Sunday, October 31, 2010

from the garden to the table : : winter pesto

Sadly, the garden is coming to an end for this season. We’ve gotten to eat many great meals this summer from ingredients we’ve grown, which has been satisfying both because we grew them and because produce is far better when freshly picked at optimum ripeness. But, with winter approaching, it is time to start preparing the garden for winter, which includes about 3-4 feet of snow (a bit more than a meter) and temperatures that generally range from 5 to 25 degrees (-15 to -4). Basil, however, begins to die with temperatures far warmer than that. Anything below 50 (10) will begin to leave black spots on the leaves that look like frost damage. So, with nights now well below 50, the basil had to go.
Pesto is the answer to the very lovely and large basil plant in the backyard. While there are many recipes, Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone had a fabulous recipe that I follow. It is a classic with basil, parmesan, pecorino romano, pine-nuts, olive oil, salt and butter.
To save it for the winter, put it into an ice cube tray and freeze it. When you want to remember the tastes of summer, all you need to do is toss a pesto cube with some pasta or gnocchi and you’re set for a simple dinner.  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

from the garden to the table : : stuffed banana peppers

Our Banana Pepper plant was the one pepper plant that did really well this summer―we had about 16 peppers on it by the beginning of October! So, I decided to make some stuffed peppers.

First, make some Mexican style rice: rice cooked pilaf-style with bouillon, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and chili powder. Then, mix the rice with cilantro (coriander), finely chopped onions, a bit of ricotta cheese and queso fresco (although mozzarella, colby-jack or even a mild tasty cheese for those in Australia would work).

After cutting the peppers and seeding them, simply stuff the rice filling in and bake at 350 (180) for about 20 minutes. They are great served on a bed of refried beans―homemade are best but a tin will work, just add some milk, butter, chopped onion and a dash of garlic and let the beans cook on the stove for 30 minutes to help improve the flavor!

Friday, October 22, 2010