I am so sorry for my long absence, six months sure goes by fast……dare I pin my preoccupation on a certain adorable, sometimes quite edible little munchkin? See him at the end of this post? I was inspired by him and us watching the animated movie, “The Ant bully” ( only about a thousand times), and then photographed all our treasures from the garden as seen from the “eyes” of an ant! This movie teaches little munchkins to be kind to each other and bugs!
Not-so-mundane garden variety
Here are a few recipes I tinkered with throughout the summer, using things from the garden and hey, the garden parties were not bad either!
For some reason, there seem to be an amicable and almost clandestine rivalry between my husband and me and where arbitration in “whom will reign supreme” is not really important. What does matter, is the fact that both of us are passionate about our endeavors and that I am able to constantly chase after gastronomic nirvana!
With this said, my husband is the avid gardener in this family, so the term “green thumb” presumably alludes to his soil stained fingers. He grows all kinds of things from seedlings, which he first germinates in the sun room, while the snow is still rampant around these parts and then during the warmer months, transplants them to either pots or the yard where “difficult dirt” is the order of many a day! Were it not for his tireless efforts, ( and in my mind, sometimes foolhardy perseverance LOL!), to dig and aerate this impermeable piece of underlying crap, so sorry, I meant to say clay, that lurks just below the already, ( I swear), denuded top soil, I would not be able to “showboat” these beauties below! Nevertheless, daunting as this task may seem, he enjoys every minute of it! Thank goodness, he has the “balls” to do this every spring, among countless other things!
This tree is on the side of my studio where it receives plenty of sunshine but also the much needed shade during those 100 degree days from the shadow, cast by the wall. My grandmother had a blackberry tree that fed the whole neighborhood. She made us climb the tree and then made all kinds of things with blackberries and it is those very moments that I miss so terribly. My sister S shared a memory with me, saying that my Grandfather wanted her to catch all those pesky ripened berries before they fell onto his vintage Simcar, ( the ones that stained your hands and face and looked like some tattoo artist was hard at work at your expense). Apparently, there is really nothing wrong with inexpensive and underage labor, just look at how we turned out! just kidding! He, he!
Can you imagine a world in black & white? Thank God for granting us a vivid color spectrum!
This is my so called “big, little very berry Petit Four” that serves four or many more! (only 6 & half inches in diameter)
I developed this recipe when the berries were bursting with juice and flavor and just falling to the ground. This almost salacious motion needed an equally amorous mate, ( i.e. a spongy Madeira with berries in the batter), to showcase the berry in all its sun-kissed glory. The taste was absolutely stupendous, not in the least sweet, just fruity and a little tart!
Everybody and their Mama are always over at my house, so when I tried dividing this baby into a thousand little pieces, one of my friend’s said “What the fudge Naz, what’s up with this? I need a freakin magnifying glass to even locate my piece!”
This big, little petit four is covered in a fruit fondant that I bought on-line and came all the way from Great Britain. So, it is more than fitting to serve even the queen of England and the rest of the royal clan!
I served this dessert with a raspberry and blackberry coolie on the side. The berry coolies intermingled with the fruit fondant , making every bite bursting with bits of succulent berry magic! Need I say that this endeavor was pretty darn fruitful!
Just add cooled down boiling water to a mixture of both raspberry & blackcurrant fondants and voila! you have real berries in a liquid state. I added a touch of lemon juice and the berry coolies to make it extra fruity!
It was this fruit fondant that really made this cake soar!!!!
Squires Shop distributes orders of their products, magazines & magazine subscriptions worldwide, just click on their logo below for this fondant and many more.
It is such a pleasure to cook straight from the garden and it also gives us that much needed “reconnect” to our food source, especially among the youth where this disconnect seems hauntingly palpable!
This season, my husband uncharacteristically cross pollinated the “Roma” with the “Big Boy Hybrid” to produce a tomato with an inexplicably delicious flavor, that of my favorite, “Pink Lady” apple. Anyone can purchase a little tomato plant and plant it and nurture it and this is all good, but it is the mere planting and growing directly from seed and experimenting with cross pollination that grabs my attention!
Naturally, I just had to reciprocate and make the best tomato jam ever, so I did some “cross pollination” of my own. I married the tomatoes in this jam with a few surprises , one of them being harissa, ( just a smidgen to give it that slightly spicy flavor), and also added a fruit and a few other ingredients that will knock your socks off! BTW, I used honey and not sugar in this jam.
I removed the doughy insides from some Einstein bagels and filled them with a crumbly farmers cheese , topped them with a savory custard , a shower of freshly grated Parmesan and then baked in the oven until golden and crispy. My jam provided that undercurrent of gastronomic mystery to these bagels because without it, felt amiss! I am afraid that you just had to be here to appreciate the added flavor that this jam brought to the table!
Spicy tomato jam & inside out cheesy bagels
Mint patch (this is the bees favorite hangout!). These suckers can really dominate a garden but in essence this symbiotic relationship between bee & mint if you will, is really a win-win situation for me and my tomatoes! If this is what my garden has to endure for the attraction of bees to our tomatoes, then who am I to argue with nature.
This is a steamed dark chocolate & mint pudding ( I cooked this baby in a pot on the stove top). A simple prep, but of course I am all about a challenge, so I had to go and make those pesky but pretty chocolate mint leaves for the decoration! If I were to describe this dessert, my best answer would be, like biting into a piece of spongy marshmallow without the sweetness of course!
Can someone please notify the CIA, someone has to pay dearly with his good name for this luscious chocolate thingy! Yeah, baby, this is criminal!
I did mean the Culinary Institute, what were you thinking?
Cherries ( or whatever the heck this is!). This berry was already growing in the backyard before we took up residence here. Anyway, it has a big seed in the middle and has a slightly sour taste and so I cooked about a handful together with craisins in a tangy chutney.
N.B. The Denver Botanic gardens got back to me and told me that these are actually chokecherries! Apparently, these make great jams/chutneys etc…. so I was on the right track.
This is a “Craisin” good, Nazarina’s special masala ( paprika}, roasted turkey tenderloin with a drunken ( Pink Lady) apple slaw. This turkey takes only 40 minutes to bake and is so’ stinkin” good, your family would want to eat it everyday! It is moist and tender and the cherry and craisin chutney are a perfect complement to this dish. So to this dish there are three of my favorite recipes…….1) Craisin & cherry vinaigrette with a twist! ( gingerly toss the crispy apple strips), 2) Craisin & cherry chutney made with honey ( to baste the turkey loins) and 3) the paprika roasted turkey tenderloin
Cucumbers, where pickling is the least of your culinary capabilities!
Roasted jalapeno (seeds removed) flavored DAHI. I added some other surprising twists to this cucumber raita as well . You would say, “Why did I not think of this?”
Sorry Mom, could not resist bringing the Dahi into the new millennium. This is truly mod & daring cuisine!
This is an accompaniment to Briyani and pappadoms , but my family loves it as a refreshing summer soup as well.
All he ever says is Mmmmmmmmmm!!!!
Well, Mmmm yourself, you little cutie petudie!
Recipes (Please use organic ingredients when possible)
Mint chocolate steam pudding with chocolate leaves
(cooked in a pot of simmering water)
- 3.5oz ( 50% dark Lindt) chocolate (the whole bar) & another bar for the leaves and the sauce.
- quarter cup milk
- 7 oz chocolate cake crumbs / or I just thought of ladyfinger biscuit crumbs ( Boudoir biscuits) ! I am definitely going to use the ladyfinger crumbs, the next time I make another steam pudding! How ingenious of me! Don’t mind if I pat myself on the back! LOL!
- quarter cup sugar
- 2oz unsalted butter
- 3 eggs, separated
- quarter tsp. cream of tartar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. peppermint extract
Steep the milk on low with 2 mint leaves then melt the 3.5 oz chocolate via a “bain Marie” method, stirring gingerly until smooth and set aside. Cream the butter with the sugar until creamy and then incorporate one egg yolk at a time. Add the vanilla and peppermint and blend. Add the melted chocolate to the cake crumbs and mix. Fold this mixture into the creamed butter, sugar & egg-yolk mixture. With an electric beater, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until fairly stiff and the fold into the chocolate mixture. Spoon this batter into a 4 cup, lightly greased pudding mold and close with the lid/ or you can use any pudding mold.
Immerse the pudding mold into a pot, pour cold water halfway up the mold and then remove the mold. Bring this water to a boil and then turn the burner on low. Place the pudding mold back into the boiling water, set on an overturned heatproof plate, and place the lid on and then cook on a slow simmer for 75 minutes. This will come out of the mold easily if you cool on a rack for 20 minutes and loosen the edges with a knife.
To make the leaves:
Melt some chocolate in a bain Marie , thickly paint the underside of a mint leaf with chocolate and allow to dry and cool in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. Do not let the chocolate spill over to the other side of the leaf, this will make it difficult to do your next step! Carefully pull the leaf off the hardened chocolate.
Or just dip the leaves in the chocolate, harden and get on with the recipe!
Thanks for being the subjection to a long and hopefully not a tedious post!