Eat Plants

 
An Herb That Needs No Introduction: Rosemary
By Chef Bev Shaffer


If you know your way around the kitchen, rosemary needs no introduction. An evergreen shrub native to the Mediterranean, you may already have a “love/hate” relationship with this culinary herb. In my experience, people that dislike (e.g. hate) rosemary have had it in dishes where the cook or chef had a heavy hand and perhaps didn’t chop it well—so it overpowered everything and you felt like you had fallen, mouth first, onto the floor of a pine forest. Not to worry—fragrant and earthy, let’s take it beyond the savory aspect and enjoy its flavor and aroma in one of my favorite uses, a Lemon Rosemary Cake with Fresh Lemon Glaze.

 

Lemon Rosemary Cake with Fresh Lemon Glaze Reprinted with permission from CAKES To Die For!, author Bev Shaffer, (Pelican Publishing Company, 2010)

This cake has such bright flavors, and rosemary helps it cross over from a simply sweet cake to a treat that would go perfectly as a ladies’ luncheon “bread” or with barbecued ribs.

Ingredients: 2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder ¼ teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary 1/3 cup light olive oil 1 cup granulated sugar 2 large eggs ¾ cup buttermilk

Lemon Glaze: ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Heat oven to 325° F. Grease a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, zest, and rosemary. Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the oil and sugar until well blended. With mixer on medium, add the eggs, one at a time, until mixture is a pale yellow. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl.

Alternately, add the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the sugar mixture, stirring just to blend. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 52 to 60 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

For the Glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until mixture is smooth. Spread glaze atop warm cake.

Cool completely on a wire rack. When ready to serve, run a knife around the inside edge of the pan and carefully remove the cake. Serves 8 to 10. Plant some rosemary today—in patio pots or an herb garden—and enjoy this aromatic earthy culinary wonder.

Tasty Idea: Edible Landscaping

By Chef Bev Shaffer


Yes, your gardens can be BOTH pretty and productive, and often times the sunniest spots in our yards are the front yards. So why not mix and mingle some plants into your landscape that are functional/edible? Here are some ideas…

Herbs plants are not only easy to grow and fragrant, but they blend beautifully into your gardens. Grow several types of BASIL, and don’t skip the purple leafed varieties that are particularly decorative. FENNEL will add a touch of whimsy, height and a wispiness that will add movement to the garden.

SAGE is so easy to grow, and its mounding shape make it the perfect front-row ornamental. Add some tricolor sage as well for the pink tinges. An assortment of THYME softens the garden, and many of the low growing varieties like a lemon thyme work well in front of taller basil plants.

   

LAVENDER and NASTURTIUM add sensory delight to the garden. Tuck a clump or two of LEMONGRASS into your edible landscape and grow a touch of the tropics. (Chef’s Note from Bev: Nasturtium flowers add beautiful color a peppery flavor to your greens salads.)

Pot a variety of MINT and CHIVES to intersperse throughout, keeping them from “taking over”. ARUGULA and KALE make a stunning border in mixed planters. Keep the greens evenly moist and sow seeds a week or so apart so you have a succession of fresh greens.

Train some POLE BEANS up a decorative trellis, tower or tepee-shaped structure – they make beautiful vertical accents. And don’t skip the BUSH BEANS, to add dimension and for ease of planting/picking.

Put on those boots and dig in to the hottest gardening trend. You’ll soon become a Foodscape aficionado.

 
 
 
A Great Time to Use Those Windowsill Herbs
By Chef Bev Shaffer


While you’re waiting for that all out blitz of outdoor planting, let’s celebrate those windowsill herbs that provided some much needed greenery during the drab winter months.

(I know, I know—one or two 50°F days and you’re ready to go—but Mother Nature will surely remind us with some “you shouldn’t have planted those yet” frost before end-of-May that she is in charge!)

Add that sprig of greenery and familiar foods take on new character. Fresh herbs contribute pleasing aromas and flavors—from subtle to pungent—and using them creatively is one of the keys to good cooking. Pinch a few sprigs and rinse herbs under cold running water, then shake off excess moisture and pat lightly with a paper towel or clean dishtowel before using.  

 

 How about this?

Fresh Herb Mayonnaise

To 1 cup of your favorite mayonnaise, add 2 teaspoons lemon juice and about 1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped fresh herbs. Mix well, then cover and refrigerate at least until next day or for up to 1 month. That turkey sandwich or your favorite mayo based potato salad will never be the same!

Need a dab of herbed butter for your broiled fish, baked potato or grilled steak? Easy.

Whipped Herb Butter

In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup room temperature butter, salted or unsalted, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and about 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh herbs with a hand held mixer, stopping and scraping the bowl and beaters often, until well blended. Add a twist of freshly ground pepper, too.

There now. Go back to shopping at Uncle John’s Plant Farm store and greenhouse for tools, garden gloves, potting supplies and seed packets. Plan your garden. Soon—very soon!

  

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