Famous Green Herb Sauce from Frankfurt, Germany

green herb

In Frankfurt, Germany they’ve long made a herb sauce of at least seven different herbs and wild greens. The cool uncooked sauce accompanies hard boiled eggs and hot young potatoes.

 

There are varied ingredients but the key seems to be seven greens or more, often consisting of borage, sorrel, parsley,dandelion, garden cress, chervil, and chives. Sometimes other freshly picked green herbs are used. Since my garden has several of these and I’ve wanted to try this dish I gave it a try. It’s simply too early  for several of these but my available fresh herbs as you’ll see in the photo from left to right, were lovage, parsley, tarragon,plantain, dandelion, fennel and chives. I removed roots, rinsed and coarsely chopped before dropping into the food processor. Sour cream seems to be the standby so I added a low fat version, creme fraiche, and non fat Greek yogurt. Whizzed it in the processor, tasted and added a hand full of spinach, a few drops of lemon juice, salt & pepper and gave it another whirl. Not truly knowing what to expect I was quite pleased and plan to make this again with different herbs as the gardening season moves along. green hwebs

The thoughts I’m having now is how many cuisines have a green sauce and am looking forward to working through more of them.

Winter Squash Muffins

SquashKatysSweetMeatKaty's squash muffin

 

These muffins are for Nichols Plant Day, Saturday, May 16th, 2015.

Katy’s Sweet, Sweet Meat type winter squash, upper left, has a smooth, rich flavor and is also one of the sweetest winter squash varieties. It stores well for the winter pantry. The squash run 7-12pounds, I split them open, remove seeds, turn flesh onto the pan and cook slowly at 325 fahrenheit. Pierce the rind and when it gently gives and you start to see some juice running the squash is cooked. There usually more than than can be eaten at one sitting so I often freeze extra in a one quart container and sometimes when a friend comes by I’ll ask if they would like a piece of cooked winter squash. Almost always, the reply is “Cooked?, Why yes.”  Let me add this squash turns sweeter after picking. we harvest in October before frost and always enjoy it at Thanksgiving on through March.

A local gardener who loves this squash has developed his own Katy’s Sweet Squash muffin recipe. He generously comes by with these at least once and sometimes twice a year.

Katy’s Sugar Meat Muffin Recipe

2 eggs
1 cup cooked Katy Stoke’s Sweet Meat Squash
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup milk
1½ cup sugar (we adjust to ¾ cup)
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt (may reduce or omit)
1 ¼ cup unbleached flour
½ cup wholewheat flour (or simply use 1 ¾ cup unbleached)
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup milk chocolate chips…the milk chocolate melds better with the squash than standard semi-sweet. Chocolate chips are optional but very good.

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees F.

Place eggs , oil, cooled squash, and milk into a bowl or mixer and whip. Sift sugar, soda,baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, salt and flour. (I double sift)

With a large spoon mix ingredients until lightly moistened. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips. Fill muffin or cupcake pans 2/3 full. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes. If using mini muffin trays bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
Fill muffin cups with paper liners or mist cups with a 50% oil/50% water emulsion from a small sprayer. Yield is 12 regular size muffins or 24 mini muffins.

Katy Stokes began selecting this variety in 2,000. One plant produced superb squash, she carefully selected her seed for planting the following year and did this for eight years. Every year she only planted seed from squash with the quality she sought. And now she supplies us with planting stock each year from only the very best and has developed a fine variety that is an ideal size for most household.

Katy Stokes began selecting this variety in 2,000. One plant produced superb squash, she carefully selected her seed for planting the following year and did this for eight years. Every year she only planted seed from squash with the quality she sought. And now she supplies us with planting stock each year from only the very best and has developed a fine variety that is an ideal size for most households.

 

Chiffon Cake -gluten free- with Magic Manna Flour Corn

Friends with celiac disease or otherwise unable to eat any gluten products will enjoy a delicious cake now and then. IMG_2836copyFor some keeping track of all ingredients is a paramount health concern. Carol Deppe, artisan corn breeder has introduced us to her versatile and flavorful Magic Manna flour corn. Wise in the ways of cooking for celiac disease she has developed the finest and most flavorful flour corn we’ve used baking.

Manna Flour CornChiffon cake made with Magic Manna Flour Corn flour is an authentic, no fussing cake with a simple substitution of this delectible corn flour for wheat flour. Baked in an angel food tin it produces a light  cake with a delightful aroma and flavor from the Magic Manna corn flour. Bob’s Red Mill also offers Corn flour for baking. It is widely available and can be found throughout the west and through the mail.

 This Chiffon cake has a fine texture and holds together perfectly when sliced. It is particularly convenient that home grown Magic Manna has soft kernels and can be ground in a coffee grinder, blender or a home style flour mill. Carol Deppe the breeder of this artisan flour corn recommends the “Whisper Mill”. After grinding freeze any extra corn flour in a well sealed heavy duty plastic bag to preserve quality and retain the savory aromatics.
The following recipe is an adaptation of the classic Williams-Sonoma Orange Chiffon Cake.
2 1/4 cups Corn Flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup seed or nut oil
6 whole eggs, separated,  plus 2 egg whites
2 Tablespoons finely grated orange zest
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Directions
Position a rack in the lower third of oven and preheat to 325 F.
Separate the eggs carefully as even a speck of yolk dropped in the whites will prevent them from fully expanding.
Mix Batter
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into bowl. Into a large bowl whisk to combine the oil, 6 egg yolks, orange zest, and water until well blended. Add flour mixture and set aside.
Beat the Egg Whites
In a bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium high speed, beat the 8 egg whites and the cream of tarter until soft peaks form. With a silicone or rubber spatula gently fold one-half the egg whites into the batter until almost blended. Second step, gently fold in the remaining egg whites with your spatula just until combined. Pour batter into an ungreased 10- inch tube or angel food cake pan. Using your spatula create a flat surface.
Bake the Cake
Bake approximately 50 to 60 minutes. Test with a toothpick inserted in the center to see it has no batter clinging to it when removed. If toothpick is dry, remove from oven and invert the cake onto a wire rack and let cool for one hour. When cooled run a thin-bladed knife around all edges of the pan including the center tube ind invert onto a serving plate. Serve as is, sprinkled with powdered sugar. Cut into wedges and serve. Leftover cake freezes well when wrapped in foil or plastic and will slice while still frozen.
Adapted from the Williams-Sonoma  Food Made Fast Series, by Lou Seibert Pappas.

Dandelion Bud Omelet

First Day of Spring. Here it was beautiful and sunny though once again rain was predicted. I was out pulling dandelions today and remembered how much we love a dandelion bud omelet. Here’s my recipe from Basic Herb cookery. They remind me of artichokes.

dandelion bud omelet½ cup dandelion buds

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon chives, chopped

4 eggs, lightly beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a 9-12” non-stick skillet on medium high. Saute rinsed and drained dandelion buds in butter until softened. Pour beaten eggs over buds and sprinkle choves over the eggs. Use a spatula to gently lift eggs in pan and let uncooked eggsrun under cooked portion. When bottom is golden and eggs have set on the outer edges, fold in half. Remove from heat and let firm up for about 30 seconds before serving.Two or three tablespoons Swiss or freshly shredded Parmesan cheese adds to the flavor.

Today I used a full cup of young buds and 6 eggs for three people. Our daughter gave us truffle salt so sprinkled that on…delicious, and with a bit of parmesan quite a delicious dinner. Garnished with a few blossoms and substituted fresh green onions for chives.

When pulling the dandelions I was struck by how many slugs were hanging around though I wasn’t seeing damaged buds, they obviously had been eating petals.

Winter Kale with Cranberries and Apples

Winter gardens are often brimming with kale sweetened from a few frosty days. There are many ways to serve this hyper nutritious vegetable. Young tender kale needs no special preparation other than removing stems thicker than a pencil. Over mature kale can be tough if the leaf veins are over developed. If so, remove the stem and most obvious veins, chop the kale and parboil six minutes. Strain, and braise in skillet following the recipe below. Parboiling is a traditional Mediterranean method and your kale will be more tender and milder in flavor.

Image

1 1/2 lbs kale, prepared following above directions
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste or 1 teaspoon Siracha sauce (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons white balsamic or cider vinegar
2 tart firm apples sliced vertically into ½” thick pieces Remove core but don’t peel

 Take a large skillet fitted with a lid and place on medium high heat; Add oil, and chopped onion and sauté until translucent. Now add coarsely chopped or parboiled kale and garlic. Cook ten minutes or until tender. Toss in a handful of dried cranberries, a touch of hot sauce and salt and turn with spatula. When kale is cooked add slender vertical slices of two unpeeled tart apples, Cover, let sit ten minutes and it’s ready to serve. The objective is to have tender kale and semi cooked apples.

Triple Ginger Cookies

Served @ Nichols 2013 Plant Day and a few tea and Ginger Cookiescookie Saturdays. My favorite cookie. Easy to make the dough can be frozen and pulled out as needed. Use unsalted butter for a crisp cookie. we offer the spices listed below and recommend the Bakers Cut Ginger, so easy to handle and the Vietnamese Cinnamon is rich in flavor. I tend to usually not cloves but they belong on this cookie. Grating a cold cube of butter is a quick solution when butter is cold from the refrigerator.

Oven temperature 350 degrees  Form into 1″ balls  Bake 12 minutes  Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper and leave cookies on sheet for three minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Makes two to three dozen cookies depending on size. With a 1″ ball I get 30 cookies.

2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon Vietnamese/Saigon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves, ground
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup Bakers Cut Ginger or minced crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon pressed minced fresh ginger juice
1 cup light brown sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter (softened or grated)
1 egg
¼ cup unsulphured molasses

Sift first six ingredients and set aside. Place remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl, turn to medium low speed and when ingredients are well combined add flour mix one cup at a time and only mix until it develops a dough like consistency. Place dough in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Remove and follow instructions above. These cookies spread  so don’t place closely together.
*The ginger juice will be about 1/2 teaspoon and can be pressed through a very clean garlic press. If frozen and thawed before pressing it will be quite easy.

Celeriac Salad

Celeriac Salad is one of our winter favorites. A little unusual, easy to prepare, and keeps for three to four days. Serve as a salad or add to sandwiches.
February through mid-March is the time to start your celeriac transplants, they will seem slow to start but become quite robust. They’ll store through winter and an average root weighs up to a pound or more. Transplant to a sunny spot and you can keep in the ground unless a hard freeze is anticipated. These root cellar beautifully or store in damp sawdust. An unusual factoid is roots are probably the original jack-o-lanterns and were carved into fearsome faces.

Celeriac Salad

Celeriac shredded 1 pound to 1.25
Carrots,  3 peeled
Cilantro  ½ cup chopped and not packed
Garlic   2 gloves minced or pressed
Lemon juice ¼ cup
Olive oil 3 T
Sour cream 1T
Mayonnaise 2T, lowfat ok
Salt & pepper to taste

Peel the celeriac, cut into chunks and shred in a food processor. I always exert a little pressure for a thicker shred. Cut carrots into chunks and shred. Rinse cilantro and set aside. Mix garlic with following ingredients for dressing. Mix vegetables and dressing until well combined and then add cilantro. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and I hope you will enjoy.

Festive Holiday Salad of Reds & Greens

For holiday potlucks we like to do a little extra. Set on a bed of tender greens, this salad combines reds, greens and white as a holiday theme.holiday salad

Ingredients:

Butter Lettuce, Mache, & Radicchio, dressed lightly with oil, vinegar and salt

Roasted Beets: Peel, slice into narrow vertical strips, drizzle with oil, vinegar, salt and optional pomegranate molasses. Set in an inner ring over greens.

Deviled Eggs: 12 eggs hard boiled. Yolks, mashed and  combined with a rounded teaspoon Dijon or your favorite mustard, a quarter teaspoon of salt and black pepper. Fill eggs with yolk mix. If any of the whites hopelessly break apart just add yolk to mixture and set aside or discard the whites. As a last step place eggs.

Parsley, rinsed and chopped, 1/3 cup…sprinkle over beets and salad greens followed by pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranate Seeds: Purchase ready to use if possible. Used about 1/3 of a cup and provided a delightful crunch.

Place eggs around salad and take to your event. Do not cover with plastic wrap, it will make a mess of the eggs. Sit it all on a large tray or cookie sheet in back of car.

Roasting beets: I wrap them individually in foil and roast at 350 for about an hour. This time I made the mistake of not peeling shortly after roasting and that did not save time.

Achoca with Sweet Red Peppers

Achoca (Cyclanthera) is sometimes referred to as a stuffing cucumber. It is native to the Andes and much cooked in Bolivia and is also grown and eaten in Bhutan. Recipes are difficult to find, most commonly it is stuffed with a rice & meat combination.  I have made this but found filling small fruits rather time consuming. They can also be filled with cheese and baked. These are good sliced and used with mixed veggie stir fries. In Bolivia, garlic is standard with achoca so this recipe is extra generous. This mild vegetable picks up other flavors and seasonings. I like the appearance of the halved fruits, they cook easily in a skillet with high sides. In this photo fruits ranged from 2” to 5” in length.
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons of oil
3 large cloves of garlic coarsely chopped (1.5 tablespoons)
½  to one cup sweet red pepper strips
1 pound or six cups of achoca halves, scooped free of seeds and pith
1 teaspoon or more Siracha sauce

With any stir fry it is best to have all the prep work done before cooking begins. Scoop out any loose material and seeds from the Achoca halves. Dried mature seeds may be used in a future garden. Heat skillet, when hot add garlic and in a few seconds add pepper strips. Last add achoca halves and stir and turn until they are softened about 5 minutes. If they are not yet tender cook for another one or two minutes, add Siracha sauce and salt to taste. This amount of siracha gives a spicy but not overpowering amount of heat but taste your way to your own preference.

Shishito Peppers Fresh Fried

This time of year peppers are in glorious high production. A simple delicious preparation is to fry fresh thin walled peppers in a bit of olive oil until the skins are blistered. sprinkle with a bit of salt and eat holding the stem, pepper, seeds and all. This batch was with our Japanese Shishito Peppers which have the slightest spicy tang. Just recently a member of our book group fried up Spanish Padron Peppers picked fresh from her garden. They were equally delicious and very similar in taste to the Shishito we’ve been eating. Several years ago we were in Mexico and the restaurant served us Serrano peppers fried in a bit of oil and salted. Same preparation and a relatively thin walled pepper. These were hot as blazes and so delicious we kept eating though our faces were getting a little red. I urge you to give this seasonal treat a try.

Methley Plums – The Taste of Summer Food

This summer is the year of fruit. One crop of fruit goes banging into the next. My fingers are hopelessly purple after spending a weekend up to my elbows in Methley Plums Cherries, gooseberries, currants have come and gone and our previously most ungenerous plum has produced a bounty of fruit.

Sam Benowitz of Raintree Nursery in Washington, saw this early plum was forced into bloom for the Seattle Northwest Flower & Garden Show several years ago when NW Garden Writers Assoc. members and Pierce County WA Master Gardeners teamed up to construct a food garden promoting the GWA “Plant A Row For The Hungry” program. We received a gold medal and The People’s Choice Cup”. It was time for me to retire from designing show gardens.

When we dismantled the garden I purchased this plum tree from Sam and planted it in our home garden. While it has a lovely spring shower of blooms, in previous years the fruits have been small and sparse. This year we have a huge supply of medium sized Japanese plums. The fruits are a deep red, a delicious sweet tart flavor and a good size for eating out of hand. The pits are not freestone but can be cut in half and popped out with a paring knife. The deep colors must mean it’s full of anthocyanins and bioflavonoids.

With this much fruit, I’ve had ample opportunity to experiment on how what to do with pecks of plums. These are recipes which we can wing it with the abundance of summer, so nothing precise, be careful with hot peppers, the heat can build. I’m not giving you my recipe for jam failure but it happened. Eat your fill of these fresh plums. They’ll store for about two weeks in a refrigerator.

Fresh Plum Salsa, chopped up plums, jalapenos, cilantro, a colorful bell pepper, onion, a little garlic, lime juice and salt. If you want to use a processor do it with a light touch. I prefer the chopped texture.

Chipotle Plum Barbeque Sauce, 6 cups of pitted plums, 3 medium onions, t tablespoon chipotle chili powder & one tablespoon smoked paprika, or 2-3 chipotles in adobo sauce, 3 large cloves of garlic, minced, ½ cup cider vinegar sugar and salt to taste after cooking. Run these ingredients in a food processor or finely chop. Put in a heavy non-reactive pan and simmer until thickened. Give these an occasional stir and it’s good to be doing another kitchen task so you can make there is no scorching. Remove from heat, season with sugar and salt. When cool package some up in small containers and share.

Plum Purple Basil Pie, Use any good pie recipe, I prefer those heavy on the fruit. Check out a peach pie recipe and simply substitute plums. The purple basil brings in a nice spicy flavor without little green specks but any basil can be used. A touch of cinnamon can be added.

Plum Dessert Sauce three cups of halved or quartered plums, 1 cup red wine, 2 tablespoons lavender flavored a honey ( a gift that is too strong for toast but good in sauces and lemonade)…add more if you think best, ½ cup sugar, 4 crushed or freshly ground cardamom seeds and 1 teaspoon vanilla. A little cinnamon, a bay leaf, a few drops of almond flavoring or liquor are all possible additions. Prepare the plums while you bring other ingredients to a boil in a non-reactive pan, reduce liquid by about 1/3.  Add plums and gently cook for three minutes. If sauce seems too thin for your liking pour off some of the juices, cool slightly and combine with 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Reheat until starch is cooked, it will be transparent. Excellent with pound cake, a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream. Homemade pound cake, good ice cream or real whipped cream recommended.

If you have a good supply of plums give one of these recipe suggestions a try and don’t be hesitant to tweak to your taste. These should work with almost any plum variety. I see our crop from the Prunus Mume is maturing fast. Just rubbing one leaves a fragrance on my fingers but coming up with something besides salted ume’ plums may be a challenge but oh, to capture the fragrance when it’s not an eating plum.

Hop Shoots Picking & Preparing

Hop shoots are a gardeners’ treat in early spring. Here are photos of them growing by the entry arbor to our herb garden at Nichols Garden Nursery. I snapped off a small bundle of emerging shoots, selecting for short tender stems and tips. Much admired in Belgium and France, where they are known as Jets de Houblon. Mature hop vines are actually more productive of hop cones when some shoots are removed.
To prepare plunge your tender shoots into salted boiling water, cook for 2 minutes and then drain. The timing can vary a bit cook only until barely tender. While shoots drain, poach eggs in fresh water (to avoid discoloration) or gently fry. Reheat shoots in butter and sprinkle over freshly cooked eggs. Don’t miss dipping a few hop tips into egg yolks.
Where these shoots are abundant they are variously sauced with béchamel, used as an omelet filling, served as a vegetable and pickled. Pickling does sound like a lot of effort for an ephemera of springtime. I’d most surely be appreciative of another’s accomplishment.

Indigo Rose Tomato Salad

This is our favorite salad using Indigo Rose OP Tomato, our new introduction for 2012. We had it nearly every day last summer and eagerly look forward to enjoying it again. Other small salad tomatoes can also be used but to my mind none are as beautiful as Indigo Rose in this delicious combination of taste and color. The deep purple exterior is rich in anti-oxidant anthocyanins and the interior of these 2” fruits is a rich bright red. The flavor is bright, tart and pleasant.

It is important to mention, Indigo Rose, the world’s first high anthocyanin tomato is a result of traditional breeding and selection over many years and not a result of genetic engineering. Bred at Oregon State University by Dr. Jim Myers, it is the result of growing out the best selections over more than a decade selecting for performance, coloration, and flavor. it is open-pollinated.
We are pleased to introduce this fine and unusual selection in 2012. We start our tomatoes from April 1 to April 15th and transplant around Memorial Day weekend.

Ingredients:

10-12 Indigo Rose Tomatoes (weight about 1.5 to 2 lbs.
3 tablespoons diced sweet onion
1 tablespoon white balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped parsley
6 ounces feta cheese (not non fat)

Directions: Cut each tomato into quarters. Gently combine tomatoes, onion, vinegar, oil, salt and parsley. Place in bowl and sprinkle with coarsely crumbled feta cheese. This salad is also very good with one or two tablespoons of chopped basil. Serve, this can be easily doubled and serves 3 to 8 depending on whether this is a dinner salad, with bread, or simply salad.

Oranges & Sweet Violets

Spring violets, Viola odorata, are edible flowers with a color and fragrance that compliments fresh naval oranges when both are at their peak. Peel or cut away the orange rind, leaving as little pith as possible. Cut into 1/3” inch slices. Allow one orange per person and place on individual serving dishes. Drizzle with 1/2 tsp. mild honey. Garnish with spring violets or candied violets. This light dessert is the perfect conclusion to a winter meal. A few drops of orange liquor can be sprinkled over the oranges.

Some gardeners dislike wild violets in their yards but we enjoy the fragrance and appeal of wild violets. Their scent seems to come and go because our scent receptors become exhausted and must have a few minutes to revive before we can again enjoy this definitive fragrance.

Marinated Winter Squash Salad

I‘m always looking for easy ways to use our crops of winter squash and have adapted this unusual recipe found in “Cooking From An Italian Garden by Scaravelli & Cohen. A cooked salad from winter squash struck me as novel and I wasn’t disappointed. The squash in the photo is Sibley Select, a sweet thick-fleshed Cucurbita maxima. Other varieties of winter squash are also suitable and find them preferable to pumpkin.

Winter squash 2-2.5 lb. piece, deseeded.

Roast in oven 30-45 minutes, only until

it can be pierced by a fork but is still firm

1 red or green bell pepper, diced

2-3 green onions finely sliced

1 rounded Tbsp capers (optional)

Dressing:

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar

1 tsp. Nichols Malibu blend or ½ tsp oregano

2 garlic cloves finely minced

A few drops of Tabasco or Sriracha sauce

Allow lightly roasted squash to cool. Remove rind and cut into ½ inch cubes. Add chopped bell pepper and onions and combine with squash mixture.Add dressing and mix. Cover and marinate for at least one hour, or preferably overnight. When ready to serve add salt to taste and sprinkle with 2-3 Tbsp.chopped fresh parsley. Serve at room temperature.

The flavor of garlic and hot pepper can intensify overnight. To correct add more chopped bell pepper or ½ cup chopped celery. This keeps for three to four days and is quickly transformed into soup with a 13 oz. can of coconut milk and ½ cup water. Blend until smooth. Place all in a medium size saucepan and simmer for ten minutes. Serve garnished with a sprinkle of cilantro.

Spicy Squash Soup with Vanilla

Spicy Squash Soup with Vanilla

Use pumpkin or winter squash interchangeably for this recipe. The vanilla may seem unusual but it sweetens and marries the flavors. Some squash are so sweet and scrumptious they only need a few drops.

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup half & half (nonfat ok)

2 cups mashed or processed  squash or pumpkin

¾ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper or Chili powder

(¼ to ½ teaspoon vanilla hold in reserve)

 

On the side offer additions of sharp cheddar, chopped cilantro, small corn chips. Heat stock and cream together in a heavy saucepan, whisk in pumpkin and seasonings. Let slowly simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add vanilla last wait five minutes and then increase if you wish. The chips and cheese usually add sufficient salt but again season to taste.

Country Pate with Beer & Fennel

This fairly coarse textured pate was adapted by a friend from an old recipe containing hefty amounts of veal and bacon. Her slimmed down version is moist and delicious, we served it as an appetizer Christmas day. The plate pictured has a slice of  pate from the recipe below, slices of crunchy Pickled Elephant Garlic, a zesty pickle, pickled beets, mustard, bread, fig jam and Keane’s fresh sauerkraut. I like the fact this recipe is for two pans of pate, the second one goes with us to a gathering later this week. There’s a fine line between pate’ and meatloaf and I think compression with a heavy weight as it cools produces is key to success.

This is a long and detailed recipe and it’s best to read through before beginning. A few sips of beer will help the cook along with preparation. I strongly advise you use the meat thermometer to test that temperature in center of each loaf reaches 165 F before removing from oven.

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ cups fresh parsley leaves, minced, or run in processor
  • ½ cup shelled pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 3 pounds sweet Italian turkey sausage, removed from casings
  • 2 cups beer, not too bitter
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • Eight oz. of baguette or rustic Italian bread crumbed in a processor
  • 1 rounded tablespoon Nichols Malibu seasoning or two teaspoons marjoram and a half teaspoon each of oregano and sage.
  • 4 or 5 large eggs
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 10 whole bay leaves

Preparation:

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and scallions and cook until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the onion mixture to a large mixing bowl. Stir in the parsley, pistachios and fennel seeds.
  2. Saute the sausage in two batches in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Cook each batch for 2 or 3 minutes, crumbling the sausage into smaller pieces with the back of a  wooden spoon. Add ½ cup of beer to each batch and cook just until the sausage is no longer pink. Add each batch to the mixing bowl and stir to combine with the onions.
  3. Add the ground chicken breast to the same skillet and cook with another ½ cup beer just until the chicken turns white. Add to the mixing bowl.
  4. Add breadcrumbs, herbs, and the remaining ½ cup beer. Cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds and then add to the mixing bowl. (If you’ve overcooked your sausage and there are large clumps either let it cool a bit and break apart with your fingers or run in your processor.)
  5. Add 4 eggs to the pate mixture and beat to make a moist but not wet, meat-loaf-like mixture. Add the last egg if necessary to bind the mixture. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Test for taste by cooking a small bit in the microwave or skillet.
  6. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  7. Line each pan with parchment paper covering both the sides and bottom. Let the ends of the paper hang over the edges of the pan. Place 3 bay leaves in a row down the center of each of two 9 x 3 inch loaf pans.
  8. Pack the pate mixture into each pan, pressing down firmly with your hands or a spatula. Place two bay leaves on top of each pate.  Cover the top each pate with a sized to fit piece of parchment paper.
  9. Bake the pates for 1 ½ hours or until internal temperature from a thermometer it has reached a safe temperature of 165 degrees. Remove the pate’s from the oven and weight for several hours as they cool. I recommend placing a bread pan on top of each pate and a couple bottles of wine as weights. Refrigerate for several hours.
  10. To unmold the pate remove the top piece of parchment paper run a knife around the sides of each pan and invert the pate onto a clean surface. Remove remaining parchment paper.
  11. This pate will keep up to 2 weeks foil wrapped in the refrigerator. The pate can also be frozen, tightly wrapped in a plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil, up to 2 months.
  12. Makes two 9 x 3 inch pate’s.

Pickled Elephant Garlic

Pickled Elephant Garlic A member of the leek family, Allium ampeloprasum like all garlic doesn’t produce viable seed. In spring mammoth scapes appear and can be harvested when flower buds form. For all types of garlic removing the flower buds directs the plant’s energy into bulb formation. These are a delicacy when sautéed. Come back for a recipe in late spring.

Pickling is a natural for these large mild cloves. So I offer you this recipe with the greatest  respect for those who develop pickling recipes. The flavors change and develop over the first six weeks and even longer and it is important to have it acidic enough to not cause botulism. The vinegar mixture needs only brought to a boil and then poured into the jar. Vinegar boiled in an open kettle for more than a few minutes will evaporate acetic acid reducing overall acidity.

Makes 2 pints

Ingredients
2 to 3 heads Elephant Garlic
4 cups white wine vinegar
¼ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
6 whole cloves
¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
2 bay leaves
4 dried or fresh chili peppers

Directions: separate bulbs from garlic heads. Remove the skins and trim the root base. Cut bulbs lengthwise into three sections. In a saucepan put vinegar, spices, sugar and salt on to heat.

Put canner or stockpot on to boil with enough water to cover jars during processing. Put lids into hot water to soften while jars are prepared.

Slit peppers with a knife tip in 3-5 places.  Place pieces of garlic, a bay leaf and peppers into freshly washed rinsed jars. Dip a spoon into brine, scoop out spices and add to jars. Add hot brine mixture to jars leaving ½” headspace. Wipe edges with a clean cloth or paper towel. Cover with heated lids and gently tighten rings.

Place jars in simmering waterbath. Jars should be covered by no more than an inch of water. Bring water to a strong simmer and once bubbles begin rising to surface process for 12 minutes. Remove jars from kettle and cool. Because I’m intimidated by any thoughts of spoilage or botulism my jars go into a refrigerator, another good reason for the small batch approach. The lids will  be depressed as a sign of sealing. Your garlic should be fresh and is ready to eat in ten days but I prefer six weeks. I like to cut into sections when serving. A true garlic aficionado may want a third of a clove or more.

Greek Pumpkin Pie

This version of pumpkin pie, incorporates winter squash or pumpkin, with gently cooked onion, feta, spearmint and filo, traditional Greek foods. Well the pumpkin is a little unusual but I have frozen winter squash left from last year. There are versions that are sweet as well as savory. I plan to make it again and will add half a cup of golden raisins, and ¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper not so traditional but I think the flavors will compliment. Aleppo pepper is offered by Nichols and is a Syrian hot sweet paprika that is coarsely ground. I use a lot of this in my cooking, it’s a gentle intensely flavored pepper not widely available in this country. The coiled design is traditional but if you are in a hurry cook it as you would Spanakopita with a few layers of filo, then filling topped with 6-8 sheets of filo.

4 cups baked or canned Pumpkin or Squash, pureed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ large onions sautéed in olive oil

¾ lb. feta cheese ,crumbled

1 ½ tbls. dried spearmint,

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 heaping tablespoons dry breadcrumbs or panko (see preparation notes)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1lb filo defrosted and allowed to sit out of refrigerator for one hour

1 10” Spring form pan coated with olive oil

Preparation: I used Sibley Squash which is not as moist as fresh or canned pumpkin. If you are using pumpkin try to pour off any visible liquid and include breadcrumbs which will be unnecessary with many squash.

Sauté onions finely chopped (a whirl in the food processor is fine) in olive oil for about 8 minutes at medium heat. Combine pumpkin, cooked onion, cheese, spearmint, crumbs, salt & pepper and taste. Note: eggs are added last so you can safely taste this mixture and check seasoning. Last stir in eggs.

Turn oven to 350 degrees and have a rack in center

Unwrap package of filo, and cover sheets with a tea towel.

On a clear work surface take first filo sheet, place it horizontally in front of you and very lightly brush with olive oil. Sheets do not need to be evenly coated. Place a second sheet on top of first and make an even strip of filling 2” above the lower edge and filling to the left and right margins. I used a scant ½ cup for each strip. Fold filo over the filling and roll over lightly brushing each turn with olive oil until you have completely rolled your first coil. Place this along the inside edge of pan. Lay each coil next to the last end and work to center until the pan is filled. Should you have extra filling wrap separately in filo and bake. If it looks as though you’ll run short start using a little less filling as you finish. Mine did come out exactly even with these amounts.

Lightly brush top of pie with olive oil and place in preheated 350 degree oven. Cook for one hour and check. If dough is still looking pale continue cooking and check at ten minute intervals until nicely browned. Carefully remove the pan ring, first running a knife blade along edge.  Allow to cool for twenty minutes and then transfer to serving plate. Run a spatula all under pie to loosen before transferring. This recipe runs rather long because these steps will be new to most readers. If  you have access to sheep milk feta buy it,  as it produces a superior result. this pie served with a little salad is an adequate dinner and also a good side dish. This is good hot or cold. Reheat in a warm oven. A microwave does no favor to filo based dishes as they lose the delightful crisp quality and begin to steam.

Baked Kale

An old Nichols recipe  recently requested. Here goes

One of my favorite winter vegetables is nutrient packed kale. This ancient vegetable comes in many forms, curled green Scotch, juicy Red Russian Kale, purple-red Redboor Kale that¹s almost too pretty to eat, upright black Tuscan kale, traditional in Italian soups.

Baked Kale

2 1/2 pounds kale, washed, stripped from ribs, and coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons butter

2 1/2 tablespoons flour

11/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (hot)

1/2 cup grated Swiss or Jarlsberg cheese

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3 – 6 drops hot pepper sauce3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs. p

Using a large nonstick skillet sauté kale with oil. The wet leaves will quickly cook down as you stir it around, cooking for 7 to 10 minutes. Add a little water to kale if it becomes dry. It should be slightly moist when cooked. Remove from heat and set aside. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan set on low heat. Stir in flour and continue stirring for 2 minutes. Vigorously whisk in the hot broth and cook until well thickened. Stir in pepper, nutmeg and hot pepper sauce and add to kale. Place mixture in a buttered shallow baking dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs over kale and then top with cheese. Bake until mixture is bubbly and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.

Pasta with Garlic, Olive OIl & Parsley or “Aglio et Olio”

Our Nichols Garlic harvest is beautiful this year and what’s better to serve than pasta featuring fresh from the field garlic? This is a simple side dish, rich in garlic flavor and aromas, a good extra virgin olive oil and plenty of chopped fresh parsley.

Serves 2-4                                                                               

Ingredients

1/2 cup chopped parsley

2 quarts boiling water with 1 teaspoon salt

6-8 oz of dry spaghetti or linguine

4 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preparation is the key to this recipe. First rinse and chop parsley then set aside so you can give full attention to past and garlic as they cook. Peel and chop garlic and set aside.  Bring salted water to a boil and add pasta, gently stirring into water so it does not break or stick to pot.

Take a large skillet and heat to medium low temperature. Add olive oil and garlic, gently cooking with no trace of browning. If it’s cooking too fast lift pan from heat and reduce temperature. Garlic is cooked only until soft ands aromatic. Cook pasta in boiling salted water for 8 minutes, until barely tender. Scoop from pot and add to skillet with parsley. Gently combine ingredients and serve piping hot with a grating of fresh black pepper. This is traditionally served without cheese but add if you like. Garlic can be increased to suit your tastes but always cook slowly as it is retains the rich garlic flavor and aroma. Sprinkle with few red pepper flakes for a light flavor burst.

Bitter Greens

When garden greens are overly mature, on the verge of bolting, aging and consequently becoming bitter and less than tender and succulent use this classic Mediterranean technique. In Italy and Greece where people treasure their cooked greens and enjoy a slight bitterness they commonly parboil the greens in lightly salted water and then saute’ these greens in olive oil and a little garlic.

I use this method with mixed and aging greens of, endives, chicory, mustard, pac choi, chard etc. Into the pot of boiling water go chunky stems and leaves washed, but barely trimmed. If stems seem truly tough I either discard or toss those in a minute ahead of the leaves. Boil for three minutes and drain in a colander while heating a skillet with olive oil and a generous amount of chopped garlic that is  allowed to soften but not  brown. Dump in the greens and stir around for another three to four minutes. On occasion, I’ve  added seed free sliceed Kalamata olives, dried currants, raisins or a sprinkle of pepper sauce. Serve on a platter hot or at room temperature, sometimes surrounded by fresh lemon wedges. The volume of these greens is dramatically reduced. This double cooking method results in very tender delicious greens. There is absolutely no reason to do anything more than a slight chopping of these greens. While I’m sure leftovers would be good we’ve yet to have any.

I’d say use any of your garden greens except large amounts of carrot leaves which don’t taste good and in spite of a recent article to the contrary, the jury is still out on whether these are healthful to eat. You’ll lose a few vitamins by boiling but you will be be preparing a dish with a high nutrient profile yet low in calories.

Malibu Herb Blend & Eggplant Dip

Fooling around in the kitchen has led to a new herb blend and an eggplant dip I hope you will enjoy. We served it with  slices of fresh carrot, fennel and kohlrabi. Try any crisp veggies you have or crackers. 

2 cups roasted eggplant, peel discarded

1/2 cup Greek or other natural yogurt

1 tablespoon Malibu Herb Blend

3 tablespoons virgin olive oil

2 diced paste tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon garlic granules or 1 medium minced garlic clove

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried

If your  yogurt has a lot of liquid try pouring off that excess and then add yogurt to mixture. The tomatoes do not need peeling. Combine all ingredients and if desired salt to taste. You’ll find this a snap to prepare and a healthful starter to meals when you want to serve a little something before dinner.

PEPPERCORN SHORTBREAD

Shortbread is such a classic favorite. Simple, easy to find ingredients, uncomplicated to prepare and always good, sometimes better , sometimes best, but always good.

Helen, who works at our nursery, created this four pepper shortbread and today a customer writes they’ve lost the recipe so here it is! We usually serve this at our annual Nichols Plant Day.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature plus a bit to butter pan

2 1/2 cups presifted unbleached flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons coarsely ground Nichols Four Pepper Blend

3/4 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Lightly butter a 10″ spring form pan, set aside

Stir together flour, salt and 2 teaspoons Nichols Four Pepper Blend, set aside

Put butter and powdered sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until fluffy, about two minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixing just until combined.

Using spatula spread dough evenly into prepared pan, smoothing top. Lightly mark dough into wedges or cubes.Bake until shortbread is light golden brown about one hour twenty minutes. “I like to line pan with a circle of parchment paper.”

Transfer pan to wire rack. Immediately sprinkle with granulated sugar and remaining teaspoon of Nichols Four Pepper Blend. Remove spring form rim and place pan on a cooling rack. let cool, transfer to a flat surface and cut into wedges or cubes.

Turnips Pickled Pink

5 medium turnips, peeled
1 small beet
2 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
1 to 1.25 cups sugar
1.5 tablespoons salt

Peel and cut turnips into ½” x 2” sticks (approx). Does not need to be precise. Try to maintain a ratio of one beet to five turnips. Peel the beet and cut into sticks as well. Place turnips and beets into a large glass jar, layering as you work. In a non-reactive pot combine water, vinegar, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Carefully pour the slightly cooled liquid over turnips & beets, covering completely. Cover with a loosely fitted lid.
Turnips will absorb color and show some shrinkage. Set on kitchen counter, should be ready in four to five days and store under refrigeration. This recipe has many versions, some without any sweetening. Do be careful to use tender non-woody turnips.