Food and Drink

The Chef's Garden: A Modern Guide to Common and Unusual Vegetables--with Recipes.

By Paris Wolfe- Prospective Member WRHS

 

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In mid-April, Milan, Ohio, farmer Lee Jones released The Chef's Garden: A Modern Guide to Common and Unusual Vegetables--with Recipes. The 640-page hefty hardback focuses on plant-based dining, unusual vegetable use and regenerative farming. AND it includes information about herbs and edible flowers.

If you don’t buy the book, at least borrow it from your library for the powerful prose and fabulous photos. It will give you a chef’s eye view on emerging vegetable and herb opportunities.

For example, you probably already knew that you could eat certain marigold (Tegetes tennifolia) flowers. But did you know you can eat the lacy leaves, too? The Chef’s Garden has dubbed these “Citrus lace” as they have citrusy fragrance and orange-soda-like flavors. 

And you’re probably familiar with the basil family – sweet green, dark opal, Thai, lemon, lime, cinnamon and more. But did you know you can eat the seeds? The book describes the flavor as floral, almost vanilla and suggests using gelled seeds as a garnish on sashimi or chilled desserts.

The herb information isn’t easily delineated in one section but woven throughout the book. The first reference starts in the Onions section, page 66 with chives – standard and garlic. The final reference is on page 609 with a recipe for Herb Kombucha. And the book has so much information and many recipes in between.

Consider recipes created by Chef Jamie Simpson, like poached peaches with basil syrup, basil oil and basil seed crackers or lavender-scented cauliflower soup.

The book’s grand finale is a section on edible flowers. Again, these aren’t just the obvious like dianthus and violas. They include vegetable and herb blooms as well, things like arugula flowers, fava blossoms and Oxalis.

It’s only recently that home chefs could order all the products sold by The Chef’s Garden. Before the pandemic limited restaurant dining, most of the herbs and vegetables were shipped to chefs at top national restaurants. When COVID changed the frequency of restaurant dining, the farm pivoted. They are now making specialty herbs and vegetables available to home cooks. The cookbook shows everyone how to get the most from this produce … even if they grow it themselves at home.

Complete with 100 recipes, Jones says, “The book is a place to inspire ways of using vegetables and reducing waste … a home cook, a chef, a farmer, a gardener can find some great tips … it’s really about inspiring people to consider the entire vegetable.”

Recipes are just part of the book’s value. It includes stories like how Chef Charlie Trotter inspired The Chef’s Garden’s explosion into microgreens. A sidebar offers basic information about fiddlehead ferns.  Another sidebar explains how to grow lemongrass. Information about nutrient content is woven through the entire narrative.

The cookbook is comprehensive and compelling. Written in Farmer Jones folksy voice it makes complex information delightful and easily accessible. This is the kind of cookbook culinary enthusiasts read for fun, not just for cooking. It belongs on the coffee table as much as the kitchen table.   

  The book – hardcover ($55)  and Kindle ($29.99) editions – is available on Amazon.com in mid-April.

Picture from the Chefs Garden


Sorrel, from the Garden to the Table

By Iwona Yike - WRHS Active Member

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Rumex sanguineus

Sorrel is a leafy plant popular in European cuisine. The word sorrel comes from the Old French – surele – meaning – sour.

  Within the buckwheat (Polygonaceae) family, the genus Rumex includes over 200 species of edible and medicinal herbs, although some are considered weeds. They are native to Europe, parts of Asia and Africa but can now be found throughout the world including the US.  

   Among the most common species cultivated in the garden are Rumex acetosa (Large leaf sorrel) and Rumex sanguineus (Red veined sorrel), both available as young plants from specialty herb farms such as Mulberry Creek Farm in Huron, OH.  Seeds can be purchased online but some come from abroad and may not be USDA certified.

Sorrel is a hardy perennial, easy to grow. The plants are resistant to frost, pests and diseases. They thrive in full sun in slightly acidic clay soil but do very well in other types of moist soil, except for light, sandy soils. Leaves can be harvested from spring through fall.

 Nutritional benefits of this plant have been known for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians and Greeks used it to promote digestive health. Its broad, bright green, pointed leaves have a tangy, sour taste due to the presence of oxalic acid. They are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C, B2, B6, folic acid and beta-carotene as well as in minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese and silica. Sorrel is also a good source of fiber and tannins. 

Even though it contains so many desirable nutrients, sorrel should be consumed in moderation because oxalic acid binds calcium forming insoluble compounds that are found in kidney stones.  It may also decrease the absorption of calcium from other foods. People suffering from kidney diseases, different forms of arthritis and osteoporosis should avoid eating sorrel. It is worth noting that concerns about oxalic acid are not limited to the consumption of this vegetable.  Eating spinach, rhubarb, beets, Swiss chard, beans or even drinking a lot of black tea may cause similar problems. Adding certain dairy products such as milk, sour cream, goat cheese or eggs is recommended when preparing oxalate-rich foods in order to neutralize the acid and limit its adverse effects.

  Sorrel is often used in French and Egyptian dishes including soups, sandwiches and salads. Sauces made from the leaves can complement fish, meat and egg dishes. Cooking with sorrel is extremely popular in Central and Eastern Europe. The traditional Polish-style sorrel soup with its fresh, tangy taste and a beautiful green color can be called a quintessence of spring. It is also known as green borscht and almost every family has their own version of the recipe. 

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Traditional Polish sorrel soup with eggs

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of vegetable stock (chicken stock is optional, home made are the best)
  • 3-4 cups tightly packed young sorrel leaves, washed, dried and coarsely chopped*
  • 1/3 cups chopped onion
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs
  • salt and pepper

* the exact amount may vary depending on the sourness of the leaves and personal preferences; reserve some of the fresh leaves for garnish

Directions:

  • slowly melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat
  • add onions and cook for for about 5 min or until softened
  • add sorrel and a pinch of salt (preserves color)
  • stir for about 5 minutes over low heat, then increase the heat to medium and stir for another 3-5 minutes
  • bring the vegetable stock to boil and add to spinach, mix well, simmer for 10 minutes
  • combine sour cream with flour in a small bowl and slowly add about 1 cup of hot soup to that bowl, stirring constantly to prevent sour cream from curdling
  • transfer sour cream mix to the saucepan with soup, stir well
  • allow to cool a little and transfer to a blender, blend for 15 sec or until the soup appears smooth
  • season with salt and pepper to taste
  • serve warm, pouring the soup into bowls over halved or quartered boiled eggs
  • garnish with some fresh sorrel leaves

 

Our organization, at its heart, is all about sharing our passion for herbs. We have worked tirelessly for 75 plus years to promote and inspire the use of herbs in our gardens and our lives.
Your support is vital in continuing this important mission. Your gifts support education through our public gardens, our education outreach programs, and our scholarships.
Through your donations, The Western Reserve Herb Society is preserving our legacy of expanding and sharing knowledge of these wonderful plants and their impact on our lives, our culture, and our environment.
To make a donation in honor of the “No Fair Herb Fair!” please go to https://www.westernreserveherbsociety.org/support-our.../

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

By Beth Schreibman Gehring - Chairman of Education, Western Reserve Herb Society

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The weather is getting chillier and in my home that always means adding more cinnamon, cardamom and ginger to just about EVERYTHING.   

Several years ago at the beginning of the pumpkin spiced everything craze, a good friend of mine posted a recipe for homemade pumpkin spice latte's. 

Although it was fairly intriguing, the recipe had a bit too much white sugar in it for my liking. That being said, my husband loves Starbucks Pumpkin Latte's and looks forward to their emergence all year, so I was determined to take a stab at creating one that might be a little bit healthier.  I worked on this recipe for a while and judging from his truly satisfied expression I succeeded!

So it goes, happy husband, happy life, happy life, happy wife! He gets his favorite drink and I have a healthier, less jittery husband! This recipes serves two generously! I’ve promised this recipe to our Ways and Means Chairman, Kathy Shriver for a while now, but it suddenly occurred to me with the holidays rushing in that all of us could use a delicious and creamy break every now and then.

 

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Trust me when I say that this is even more luscious and pleasurable on a chilly autumn night with a warming jigger of single malt stirred into it, a crackling fire and a piece of warmed pumpkin, apple or pecan pie! You can also make this with strongly brewed black tea if you don’t drink coffee. I’ve also included a recipe for my favorite pumpkin pie spice. If you’ve never made your own before, treat yourself as it’s so much fresher than anything you can buy. I’ve even had fun hand grinding most of the spices for it in a mortar and pestle.  You’ll need a hand grater for the nutmeg, but goodness, it’s so worth it, providing an experience in autumnal bliss all of its own! 

Ingredients

 2 cups milk (dairy or non-dairy)

1/2 cup of heavy cream (or Barista quality Almond Milk)

2 tablespoons pumpkin puree, or more to taste 

1 to 4 tablespoons maple syrup, depending upon how sweet you like your lattes’

1 teaspoon of organic salted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 to 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice, plus more for serving (recipe below or use what you have!)

1to 1-1/2  cups strong hot coffee- Viennese with Cinnamon is what I brew. 

Freshly Whipped cream for serving

 

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Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

Ingredients

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 ½ teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 ½ teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon of Star Anise

 

Blend together and store in a covered jar.

 

Instructions: Brew the coffee/tea.  In a saucepan whisk in

the other ingredients and heat until boiling, stirring gently.

Pour the heated milk, pumpkin and spice mixture into a Vitamix or blender along with the coffee.

Blend until smooth and pour into mugs.

Top with a dollop of whipped cream, a sprinkle of spice and enjoy!

 

For the evening, how about a stirring in a wee dram of single malt, bourbon or maybe even a bit of Drambuie?