Pear Honey

Aunt Lona brought over more pears from her tree and I didn’t get to them right away.

I had a friend tell me about how their grandma made a pear honey.

So I cut them and was ready to make a cake but today turned into tomorrow and tomorrow into next week and so they looked like this..

Pear honey is long cooked pear slice but is a bit different than apple butter that is more like an apple sauce that is cooked down. Some pear honey’s are very clear like honey and they say you can’t tell the difference. You can use it in baking, or salad dressings, and any other way you can use honey. I think you would need to peel the pears if you were going to do that. I may do an update on this with more pears I got.

It is absolutely heaven on yogurt. It just sweetens it much better than regular honey in my opinion and an intense pear flavor.

The recipe is from my German Cooking Group so I put the recipe there.

Go here to make Pear Honey

Warm Butternut Squash Salad

This is a absolute natural combination. Butternut squash and apple cider vinaigrette. I think many folks are looking for other ways to use this squash other than to bake or roast it as a side or to soup it.

Winter lettuce bolting

Winter lettuce, or Mesclun varieties are still hanging in there in the garden even with near freezing temps. Not a hard freeze but very chilling.

Winter Lettuce

Serves 4
Ingredients:
about 1 and 1/2 lbs Butternut squash cut in 3/4 inch cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons olive oil
Season salt and Pepper

Winter Greens, Romaine, Endive, Spinach, Chard, hearty varieties
1/2 onion diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup apple cider
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Garnish:
4- 6 minute boiled eggs
2 peeled and diced apples or pears
12 walnuts or pecans (toasted or candied)
1 cup canned or cooked black beans
shaved Parmesan cheese

ingredients for squash

Heat the oven to 400 degrees
Bring the water to a boil for eggs
Put the Butternut cubes in a large bowl add olive oil, vanilla, seasoning salt and pepper and toss.

Ready to Roast

Spread the cubes on a sheet pan, line with foil, parchment or silpat for easier clean up. Roast for 15 -20 minutes till just tender. Meanwhile boil the eggs then place in cold water.

Roasted Squash
Winter lettuce, Romaine, curly endive and red leaf romaine, Pak Choi

Here are some of my winter lettuce varieties, Romaine, Red Romaine, Curly Endive, Pak Choi that I will use in this warm salad. Rinse and dry and place in a large stainless bowl

For the dressing, saute the onion in the olive oil till tender, add the apple cider, apple cider vinegar and mustard, bring to a simmer and reduce by half. Reserve to a jar or cup that you can pour from.

Warm cider vinaigrette

Pour the warm dressing onto the greens a little at a time till just coated. Not too much and not too little.

Finished Salad

Add the warm squash, beans, pears and boiled egg, and the shaved Parmesan cheese. Enjoy the wonderful flavors!

Curly Play on a Classic Salad Frisée

I wanted for some time now to do a classic salad that you get at French Bistro’s in Lyon, France. It is a salad with curly curly leaves, a bit bitter but contrasted with lardons (thick strips of bacon) and topped with a poached egg. I grew up with a German style Hot bacon salad but I thought the French Flair that this salad had was something I wanted to try.

At the farm we grew this year some Mesclun salad varieties and one of them is curly endive. I was wondering what is the difference between curly endive and what the French call “frisee” ? Is what we grew frisee?

Salad Frisee



It turns out that Frisée is a different variety although in the same family. Frisée is lighter in color with yellow parts, and perhaps a bit more tender than our home grown curly endive.

We didn’t find any lack of flavor or tenderness using the curly endive from the garden.

So on with the recipe. This simple Curly Play uses onion instead of shallots but by all means use shallots if you want. and I use regular thick smoked bacon where in France it is usually not smoked.

Serves 2 large or 4 medium salads
Ingredients:
1 head of curly endive
1 onion finely diced
4 slices of bacon cut in strips
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-4 eggs (make sure you have a few extra on hand in case of a blowout)

Cut curly endive

Take the endive off of the head and cut it into large bite size pieces

Curly Endive in lettuce Spinner

Wash really well and allow to dry on paper towels or spin in a salad spinner. At this point in time you should get a pot of water going for the poached egg.

Saute Onions

Saute the onions in the olive oil until they are soft and translucent but don’t brown them.

bacon, onions for the Frisee salad

In following the French Chef on the video below you don’t want crisp bacon but just cooked and slightly rendered. This texture I found really nice with the salad and the little bit of bacon fat nicely coated the greens.

Add red wine vinegar to the bacon and onions

Add the vinegar to the dressing, I like to use 1/2 cup. This deglazes the pan and rounds out the flavor profile of this simple dressing, the sweetness of the onions and bacon, the nice texture of the bacon and bacon fat and the tart flavor of the wine vinegar. Now you can add a little salt and pepper if you like.

Poaching Egg for Frisee Salad

The French Chef recommended that you add a bit of white vinegar to the boiling water and crack your egg into a small bowl before adding it to the water. You want the egg white to completely enclose the yolk in water. He claims this helps to do that. At least if you find a shell in their you can take it out instead of going right out of the shell into water can be risky.
Anyway I cook the eggs ahead of time and keep them on a plate.

Salad tossed with bacon dresing

With the dressing warm but the pan off, Toss the endive with the warm dressing till it is well coated, but not wilted.

Eggs on the salad

Plate the greens then place the eggs back in the poaching water for 15 seconds just to reheat.

Finished Salad

Close up of the Curly Play on a Salad Frisee

Here is the video of the French Chef making Salad Frisee like what you would find in a French Bistro.

Warm Mesclun Salad Benedict

On the Farm we grew some different lettuce varieties that are referred to as Mesclun Mix. They are stronger flavored and heartier texture. They include, Oak leaf, curly endive, romaine, chard, mustard and dandelion even.

Warm mesculin salad Benedict

It is fall and these salad greens are still doing well in the garden. Some have bolted but others are just sitting there waiting to get picked.

Spinach is popular to green up your Benedict, but their are many similar great options. I chose to use my Mesculn greens but you can use any greens that are forward flavor wise with a bit of earthiness and a slight bitter bite. Bitter can be good, like in chocolate or coffee, it has to be balanced.
When it is it is like heaven.

Mesclun means something similar to “a mixture” in French and this blend of young lettuce varieties, originated in Southern Provence region of France where they take their culinary seriously and probably don’t care much for boring iceberg lettuce salad in a bag. So these greens have different textures and a full body flavor including slight bitter.

They often make a simple dressing of diced shallot fried with thick pieces of bacon called lardons and finished with red wine vinegar and toss their mesculn greens with it. Since I was using Canadian bacon on the Benedict I opted not to use bacon in this dressing and I didn’t have any shallots so I used onion.

Bowl of mesculin greens

Here I assembled from my garden my blend of Mesculn lettuce.

I have beet leaves, chard and radicchio, curly endive, baby red and oak leaf lettuce, but you can use anything you get your hands on, even collard or , kale, ….you don’t want to waste those beet tops. This is just a way to take strong flavored and textured green and add a dressing that balances and smooths out the flavor.

Gather your ingredients for the dressing and mix it up . I like to use a glass measuring cup. I can add 1 part vinegar. 1 part water and 1 part sugar depending on how much I am making.

Ingredients:
1 onion finely diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
1/4 cup cider vinegar) or rice, sherry, champagne whatever)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 -1/2 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you like it. ( we use truvia)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed in with the wet ingredients

Frying onions

Saute the onions in a pan with the smoked paprika or you can use black pepper ……..

Till the onions are translucent.

Add the liquid ingredients and simmer for 10 min or so until it is slightly thickened.

Add a few table spoons dressing to a handful of the mesculin greens for one serving.

Toss until well coated and serve on the muffin over the Canadian bacon. Then top with the egg and Hollandaise and your good to go!

My Mesculn Garden lettuce

Here on the farm we grew many kinds of lettuce.
Mesculin mix is a term used in Southern France varieties that have a bold flavor, like Arugula, Radichio, different mustard greens, Spinach and other leafy greens. These of course wouldn’t be great for a lettuce wrap, but you can include them in the filling of a milder lettuce to add flavor and texture.

Mesculin Salad Mix
Red and green Oak Leaf lettuce, red and green Romaine, Curly Endive Baby Red
Mustard Greens
Radicchio
Chard and beet greens
Curly Endive

From Wikipedia:

The term mesclun for a mixture of young salad greens is quite recent, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary first used in 1976.[1] Of Provençal dialect origin, it derives from the verb mesclar, to “mix thoroughly” and literally means “mixture”.[2] According to local lore, mesclun originated with the farmers around Nice, who would each bring their own unique and prized mix of baby greens to the farmers’ markets. One of the most representative and authentic versions combined baby dandelion, lettuce and rocket (arugula).[3]

Noted chef Alice Waters comments, “Outdoor markets in Provence display mesclun in profusion, a melange of the first tender young leaves which appear in the garden. Mesclun can be an extraordinary lettuce mixture: rocket, much like the rugola (arugula) found in Italian markets, chervil, mâche or lamb’s lettuce and oak leaf. On occasion, baby curly endive (chicory) or young dandelion greens find their way into the medley, depending solely upon the grower’s personal preferences combined with the reality of whatever else might send up shoots in the spot where mesclun grows.”[4]

These are some of the varieties of Mesculin mix we grew.
Oak Leaf green and Oak Leaf red lettuce. Red leaf and curly endive.

According to Wikipedia

Braised Red Russian Kale with Tomatoes, Onions and Wine

Braised Red Russian Kale with tomatoes, onions and wine with salmon and mashed potatoes.

Red Russian Kale

About Red Russian Kale

Most folks are most familiar with the green curly kale, that is tough and quite bitter. The baby kale is of course much more tender and sweeter in flavor. The Red Kale is a variety developed from a Siberian kale plant that was cross pollinated by Russians to survive very cold winters. A large group of Russians immigrated to the U.S. in the later 1800’s and brought their seed, So thanks to them I get to enjoy this wonderful kale I love.

Red Russian Kale

I have read that a fellow from my home state of Oregon named Tim Peters in the 1980’s Frustrated with the boring bitter green curly kale used only for garnish at the time, crossed it with a Chinese cabbage, and black mustard plant and got this beautiful reddish purple kale plane and called it Red Russian Kale. Thank you Tim Peters!


Great Links to the history of Kale
Who Made that Kale (about Red Russian Kale)

Ingredients:
8 cups Red Russian Kale
1 large onion 1/2 inch diced
4 cloves fresh garlic (about 1 tablespoon chopped garlic)
2-3 cups fresh diced tomatoes (may substitute 1 and 1/2 lb (28 oz) can of diced or whole tomatoes
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 cup white wine ( your choice)

1 tablespoon Olive oil
Fresh Basil, or Oregano
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (optional)

Directions:


1. Harvest the Kale or buy 2 bunches

Removing Kale Stems

Remove the stem of the kale with a scissors. Sometimes I snipe some in between the leaves it if looks like tough.

Cut Red Russian Kale

Cut the Red Russian Kale into small pieces. This makes it a nice bite with texture. If you leave whole leaves you can be chewing on the same leaf for a few minutes.

Saute onions and spices

Heat the pan to medium, place the oil in a large saute pan and add the garlic, oregano, pepper and paprika and saute for 30 seconds to open the flavors. Add the onions and cook until they are tender.

Add Kale and Tomatoes

Add the Red Russian Kale and tomatoes, saute for 1 minute to mix the oil and sear the kale a bit. Then add the chicken stock and wine.

Simmered Kale with Stock and Wine

Simmer till nice and tender, this will take 15 to 30 minutes depending on how tender you want it. Here I add the salt and pepper.

Perfect side dish with mashed potatoes

This side works great with just about any dish you want to make. I especially like it with mashed potatoes.Edit This Post

Street Corn at Sunset

Street Corn on the BBQ at Sunset
BBQ in the back yard at Twisting Roots Farm

Ingredients:
4 ears of corn, cut in sections to make cobbetts
1 cup mayonnaise
Taco Seasoning , (your favorite)
1/2 -3/4 cup parmesan cheese
6 inch foil squares, 1 for each cobbett

Directions;
1. Place cobbett on foil square.
2. Coat each cobbett with mayonnaise.
3. Sprinkle each cobbett with parmesan cheese, and taco seasoning and wrap it up.
The best way to cook this corn on the BBQ is on indirect heat. It will take about 20 minutes on medium heat with the BBQ covered. Then you can put the foil pouches on direct heat for a few minutes turning frequently to char some of the kernels. I sometimes will open it up and grill the corn directly so I can control the char a bit better.

Serve immediately or keep the corn warm in the foil till dinner is ready.

Here is another recipe posted by Crystal Eastman, She will even use frozen kernel corn and do it in the oven if it is winter time.

Rainier Cherry Chocolate Kuchen

Ingredients;

So what is a Kuchen (means cake in German) and why is it special? Well first of all my grandma made it for the family so it is nostalgic. But it is quite different than the super tender, sweet cakes that you find in most local bakeries and packaged on the grocery shelf. This has a bit more texture to it and not as sweet. Generally there is a custard topping that soaks in and makes it absolutely luscious on the 2nd and 3rd day.

You can read more about the history of kuchen and the apple and plum kuchen that my grandma use to make here.

The Cherries

1 lb Rainier Cherries, or other sweet cherries
Brandy or Kirschwasser or rum (cherry if possible)
  

Kuchen dough

Dry Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4-1/2 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder  

or

2 cups Bisquick or Baking Mix
plus 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup baking powder

Wet Ingredients:

2 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 stick or 4 tablespoons butter softened or melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

The Filling and Frosting;

1 pint whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar
1 good quality chocolate bar

Directions;

First, I pit my cherries and I like to soak them in a good brandy, schnapps or rum overnight or for a few hours.

You can pit the cherries by pushing a straw through the stem end

or you can pound a nail in a board of wood that has a bit of a head on it and then you can use both hands to push the cherry pit out.

Make the Dough;

Put all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and blend.

Mix the wet ingredients in another bowl.

Mixing dry and wet ingredients

Blend the wet into the dry with a hand held mixer or beat in by hand till you have a smooth dough.

Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish and press the dough into the dish. You don’t want too much dough, it should be just about ½ inch, otherwise the dessert will have too much crust to fruit ratio. It’s all about balance.

Next, I place the cherries in rows in the dough every ½ inch.

Bake the kuchen at 350 degrees for 20 -30 minutes until it is set. Use the toothpick method. Let it cool for 10 minutes or so then with a teaspoon ladle the brandy left over brandy, rum or schnapps on the cake.

Assemble the Kuchen

After it cools whip the cream with 1 teaspoon vanilla and the sugar.
Cut the Kuchen in half so you have two almost squares.

 Place half the cream on one half of the kuchen and place the other half on top. I like to put it in a smaller baking dish but you can also do this on a platter.
Then I like to put whipped cream on the sides like a frosting.

Grate the chocolate or melt the chocolate and pour on top of the cake.

Hackurei Turnips

Hackurei Turnips are a beautiful vegetable to work with. There golf ball size with the texture of a radish and a unique turnip flavor that is mild but with a little snappiness and depth to it.
They beg for light braising but also great raw. The greens are good steamed or stir fried. They are not tender like a bok choy leaf but have a very nice flavor.

This was my first ever crop of Hackurei at Twisting Roots They were relatively easy to grow and though there were a few blemishes and tiny worm bites they were easily trimmed to look nice.

No need to peel them but are nice halved or quartered and browned in a skillet or the bbq.

Braised Hackurei Turnips with Balsamic Glaze

Ingredients:
6-10 Hackurei Turnips
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup Chicken Stock
2 tablespoons Balsamic Glaze
Options;
1 tablespoon Soy sauce or Miso paste
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Directions:

1. Cut the greens from the Hackurei turnips leaving an inch of the stem.
Reserve the greens

2. Quarter or halve the turnips depending on the size. If they are very small use the whole thing.

3. Heat the oil in the skillet, add the turnips, salt and pepper a bit and cook to brown.  

4. Add the chicken stock, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until they just become tender.

5. Remove and keep in a holding pan and cover with foil or place covered in the oven to keep warm.

Add the greens and simmer till tender which can take 10 to 20 minutes. Check for flavor, salt and pepper if needed.

Arrange the greens on a platter then the turnips and spoon some balsamic glaze over them.

Some seasoning options are to flavor the stock with a tablespoon of soy sauce or miso paste, and add a teaspoon or 2 of sesame oil when you are browning the turnips.

MicroGreen Garden Cups

This was a really fun experiment and something that I want to sell at Farmers Markets. You can really get creative with these.

I used a technique from a microgreen grower in Australia named Pepe.
I will embed the youtube below.

Microgreen Radish Garden Broccoli Garden
Broccoli Microgarden, Radish Microgarden
Planted Dec 21, 2018

I washed the containers in a very light bleach solution first as you want to avoid any possibility of a fungus invading your grow.

Then filled up the containers to the top with a mix of potting soil and coconut coir, but you can just use potting soil also. Also putting holes in the bottom so it could soak up water and get nice and moist. I bottom water micro greens as much as possible. You can knock them down with too hard a spray or a stream of water. Then I tamped down the soil so it was nice and flat. What Pepe said in the video is you want to get good contact with the seed and the soil and moisture so you need to get it to the brim so when you put the weight on it pushes the seed into the soil.

I did Red arrow Radish , Arugula, Amaranth and Broccoli.

Tamping down Soil
Tamp down the soil

Then I put another black tray like they are sitting in and put it on top to act as a weight. You can also just put foil on top and then use something like a book to force the seeds into the soil.

Weight off Micros
Day 3, weight off in the morning, then got some growth by the end of the day.

Good Germination I was very happy! I took the weight off in the morning and then covered the trays with another 10 x 20 black tray. This is also called a blackout dome. The idea is the plants will grow taller looking for light. If you don’t the greens are too short to cut. By the end of the day the plants had grown this much.

Day 4, excellent growth.

The radish, and arugula are almost ready to uncover and put under the light.

Day 5, The radish, amaranth and arugula are under the light

Day 5 , Putting the Amaranth, Radish and Arugula under the light.

The 5th day the radish was ready to go under the lights, it was nice and tall. The Arugula was not as tall but still good height. The Amaranth was nice as you can see, and I wish I would have harvested it the next day as it started to die off. Amaranth can be tricky.

This is day 7 and the radish is looking well.


This is after 12 days

The cups sustained well for another week until I had to leave Oregon.
They look very nice as a houseplant as well.

Here is a cool video from Pepe