For a great plate of roasted vegetables, you need a good balance of textures and flavours. Use too many root vegetables and it can be too sweet, though turnips will help offset that. Fresh herbs will give fragrance to the dish.
Use a combination of four or more of the following six categories: (1) potato and\or sweet potato, (2) squash and\or courgette\zucchini, (3) aubergine\eggplant, (4) root vegetables, (5) broccoli and\or cauliflower and (6) onions (red for colour) and a head of garlic.
We have grown more varities of chard than I knew existed. In the kitchen garden you will see Rainbow\Bright Lights, Silverbeet, Spinach Beet. On the other side of the garden we have what the French refer to as Cardes. The wine bottle pictured is for perspective, not because of a wild party in the vegetable garden.
You'll see cardes in French markets with the leaves bundled on top of each other. The stalks have an excellent flavour and can be substituted in any recipe that calls for cardoons (for the first month, that's what I thought I was growing).
Most chard recipes will tell you to cut off the stalks leaving just the spinach-like leaves. The leaves can be treated like spinach, see Suggestion below. What the recipes neglect to mention is that when you discard with the stalks, you dispense with the essence of chard, because while the leaves are good, the stalks are wonderful. This recipe shows you one simple way to cook them.
There is an abundance of wild blackberries around us. Last week we picked at least 10k\22lb of them. Some went into a Southern cobbler (recipe to come), but the rest were destined for jam\jelly.
My issue with blackberries: the seeds; I can't bear them. So seeds out, but I needed to know if they improve the flavour, so we ran an experiment.
We blended the blackberries raw, then de-seeded them using a kitchenaid with the fruit/vegetable strainer attachement. We then made two batches of jam\jelly, one with a muslin\cheesecloth bag of seeds and skin, the other without. To my great surprise our group thought that the jam made without seeds had the fuller earthier flavour.
I should also mention that the jams\jellies that we have been making are what I refer to as 'adult' jams and jellies. The 1-to-1 proportion of sugar to fruit makes sense for commercial producers, but using less increases the concentration of fruit and the flavour.
This was an experiment from last week, that turned out very well. A friend brought me a large bowl of Quetsch plums. It's a variety commonly grown in Alsace and is most often used to make tarts, plum brandy and Slivovitz. We already had 'Liqueur de fruits' scheduled for our course this week, so wanted to try something else.
We have been preparing oven-dried tomatoes so it struck me that this might also work with plums. I discovered that Martha Stewart had given this a whirl some years ago, but I wanted purer flavours.
The resultant dried plums can be used for sweet or savoury dishes. I have posted a recipe combining some of them with aubergines\eggplants.
We have been growing artichokes in the garden, but I mistakenly planted a globe variety. I have decided to let these bloom (see photo below) and will then replace them with 'violet de provence' artichokes for next year.
Catherine de Medici is credited with introducing Artichokes to the French Court in the first half of the 16th Century. By the end of the century artichokes were cultivated throughout France, Spain and Italy. Britian never succumbed to the artichoke's charms and to this day, they are a rarer sight.
This recipe uses the 'violet' variety of artichoke. This variety is normally about 5cm\2 inches in diameter and more elongated than the globe varieties.
I have given a lot of visual tips on handling artichokes to help those less familiar with them.
It was a busy Sunday morning here, with a lot of dashing around, so we were grateful that Caitlyn thought to prepare us a 'Southern' brunch.
We have had a bumper crop of green zebra tomatoes this year. Caitlyn selected the larger and firmer ones from the vine as they need to hold together.
As a Brit, of a certain age, the phrase 'Fried Green Tomatoes' is indelibly linked to 'at the Whistlestop Cafe', the UK title of the 1991 film, starring Jessica Tandy and Kathy Bates, based on Fannie Flagg's bestselling novel.
We're growing several varieties with different hues at the moment, including small plum tomatoes, which we cut in half for this dish. Use whatever small tomatoes you can get your hands on. The fresher the better, and you should aim for cherry tomato-size. Like the name suggests, this is an upside-down tart. The pastry goes on top then you flip it over (carefully) when ready to serve.