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Eating what’s fresh and in season is one of life’s simple pleasures.
Now finding the time to cook them all is another thing.
Weekdays food is always center of home life, but the weekends are special, no need to rush home to prepare dinner. I get a chance to browse the markets, assemble ingredients and plan how everything will come together.
Last weekend I had planned on another special meal, but J. insisted I take the day off to avoid overheating the house. The expected highs were that of July. Instead, after visiting the farmer’s market early that day, I got right into the kitchen to prepare lunch, a simple one that didn’t seem to recreate the outside temperatures.
I quickly blanched the fava beans, green beans and peas in salted, boiling water and finished them in a skillet to create a brilliantly-vibrant mélange for the scallops. All dressed simply with tarragon butter and toasted walnut oil.
I love the action that happens in the kitchen. I love the slicing, chopping, sautéing, and everything else involved in the process of making meals. I can’t help it. Sometimes I think I am crazy always wanting to be in the kitchen, heat wave or not. So many things to try, combinations to make, lots of food to be had and shared.
Where to start and when to stop and enjoy it!
A trip to the Polar Hill Farm was scheduled to see the goats, get away from the city and to see how they make thier award winning cheeses.
After the heat of Sunday and a late severe thunderstorm in the evening, the air cooled. Next morning the skies were clear and it was time to see some goats.
The tour was pleasant and the goats were adorable. Later this week I will share some of that with you!
Sea Scallops [serves 2]
6 large sea scallops
3 Tablespoons gluten-free breadcrumbs [or panko in not going gluten-free]
2 Tablespoons minced parsley
2 Tablespoons toasted walnut oil
Sea salt to taste
1. Place scallops on a sheet pan lined with parchment.
2. Brush scallops with walnut oil and sprinkle them with crumbs & parsley.
3. Bake in a 400°F oven for 15 minutes or until scallops are just firm and slightly opaque.
Farmer’s Market Vegetable Mélange [serves 2-3]
½ cup fresh fava beans
1/3 cup fresh peas
1/3 cup green beans cut into 1” pieces
1/3 cup fresh sweet corn kernels
¼ cup tiny French Breakfast radishes, halved
1 Tablespoon tarragon butter [recipe follows]
1 Tablespoon toasted walnut oil
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper & chives to taste
1 Tablespoon chives, thinly sliced [garnish]
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
2. Blanch fava beans, peas and green beans separately for a few minutes or until just tender.
3. Place vegetables in ice water to cool and stop the cooking process. Drain on towels.
4. Heat tarragon butter in a skillet over medium heat and add all of the vegetables.
5. Gently cook until heated through. Drizzle in walnut oil and season with sea salt.
6. Sprinkle vegetables with chives and serve promptly.
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp.
2 Tablespoons freshly minced tarragon
½ teaspoon sea salt
1. Whip together all ingredients until smooth and blended.
January is coming to a close, which means another month closer to spring. The anticipation for spring’s arrival gets me a little excited, ok… really excited about playing in the garden and ready to fill the growing spaces with new life. This year I plan on finally setting aside some space for a good size herb garden, filling it with all of those wonderful fresh flavors, and giving these darlings some good open ground, where the roots can grow deep and sprawl to their delight.
Living in a bigger city, it can be hard to find adequate space to have such a restful place to be, but surely enough room to have herbs. While living in a more rural community years ago, there was plenty of room to have a garden which back then I did not think to enjoy gardening as much. It wasn’t until I had a place of my own that the interest took me by surprise. Even then, I have always loved to get into the dirt and seeing what becomes of it.
For now, I will just need to be patient, very patient indeed [it's only January] until spring finally arrives and be ready to savor the first fresh farmer’s market produce. In the meantime, thinking how to best enjoy what we still have at the market which lead me to today’s recipes.
A game hen, which is perfect for two, glazed up to a mahogany finish with a mélange of vegetables.
I love so much working with vegetables and this recipe mixes them up, quickly blanches them and finishes them in a garlicky sauté perfectly. Besides it helps us get more of those healthful foods into our tummies.
Mahogany Glazed Game Hen Recipe [Serves 2]
4 Tablespoons butter, unsalted
4 Tablespoons tamari, low sodium
2 Tablespoons French brandy [optional]
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 large garlic clove, peeled & sliced
¼ teaspoon crushed red chilies
1 game hen, brought to room temp. [Approximately 1 hour]
[Some twine to truss the bird.]
Preheat oven to 350°F.
1. Truss your bird and set aside in an oven-able pan.
2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, cook for five minutes.
3. Strain glaze into a bowl and brush the bird.
4. Bake for 20 minutes and repeat with more glaze every 15-20 minutes.
5. Once the bird gets its last glaze, finish cooking in the oven one last time. Discard glaze.
Different sizes of birds cook differently so here this game hen took approximately 50 minutes to bake. The juice should run clear when poked with a knife into the thickest part of the bird. No more glaze should be put on the bird as this has raw chicken stuff in it so discard.
Vegetables Mélange Recipe [Serves 4]
5 cups mix of vegetables
[Such as: carrots, green beans, broccoli raab, Brussels’s sprouts]
3 Tablspoons olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, peeled & thinly sliced
Sea Salt & fresh black pepper to taste
blanching the vegetables:
1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, blanch one kind of vegetable at a time until just tender.
2. Place immediately into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
3. Drain and dry vegetables on paper towels.
finishing the vegetables:
1. Heat oil in a sauté pan and add garlic.
2. Once garlic turns lightly golden add the vegetables.
3. Cook for a few minutes to reheat and season with salt and pepper.
This is a basic recipe that you can adjust and add a few things to suit your taste. It is particularly delicious with prosciutto and toasted pine nuts. Add a few chilies and there you have a beautiful mélange of vegetables.
Yes you read the title correctly. It’s about time to starting planning the gardens, but today I am discussing the importance of getting the vegetable garden planned out. Not only will hard work pay off, but the process of planting and maintaining a potager more enjoyable.
I like getting an early start, purchasing seeds and deciding what will be cultivated each year. Making selections early will guarantee the varieties you wish to grow are available. Already the piles of seed catalogs clutter the desk, eager to be flipped through. Doesn’t your mouth just water when you starting glancing through those catalogs?
Each year I map out where all of the vegetables will grow. I rely on previous years of drawings and notes to rotate crops and adjust; trying vegetables better suited for the garden. A few years back I had a small kitchen garden off the side of my home, which was a real joy to have, but the voluminous amount of fresh vegetables I wanted to grow just didn’t happen. The problem was insufficient sunlight. So I looked into finding a proper location. I found a community garden site near my home and with much excitement dug in.
Here was my kitchen garden in the spring of 2007 outside my home. Spring cleaning was underway just in time for the pebble-stone path to be put in. Today this garden is pure flowers, better suited for this site.
Vegetable gardens require two major factors for optimal productivity, adequate sunlight; around eight hours and the other water. Soil does contribute to a gardens success, as long as it is friable and naturally fertile. Adding sufficient nutrients get things off to a good start. I rely on organic fertilizers for the best quality vegetables. A well-tended garden with regular applications of compost requires little additional fertilizer.
Let me just talk about how sunlight really makes a difference. Growing cutting greens at home I was able to cook up about five or six meals for two in one growing season, and in my community garden spot that gets sunlight all day, I was able to feed ten people each week for the entire season. That was huge in comparison to what I was accustomed too, but you are never short on friends and neighbors who are willing to take vegetables off your hands.
With all seed orders sent, I will be getting ready to clean up the garden and start seeds indoors. Remember, maintaining a garden whether for flowers or vegetables is a joyous thing and certainly worth all your efforts.