Monday 24 November 2014

Harvest Monday: November 24, 2014 - Update on Brussels Sprouts

Note to Self:  When friends say that hanging brussels sprouts upside down in your basement will keep them growing after they have been harvested ... don't believe them. They just shrivel up and look even smaller than they were to begin with.

Thursday 20 November 2014

Baby Savoy Cabbage Salad with Pomegranate and Feta

This was supposed to be a salad with shaved brussels sprouts.  But I need to give those another week or two before using (hoping they'll continue to grow on the stalk).  So I decided to try the cabbage I had recently harvested.  The technique of tossing it with the dressing and keeping overnight is something I've seen (but not used before) with kale in order to soften the texture.  It worked well with the cabbage here, although the cabbage was more tender due to its size than had it been fully grown.

The bitterness is offset by the sweetness of the pomegranate and tangy feta cheese.  I also tossed on some roasted pistachio nuts.  Delicious!!
For the dressing, put the following into a small mason jar and shake it up: 1 1/2 Tbsp grapeseed oil, 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, 3/4 tsp grainy mustard, 2 cloves garlic minced, pinch of salt (or you can pretty much use any vinaigrette).

Slice the cabbage.   Place in a seal-able container and pour some of the dressing over top.  Give it a massage with your fingers to ensure it is well coated - add more dressing if needed (I used about 3/4's of it).  Pop the lid on and leave in the fridge overnight or at least a few hours.

Rather than the pomegranate-feta-pistachio combo, it would also go well with dried cranberries, pecans and some shaved parmesan cheese.

Monday 17 November 2014

Harvest Monday: November 17, 2014

By the time Friday evening arrived, I decided to pull up what I had left in the garden.  The brussels sprouts, etc. had already gone through a few nights of -5C, but I thought -8C might be too much (but not really sure how cold they can take it?).

So out I went with the very dim flashlight in the dark to gather what I could.

I pulled the two largest of the brussels sprouts, root ball and all.  I bagged up the bottom to keep the dirt from getting everywhere and they are now hanging in the basement in the hopes of getting a bit more size out of them.

Plus a smaller plant which yielded all of 1/2 a cup of these teeny marbles.

And I grabbed the 2 largest savoy cabbage heads ... as you can see, they didn't get too big.

I nibbled on one of the broccoli side shoots left but it was a bit mealy so chucked the rest in the compost.  And the cauliflower never really did anything anyway so I've just left it there for now.

Other than herbs, I have nothing left.  I had some beets and carrots planted but they aren't big enough to harvest.  The 5 cm of snow on Sunday hasn't helped ...

 But I'll definitely be checking in regularly at Daphne's Dandelions Harvest Monday collection to see what other gardeners (in warmer climes than mine) have going on.

Saturday 15 November 2014

Baked Persimmon with Candied Ginger and Honey


It's persimmon season again!  They don't come around often in these parts so I grab a bagful when I can.  I usually only see Fuyu which are the firmer variety.  Hachiya is the other most common variety that might be found here in Eastern Canada (imported from the U.S.).  Hachiya is very soft and custardy when ripe.

These are Fuyu - even after baking, they retain their shape.  Wonderful served with custard for a simple dessert.  I really like the bite that candied ginger gives to the dish. 

4 persimmon, halved horizontally
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 pieces candied ginger
3 Tbsp honey
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/3 cup boiling water

Place persimmons in a 9x9 pan. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl (boiling water poured in last) and let sit several minutes.  Pour over persimmons.  Cover the dish with tinfoil.

Bake @ 375 degrees F for about 45 minutes.  Halfway through, remove the pan from the oven. Tilt slightly to get at the liquid from the bottom of the pan and spoon it over the persimmons.

After an hour, remove from oven and spoon any remaining liquid over top.  Remove the cinnamon stick (or it will burn) and keep the tinfoil off. Put under the broiler for 5-10 minutes until the tops have caramelized.  Serve with ice cream, custard or yogurt. Served below with a Tbsp of mascarpone cheese.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Current State of the Brassicas


I am anxiously watching the weather forecast these days.  Yesterday was fabulous ... a high of 17 degrees C!  But we have already had several nights below zero in the past few weeks and similar lows expected in just a few days.

But I wait patiently for the brussels sprouts and cabbage to get a bit bigger before I harvest them.  I intentionally started them later than the previous year to avoid having them bolt in the summer heat - naturally it turned out to be a cool summer.  :)

The sprouts should be okay (I only have 4 plants) ... another week in the garden then they'll still get a bit bigger if I hang them for another week or so.  I don't imagine the savoy cabbage will get much bigger but the 4 plants I have should provide enough for a meal or two.

After Margaret showed her broccoli side shoots a couple of days ago, I thought I should take a look myself as I had not expected to have the time for any to grow this season.   Wouldn't you know it, there are side shoots on most of the plants!

And it looks like I should still get a broccoli (or four), small as they may be - this one is only an inch or so across.

As for the cauliflower, not so much.  Second year in a row with no real heads to harvest (except for this teeny little purple one pulled a week ago).

Last year, the entire plants were duds.  This year, I have large plants (pic below) with plenty of leaf but no head (or maybe a little head wrapped in those inner little leaves).  I'll see if I can work out that problem before next year.  I know I had peas growing in that bed just before I put in the brussels sprouts and cauliflower and the brussels sprouts seem fine. I assume I have too much or too little of something ...

Monday 10 November 2014

Harvest Monday: November 10, 2014 - Jerusalem Artichokes and a Recipe for White Bean, Bread, and Tomato Skillet Casserole

I decided to pull some jerusalem artichoke yesterday - the first since I planted it two years ago.  I have left it alone to spread out.  The first 10 plants became about 40-50 this year; naturally they are very close together.  I want to have a field (well, a partial field) of them eventually as the flowers can be pretty when seen in large bunches (rather plain individually).  Mind you, it will probably only take a few more years at the rate they multiply.

Unfortunately, they didn't even flower this year.  And the tubers themselves aren't looking too great.  As I mentioned above, I only pulled a few and didn't really dig too deep - they are very small!  I don't eat a lot of these but it would be nice to take advantage of them now and then, especially once they really start to multiply as I'll need to dig them up to control the spread.

I am used to them being larger.  The ones in the picture below were from our farm a few years ago.  Maybe a different variety?


Mind you, the patch of jerusalem artichokes there was probably 3 feet wide and 15-20 feet long.  And the soil was not at all as compact as mine is here.

Jerusalem Artichoke - McDonald's Corners 2011

I think I'll dig around the current patch and loosen up the soil a bit to see if I can improve things for next year.  And I suppose they could use some additional nutrition although what I'm not sure (will google that unless anyone has ideas?).

And that is my limited contribution to the weekly harvest topic at Daphne's Dandelions Harvest Monday collection.  Stop by to see what other gardeners are up to.

The rest of the post is what I've done with a previous harvest - Tarbais beans.  This dish includes so many of my favourite combinations (tomatoes and bread, beans and cheese, bread and cheese, tomatoes and cheese!!) I couldn't help but love it.

BUT ... I have to admit the Tarbais beans were a bit bland.  These were the beans I harvested earlier this year.  Does anyone know if Tarbais beans are always so bland?  It is the first time I have grown them.  I realize most beans don't have a ton of flavour on their own, but the borlotti beans are considerably tastier.  I'm just not sure that I want to devote the space for Tarbais next year ...

The dish is delicious either way but I might try another bean (cannellini comes to mind) the next time.   As for the rest of the Tarbais bean harvest, I've seen the beans used in dessert recipes where the sugar can help with the bland flavour.

Read on for the casserole recipe.

Monday 3 November 2014

Harvest Monday: November 3, 2014 - Fresh Horseradish and Aged Cheddar Dip

Here is my weekly harvest report for Daphne's Dandelions Harvest Monday.  It is a great way to learn from other gardeners and see what they have going on in their gardens each week.

I've been away from home quite a bit lately so not much time around the garden (or in the kitchen).  But I suppose it was good timing as there hasn't been much to harvest anyway. 

The brassicas are still on their way .. brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower.  Hopefully the weather will hold out long enough to get something worthy of a meal (well, just a side dish would be nice!) although it was already below zero a few nights recently.

In the meantime, this week's harvest consists of a few horseradish roots (also a brassica) that I pulled out of the pot I grow it in.  I grow it to keep around potatoes as it is supposed to keep the bugs away. But because it can be invasive, I grow only a small amount in a pot - its effectiveness as a deterrent for potato beetles is questionable to begin with and I suspect the small amount I have is not much use, but I have had no potato bugs the past couple of years.

After peeling the skinny little roots, it was grated then made into a veggie dip / cracker spread.  Delicious!

1/2 cup cream cheese
3 Tbsp aged cheddar spread (I used Balderson 3 year aged spreadable cheddar)
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated horseradish
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika

Whip the cheese together then stir in remaining ingredients.  Refrigerate a couple of hours then serve with veggies or crackers.

Saturday 1 November 2014

Pumpkin Waffles with Fresh Cranberries

Although the whole pumpkin spice everything craze seems a bit overboard to me, I have to admit I'm still loving the pumpkin flavours at home.   I've recently made Pumpkin and Maple Granola as well as Cranberry and Pumpkin Muffins.  Right around the same time as the muffins, I also made these waffles (hence the fresh cranberries on top).

I've been away from home quite a lot lately starting with a trip to Vancouver in early October - that is when my mom gave me a brand-new Cuisinart Waffle Iron!  Naturally, I had to try it immediately.

This recipe makes 5 or 6 of this style (my other waffle iron is much smaller so depends on what you have).

2 cups flour (I used 1 cup multi-blend and 1 cup unbleached white)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup less 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree

Place the first 6 (dry) ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.  Add remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth.  Cover with plastic and set in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.
Prepare your waffle iron.  When heated, brush surface lightly with oil/butter or use a cooking spray to coat.  Add 3/4 to 1 cup of batter.   Close lid and cook until indicator light turns green (or whatever your iron does to tell you it's ready!).

Serve with your fave toppings (I'm pretty simple with some fruit, butter and maple syrup).