Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Next summers herb garden

I have my own herb garden for some years now. Lucky as I am with a small city garden, I grow tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, sage and other essentials in my own garden. Imagine a summer barbeque with not only home-marinated meats and fish, but also with lemonade with green limes and freshly cut mint leaves. 
Now, in mid winter, my garden is covered with snow. But I can't keep myself from making plans for next summer!

For sure, I am going to grow my own tomatoes again. I learned by now that I have to be modest. While my cherry tomatoes are sweet and delicious, larger sorts simply don't get enough sun here in Holland. Another thing I want to do again is try and grow more strawberries. Although I only have two strawberry plants, the taste of just one homegrown strawberry definately wins from a whole pack of strawberries from the supermarket.

What I haven't got yet is a laurel plant. Delicious for stews. Last year I grew my own sage plants, I hope they will last through wintertimes. Otherwise, I will grow some new plants.
Nasturtium is a plant I am certainly going to grow again. This summer, I preserved the seeds of this flowering plant in vinager, laurel, garlic and peppercorn. A great alternative for capers!
I can't wait for summer!

Wish list

I love food and stuff. So, logically, my favourite is stuff related to foods. I often spend my  time in thrift shops and are a big fan of the clearing sale in specialised cooking shops. This is my current wish list:

  • Vintage coffee grinder to use for grinding spices (I looked for one in every thrift shop I cross, why can't I find one!)
  • A large pan for soups, for example the Royal VKB soup pan
  • Cake tins in all forms and shapes
  • A Le Creuset cast iron pan
  • Peugeot pepper mill
  • Cooking books from all the great ones (Nigella, Jamie, River Cafe, etc. etc.)
  • Large kitchen stove with a large oven
  • A kitchen aid kitchen machine
  • Vintage tableware in all sorts and sizes, I love it all!
But most of all.... a large kitchen to fit all my kitchen stuff. My current kitchen is only 3 square meters big, which is quite limiting for my cooking aspirations!

Todays diner: pasta with tomato-orange pesto

Citrus fruits are fantastic. Some zests of an orange or lime spice up most dishes and make you forget about winter and cold. Today I ate a very simple pasta with tomato-pesto. I got inspired by a tv-show, but I changed some of the ingredients to suit my taste and kitchen supplies. I spiced the pesto with some orange zests and chilli. Something I never did before was popping garlic. I loved the very soft taste, so different than the sharper taste of garlic.

The recipe:

  • wrap 1 garlic bulb in aluminum foil. Place it in an oven at 180 °C and pop it in about 45 minutes. The garlic becomes soft and gets a subtile, delicious garlic taste. You will only need a few cloves for this recipe.
  • Weld 4 dried tomatoes in very hot water. Leave it for an hour or so.
  • Chop about 1/4 of a large chilli very small.
  • Heat about a teaspoon of fennel seads and crush them.
  • Make some orange zest (use the zest of about 1/4th of an orange) and chop the zests very fine.
  • Mix the dried and welded tomatoes, the chopped chilli, the orange zests and the fennel seeds in a food processor untill it becomes one substance. Add the flesh of 2 popped garlic cloves and put on the food processor once more.
  • Add some extra virgine olive oil and orange juice according to taste. Mix thoroughly.
  • add some grated parmezan cheese according to taste and mix the pesto again.
  • If needed, ad some pepper.

I mixed the pesto with some tagliatelle pasta and served it with spring onions. Very nice on toast or a crostini too!