Monday, July 22, 2013

Celery Collins

This is my new favorite summer drink! All the more refreshing because it's non-alcoholic. I modified the recipe from this month's issue Bon Appetit. I got so excited I made a quadruple batch to keep in the fridge this week, but it's really better fresh.

I was incredulous and thrilled to discover locally grown celery at the downtown farmers' market this weekend. I didn't think anyone could grow it here, in such heat! The stalks were pretty slender, and it came with lots of leaves, so I just used the whole thing in this recipe. It was pretty intense, much like lovage, one of my favorite obscure herbs.

4 celery stalks with leaves, or a fistful of lovage
1/4 cup water
1 Tbs honey
1/4 tsp Angostura bitters
4 oz. fizzy water

Chop celery coarsely, then puree in a blender with water and honey. Strain into a pint glass and stir with bitters and lots of ice. Divide between two collins glasses. Garnish with a few celery leaves. Serves 2.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Eggs with Smoked Salmon, Goat Cheese, and Lamb's Quarters

This morning Dave made breakfast, and as I took the first bite he said "Guess what's in these eggs?" It was a variation on our usual breakfast of scrambled eggs with green onions and goat cheese. I thought about what we had in the fridge. Kale? Nope. Radish greens? Nope. Uhh... I looked out over the backyard garden, with its wide array of weeds. Lambs' quarters? Yes!! I love surprises.

Lambs' quarters are one of the most common weeds in my garden. Here it flourishes among the gladiolus... and pretty much everywhere else.

I'm here to tell you, they are delicious. Like spinach, only better. Seriously, people, why fuss over spinach when you could have this stuff for free? It's a lot easier to grow, and at least as tasty. (I'm not the only one who thinks so.)


We smoked a salmon last weekend. When I say we, I mean that I plan the project and cure the meat, by rubbing it with spices, salt, and sugar, and tending to it in the fridge for anywhere between a few hours to a week... and Dave does the smoking. In this case, it meant that we started the smoking around dinnertime, then Dave stayed up until midnight tending the coals to keep the temperature between 150-160°F until the fish reached an internal temperature of 140°F. He likes to stay up late anyway, and the salmon turned out just as delicious as I'd hoped!

1 green onion
1 tall stalk of lambs' quarters
1 oz. smoked salmon
1 T. olive oil
4 eggs
1 oz. goat cheese

Mince or slice the green onion and strip the leaves from the lambs' quarters. Break up the salmon into little pieces. Add all this with the oil to a skillet on medium heat just to warm it up a bit. Whisk the eggs and add them to the pan. Gently scrape the eggs into the middle as they cook, so that the liquid flows onto the bottom of the pan at the edges, until it's all just barely cooked - still soft, but not runny. Crumble the goat cheese and gently fold it in. Serve hot, with sourdough toast and strong coffee.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Garden Update - Early July

~The Good ~

The season's first tomato! This is Punta Banda, a cherry-size paste tomato. This may be the earliest I've ever had tomatoes.

And the first tiny okra! Texas Hill Country Red.

My first squash blossoms of the year! PeƱasco Cheese Squash. I planted it in May, although common advice is to plant in July for less problems with squash bugs.

And this is a random volunteer... can't wait to find out what it will be. Volunteers always seem to be hardier and less susceptible to the dreaded squash bugs.

Navajo Red-Seeded Watermelon has blossoms! I feel like it is still awfully small, but I added steer manure, so I'm not sure what else it needs.

I planted Mitla black tepary beans where I pulled up my garlic, and they have sprouted already! I also planted some corn on the other side, and I think I see a few sprouts. It's a great variety called Precocious, and the name is apt! I grew it last year and it had ears within two months. I still have some in the freezer and it's delicious.

The nasturtiums we planted in June are coming up well, and I mulched them well, so maybe they have a chance.

 ~The Bad~

And now for the bad news... all my pickling cucumbers have bacterial wilt, which is transmitted by insects. Possibly this bad boy in the picture? I'm just going to hope it's not verticillium or fusarium wilt, which are easily confused with bacterial wilt, because that would mean it's in the soil and I'm screwed forever.

~The Weird~

Ants on a pear. Are they eating something sweet coming out of the end there? But these are harvester ants - I thought they just ate seeds. It was still cool in the morning, so they were totally still. I picked a few of the tiny green pears to see if they would ripen on the counter or after a time in the crisper. Still trying to learn when is the right time to pick this variety.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Roasted Carrots with Salsa Verde

It's amazing how different the growers' market in Santa Fe is from Albuquerque at this time of year. While we're seeing the first cucumbers and zucchini thriving in the heat down here, it's peas, kale, and even fennel up there, from growers as far north as Abiquiu and Dixon. The effects of a couple thousand feet of elevation and one degree of latitude are dramatic. A few lovely things you can find at both markets are sweet onions, carrots, fresh garlic, and all kinds of fresh herbs. One of my favorite ways to use fresh herbs is salsa verde, a classic Italian sauce. It's a piquant complement to the hearty, caramelized sweetness of roasted carrots.

The basic recipe for salsa verde is just parsley, lemon zest, capers, and olive oil, but many other herbs can give it an unusual twist. Tarragon is particularly nice with carrots, thyme and marjoram are wonderful with anything, and mint is surprisingly excellent with vegetables. If you're feeling wild, try lovage for a strong celery flavor, especially with beets. Or venture into the world of lemon-flavored herbs, such as lemon basil, lemon thyme, lemon balm, or lemon verbena. If you're interested in starting your own herb garden, I recently discovered Osuna Nursery has an incredible selection of unusual culinary herbs! A good rule of thumb is to start with at least half parsley, then experiment from there.

1 lb carrots
1 T. olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 T. capers
1/2 C. parsley (substitute up to half other herbs)
Zest of one lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 t. salt

Cut carrots into similar-sized pieces about 4 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. Toss with olive oil and roast at 400°F about 30 minutes, until they are soft and caramelized at the edges. (I actually use a toaster oven to avoid heating up the kitchen too much).

Finely chop garlic, capers, herbs and lemon zest, either by hand or in a food processor. Mix with olive oil and salt. Toss a few spoonfuls with the carrots, and save the rest for another use!