Archive for Recipe

Pickled Beet Taste Test


With the threat of hard frost looming I decided to harvest my beets.  They did quite well this year and I had so many I decided to make up several pickled beet recipes and see if I liked them better than the way I have been doing them all these years, a recipe I learned when I lived in Denmark.

The first recipe I tried came from “Cook’s Illustrated” magazine (March/April 1994, p.11).  I was intrigued by the fact it had vermouth, red wine, rosemary and orange slices along with the typical ingredients.  The next was from a cookbook that has given me some great recipes in the past; Smith & Hawkins “Gardener’s Community Cookbook” compiled by Victoria Wise, Workman Publishing, New York, 1999).  This one had horseradish and lots of spices and since I like the tang of horseradish, I put it on the list.  I also tried one from the “Bon Appetit” website which included coriander berries, “interesting”, I thought. Finally I included my Danish recipe of old, which includes onions.

We gave it three tries on successive days and my original old recipe won each time with the Bob Appetit recipe a close second and the Cook’s Illustrated and near tie for second.  The Gardener’s was too tart although I’m sure adding sugar to balance the vinegar would improve it.


…and the winner is…

Here’s that recipe (happily the simplest):


  • 1 pound prepared beets (about 3 large)
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1/2 C cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf

Prepare beets by washing them and boiling them in their skins.  When they can be pierced easily with a sharp knife, remove them from the water, saving 1/2 C water from the cooking liquid for the pickling sauce.  Let the beets cool enough so you can handle them to peel them.   You should be able to just push off the skin with your thumbs.  Combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan (including the beet juice) and bring to a boil.  Slice the beets and add them to the saucepan.  Cool and refrigerate for a day or two before serving.  Can be served hot or cold.


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Lemon-Ginger Rhubarb: A Pie for Summer


In spring strawberry/rhubarb pie is one of my all time favorites but once hot weather sets in, the strawberries have gone by.  I still have lots of rhubarb and decided to make this pie which I’ve adapted from a friend’s recipe.  It requires an oven but I can bake in my toaster oven so it doesn’t heat up the house too much.  The lemon and ginger give it a refreshing flavor, nice with a tall glass of iced tea on a hot afternoon.

Lemon-Ginger Rhubarb Pie

  • Pastry for 2-9″ pie crusts [I use Pillsbury roll outs but don’t tell anyone!]
  • 3 1/2 C diced rhubarb
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. AP flour
  • 1 lightly beaten egg
  • 1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger root (or ginger paste), or to taste
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 425º.  Spread diced rhubarb evenly in a pastry lined 9″ pie pan.  Using a double boiler (or being extremely cautious using a regular saucepan), blend sugar and flour then stir in the remaining ingredients, stirring constantly over low heat until smooth and somewhat thickened.  Pour over the rhubarb and cover with top crust.  I like to make a lattice crust and sprinkle crystallized sugar on it for this one.  Bake 30 minutes.  Protect edges if they brown too soon.



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Garden Update and a Recipe


I found this post on my computer just now from about 5 weeks ago, so I’m posting it now.  I apologize for the lateness and promise to try and do better.  Between four trips and getting the garden caught up. I have not been diligent about my postings!

The Sugar Snap peas are ripe and we’ve had our first stir fry of the season.  The first fawn of the year was born in the yard a couple of days ago.  The long cold spring is over and I’m finally finishing up my spring planting and transplanting.  This year I am trying a few grafted tomato plants after hearing a friend rave about them.  I picked tried and true varieties:  Brandywine, Early Girl, Cherokee Purple, Goliath, Big Beef and Delicious.  They were a third the size of the ones I had grown under lights so I found my old “Walls of Water” and used them for the grafted plants.  This worked quite well and they are catching up to the others.

The broccoli raab (true to form) matured quickly, provided us with several meals and is now going to seed, all in less than 8 weeks.  My favorite way to use it is sauteed and used as a pasta sauce with sausage and orecchietti, a dish I learned long ago in Italy.  The customary pasta shape for this dish is the orecchietti (little ears) as the shape cradles the thin sauce so it doesn’t puddle on the plate.  When I made it a couple of days ago I found I had run out of orecchietti and used linguine instead.  To be sure the pasta is flavorful I cook it just short of al dente and added it to the pan with the sausage, raab and sauce (for which I just use a big splash of dry vermouth and a bit of pasta water).  I turned the ingredients over and over until some of the sauce was absorbed and served it with grated Romano cheese.  Delicious!

broccoli raab and linguine

Broccoli Raab with Sausage and Linguini

Broccoli Raab with Sausage and Orecchietti (for 2)

  • 1 pound (or less) loose hot Italian sausage (you can also get the links and remove the casings) If the hot is too hot get the sweet and add red pepper flakes to taste.
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • About 4 cups packed broccoli raab (tender stems, tops and leaves)
  • 2 large cloves garlic chopped (or chop up a garlic scape)
  • About 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 pound orecchietti (or other pasta, something with a cup to catch the sauce preferred but not required)
  • Grated Romano cheese

Bring pasta water to boil, salt it and blanch the raab leaves in it.  Remove the raab as soon as it turns bright green, drain well and chop it coarsely.  Saute sausage in olive oil, breaking it up as it cooks.  If the sausage throws off a lot of fat, drain it before proceeding to the next step. Add garlic, pepper flakes and chopped raab and saute while the pasta cooks (in the same water you used to blanch the raab), adding more oil if needed.  Add vermouth and about 1/4 C. pasta water and stir, turning the sausage & raab in it until the pasta is done.  Drain the pasta, add it to the pan and continue to turn it gently until the sauce is nearly absorbed, adding salt & pepper to taste.  Grate on Romano cheese generously and mix it in.

Serve with additional Romano.

Added Note:  A reader named Judy asked for information about “Walls of Water.”  I answered in the comments and add a photo below.


“Walls of Water” around a tomato seedling. In back you can see the kale from last year going to seed. I let it go for the bees.  They love it and there isn’t a lot around for them at this time of year.  The plants between the tomatoes are volunteer potatoes.  I never know where they’ll turn up!

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Success with Eggplant (almost)

Last summer I tried a new (to me) way for keeping my eggplant bounty over for use in the winter.  I’ve really been happy with how it has worked out.  I sliced it thinly, brushed the slices with a thin coat of olive oil and baked them spread out on cookie sheets at 350º until they turned golden brown.  That’s all; no breading and frying, no salting and draining.  When they cooled I froze them on cookie sheets, and when frozen, piled them into plastic bags and stored them in the freezer.  I’ve used them several times with excellent results.  Last weekend we were having guests for dinner and I made an eggplant lasagna (using the eggplant in place of the pasta sheets).  Since I didn’t want to defrost any more eggplant slices than I needed, I got out my container and counted out the slices I would need.


I decided to make it a double layered dish, one of meat, one of cheese.

I used my marinara sauce and my adaptation of Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese sauce, both made last summer.


A base of marinara topped by a layer of eggplant slices.


A layer of Bolognese, then add another layer of eggplant slices.


Add a layer of cheese.  I mix ricotta with Parmesan, egg, S&P and dried herbs (since I have no fresh yet) and then a final layer of eggplant.


Top with a final layer of marinara.

After this I got busy with preparations for guests and forgot to take any more pictures (sorry!) but I covered it with foil and baked it at 350º for about 40 minutes until all was bubbling.  I then removed the foil, added a layer of mozzarella and put it back at 400º melting the cheese and browning it slightly.  It made a beautiful lasagna, very light, not at all heavy or greasy.

There was only one problem:  The husband was allergic to eggplant!

“You should have told me!”

“I thought, what is the likelihood of her serving eggplant?”

“Coming to a gardener’s house?  Better than average…”






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My Beautiful Aubergines

Almost too beautiful to eat...

Nearly black and glistening, almost too beautiful to eat…

Sorry!  “Eggplant” simply does not do justice to this lovely vegetable (well, technically a fruit).  I’ve tried a different (to me) method of preparing them for dishes like Aubergines Parmesan and Moussaka.  I trimmed the tops and bottoms, sliced them into lengthwise slices, about 1/3″ thick but instead of frying up the slices, I brushed each side lightly with olive oil and baked them at 400º until browned, turning once.

This was far easier than frying them, uses less oil and took only about 20 minutes.

This was far easier than frying them, uses less oil and took only about 20 minutes.

After they were all browned, I made three Moussakas, one for now and two for later.  I baked two in baking dishes lined with tin foil and froze them.  after they were frozen, I took them out of the baking dishes and stored them in the freezer.  This winter I’ll just take off the tinfoil and put them back into the baking dishes for an easy meal.

Moussaka, ready for the freezer.

Moussaka, ready for the freezer.

Moussaka is a dish I first encountered in Greece many years ago.  It’s a ground meat,tomato and onion filling between precooked Aubergine (eggplant) slices and topped off with a custard of milk eggs and feta cheese, plus seasonings.

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Making the Most of Your Garden: Spectacular Salade Nicoise

Salade Nicoise with pan seared tuna steaks

Salade Nicoise with pan seared tuna steaks

When the garden is in full production I love to make Salade Nicoise.  Here I’ve showcased green beans, grilled baby squash, cherry tomatoes, baby cucumbers, lettuce, baby beets and squash blossoms stuffed with herbs and chevre.  I have adapted Julia Child’s recipe but this is more a matter of assembly than cooking.  The base is a French style potato salad (boiled in their jackets, peeled and tossed first with minced shallots, white wine, then vinaigrette), then you just arrange everything else.  I make my vinaigrette in a mustard jar that still holds the final bits of mustard the knife can’t coax out.  This gives me a handy jar to shake it in.  The vinaigrette is the remains of the mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, minced garlic and herbs (I used basil for this one).  I add hard boiled eggs cut in half, drizzled with the vinaigrette and topped with a bit of anchovy.  The green beans are tossed in vinaigrette just before placing them on the lettuce and you drizzle it over everything else.  Top it off with a few black olives (Nicoise, if you can find them), sprinkle capers and parsley over the top, et voila!

The platter I use is a huge antique feather-edged Leeds one that I found at a flea market.  I only use it for this and for New England Boiled Dinner.

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Lettuce and Asparagus – an Abundance of Riches

Hmmmm… What to make with the asparagus….  There’s the lovely asparagus/salmon/pesto/tortellini dish… or a frittata with caramelized onions, asparagus and cheese…. or maybe I’ll pan roast it for a side dish…   You know what??  I have enough to do all three!  Yay!

Tortellini with salmon, asparagus, red and yellow peppers and pesto sauce.

Tortellini with salmon, asparagus, red and yellow peppers and pesto sauce.

Asparagus and caramelized onion frittata

Asparagus and caramelized onion frittata

Pan roasted...simple and delicious.

Pan roasted…simple and delicious.

I have also put out a call to neighbors to come get some lettuce.  It will lose its sweetness if it gets hot and it’s perfect now.


This is the lettuce I wintered over in the cold frame. My transplants from the cellar are now ready to start picking and my first planting is up! Help!!

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