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Brussel Sprouts

As master gardeners, we really dig a good reason to gather around the table. When delicious, garden-fresh food is involved we’re “all in”. That’s what happened a few weeks ago when we surprised our Raincatcher’s team leader, Lisa Centala, with a ‘bring your favorite dish’ salad buffet for her special birthday.

A tantalizing line up of salad bowls and platters was spread out the length of two 8-foot tables. We didn’t hesitate to fill our plates with the most amazing variety of green salads, vegetable salads, chicken salads and more. Approaching the end of the line were Artichoke Bites, Baguette slices spread with basil cream cheese and Hatch chili biscuits. No restraint was shown as evidenced by plates full of our garden-inspired selections.

One particular dish new to many of us and requested by all was the Zesty Brussels Sprouts. True to its name, the apple cider vinegar combined with sugar and horseradish was soaked up by each little sprout. They had just the right amount of zip to satisfy the palate. Kathey Roberts graciously shared the recipe for everyone to enjoy.

Raincatcher’s Iconic Picture of Brussel Sprouts! Agree?

Now is the time to plant Brussels sprouts. With their long maturity date, transplants should be in your garden by October 15th. 

Zesty Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

2 (10-ounce) bags frozen Brussels sprouts or use fresh from your garden or produce isle

1 ½ cups sugar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

5 Tablespoons prepared horseradish (not cream of horseradish)

Salt to taste

2 teaspoons dry mustard

Directions

Cook the sprouts according to package directions; drain. In a large bowl, mix the sugar, vinegar, horseradish, salt and mustard. Add the sprouts and toss lightly. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

For more information about Brussel sprouts and a video about their care read here.

Linda Alexander

By the way, only 6 tickets left for the Apples, Pears, Persimmons and Pomegranates lunch on October 16th.  Lecture is free.

 

Greek Vegan Domaldes Recipe

Judy and Yaiyia (Toney) discussing grape leaves at The Raincatcher’s Garden

You remember Yiayia aka Toney Davrados.  Yiayia is Greek for Grandmother and as any Greek Grandma would-she showed us how to make dolmades at our fabulous July  Grape Lecture and Lunch Event.

Now she has offered us the vegan version:

Yiayia’s Greek Dolmades Vegan Style

*Stuffed Grape Leaves with Rice and Herbs

Stuffed Grape Leaves (Greek Dolmades) are often served as part of a mezé (appetizer) plate.  Too often they come from a can and are not fresh. Fresh Greek Dolmades are far superior to the canned.  These can either be a main dish or an appetizer, depending on your appetite. These small bundles of rice and herbs wrapped in grape leaves are a favorite dish in Greece.

Toney surverys our grape leaves to show us leaves that are smooth on the back make better dolmades.

If you have never tried fresh Greek Dolmades, now is the time. They are very easy to make and so delicious!

*Fresh vine leaves: Blanch tender vine leaves for 2-3 seconds in boiling, salted water. Remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl full of very cold water. Place in  colander to drain off water. Use a small sharp knife to remove any stems or tough veins they may have.

*When using bottled Grape Leaves:  To prepare bottled grape leaves, rinse well under cold water to remove the brine.  Place them in a colander (back side up) to drain and hold until ready to use

Ingredients

  • 60-70 tender vine leaves
  • 2 bunches fresh green onions, sliced in to very thin rounds
  • 1 large onion or 2 smaller ones, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup rice
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch dill, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch mint, finely chopped
  • grated zest of 2 lemons
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • juice from 1 1/2 – 2 lemons

Preparing  filling:

Place a pan over medium to high heat.

Add the green onion, onion and garlic along with ½ the olive oil .

Sauté for 10-15 minutes, until they soften, caramelize nicely and shrink in volume.

Add the rice and sauté for 2-5 minutes.

Add the 1 ½ cup water and stir. Lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the rice soaks up the water.

When ready, remove from heat and set it aside to rest for at least 10 minutes.

Add the parsley, dill, mint, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

To assemble:

Spread 4-5 vine leaves, and lemon juice on the bottom of a 22 cm pot. Use any ripped or broken vine leaves.

Place a vine leaf in the palm of your hand or on a cutting board (veins facing up and shiny side down).

Add 1 tablespoon of filling in the center, fold the sides of the vine leaf inward and roll to complete. Review the process here.

Transfer to the pot, placing the stuffed vine leaves in a row, one next to the other.

Repeat the same process for all the vine leaves.

When the first layer has been added, continue with a second and third, if needed until they are all done.

Add the remaining olive oil, and cover the stuffed vine leaves with a plate. This is done so that they don’t fall apart while cooking.

Add the warm or hot water, until they are completely covered.

Simmer for about 40-50 minutes until the rice is done and the vine leaves are tender.

When ready, remove from heat and set them aside to cool in the pot.

Let them cool for a bit, in the pot. They can be served warm or cold and should be enjoyed all on their own!

*Perfect sauce for dolmades

Serve the stuffed vine leaves with yogurt, dill, mint, olive oil and freshly ground pepper.

  • 8oz Yiayia’s Greek strained yogurt
  • 1tsp dill finely chopped
  • 1tsp mint finely chopped
  • 1tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh ground pepper

Linda Alexander and Ann Lamb

Video by Starla Willis

Fig Fest Recipes 2018

Figgy Focaccia

Ingredients

1 medium-size red onion

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Coarse sea or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Plain cornmeal

1 pound bakery pizza dough

8 fresh figs, halved

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves

Directions

Preheat grill to 350˚F to 400˚F (medium-high) heat. Cut onion into ¾ to 1-inch slices. Brush onion slices with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Grill onion slices, without grill lid, 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until tender and lightly charred.

Preheat oven to 425˚F. Lightly dust work surface with cornmeal. Stretch dough into a 10- to 12-inch oval on work surface. Place dough, cornmeal side down, on a greased baking sheet; drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Rub oil into dough. Arrange fig halves and grilled onion over dough, pressing lightly. Sprinkle with rosemary and salt and pepper to taste.

Bake at 425˚F on lowest oven rack 15 to 20 minutes or until golden.

Spiced Fig Preserves

Spiced Fig Preserves

Ingredients

½ lemon (unpeeled), thickly sliced, seeded

1 ½ pounds fresh ripe figs, halved (about 4 cups)

2 ¼ cups sugar

1 3-inch cinnamon stick

2 ¼ teaspoons mined peeled fresh ginger

⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

Directions

Finely chop lemon in processor. Add figs. Using on/off turns, process until figs are coarsely pureed. Transfer mixture to heavy large saucepan. Add sugar, cinnamon stick, minced ginger and cloves. Simmer until mixture thickens to jam consistency and candy thermometer registers 200˚F, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick.

Divide hot preserves among hot clean jars. Cover tightly and refrigerate up to 2 months.

Yield: Makes about 3 ⅓ cups

Orange, Walnut, Gorgonzola and Mixed Greens Salad with Fresh Citrus Vinaigrette

Orange, Walnut, Gorgonzola and Mixed Greens Salad with Fresh Citrus Vinaigrette

Ingredients

¾ cup walnut halves

10 ounces mixed salad greens with arugula

2 large navel oranges, peeled and sectioned

4-5 fresh figs, quartered

½ cup sliced red onion

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup vegetable oil

⅔ cup orange juice

¼ cup white sugar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

Directions

Place the walnuts in a skillet over medium heat. Cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until lightly browned.

In a large bowl, toss the toasted walnuts, salad greens, oranges, and red onion.

In a large jar with a lid, mix the olive oil, vegetable oil, orange juice, sugar, vinegar, mustard, oregano, and pepper. Seal jar, and shake to mix.

Divide the salad greens mixture into individual servings. To serve, sprinkle with Gorgonzola cheese, and drizzle with the dressing mixture.

Fig Fest note: We omitted the gorgonzola when serving the salad at Fig Fest since it was already a topping for the flank steak. Otherwise, it is nice to include in the salad.

Abbe Bolich’s husband, Neil, and grandson grilling flank steak.

Rosemary Flank Steak with Fig Salsa

Ingredients

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

2 garlic cloves, minced

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 (1 ¼ pound) flank steak

3 cups chopped fresh figs

1 green onion, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar

3 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Directions

Stir together first 4 ingredients and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Rub into steak; cover and chill 30 minutes to 4 hours.

Preheat grill to 400˚F to 450˚F (high) heat. Toss together figs, next 3 ingredients, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Grill steak, covered with grill lid, 5 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes.

Cut steak diagonally across the grain into thin strips and arrange on a serving platter. Spoon fig salsa over steak and sprinkle with Gorgonzola.

Yield: Makes 6 servings

Linda Alexander

Peach Pot Pie

Peach Pot Pie

An important announcement from Martha Stewart hit my email yesterday. You may have seen it, also. 2018’s Dessert of the Summer is none other than Peach Pot Pie. Filled with curiosity and a counter full of luscious East Texas peaches, I couldn’t resist. Could something so simple as the rustic pot pie be elevated to regal status? If anyone can accomplish that feat, it’s Martha. And so, armed with my thawed Dufour Puff Pastry and a short list of ingredients, the cooking began. Following her instructions wasn’t difficult. After a brief chop and stir, into the oven it went. The pastry did exactly what is was supposed to do; puffed up and golden it was ready to top the slightly caramelized peaches.

The first sign of bubbling around the edges let me know that this pie was ready. With hubby waiting in the background, out it came and “plop” went the pre-dipped scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream on top. With the temperature outside hitting 109˚ we couldn’t have been happier to cozy up on the sofa with our big bowl of freshly baked peach pie and vanilla ice cream. The conclusion… if Martha declared it the dessert of summer, who are we to argue. However, we might suggest that she give it a try with this year’s outstanding Texas peach crop. In that case, Dessert of the Year is a real possibility.

Easy Peach Potpie

Ingredients

Unbleached all-purpose flour, for dusting

14 ounces all-butter puff pastry, such as Dufour, thawed but still cold

¼ cup light-brown sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 ¾ pounds ripe peaches (about 5) cut into ½-inch wedges

1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large egg

Coarse sanding sugar

Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions

Preheat oven to 350˚F with racks in top and bottom thirds, and a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet on bottom of oven to catch drips.

On a lightly floured sheet of parchment, unfold pastry; roll out to a 10-inch square. Center an 8-inch cake pan upside down on pastry; trace around it with a paring knife. Remove pan; remove and discard excess pastry. Transfer parchment with pastry circle to a baking sheet. Create a crosshatch pattern by scoring lines, 2 inches apart, horizontally and vertically on pastry (do not cut through dough). Refrigerate 5 to 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add peaches and toss to coat. Stir in bourbon and vanilla. Transfer mixture to a 9-inch pie dish. Cover with parchment-lined foil; bake on lower rack 20 minutes.

Whisk egg with 1 teaspoon water. Brush over pastry circle; sprinkle with sanding sugar. Place baking sheet with pastry on top rack of oven. Bake until pastry is puffed and golden and fruit in dish is bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes (if pastry is browning too quickly, tent with foil). Remove from oven; uncover fruit. Carefully place pastry circle on topo of fruit and bake 10 minutes more. Let cool 15 minutes; serve with ice cream.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

 

Tip: From East Texas to Parker County, this is a hallmark year for peaches. At local weekend markets you’ll find a great selection of Freestone varieties (easily separates from the pit) to choose from. Get them while you can because in a few weeks production will slow down.

Peach Fever Recipes

Peach Tree Pruning

Planting an orchard?

Linda Alexander

 

 

 

Recipes from the July Master Gardener Meeting

 

Update on the July 24th Grape Balls of Fire event-we will be indoors, it’s too hot to be outside in our garden and reservation deadline has been extended to Sunday, July 22,2018.

https://dallasgardenbuzz.com/2018/07/16/whats-happening-at-raincatchers/

And now here are the recipes:

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers

Ingredients

½ cup cream cheese

½ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

12 jalapeño peppers, halved lengthwise, seeds and membranes removed

12 slices bacon

Directions

Preheat oven to 400˚F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Mix cream cheese and Cheddar cheese together in a bowl until evenly blended.  Fill each jalapeño half with the cheese mixture.  Put halves back together and wrap each stuffed pepper with a slice of bacon.  Arrange bacon-wrapped peppers on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven until bacon is crispy, about 15 minutes.

Tomato & Basil Soup

adapted from Cold Soups, by Linda Ziedrich

volume = 1.75 c

1 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp olive oil

1/4 med onion, chopped

1 pound tomatoes, cut into chunks

1/2 cup basil leaves, packed loosely

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1.5 tsp balsamic vinegar

Heat 1 Tbsp oil, add the onion, and sauté over medium heat until soft.

Add the tomatoes, and cook until the tomatoes are soft, about 15 minutes.

Put the remaining 2 Tbsp oil, basil, garlic and vinegar in blender and blend.  Add the tomato mixture to the mixture in the blender.  Blend until smooth.

Chill and serve.

*For a fun presentation, cut off the tops of a Campari tomato and scoop out the insides.  Fill with soup and garnish with a basil leaf.

Strawberry Balsamic Popsicles

adapted from Perfect Pops by Charity Ferreira

volume 1 cup

1/2 pound diced strawberries (1/2” dice) – about 1.5 c after hulling

2 T sugar (white, granulated)

1 t balsamic vinegar

black pepper

Pulse the strawberries and sugar in a food processor to get a fine chop – juicy, but chunky

Add the vinegar and a few grinds of pepper (a coarser grind gives you a more pronounced bite)

Let the mixture sit out a bit, say 30 minutes, to allow strawberry juice to accumulate

Stir, pour into molds and freeze

*Using the mini-ice cube molds (they hold 2 tsp each), the above recipe will make 24 popsicles.

Cinnamon Basil Polenta Cookies

Ingredients

½ cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground

¾ cup bleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of coarse salt

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons (packed) whole cinnamon basil leaves

½ cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons half-and-half or cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Confectioners’ sugar to garnish (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Whisk together cornmeal, flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; set aside. In a food processor or blender, whiz cinnamon basil leaves and sugar until leaves are finely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl; add butter and vegetable shortening. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides with a spatula and add egg yolk, half-and-half and vanilla; beat until combined well. With mixer running, slowly add flour mixture until combined.

Scoop out heaping teaspoons of dough onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets, placing them 2 inches apart. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until golden. Remove to racks and let cool; dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving or storing, if desired. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: 3 Dozen Cookies

 

 

Peach Fever Luncheon and Lecture

Good news from our local peach growers. The 2018 peach crop  had the chilling hours needed and the peach harvest is booming!

Dallas County Horticultural Assistant, Jeff Raska, left us dreaming about summer peaches with his brilliant and motivating talk at Raincatcher’s Garden. 

Following a very informative and entertaining peach primer, we savored every morsel of a lip-smacking, flavorful menu filled with a wide range of sensual pleasures. We left having experienced a true moment of “peach fever”. Summer has arrived…the peaches have spoken!

Peach Bruschetta

Peach Bruschetta

Arugula Pesto

1 clove garlic

¼ cup walnuts

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 ½ cups arugula

Salt and Freshly ground pepper

 

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing the bread

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

1 baguette, sliced 3/8 inch thick

1 to 2 cloves garlic, smashed

2 soft small peaches, peeled, halved, pitted, and cut into wedges ¼ inch thick

Shaved Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Coarse Salt

To make the pesto:

Combine the garlic and walnuts in a small food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Add the oil and arugula and continue to pulse until the mixture is evenly moist and spreadable.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the bruschetta:

Heat the oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and rosemary. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is soft. Set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare a medium-hot fire in a gas or charcoal grill.  When the fire is ready, paint each bread slice on both sides with oil. Arrange the bread on the grill rack and toast, turning once, for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

When the bread slices are ready, let them cool enough to handle, then rub the smashed garlic cloves on both sides of each slice. Spread about 1 teaspoon of the pesto on one side of each bread slice. Top each slice with some of the caramelized onion, 1 or 2 peach slices, a little Parmesan, and a sprinkle of salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Entree of Mustard-Peach Glazed Chicken served at the lunch.

Mustard-Peach Glazed Chicken Breasts

Ingredients

4 boneless chicken breast halves, without skin

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

⅔ cup peach preserves

1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard (or Creole mustard)

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (or cider vinegar)

Pinch dried thyme

 

Directions

Heat oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish or spray with cooking spray.

Wash chicken and pat dry. Put chicken between sheets of plastic wrap and pound gently just to even out the thickness.

Place the chicken in the prepared baking pan. Brush chicken with a little melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine glaze ingredients; stir to blend well.

Coat chicken thoroughly with the glaze; bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until golden brown and cooked through. If chicken breasts are quite thick, they might take a little longer. The juices should run clear when pricked with a fork.

Yield: 4 servings

Peach gazpacho garnished with almonds and parsley

Peach Gazpacho

Ingredients
6 soft peaches (about 2 ½ pounds), peeled, pitted and quartered
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon champagne or golden balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ to ¾ cup water
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
Sliced almonds (for garnish, optional)

Directions
In a food processor, combine peaches, cucumber, garlic, vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and ½ cup
water and pulse until coarsely pureed. Thin with remaining ¼ cup water if needed for a good
consistency. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to chill thoroughly.
Just before serving, taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in cilantro or parsley. Ladle into bowls,
drizzle each serving with olive oil, and garnish with sliced almonds.

Yield: Make about 6 cups

Linda Alexander

Pictures by Linda and Starla

Previous peach lessons from Jeff

More peach recipes can be found on our garden recipes page.

 

 

April Box Lunches

Hungering for the what was in the box lunches at the April Master Gardener meeting?

April Box Lunches Prepared by Master Gardeners

Here’s our menu:

Three finger sandwiches made with jalapeno pimento cheese, salad burnet spread  and almond chicken salad,* marinated vegetables and *snicker doodle cookies and *apricot bars.

 

Marinated Vegetables

Trio of garnished finger sandwiches!

Almond Chicken Salad

6 cups cooked chicken breast, cut into ½ inch cubes

2 cups celery, thinly sliced, about ¼ inch

1 cup red onions, finely chopped

3 green onions, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup mayonnaise (good quality prepared)

¾ cup sour cream

Mexican Mint Marigold, garden view!

1 tablespoon fresh Mexican Mint Marigold, finely chopped

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground

¾ cup golden raisins

1½ cups sliced almonds, toasted

Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Toss lightly until combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Yield: Makes 12 cups

Linda Alexander

*Marinated vegetables, Grandmother’s favorite snicker doodle cookies, and apricot bar recipes are available by asking Linda or leaving a comment and she will contact you.

 

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