Garden 2017

This year’s garden… seeded on April 1st and transplanted on May 22nd. To insure better success I picked items that have done well in past years and omitted items that have not thrived in my yard.

For tomatoes I chose Cherokee Purple (4 plants); Black Krim (4 plants); Speckled Roman (2 plants) and San Marzano (2 plants). I decided to only plant chard – Bright Lights (4 plants) and 5 Color (4 plants), and to omit kale because of worm infestation in past years. For hot peppers I chose Early Jalapeno (6 plants).

As you’ll notice in the pictures, I rotated the location of everything in the enclosure because last year I had many tomato plants die or fail to produce. Hopefully the crop rotation will be helpful in reducing or eliminating this problem. After the final lettuce harvest I tilled the soil and put the tomatoes in that spot.

After heavy rains in April and May we finally have dryer weather. So far, all the plants are thriving in their new locations. My zinnia seeds were almost washed away by the heavy rains, but fortunately they are doing well. In the wildflower patch next to the enclosure I supplemented the area w/ a pack of perennial seeds called “Perennial Bloom”.

My herbs, especially the sage, suffered from the cold snap we had in early spring. I added a Greek oregano plant as well as a species of lavender that does well in Missouri. The older lavender plants did not return. Only Genovese basil was seeded this year in the pots in the enclosure. Some of the seedlings in the largest pot were eaten by something early on, but the surviving seedlings are doing well at this point.

Photos taken on 6/21:

garden1 6-21-17

garden2 6-21-17

garden3 6-21-17

garden4 6-21-17

garden5 6-21-17

garden6 6-21-17

garden7 6-21-17

Happy Summer Solstice!

Bruno

Sourdough Boule w/ Flax & Sunflower Seeds

A new bread for a new season. This bread is a keeper… nice crunchy crust and an airy, chewy crumb. The seeds added some nice texture too! I used the same recipe as in my previous post on rye pain au levain but shaped it differently and exchanged the rye flour for equal parts flax and sunflower seeds. I made one large boule and baked it for 52 minutes (internal temperature reached 206 degrees F).

I experienced the same problem w/ the bread bursting at the seams and distorting the shape from the excellent oven spring. Next time I’ll try making 2 smaller loaves to see if this resolves the problem.

sourdough boule with flax and sunflower seeds1

sourdough boule with flax and sunflower seeds2

Happy baking…

Bruno

A Great Wine and a Great Meal

sardella1 The vino

sardella3 Spice roasted chicken w/ charred Brussels sprouts

sardella2 Bavette steak w/ hasselback potato

I’ve been wanting to try the roasted chicken at Sardella ever since they opened last November. The chef rubs the chickens w/ rice koji and chills them overnight which makes the skin crispier and the meat more tender. My friend had the bavette steak.

I’ve been saving the wine for a few years to let the tannins mellow out.

The evening was one to remember!!

Cheers and bon appetit…

Bruno

2 Grain Seeded Bread

This bread was made w/ pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and sesame seeds, as well as bulgur and coarse ground corn meal. It has a tight crumb, coarse texture and lots of flavor. Great for morning toast or afternoon sandwiches. I rate it yum!

2 grain seeded bread1

2 grain seeded bread2

From my hearth to yours…

Bruno

Bean & Escarole Stew w/ Spiced Pastry Crisps; Pear Tart w/ Quince Glaze

A comforting dinner for a cold winter night w/ friends.

The bean stew tasted better than it looks in the photo. There was no time for food fluffing… I had party guests arriving at any minute! Kalamata rather than Castelvetrano olives were used.  I browned some ham chunks for the non-vegetarians to add to their stew if desired. The stew recipe also called for garlic rubbed rustic bread toast which I substituted w/ the spiced pastry crisps. They’re very easy to make… just roll out some pastry/pie dough, cut into slivers and sprinkle w/ harissa spice blend and freshly grated parmesan, then bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.

 Bartlett pears were used for the tart although after grocery shopping I learned they are not the preferred choice for baking. Supposedly they don’t hold up well when baked, but the tart turned out fine.

bean-escarole-stew

pastry-dough-crisps

pear-tart1

pear-tart2

Navy Bean and Escarole Stew (recipe adapted from Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 heads garlic

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion – chopped

1 fennel bulb – chopped

1 1/4 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest

3 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary

3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 bay leaves

3 cups dried navy beans soaked overnight, drained

8 oz. crumbled feta cheese

1 1/2 cups kalamata olives, pitted and halved lengthwise

1 head escarole, leaves torn into 2 inch pieces

Procedure:

1) Smash garlic cloves w/ the flat side of a chef’s knife.

2) Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven, add garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until golden (approx. 5-7 min.).

3) Add onion and fennel, season lightly w/ salt, cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent and onion and fennel are browned around the edges (approx. 10-15 min.).

4) Add lemon zest, rosemary and red pepper flakes, stirring often, until rosemary is very fragrant (approx. 3-5 minutes).

5) Add bay leaves, beans, 1 teaspoon salt and 12 cups of water; bring to a simmer.

6) Partially cover pot, reduce heat to low, and gently simmer stew until beans are creamy and tender all the way through (approx. 60-80 minutes).

7) Add olives to stew, then add escarole in batches, letting it wilt slightly before adding more; simmer until escarole is tender (approx. 3-5 minutes).

8) Pluck out bay leaves, adding more salt if necessary (keeping in mind the feta is salty, so don’t over season).

9) Serve stew w/ feta and spiced pastry crisps on the side.

Yield: approx. 6 servings

Pear Tart w/ Quince Glaze (recipe adapted from About Food)

Ingredients:

Your favorite pastry dough (I made enough for 2 discs so I could make the pastry crisps for the stew)

5 pears – peeled, cored and sliced lengthwise 3/8 inch thick (I cut the slices in half so it would be easier to arrange in the tart)

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup quince jelly

Procedure:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2) Roll out 1 disc of dough so that it’s large enough to line a 10 inch tart dish. Carefully place dough into tart dish by rolling it up on rolling pin and unrolling into dish and letting it settle into corners – don’t press or stretch dough to avoid shrinkage while baking ; evenly trim excess dough from edges of dish.

3) In a bowl, add sugar and lemon juice, then add pear slices and toss so that all slices are coated w/ the lemon/sugar mixture.

4) Arrange the pear slices in concentric circles on the tart dough as neatly as possible.

5) Place tart on middle rack in oven and bake until crust is a nice golden brown (approx. 50 minutes); rotate tart in oven halfway through for even baking.

6) While tart is baking, place quince jelly and 1/8 cup water in a small pot and cook over low heat to dissolve and thicken into a syrup consistency.

7) When tart comes out of the oven, evenly brush quince glaze onto the pears.

8) Serve tart warm or at room temperature (w/ a nice snifter of Armagnac to warm you and your guests up on a cold winter night!).

Yield; 6 to 8 servings depending on how you slice it!

 

Happy New Year!!

Bruno

Persimmon Gelato w/ Lebkuchen Chunks

persimmon-gelato1

A seasonal treat for a perfect ending to your holiday feast. My taste testers seemed to like it, so this recipe is a keeper!

I always see persimmons in the grocery stores this time of year and have wanted to try making a gelato flavored w/ them. I used the Fuyu variety. If you decide to try this recipe, make sure you select ripe persimmons, otherwise they will be astringent.

Lebkuchen are a German holiday cookie that originated in Nuremberg over 600 years ago. They’re soft gingerbread w/ additional nuts and spices. I found the ones I used in this recipe at Trader Joe’s. You could easily substitute the Lebkuchen w/ ordinary soft gingerbread, or leave them out if you’re not a fan of the gingerbread flavor. Personally, I love gingerbread, not only because of the flavor, but also because it brings back fond childhood memories of Christmastime!

Persimmon Gelato w/ Lebkuchen Chunks

Ingredients:

4 Fuyu persimmons (peeled and pureed in food processor)

1 cup sugar

6 egg yolks

1 quart half & half

3/4 cup sugar iced Lebkuchen (cut into 1/2 inch chunks)

Procedure:

1) In a metal bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until mixture becomes smooth and pale yellow.

2) Place half & half in a heavy pot and heat until scalded.

3) Very slowly whisk half & half into egg/sugar mixture so as not to curdle the mixture.

4) Place bowl w/ mixture over a pot of simmering water, stirring continuously w/ a heat resistant spatula until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon (do not let mixture exceed 170 degrees F to prevent curdling), then quickly place bowl in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and promote rapid cooling.

5) In a food processor puree the persimmons, then pulse in some of  the gelato mixture to thin. Stir puree into the remaining gelato mixture, blending well, and chill in fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. 

6) Churn mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, adding the Lebkuchen chunks when mixture starts to freeze.

7) Pour gelato into a 2 quart plastic container, stir to evenly distribute the Lebkuchen chunks, then place a piece of parchment paper cut to size on the surface of gelato (this will reduce air exposure and prevent ice crystals from forming on the surface of the gelato). Seal container and freeze until firm.

Yield: Approx. 1 1/2 quarts 

Happy and delicious Holidays!!

Bruno

 

Garlicky Fermented Serrano/Jalapeno Hot Sauce

My garden produced so many hot peppers this year I had to think of new ways to use them all! In addition to making several batches of pepper jam, I decided to give this recipe a try. I fermented the peppers and garlic for 7 days before straining and pureeing. The flavor of the sauce is nice, however next time I will save some of the puree I strained out to thicken the sauce a bit more.

fermented-hot-sauce1 Day 1

fermented-hot-sauce2 Day 7

fermented-hot-sauce3 Finished product

Garlicky Fermented Serrano/Jalapeno Hot Sauce (recipe from Feast Magazine)

Ingredients:

4 cups serrano and jalapeno peppers – remove stems and halve lengthwise

10 cloves garlic – remove skins and smash slightly

1 tablespoon salt

2 cups water

Procedure:

1) Fill a 32 ounce jar w/ peppers and garlic

2) In a large bowl, dissolve salt in water. Pour just enough brine into jar to cover peppers and garlic.

3) Place fermentation weights over top of mixture to weigh it down.

4) Cover jar w/ a piece of cloth and secure w/ a rubber band. Allow mixture to ferment for 7 to 10 days. (the brine will become cloudy; this is a normal part of the process)

5) Once fermentation is complete, drain peppers and garlic, reserving brine.

6) In a food processor, puree peppers and garlic until a smooth paste forms. Add 1 tablespoon of brine at a time until hot sauce reaches desired consistency.

7) Run puree through a fine mesh strainer and store in a 12 ounce glass jar or bottle in refrigerator.

Yield: Approx, 12 ounces

Spice up your life!!

Bruno

Lamb Ribs w/ Pepper Jam Glaze; Charred Broccolini w/ Crimini Mushrooms and Agrodolce Sauce; Baby Potato Salad w/ Chives, Tarragon, Basil and Gherkin Vinaigrette

I had a few friends over the other night and served the following menu in honor of one of the friend’s birthday (recipes furnished upon request):

lamb-ribs-dinner1 Lamb Ribs w/ Pepper Jam Glaze

lamb-ribs-dinner3 Charred Broccolini w/ Crimini Mushrooms and Agrodolce Sauce

lamb-ribs-dinner2 Baby Potato Salad w/ Chives, Tarragon, Basil and Gherkin Vinaigrette

Bon Appetit!

Bruno

 

Pollinator’s Paradise

pollinator's paradise1

pollinator's paradise2

This year’s zinnia patch…

Be the first to spot the Monarch butterfly and hummingbird (hint- they’re in the same photo right next to each other). Click on photos for a better view!

Colorfully yours,

Bruno

Garden 2016 – Update #2

This post is bittersweet… a few short weeks ago I was thrilled w/ how well my garden was thriving, however now it’s doing so-so. Two of my tomato plants have died (Moneymaker and Gold Medal) and two more (Cherokee Purple) are on the verge of kicking the bucket. On the bright side, the remainder of the plants are producing. Soon I’ll have my first ripe tomatoes and peppers of the season. The basil is coming in nicely and my chard and kale will be ready for a second harvest in the near future if I can continue to keep the leaf munching caterpillars away. Not sure if the 5 days of heavy rain last week was too much for some of the tomato plants. I’ll have to do some research to figure out the cause of the damage. So far the good outweighs the bad and I hope it stays that way!

 Photos snapped at 8 o’clock this morning:

garden1 7-10-16

garden2 7-10-16

garden3 7-10-16 Peppers

garden4 7-10-16 Black Krim

garden5 7-10-16 Speckled Roman and San Marzano

garden6 7-10-16 Cherokee Purple

garden7 7-10-16 Basil

garden8 7-10-16

garden9 7-10-16

garden10 7-10-16

garden11 7-10-16

Hoping for greener thumbs…

Bruno