Wednesday 30 July 2014

Red Potato and Swiss Chard Gratin

For a few years now, I have preferred using stock (organic veggie or chicken) in scalloped potatoes rather than cream or other dairy (so are they still considered "scalloped"?).  And since making that change, I've also realized how many different veggies can be layered in between the potatoes!

In this case, I used swiss chard between layers of red skinned potatoes.  I think it was about a pound of each with some garlic and sliced shallot.

Any combination of chard, beet greens or spinach will work well between the potatoes.  Pile the greens pretty thick as they will cook down a lot.  And be sure to season each layer with salt and pepper.

Cover with stock and bake at 350 degrees F until tender (usually 35-45 min).  I usually add cheese on top about halfway through so it gets brown and bubbly but doesn't have time to burn (cheddar or monterey jack work well here).

Allow to cool a bit as the stock will continue to be absorbed.  Serve with fresh chives and sour cream.

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Harvest Monday: July 28, 2014 ... oops, Tuesday

Harvest Monday is hosted by Daphne's Dandelions: an opportunity for gardener's to share what they have going on in their gardens this time of year.  Here is what's happening in my yard (which I was supposed to post yesterday but got waylaid).  The onions and beets above were an accidental harvest during weeding - they are definitely not big enough yet!

In addition to loads of cucumbers (still haven't gotten around to pickling them yet), I had just enough Isobel pole beans and Jeanette carrots for a healthy meal.

Lots of swiss chard still coming.

More greens ... I'll probably pull the rest of the lettuce soon, but still enjoying fresh salads for now.

As for the tomatoes, they are not very big, but I don't think I've ever had such perfectly round ones.

But most of my daily harvests look something like this ...  here I've got one of the many cukes, some more green beans, tomatoes, tomatillos, a few small jalapenos that just fell off when I brushed against them and two little raspberries!

Pop on over to Daphne's Dandelions to see what others are picking this week.

Sunday 27 July 2014

Saveur's Salmorejo (Chilled Tomato Soup)

I've never been a fan of chilled soups like gazpacho, but I absolutely LOVE this!  The recipe comes from Saveur food magazine - here.

I reduced the olive oil by half and increased the vinegar; otherwise the recipe is the same.  I did not have any eggs or ham on hand, so I added in a spoonful of basil pesto for a tasty garnish.  But the soup does not need any additional flavour, that's how good it is!

Combine in a large bowl:

10 oz baguette (3-4 large pieces)
7-8 medium tomatoes (cored, halved, seeded)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 small yellow onion
thyme (original recipe does not have this)

Sprinkle 3 Tbsp kosher salt on top.  Cover with boiling water and let sit one hour (I put a lid over top to keep the veggies from floating up out of the water).

Pull the bread out first and squeeze the liquid back into the bowl.  Put the bread into a food processor and give it a few whizzes to break down.

Strain the remaining veggies and reserve the liquid.  Put the veggies into the food processor along with 1 cup of the reserved liquid, 1/2 cup olive oil and 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar (original recipe calls for sherry vinegar but I didn't have any).

Puree until smooth.  Chill or serve immediately while still warm.

Thursday 24 July 2014

Potato Salad #3: Green Beans and Blue Potatoes (with lemon anchovy dressing)

I finally have enough green beans from the garden to actually make a dish (as opposed to steaming just a handful and tossing with butter ... but nothing wrong with that either!).  And another opportunity to add to my potato salad challenge.  I'm only on number three but hope to be inspired for many more this year.

Aside from the traditional German-style potato salad since I've been eating since I was a kid, I've made a warm potato salad with bacon, radicchio, blue cheese and avocado and smashed potato salad with arugula and garlic scape pesto

And I'm just getting started with the potato harvest!

Green beans and potatoes are a pretty common combination.  Here I've used Isobel Pole Beans as well as Russian Blue potatoes for a nice contrast.

I usually grow a lot of extra potato plants so that I can eat baby potatoes.  This plant would have produced enough potatoes to last me a month had they been allowed to grow to full size, but many of them are just little wee things now (size of a dime as you can see in the pictures).


1 lb baby potatoes
1/2 green beans
Lemon-anchovy dressing (see below)

Roast potatoes in some olive oil with salt and pepper at 400 degrees F.  In the meantime, make the dressing.

Roast potatoes until browned and fork-tender.  Place in a bowl while still hot and add 3-4 Tbsp of the lemon-anchovy dressing.

Blanch green beans for about 30 seconds in rapidly boiling water.  Remove with a slotted spoon and immediately place in an ice bath.  Dry off the beans and toss with the potatoes and dressing already in the bowl.

Serve over a bed of arugula while still warm - extra dressing on the side.

Lemon-anchovy dressing
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp anchovy paste
2 tsp grainy mustard
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Add all ingredients to a mason jar or other lidded jar.  Shake well to combine.  Makes probably double what is needed for this dish, but it's great on green salads as well.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Arugula and Mushroom Lasagna

Veggie lasagna is such a great way to use just about any vegetable from the garden.  As I've been overrun recently with greens, and with arugula in particular, I knew exactly what I was going to do with it.

And if you and your family can't get through a whole pan of lasagna, it freezes very well no matter the ingredients.

This version includes a layer of ricotta mixed with some spinach and garlic, a layer of balsamic roasted mushrooms and a lot of fresh arugula all brought together with a creamy bechamel sauce.

For extra flavour, serve with some arugula-walnut-garlic scape pesto (or traditional basil pesto) and a drizzle of truffle oil (optional but highly recommended).

Detailed instructions follow.

Monday 21 July 2014

Harvest Monday: July 21, 2014

Lots of new items coming out of the garden this week .... just when I thought I'd have nothing to post but greens again!

I have many ideas for cooking some of these up which I'll share throughout the week.  I have already used up some of the harvest including last night's beetroot risotto (with beet greens and goat cheese). Delicious, but I think I need to rework the current recipe as the pinkish colour is maybe not as appetizing as it could be (it usually comes out much more vibrant red; I suspect I just need to use more grated beetroot early on).

I pulled the remaining garlic and, although not very big, at least most of them came out okay.

But there were another four with a similar problem to before ... in fact, three of them had such soft heads that the stalk slid right off.  I suppose I'll have more than a few volunteers next year unless I do a good job digging up the garden this fall.

I'm glad to have enough beans to do something substantial with ... maybe not enough to pickle?  Well, maybe a small batch. And some lovely ripe tomatoes with a few more ready to be picked.

And speaking of pickles, I have been picking several cucumbers each day.  I now have enough to make a batch of my quick dill pickles.

 I was looking for some of the Russian Blue potatoes and accidentally pulled a red potato plant first.  Not really a big deal as I love eating baby potatoes which is why I grow so many potato plants!  More than half will be harvested early so I don't get that many fully sized at the end of the season.  The carrots and beets were only picked to thin out and make some space for the rest to get bigger.  Although, admittedly, I've never gotten very large beets but I do what I can to help them out!

Once I've sent this post off, I'll be heading over to Daphne's Dandelions to see what other gardeners are pulling up (or off) this week.

And here is the rest of the harvest ... the usual variety of greens and herbs:

Rainbow Swiss Chard (given to a friend as I have too much already)

Assorted Lettuce Greens, Thyme

Basil and Thyme

Arugula, Basil, Cukes

Sunday 20 July 2014

Kale with Strawberries, Halloumi and Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

I love halloumi.  I mean seriously, a cheese that you can cook and it doesn't melt?!  My favourite way to eat it is Nigella Lawson style: fry until browned in some olive oil and red chili flakes.  Super easy and a pretty great late night snack for parties.

The halloumi is cooked the same way here (without the red chili flakes!).   Allow it to cool before adding to a bowl of kale and sliced fresh strawberries.

And the vinaigrette is quick to put together.  Especially if you have a jam jar with just a bit left in the bottom - just toss the rest of the ingredients in and shake.  I used my homemade raspberry balsamic jam.

Raspberry Vinaigrette
2 Tbsp raspberry jam
1 tsp grainy mustard
4 Tbsp olive oil
7 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt to taste

Put all ingredients together in a lidded mason jar and shake to combine.   Drizzle over salad.

Thursday 17 July 2014

Spinach Enchiladas

These can be made in so many ways  - other than spinach, you can use swiss chard, arugula, beet greens or any combination of those.  This is a simple version that can be put together with very little effort.  I have so many greens in my garden I am trying to find different ways of using it up ... this is one of those delicious ways.  If you prefer a cheesier version, add some ricotta along with the mozzarella and rice.

1 cup chopped red onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup zucchini, grated
4 cups tightly packed chopped spinach (about 4 1/2 ounces)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup grated mozzarella
1 cup cooked brown rice

Saute the onion and garlic for about 8 minutes until softened.  Add grated zucchini and spinach.   Continue to cook on medium heat while stirring.  When spinach has wilted, add the spices, salt to taste, and the lime.  You can stop cooking here and eat this as a super tasty side dish.

Or add the mozzarella and cooked rice.  Continue to stir until cheese is melted and rice is warmed through.  Again, you can stop here for a delicious side dish!

Scoop into a tortilla, then roll around the filling.  Place seam side down in a greased baking dish (just use a bit of spray cooking oil on the bottom of the dish).  Add cheese and some salsa on top.  Bake for 20 minutes until cheese is melted and filling is heated through.

Garnish with cilantro.

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Yard Update - July 15

Happy Birthday Dad!

Here is the last part of my 3 part yard update (temporarily interrupted by my Harvest Monday post).  Last and maybe the least?  This last batch of photos seem to have a lot of weeds so I have some serious work to do this weekend or whenever I get some time.  Between work and rainy days, it has been a challenge to keep up with it all.  But luckily, most veggies and herbs continue on through rough conditions!!

Just a round up of what's going on in the gardens in mid-July.

The winter squash patch (butternut, acorn, spaghetti) plus cantaloupe

Spaghetti squash

Summer squash and watermelon


Mouse melon - not doing much

Mouse Melon

Spaghetti squash blossom (with ants)


Cucumber and onions

Thyme - lotsa weeds

Sage with flowers growing into the tarragon


Lotsa chives

Rosemary (and lots of weeds)

3 sisters garden with corn, beans and squash

Jerusalem artichokes

Big pile of african marigolds - can't wait for these to come up!

Some pansies, petunias