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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.

 

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

Fig Fest Class and Luncheon

Celeste Fig Tree at Raincathcer’s

Fig Fest, Celebrating a Seasonal Delicacy

With their sweet taste and luscious texture, figs can be used in a variety of culinary dishes. From growing to harvest, we’ll give you the information needed to become a fig expert. Join us; class will be indoors and luncheon reservations are still being taken.

Instructor: Jeff Raska, Dallas County Horticulture Program Assistant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Tuesday, August 7th – 10:00am*

Hosted by Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills located at 11001 Midway Road

Master Gardeners earn one-hour education credit; class is free.

Immediately following Jeff’s presentation, you are invited to join us for lunch. Lunch is by reservation only.

$15 per person

Seating is limited to 48 guests and is by paid reservation only: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/fig-fest-tickets-48093118813

Menu

Figgy Focaccia and Grilled Figs with Thyme Honey

Fig, Arugula and Walnut Salad with Fresh Citrus Vinaigrette

Rosemary Flank Steak with Fig Salsa

Lemony Rice Pudding with Figs and Saba

Fig and Strawberry Tart topped with Fresh Fig Ice Cream

Fig Flavored Tea and Water

 

*All Members of the Public Invited

Class and Lunch are indoors at Midway Hills Christian Church and lunch reservation deadline has been extended to Friday, August 3rd.

We ‘Heard it Through the Grapevine’

Champanel grapes growing at The Raincatcher’s Garden

He may not have been Marvin Gaye, but our own Jeff Raska, Dallas County Horticulture Program Assistant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, had us humming along during his presentation on growing grapes.  A bit of Texas history got us started.

Grape cuttings were first brought to Texas by Franciscan Monks to establish a vineyard in the 1660’s, predating California by almost a century.  The first vineyard in Texas was established near present day El Paso and stayed a viable producer until the early 20th century.

And it was a Texan, viticulturist Thomas Volney Munson, who literally saved the European wine industry when he grafted native American grape rootstocks (resistant to the phylloxera-aphid) to standard European grape scions that brought the industry back from the brink of collapse.

Grapes fall into two categories:

Citis vinifera – a European type grape typically used for wine, table and jams that has a high Brix unit ratio and a thin skin.  Recommended varieties for Texas include Champanel, Lomanto, Herbemont and Lake Emerald.

Muscadinia (Vitis) rotundifolia – a grape that is native to the Americas and thrives in more acidic soils. They are naturally resistant to many diseases and their genetic material saved the vinifera species. Recommended varieties include Carlos, Nesbitt, Tara and Triumph.

To grow grapes, take note:

  • Grape vines need well drained soil and a full day of sun.
  • Vineyards should be planted on high ground to help survive late spring frosts.
  • Good fruit production requires consistent pruning.

For more information Jeff recommends, “Growing Grapes in Texas” by Jim Kamas.

We also learned that grape leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals and low in calories. The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services lists grape leaves as a healthy choice for your shopping list. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/healthieryou/html/shopping_list.html

Immediately following Jeff’s talk we had the privilege of hearing another special presenter; Toney Davrados. With her rich Greek heritage, culinary skills as a trained chef, and love of gardening and growing her own ingredients, we were mesmerized by her demonstration the art of making dolmas.

Toney’s dolma demonstration

Some helpful tips shared by Toney;

Good dolmas need good leaves. Here’s what to look for; leaves with a smooth underside (hairy or fuzzy leaves are tough and not well-suited for dolmas). You can also purchase grape leaves bottled in brine at a gourmet or international grocery store.

Larger leaves are better – about 4 to 5 inches across. This size makes for easier folding.

Toney folding grapes leaves for dolmas.

Prepare leaves one of two ways:

Immediate use; boil 2 cups water with a heaping tablespoon salt. Toss in leaves for about 2 minutes. (Do no more than 3 or 4 at a time). Leaves are ready as soon as the color changes from bright green to olive green. Remove promptly. Leaves are now ready to use.

Future use: wash leaves, dry thoroughly, cut stems off and stack. Put stacks in zip-lock baggies, press out air and freeze. Wait one month for leaves to ‘cure’ before using.

Hope you enjoy the recipes as much as we enjoyed a delightful lunch experience. A heartfelt thanks to our presenters for sharing your wisdom and expertise. Recipes below.

The grand finale:
Frosted Grapes,
Toney’s Dolmas
(filled with ground sirloin, rice, parsley and special seasonings),
Watermelon and Radish Salad
Yogurt and Berries Dessert Parfait

Click here for Toney’s Dolmas Recipe

Watermelon Radish Salad

Ingredients

6 cups watermelon, cut into bite-sized chunks

2 cups thinly sliced and halved radishes

2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger

¼ cup chopped basil

¼ cup chopped mint

¼ teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons fresh lime juice (approximately 2 limes)

Directions

Combine ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well, serve chilled.

Yield: Makes 6 servings

Frosted Grapes

If you’re a grape grower, try this quick and easy summertime refresher as an appetizer or as a light finish to the evening meal.

Ingredients

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

½ cup sugar

4 ounces sour cream

2 pounds seedless grapes, red, green or a mixture

Brown sugar (start with about 2 heaping tablespoons)

Chopped nuts (start with about 1 ½ cups)

Directions

Mix cream cheese, sugar and sour cream together until smooth. Toss grapes in mixture until “frosted”. Combine brown sugar and nuts. Roll grapes in mixture until coated. Chill until ready to serve.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Peach and Berry Parfaits

For breakfast or dessert.

Ingredients

12 ounces Greek yogurt

2 cups granola*

1 pint fresh blueberries

4 peaches, peeled and chopped into small pieces

Texas Clover Honey, to taste

Directions

Layer in parfait cups in the following order;

Yogurt, drizzle of honey, granola, peaches, berries. Repeat, as desired.

*For a dessert option, use Fresh Peach Pound Cake (crumbled).

Toney Davrados sells her products:  dolmas, Greek yogurt, spanakopitas and more on Saturday mornings, April through October at the St. Michael’s Farmers Market, 8100 Douglas Avenue. Arrive early as the products sell out quickly.
Lisa Centala and Linda Alexander
Pictures by Starla Willis

 

 

 

 

 

Recipes From The Glorious Greens Lecture and Lunch

Our new edible garden, where it all began. More classes to be coming from this garden to you. Subscribe to Dallas Garden Buzz for more info.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Greens

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin oil, plus more for drizzling

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

4 cloves garlic, chopped

Sea salt

1 medium head cauliflower (about 3 pounds), florets and stems cut into 1-inch pieces (8 to 9 cups)

4 ½ cups filtered water

¼ cup chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish

5 large kale or collard leaves, or a combination, tough ends removed and leaves roughly chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat; cook onion, covered, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and a pinch of salt, and cook for 3 minutes more.  Add cauliflower, and pour in filtered water until it reaches just below the top of the cauliflower

Bring to a boil over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons dill. Reduce heat to low, and simmer until cauliflower is just tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in greens, and simmer for 3 minutes.

Let sit for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons dill.  Puree soup in batches in a blender until very smooth, adding more water (about ½ cup) if it’s too thick. Return to pot and reheat. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with dill, black pepper, a drizzle of oil, and pinch of sea salt.

Yield: Makes 8 cups

Evelyn and Susan, pesto making!

Spicy Mustard Green Pesto

Ingredients

3 cups fresh mustard greens, stem removed, washed and rough chopped

2 teaspoons fresh chopped garlic

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted 7-8 minutes at 350˚F

⅛ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons Kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground pepper (white or black)

Directions

Blanch greens in lightly salted boiling hot water for 15 seconds. Drain thoroughly.

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend thoroughly to combine. Adjust seasoning as necessary. Refrigerate at 40˚F if not used immediately.

Yield: Makes 2 cups

Dedicated to our greens, note the green nail polish!

The Ultimate Classic Collards

3 (1-lb.) packages fresh collard greens or use fresh from your garden

12 smoked bacon slices, chopped

2 medium-size yellow onions, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons honey

1 (12- to 16-ounce) smoked ham hock

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Remove and chop collard stems. Chop collard leaves. Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 12 to 15 minutes or until almost crisp.  Add onion, and sauté 8 minutes or until onion is tender. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute.

Stir in chick broth and next 2 ingredients; add ham hock. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Add collards in batches. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook 2 hours or until desired tenderness.

Remove meat from ham hock; chop meat, and discard bone. Stir chopped meat into collards. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ready to plate! Thanks Evelyn, Patty, Abbe, Sarah, Ann, Linda, and other Master Gardeners!

Spring Quiche with Leeks and French Sorrel

For the Crust:

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

3-5 tablespoons ice water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

For the Filling:

1 large egg white

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large leek (white and light green parts only), cleaned and sliced into ½-inch pieces (should yield about ½ cup)

3 large eggs

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup 2% milk

½ cup half and half

¼ cup part-skim ricotta

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped dill (fresh or dried)

1 tablespoon chopped rosemary (fresh or dried)

2 cups fresh French sorrel, washed and dried well

Make the Dough:

In a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt a few times to combine. Add the cubes of butter and pulse continuously until the mixtures starts to look like tiny pebbles. With the food processor running, drizzle in the apple cider vinegar, followed by the ice water, stopping when the mixture just begins to come together. Working quickly, form the dough into a flat disk, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Prepare the Crust:

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. On a large floured surface, roll the dough into an approximately 12-inch circle. Gently press into a 9-inch tart or pie pan, trimming any overhang. Line the dough with aluminum foil and dried beans (or pie weights) and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and take out the foil and beans. Brush the crust with the egg white and prick the bottom with a knife or a fork to allow air to release and prevent bubbling. Place back in oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes

Make the Filling:

In a medium-sized pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil and add the leeks. Stir until they are coated in oil, then turn down the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Cook the leeks until golden brown and caramelized, about 20-25 minutes. Check their progress after 15 minutes to ensure you don’t burn them (depending on what kind of pan you’re using; the cook time can vary slightly).

Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, Parmesan cheese, milk, half and half, ricotta, salt pepper, dill and rosemary.

When the leeks are done cooling, lay them out on top of the pre-baked crust. Place the pan on top of a cookie sheet for easy transport. Pour the filling on top of the leeks and place the quiche in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top of the quiche has puffed and is set in the middle and just slightly golden.

Allow the quiche to cool slightly, about 12 minutes. If you put the sorrel on while the quiche is piping hot, the delicate greens will brown. Sprinkle the sorrel on top, slice and serve. Quiche is best served room temperature the day it is made although it will keep just fine covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days (the sorrel is just going to get a bit wilty).

Yield: One 9-inch Quiche (Serves 6 as an entrée or 8 smaller slices)

Glorious greens ready to eat. Plates garnished with mustard greens, of course! Both soups delish!

Minestrone Soup

Ingredients:

⅔ cup small pasta, cooked according to package directions, drained and set aside

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 ½ pounds ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

3 large carrots, peeled and cut into ¼ inch rounds

3 large celery stalks, cut into ¼ inch slices

2 garlic cloves, pressed

1 pound fresh Swiss chard, center vein removed, chopped

1 large turnip, peeled and cut into small cubes

1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into small cubes

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

2 (16-ounce) cans beef broth

2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans

1 (32-ounce) box good beef stock

1-inch piece of Parmesan cheese

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add ground beef and cook, breaking it up, until it is no longer pink.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a large stock pot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add onions, salt and pepper to taste and cook over medium heat until translucent, about 4 minutes.

Add carrots and celery to the pot.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

Add Swiss chard, turnip and potato to the pan.  Cook for 4 minutes or until the chard begins to wilt.

Add the crushed tomatoes and the 2 cans of beef broth to the pot and simmer for 15 minutes or until the chard breaks down.

Meanwhile, combine half of the drained cannellini beans with ½ cup of beef stock in a blender.  Blend until smooth.

Add the blended cannellini beans, remaining drained beans, remaining beef stock, the 1-inch piece of Parmesan, reserved ground beef, cooked pasta and the handful of Parmesan cheese to the pot.  Stir to mix and simmer for 25 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Vegetables should be fork tender.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Add fresh parsley and serve.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Linda Alexander

Our thanks to Jeff Raska for the garden education.

Save the date for our next education/lunch event-Peach Fever.

Date: Tuesday, June 26th, reservation information to follow

Rose Rosette Instructions

Thank you, Maddie Shires!

Video by Starla Willis

A Gardener’s Fright

Rose Rosette, Now What

 

Fall is here, 2015!

October is here and we’ve been fortunate to have  some sunny days, cooler weather, and an opportunity to garden at Raincatcher’s.  It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since we moved from our Joe Field location.

We are blessed to be able to partner with Midway Hills Christian Church. The winter was filled with planning, building, composting and planting trees.

Spring brought much-needed and bountiful rain and the beginnings of our gardens, the transition of the courtyard,  as well as some opportunities to cook for others and share our new location.  

Summer came and the rain slowed, but our plantings were starting to take root and we have had our first harvests. So now it’s Fall, and it feels like Fall  with the buzzing of bees, the flutter of butterflies, the chatter of students on field trips,  and vegetable crops transitioning from summer to winter.

Episcopal School of Dallas field trip studying pumpkins

Episcopal School of Dallas field trip studying pumpkins

The demonstration grasses are coming through, the wildflowers have been prepared and planted and we are setting up the color wheel and planning for the “Under the Powerline” possibilities.  

The Color Wheel is Beginning to Take Shape

The Color Wheel is Beginning to Take Shape

The monumental task of the irrigation is almost complete and the water tanks have arrived and will be installed next week.  Oh what a busy year it has been; many hours have been logged by the Master Gardeners who call Raincatcher’s home.

 I wanted to take time to thank the amazing leadership team who has made this happen in one short year, (or at times very long). Your leadership has inspired us to dream big and then plan to make it a reality, to not be afraid to ask, to join with others in the community, and to share our gifts.  

The teamwork of all who work at this garden has been phenomenal.  We all have had opportunities to be challenged to make this the best demonstration garden that we can offer to the residents of Dallas County.

Starla's Serendipitous Ladybug Picture

Starla’s Serendipitous Ladybug Picture

 The ladybug nailed it!  We love Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills.  Come and see what’s going on for yourself.

Starla 

Details about our Rainwater Harvesting Class on Thursday morning, October 15th will be on the blog tomorrow.

 

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