Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Monday, October 20, 2014

Maple-Herb Glazed Roasted Autumn Vegetables

I love some delicious oven roasted veggies during the cooler part of the year. They are great in a salad, casserole, soup or just on their own. Today I served them on a bed of savory brown rice with irish cheddar & spinach.

For today's recipe I whipped up a sauce that the chopped veggies marinated in before roasting. The marinade compliments the flavors of the veggies without dominating. It is composed of sweet maple syrup, a touch of mustard and garden fresh herbs. To enhance the pretty colors I used golden beets and a brilliant purple yam. You can really substitute any root veggies and winter squash you want in this adaptable recipe. Enjoy!

1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 cup fresh italian parsley, minced
1 garlic clove, minced

1 purple yam, peeled
1 golden beet, peeled
1 acorn squash, peeled & seeds removed
6 carrots
2 yukon gold potatoes
1 yellow onion, skin removed

1. Whisk all marinade ingredients together and set aside.
2. Chop all veggies in large uniform pieces
3. Put veggies in a large casserole dish and cover with marinade. Mix well to coat. Let sit for 1 hour.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake uncovered for 60-90 minutes. Check at 60 minutes. Cooking time will depend on size of veggie pieces.
5. Serve hot over savory brown with irish cheddar & spinach

Savory Brown Rice with Irish Cheddar & Spinach

Brown rice is a staple in our weekly diet. It is a delicious nutritious whole grain that is endlessly versatile. A gluten-free whole grain that is also inexpensive is a win win for me! Surely there is a time and a place for plain brown rice, however, it need not always be boring. This dish is not quite a risotto and not quite a rice casserole. It falls somewhere in between with the creaminess of a nice irish cheddar. Bright green baby spinach compliments the cheddar. This is a simple inexpensive recipe that makes a great base for a myriad of toppings. Today I served it with maple-herb glazed roasted autumn vegetables

2 cups short grain brown rice
4 cups vegetable stock or 4 cups water with 1 vegan sea salt & herb broth cube
6 cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup irish cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tbsp butter

1. Place rice and stock or water in a covered sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low and simmer for 50 minutes. Do not remove lid and do not stir.
2. After 50 minutes, add cheddar cheese & butter, stir. Continue to cook for only a few minutes until the cheddar is melted and fully incorporated into rice. Turn off stove. You are done cooking.
3. Add the spinach leaves to rice, stir, and replace lid. Let sit for a few minutes until spinach is wilted.
4. Taste and see if you need additional salt. The broth cube I use is pretty salty so I don't add additional salt. This will depend on the stock you choose to use.

Inspiration for Autumn Cooking

I dedicate this one to Catherine. Get out of the cooking rut with lots of recipe inspiration! The weather is cooler, turn on the oven and get back into the kitchen. Here are some of my current favorite recipe inspirations:

Tandoori Butter Sweet Potato Fries with Creamy Baked Harissa Feta

Here's another one from Half Baked Harvest--Salted Caramel Mocha & Nutella Brownies. OH DEAR GOD!!!!

31 Delicious Things to Cook in October

From that buzzfeed article I am most excited about trying these recipes. Please visit all these awesome food blogs and give their recipes a try!
--Tart cherry glazed brussels sprouts
--Roasted vegetable salad with garlic dressing & toasted pepitas
--Quinoa with caramelized butternut squash & roasted brussels sprouts
--Mediterranean baked sweet potatoes
--Parsnip gratin with gruyere and thyme
--Roasted cauliflower with figs & olives
--Pasta with Cauliflower in spicy pink sauce

Vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes from Bon Appetit

Here are some great autumn recipes from epicurious

And, speaking of epicurious, I have the mobile app on my iPhone and you can search what's in season for your location. It will generate a list of local seasonal produce with links to recipes. Call me a nerd, but I love it!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cover Crops

Cover crops are sometimes known as "green manure." Cover crops are quick growing and planted primarily to keep the soil covered for a short period of time, often during the fall & winter. Then they are plowed under as "green manure" where they decompose and add organic matter to the soil. In addition to adding organic matter to the vegetable garden, cover crops suppress weeds by providing competition, reduce erosion, reduce nutrient loss from leaching and add nutrients.

Common cover crops are crimson clover, dutch white clover, vetch, annual rye grass, fall cereal rye, buckwheat, fava bean, oilseed radish, and austrian peas. There are also cover crop seed mixes that contain a variety of cover crops.

The lush green growth of cover crops returns large amounts of organic matter to the soil. Organic matter stabilizes moisture content and improves garden soil texture. When dug under the storehouse of nutrients in cover crops are returned to the soil.

Crimson clover, dutch white clover, fava beans, austrian peas and vetch are all members of the legume family. This means when they are used as a cover crop they actually return nitrogen to the soil. Legume plants are hosts to nitrogen-fixing bacteria and extract nitrogen from the air and convert it into a form that can be used by plants. Legumes are awesome!

Fall is a great time to plant cover crops. Unless you are growing winter crops, you are probably cleaning up and putting your vegetable garden to bed at this time of year. Instead of just letting your garden rest during the winter why not plant some cover crops? Depending on the variety of cover crop you choose, they are usually seeded September-November. Plant cover crop seeds by broadcasting. The seeds need to be covered by soil and kept evenly moist while germinating. Most cover crops need a full sun location. Check seeding rates with individual varieties.

This year we planted crimson clover in our 3 raised beds we put to rest for the winter. We planted crimson clover seeds on October 6th. It wasn't raining so we keep the soil moist with a daily light watering. The seeds germinated in under 1 week!

I like crimson clover because it has the nitrogen-fixing powers of a legume, it forms a dense green carpet during the winter and it is easy to turn under in the spring. An added bonus is it develops beautiful bright flowers in the spring that attract bees. Unlike dutch white clover, crimson clover is non-invasive.

I have planted many varieties of cover crops over the years. My 2nd favorite would be fava beans. Fava beans develop into tall 3 foot plus plants. They are vigorous growers with beautiful flowers. In addition to their legume nitrogen-fixing powers, favas have a very deep taproot that loosens up the hard clay soils in Portland. In the spring, hoe down the plants and leave the tap roots to decompose in the soil. Fava beans have sturdy stalks are more difficult to turn under than a soft carpet of crimson clover. But they are worth it, especially if you have a new garden with hard soil. Let the lava tap roots do the work for you!

Oilseed radish have the same taproot quality of fava beans, however, they are in the cabbage family so you need to consider them in your crop rotation schedule. For this reason I wouldn't recommend them in a small garden space. I have grown both annual rye grass and fall cereal rye. My experience is they germinate fast and tolerate a wide variety of harsh conditions. Their dense mat of roots make them excellent erosion controllers. However, it is this dense mat of roots that make them extremely hard to turn under by hand. I learned my lesson one year hoeing my community garden by hand. It was back breaking work to break up the rye grasses and I will never plant them again.

You can pick up cover crop seeds at your local nursery or garden center. Plant them this fall and reap the rewards come next spring!

Our crimson clover & garlic germinated very fast at the beginning of October!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fried Green Tomato Salad Recipe #2

Earlier this month I posted about the joys of fried green tomato season! We have our last bowl of green tomatoes and I was inspired to create another fried green tomato salad with slight variation for the original recipe. I wanted this salad to be heartier with the addition of more vegetables and a creamy basil dressing. The feta, avocado and olives provide softness and those healthy fats. I discovered the Bob's Red Mill gluten-free 1 to 1 baking flour to work well for the green tomato batter. I added bacon to this recipe, but you could very easily omit it to keep it vegetarian.

Fried Green Tomatoes-see gluten-free recipe here
Salad greens mix
Sliced carrots, radishes, cucumbers and bell peppers
Sliced avocado
Crumbled feta
Crumbled bacon
Kalamata olives

Monday, October 13, 2014

Autumn Root Veggie & Kale Gratin

Earlier I posted that October was the beginning of soup season. I'd like to add that it's also the beginning of casserole season. Cooler temperatures mean I will actually turn the oven back on! I love a good casserole. Casseroles make the house smell amazing, once baking in the oven they free up my hands for more cooking or other projects, their ample servings make great lunches for our entire work week, they are freezable and I love to share casseroles with my friends! I find I am quite at my happiest during the winter months with a casserole in the oven, a soup bubbling in the crockpot and I'm curled under a blanket with a cup of my favorite tea and a good book. Simple pleasures!

Today's gratin was inspired by the autumn flavors of root vegetables, winter squash, and kale. Rutabaga is one of my favorite autumn/winter root vegetables. It does not have the spiciness of a turnip and is actually quite creamy and delicious. I encourage you to try the weird-looking neglected rutabaga this season! An exploration of my favorite neighborhood specialty cheese counter yielded a cow's milk gruyere from Switzerland and a goat's milk gouda from Holland. I returned from a trip to my own garden with a handful of fresh thyme and chives.

This casserole takes quite a few steps to prepare, so I'd save it for your day-off rather than a busy work night. It yields many delicious servings, so is well worth the effort!

Olive Oil
1 yukon gold potato, thinly sliced
1 yam, peeled & thinly sliced
1 rutabaga, peeled & thinly sliced
1 delicata squash, peeled, seeds removed & thinly sliced
2 cups shredded cheese, your choice (I used gruyere and gouda)
1 bunch lacinato kale, leaves de-ribbed, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and minced
1 vegan broth cube
1 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup unsweetened plain soy milk
2 eggs
a handful fresh chives, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep your casserole dish by rubbing a tbsp or so of olive oil onto the bottom of the dish.
2. Sauté over medium heat the minced onion with a splash of olive oil. Cook a few minutes until translucent and lightly browned. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté a few minutes more until very fragrant. Set aside.
3. Begin layering with yam, rutabaga, 1 cup of cheese, potato, onion-garlic-herb mixture, kale, delicata squash.
4. Dissolve the broth cube into boiling water. Add the melted butter and soy milk. Whisk in the eggs until mixed. Pour this mixture over the casserole.
5. Top with remaining 1 cup of cheese and the chives.
6. Cover the casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Autumn Garlicky Tomato Soup with Quinoa & Kale

Happy October friends!
It has been a mild and beautiful autumn in Portland. One of our 4 maple trees has shed it's colorful leaves all over the yard. Some days are sunny & warm, and some are foggy, wet with a chill in the air. Its not too cold to harvest fresh herbs, greens, and even tomatoes from the garden. I love this time of year. It is the beginning of soup season!

I love a good tomato soup. Here are links to other soup recipes I've created. Today's recipe is just a variation on these others. Tomato soup is excellent on its own. Even better with a grilled cheese dipped in. I use quinoa and kale in this recipe. These could easily be substituted for barley, rice, couscous, or your favorite small pasta shape. Swiss chard or spinach could stand in for the kale. Garbanzo or cannellini beans would be equally at home in this savory soup.

You can use fresh tomatoes from your garden, your own tomatoes you've canned or frozen, or store bought tomatoes in a can. Fresh herbs from the garden make all the difference in this recipe. The intense fragrant flavors of garden grown & freshly snipped oregano and basil can not be matched by dried herbs.

This delicious soup is simple and quick to make in under 30 minutes. It is a favorite in our house and a staple in my recipe arsenal. I hope you enjoy it!

6 cloves of garlic, minced
extra virgin olive oil
a few sprigs fresh oregano, leaves finely minced
a few sprigs fresh basil, leaves finely minced
4 lacinato kale leaves, de-ribbed and thinly sliced
about 6 cups diced tomatoes (or 2-48oz cans)
1 vegan broth cube
1 cup COOKED quinoa
1 cup water
1 cup unsweetened plain soymilk
optional: shredded parmesan cheese

1. Sauté over medium heat for a few minutes the garlic, basil and oregano in a splash of olive oil. Add the kale and continue to sauté a few minutes more until the leaves are wilted but still bright green.
2. Add the tomatoes, broth cube, quinoa and 1 cup water. Turn heat up to high and bring to a boil. At boil let cook a few minutes more. Check the flavors. Add honey to taste.
3. Turn off heat. Add the soy milk until consistency you desire. I used about 2 cups.
4. Optional-garnish with shredded parmesan cheese and basil leaves

Friday, October 3, 2014

Autumn is Fried Green Tomato Season

As the autumn rains and cold weather creep in I am aware of the mortality of my tomato plants. Some years I am still harvesting tomatoes into October. This week's forecast was for the return of rain, lots of heavy rain. I did a large harvest of my tomato plants. I culled all of the green tomatoes of the plants, so they could really sink their energy into ripening the remaining colorful fruits.

I love to have fun with fried green tomato recipes every autumn. This week I cooked them for 2 different dinners. The first was a fried green tomato salad with balsamic drizzle, feta and fresh basil leaves. The second was gluten-free spaghetti in heirloom tomato sauce with chèvre and topped with fried green tomatoes. Both delicious.

My biggest tip for fried green tomatoes is to use green, as in unripe hard tomatoes, not green, as in green-colored variety like green zebras. A ripe tomato will break down during the frying process. You want crunchy hard unripe green tomatoes for frying.

I cut big slices, dip them first in egg, then into a flour-cornmeal mix, then fry in canola oil until browned on each side. I've had very good success with gluten-free all purpose baking mix/flour. Use one that does not have almond meal. It gives the batter a weird flavor. Use 2 parts baking mix/flour to 1 part cornmeal.

The salad was super easy. It doesn't even need dressing!
--Fry up a batch of fried green tomatoes
--Bed of salad greens, your choice
--Top with fried green tomatoes
--Top with feta cheese & slivers of garden fresh basil
--Squirt with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar

I'll tell you the secret to my quick, easy and delicious improvisational pasta sauce:
--Chop garden fresh, super ripe, heirloom tomatoes
--Sauté 1 chopped clove of garlic in olive oil
--Add chop tomatoes and 1 vegan broth cube
--Simmer for about 5 minutes
--Add to warm pasta
--Add parmesan cheese and your choice of soft cheese-chevre, feta, ricotta, etc.
--Add slivers of garden fresh basil

Enjoy Autumn's Bounty! Jolie