This was a great year for tomatoes! My early tomatoes are giving it one last push before they succumb and my late (heirloom) tomato bushes are full with big beautiful green tomatoes. What we haven’t been able to eat (and share) I’ve been freezing for later use. Remember I told you how to freeze them? Just plop the whole or cut up tomato on a baking sheet and put in the freezer until frozen solid, then put them into a freezer bag or other container and put back in the freezer. This allows you to pick out however many tomatoes you need at a time and no need to peel before freezing. As they defrost the skin will slip right off and if you want to remove the seeds just cut in half as usual and squeeze out the seeds.
Homemade brioche is really pretty easy with most of the work being done by the dough. Plan ahead as it needs an overnight rise in the refrigerator. This recipe is from King Arthur Flour and they say (correctly I might add) that this recipe should be done only in a stand mixer. The dough is quite wet and sticky and it took 20 minutes to come together using my stand mixer. That was the hard part, well not really, the hard part was waiting overnight before I could bake it but the resulting French Toast was well worth the wait.
After the overnight rise, I cut the dough in half and made 1 small loaf and 3 good sized buns (for burgers). Then you have to play the waiting game again for a few hours before you can bake them. The long overnight rise and the room temperature rise before baking results in a beautiful crumb and delicate taste. The aroma while baking, of course, will drive you wild. The bread turns a rich golden color (don’t be afraid to cover them while baking if they start to brown too quickly) and is a very soft, light bread when it’s finally ready for you to eat.
I’m going to freeze the buns for a future use and perhaps part of the bread for toast and French toast in the near future. I did make a test batch of French Toast with a little butter and real maple syrup and woofed it down. It would have been delightful with some summer fruit but the last of the farmers market fruit was eaten yesterday in a peach-blackberry cobbler.
This is great recipe to try over the weekend. Mangia!
Summer is almost here and if you can’t visit the Islands we can certainly take some of the traditional Hawaiian foods and tweak them to our recipes and summer picnics. Our next cooking class uses many of these ingredients and we show you ways to incorporate them into your backyard parties.
While we can’t host a traditional luau in the tasting room we can enjoy a luau type picnic with foods of the Islands. In ancient Hawaii men and women ate their meals separately but in 1819 King Kamehameha removed all religious laws and taboos and men and women began eating together, creating the first luau feast.
The name luau refers to a dish made with chicken wrapped in taro leaves (luau), and baked in coconut milk; it’s served with slightly salty, smoky Kalua pig (pork). Kalua means ‘the hole’ and refers to the pit (an imu oven) the pig is cooked in. Simply put, the pig is steamed over a long period of time and is similar to a smoky pulled pork dish.
We’ll be doing our Kalua pork in a pressure cooker but the flavors will be able to develop while we talk and prepare other side dishes that use traditional Hawaiian ingredients. We might even be able to talk Tammy into a little hula (we know she can)!
Join us in the Temecula Olive Oil Tasting Room, Seal Beach for our fun little Hawaiian party. Learn a little about Hawaiian tradition and a conversation about cooking with pressure cookers!
Our class goes off next week! Thursday, June 11th 6:30 p.m.Make your reservation today!
For Reservations Call (562) 296-5421
Meet my friend, Christina Peters, photographer, and experience adventure through her eyes and lens. Christina’s new website, tastyfstops.com, chronicles her adventures through food, farms, travel and more. She began her new adventure in my spring garden and through her lens and my recipes we’ll bring you through one (or more) harvests of my potager (vegetable) garden. Sign up for Christina’s newsletter and follow us through spring and summer into fall and winter. Enjoy.
It’s berry season in the garden and my blackberries and boysenberries are off to an early start. This is one of Christina’s beautiful, succulent shots and here’s a tasty little recipe to get your summer started right! Blackberry Crumb Bars
And speaking of summer, check out the new cooking classes for June, we still have a few seats for this Thursday also. Two summery classes in June, A Summer Picnic Party and an Adult 4th of July menu. We’ll be hosting one more class in July (on the 9th) then I am off for another knee surgery and won’t see you back until the end of summer! So grab a spot while you can.
April in the Garden
Chef Debbi will be presenting a seminar, ‘Al Fresco Mothers Day Brunch’, at the South Coast Plaza Garden Show on Sat. April 25th, 12:30 in the Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams home store. Chef will be talking about spring vegetables, edible flowers and demonstrating a ‘Microgreen and Baby Lettuce Salad with Spring Vegetables, Edible Flowers and a Pomegranate Vinaigrette’ and serving that along with a Seasonal Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart
The seminar is free but seating is limited.
What To Do in The Spring Garden in So. California
You can get another crop of spring vegetables, peas (in cooler climates), asparagus, spinach, lettuce and last chance to plant artichokes from seedlings.
Plant from certified organic ‘seeds’.
Spring and Early Summer
Plant early season, cherry, heirloom & indeterminate varieties
Choose plants that are stocky with a thick stem, about the size of a pencil. Don’t choose plants with flowers or fruit on it, your tomato plant needs to develop strong, deep roots before starting to flower. Remove lower leaves and plant the seedling up to the first two set of leaves. All those furry little things on the side of the stem will turn into roots for you.
Companion plants to tomatoes are carrots, basil, lettuce and parsley.
All kinds of beans! Bush, pole and dried beans for winter soups and stews.
Companion plants to beans are corn, potatoes, radish and carrots.
Plant pole beans at the base of the corn and squash around the beans.
Beets, Turnips, Carrots and Radish
All grow underground in loose soil and can be grown in less sunny areas of the garden.
All kinds of peppers can go in the ground, planting companions are spinach, basil and tomatoes.
Early squash can be planted but hold off on pumpkins until June if you want them for the fall holidays.
Cilantro, Basil, Thyme, Dill, Fennel, Chives and most herbs will do well now.
Watch out for runners and re-seeders such as mint, oregano, borage, lemon verbena and pineapple sage for a few.
Now is a good time to amend your soil for the long summer growing season.
The Potato: One of EWG’s Dirty Dozen
By: Connie Rosemont (Only Organic)
The potato is a great food – calorie-dense and rich in nutrients like vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium and manganese. It is America’s largest vegetable crop: the average American consumes 29 pounds of French fries a year and 142 pounds of potatoes overall.
Alas, the conventional potato tests positive for 35 different pesticides — more pesticides by weight than any other vegetable, according to EWG’s 2014 Dirty Dozen List. Some of these pesticides remain even after peeling and washing. Pesticides found on potatoes by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Pesticide Data Program include:
— Six known or probable carcinogens
— 12 suspected hormone disruptors
— Seven neurotoxins
— Six developmental or reproductive toxins
— Nine honeybee toxins
More potatoes aren’t organic because of production challenges, says Nate Lewis, Crop and Livestock specialist with the Organic Trade Association.
Farmers who raise conventional potatoes take a “kill-down” step just before harvest, spraying their potato fields with an herbicide that kills all the green leafy vegetation. With the leaves gone, the potato goes into a finishing-off process that thickens the skin, rendering it less susceptible to injury and blemishes.
After farmers harvest conventional potatoes, they warehouse them for up to nine months and ship them, as retailers and processing centers need them. Conventional producers apply post-harvest fungicides and sprouting inhibitors during storage to retard the spread of small blemishes and bad spots from one potato. Not surprisingly, these pesticides applied during storage show up most frequently on residue tests.
Organic standards enforced by the USDA bar organic farmers from using most field and storage pesticides. Organic farmers must work harder to store their potatoes for months without fungicides and sprout inhibitors. As a result, they face significantly larger hurdles than conventional producers in large-scale potato farming.
The hurdles of raising storage crops organically on a large scale might consign organic potatoes always to a small niche market. However, buying organic potatoes means that those farmers who decide to try organic potatoes will find a market for their efforts.