Monday, June 21, 2010

What a treat it was to host Weekend Herb Blogging this week. Thank you to our gracious Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once for giving me this opportunity and to Kalyn's Kitchen for starting this weekly roundup of vegetable wonders four years ago. We have some northern hemisphere bloggers who are diving into early summer farm and garden bounties and southern hemisphere bloggers using winter crops and so there is an interesting and diverse array of dishes to sample with our eyes this week.

Mixing sweet and savory flavors in her recipe, Mele Cotte offers up a lovely Strawberry Basil Bruschetta. What a great dish to bring to a summer party!

Ohio blogger Yasmeen Health Nut offers a breathtakingly beautiful dish: Purple Escarole with Preserved Lemon Salsa. I love this gorgeous composed salad and will have to seek out this hot-looking member of the endive family in the seed catalogs, as I have not seen it in our local markets.

My upstate New York blogger colleague Noshing Confessions had a goodly amount of kale in her CSA box this week and used it in a beautiful and crispy Kale and Potato Frittata.

Over in the Netherlands, Kitchen Butterfly has lots of great information to share about loquats, a member of the apple/pear fruit family. She experimented with cooking them into a lovely tian with a cookie and cream base.

Italian blogger Cindystar is lucky to have a local farmer who has a beautiful, bountiful crop of cherries and she teaches us how to preserve them in syrup and in grappa. Delicioso! You can follow her instructions in Italian and English at her blog.

Our fabulous Weekend Herb Blogging doyenne, Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once in Australia sent in a salad recipe using two surprisingly under-utilized veggies, Jerusalem Artichokes and Celeriac. She mixed them with potatoes and bathed the whole with a smoky garlic aioli dressing. Scrumptious!

Marjoram is the herb of the week over at the Fessenden Farmstead in Washington, D.C. Farmer Stacey used garden marjoram, chives, garlic scapes, cherry tomatoes and carrots (that's some farmstead!) for her Pasta Bean Salad with Marjoram.

The first greens are appearing in the farmer's markets of Alaska, and Laurie is right there to scoop them up to cook into a sumptuous Spinach Saganaki. She gives us the details at her blog Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska.

It is mid-winter in Melbourne, Australia, the headquarters of Anh's blog, A Food Lover's Journey, and quinces are in season. She used a fortuitous minor kitchen disaster to turn overdone baked quinces into a splendid Spiced Quince Ice Cream.

The always-effervescent Brii in beautiful Lake Garda, Italy, presents us with so many ways to preserve vegetables and herbs on her Briiblog in English. This week it is a luscious Green Bell Pepper Chutney.

Look at all these glowing vegetable jewels studding Simona's Spring Vegetable Terrine. You can learn how to make this stunning creation of beets, chevre, carrots, fava beans and green beans at her blog Briciole.

Tempting, healthy recipes are always in season at Joanne's New York City blog, Eats Well With Others. She ruminates on working out, Father's Day and men's health in her hilarious post, culminating in an awesome recipe for Spanakorizo with Baked Falafel with Yogurt and Cilantro Sauce.

A fresh take on the classic spud dish Potato Rosti is provided at Nina's My Easy Cooking blog. Her kitchen is in South Africa, where she is no doubt cooking and blogging in between watching World Cup soccer matches. Love those crusty potatoes!

Now that fresh herbs are flourishing in our northern gardens, Pam over at Sidewalk Shoes gives tips on pruning basil plants and using the garden largesse to make Sweet Basil Vinaigrette.

Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal was on the menu over at Taste Space in Toronto, Canada, and blogger Janet lets us know that this yummy casserole is both sweet and savory and delightful reheated later on. I'd bet other fruits would work well in this recipe too, and have bookmarked it to try it with other fruits when they come in season.

Tigerfish from the Singapore food blog, Teczcape, sent in a lovely post ruminating on Watercress and made several versions of Watercress Soup for us all to enjoy.

San Francisco resident Begonia Buzzkill doesn't have a blog (yet!) but offered two different ideas for using fresh herbs which I am passing along to you all here:

"You may enjoy this herb recipe I learned when living in North Iran near the Caspian Sea coast near the town of Rasht. Use a blend of fresh herbs as many as possible. In Iran nearly 10 varieties were included (I cannot recall seeing sage in Iran though). Grind all of the herbs into a paste with salt. The result should be "salty" to taste. In Iran the grinding was done in mortar and pestle but here in the US I use my food processor. Jar and refrigerate a few days before using.

It is used as a condiment with fish, chicken and meat dishes, and quiche type egg dishes. Also a large dollop in a bowl of good quality plain white yogurt. The best of all uses was for a drink. In a large pitcher add approx 1-cup (or more as per your choice of thickness) of good plain yogurt, the large dollop of the herb paste, a good dose of cracked black pepper and water to fill (can be made with fizzy water also) Refrigerate until icy cold. Serve over ice and enjoy! It's a great summer drink and quite filling!

We've used this paste in many other dishes such as mashed potatoes, rice, and as rubs for meats. Since the salt is a preservative, the herb paste stores well. The local Iranians make many large jars during the herb growing season in order to have the use of fresh herbs at hand.

Also, to use lavender as a cooking herb, add 1 tablespoon of dried lavender to small pack of softened cream cheese, (can also add 1 tsp honey) and mix well. Then butterfly a chicken breast and flatten the halves, spread the cream cheese mixture on the breasts and roll up (like a cake roll) use tooth pick to hold their shape; place on baking pan. Lightly oil or brush melted butter over the breasts and bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven. Approx 15 minutes or when breast juice runs clear, they're done. You can also just cut a pocket in chicken breast half and stuff the cream cheese mix and bake......but the rolls are such eye candy!"

Thanks Begonia Buzzkill!

Finally, my contribution to this week's WHB was to roast up a boat load of home-grown garlic scapes, which turned out tasty, crispy and mellow, and were used to garnish many different meals this past week.

Thank you to all the bloggers who sent in their posts for this virtual feast this week at Weekend Herb Blogging #238. I now pass the hosting torch on to Chris at Mele Cotte and look forward to seeing more of your educational and tasty posts next week.


chris said...

Fantastic round up! Thanks for putting it together. :) I am so excited to look for purple escarole. I love green and never knew about it coming in other colors....
Hope to see you in WHB next week! ;)

Haalo said...

What a great lineup of dishes - Thanks so much for hosting!

Anh said...

Rachel, thanks for a fab round up!

tigerfish said...

Thanks for the round-up!

Joanne said...

Awesome round-up! Thanks so much for hosting.

Cindystar said...

great round up, rachel!
very interesting, so many new ingredients to me, and the liliac salad is fantastic!
thanks for hosting and have a nice w.e.!

Simona said...

Thank you for hosting, Rachel, and for the lovely roundup. Such an interesting array of dishes requires careful reading, so I am sitting down to do just that.

Esme said...

These all look great.

girlichef said...

What a beautiful selection of dishes!! WEB is something I've never participated in...I'm wondering what in the world I'm waiting for!?

Pierce said...

That was interesting to read. Never thought of so many wonderful combinations with herbs.
Thanks so much for your nice comments on my CTB selection :-)