Saturday, December 15, 2007

Fresh Now Combo Burritos

Welcome, Weekend Herb Blogging readers!

I noticed that my cilantro has gone wild out in the garden, and it was starting to shade out the young broccoli plants sharing a garden bed with it. Clipping it back would give me a real pile of cilantro. No problem! Avocados are ripe now in California, so it sounds like time to make burritos.

I got a nice bunch of cilantro snipped out of the garden. Because I had a little time, and I like it better this way, I pulled the leaves off the cilantro instead of chopping it whole with the stems. This gives all the goodness of the cilantro without the annoying texture of the stems. Best way to freeze cilantro, too.

I have to say that the colors inside an avocado are my favorite greens. Beautiful! This avocado is one of the types that you can usually only get at the farmer's market, and unfortunately I forgot the name. I'll ask the folks I got it from tomorrow when I go. Did you know there are 7 types of avocados grown here in California? Me neither! I've only seen 2 or 3 in the stores.

Of course we can't do without our delicious winter lettuces, growing here in hydroponic solution in ordinary planters. I could leave it whole, but chose to just tear it up into pieces for the burrito. Make sure it's dry, of course, lest the tortilla suddenly sog away and drop filling on one's lap!

Ta-dah! With some ordinary grilled chicken in Trader Joe's yummy mole sauce (cut with a little mango juice for a nicer finish), some low-fat sour cream, everything comes together for a nice burrito. If I'd found low-carb tortillas, it wouldn't be bad as Atkins or South Beach, either.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fresh Fall Snack Plate

Welcome, Weekend Herb Blogging readers!

I love going to Farmer's Markets this time of year. In the summer, not so much, since most of the things there are things I grow myself or don't get excited about. I'll pop in for pluots, apricots, and peaches, none of which (alas) I have here, but that's about it.

In the fall and winter, though, all the folks in the cool coastal areas have been growing their colorful root veggies, yet there are still summer foods from the inland valley farmers, and of course all the marvelous tree fruits.

Some friends of ours who host a social brunch every few months recently had a new baby, and I wanted to put together something special to bring. A fruit and cheese plate of all-local, all-seasonal goodies seemed just perfect!

I started with gorgeous forenschluss (speckled belly) and cimmaron heirloom romaine lettuces from my garden as a plate cover. In the middle, a tasty goat cheese log from either Half Moon Bay or Petaluma (I forget! and the wrapper is long gone!).

Everybody loves pomegranate seeds, but most people hate extracting them from the pomegranate. Plus, they're spectacular, like mounds of living rubies. Some pomegranate seeds on a cracker with goat cheese is a little slice of heaven, believe me-- that tart-sweet burst of flavor, and the creamy richness of the cheese. Yum.

I absolutely adore persimmons, and feel that they're one of the most under-appreciated fruits in the fall harvest pantheon. Most folks think of the hachiya type, the astringent persimmons that need to get soft, pulpy, and generally scary in texture to be delicious. Try an under-ripe slice of a fuyu type persimmon and your lips won't unpucker for days. There is an alternative, however-- the crisp, sweet, spicy fuyu type persimmon. Rounded, like a flattened tomato, rather than pointy like a pepper, the fuyu persimmon can be gloriously crunched like an apple, or sliced for a fruit plate. No scary texture adventures!

Photo courtesy of freshelectron's FlickR stream, CC-licensed.

Some feel that the flavor of a fuyu persimmon is not as wonderful as that of the hachiya persimmon. I think there's something to that-- for all-out persimmon intensity, the fuyu are marvelous. Bake the pulp into dark sweet quickbread, flavor a special kugel, or make exotic chutnies with it. Hachiya rocks! But the persimmon which sells itself to food skeptics, nervously turning over a slice in their fingers, is the friendly fuyu.

Finally, as a decorative yet practical touch, the nasturtiums. The hotheads who enjoy wasabi, Chinese mustard, and other sinus-popping fare will welcome a fiery nasturtium leaf on their cracker of goat cheese, or perhaps even wrapped, by itself, around a few pomegranate seeds. The flowers, lovely and spicy-sweet, are a real treat. Gather them first thing in the morning, before it warms up, and you can even beat the ants to them. Do inspect them carefully as you garnish, though!

I don't rinse the flowers, as we garden naturally and haven't had to spray soap or pepper for aphids on them this fall. Rinsing can rinse out the nectar reservoir in the back of the flower, which is a big part of why the flower is so awesome to eat. These are from our side yard. They've recovered from the August heat, and make a gorgeous cascade along the trellis.

I don't publish recipes here as often as I'd like, but there's plenty of action over at My Bay Area Garden!