First Tomatoes 2020

St. Louis has been pummeled by rain during the past week. We’ve had several torrential downpours and many of my tomatoes were starting to split open from the excessive water. I decided to harvest the nearly ripe ones yesterday before they were ruined. Some were already starting to rot at the spots where they were touching each other. After cutting away the bad spots from a big tomato, I made a caprese salad for lunch today with mozzarella di bufala that I picked up at the wine shop where I work. Drizzled w/ an aged balsamic vinegar from Italy and served w/ tuna packed in olive oil… life was good as I momentarily forgot about the pandemic that is ravaging Missouri and St. Louis as well as the rest of the country! Tonight’s dinner will be a curried pork stir fry which will include some garden fresh tomatoes and Thai basil. Looking forward to more goodness!

Here are a couple of photos taken yesterday (August 1st):

tomatoes1 2020

tomatoes2 2020

Be well…

Bruno

Garden 2020 – Update #1

Summer is definitely upon us in St. Louis! Temperatures have been in the 90’s for the past couple of weeks but there has been good soaking rainfall weekly. The plants are looking healthy and have started producing. If you enlarge the photos you’ll see some Cherokee Purple tomatoes and Jalapeno peppers coming in. I’ve already harvested some chard and basil to use in various recipes. The wildflowers are doing well too. The only thing that looks kind of scraggily is my patch of herbs. The sage and chives came back fairly well, however the tarragon and oregano didn’t. I’m letting them go to seed in hopes that I’ll have stronger and fuller plants next year.

Here are a few photos taken on July 9th:

garden2 July 9 2020

garden1 July 9 2020

garden3 July 9 2020

garden4 July 9 2020

garden5 July 9 2020

Happy Gardening!

Bruno

 

Garden 2020

garden2 June 14 2020 photos taken June 14th

garden1 June 14 2020

What a pleasure it is to be outside again playing in the dirt! The last several months have been crazy to say the least as a result of  Covid 19. I’m hoping this will be a good gardening year to temporarily take my mind off of  virus related news.

Again, I’ve shrunk the amount of veggies going into the enclosure this year. Less plants and only what has produced well in past seasons. St. Louis had a lot of rain in May but now there’s been a good stretch of dry weather allowing the plants to get well established.

In the garden this year are: 4 Cherokee Purple and 4 Cuore Di Bue tomatoes, 4 Swiss chard, 2 Padron and 2 Jalapeno peppers. In the pots are Genovese and Thai basil.

Green thumbs up!!

Bruno

Sourdough Boule w/ Sesame Seeds (new recipe)

sourdough boule with sesame seeds1

sourdough boule with sesame seeds2

Like a lot of people are doing while at home during this pandemic, I’m trying some new recipes. Luckily there was flour in my pantry because it’s a hot commodity at grocery stores and you’re lucky to find some! Since I had just reactivated my sourdough starter, I decided to attempt a new bread recipe that doesn’t take days to make (even though I have plenty of time on my hands these days!). If you have an active starter, this recipe takes approximately 4 hours from start to finish… my kind of bread recipe. Not only is it relatively easy to make, the end results are quite delicious!!

Sourdough Boule w/ Sesame Seeds (recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (227g) ripe (fed) sourdough starter
  • 3/4 cup (170g) to 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (199g) lukewarm water*
  • 3 1/2 cups (418g) Artisan Bread Flour or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (I used all-purpose)
  • 1/2 cup (71g) sesame seeds, toasted until golden for best flavor
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

 

*Sourdough starter can vary quite a bit in consistency. Use enough water to make a soft dough.

Procedure:

1) In a large mixing bowl,  combine the fed sourdough starter and 3/4 cup of the water, mixing until smooth.

2) Add the remaining dough ingredients, and mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until you’ve made a soft dough, adding additional water as needed.

3) Cover the dough in the bowl, and let it rise until it’s almost doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

4) Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface and gently fold it over a few times to deflate it.

5) Shape the dough into a large round. Grease a Dutch oven and place the dough into it.

6) Cover the Dutch oven, and let the loaf rise until it’s very puffy, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

7) Just before baking, brush or spray the loaf with water, and sprinkle with seeds. Use a lame or a very sharp knife to make several slashes across the top of the loaf, in the shape of a pound sign.

8) Place the covered Dutch oven into a cold oven, set to 450°F, and turn on the oven. Bake the bread for 35 minutes.

9) Uncover and continue baking until the bread is deep golden brown, about 10 additional minutes.

10) Remove the bread from the oven and turn it out of the Dutch oven onto a rack to cool.

 

Eat and drink to your heart’s content, but most of all, stay healthy!

Bruno

Lamb & Pork Meatballs w/ Berbere Seasoning and Pepper Jam Glaze

lamb and pork meatballs2

 

lamb and pork meatballs1

Mission: As requested,  create “something decadent” to bring to a friend’s party.

Since my search for a specific Morrocan spice blend was unsuccessful I decided to go w/ a berbere seasoning that I found at World Market. Berbere is an Ethiopian spice mix that typically includes chili peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, korarima, rue, ajwain or radhuni, nigella and fenugreek. The mix I purchased also included paprika.

I worked the berbere seasoning directly into the ground pork & lamb along w/ a bit of salt, formed it into bite size balls, then browned them in a cast iron skillet. Finished w/ my fresh pepper jam… mission accomplished!

Bon appetit!

Bruno

Garden Bounty 9/11/19

garden bounty 9-11-19

Summer’s winding down so I’m taking advantage of the remaining days of fresh picked produce. Hope you are too!

Yum, yum….

Bruno

Tomato Still Life

tomato still life 8-7-19

These beauties were picked from the garden yesterday. The one on the left is a Cuore Di Bue and on the right is a Cherokee Purple. I love the beautiful colors!

Bruno

First Tomato… and Caprese

Picked the first tomato of the season a couple of days ago. The first to ripen was a Cuore Di Bue (ox heart) shown in the first photo below. It was huge, but was more of a standard shape. The second photo of the green tomato looks more like a heart to me. In the third photo I placed it next to a 1 cup measuring cup so you can get a better impression of how big the ripe one is. It made for a delicious caprese salad for my dinner last night!

 

Photos taken on 7/23/19:

first tomato2 2019

first tomato1 2019

first tomato3 2019

caprese1 2019 Caprese with aged balsamic vinegar/olive oil drizzle and a sprinkle of black pepper/Maldon sea salt

caprese2 2019

 

Looking forward to more summer yums in the near future…

Bruno

Garden 2019 – Update #1

It looks like letting the garden go fallow for a year has made a big difference. All the plants look healthy and strong. I harvested some of the chard last week, sautéed it w/ some crimini mushrooms, andouille sausage and fresh basil then folded it into pasta for a delicious dinner! The tomatoes and peppers are starting to produce, so caprese salads are in my near future. Ahh… the joys of summer!

The following photos were taken on July 5th, except for the one of the Cuore Di Bue tomato which was taken on July 7th.

garden1 7-5-19

garden2 7-5-19

garden3 7-5-19

garden4 7-5-19

garden5 7-5-19

garden6 7-5-19

garden1 7-7-2019

Stay cool!

Bruno

Garden 2019

Welcome to this year’s edition of Bruno’s garden! This year the theme is “less is more”. I decided to reduce the amount of plants so it will be easier to rotate plantings next year. Seeded on April 2nd and transplanted on May 19th, there are 9 tomato plants 3 Cuore Di Bue (an Italian heirloom shaped like an ox heart), 3 Cherokee Purple and 3 Black Krim; 4 chard plants (Five Color Silverbeet); and 3 hot pepper plants (Padron and Early Jalapeno). It’s the first time I’ve tried growing the Cuore Di Bue tomatoes and Padron peppers. If they do well I’ll plant them again next year. The basil was seeded on May 28th. In the large, round pots is Italian Genovese basil and in the rectangular pot is Sweet Thai basil. So far, all the plants are thriving.

With all the rain that’s fallen this year (almost too much) the wildflowers are growing like crazy (and unfortunately so are the weeds!). If you enlarge the photos you’ll notice the blooms are about to burst open w/ color. It reminds me of a fireworks display exploding when all the colorful blooms burst open!

Here are a few photos taken on 6/14:

garden1 2019

garden2 2019 herbs

garden3 2019 veggies

garden4 2019 basil

garden5 2019 wildflowers

garden6 2019 wildflowers

Cheers to a great growing season!!

Bruno