Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Garden Gathering Recap: Designing with Food & Flavor

Over the next few weeks I'll be doing my best to get recaps from our Garden Gathering "talks" up here on the blog.  Up first is the fabulous Sue!  She is a traveler, and artist, and a friend.  We always appreciate the unique perspective and insight she brings.  Last year she told us all to "Get Out of the Comfy Chair!"- great advice, and worth re-reading for some springtime inspiration!  

Anyway, kicking off our roundup of the 2015 Garden Gathering is Sue, in her own words, on "Designing with Food & Flavor".  Enjoy!

-Anna Mary


Designing with Food & Flavor

All of you know by now that the garden that is my life grows the flowers of art, travel, and teaching, to name just some of my flowers. We are all gardens. We tend, sometimes, different flowers in our gardens from each other. But, Gardens we are.

You come to the greenhouse, and we work here, to learn and grow our (G)gardens. You see what I am saying? I am talking about gardens and Gardens, the micro and the macro.

What does this have to do with the recent Garden Gathering and my chat on Designing with Food? Well there is pesto and then there is Pesto. There is the known recipe for classic Pesto Genovese which uses Sweet Basil to create a luscious sauce to use for pasta and pizza.

And then there are all the other possible Pestos. But, these Pestos require you to try new things, to experiment and sometime fail but, other times, succeed. And when you succeed your taste buds are offered something new to savor.

This is creative processing. And I have found in my Garden of art, teaching and travel that the more I expand my senses the more my mind/life expands. So I take the risk and try new things, and my Garden gets larger.

All that being said about trying new things...traditions give us frame work, from which we can begin to create. The structure of tradition creates foundation, a launching pad. The rules of cooking and art act the same way, they are the beginning. Learn them well through disciplined practice. Then break them. 

Here is a start of how to expand your use of the beautiful herbs (and your G/garden) that you will grow this summer...



In terms of PESTO think leaf, nut, cheese - 3 cup leaf - 1/3 cup nut - 1/2 cup cheese = 1 cup pesto

Leaf - basil (try Pesto Perpetuo), parsley, cilantro, mint, kale, arugula, spinach, romaine, watercress
Nut (toasted ?) - pine nuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, sesame seeds etc etc...
Cheese - parmesan , asiago, pecorino, manchego, cheddar, gouda etc etc...

Extras: Seasoning 1/2-1 tsp, plus a little salt
Choose garlic, lemon or orange zest, red pepper, thyme, oregano, tarragon, rosemary all chopped.  Now pulse in your food processor and slowly drizzle in a 1/2 cup good extra virgin olive oil....

Extra Finish:
Try ricotta, fresh or sun-dried tomatoes chopped up, olives, roasted red pepper, mascarpone.



-Pizza on grill or oven - finish with fresh herbs and blobs of ricotta or mozzarella cheese. In ROME this is a perfect meal in one, or drop pesto on top of the pizza.
-Add herbs into leaf salads or salads of just veggies and herbs, dress lightly with good oil, a touch salt or squeeze of lemon or grate of lemon.
-Freeze a lemon so you will always have one to grate.
-Slather pesto on a wonderful slice of bread.
-In a sandwich layer herbs like lettuce or pesto.  Try an INDIA SANDWICH - cilantro chutney layered with cheese, chopped peppers, tomato, red onion, and boiled potatoes on buttered bread then pressed and grilled.
-Use fresh herbs in savory dishes like quiche or muffins (Like Cindy's Garden Gathering muffins!).
-Chop and freeze for soups, stews during the winter.
-On eggs, in eggs.
-Use in soups like PHO, a traditional Vietnamese soup.  Use freshly torn herbs, and lots of them!
-Chop and sprinkle on grilled meats, fish.
-Chop, blend in little oil and spread on anything!
-Ennhance the taste and look of your food... beauty matters.



STEVIA - to the sweets!
- Grind 2 fresh leaves into a smoothie - steep with mint in ice tea, hot tea, or try a Mojito.
-Use to sweeten sauces.
-Dry the leaves (they are sweeter dried) or use fresh.

Recipe for Simple Syrup
-One cup of warm water to 1/4 cup of fresh, finely-crushed leaves
-Set for 24 hours in air tight container
-Strain and refrigerate (cook to reduce if you wish)

Benefits - no calories AND plaque retardant and anti-cavity (so they say)...


Just some ideas to play with and help expand your (G)garden. But remember traditions are the foundation that help us build wings to fly. that that leap. 


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