Wednesday, April 23, 2008
A Kitchen Garden Symposium at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
This weekend April 25th and 26th Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay is hosting a Kitchen Garden Symposium. The speakers are William Alexander, author of The $64 Tomato; Jennifer R. Bartley, author of Designing the New Kitchen Garden; cookbook author Cynthia Finnemore Simonds,(that's me!) with a demo and tasting; and Russ Cohen, an expert on edible native plants and wildflowers. Amanda Beal, president of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) will provide opening remarks. It should be a day filled with humor, education and entertainment.
For me, spring is a time filled with inspiration. Everything is greening. Ideas also blossom when I imagine what to do with the little herbs poking up out of the garden soil. I have a kitchen garden filled with both perennials and annuals and try to alternate what I plant but some herbs are the same every year. Here are three recipes using fresh herbs. They are Delicious!
Cheese in Herbed Oil
This herb oil will strengthen as it sits and cheese will be more infused with the flavors.
2 cups olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 t red pepper flakes or 1 dried chili pepper
6 black peppercorns
6 coriander seeds
2 whole allspice
1 lb feta or other fresh soft cheese, chopped into bite size pieces
Put all ingredients in wide mouth jar with a lid. Keep refrigerated for 1-2 months. Delicious in salads or as an appetizer.
Kitchen Garden Herbed Cheese Spread
This creamy spread is wonderful on bagels, crusty bread, or on top of a warm piece of grilled steak. Herbed cheese is especially good when you pick the herbs fresh from your garden or from your local farm stand. One of the freshest cheeses we have here in Maine comes from the delectable chevre producers. Using this in combination with Neufchatel cheese produces a delicious lower fat spread- you’ll never miss those calories!
8 oz Neufchatel cheese or regular cream cheese
8 oz plain chevre- I love Appleton Creamery
1T chopped fresh rosemary
1⁄4 c fresh minced parsley
1⁄4 c fresh minced chives
1⁄2 t garlic powder or 1 clove fresh garlic minced
1⁄2 t white pepper
1⁄2 t salt
Blend all together until smooth. Chill. This is better the day after it’s made so the flavors can dance around a bit. If you have an herb garden and want to add oregano, thyme, marjoram, or sage, supplement the herbs to your taste.
Pack along a bottle of Winterport Winery’s Spring Fever or Dry Pear wine to whet your whistle.
Summer Herb Dressing
This dressing offers bright flavors that take you out to the garden. Use the freshest herbs you can find.
2 T Raye’s stone ground mustard
3⁄4 c white vinegar
1 shallot- minced
2 cloves garlic- use roasted garlic here if you have it
1 T sugar
1⁄2 t salt
1⁄2 t fresh ground black pepper
1⁄4 c chopped fresh basil
2 T chopped fresh sage
2 T chopped fresh thyme
3 T chopped fresh parsley
1 1⁄2 c olive oil
Whisk all of the ingredients but the oil together. Slowly drizzle the oil into the dressing, whisking constantly.
Serve chilled with your choice of greens.
Savor. Linger. Enjoy!
Cynthia Finnemore Simonds