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Posts Tagged ‘fall’

"Leek Prizetaker"

Love this photograph by Charles Jones.

I know I’m doing something wrong. For two years now I’ve tried – operative word – to grow leeks. Both times, they’ve started off looking good, yet ended up rotting in the ground by mid-July.

Too much water, unsuitable soil, planted too deep or not deep enough? Some quick research suggests I should plant them deeper and build up the earth around the leeks as they grow. I’ll have to try again next year. Hopefully I’ll get lucky the third time around.

I won’t let my leek gardening failure prevent me from buying leeks and cooking with them though. Recently eaten at my table:

Leek, sweet potato and barley soup

Leek, sweet potato and barley soup.

Papet vaudois

Papet vaudois, a typical hearty Swiss dish.

Papet vaudois is leek, potato and saucisson vaudois, a special sausage originally made in the French-speaking canton Vaud. The leek and potato are really just a vehicle for the sausage! I’ve found a high-quality and authentic version at Au Saucisson Vaudois, an artisanal charcuterie in Saint-Brigide, Quebec.

Leek and goat cheese quiche

Leek and goat cheese quiche.

Recipe: Leek and Goat Cheese Quiche

This is one of my favourites! The recipe is adapted from “Mosimann’s Vegetarishe Küche,” a vegetarian cookbook by Swiss chef Anton Mosimann. Makes one 9-inch quiche (with some pastry dough left over).

1 recipe pastry dough
1 leek, halved lengthwise, sliced (white and green parts) into 1/2″ pieces and washed
1-2 tbsp olive oil
125 g ripened goat cheese (I used Le cendrillon, the not ash-covered one)
2 eggs
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp chopped thyme
salt, pepper, cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Prepare pastry dough. (Since pastry dough recipes usually call for a ½ cup of butter, so I keep pre-measured pieces in the freezer. I make the dough without a food processor and grate the frozen butter into the flour, a trick I picked up from one of Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s HomeBaking cookbook). Roll out dough, line a 9-inch pan (I use one with a removable bottom) and blind bake the crust. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Saute prepared leek in olive oil for 10 minutes or until just tender. Let cool.

Combine eggs, cream, sour cream and seasonings. Crumble goat cheese into the egg mixture.

Distribute the leek over the bottom of the pre-baked crust. Pour egg and goat cheese mixture over the leek.

Bake 30-40 minutes until filling is firm and golden. Allow filling to settle before serving. Serve warm.

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NasturtiumMid-October and half of the beds in my garden are still occupied with Swiss card, kale, salsify, carrots, beets and fall lettuces. I’ve put off harvesting them, because I haven’t had time to process them and don’t have the appropriate indoor cool storage space. I figure they’re better “stored” in the ground for the time being.

I’m not worried. These are the hardier vegetables, resistant to lower temperatures. Some, like kale and carrots, I’ve read will get sweeter and/or more tender as they are exposed to the cool temperatures (and even frost).

As fall progresses, fresh vegetables from the garden become a bigger treat.

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Giants

Giant tomatoGiant carrots
So far, this tomato and this carrot are the winners in the size category of this gardening season! The largest carrot weighed almost 500g, but there are still more in the ground…

Unfortunately I don’t think the tomato (Brandywine variety) will ripen, but the carrot was crisp and sweet. I’m looking forward to pursuing the harvest.

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Purple polka-dot (grape-walnut) muffinsRecently a friend asked what she should do with the grapes she bought at the market. Those small, juicy, sweet-tart ones—Concord or Coronation—that have somewhat thick skins, but no seeds. After trying one, her little girl decided she wasn’t too keen on them. I suggested muffins, knowing that they’re quick and easy to prepare, but didn’t have a recipe to share. A couple of days later, I also bought some of those grapes. It was the perfect opportunity to do some experimentation.

I was visually inspired by pictures I’d seen of Italian bread with grapes (schiacciata con uve). But I wanted muffins with more than just grapes though. The result: a moist, flavourful, fun and a little decadent muffin made with grapes, walnuts, apple and chocolate. Once baked, the grapes have a delightful sweetness and the skins are tender.

Although it’s still summer, this muffin recipe makes me think of fall.

Recipe: Purple Polka-Dot Muffins (aka Grape-Walnut Muffins)

Wet:
1 egg
¼ cup milk
½ cup yoghurt
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ an apple, coarsely grated (approx. ½- 2/3 cup)

Dry:
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ cup ground walnuts
½ cup chopped walnuts
50 g dark chocolate, finely grated
pinch salt

Other:
Approx. 1 cup Concord/Coronation grapes, washed, dried and removed from their stems

Purple polka-dot (grape-walnut) muffins before baking.

Purple polka-dot (grape-walnut) muffins prior to baking, just push the grapes lightly into the batter.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line/grease 10-12 muffin cups.

In a bowl, combine all wet ingredients. Combine all dry ingredients in a second bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry, and blend until flour mixture is just moistened.

Fill muffin cups. Press 8-10 grapes into the top of each muffin. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

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