Monday 29 September 2014

Harvest Monday: September 29, 2014

 Not much happening this week .. but I wanted to share this photo.  Evidence of what nibbled the last bit of my chard and carrots.  The picture was taken Saturday morning around 6:30 am.

The only harvest lately was this basket of herbs that I gave to a friend who helped with some much needed grooming of the garden: sage, rosemary,  thyme, tarragon, parsley.

Saturday 27 September 2014

Vegetable Pie

This is one of those dishes where you can add just about any vegetable you like.  If my broccoli had been ready when I made this, it would definitely have been included - maybe replacing the chard or the peas. Fennel would add a nice fresh taste if available.  And the buttermilk is not really necessary but that is what I had in the fridge.  I quite like the taste of buttermilk in this dish rather than a regular milk.

So I used what I had on hand - this was made a few weeks ago before my chard got nibbled.  I recently noticed some hoof prints around my fall planting of beet and carrots so I suspect it was deer that got the chard.

I've been rather busy with my day job so I've used a purchased pie crust.  Make your own if you do that sort of thing or this can just as easily be made like a shepherd's pie with the veggies baked in a casserole dish and a mashed potato topping (although that might be better if you don't also have potatoes in the filling - but then I really love potatoes).

1 bunch swiss chard
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves 3-4 cups roasted potatoes and carrots
1 1/2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 Tbsp sour cream
2 pie crusts
Cheddar cheese

Wash the swiss chard. Chop the leaves and cut the stems to 1" pieces while still damp.  Cook swiss chard and thyme in 1 Tbsp butter.  Once they have wilted, add the flour and toss to coat.  Cook for 5 minutes.

Add the buttermilk and sour cream. Cook for 10-12 minutes until thickened.  Add in the freshly roasted (cut in bite size pieces) potato and carrot.  The starch in the potatoes will help thicken the sauce.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

In the bottom of one crust, add a thin layer of cheese and a handful (or two) of peas.

 Then add the potato/carrot filling and top with another crust.  Make a small slice in the top crust to allow the steam to escape.

Bake 40 minutes or until crust has browned.

Thursday 25 September 2014

Cheesecake Bars with Oreo Crumb Crust and topped with Strawberry Balsamic Jam

For a BBQ earlier this season, I offered to bring dessert (as I often do).  And I have become rather obsessed with the taste of strawberries roasted with balsamic vinegar recently.

First it was the free-form cheesecake with balsamic roasted strawberries trifle-style dessert.  Then I went with a balsamic roasted strawberry ice cream.

I actually made the jam first and was going to post the recipe ... then I realized it was very similar to these previous recipes and decided it wasn't worth it.   But then I decided to incorporate it into a simple cheesecake bar - perfect as a bring-along to a BBQ.  And maybe worthy of a post?

Strawberry Balsamic Jam (see recipe below)
1 1/2 cups Oreo crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 bricks of cream cheese
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs

In a 9x13 pan, combine the Oreo crumbs and melted butter.  Press to form a firm crust on the bottom surface.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with sugar until fluffy.  Mix in eggs and vanilla and stir to combine.  Pour over crust.  Shake pan to spread out the mixture and let it settle.

Bake at 325 degrees F until firm.   This should only take about 30 minutes as it is quite shallow.

Refrigerate at least 2-3 hours.  Cut into squares and serve with a spoonful of jam.

Strawberry Balsamic Jam

I love the combination of strawberries with balsamic vinegar and have used it in many desserts.  This makes a terrific jam for toast and is great mixed with yogurt and oatmeal.

2 litre strawberries
3/8 cup balsamic vinegar
5 Tbsp sugar

Roast strawberries and balsamic in 400 degree F oven for 30 minutes.  Pour into a pot and cook until thickened (30-40 minutes).  Note:  I usually wait until the jam has cooked down before adding sugar - amount depends on sweetness of strawberries.

Pour into glass jars and store in refrigerator or stores well in freezer.

Monday 22 September 2014

Harvest Monday: September 22, 2014

Well, there isn't much going on here!  I'll be popping over to Daphne's Dandelions to see what other (more southerly) gardeners have on the go this week.  My harvests are quickly diminishing week by week.

But I still have something to show! This big basket of kale and fresh lettuce greens was cut Thursday night ...  just before the frost hit.

I pulled the one carrot (pictured above) just because it seemed so big but was planning to wait to harvest the rest.  And then I noticed a lot of nibbling.  First the swiss chard went.  When I got home after work tonight, I noticed the carrots were starting to get nibbled so I pulled them as well (the carrots in the upper right need to be trimmed of minor damage).   Some of these are Jeanette and I'm not sure of the other variety.

And here is my first attempt at corn ... I knew my attempt was a failure some time ago but just left them to do their thing.  After the frost, the three sisters garden died off completely (I was able to harvest some beans but none of the Red Kuri squash grew fruit at all).  The corn clearly did not grow to full size but some of the kernels (is that what they are called?) did.  Seems strange to me, I would have thought the entire cob started with small kernels all over then grew larger uniformly.   I'm pretty sure this isn't normal.  But it was an experiment and I'll study over the winter (I'll read lots of gardening blogs for tips and advice!) and see what I can do to make it better next year.

Oh my, that's the entire roundup tonight, folks!  Not much to harvest but plenty already picked and stored that needs to be eaten.

Saturday 20 September 2014

After the Frost

It's been quite a cool, wet summer this year in my area and it was topped off by a very early frost two nights ago.  The weather today almost seems balmy and the forecast for the next couple of weeks is similar.  Unfortunately, a brief dip below zero Thursday night killed off parts of my garden.

Just before the frost

The flowers were the most affected.  My tall cosmos didn't even have a chance to bloom!!  They are too much trouble to cover up so I took one last picture.  They are still standing but the leaves are now wilted and black.

Here is how they looked around mid-October last year.  So pretty and I'm so disappointed!!

 Same with the African marigold (shown in the main photo).  I had high hopes for these lasting through October ... I had such a big, lovely patch.

The Tarbais beans died as did the two remaining tomato plants I had left.  But there was so little fruit that I didn't bother to cover them up.   And there was no need to cover the broccoli and brussels sprouts - they can handle a light frost.

So could the carrots.

Unfortunately, I totally forgot about my miracle zucchini plant (no zucchini all year other than a single zucchini that I noticed a couple of weeks ago).  It's gone now.  As is the basil even though I covered it with plastic.

And I did cover the arugula and spinach and they are still okay.  And same with the parsley (wow, is it ever okay!).

As are the recently seeded beets which I covered as well.

I brought the potted geraniums inside but, for some reason, I thought the potted mint would be okay.  Not so as it is now mostly black.

The swiss chard was not really relevant to the frost topic as something nibbled it a few days earlier.

On the bright side, I can get several of the gardens cleaned up and prepped for winter much sooner than I had anticipated!  Was anyone else hit by an early frost?

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Red Onion and Orange Marmalade

This is a delicious condiment that goes well with cheese or meat (I served it atop triscuits with Oka cheese, yummy!).  It is also a great way to store those red onions from your fall harvest ... this will keep for up to a year using proper processing methods (I made 9 x 125 ml jars).

The recipe came from my friend Dan.  This is the first time I've made the recipe on my own and it came out perfectly!  It makes for a lovely hostess gift during the holidays.

I used a combination of onions from my garden and the local farmer's market (I bet you can tell the difference?!).

Shown here is the original recipe that I had prepared for a scrap book of recipes a few years back.

Monday 15 September 2014

Harvest Monday: September 15, 2014

The harvests are surely getting smaller but I have one newcomer this week ... broccoli!  I have had challenges in the past with broccoli bolting in the heat of the summer.  Well, I guess this summer was not very hot because it worked!  I also started them from seed later than previous years for more of a fall crop.  There isn't much here but I have several more heads (if that is what they are called) forming.
And more of the usual ... starting with kale which I used to make kale and ricotta phyllo packets. Also in the basket is another batch of swiss chard which was sauteed with onions and garlic then mixed with strands of spaghetti squash and ricotta for a lovely casserole.

Oh and in the top left corner (sorry bad exposure) is a very tiny amount of coriander seeds pulled off the cilantro plants that had bolted.

I pulled the rest of the Paris Market Atlas carrots (that is as big as they get folks!) and what was left of the spanish onions. 

The onions were planted from seedlings that I bought at the local store - not very successful.  I wonder if I can store these to use as sets next year?  I am going to look into that.  They aren't much use for cooking - I would waste half of the onion when removing the outer skin!

The plum tomatoes here were added to the basket of greenish tomatoes layered in newspaper until ripened.  Then they were cooked with the peppers and some onions from a previous harvest for another jar of pasta sauce to go in the freezer (rosemary was used with a roasted lamb shoulder).

And these are some Tarbais beans (have I posted these before?).  I've slowly been adding to the pile with what few were left after my beans were nibbled in the spring.  There are still some left on the plants but we have some nasty weather in the works here so not sure if they will last much longer.

The temperature is supposed to drop to only 2 degrees C this coming Thursday night (Friday morning).  I will try to get everything covered up.  But just in case this next item doesn't make it to harvest, I wanted to share it now.   Drum roll please ...

I have this one plant left in a straw bale that I have been closely babysitting.

Can you see what is there?

Look a bit closer ... my FIRST and ONLY zucchini for this season!!  But it's only a few inches long so hopefully it will last through this cold snap and I will get to eat it!

Stop by Daphne's Dandelions, the host for Harvest Monday, to see what everyone else is pulling from their gardens this week.

Sunday 14 September 2014

Kale and Ricotta Phyllo Packets


This is a very similar recipe to spanakopita using kale instead of the traditional spinach.  I find a number of greens to be interchangeable depending on the recipe (kale, spinach, chard, arugula, beet greens) with variations in flavour and texture.

In this case, kale tends to be tougher than spinach so it should be chopped quite finely and sauteed long enough to soften it.

 Makes 16 triangles.

I used a combination of Tuscan Kale and Russian Red Kale from my garden.

1 medium red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
9 ounces kale, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp chives, chopped
1 lemon
2-3 Tbsp ricotta
2 Tbsp feta
454 gram package of phyllo pastry

Saute the onion and garlic until softened.  Add the kale and cook on medium heat until tender (about 10 minutes).  Add water if needed to help wilt the kale but be sure the liquid evaporates before the next step.

Stir in the parsley and chives then remove from heat.  Allow to cool then juice the lemon into the mixture and stir in the ricotta and feta.  Season with salt and pepper.

For the wrapping technique, please refer to my spanakopita post.  To reduce the amount of butter used for brushing the pastry, I cut the butter half and half with more lemon juice.

Place on a parchment paper lined pan and bake in a 400 degree F preheated oven until pastry is flaky and browned (about 20 minutes).

Wednesday 10 September 2014

Roasted Plum and Custard Popsicles or Ice Cream

This recipe can be used to make both ice cream or popsicles!  For popsicles, I layered the roasted plums and the custard into popsicle molds.   But I also took about half of the mix and processed it in an ice cream maker with the roasted plums chopped and mixed right in.

Really creamy and delicious!  I happened to have buttermilk in the fridge so used that but regular milk should also work just fine.

12-15 plums
1/2 cup 18% cream
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
splash of vanilla

Roast plums at about 350 degrees F until they just begin to break down - about 20 minutes (I put them on parchment paper just to avoid the cleanup after).  Let cool completely and chop into small pieces.

Combine all of the milk products in a sauce pan and heat to just below boiling point.  In the meantime, combine the eggs and sugar in a large bowl.  When the milk/cream is heated, add some slowly into the egg/sugar mixture to temper it (to warm up the egg/sugar mixture).  Keep adding slowly until about half has been added.

Then pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan and heat another 10 minutes or so until it begins to thicken.  Remove from heat and add a splash of vanilla.  Allow to cool slightly (about 10 minutes).

Strain through a cheesecloth if necessary to eliminate any egg bits that might have cooked.

Leave in fridge for a few hours until chilled.

Layer spoonfuls of plum and custard to make popsicles.  Or mix the plums with the custard and process in an ice cream maker.