Garden 2022

Voila, summer is here! Taking it easy in the garden this year. I’m just growing herbs and flowers.

Strangely, the sage died out after flowering beautifully. The oregano and tarragon were harvested a month ago to use in various kitchen projects. I’ve already made pistou and pesto w/ the Genovese basil, and the Thai basil was snipped for a couple of dishes.

We’ve had a good amount of rain on a regular basis, so the flowers are looking really good.

Here are a few photos taken on July 13th:

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Stay safe and have a great summer!

Bruno

Mushroom Hunting in the Dordogne Region of France

My brother and sister-in-law went mushroom hunting in the forest near their home and found some treasure! Here are a few photos of their outing:

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Happy Hunting…

Bruno

Jamaican Jerk Chicken; Jasmine Rice w/ Lime; Red Cabbage Slaw w/ Green Apple, Onion, Pine Nuts and Mustardy Vinaigrette

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When I’m running errands around town, I’ll occasionally drive by a Jamaican BBQ place called Mi Hungry, but I’ve yet to try their food. One thing for sure is it has made me crave some jerk chicken. To satisfy that craving, my most recent cooking project was, you guessed it, delicious, aromatic, roasted jerk chicken! After removing the backbone and flattening out the chicken, I rubbed jerk seasoning under the skin, then let it air dry, uncovered, in the fridge for 5 hours for a crispier skin. 45 minutes in a 425-degree Fahrenheit oven, and my bird was ready! Served w/ jasmine rice enhanced w/ some lime juice/zest, and a cooling red cabbage slaw … it was heaven on earth!!

One of these days, I’ll travel to Jamaica for the real deal. Until then, this will have to suffice.

Bon Appetit!

Bruno

P.S. – A Cotes du Rhone blanc was a nice pairing for this meal.

Roasted Basque Chicken

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Every week during this pandemic, I have been doing a cooking project to feed my belly w/ good eats. Lately, because of the frigid weather I’ve been craving richer, heavier meals (think creamy pasta). The last few days have been spring-like, so my cravings have turned to lighter fare. One of my favorite ways to find new recipes is to look at images on the internet of what I’m craving, and if the image is mouth-watering, hopefully I’ll find a link to the recipe. Here’s a link to the original recipe by Gemma: Basque Roast Chicken (Chicken Basque Style Recipe) | Caribbean Green Living.

My add-ons, substitutions and omissions: I did not use the Noubess seasoning; substituted the whole chicken w/ 3 1/2 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs; only used 6 cloves of garlic (pressed), and added 2 large carrots (sliced), and 3 jalapenos (quartered lengthwise and sliced). Total cooking time was 57 minutes. I loosely tented the chicken w/ foil after 30 minutes (removing the foil for the last 15 minutes) and turned on the broiler for the final 2 minutes. It was delicious served over fragrant jasmine rice.

Happy cooking!

Bruno

A Nontraditional Thanksgiving

I decided to host Thanksgiving for a few friends this year. An unusual lasagna recipe caught my eyes, so I decided to give it a try for our holiday meal. I made a few slight variations from the original recipe, such as using shitake mushrooms, and parmesan instead of mozzarella. Also, I have two layers of the filling, instead of just one. The finished product was apparently a hit because my friends asked for the recipe. Sylvia Fountaine is the recipe creator. Click here for her original recipe: Polenta Lasagna with Smoky Red Pepper Sauce! – Feasting At Home.

For dessert, we enjoyed one of my favorite childhood treats, Apple Brown Betty, which was a perfect match for the Haut-Armagnac being poured. 

Here are a few pics of the food…

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Happy Holidays!

Bruno

Wood-Fired Treats on a Chilly Halloween Afternoon

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Fall has definitely arrived in St. Louis. It was a good day to break out the table top wood-fired oven and practice my cooking skills on a beautiful, chilly afternoon. I made calzones in a cast iron skillet for the first time, as well as a few pizzas. The calzones were filled w/ goat cheese, shitake mushrooms, roasted broccoli, orange bell pepper and garlic. The pizzas were topped w/ a San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, pesto and chunks of crispy pork jowl bacon. It was a fun and delicious way to spend Halloween afternoon w/ a couple of friends. 

Cheers!

Bruno 

Late Summer Color

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Well, these beautiful zinnias kind of make up for the crappy tomato season this year!

Better years ahead…

Bruno

Garden 2021 – Update #2

We’ve had some major thunderstorms lately in St. Louis which have dumped tons of rain. The excessive water caused damage to the foliage on my tomato plants. If you enlarge the photograph you’ll see I had to trim off quite a lot of leaves. I’ve harvested the chard twice, made a big jar of pesto w/ the Genovese basil and have used some of the ripe jalapenos already too! This morning I picked the ripe tomatoes and more jalapenos to add to a shrimp and scallop pasta w/ pesto that is planned for tonight’s dinner. The oregano has been very productive this year, so I’ve dried some for future recipes. I’ve also snipped some fresh tarragon sprigs and added them to my red wine vinegar for a delicious herbal touch in vinaigrettes (something I learned from my mom).

Photos taken on July 24th:

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Until next time…

Bruno

Garden 2021- Update #1

It’s been one month since I transplanted my baby vegetable plants into their new home. Everything is doing well so far. I did have a casualty in my herb patch though. My new sage plant shriveled up and died during the heat wave last week (it hit 101 degrees F in St. Louis!!). Oh well… looks like I’ll be using some dried sage in my cooking this weekend. On the menu are country style ribs, so I’ll add the sage to my dry rub for a little extra flavor. Below are some photos I snapped yesterday morning. 

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Daydreaming of good things to come…

Bruno

Garden 2021

Well, 2021 is off to a good start. Not only is Covid starting to dwindle in the U.S., mother nature has been kind this spring in St. Louis. No major drowning rainstorms, mostly some days w/ nice steady rain followed by sunny days. The average temperature in May was around 70 degrees F. Perfect weather to transplant my veggie garden. This year I grew 8 Cherokee Purple tomato plants, 4 Swiss Chard (Five Color Silverbeet) and 3 jalapeno pepper plants. All were started on April 4th and transplanted on May 24th. I also started basil (Thai and Genovese) in pots outside on May 1st. My sage plant was getting old and dying out, so I trimmed out all the dead sections and added a new sage plant in the same spot. The new plant is a different variety w/ large oval leaves and purplish stems. Everything is doing well in their new homes. I rotated the garden to the other side of the enclosure and gave the plants more space to spread their leaves and grow! Here are some photos I snapped on May 30th:

garden1 2021 Chard, tomatoes and peppers

garden2 2021 Thai basil in the small pots, Genovese in the larger ones

garden3 2021 Sage, tarragon, chives and oregano

Be well and stay healthy…

Bruno