Monday, September 14, 2009

Good Food and Good People

Yesterday Jeff and I hosted our first harvest dinner with the bounty found in our yards. We quickly discovered that its an interesting challenge to try to make different tasting dishes for 9 people out of a limited number of ingredients, but we enjoyed it and learned a lot about what worked and what didn't. In this post I'd like to share with all of you the triumphs (failures and lessons learned will come later).

But first, here was our menu (things I used a straight recipe for are linked to)

Lemon verbena tea

savory herb bread
Zuchini soup
Fried squash blossoms
deviled eggs
chips and homemade peach salsa

Mashed purple potatoes with herb butter
Brushetta on baguette
local melon


Apple Galette with vanilla ice cream


There were three items in last nights dinner that really surprised me with how wonderful they turned out. The first, was iced lemon verbena tea. Honestly, I thought it might end up tasting like wood polish, but it ended up being a delightfully refreshing beverage which would be perfect to have in the fridge for after a long day out in the garden. Oh, and it's simple to boot!

Lemon Verbena Iced Tea

1) Boil water ( 1 cup of water for every 5 leaves).

2) Remove from heat, add torn up leaves and let steep covered for 20 minutes.

3) Strain tea into a pitcher and add honey to taste. Do not add ice until you pour the tea into your cup or it will water down the flavor of this delicate tea.

The second unexpected bit of deliciousness was the zucchini soup. Not that I expected this soup to be awful, but I didn't expect too much from it. It was something I had made once before when Jeff and I had an overabundance of zucchini. It works as a substitute for tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Zucchini Soup

1) Chop 2 medium onions, 6 garlic cloves and 5 medium/large zucchini's into big chunks and fry them up with a little bacon grease.

2) Once browned, throw these ingredients into a blender along with 1 1/2 cups of fresh basil and pure with some chicken broth until smooth.

3)Return to pot and season with lots of cumin, salt/pepper and chipotle pepper to taste. You can also add more chicken broth if your soup is too thick. Allow the flavors blend over medium low heat for 15 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Last on this list was fried stuffed zucchini blossoms. This recipe really was an attempt to try to squeeze something different out of the garden. I was concerned because we didn't have enough zucchini blossoms so I used mostly pumpkin blossoms which are a bit more robust. I actually ended up preferring the pumpkin blossoms because they held up to being stuffed better and held more. I didn't notice any difference in taste.

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

1) Trim zucchini blossoms. This means cutting off the little "spines" that are at the base of the flower and cutting out the pistol from inside. Be careful not to rip the flowers doing this. You can still use them if you do, it's just a bit messy.

2)Mix ricotta cheese with your favorite fresh or dried herbs. I used fresh marjoram and thyme from the garden along with some garlic powder and salt and pepper. Put about a teaspoon in each blossom then twist the top of the blossom to seal it. Ricotta clumps well so I just used my hands to stuff them. A spoon was cumbersome.

3)Mix up a thin simple batter of water and flour. You want it thin enough that you can easily submerge the blossom in it. You can also add some spices to the batter if you like.

4) Dip blossoms and pan fry them in about an inch and a half of oil for a minute and a half on each side. Place on paper towels to drain, sprinkle with some salt and serve immediately.


m said...

What an attractive group of people!

Anonymous said...

I especially liked the part where I ate all the food!!