Some Recipes for Garden Cuisine

As promised, here are some of the recipes I mentioned in my talk at the SF Flower and Garden Show on March 24th, 2013. I chose them because I have found them to be particularly useful for cooking from my garden. For the recipes in my talk that are in my book Golden Gate Gardening, see that book.

Flat-leaf parsley is one of my most useful crops. (For cooking, flat-leaf is better than curled parsley, because it is easier to chop.) I grow it in my backyard, rather than in my community garden, so I can have it handy for last-minute needs. Even if you have only a container garden, this could be a useful crop to grow. Use pots 8-10 inches deep, 8 inches wide for one plant, 10 inches wide for 3 plants. Parsley is biennial, so it will flower, go to seed, and then die after it has been exposed to cold weather. Inland, this might only happen after winter cold. Near the coast, cool spring weather, or even cold summer nights might be enough to tip it over the edge. I let a plant or two make seed once or twice a year, so I end up with plants of different ages all the time.(You can continue to eat any leaves or tender stems after the plant makes flower buds, but by the time flowers open, the plants are usually rather tough.) If I were growing in containers, I'd start a few new plants once or twice a year, in a new container, and pull out the ones that are about to flower. (Parsley plants too mature to eat, but still green, are great additions to flavor soup stock, to be strained out before using the stock.)

Middle Eastern Garbanzo Bean Salad

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1 can garbanzo beans, drained   

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

one small clove garlic, minced

3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 Tablespoons olive oil

A pinch of cayenne pepper if desired

Optional additions: 1/4 cup crumbled regular or nonfat feta cheese, 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato.

Rinse the garbanzos and place them in a medium bowl. Chop the parsley, onion, and garlic. Put them in a small bowl and add the lemon juice and the olive oil. Mix the dressing ingredients. Then pour it over the garbanzos and mix. If you are adding the feta cheese and/or tomatoes, do so now and stir them in. 

Serve cold or at room temperature. About 4 servings.     

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Shredded Beet Salad (Adapted from Farmer John's Cookbook, John Peterson, Gibbs Smith, 2006)

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2-3 cups coarsely grated raw beet

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tablespoons white or rice vinegar

1 Tablespoon finely chopped  shallot (or white part of wild onion , scallion, or chopped bulb onion)

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 small clove garlic, finely minced (1/4-1/2 teaspoon)

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill leaves or one teaspoon of dried dill weed)

salt and black pepper if desired

Put the grated beets in a large salad bowl. In a jar with a lid, combine the rest of the ingredients. Put the lid on and shake vigorously to mix ingredients. Pour the dressing over the beets and toss with two spoons until well coated. Adjust flavor if needed. Ready to eat, but even better if marinated in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Keeps in the refrigerator for several days.

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Two bonus recipes. I have adapted two recipes from a 1986 cookbook for use with currently available and inexpensive kinds of fish:

Fish in Seafood Sauce (Adapted from the book From Sea and Stream, by Lou Seibert Pappas, 101 Productions, 1986) (The wild oinion referred to in this and the previous recipe is Allium triquetrum, a Mediterranean escaped species that is a weed in California gardens. Please only eat weeds if you are sure of your identification skills.)

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8 medium mushrooms, sliced

1 green onion or 2-3 wild onions, cut up

1 Tablespoon butter or margarine

1 cup milk (nonfat is fine)

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

a dash of nutmeg (that's like half a pinch)

1/4 cup dry white wine

3-4 ounces of small peeled shrimp or other seafood

1 /13 pounds swai (which is also called white roughy and basa) or snapper

Set oven for 400° F. Spray-oil or grease an approximately 9x12 oven proof casserole or pan. Arrange pieces of fish in the casserole in a single layer. In a small skillet, saute mushrooms and onion in butter or margarine until soft. In a small saccepan, put the milk, then add to it the cornstarch, salt, and nutmeg. Cook the milk mixture, stirring often, until the sauce thickens. Stir in the wine, mushroom/onon mixture, and shrimp or other seafood. Pour the sauce over the fish. Bake, uncovered, for 15-25 minutes, until fish separates easily with a fork. Good served over rotelli pasta. Makes 4-5 servings. 

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French Fish Soup (Adapted from the book From Sea and Stream, by Lou Seibert Pappas, 101 Productions, 1986)

This is adapted from a fish stew recipe from Normandy that included fennel seeds. I used dill instead. I also added a second seafood and more broth. It can be made with rockfish, red snapper, halibut, or tilapia.

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2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 leek, chopped (white part only)

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth (canned or homemade)

1 cup of dry white wine

2 medium potatoes or equivalent, cut into 3/4 inch pieces

1 medium carrot or equivalent, cut into 1/2 inch slices

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds

1 pound of fish, cut into 1-2 inch pieces

1/4 pound small, peeled shrimp or small mussels (not in shells)

Salt and pepper to taste

Add the olive oil to a medium skillet and saute the onion and leek, while stirring, until it is soft. Start to heat the broth and the wine in a large pot, and add the onions and leeks to it as soon as they are cooked. When the pot boils, add the potato, carrot, bay leaf, and dill seeds. Return the mixture to a boil, cover, and simmer about 20 minutes, until the potatoes and carrots are tender. Add the fish and other seafood, cover, and simmer about 10 more minutes, until the fish separates easily with a fork. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

Serve hot in wide bowls. 4-6 servings.

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Parsley and Sundried Tomato Pesto

I gave a talk at the SF Flower and Garden Show today, about cooking from a garden. I mentioned this recipe, but couldn't fit it onto the handout. It is one of the many recipes that I prepare using the flat-leaf parsley that self-sows in my garden.

Parsley and Sundried Tomato Pesto      Adapted from Beyond the Moon Cookbook, by Ginny Callan

5 large cloves of garlic, peeled                                   ¾ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried                                (3 oz.) or Romano

    tomatoes (or use soaked dry ones)                       Black pepper (to taste)

½ cup pecans                                                         ½ cup finely chopped parsley

½ cup Greek olives                                                  Linguine or other pasta for 4

½ cup olive oil                                                               

 

If serving with pasta, put a large pot of water on to boil.

(If using dry sun-dried tomatoes, boil a little water, pour it over them, let sit 15 minutes, drain—save

the soaking liquid to use later in this recipe or as the liquid in another recipe.)

In a blender or a food processor, puree the garlic, tomatoes, pecans, olives, olive oil, grated cheese, and pepper.

Boil the pasta. When the pasta is done, stir a little boiling water into the pesto. You can use a little of the pasta water, or you can reboil the water in which you soaked the tomatoes and use some of that. You will need on the order of ½ cup, but stir in a little at a time to avoid overdoing it.

Serve the pesto to put over the pasta.

Alternatively, you can use the pesto as a spread on bread or crackers. You can omit the added boiling water if you use it as a spread, or add the boiling water, serve pesto with pasta, then refrigerate leftover pesto and serve it as a spread.


Finally time for Apple Pie--An illustrated recipe

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Our tree with ripe apples, which is usually in Mid-October.

However, the apples were nearly a month late to ripen this year. I was wondering if we'd ever have them for eating out of hand, chopping into yogurt with walnuts, making Waldorf salad, and making pies. But they are finally sweet enough. I decided to photograph the entire process of turning fresh apples into a pie:

Start by peeling and cutting up 6 medium-sized apples. (Of course if they are from your tree, they may be different sizes, so you may have to do more or maybe fewer.) I have tried not peeling them, but our particular apple has a kind of tough peel, so I am back to peeling. I quarter them, then peel the quarters. I cut into the inward side of each peeled quarter-apple in a broad V, to remove the core. Then I slice the quarters crosswise, or, if they are wide, I may cut each quarter in half before I make the final cuts. To help remember how many apples I have prepared, I set the part of the core with the stem attached aside for each--one stem = 1 apple.

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Here you can see the little row of core sections with stems attached, the bowl for peels and cores, and the bowl of finished, chopped apple.

I used the 1953 Joy of Cooking when I first made apple pie. It's recipe suggests mixing the apples with 1/2 -2/3 cups brown sugar, 1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons of cornstarch, and (optionally) 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and/or 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg. Joy of Cooking authors, writing at a time when many more people were cooking from their own tree, and more kinds of apples were being sold. They are clear that apples vary. "Only very tart apples need the larger amount of sugar, only very juicy apples require the larger amount of cornstarch." "If the apples lack flavor, sprinkle them with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice."

In my case, I usually add the lower amount of sugar, the cinnamon, extra cornstarch (maybe 2 Tablespoons), and a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice, since my apples are sweet, juicy, and don't have any acid tang to add to their flavor. In any case, add everything you are going to add, toss well, and set apples aside.

I think making pie crust requires a very personal interaction of cook and recipe. I tried several recipes before I found the one that makes good crust for me, and offer you the one I chose, but you may find another is better for you.

My father's mother used lard, baking several pies at a time for her large family. Lard didn't appeal to me, but her crust was quite delicious. I used to use butter. Now I use Smart Balance Buttery Sticks, a vegan, no trans fats margarine, and it works fine. The recipe I use is 1 1/4 cups unbleached white flour, 1 stick of the margarine, and a few tablespoons of icy water (2? 3? something like that).

The first step is to cut up the margarine and put it in a bowl with the flour.

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There's the flour with the cold margarine cut up in it. Next to it is a quarter cup, with some water and an icecube or two. And behind that is 1/2 of the paper from a large brown paper grocery bag, laid out for a surface on which to roll the crust, and the rolling pin, at ready.

Next, I crumble the margarine into the flour, using my thumbs and fingers to rub the two materials together.There's nothing tricky at this point, as long as you do it while the margarine is still relatively cold.

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When the mixture looks like coarse meal, it is time to add the cold water. I pour a little in and begin immediately to try to form a ball of dough. This is the sort of tricky part, because you don't want to actually work the dough. No kneading in this recipe, or the gluten will begin to develop and the crust will be tough. Just push the stuff together, getting it all moist until it will form a ball that isn't sticky but will clean the bowl if you dab it on the unattached pieces.If you run out of water, add a tad more to the cup with the ice and pour from it, a bit at a time.. Then smear some flour on the working surface, and set the ball on it.

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OK, now the fun begins. Roll the crust, gently at first, then more firmly as you begin to develop the round think shape you need. Roll from one direction and then another. Change directions if the shape isn't round enough. Make it pretty thin and rather bigger than your pie pan, which should be standing at ready on the table by now.

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If your dough has the right amount of water in it, it won't stick too much, but be ready to add a little more flour to the surface, or even lift a corner of the dough after you begin to roll it (using a knife to lift it if needs be) and add more flour. Also, if the dough is correct, you can mend it where it tears or cracks just by placing one piece over another and rolling it, or by moistening both sides with a little water and then rolling.But hopefully, you will have no problems with either, or only minimal ones.

When you get a nice large round, fold it in half, lift it carefully, and place it in one half of the pie pan. This one is a Corningware pan. It looks small, because the sides are vertical instead of at an angle like most pie pans, but it holds the same amount of stuff. I know because I filled it and a regular pan with water, and they held the same amount.

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Now carefully lift the folded over half and ease it into the pan. You have to kind of push a little from near the edge inward to get the crust to fall into the pan without tearing. That is, don't try to stretch it, as that won't work. Next you will make the crimped edges that make the pie pretty. You fold the crust under about 1/2 to 3/4 inch above the edge of the pan, and use your fingers and thumbs to make the fluting pattern. Any extra crust, extending below the crimps, on the outside of the pan, cut off with a knife. At any low places, where there isn't enough dough to make the crimp, use water to glue on more rolled dough from the pieces you cut off elseshere, and use that to make the fluted edge. (The crimp, or flute, is made to the measure of your fingers, a very individual form, unlike that of a machine crimped crust.)

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Here I'm making the fluted edge. You can see that there will be some extra crust to cut off in this part of the edge.

I like to cover my pie with a Danish apple pie topping. I put any extra bits of trimmed off crust into a bowl and add a little brown sugar (1/3 cup?) some margarine cut into bits (3 Tablespoons), a little flour (2-3 tablespoons?) and maybe 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. This recipe isn't exact, because it depends on how much crust dough was left over to use and how much topping you want on the pie. I crumble the ingredients all together with my thumbs and fingers.

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I put the prepared apples into the crust and then crumble the topping evenly over the apples.

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In baking the pie, I follow the recipe in my old edition of Joy of Cooking. First bake the pie at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes, or a little bit longer, to let the crust brown a little bit. (If you are going to let it go for longer than 10 minutes, keep a close watch on it.) Then turn the oven to 350 and bake until done, from 3/4 to 1 hour total. To tell if it is done, you can insert a knife in an apple to see if there is any resistance .

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Ta dah! The finished pie. Hope yours turns out to be delicioius! Happy Thanksgiving!


Shell Bean Succotash

October_07_054_copyGardeners sometimes eat beans at the shell stage, which is after the beans have fully formed in the pods, but before they have hardened. Just about anything you can cook with dry beans, you can cook with shell beans--but faster. You won't find them in the market often, since they don't keep well, so they are mostly a gardeners' secret.

You could eat any common garden bean variety at this stage, but several are sold specifically for it. They often have these splashy red pods. This one is a bush bean called 'Taylor's Horticultural'. Sometimes you find a similar one called 'Tongue of Fire.' At the shell stage, the beans are white or white streaked with red. When they become dry beans, they are bown streaked with maroon, and are often called cranberry beans.

So, in any case, I planted these in July in San Francsisco and harvested them at the shell stage in the second half of October and early November. I grew about 10 cups of beans (out of the pods) in a bed about 6 by 3 or 4 feet. And then I experimented with cooking them. They were great as Boston baked beans, fine in a French soup with pistou, and made yummy succotash.

October_07_102_copy And here is the succotash I made, with some of the beans and an open pod. The recipes I used were from The Victory Garden Cookbook, Marian Morash, Alfred Knopf, 1982. I modified the succotash recipe to make it vegan so I could take it to a class potluck. The recipe, as modified: 2 cups of shell beans, 2 tablespoons of chopped onion, 1 cup chopped tomato (from a can), 2 cups corn kernels (from frozen), 2 tablespoons Smart Balance margarine, a bit of salt and pepper. Put beans and chopped onions in a saucepan and add a cup of water. Bring water to a boil, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and corn. Simmer for 10 minutes longer. Stir in margarine, salt and pepper to taste. (4-6 servings).

The original recipe suggested using a mixture of lima and shell beans, since the original native American dish was more likely to use limas, but limas don't do so well in cool SF, so I just cut to the chase and used all shell beans. Got me thinking about succotash, which I for some reason thought was a Native American dish from the Southeastern part of the continent. But when I looked it up, I found that it was a dish of the Nanaganset, of what is now Rhode Island, who spoke Algonquian. The word, in Algonquian, was m'sickquatash, and meant "corn not crushed or ground." So there you have it.

What was in the original succotash? Not bacon, which was in the recipe I used before I modified it, though maybe other meat. And I read that the tomatoes suggest a Dutch influence, since they were known to add tomatoes and other vegetables to succotash.

Final analysis: great crop; good eating. Worth doing again next year.