1/4 cup sugar and beat until light and fluffy (5 minutes). Add flour, egg yolks, lemon juice and zest then beat until smooth (1 minute). Whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining sugar while whipping the whites to firm peaks. Fold whites into the lemon butter.

Cooking: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Pour batter into the springform pan. Put the springform pan into a baking dish just large enough to contain it. Put dish in oven and add hot tap water to come 1 inch up the side. Bake until set and golden, 55 – 65 minutes. Transfer pan to a rack and cool. Cover cake and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours.

Serving: Layer some strawberries and kiwi onto a plate. Run a knife along edge of cake to loosen. Carefully remove pan rim. Place cake gently on top of fruit. Finish topping with remaining fruit. Note: Can be refrigerated 3 days or frozen up to one month.

Kiwi Mango Juice

Ingredients:
1 kiwi, peeled
1 orange, peeled, and sectioned
1 mango, peeled, and sliced

Preparation:
Mix in juicer or blender, pour, and serve!

That’s it folks for November! Enjoy your Thanksgiving this week everyone and check back with us next month for our next plant of choice !!!!

Kim


When I was going to school in North Vancouver we did our practicum at Park & Tilford Gardens. This is a tiny jewel which is now part of a larger shopping center. It is divided into several gardens which feature particular themes and styles. there are rose, herbal, oriental, native, white and a colonnade garden. The colonnade garden was a long curving walk which as under a massive pergola which was covered by enormous vines and flanked on both sides with many hanging baskets of Fuchsias. The vines had enormous green leaves which were covered with tiny hairs. To my surprise and delight discovered they were hardy Kiwi(Actinidia deliciosa)  vines which produced a crop of tasty fruit every fall.

 Kiwi fruit - Actinidia deliciosa

Some yummy Kiwi fruit growing, they still have a few months until they will be ripe.

At the time I saw these Kiwi vines at Park & Tilford Gardens, the fruit was relatively new to the grocery scene and was seen as an exotic novelty. When I moved to the Victoria area I would drive by several fields of what I thought were grape crops, I soon realized that they were actually Kiwi fruit vines. Kiwi have been grown as a commercial crop in the Saanichton area since 1985.  The first crops were harvested in 1988 and amounted to 1/4 million pounds of fruit. Now we get fresh organic fruit every year and  products such as wines, jellies and syrups are made locally.

Commercial Kiwi production.

Commercial Kiwi production fields can be found on the Saanich Peninsula.

Actinidia deliciosa and A. chineisis where at one time considered to be the same species, both produce large fruit with chinensis having less green pulp. There are many crosses between the two species and many of these are now grown commercially.   There are 55+ species of Actinidia and all species originate in Asia from Siberia through into more tropical areas.There are several other species which are much hardier that deliciosa or chinensis which are grown in colder areas. Another interesting thing is that these plants are single sexed(dioecious) in other words: if you want fruit you will need two Kiwi plants, a female and a male to produce fruit.

Female Actinidia deliciosa flowers

These appear to be female Actinidia deliciosa flowers.

Actinidia species are vigorous vining plants which can grow to 30 m(over 90ft). When developing plants for producing optimal crops regular pruning is done.  Kiwi fruit are best grown with support just like you would with grapes. They require 1 male to 9 females to get the best pollination for fruit developement. The male should be situated up wind from the female.

This wooden pergola with extra wire is a good support for this developing crop of Kiwis.

Kiwi  plants grow best in full sun with moisture retentive nutrient rich soil. They will tolerate some wet soils as long as it is well-drained. They are sensitive to fertilizer, so if you use it dilute more than normal so it odes not burn the plants.  Kiwis have fairly large leaves therefore they should be placed in areas without high winds which could damage them. Pruning is done when they are dormant and 1/3 of the vine which has grown that season should be removed.

Two types of commercially grown Actinidia deliciosa fruit.

Actinidia deliciosa and chinesis and their hybrids tolerate zone 8(-10c or 32f), it kept colder for any length of time damage will be done to the vines. Other species of Actinidia are much more coldd tolerant, taking zone 4(-30c or f).  They offer a touch of the exotic to your cold climate and give you attractive foliage, large flowers which are fragrant. These plants would not necessarily be grown for their cherry size fruit. I think Actinidia kolomitka is the most attractive with the tips of it’s leaves seeming to have been dipped in white and pink paint.
More on the fuzzy fruit:

All you want to know about Actinidia deliciosa: http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/kiwifruit.html

How to Grow Kiwi fruit: http://www.ehow.com/how_4686554_grow-kiwi-actinidia.html

I didn’t grow up eating pumpkin, we were more of a sweet potato family! I can’t ever remember my mommy using pumpkin at all. In fact, I was grown when I start eating it. Not sure if my mom just didn’t like it or what but I can certainly compare the taste of pumpkin vs. sweet potato:  to me, pumpkin’s flavor is more pungent, it’s sorta in your face like, “Notice me, I’m a Pumpkin!” Sweet potatoes have a more sweeter, more laid back flavor like it doesn’t have to be the star of the show! And, of course when you’re driving around town at this time of year in the U.S., you don’t see a bunch of sweet potatoes in the fields!!! haa haaa!

I love to see all the pumpkins out and people picking them up. So, when Jen and I chose to feature them this month, of course my mind went to the obvious dishes – pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, etc., but when I post a menu here I sorta want to break with tradition so I chose a more unconventional menu I think. And, I know my vegetarian friends will like this as well! As I mentioned, I didn’t grow up eating pumpkin so my first experience with it was pumpkin butter. At first, I wasn’t sure what the stuff would taste like but one of my dearest friends bought some for me for my birthday one year and I decided to try it. Well…after I put a little on my butter knife and tasted it, it wasn’t soon after that it found its way onto a slice of toast! And then, there were the pancakes, waffles, sandwiches, you name it! So….I was obviously hooked and off to experiment more with it.

So without further ado, I introduce you to this month’s menu featuring Pumpkin!

First off, we’ll start with:

Pumpkin Ginger Soup

Next…

Vegetarian Pumpkin Risotto

Pumpkin Orzo

with Pumpkin Whole Wheat Bread

And for Dessert…

Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake

Lastly,

I’ll share a recipe for Homemade Vegan Pumpkin Butter

So starting with our soup, I love to start any meal with a nice warm soup and to me this time of year is all about comfort. I generally curl on my loveseat with a blanket or quilt, have a bowl of soup and watch an old 1940s movie. So, this Pumpkin Ginger soup hits the spot!

Pumpkin Ginger Soup

Ingredients:
2 c. pumpkin, cooked
3 c. chicken broth
3 tbsp. butter
1 c. light cream
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium apple, diced
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt

Preparation:
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Saute onion and apple until tender. Stir in pumpkin, broth and spices. Remove from heat.
Process or blend until smooth. Return to saucepan and stir in cream. Heat through and serve.

Vegetarian Pumpkin Risotto

Even though risotto requires a lot of extensive stirring, I think it’s so worth the effort and the aroma of pumpkin cooking in the house is just insane!

Ingredients:
1 onion diced
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 c. risotto rice
1 c. apple juice
4 c. vegetable broth
1 c. canned pumpkin
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated or minced
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp. margarine
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
Saute the onion in olive oil over medium heat for three to five minutes, or until soft. Add the rice. Allow to cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Slowly add the apple juice.

Start to add the vegetable broth, 1/2 cup at a time. Allow the moisture to cook off before adding the next 1/2 cup. Stir frequently. Add remaining ingredients, stirring well, and cook for just a few minutes, until heated through.

Pumpkin Orzo

I know I’m doing two pastas but you can cook the risotto one day and then fix orzo another day! I adore Orzo and there are so many uses for it, put it on a bed of salad or let it be the side dish for Thanksgiving!

Ingredients:
1-1/4 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. canned pumpkin
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 c. orzo pasta
fresh basil for topping

Preparation:
In a medium saucepan, combine chicken broth, pumpkin, butter, honey, balsamic vinegar, ginger, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add orzo. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes, or until orzo is tender. Top with basil. Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Whole Wheat Bread

YUMMO! BREAD!

Ingredients:
1-1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. sugar
1/2 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1 c. solid pack pumpkin, preferably fresh (but canned works fine)
1/2 c. butter

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 1 loaf pan. Combine eggs and pumpkin in large bowl. Add flour, one cup at a time. Add sugar, baking powder and soda. Mix until smooth. Mix in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Pour batter into pan. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Invert onto rack and cool before slicing. Makes 1 loaf. Slice and serve!

Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake

I have a few friends who LOVE to bake pumpkin cheesecakes and I thought that would be perfect to share here instead of pumpkin pie. It is so good and one of the things I like about pumpkin is that it doubles as a veggie or as a dessert! Can’t beat versatility and diversity huh?

Ingredients:
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup pumpkin butter
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust

Preparation:
Combine pecans and 1/4 cup brown sugar; cut in butter or margarine with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Set aside. Beat cream cheese at high speed of an electric mixer until smooth. Add 1/3 cup brown sugar; beat well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in pumpkin butter. Pour mixture into crust.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 40 minutes and then sprinkle pecan mixture over pie. Bake for 5 additional minutes, or until butter or margarine and sugar melt. Cool on a wire rack. Cover, and chill for at least 4 hours.

Homemade Vegan Pumpkin Butter

And this is what started this love affair of mine! Pumpkin butter! Taken my Vegan All American Biscuits recipe from Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet.

Stirring is crucial in this recipe to prevent burning your pumpkin butter. If you must walk away, add a few tablespoons of apple juice and turn down the stove heat to medium-low, still continuing to stir as you can. (Add about 5-7 minutes additional cooking time if you do this.)

Makes about 2 cups, prep time: about 15 minutes, cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
1-15-oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 c. agave syrup*
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Pinch of salt

Preparation:

Combine the pumpkin and agave nectar* in a small saucepan over medium heat, mixing until well combined. Stirring constantly, cook for about 15 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in the spices and salt, and cook for about 5 minutes more. Remove the pan from heat, and transfer your pumpkin butter to a small heat-proof dish or jar. Let cool completely before covering and refrigerating. Pumpkin butter will keep for about 2 weeks in a covered container in the refrigerator.

_________________________

*Agave nectar also known as agave syrup is an alternative sweetener that can be used in place of maple syrup, honey or sugar in cooking and baking recipes. Derived from the agave plant, agave nectar has a higher ratio of fructose to glucose than most sweeteners, so it has a lower glycemic index and glycemic and is thus a good substitute for persons who are watching their blood sugar levels. Available in light to dark grades like other syrups, agave nectar can be found in most groceries and health food stores among baking products and other syrups.

I hope you’ll try some of these recipes or think of making any of them for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year, I’m sorta out with the old and in with the new myself!

Well…that’s all for this month everyone, I hope you enjoyed Jen’s and my take on pumpkin, tune in next month for our next chosen ingredient, you never know what we might write about so be sure to keep following and let us know what you think!

See ya next month!

Kim

At this time of the year the rainy season sets in here and there are few crops left in the fields to harvest. What is still left to be harvested will need a few more cold nights to sweeten the crop. Driving along Pat Bay Highway into Victoria I am reminded of the time of year by the Pumpkins lying waiting for some lucky family to come and pick them up to carve them into a Jack ‘o’ lanterns for Halloween.

The endless fields of Pumpkins along pat Bay Highway near Victoria.

The endless fields of Pumpkins along Pat Bay Highway near Victoria.

Pumpkins are a form of Squash and are from the family Cucurbitaceae which also includes cucumbers and gourds. It is an important agricultural family which produces many types of edible food which is enjoyed around the world.  Pumpkins in particular have been known to man for a very long time, the first evidence of human use dates to between 7000-5500 B.C. in Mexico. it was most likely the species Cucurbita moschata which is a species that tolerate hot temperatures.

Two unsuspecting Pumpkins in the field sunning themselves, little do they know what comes next!

Two unsuspecting Pumpkins in the field sunning themselves, little do they know what comes next!

Pumpkins are generally hybrids of several species which have been crossed to produce certain qualities such as size, better form for cooking and color variations. Then now famous ‘Giant’ Pumpkins are from the species Cucurbita maxima  were crossed and recrossed with Kobucha Squash by Howard Dill of Nova Scotia to produce the first Pumpkins over 500 pounds(227 Kg)  in 1981. Since that time the largest Pumpkins are weighing in at around the 2000 pound (907 Kg) range. This type of Pumpkin does not grow well here. Here we grow the standard Halloween pumpkins which are good for eating as well.

New ghostly colors of Pumpkins are become popular.

New ghostly colors of Pumpkins are become popular.

The name pumpkin originates in ancient Greece were melons called ‘Pepon’ meaning large melon. Pepon was in turn adapted by the French in to ‘pompon’. Pompon was then taken by the British and changed into ‘pumpion’. In America ‘Pumpkin‘ was first used as we know it today. Halloween as we know it is from the celebration of All Souls Day at the same time of year. It is a celebration of all souls who are in purgatory and all who have died. The tradition of carving vegetables comes from this event. Originally  large turnips were carved into lanterns to light the way. The use of pumpkins for carving started in the 1860s in North America where the fruit was more commonly grown.

Pumpkins large, small and mis-shaped all make good shapes for carving of the traditional Jack 'O' Lanter

Pumpkins large, small and mis-shaped all make good subjects for carving of the traditional Jack 'O' Lantern.

If you have the space, growing pumpkins is great fun especially for children. All parts of the plant are edible including the flesh, seeds, flowers and even the leaves.  Pumpkins are big eaters and need lots of nutrients to grow big and healthy. They require full sun and because they are vines, space to sprawl. A long hot summer will produce a great crop every time, this year was very good here for pumpkins.  Many people first grow their pumpkins on top of their compost heap which is a good way to make sure they are well feed. They also require a good supply of water during their fruit growing phase. Male and female flowers are separate so you might have to hand fertilize to get a good crop, it is best to do this in the morning when the flowers are freshly opened. The males are more frequently produced with the females having tiny fruit at the base of their flowers. You have to be quick to do the hand fertilizing as the flowers do not last long.

This Pumpkin has a ways to go before it is ready for carving.

This Pumpkin has a ways to go before it is ready for carving.

There are many types of pumpkin to choose from, it all depends on what you want to use it for. Most Halloween type pumpkins are great for eating, so be sure not to through it out after you use it. Pumpkins store very well because they have hard skins which protects them from being damaged easily. Other hard skinned squash include Hubbards and Kobucha.  Small oddly shaped Gourds have the hardest skins but are generally dried and not used for eating.

Hubbard Squash are closely related to pumpkins and the flesh can be used the same way in recipes.

Hubbard Squash are closely related to pumpkins and the flesh can be used the same way in recipes.

Next week Kim will post some tasty recipes for use of your Halloween Pumpkin, stay tuned for that.

Right now you can check her blog here: http://ordinaryrecipesmadegourmet.com/

Jen: I used to have a vegetable garden when I lived in Prince George which is a cool climate. Lettuce, carrots, potatoes, cabbage and many others grow very well there. The challenge was to grow the warmer climate, longer ripening  vegetables. I mastered them all with careful research on the best varieties for short season growing, sometimes as short as 1 month between frosts. One plant I especially wanted to grow were Tomatoes (Solanum lycopericum) which require lots of heat and sun.  Fortunately there are many special seed varieties of tomatoes just for northern climates and other tricky situations which grow just fine.

The many forms of heritage Tomatoes now available again for all to enjoy.

The many forms of heritage Tomatoes now available again for all to enjoy.

It is believed that the first Tomatoes which we might recognize came from the highlands of Peru. The plant diversified into 20 subspecies as it moved to different areas of the Americas. It is known that tomatoes have been eaten since prehistoric times in Mexico.  Hernando Cortez (1485-1547), the Spanish explorer is said to be the first European to have seen the fruit in the Aztec capital of Tenochititlan (modern day Mexico City). it is Cortez  who it is said introduced the fruit to Europe. The fruit he would have brought back to Europe would have probably been a small yellow fruit called ‘Xitmalt’ meaning plump thing with a naval.

A few of the many varieties available today, from large fleshy beefsteaks to the tiny berry forms.

A few of the many varieties available today, from large fleshy Beefsteak to the tiny berry forms.

Europeans where first suspicious of the fruit and thought it was poisonous, this was because early tableware had a high lead content.  The acid in the Tomatoes reacted to the lead and caused it to leech into food they were eating. Lead is highly toxic. Poorer people who used wooden plates and utensils never had this problem and commonly ate the fruit. Once dishes and utensils were made of better materials such as tin and porcelain Tomatoes made their way into wealthier families foods.

A family plot of Tomatoes.

A family plot of Tomatoes.

Tomatoes are especially popular which warmer climate countries such as Italy, Spain and of course South America. These countries have shown the way with their tasty use of tomatoes in all forms of cooking. As their forms of cuisine have become more popular, we have become more adventurous in using tomatoes in more unusual ways. We now use thick walled ‘plum’ tomatoes for making sauces, cherry  sweet Tomatoes for salads and for nibbling on and heirloom varieties for their rich deep unique flavors.

The big 'Beefsteak' Tomatoes are a favorite for Hambugers and sandwiches everywhere!

The big 'Beefsteak' Tomatoes are a favorite for Hamburgers and sandwiches everywhere!

Depending on your experience and the time you have, you can either start Tomatoes from seed or buy small starter plants. If you choose seed you can grow whatever type you want. I have always grown them from seed.  When growing them you need a sunny warm location which has food air circulation. they need to be well watered when growing and blooming and then less when the fruit is set. Tomatoes grow well both in the ground or in a large container which make them popular for patios and highrise apartments and condominiums.

This is the low acid Tomato variety 'Golden Girl'.

This is the low acid Tomato variety 'Golden Girl'.

Tomatoes like rich soil which drains well. It is important to stake your tomatoes to keep them off the ground as the fruit will rot if it is damp. Tomatoes have few problems if grown correctly and produce huge crops. Don’t worry if they do not all ripen before winter, there are many tasteful green tomato recipes such as relishes and chutney which will add flavor and interest to your dinner.

More on Tomatoes:

Tomato species: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomato

A great history of the tomato: http://www.tomato-cages.com/tomato-history.html

Hernando Cortez who brought us the tomato: http://library.thinkquest.org/J002678F/cortez.htm

Finally, how to grow them: http://www.helpfulgardener.com/vegetable/2003/tomatoes.html

Are You Tomato Crazy Like Me?

Kim: I have always loved tomatoes whether eating them or cooking with them, they are one of the things my kitchen can’t do without and every time I’m grocery shopping I buy them diced, tomato sauce, raw, paste, crushed – I don’t care, they have such good uses for all kinds of dishes!

https://i2.wp.com/ordinaryrecipesmadegourmet.com/red-tomatoes.jpg

I’ve never grown my own tomatoes yet but someday after we move out of our lovely apartment life (I’m being sarcastic), I’d love to actually have a garden and growing tomatoes are first on the list, let me tell ya! Now before my post here, I was doing research on red tomatoes but I was also curious about green tomatoes too and especially since I don’t use them much. And tomatoes is our choice for September so I couldn’t limit my recipes to just using the reds.

https://i2.wp.com/ordinaryrecipesmadegourmet.com/green-tomato-growing.jpg

Green tomato growing – beautiful!

To begin my menu, I’ll start off with a familiar one but maybe overlooked a bit…

Fried Green Tomatoes

https://i2.wp.com/ordinaryrecipesmadegourmet.com/fried-green-tomatoes.jpg

Ingredients:
2 or 3 green tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 c. flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for frying

Preparation:
Roll green tomato slices in flour. Salt and pepper and fry on both sides in oil until brown on both sides. Serve immediately. So good as a snack too!

Next on my list is a wonderful stuffed tomato and all my veggie friends will love this!

Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers

https://i2.wp.com/ordinaryrecipesmadegourmet.com/stuffed-tomatoes-peppers.jpg

I borrowed this recipe from Recipezaar and I think it’s a great way to use up fresh tomatoes!

Ingredients:
5 medium perfectly-ripe yummy tomatoes
5 medium green peppers
3/4 c. olive oil
15 tbsp. rice, 1-1/2 tbsp. per tomato or pepper, to be stuffed
1 large onion, chopped fine (about 1-1/2 cups)
3 garlic cloves, minced very fine
1/4 c. fresh spearmint, minced (1 1/2 tblsps dried, crumbled)
1/2 c. parsley, minced (or cilantro)
1/2 c. pine nuts or slivered almond
1/2 c. hard mizithra cheese or kefalograviera cheese or parmesan cheese, cut into tiny cubes
1/2 c. sultana raisins (optional)
1 tsp. salt (I like using kosher salt)
1/2 tsp. pepper
1-1/2 c. water
1/2 c. olive oil
1 tbsp. tomato paste
salt and pepper

Preparation:
Cut off tops of tomatoes (retain tops) and carefully scoop out flesh (retain this as well) and the tops of peppers (retain tops) and remove seeds and membrane.

Place tomatoes and peppers in a pan large enough to hold them comfortably and give each vegetable a tiny dash of sugar with the tips of your fingertips (important!). Take tomato flesh and process it until pureed.  Add olive oil, rice, onion, garlic, mint, parsley/cilantro, nuts, cheese, sultanas, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper (or season to taste). Stuff the vegetables evenly with this mixture.

Replace tops of tomatoes and peppers. Combine 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup olive oil with a scant tablespoonful of tomato paste and a little salt and pepper and pour this around the vegetable.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven (180 C) for approx 1-3/4 hours (vegetables should pierce easily and be slightly blackened in parts). Turn off oven and leave in for another hour to ‘set’ before serving. This is best served slightly warm or at room temperature.  YUMMY!!!

And no post on tomato is complete without using it in PIZZA so I won’t disappoint…

Tomato Mozzarella Pizza

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Ingredients:
1 pkg. Pillsbury pizza dough (regular or thin crust)
2 c. shredded mozzarella
1/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. fresh basil, snipped
2/3 c. mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, pressed
4 plum tomatoes (Roma tomatoes), thinly sliced
olive oil spray

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 12 x 15 cookie sheet with olive oil spray or just use a pizza stone (preferable). Roll dough onto cookie sheet. Sprinkle crust with 1 cup mozzarella.

Combine the remaining mozzarella cheese, parmesan, basil, garlic, and mayonnaise in bowl. Layer tomatoes over mozzarella and top with cheese and mayo mixture. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

I love all these dishes and I love how they can be served as snacks, side dishes, party or as an appetizer! I think it’s dinner time now and pizza sounds good to me right about now!!!

So that does it for our September choice but check us out next month where we pick another herb, plant, veggie or whatever is on our minds to write about! Haa haa!

Until next Month! Cheers!


Posted twice monthly by Jen and Kim