Sunday, August 19, 2007

Melon Salsa

For Graduation Day at the Botanical Gardens, we encored our Peach-Corn salsa (with Sungold Cherry tomatoes, etc). Examining our pepper plants, we found their beautiful chocolate-red-green tie-dyed skin had contracted some sort of patchy black rot.

Melon Salsa is another refeshing twist on the same theme--and melons should be available at the farmer's market for at least another week. Thai basil, a cinnamony, darker-flavored (and somewhat purple-stemmed) version of your normal Sweet Genovese, is also available. I found it at Kira's stand, Evolutionary Organics, both in Union Sq (Weds) and Grand Army Plaza (Saturdays).


1 deseeded, diced melon
1 peeled, diced seedless cucumber
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon gently shredded Thai basil
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and diced
1 knob ginger, peeled and diced
salt to taste

Watermelon Gazpacho Soup

Check it out: watermelon and corn! Of all the plants we've grown this year, I'm clearly most excited about their success. To celebrate, then: watermelon gazpacho. It's almost the end of summer--what could be better? The only foodstuffs I couldn't find locally were the citrus.

2 cups 1/4-inch-diced watermelon
2 cups orange juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 (seedless if you can find it) cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 small yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, basil or cilantro
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Process 1/2 cup of watermelon, along with the orange juice and oil, in a blender or food processor until pureed. Transfer to a medium bowl, along with remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. (Can be made several hours before serving.)

Crepes and Saucy Fruit

As August closes, we're going to have to say a fond farewell to our East Coast peaches, apricots, and plumps. I'm mourning them with a simple crepe recipe. You can pick up really good fruit at Toigo Farms--Sundays at Avenue A and 10th, and Wednesdays in Tribeca by Fulton and Chambers.

Dice fruit. Place in a lightly buttered saucepan* with 2 cinnamon sticks and a dash of salt. Simmer until broken down, about 1/2 hour. Serve hot, warm or cold as a garnish for:

1 large egg
1 1/4 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon (a "dash") of salt

Using a few drops of extra virgin olive oil or butter for the pan (oil tends to hold better w/out burning longer), pour only a thin layer of batter. Flip as soon as the bottom holds.

Crepes are a delicate art: they aren't pancakes! Don't put too much batter on the pan, and keep an eagle-eye on them so they don't burn or cook unevenly. They are fast, tasty, and if you look in the fall recipes from last year, you can make 'em with all sorts of goodies.

*You can also use enough water to protect the bottom of the saucepan and skip buttering your fruit. Don't forget, though, as the fruit breaks down it's going to get juicy! So you may have to strain your sauce.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Thanks, mom! The seeds have
taken well and "off the grow". I'm hoping we have pumpkins ready for halloween.

The little sprouts alongside the larger pumpkin are morning glory, which, aaaack, never seem to stop self-seeding.


There's a lot of squashing going on in the fields these days. Kira of Evolutionary Organics (at Union Square every Wednesday) graciously let me have a whole bunch of beautiful squash to take up to the NY Botanical Gardens so we could make Summer Squash Muffins. We mixed Italian zucchini, striped summer squash, and mini zukes. Here's our recipe:

Summer Fresh Squash Bread
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups mixed really exciting & healthy flour (like amaranth flour or whole wheat flour mixed with oats)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups fresh grated summer squash, salted and squeezed (to remove extra water)
3 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
2 very ripe bananas or 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts (peanuts or walnuts are good)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
grated zest of one large orange


1. Sift together dry ingredients
2. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and fluffy. Add sugar and blend well. Stir in banana (or oil), vanilla, zucchini, nuts, chocolate chips, and orange zest. Blend in dry ingredietns. Turn batter into two greasoned 9x5" loaf pans.
3. Bake at 350*F for 50 minutes, or until toothpick comes out of the center of the loaf clean. Remove loaves from pan, and set on their sides until cool. Chill for easier slicing.

Steamed Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi, broccoli's UFO-looking cousin, is all over the markets these days--Kira's selling it at her Union Square Stand, Evolutionary Organics. Because it's a brassica, it gains sweetness with cool temperatures--which means it can only get better, come November! The swollen stem, peeled and sliced, tastes delicious raw (when fresh) or cooked in stir-fry. I have a few in my garden, and here's what I whipped up.

Simple Steamed Kohlrabi

1. Remove leaves, root and skin of purple or white kohlrabi. Slice.
2. In a pan, saute some onions. Add 1" of water with vegetable stock cube, or, if you have it, just add 1" of veggie stock. Add kohlrabi slices. Let steam until just tender (but not mushy).
3. Drain water. You can eat it as is, or season with your favorite steamed-veggie sauce (nama shoyu or braggs, for example).

Don't the leaves look like Red Russian kale? Yes, they're cousins, too! The taste of kohlrabi is sweeter than kale, however--and certainly nothing like brussel sprouts, another family member.

Summer Peas and Pasta

You can't say no to fresh summer peas. Ask Tim and Kevin of Windfall Farms. They can't. They tried and they just can't.

Summer Peas and Belly Button Pasta

4 large fresh shallots, minced (greens and bulb)
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup (or more) mixed snow peas (whole) and sugar snaps (hulled)
1/2 cup pea blossoms (sold at Windfall Farm convienient...)
grated zest of 1 organic orange
grated zest of 1 organic lemon
1 bunch fresh mint leaves
1 small bunch basil
12 ounces shell or "belly button" pasta
salt and pepper, to taste
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste


Wash your hands and all your fruits vegetables--save the pea blossoms, which will bruise. Scrub the citrus fruits especially well, as you are eating the peels.

Prepare the pasta according to cooking instructions. In the meantime, dice the shallots (we used scissors), mince the garlic, toss the mint and basil. If the leaves are large, cut to bite-sized. Set aside.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and toss with peas, cheese, salt and pepper. Add lemon and orange zest, and toss again. Add fresh herbs and toss more gently. Garnish with pea blossoms.

Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Squash plants grow gendered flowers. When pollination is complete, and little zucchini appear at the base of the female flower, the male flowers can be harvested and cooked (hurrah!). A few nights ago my upstairs neighbors (this is Mariah) helped me invent this delish dish.

Fried Zucchini Blossoms

1. Gently open each flower and remove the pistil with pollen.
2. In a bowl, mix a cup of ricotta cheese, a handful of pinenuts, a sprinkling of nutmeg and/or cinnamon, and a peach each of salt and pepper.
3. In a second bowl, wisk together three eggs.
4. In a third and final bowl, pour about 3/4 cup of bread crumbs.
5. In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Stuff the zucchini blossoms with as much ricotta as they can hold without bursting (about 1 tablespoon or less), and twist the petals shut. They will not hold perfectly, but they should be tacky enough to keep closed.
6. Dip each flower in the egg mixture, and then roll in breadcrumbs. Fry about 1-2 minutes on each side, or until just browned.

They are bested served hot. We ate ours with a little hot sauce.

Summer Corn&Peach Salsa

Tomoates, peaches and corn are perfect locally-grown summer treats. We're eating sweet, beautiful sungold cherry tomatoes in our garden, and peaches and corn from the New York City Greenmarket--a gracious gift from Toigo Farms, who sell on Sundays at Tompkins Square (on 9th and Avenue A). The best part of this salsa is the color, which is a good indication of how many vitamins it has!

2 ears fresh corn, husked
1 cup (or more) fresh sungold cherry tomatoes
1 large red onion, chopped
1 large fresh peach (or more), chopped
2 fresh colorful bell peppers, deseeded
1-2 garlic cloves, to taste
salt and pepper, if desired
(optional) 1 small green chile pepper, seeds removed

1. If your corn is particularly farm-fresh, you can just cut it off the cob and set the kernals aside. If not, bring water to a boil, cook five minutes, drain & cool, and remove kernals.
2. Wash the sungold tomatoes and cut them into quarters. Set aside with corn.
3. In a food processor, pulse tomatoes, peach, bell peppers, garlic cloves, and optional chile pepper.
4. Mix in with corn and sungold tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to serve.

This dish will keep up to a week in the fridge, but keep your eye on how soft the fruit is getting--this salsa can "turn" quickly! I like having it fresh, so I'd rather "halve" the recipe for smaller portions than trying to save it.

The World's Largest Zucchini

What do you do with world's largest zucchini? I don't know, yet, but I'm thinking baked...or fritters...or sliced and grilled...or soup...if you have ideas, email 'em in. I'll post a recipe as soon as the cooking happens. So far it's been on a world tour of 140 blocks, from the farmers' market up to my house. It's quite a saavy squash.