Tag Archives: garden

Strawberry, Leek & Goat Cheese Quesadilla.

28 Aug

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I sometimes forget how a few simple ingredients can come together to make a dish that truly stands out. This is one of those recipes, and I would like to thank Sara Forte for bringing this to my attention in her cookbook of delights, The Sprouted Kitchen – a tastier take on whole foods.

I try and utilize fresh ingredients which haven’t traveled too far as often as I can. This recipe called for fresh strawberries, and there are plenty of berries around this time of year. Another main component of this unusual (amazing!) take on a quesadilla is goat cheese, which is another locally produced item that is fairly easy to find. Pair those with leeks, mozzarella and brown rice tortillas, and you’ve got the makings of a memorable treat.

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Leeks and strawberries and goat cheese? Yes, they do work together. Each of these ingredients has its own distinct flavor characteristic which manage to meld together in such a way that you are left wondering why you haven’t ever put these together all at once before. (It may also lead to run-on sentences.) I’ve had similar flavor combinations in the past and called on those examples to tell myself that this would be amazing. It was, and much more than I was hoping for. Are you feeling reassured yet?

For more, head over to the rest of my post at EatBoutique.com

Homemade Caraway Seed Mustard.

6 Jun

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Maybe it just occurs in my kitchen, but I’ve noticed a small collection of condiments rapidly taking hold over the shelves on my  fridge door. Horseradish, chutney, peanut sauce, relish, and mustard – just to name a few of the residents. Looking more closely within the mustard neighborhood, I decided it might be time to try creating my own mustard. It’s really quite a simple process, and the customization opportunities are only limited by what you can come up with in your head.

I searched through my spice rack to see if any inspiration would develop, and then I came upon the caraway seeds. I added the seeds to a traditional mustard recipe and what developed was a spicy mustard with a rye bread familiarity. This would be perfect for both creating a filling reuben or for something more simple, such as dipping fresh baked pretzels.

Giving the flavors a day to settle in gave this mustard a completely different vibe. It went from a subtle tangy kick to an all out spicy attack on my taste buds, which I must say I enjoyed wholeheartedly. The level of heat you prefer can be negotiated. If you want a spread that is less spicy, do not grind the mustard seed too finely. The more you grind the seed, the spicier your mustard will become…

For my recipe, head over to Eat Boutique!

Sometimes I’m busy…

30 May

Sometimes two months goes by and I’m all like “Didn’t I just update my blog last week?”. No. That was 10 weeks ago.

Since then, I’ve turned another year older. Driven the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to San Francisco. Saw President Obama’s motorcade. Purchased a second car. Built a fence out of wooden pallets. And I’ve started running again.

I’ve been enjoying the warmer New England weather and the outdoors in general. The flowers are starting to bloom and there is life in the backyard again. One of my favorites, the columbine, is a simple flower that has welcomely taken root throughout my yard, and its seed pods make it super easy to spread to new spots.

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While out for a walk a few nights ago, Joey and I came across this wooden rocking chair sitting next to someone’s trash barrels ready to be destroyed. We headed straight home, got in the car and claimed ownership. It’s rock solid, for real.

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In addition to the rocking chair, I’ve added some new plantings over this past weekend, including the pink lupines below. They fit nicely in the border under the birch tree clump that I planted last year.

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I’ve been working on some food related posts which will I’ll be sharing in the near future…but I guess I have been busy, just not blogging. And I miss it. And I’ll be back more often.

Simple Spaghetti Squash

18 Mar

spagsquash-4Since my garden has an aversion to allowing squash plants to thrive, spaghetti squash, luckily, is easy to obtain throughout the fall and winter in the produce section. There are countless ways to use the meat of this squash – bakes, au gratins, pancakes, etc. – however, the purest way to enjoy it is to simply slice it in half and bake.

Once you scoop out the seeds, place in the oven and cook for about an hour. In the meantime, you can chop up some of your favorite herbs, combine them with butter and have them ready and waiting when the squash is out of the oven.

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The presentation is always lovely and is another added perk of this squash variety. Plate it with some fresh baked corn muffins and roasted Brussels sprouts for a healthy and filling meal. If you know other ways to utilize spaghetti squash in a recipe, please share in the comments below.

Click here for the recipe on my post at Eat Boutique!

Anise Sugar & Thyme Cornbread

1 Feb

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Cornbread is always a pleasing and filling addition to any meal it accompanies. This cornbread is no different. It’s filled with fresh thyme and sweet anise sugar – adding a unique element to an already tasty side. 

I came up with this recipe while working on my latest post for Eat Boutique. If you want to make this to warm you up in the middle of winter, head over to read about my Cast Iron Skillet Herbed Cornbread.

A new endeavor…

22 Oct

I am excited to announce that my first post writing and photographing for Eat Boutique, an online magazine and market,  is up! I truly admire the aesthetics and ideas behind what they have accomplished, and I am honored to be a part of it, in whatever small way I am able.  I urge you to go check out eveything they have put together over the past several years.

Below is an excerpt from my first contribution on how to make a delicious and filling veggie taco (Hint: Fried Green Tomatoes).

“Being a carnivore married to a vegetarian can sometimes be a challenging adventure. Over the past ten years I have been enlisted as a vegetarian-by-default at many a meal. During this time, however, I have grown to appreciate plant-based foods in ways that still surprise me. Using vegetables in unexpected places to fill the void in a meatless marriage has become a skill I am still honing, but there are those moments when a vegetable dish leaves me completely satiated.

Vegetarian tacos have been a recurring presence in my kitchen and typically involve a frozen meat substitute defrosted and flavored with a taco seasoning packet – and a lot of cheese. This dish, however, has none of the previously mentioned vegetarian taco curses. Using the leftover green tomatoes gathered from my garden right before the first frost settled in, I refocused the vegetarian taco into an exciting, fresh and multi-layered delight.”

Click here to read the rest of this post and to view images of how beautiful this dish is….

Peanut Sauce Blue Cheese Burger & Friend.

24 Sep

I was craving a bunch of things to eat this evening when I got in from work. I decided to put them all onto burgers and combine the goodness into some seriously flavorful bites. 

I found my favorite peanut sauce at the store the other day and have been dying to put it on something, anything, since I picked it up. I also wanted cheese. I haven’t had any since Saturday. This is a huge deal. 

Instead of dipping the cheese into the peanut sauce and satisfying my desires while at the same time ignoring thousands of years of evolution, I thought it might be nice to be civilized and eat a proper meal. Hence my burger idea. 

I mixed the meat with some garlic, fresh herbs, salt and pepper and grilled. Then took two routes.

Burger One: Apple (fresh picked at the orchard yesterday!) and Brie.

Burger Two: Blue Cheese (Bleu d’Auvergne), Onion, Peanut Sauce. 

I started out eating the peanut sauce burger first. Then switched to the brie and apple. There was some intense flavor action going on between the two as they fought for dominance over my tastebuds. They kind of complimented each other though. And I am happily satiated because of it.  

Boston Local Food Festival

11 Aug

On Sunday October 7th, 2012, the Rose Kennedy Greenway will host the 3rd annual Boston Local Food Festival. The festival is a celebration of local food, local farms, local businesses and more. There will be plenty of music, samples and activities all day long. In addition, there will also the the Local Craft Brew fest on October 5th featuring some of the best local breweries around!

I am excited to be blogging for this event, getting to know some of the sponsors and participants while at the same time sharing information with you all! The first company I got to know a bit better was Olivia’s Organics. You can my article about them on the Boston Local Food Festival blog.

Stay tuned for more with some of the festivals sponsors and participants!

Fresh Fried Eggplant Slices

8 Aug

So I was very excited to find that the first thing ripe and ready to eat from my garden was an eggplant. I had never grown an eggplant before, and it seems to require little attention and maintenance to get to the eating stage.

I cut this little gem off from the stem with much excitement. While I have plenty of recipes in my mind that I am going to utilize eggplant for, having just one small eggplant limits the extent to which I can carry through on those ideas at the moment. 

So, with it being the middle of a lazy Saturday afternoon, I glanced around my kitchen and decided I had the ingredients for frying up some eggplant slices. First thing I did was cut the eggplant into about 1/4 ” slices and pressed them while I got everything together.

The Italian in me knows that the best way to prepare eggplant like this is to salt the slices and press out the excess moisture – and if you listen to my mom who listened to her mom who listened to her mom, it’s best to prepare ahead of time and leave overnight if you can.  But, in real life, when I just want to eat fresh food by frying it up in oil, twenty minutes will totally suffice.

Once the eggplant is pressed, coat with fresh breadcrumbs (or, if you’re like me, use the can you found in the back of the pantry shelf that was probably opened three years ago and is 3/4 empty…either way works.) Then…fry it up!

Drain the eggplant as it comes out of the pan and set it aside while you cook up the rest. Plate and serve with a fresh tomato sauce (or, again, follow the path of the breadcrumbs…) and eat it all in under five minutes while sitting on the couch catching up with your DVR. Or, you know, you can serve it to friends/family in a civilized manner if that’s your thing.

To Make:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Eggplant sliced into 1/4″ pieces (or more than one, depending on how many servings you’d like)
  • Oil (enough for frying, heated in skillet/pan)
  • Breadcrumbs (1 cup)
  • Pasta Sauce (or other dippy yumminess)
  • 1-2 eggs heated

Recipe:

Dip eggplant into eggs and then coat on both sides with breadcrumbs. Place into hot oil and cook until browned on each side. Place cooked eggplant on paper towels to drain excess oil off. Repeat process until all all cooked. 

Plate and serve with sauce.

Avocado, Corn & Asparagus Salad

3 Jul

A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to spend the day on Cape Cod with my pal Molly and our beaus. The day consisted of walking to the beach, swimming in the pool, laying in the sun and eating food. Lovely summer food. 

I stole a recipe from that day and you’re about to read about it below. It was a fresh and brightly flavored succotash/salad. Local picked corn, purple asparagus, avocado, tomatoes, peppers, lime and herbs. Simple. And simply delicious. It is a perfect dish to bring to any Fourth of July cookout.

I couldn’t find any purple asparagus when I made this for a family gathering, but I think I was the only one who cared about this. I put the corn, peppers and asparagus on the grill. While those were cooking I picked fresh herbs from the herb garden and cut up the avocado and cherry tomatoes.  Once everything was ready I combined all together to make a filling side dish. Continue reading

Radio Flyer Herb Garden.

9 May

I found this old Radio Flyer wagon while driving down the street one day. Someone had put it out with the weekly trash to be picked up and destroyed. I couldn’t have that. I love old things too much, and my car had plenty of room to fit it.

The wagon has sat in my basement for a good three years, holding random boxes of tools and supplies in the workroom. However, this weekend while in New Hampshire I found a great little nursery with tons of annuals, perennials, vegetables and herbs. Each pot of herbs and veggies only cost $2.99. I couldn’t resist buying some.

Last year I had a couple of potted herbs sitting on the patio. This year, I now have a few more to add. I wanted them in one central location, out of the way, but easy to access for cooking. I saw the old wagon in the basement and decided it would be repurposed as the home of the herb garden.

It’s in a spot that gets a decent amount of sun, but with the wagon, I can easily move it to other parts of the patio if I think the herbs could benefit from even more sun. Once the herbs start to really grow, they should fill the wagon in nicely.

What did I plant?

  • Basil (a must-have for any garden)
  • Cilantro (for taco night and guacamole)
  • Pineapple Mint (for Mojitos to accompany whatever I use cilantro for)
  • Oregano (basic herb, but great fresh flavor)
  • Lavender (for cookies, butter, homemade cleaning products, etc)
  • Thyme (This survived the mild winter we had and never really lost leaves from last year’s growing season)

I ended up placing an extra solar yard light I had into one of the potted herb plants. It will add a little more to the evening atmosphere of the yard and patio. I also had some room to place a small watering can in the wagon as well, so that I can use the rain water it captures to hydrate the plants when they need it. Another thing to note…I drilled a few holes into the bottom of the wagon to drain any excess rain water. This will prevent your herbs from being overwatered if there are holes in the bottom of the pots that are used.

And I also was able to finally fill the raised garden bed I built last year (Post: How To Build A Raised Garden Bed). I’m looking forward to filling that with vegetables and updating their progress here.

Parsnip & Leek Smash

8 Mar

Parsnips and leeks, you say? Indeed. And with the addition of a little creme fraiche, this turns into a delicious side for any meal.

This is a great substitute for boring mashed potatoes, and though it’s simple to make with just three ingredients, it has a complex flavor that you’ll be craving time and time again. And it’s a pretty healthy dish, too.

Ever since I started adding parsnips into my regular rotation of vegetables, I have not been disappointed. The albino cousin of the carrot doesn’t particularly look like more than just an ordinary root, but it has a nutty flavor that really stands out. I prefer to leave the outer skin of the parsnip on, as it isn’t very thick and adds a nice texture.

These parsnips were given to me at the end of the growing season in late fall and I just now have gotten around to using them. They were grown organically at a local farm and were stored properly for a couple of months, allowing the fresh flavor to last well into winter.

And lest we forget the other main component of this dish, the leek. I find it is another underutilized vegetable with a lot of flavor. It’s related to onion and garlic, and works very well together with the parsnips.

Once the veggies are cut and boiled, put them in a bowl and use a potato masher to smash them all together. Add in the creme fraiche, salt and pepper and plate next to your main dish.

To make:

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium sized leeks, cut into 1/2″ rings
  • 1 pound parsnips, skin on, cut into 1-2″ chunks
  • 1/3 cup creme fraiche
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, and add parsnips and leeks. Let cook in boiling water until soft, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from water and place in a medium sized bowl. Smash up the leek and parsnip together until mashed together. Add in creme fraiche, salt and pepper and mash together some more. (You can make this as smooth/chunky as you want, I prefer it somewhere in between.)

Plate and serve. You could garnish with nutmeg or a small dollop of creme fraiche.

How to build a raised garden bed.

25 Sep

So sometimes I get an idea and start a project. And then sometimes I don’t follow it all the way through. This is one of those times.

Not to say that I didn’t accomplish anything, because making this raised garden bed from a pile of wood and some nails felt pretty good. Just because I didn’t actually fill it with dirt or a garden after installing it doesn’t necessarily make it a failure, it just makes it a work in progress.

Continue reading

Backyard Eats.

20 Jun

Friday night was one of the best weather nights so far this season. It demanded that time be spent outside in the yard. Uncovering the BBQ and tossing on some incredible tasting goodness. Talking about life and gardens and drinks and so on.

My friend Kree came over and brought an amazing cut of pork that had been marinating for hours beforehand. We found some assorted accompaniments in the house, such as red potatoes and onions. Joe(y) and Kree threw together a salad (which we topped with grilled garlic scapes…OMGZ!) and dinner on the patio was served.

Continue reading

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