"Be not an abomination to the Bees and Butterflies and then your garden shall know the enchantment

Monday, December 15, 2014

Food Networks Top 50 Cheese Appetizers

With little time to work on new ideas to bring to the host of holiday gatherings Food Network's list made it simple!  Something fitting for everyone......I think we'll be starting off with #50!

2. Chili-Cheese Straws Make Parmesan Cheese Straws (No. 1), replacing the Parmesan with shredded cheddar. Use smoked paprika and sprinkle the dough with 1 teaspoon chili powder.

3. Prosciutto-Parmesan Palmiers Roll out 1 sheet thawed frozen puff pastry into a 12-inch square on a floured surface. Cut in half; cover each half with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan and 1 ounce sliced prosciutto. Roll the short sides of each rectangle toward the center so the two ends meet in the middle; gently press together and freeze until firm. Trim the ends and slice each log 1/4 inch thick. Bake at 400 degrees F until golden, 12 to 15 minutes.

4. Bocconcini Kebabs Toss bocconcini (small mozzarella balls), cubed fontina, pitted kalamata olives and Peppadew peppers with olive oil, chopped parsley and rosemary, and red pepper flakes. Thread onto small skewers.

5. Sausage-Cheddar Bites Top 1/4-inch-thick rounds of summer sausage with sliced cheddar. Bake at 375 degrees F until the cheese melts, 3 to 5 minutes. Sandwich between butter crackers.

6. Cheddar Crackers Pulse 1/2 stick cold butter, 1 cup each grated sharp cheddar and flour, 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and paprika, and a pinch of cayenne in a food processor until crumbly. Add 2 tablespoons water and pulse until the dough clumps together; form into a 9-inch log, wrap in plastic and chill 1 hour. Slice 1/4 inch thick. Bake at 375 degrees F until golden, about 20 minutes.

7. Cheddar-Cracker Sandwiches Make Cheddar Crackers (No. 6). Sandwich with peanut butter.
8. Frico Crisps Arrange tablespoon-size mounds of shredded Parmesan about 1 inch apart on a silicone mat–lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with pepper and chopped herbs (rosemary, sage and/or thyme). Bake at 450 degrees F until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Cool slightly.

9. Sage Cheese Crisps Arrange thin 1-inch-square slices of raclette cheese 1 inch apart on a silicone mat–lined baking sheet. Top with chopped sage and pine nuts. Bake at 450 degrees F until melted and golden, 7 minutes. Cool slightly.

10. Pepper Jack Toasts Mix 3/4 cup each shredded pepper jack and cheddar, 1/2 cup mayonnaise and 4 chopped chives. Spread on 5 slices white bread. Bake at 425 degrees F until golden, 15 minutes. Cut into triangles. Top with chopped chives and pickled jalapenos.
11. Honey-Walnut Goat Cheese Combine 1/4 cup each olive oil, walnut oil and chopped walnuts, 2 tablespoons honey, and pepper to taste. Pour over one 11-ounce log sliced goat cheese in a dish. Let sit 2 hours; top with chopped chives. Serve with crostini.

12. Ricotta-Pistachio Crostini Beat 8 ounces ricotta, 2 tablespoons each heavy cream and grated Parmesan, and a pinch of salt until smooth. Stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch each of red pepper flakes and chopped rosemary. Spread on crostini; top with orange marmalade and chopped pistachios.

13. Greek Halloumi Combine 3 tablespoons each olive oil, chopped Kalamata olives and roasted red peppers, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 minced garlic clove; stir in 1 tablespoon each chopped mint, oregano and scallion, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Halve one 8-ounce block halloumi into 2 thin rectangles; dredge in flour. Cook in olive oil until golden, 3 minutes per side. Top with the olive salad; serve with bread.

14. Middle Eastern Cheese Dip Combine 2 cups labneh (yogurt cheese), 2 grated garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons each chopped parsley, dill and mint, 2 chopped scallions and the juice of 1 lemon. Season with salt, ground cumin and hot paprika. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika. Serve with pita bread.

15. Garlic and Herb Cheese Dip Combine one 5-ounce package garlic-and-herb cheese spread, 1/4 cup buttermilk and 2 tablespoons sour cream until smooth; season with salt. Top with chopped scallions. Serve with chips.

16. Gorgonzola Cheese Dip Combine 3/4 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola and 1 tablespoon milk until smooth; season with salt and cayenne. Serve with crudites.

17. Caraway-Havarti Beer Cheese Melt 1/2 stick butter over medium heat. Stir in 1/4 cup flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add 1 cup each heavy cream and beer, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and hot sauce; simmer 5 minutes. Stir in 2 cups shredded caraway havarti until melted. Serve with chips.
18. Fig-Walnut Cheese Balls Pulse 8 ounces softened goat cheese and 4 ounces gorgonzola dolce in a food processor until smooth. Mix in 3 tablespoons finely chopped dried figs; chill. Form into 1-inch balls; roll in freshly ground pepper and finely chopped candied walnuts.

19. Bacon-Chive Cheese Balls Mix 8 ounces softened cream cheese, 1 cup shredded gouda, 2 chopped cooked bacon slices, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, and hot sauce to taste; chill. Form into 1-inch balls; roll in chopped chives.

20. Fig and Cheese Toasts Cut rosemary focaccia into small slices. Make the Fig-Walnut Cheese Ball mixture (No. 18); do not chill or roll. Spread on the focaccia; sprinkle with Parmesan. Broil until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Top with chopped parsley.
 21. Olive-Asiago Flatbread Combine 1/2 cup each chopped green olives and parsley, 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 grated garlic clove; season with pepper. Spread onto 2 lavash flatbreads; top with 1/2 cup shredded asiago. Bake at 425 degrees F until crisp, 12 minutes. Cut into pieces.

22. Camembert-Mushroom Pizzettes Cook 8 ounces sliced oyster mushrooms in olive oil until tender; season with salt and pepper. Form 1 pound refrigerated pizza dough into two 4-by-12-inch rectangles on parchment. Top each with 3 ounces sliced Camembert and the mushrooms; drizzle with olive oil. Bake on a preheated baking sheet at 475 degrees F until the crusts are browned, 15 minutes. Top with chopped parsley; cut into pieces.
23. Spanakopita Tartlets Warm one 10-ounce package thawed frozen creamed spinach as the label directs. Stir in 1/2 cup crumbled feta and 2 tablespoons each chopped scallions and dill. Fill 30 frozen mini phyllo shells with the mixture. Bake at 400 degrees F until set, 15 minutes. Cool slightly.

24. Chicken and Cheese Tartlets Mix 2 cups diced rotisserie chicken (skin removed), 1 cup each mayonnaise and diced dill havarti, 2 tablespoons each grated Parmesan and lemon juice, and a pinch of nutmeg. Fill 30 frozen mini phyllo shells with the mixture. Bake at 425 degrees F until the cheese melts, 4 minutes. Top with paprika and chives. Cool slightly.

25. Grilled Cheese Strips with Chutney Spread chutney on 4 slices sourdough; top each with 1/2 cup shredded Comte cheese. Top with 4 more slices bread. Cook in a skillet with butter and fresh thyme until golden, 4 minutes per side. Cut into strips.

26. Grilled Cheese Strips with Bacon Caramelize 1 sliced onion in butter over medium-low heat, 30 minutes. Divide 8 slices cheddar, the onion, 4 crumbled cooked bacon slices and some fresh thyme among 4 slices rye bread; top with 4 more slices bread. Cook in a skillet with butter until golden, 4 minutes per side. Cut into strips.

27. Baked Brie with Apples and Ham Mix 1 small diced Granny Smith apple with 2 tablespoons honey mustard. Slice off the top rind of a small wheel of brie. Top with the apples and 2 ounces chopped deli ham; drizzle with olive oil. Bake in a small dish at 375 degrees F until slightly runny, 12 to 15 minutes.

28. Goat Cheese and Pear Crostini Cook 2 chopped peeled pears, 1/2 cup each water, dry Riesling and raisins, 1/3 cup sugar and 4 strips lemon zest over medium heat, 20 minutes. Serve on crostini with goat cheese.

29. Cheesy Pigs in a Blanket Divide one 8-ounce tube crescent-roll dough into 4 rectangles. Wrap each around a 3-ounce bacon-cheese bratwurst; trim and press to seal. Brush with beaten egg; sprinkle with shredded cheddar. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Slice; serve with mustard.

30. Three-Cheese Deviled Eggs Peel and halve 12 hard-boiled eggs. Scoop out the yolks; mash with 1/4 cup each mayonnaise and sour cream, 2 tablespoons each shredded Monterey Jack and cheddar, 1 tablespoon relish, 2 teaspoons mustard and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne; season with salt. Spoon into the whites; top with crumbled cooked bacon and shredded dill havarti.

31. Spanish Manchego Tortilla Bites Mix 4 cups potato chips with 12 lightly beaten eggs; let sit until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add half of the egg mixture, 4 ounces each cubed manchego and muenster, then the remaining egg mixture. Cook, undisturbed, until the bottom is golden, 5 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees F until set, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool; unmold and cut into squares.

32. Polenta with Gorgonzola Slice one 18-ounce tube polenta 1/2 inch thick; cut each round in half. Bake at 400 degrees F until warmed through, about 7 minutes. Top with crumbled gorgonzola and chopped walnuts; bake until lightly browned, 3 minutes. Top with chives.

33. Cheesy Crab Cakes Combine 8 ounces lump crabmeat, 1/4 cup shredded monterey jack, 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon each Dijon mustard, lemon juice and chopped cilantro; season with salt and cayenne. Form into 16 patties (1 inch each); dredge in flour. Cook in vegetable oil until golden, 2 minutes per side.

34. Shrimp Quesadillas Combine 8 ounces chopped cooked shrimp, one 4-ounce can chopped green chiles, the juice of 1 lime, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin and 2 chopped scallions. Divide 1/2 cup grated queso fresco and the shrimp between two 8-inch flour tortillas; top each with another tortilla. Cook in a buttered skillet until golden, 1 1/2 minutes per side. Cut into wedges.
35. Pepper Jack Latkes Peel and grate 2 russet potatoes and 2 carrots; squeeze dry. Mix with 1 egg, 1/2 grated onion, 1 cup shredded pepper Jack, 1/3 cup breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and 1 teaspoon kosher salt; season with pepper. Form into 2-inch pancakes; cook in vegetable oil until golden, 3 minutes per side. Sprinkle with salt; top with sour cream.
36. Cheddar Biscuits with Ham Pulse 2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in a food processor. Add 1 stick diced cold butter; pulse until crumbly. Pulse in 1 cup each buttermilk and shredded cheddar, and 1 chopped scallion. Roll out to 1/2 inch thick on a floured surface, fold in half and reroll. Cut out 1-inch rounds. Bake at 400 degrees F until golden, 15 minutes. Sandwich with fig jam and ham.

37. Cheese Puffs Bring 1 stick butter, 1/2 cup each water and milk, and 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and cayenne to a simmer. Stir in 1 cup flour until a ball forms. Transfer to a bowl; with a mixer, beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, then 1 cup shredded Gruyere. Pipe into 1-inch balls on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F until puffed, 25 minutes.

38. Mac and Cheese Bites Squeeze heaping tablespoon full of chilled macaroni and cheese into balls; dredge in flour, then beaten egg, then breadcrumbs. Deep-fry in 375 degrees F vegetable oil until crisp, 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt.

39. Fried Mozzarella Sandwiches Divide 8 mozzarella slices and 16 anchovies among 8 slices white bread; top with 8 more slices bread. Trim the crusts; cut in half. Dredge in beaten egg, then flour. Cook in olive oil until golden, 2 minutes per side; blot and halve. Fry parsley and capers in the oil until crisp and sprinkle on top; serve with marinara sauce.

40. Spinach Croquettes Melt 1/2 stick butter over medium heat. Whisk in 1/2 cup flour, then 1 cup milk until thick. Stir in 2/3 cup each shredded Gruyere and thawed frozen chopped spinach (squeezed dry). Add 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and a pinch each of cayenne and nutmeg; chill. Form into 16 balls; dredge in flour, then beaten egg, then breadcrumbs. Deep-fry in 360 degrees F vegetable oil until golden, 3 minutes.
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41. Arancini Microwave 1 cup Arborio rice with 1 2/3 cups chicken broth, 1/3 cup white wine and 1/3 cup chopped onion in an 8-inch microwave-safe dish, stirring halfway through, until tender, 18 minutes; cool. Mix in 2 eggs and 3/4 cup each grated Parmesan and provolone. Roll into 1 1/4-inch balls; dredge in breadcrumbs. Chill. Deep-fry in 350 degrees F vegetable oil until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve with marinara sauce.
42. Fried Ravioli Mix equal parts all-purpose and semolina flour. Dip refrigerated cheese ravioli in beaten egg, then the flour mixture. Deep-fry in 375 degrees F vegetable oil until golden, 4 minutes. Serve with marinara sauce.

43. Goat Cheese–Stuffed Peppers Mix 8 ounces goat cheese with 1 tablespoon each milk, olive oil, chopped parsley and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Spoon into 8 piquillo peppers; chill. Cut in half lengthwise.

44. Manchego-Stuffed Dates Fill pitted dates with cubes of manchego; wrap with sliced serrano ham. Broil until golden, 5 minutes.

45. Provolone-Stuffed Peppadews Fill Peppadew peppers with cubes of provolone; wrap with prosciutto. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar; top with basil.

46. Cheese-Stuffed Olives Stuff Roquefort into 24 pitted green olives. Whisk 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons each olive brine and lemon juice, 1 tablespoon gin, 1 teaspoon thyme and a pinch of sugar; season with salt and pepper. Pour over the olives; chill.

47. Fingerling Cheese Fries Toss 1 pound fingerling potatoes with olive oil; roast at 400 degrees F until crisp, 30 minutes. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons flour; cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Whisk in 2 cups milk. Cook, whisking, until thickened, 5 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups shredded raclette or Swiss cheese and 1/2 teaspoon each hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Serve over the fries.

48. Tuscan Potato Bites Toss 1 pound quartered baby Yukon gold potatoes with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast at 425 degrees F, 30 minutes. Toss with 1/4 cup grated pecorino, 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary and 1 teaspoon lemon zest; bake 10 minutes.

49. Endive with Gorgonzola Mix 8 ounces gorgonzola dolce, 1/2 cup mascarpone and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley; spread onto 24 endive leaves. Top with crumbled cooked bacon and chopped candied pecans.
50. Beer Cheese Soup Shooters Cook 1 chopped onion and 2 chopped garlic cloves in 1/2 stick butter in a large pot over medium heat until softened. Add 1/4 cup flour; cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Whisk in 12 ounces beer, 2 cups chicken broth, 1/2 cup heavy cream and 1 teaspoon each Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce; cook until thickened, 5 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in 1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers and 2 cups shredded cheddar until melted. Puree; season with salt and cayenne. Top with more peppers.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Recipe of the Day - Lamb & Dried Apricot Stew

This aromatic stew is even better the next day, once the spices have had time to really infuse the meat with flavor. Serve with a simple green salad dressed with a lemony vinaigrette.

Lamb and Dried Apricot Stew



  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb. (750 g) boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into
      1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more, to taste
  • 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) chicken broth
  • 1 can (14 1/2 oz./455 g) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (8 3/4 oz./270 g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) dried apricots, halved
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt, to taste


In a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Working in 2 batches, add the lamb and cook until browned on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to a bowl.

Add the onion and garlic to the pot and sauté until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, cayenne and the 1/4 tsp. black pepper and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a simmer, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, apricots, cinnamon stick and lamb and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lamb is tender and the stew thickens, about 1 1/4 hours.

Stir in the parsley, season with salt and black pepper and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Soup of the Day, by Kate McMillan (Weldon Owen, 2011).

Monday, December 8, 2014

 Hello and Good Bye
                                                                                                                                                              There's change afoot for us at Two Crones Farm.....with the installation of the front deck complete, we'll be installing the Outdoor Kitchen in the Spring.                                 By then the Kitchen & Herb Garden will be maturing nicely for our monthly gatherings which we will be starting up with a new theme:  "Keep It Simple".  We added 75 sq ft of planting space as a railing system on the deck with this theme in mind.  If it's simple to get to, then it will be simple to use and teach others how to design with Simplicity in mind.
The other major change is that we have a new companion canine join the Menagerie in November.  Found wandering the streets of Vallejo by a neighbor who we linked up with via Facebook, Frankie was obviously in need of new digs.  Although she was flea infested and missing a lot of hair she was very sweet. For me it was love at first sight! Her first month has been all about vet visits, TLC, and training.  She's a wonderful, smart, energetic young Rottweiler and we're very happy to have her with us.  We'll be posting pictures of her antics soon!
Our dear Bella passed on May 13, 2014 and we still miss her everyday.  She was my constant companion, the most loving and intuitive soul I ever knew.  She can never be replaced but having Frankie with us now brings back the Dog Energy the farm was missing. 
 RIP Sweet Bella  July 2005- May 2014. 

White Bean & Chorizo Stew

The pending stormy weather translates to "hunker down and cook" at the farm.  Smoky Paprika is one of my favorite spices to experiment with so when I find a recipe that features this beautiful addition, well now.....I just have to try it! 

White Bean and Chorizo Stew

Chef Richard Garcia of Boston's 606 Congress uses smoked Spanish paprika in his signature White Bean and Chorizo Stew. Garcia relies on this spice for a deep, smoky flavor that complements Spanish chorizo sausage.
Photo: Thinkstock
Serves 10


  • 1 16-ounce stick Spanish chorizo sausage, cut into a medium dice
  • 2 Tbsp. smoked Spanish paprika
  • 3 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. coriander
  • 2 tsp. saffron thread
  • 4 cloves peeled garlic
  • ½ Spanish onion, diced
  • ½ cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 cup Chardonnay wine
  • 32 ounces cooked white beans
  • 6 chopped plum tomatoes
  • ½ carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 4 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • 5 sprigs of parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Juice of 1 lemon


Sweat chorizo and spices in a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add vegetables and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add beans.

Deglaze the pan with sherry vinegar and white wine, scraping up browned bits. Add chicken stock and tomato paste.

Wrap thyme, oregano, bay leaf and parsley in a cheese cloth and add to stew.

Cook for approximately 5 minutes. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

This recipe is part of an article on new, easy ways to spice up your dinner.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/food/White-Bean-and-Chorizo-Stew-Recipe-Chef-Richard-Garcia#ixzz3LJmmwRQJ

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chamorro Finadene - Island Sauce for EVERYTHING

Finedene Sauce is to Guam what ketchup is to the mainland as a condiment but with a lot more nutritional value and flavor.  It hits all the right notes; tart, tangy, slightly salty, spicy, and just plain tasty! I first tasted Finedene Sauce at what used to be the Georgia Street Grill and thankfully Cindy at The Good Day Café kept serving this sauce when she bought the restaurant.                                Chamorro cooking is one that I am planning to add to my repertoire this summer
Chamorro People, 1915
There are several versions of Finedene Sauce recipes at Food. com that incorporate coconut milk for a bit of a sweeter version or lemon juice you can interchange depending on what you are serving.  The soy and vinegar sauce is traditionally served with chicken and pork, the coconut sauce with seafood and poultry, and the lemon sauce with fish. Note on the yield: the coconut and lemon sauces each make 1 1/2 cups; the soy and vinegar makes 1 cup.

Here is my favorite version from Christina Magtoto, dip into it or pour it over EVERYTHING. Islanders NEVER do without it, and off-island visitors bring this fabulous Guamanian recipe back home.


1 cup lemon juice and rind
2/3 cup soy sauce
1 cup chopped onion
2 stalks of green onion, chopped
10-12 medium hot peppers, chopped or mashed according to your 'heat' preference

Cherry tomatoes - sliced
Cucumbers - sliced

Make this a few hours ahead or the night before. Mix all ingredients together and store the Finandene in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve!

Pour it over rice (a standard for ALL Guamanians and found at every party), over barbecued, grilled or fried chicken, steaks, ribs, fish, and vegetables. The sauce, because of its lemon base, gets tastier every day. Make sure to store unused sauce in the refrigerator and enjoy for weeks afterwards.

Guam's Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants hand out Finadene like ketchup!

Friday, April 12, 2013

County Bounty: Petals Both Tasty, Tantalizing

                                                                                                                                                             Many cultures have eaten flowers, with traditional uses still prevalent worldwide today, while new traditions are constantly springing up. Renee Shepherd of Renee's Garden Seed Company in Felton is an expert on edible flowers. She not only offers the seeds of many flower varieties for sale but includes several fantastic recipes in the cookbooks she's written. While in current society we've grown accustomed to identifying and celebrating these individual varieties, that may not have always been the case. "Edible flowers go back a long way in history," notes Shephard. "Centuries ago distinguishing the blossoms of herbs and other flowering plants wasn't so distinct. They were just all known as edible blossoms."

Shepherd has a few simple rules to follow for including edible flowers in your diet. "Only eat flowers that you grow from seed or know exactly where they came from. Standards for what you can spray on flowers are different than they are for food. It's also important that we do not assume something is edible just because it's on your plate in a restaurant. Always check with the staff."

Perhaps the most well-known of these so-called edible flowers are nasturtiums. Native to Central and South America, they come in a plethora of shapes and colors. In Renee's collection alone, there are 14 different varieties. Both the flowers and leaves are edible and ,according to Shepherd, nasturtiums "taste like watercress with a touch of honey. They're very nice paired with salmon or other fish."

Arugula Blossom
The flowers of many common kitchen herbs are also very much edible. Arugula, cilantro, thyme, rosemary and basil among others, all have flowers that are edible. "Just about any herb blossoms are nice," said Shepherd. "When we start to perceive flowering as just another productive stage of the plant rather than the end it extends the culinary life of the plant."

Zucchini Blossom
Another common edible flower is the squash blossom. The flower of any squash or pumpkin variety can be used, as well as summer squashes like zucchini, which are prolific.

Along with nasturtiums to a lesser extent, squash blossoms are one of the few flowers you might find available at local grocers or farmers markets. However, as is true with all of these, it's best to use them when they are freshly picked; they're at their best right out of the garden. Some common uses for squash blossoms are lightly battered and sauteed in olive oil or stuffed, as Shepherd suggests, "like a ravioli."

At Camp Joy Gardens in Boulder Creek, Towhee Nelson Huxley has seen an increased interest in edible flowers at the nonprofit's annual plant sale, which is coming up at the end of the month.
"I always love these flowers as part of the garden, and it would seem as if more restaurants are incorporating these little jewels in their food preparation."

Some of the varieties included in the mix at Camp Joy include borage, calendula, roses, rose hips, chive blossoms, comfrey, nasturtiums, johnny jump-ups, oregano and rosemary.  Uses of edible flowers are many and typically determined according to the level of sweetness present in the flower.

Sweet Lavender

Sweet lavender (not to be confused with Spanish lavender), which is highly fragrant on its own, can be steeped in milk to add sweetness or infused into sugar for baking. The same can be done with scented geraniums. Violets and violas, which have an almost minty flavor, are another desert flower that are often candied and used as an edible decoration in baked goods.

A few of the more unique uses include using calendula, popular at both Camp Joy and Renee's, as a color substitute for saffron. Borage, which has a cucumber-like flavor, can be frozen in ice cube trays filled with water and added to summer beverages. Anise hyssop, which according to Shepherd, "tastes like root beer," can be used as a tea or chopped up in stir fries, leaves and all.
Anise Hyssop

The Central Coast's lengthy growing season means there's still plenty of time to create an edible garden, as many of these varieties can be put in the ground right up until July. We not only have thousands of years of history to guide us in discovering these new flavors, but also plenty of local experts like Shepherd to point us in the right direction.

"I'm most interested in selling seeds or flowers that are enjoyable," she said.
In the case of edible flowers, that means on the table and on the plate.

Matt Landi is produce director for New Leaf Community Markets. Contact him at mattl@newleaf.com. His County Bounty column runs once a month.
The following recipes are great uses for edible flowers. The four recipes from Renee Shepherd of Renee's Garden Seed Company in Felton are from her cookbooks, 'Recipes from a Kitchen Garden,' and 'More Recipes from a Kitchen Garden,' both available at reneesgarden.com.

These rich but not too sweet shortbread cookies have just a hint of sweet lavender fragrance and flavor. They are perfect to serve with tea, milk or lemonade. I make several batches to divide up and tuck into pretty decorative boxes or tins I've lined with pastel tissue paper. Be prepared to share the recipe -- or, better yet, write it up on lavender-colored paper to include in the box. -- Renee Shepherd

Lavender Shortbread

Makes about 4 dozen
1 1/2 cups (3/4 pound) butter, at room temperature (no substitutes)
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons very finely chopped lavender florets (fresh or dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
2 1/3 cups flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Cover bottoms of two baking sheets with parchment or brown paper. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, lavender, and mint with an electric mixer. Mix until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add flour, cornstarch, and salt and beat until incorporated. Divide dough in half. Flatten into squares and wrap in plastic. Chill until firm.
2. On a floured board, roll or pat out each square to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Cut the dough into 1 1/2 -inch squares or rounds. Transfer to baking sheets, spacing cookies about 1 inch apart. Prick each cookie several times with a fork.
3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until pale golden (do not brown). Cool slightly, then transfer to a rack. Sprinkle with lavender powdered sugar.
4. Garnish with lavender powdered sugar: Put 4 or 5 sprigs of lavender flowers in a sealed jar with powdered sugar for a day before using the sugar.
Open-faced finger sandwiches that offer a handsome smorgasbord of colors and flavors. Decorate each sandwich with several savory edible flower petals and herb blossoms and serve. Expect to be applauded for your artistry! -- Renee Shepherd
Blossom Tea Sandwiches

One large cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped chives or scallions
Thinly sliced cracked wheat or white bread, crusts removed
Lots of edible blossoms: nasturtiums, chives, arugula, basil, borage, calendula, bush or pole snap bean flowers or herb blossoms, rinsed and patted dry

1. Squeeze chopped cucumber in a kitchen towel to remove as much moisture as possible; set aside.
2. Blend the cream cheese, seasonings and chives or scallions. Add cucumber
and combine well but do not overmix.
3. Spread on bread and cut into finger-sized open sandwiches.
4. Decorate the tops of the sandwiches with petals of various edible

A lovely, old-fashioned way to decorate cakes, custards, and puddings. -- Renee Shepherd
Candied Violas

1 cup fresh viola flowers, gently rinsed and patted dry
1 egg white, at room temperature
1/4 cup superfine sugar

1. Beat egg white until frothy. With a small, clean art or pastry brush, coat all sides of each flower's petals with beaten egg white gently and completely. Sprinkle flowers carefully and completely with sugar. Place on a cake rack over a baking sheet and let dry thoroughly in a cool dry place.
2. Store in a covered airtight container until ready to use.

A summer treat that shouldn't be missed. -- Renee Shepherd

Ricotta-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Blossoms12 to 15 fresh squash blossoms; number used will
vary depending on size, so have a few extra on hand.

FILLING1 pound ricotta cheese
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
1/2 cup toasted almonds, finely chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons melted butter
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix all the filling ingredients together except the melted butter. Stuff squash blossoms carefully; don't overfill.
3. Drizzle the melted butter over blossoms and bake for 15 minutes.
Chive blossoms give a delicate onion flavor to a simple omelet. It is perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or a light dinner.

Blue Flower Chive Omelet

Time: 5 minutes prep, 15 minutes cooking
Yield: 2 servings4 eggs

4 tablespoons milk
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons minced chives
3 tablespoons butter
About a dozen or so chive blossoms, gently washed and dried

1. Melt the butter in a frying pan. Combine eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and chives in a blender and pour into the hot, buttered pan. As the edges of the omelet begin to set, reduce the heat somewhat and with a spatula turn the uncooked eggs to the bottom of the skillet until they are all cooked.
2. Sprinkle the washed chive blossoms across the top of the eggs and then fold the omelet over and let cook another few minutes. Serve.
-- Recipe from homecooking.about.com

Corn Tortillas with Fresh Flower Petals

Time: 15 minutes prep, 30 minutes cooking
Yield: about 20 tortillas
1 pound masa flour
4 teaspoons salt
Cold water
Edible flowers, petals only (try confetti, nasturtium, pansy, roses or Johnny jump-ups)

1. Mix together flour and salt in medium mixing bowl. Slowly add water, as needed, and knead gently until a smooth dry masa is formed.
2. Remove small piece, roll into a ball (about half size of a golf ball). Continue to do so until all masa is used. Next, take a tortilla press and between 2 pieces of plastic, place a masa ball and press half way.
3. Now open, remove plastic from show side of tortilla, lay edible flower petals on half-pressed tortilla, recover with plastic, and finish pressing. Remove tortilla and place it between 2 pieces of wax paper.
4. Continue process until all masa is used. On a warm griddle remove 1 piece of wax paper and place raw tortilla on griddle. Cook on one side until golden brown, about 45 seconds, then turn over and cook for 1 more minute; serve.
-- Recipe from Chef John Sedlar, Abiquiu Restaurant, Santa Monica, via homecooking.about.com

Grilled Salmon with Nasturtium Vinaigrette

Time: 15 minutes prep, 10 minutes cooking
Yield: 4 servings

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup shallots, finely minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3/4 cup chopped nasturtium flowers
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
8 (3 ounces each) boneless salmon fillets
2 tablespoons olive oil
Chives for garnish

1. Preheat grill or broiler.

2. Whisk together balsamic vinegar, shallots, olive oil, and dill weed until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in nasturtium flowers and chives.
3. Rub salmon fillets with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill or broil salmon about 3 minutes per side, depending on thickness, but take care not to overcook.
4. For each serving, place 2 salmon fillets on each plate. Whisk the nasturtium vinaigrette briefly to re-combine, then spoon over salmon. Garnish with chopped chives.
-- Recipe from homecooking.about.com


Monday, March 4, 2013

My Favorite Serious Foodie Endorsements

I'm always on the look out for recipes that incorporate many of the vegetables we grow here at Two Crones Farm.  Now SeriousEats.com has delivered a nice selection to choose from with pictures that will entice you to incorporate more Meatless Monday's into your life.

Time for lunch!

Mind you, we're not strictly vegetarian around here but I do try to reduce the amount of meat that we eat on a regular basis.  We stock  pastured beef from True Grass Farm in our freezer, intentionally seeking out local, sustainable producers that we can support with our food dollars.    For poultry we  recommend Happy Hens Farm in Petaluma.  

There is also a great natural food store that we like for our organic bulk grains, nuts, and spices called Harvest House in Concord.  They carry raw milk and a large selection of gluten free items.  The book and supplement selection has a wide selection to choose from.  Flyers announcing classes by Myra Nissen, a local certified classical Homeopath and other health related experts are available.

On the occasions where I have to shop in a grocery market it's a whole day trip experience thing for me.  Berkeley Bowl is my top choice for East Bay day tripping.  The organic produce section alone is as large as most conventional neighborhood markets.  The selection of mushrooms is reason enough to visit.  The Grab-n-Go Café was one of my favorite stops after class at Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition.

 And no foodie I know has missed the opportunity to visit Rainbow Grocery in SF.  Thank goodness my first visit there was with friends that share my obsession with all things food related.  The art murals are really wonderful addition to the shopping experience. 

Anybody ready for a Foodie Road Trip? 
Next up......Farms of Solano County