Thursday, August 26, 2010

Summer Colors

Warm, dry & sunny days.. a must for lovely summer blooms. Fuschia, rusts, yellows, perriwinkle, scarlet, lavender and pinks.  These are the colors of  my garden.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Artichoke experiment

They grow up so quickly-- artichoke plants that is.   This year I wanted to try something new in the garden, so after reading that some northeast gardeners have been very successful growing these globes of goodness, I just had to try it.

An artichoke plant, can spread up to 5 feet across, making a strikingly handsome addition to any garden.

I remember having dinner at my grandmother's home as a child and seeing an artichoke on my plate for the first time. I remember wondering how I was going to eat this intriguing vegetable. My Nonna showed me just how to tackle the task. I plucked the leaves, dipped them in warmed herbal olive oil, and pull the stem end through my teeth to draw off the tender meat. It was a bit of a mess, but  child’s play. 

That was a very long time ago and I remember being very satisfied when all the leaves were gone.  But then she told me about the hidden treasure inside--the tender heart of the choke.  Such a rich, hearty flavor with a texture and taste like no other.  My sister loves  to stuff  artichokes--but I still enjoy them served the same way my Nonna first served them to me. 

As I left the garden tonite I took this shot.  So far, so good. Probably next week I'll begin harvesting.  Though they got off to a slow start in my garden this year and were then hit with three nights of  unexpected killing frost--they survived.  I will definitely plant more artichokes next year--just fewer of them. I mean, potentially I'm told each plant can yield anywhere from 15-30 chokes! I planted 15 plants!  I think I should consider bringing some of these to farmers market.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ratatouille Crepes

I just love making crepes and with the garden exploding with flavors this time of the year this is a favorite summer dish I make often. 

Ratatouille Crepes
adapted from a recipe in Cooking Light

1 large eggplant chopped
2 medium zucchini chopped
4 roma plum tomatoes chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
3 shallots chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp olive oil
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
2 TBS chopped fresh basil
2 TBS chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 450

To prepare filling:

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper
Toss it around to coat

Spread vegetable mixture in an even layer on cookie pan lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with sea salt, and just a drizzle of olive oil.

Bake at 450 for 35 minutes stirring half way through.

Transfer vegetable mixture to bowl to cool. Stir in basil & parsley.

Mix in 3 TBS Marinara Sauce


2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup water
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh basil, minced
1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced

In a food processor, blend ingredients for 10 seconds. . Cover and refrigerate the batter in the refrigerator for one hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep up to 48 hours refrigerated.

Heat a crepe pan or small non-stick pan, lightly coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until hot. Gently whisk the batter. Lift the pan from the heat and pour in 1/8 cup of batter, tilting and rotating the pan to coat the bottom surface. Cook for 30-40 seconds and lightly browned on edges. Loosen the edges with a spatula and flip the crepe over, then cook the other side another 15 seconds. Turn the crepe onto a tea towel and cover with parchment paper, until cool and ready to fill. Repeat with remaining batter, laying them all out so they can cool. After they have cooled you can stack them and store in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator or freeze them for up to two months. If freezing, I like to place a piece of parchment paper or waxed paper between each crepe until I'm ready to thaw them out. Once thawed, gently peel apart.

To Assemble:

Spoon 3 TBS of Ratatouille in center of each crepe. Fold sides over to overlap. Place seam side down in a baking dish. Top with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese if desired. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Serve with farro and edamame, garden salad and some leftover meatballs. Enjoy!