If one has space to grow pumpkins (I dug up some of the front lawn to plant mine), gorgeous, fresh, yellow flowers are a great perk this time of the year. Fried simply they are spectacular on the plate and the crispness of the batter and tasty flower make them the best starter for any meal.
Fried Pumpkin Flowers
Luke warm water
salt to taste
Use a whisk to mix the salt and flour well. Add small amounts of water and keep whisking until a batter forms that is the consistency of cream. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, the oil should be about 3 cm deep and very hot. Dip each flower in the batter, top and bottom, shake off excess batter and slip the flower into the oil. When crisp and slightly coloured remove an drain on kitchen paper. Do not overcrowd the pan. When done arrange all the flowers on a serving platter, serve hot.
ENJOY with a glass of home made wine!
The joys of fresh organic produce straight out of the garden. The less complicated a dish is, the more chance there is of it being superb. I go so far that before looking at a new dish, I count the ingredients and if the list is too long, it does not even warrant my time to read any further. Carciofi bolliti is the ultimate of simplicity, and in our house probably the favorite way to eat these wonderful flowers. Boil the already cleaned and prepared carciofi in water until the leaves are easy to pull off with a gentle tug. Drain and serve with a bowl of very good extra virgin olive oil, salted to taste (about a teaspoon of salt per 1/2 cup of oil) Pull the leaves off one by one and dip in the olive oil salt mixture and rip the flesh off with your front teeth – discard the hard part. Of coarse the younger the flower and the closer you get to the heart, the more and more of the leave you can eat. When all the leaves are gone and the heart is exposed, make sure the choke is not stringy, and if so, remove and discard before eating the heart – soft and creamy.
Enjoy!!! Do not forget a piece of home made bread to mop up all the olive oil and wash it down with good home made wine.
Breakfast cannot be more enjoyable than with fresh home grown free range eggs and organic spinach out of the garden. I am lucky enough to have a combination of quail and chicken eggs for breakfast.
Wash two large bunches of spinach (beetroot or radish tops work equally well). Do not add water, the water clinging to the leaves from the washing will be enough. After a while press as much water out of the spinach as you can and put aside. Add one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and one tablespoon of butter to a pan. Also add three large cloves of garlic and one small chili finely chopped, simmer for about two minutes on low heat. Add the spinach to the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Now break in as many eggs as required and cook until eggs are done to your liking. You can cover the pan for a while when cooking if you want the eggs hard. Sprinkle with grated parmigiano, black pepper, add a dash of olive oil and serve with home made bread.
Having purchased a pumpkin at a Farmers Market about a year ago and liking it, I decided to save some seeds. This year I planted a lemon tree and remembering the pumpkin seeds decided to put down two seeds at the base of the tree. Within days the pumpkin vines were taking over the front garden flowering profusely and we waited expectantly. Soon the pumpkin harvest came in and twenty kilograms later, cooked in ten different ways, we were not so keen on pumpkin any more. Now the pumpkin is threatening by growing another seven pumpkins, all increasing in size by the minute. Another 20 kilos of food is on the charts. All neighbors and family members shied away when offered yet another pumpkin so Mrs BYF decided to avoid a third batch of 20 kilograms by picking and cooking the flowers.
Fiori di Zucca Fritti (Fried Pumpkin Flowers)
2 large pumpkin flowers
300 g home made ricotta or other soft cheese
1 handful of herbs (consisting of every herb in the garden)
salt and pepper to taste
1 large egg
100 g bread crumbs
deep oil for frying
Breadcrumbs, flour and egg wash for frying
Chop the herbs finely and mix well with the cheese, using a fork. Add the egg, salt and pepper. Add crumbs until the mixture can be shaped to fit the center of the flower. Press the petals of the flower over the cheese mixture until the cheese is covered completely by the petals. Dip the stuffed flower in the flour, then in the egg, then in the breadcrumbs. Fry in deep oil until golden and crunchy. Serve warm.
PS – At the last count I had enough pumpkins seeds to produce 60 kilograms odf pumpkin for the next 113 years
Lately I have had this constant craving for eggplant, probably as I have not been able to grow it in Dunedin (yet). So I have to believe the merchant selling it to me that it is organic and fresh, but fortunately the rest of the ingredients for this dish has been home produced. I am surprised by the amount of tomatoes coming from the Dunedin garden – mostly the result of love and tender care to the plants on the front veranda by Mrs BYF. The milk to make the Mozzarella is not from Bufala, but from our very good Jersey dairy in Port Chalmers. Basil was in abundance this year from my miniature hothouse in the back yard.
Cut the eggplant in rounds, ad salt and leave for half an hour. Rinse off the salt and dry properly. Dust with flour and fry in a pan of hot oil until soft. Now assemble in a buttered oven baking dish, the eggplant, then mozzarella and finish with a slice of very ripe tomato and a slither of garlic. Add salt and pepper. Drizzle with good extra virgin olive oil an bake in the oven at 200 C for 15 minutes. Finish with a decorative basil leave and some more olive oil and serve hot.
ENJOY with a glass of good home made red wine !!
We have tried many recipes, see http://www.backyardfarmer.co.nz, mainly because we have a LOT of cardoon, but also, because we do not admit defeat easily. Wasting any garden harvest is a serious offense in this household. Mrs BYF has been on a mission to find a foolproof recipe that we can both enjoy on a regular basis instead of a one off and finally, partly due to the influence of the great Marcella Hazan and her own invention, she has arrived at the recipe below :
Cardi alla Besciamella (white sauce) with Home Made Mascarpone (We buy fresh unpasteurised milk and make our own. Tatua makes a very good mascarpone and sells in all the supermarkets, but it is very pricey.)
6 or more cardoon stems. The largest ones on the plant work best. I take care not to over harvest so the plant can keep growing.
1 liter of home made chicken stock
500 ml Besciamella (white sauce, use any recipe you like)
2 small brown onions
5 strips or more of un smoked bacon (no prosciutto to be had – pre packaged rip offs do not count )
Home made mascarpone to dollop over the besciamella. (Marcella recommends grated Parmigiano but hey, in Dunedin it is cheaper to use gold dust)
Pre heat the oven to 200C
Prepare a bowl of lemon water to hold all the cardoon pieces. Using a potato peeler, strip the strings from the cardoon stems, and cut the stems in bite size pieces. Drop the pieces into the bowl of lemon water. When all have been prepared, drain the lemon water and put the cardoon in a pan, cover with water, stir in about 1 tablespoon of salt. Boil the cardoon until soft, about 40 minutes. Drain the water and set the cardoon aside. Fry the onion and bacon in a few tablespoons of olive oil until the onion is soft but not coloured. Add the cardoon and fry for about 3 minutes, then add stock, covering the cardoon. Simmer until the stock has eveporated and the pan is almost dry. Arrange the pieces in a baking pan, convex side up, and cover with besciamella. Dot generously with tablespoons of mascarpone or grated parmigiano (or both!) and bake at 200C until bubbling and golden brown on top. Serve with fresh bread as a main meal or as a side to a meat dish.
See recipe for basic fresh pasta – https://backyardfarmer.co.nz/2015/05/05/pappardelle-al-ragu-di-quaglia-egg-pasta-with-quail-sauce
For the Pumpkin Filling
Use a small 1.5 Kg pumpkin, sliced in half, remove seeds, place the halves face side down and bake at 200 C until soft. Dry the seeds for next year’s planting and feed the peels to the rabbits. Scoop the flesh out of the peel. Mash the soft pumpkin and mix with two beaten eggs, 100 g grated parmigiano cheese, 100 g dried breadcrumbs, 5 crumbled amaretti biscuits, salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg to taste.
Roll out the pasta until it passes through the number 6 setting on the pasta machine and cut circles as large as you prefer. Place some pumpkin filling on the center of a circle, brush the edges with egg and cap with another circle. Press the edges down using a fork to prevent them from leaking while cooking.
Boil enough salted water to cook the ravioli until they raise to the top and float (al dente), which should take only a few minutes. In the mean time heat 100 g butter in a large pan with a handful large of sage leaves. The butter should just begin to burn and should be brown but not black when you dump the well drained cooked ravioli in the pan. Toss and cook for another minute. Serve immediately topped with the burnt butter sauce and crisp sage leaves and generous helpings of grated parmigiano. Do not forget the wine.
The off cut pieces are being used for maltagliata pasta, for another day, which goes very well with any ragu.