Tag Archives: gardening

Rhubarb-Strawberry Cornmeal Tarts with Ginger and Orange Zest

There are plenty of good reasons to make friends with your neighbors.  You can always borrow a cup of sugar, they’re conveniently close for impromptu cocktail parties or afternoon barbeques, and you can share a lawnmower.  (What, not everyone shares a lawnmower with their neighbors?  Well, maybe you all mow more than twice a year.)

We are lucky enough to have the kind of neighbors who, in addition to all of the benefits above, sometimes drop by with treats.  Recently it was a dish of petal-pink tender baked rhubarb, barely sweet and redolent of orange zest and ginger.  I know, right?

I admit to eating a few stalks straight from the dish with my fingers, and heaping spoonfuls made their way into bowls of yogurt for breakfast.  But I have a new cookbook, Good to the Grain, and it has a picture on the cover of some mighty handsome little single-serving rhubarb tarts.  I couldn’t resist cooking the remaining rhubarb down into a jam with fragrant strawberries and baking them into delicate and delicious free-form tarts.  They’re like the biggest, best jam-filled cookie you’ve ever had.  We shared them with the neighbors, of course.Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

Continue reading Rhubarb-Strawberry Cornmeal Tarts with Ginger and Orange Zest (click for recipe)

Radish Butter with Oregano and Dill

I love radishes with butter and salt, so you can imagine that I was tickled by the idea of a salty radish butter.  Why didn’t I think of that?  Luckily, the folks over at Grow It Cook It Can It did.

Learn from my mistake and proceed as follows: use a good knife or a food processor to blitz your radishes into bits.  Then stir in the remaining ingredients by hand.  Adding everything to the food processor and pulsing again left me with watery radish mush instead of tiny radish crunches suspended in creamy, salty, herby radish butter.  We spread ours on homemade bread.

Continue reading Radish Butter (click for recipe)

Arugula Pesto

When I got home from the farmers market this weekend, my fridge was brimming with greens.  Cooking them is always good for freeing up storage space–but pureeing them is even better.  (Eating them, of course, is the very best!)

As I was chatting with my friendly local farmer, Siri, she mentioned that she posted seasonal recipes on the Local Roots Farm blog.  So of course I had to check them out right away.  This pesto recipe, like the arugula, comes straight from Local Roots.  It’s as good–and as green–as it looks.  Tonight we had it on pasta, but I’m looking forward to having it in my fridge this week to spread on an egg sandwich and drizzle over a tomato salad.  What else should I do with it? Continue reading Arugula Pesto (click for recipe)

Radishes with Butter and Salt

Today was the first day of the season for the farmer’s market in my neighborhood.  The five of us meandered over the hill in the sunshine, with frequent breaks for ant-watching, water-drinking, and rock-, stick-, and leaf-collecting (“for our nature collections!”).  The round trip, about three miles, took nearly four hours.  To mix metaphors rather unforgivably (forgive me!), we were living the good life in the slow lane.

I think I expected to find a few beat-up storage carrots, early radishes, and a lot of dried apples, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Those farmers have not been lollygagging about in their gardens as I have.  There were tables brimming with greens, radishes, turnips, leeks, rainbow chard, and rabes!  Plus plenty of baked goods, of course, and delicious local honey.  I wanted one of everything but I contented myself with a few big bags of veggies (we could only hang so many bags off the stroller and still have room for children).

I realized a few years ago that, to my surprise, I had grown to love radishes.  Eating them with good butter and flaky salt is one of life’s simple pleasures.  Even if you don’t think you love radishes, give it a try sometime.  You might be pleasantly surprised to find that you love a new vegetable. Continue reading Radishes with Butter and Salt​ (click for recipe)

Parsley Pesto, with or without Whole Wheat Pasta

Last night we bundled up for our first outdoor dinner of the season. Met the neighbors on the front steps, let the kids get dirty, slurped hot noodles with a fresh spring pesto. It’s not summer yet, but it’s coming.

Parsley is always one of the early springtime arrivals in my garden, but my plants are still just unfurling and getting their footing. This pesto made use of a lonely green bunch of store parsley. I like to keep parsley around for the perky boost it gives to the flavor and color of many dishes.  But in this pesto, it’s the star of the show. And it made for a flavorful and nearly effortless dinner; I just whirled the pesto in the food processor while my pasta boiled.

I saved my parsley stems for homemade stock, of course.

Continue reading Parsley Pesto (click for recipe)

How to Steam Artichokes, or, Steamed Artichokes with Two Perfect Sauces

As artichokes make their springtime debut, I would like to share a life-changing tip with you.  Or at least a tip that will save you half an hour every time you steam artichokes.

I don’t know that I have properly thanked the friend who serves these artichokes at his house (just casually, as if they’re not miraculous) for bringing them into my life.  I should.  Because here’s the ray-of-light epiphany he helped me to see: You don’t have to steam artichokes whole.  You can cut them first.  They cook faster.

So, ok, this may have occurred to you already.  But it had not occurred to me.  Ever.  And I am giddy with the newfound ability to serve artichokes for dinner on a whim.

You do have the cut them first, and you could trim the outer leaves or drop them into lemon water or whatever you want to make them pretty.  But all you really HAVE to do is scoop out the furry choke with a spoon, like so:And then chop each half into quarters (so each artichoke is cut into eighths in the end), steam them for 20-30 minutes, depending on their size, and serve them with my friend’s special secret sauces.  Continue reading Steamed Artichokes with Two Perfect Sauces

Roasted Tomatoes, or, How to Coax Summer Flavor from Winter Tomatoes

Winter tomatoes, blah, we all know that.  At least in these latitudes.  When I visited California in December, my mom had a 10-foot Roma tomato plant that had climbed beyond its trellis into the apple tree and was still fruiting as it reached for the winter sky.  Here in Seattle, I can barely get a tomato to ripen in my back yard in September.  But that’s a different story.

This is not, mind you, a recipe for turning a winter tomato into a summer tomato.  There is nothing you can do in mid-February to turn a hard, lifeless winter tomato into the juicy, fragrant, wonderous thing that a summer tomato is.  This is a recipe for something different altogether.  Something jammy and sweetish, but with the acid undertones of tomato flavor.  Something with a little chew and a little luscious pulp and juice.  Something you will want to eat a lot of.

In the summertime, I like to buy tomatoes by the box to roast and freeze for winter.  We use them all year on pizzas, in soups and pastas and sandwiches, in pots of white beans.  They’re great with roasted garlic, or smeared onto a piece of toast with fresh goat cheese.  But eventually we run out.  These roasted tomatoes can be used in all the same ways.

Roasted Tomatoes take some time, so start early or make a batch on the weekend to use throughout the week.  Quarter Roma tomatoes and place them on a baking sheet with a handful of thyme sprigs.  Drizzle with olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar, which will sweeten as it reduces, and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Bake at 275 for a long, long time.  Maybe two hours.  You want the edges to begin to brown and the bodies to collapse into a succulent, semi-dried state.  Taste one.  If it is watery, or if it still says winter tomato to you, leave it in a bit longer.

These tomatoes would be darn tasty, come to think of it, on yesterday’s homemade spinach pasta.  We’ll have to make that again soon.