Friday, August 31, 2012

Hatch Chile Verde

It's that time of the year again!  Hatch Chilies are here!  Here in the Pacific Northwest, we get Hatch Chilies shipped in.  Our local Whole Foods Market sells them for $1.99 per pound.  For $39.99, you can get a case (25 lbs) with free roasting.  I bought a couple of pounds of Hatch Chilies one day and had my dad roast them on the grill outside while he was cooking a few other things.  The tomatillos for this recipe came from my garden.  I love tomatillo sauce!!  

My first recipe with the chilies for this season was a Hatch Chili Verde.  I've made chili verde before but never with Hatch chilies.  I used a few different recipes to come up with this one (sorry, I forgot to write down which ones).  Feel free to substitute different chilies.  Recipes I saw used a combination of Anaheim, Poblano, Jalapenos and Hatches.  I went with just the Hatch chilies but in different heat combinations.    

This recipe will knock your socks off!  It really is THAT good.  It may take a while to make but it is sure worth the wait.  You can also do the tomatillo sauce and roast the chilies one night and cook the chili the second night if you like.  I threw everything in a slow cooker overnight and the pork was nice and fall apart delicious!  If you're going through the trouble to make this, consider making a double recipe and freezing the other half for a cold winter night.  You'll thank me later!

Hatch Chili Verde
Serves: 6-8

2 lb. fresh tomatillos
6 garlic cloves, not peeled (keep in skins)
6-8 Hatch chilies (I used about 2 hot and 4 mild chilies), roasted with skins removed and seeds removed (see below)
1 bunch cilantro leaves, cleaned (use half for the sauce and half for garnish)
4-5 lbs. pork shoulder or pork butt, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-2 inch cubes
freshly ground black pepper
flour for dredging
canola oil
2 sweet onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 Tbsp. dried oregano (or 2 Tbsp. fresh)
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
2 bay leaves
2 c. chicken stock (homemade is preferred)
lime, cut in wedges (for garnish)

1) Roast the fresh chilies on the grill, over a gas flame or under the broiler until they are blackened all around.  Place in a ziploc bag or a bowl with a saran wrap cover.  Allow the chilies to steam for about 15 minutes.  If you are using spicy chilies, use disposable gloves.  Remove chili skins, stem and seeds.   Set the chilies aside.

2) Preheat your oven broiler.  Remove the papery husks from the tomatillos and rinse with warm water to remove the sticky film.  Cut each tomatillo in half and place on a foil-lined cookie sheet (cut side down and skin side up).  Place your whole cloves of garlic (still in the wrapper) on the cookie sheet too.  Place under the broiler for abut 6-8 minutes until the tomatillo skins blacken.  Rotate and move the cookie sheet to char them evenly.  Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool enough to handle.

3) Place the tomatillos (skins and juice included) in a blender.  Remove the roasted garlic cloves from their skins and add them to the blender.  Add the Hatch chiles and about half of a bunch of cilantro leaves to the blender. Pulse the sauce until all the ingredients are chopped fine.  Set the tomatillo sauce aside.

4) Trim the excess fat from your pork and cut into 1-2 inch sized cubes (use 1 inch for cooking over the stove and larger cubes for slow cooker method; I cut into 1 and 1/2 inch cubes).  Season the pork generously with salt and pepper.  Place flour in a ziploc bag and add the pork cubes.  If you will be cooking the chili over the stove, use a pot in the next step to cook the pork (less clean up).  If you're slow cooking the chili, use a skillet.

5) Heat the canola oil in a large pot or skillet over medium high heat.  Brown the pork cubes well on all sides.  Work in batches so that the pork does not crowd the pan.  Remove the cooked pork to a bowl or plate and set aside.

6) Pour off excess fat and wipe flour from the bottom of your pot/skillet.  Add about a tablespoon of oil and saute the onions and garlic.  Add the oregano, cumin and coriander to the onion mixture and stir occasionally until the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes).

7) If you are using the same pot to cook over the stove, add the pork and tomatillo sauce to the pot.  If using a slow cooker,  add the pork, onion mixture and tomatillo sauce to the slow cooker.  Add bay leaves and chicken stock to either your pot or slow cooker.  Season with salt and pepper (Not too much salt as the chili will concentrate during cooking. You can always add more later).

8) If cooking on the stove, bring the chili to a boil then reduce to a slight simmer.  Cook for 2-3 hours uncovered or until the pork is fork tender.  If using a slow cooker, slow cook for 6-8 hours.

Adjust the seasonings when the cooking is done.  Serve with rice or warm flour tortillas.  Offer cilantro and lime wedges as additional garnishes at the table.  Enjoy!    

**Linking up to Robin's Thursday Kitchen Cupboard at The Gardener of Eden**

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


So you have a lot of tomatoes you say?  Me too (finally)!!  

I love making bruschetta with garden grown tomatoes.  It's delicious!  I just add some chopped garlic, basil, olive oil, Hawaiian salt and pepper to mine.  I toast my bread then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and return to the oven to melt.  Top your cheesy toasts with the bruschetta.  Nothing says summer like bruschetta!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Falling for You

Fall is in the air whether we like it or not.  We're had a few days now where the air is starting to get crisper at night and the sun is setting a lot earlier.  There's no denying Mother Nature....fall is right around the corner.  

I maybe a little late getting these into the ground as I was still waiting and trying to free up space in the summer garden.   This weekend was busy for me as I rushed to plant more fall seedlings.  

I planted some of the fall peas.  These plants were ones I had chitted a few weeks ago and planted into starter packs.  Even after chitting the seeds, I did not have very good germination.  I chitted more seeds and sowed them directly into the bed with the starters.  I hope they turn out!  I planted 3 types of peas for fall: snow, snap and shelling peas.  I couldn't decide so I used up all of my seeds so I can buy fresh ones next spring.  

More of my self-sown seedlings went out this weekend.  Here are some Apollo Broccoli (which are more like broccolini and produce abundant long sideshoots) and Castelfranco Radicchio.  

While my spring Swiss chard are still producing, I had already planted more seedlings for fall.  I decided to plant the new seedlings and once they were established, I'll rip out the old plants.  Sorry spring plants, nothing personal.  

This bed contains 4 Gai Lan plants in the back and 2 different types of Chinese cabbage (Winter Elf and Soloist) as well as Baby Bok Choy.  

I also took the opportunity to direct sow more daikon and turnips.  Here's my list:
- DAIKON - Japanese Long Scarlet
- DAIKON - Shirahime Hatsuka
- TURNIP - Harukei
- TURNIP - Tsugaru Scarlet (Japanese Red)

How is your fall garden coming along?  Are you doing your best to outsmart Mother Nature?

**Linking up to Jami's Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage**

Monday, August 27, 2012

Harvest Monday 8/27/12

The warm weather veggies keep coming!  This week I harvested more main season tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.  This was my first Rosa Bianco eggplant.  It's the pretty white and lavender one in the back.  I hope it's as tasty as it looks!

Pictured are Millionaire eggplant, Rosa Bianco eggplant, Jalapeno peppers, one Hungarian Hot Wax pepper, Greek Pepperoncini peppers, Chocolate Cherry tomatoes, Paul Robeson tomatoes, Viva Italia tomatoes, Heinz tomatoes, Amana Orange tomato, Rosso Sicilian tomatoes and Cherokee Purple tomatoes.

More cherry tomatoes!  LOL! 

I harvested more Swiss chard and the last of the green beans.  The lettuce that was planted with the fall broccoli and cauliflower are growing well.  I picked the outer leaves this week.

I finally pulled my lonely kohlrabi.  I didn't have good luck with these this year.  The kale and turnips quickly outgrew them so they became very leggy.  All but one plant were pulled out.  This only plant (planted in spring) never developed a large bulb.  I did pretty it up for weighing and sliced it for raw eating.  It was still tasty.  I'll try kohlrabi again this fall.
More tomatillos were pickled as well as another Millionaire eggplant, some basil and the last of the Pickling cucumbers.

Happy Harvest!!

This week's harvest totals:
  - cherry tomatoes = 4.01 lb
  - Viva Italia = 0.09 lb
  - Paul Robeson = 0.28 lb
  - Heinz = 0.34 lb
  - Amana Orange = 0.4 lb
  - Rosso Sicilian = 0.82 lb
  - Chocolate Cherry = 0.53 lb
  - Amish Paste = 0.63 lb
  - Cherokee Purple = 0.39 lb
Green beans = 0.27 lb
Tomatillos = 3.48 lb
  - Jalapeno = 0.82 lb
  - Greek Pepperoncini = 0.17 lb
  - Sweet Banana = 0.04 lb
  - Shishito = 0.16 lb
Millionaire eggplant = 1.78 lb
Rosa Bianco eggplant = 1 lb
Blackberries = 0.07 lb
Kohlrabi = 0.38 lb
Lettuce = 1.23 lb
Swiss chard = 2 lb
Pickling cucumber = 0.13 lb

Saturday, August 25, 2012

White Bean, Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Even after making the Roasted Garlic Basil Pesto, I still had leftover basil to use up.  I decided to make a yummy basil vinaigrette.  Baby cherry tomatoes are also being harvested like crazy at my house.  I can't complain cause I love them right out of the garden!  The cucumber was also harvested from the garden.

I went to a party at a friend's house.  I decided to make a nice light and refreshing salad to take along.  this is what I came up with.  The salad was a hit and perfect for a nice summer afternoon.  I feel so good that most of the ingredients for this salad came right out of my garden too!!  Double bonus points!

White Bean, Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

1 (15 oz.) can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 large seedless cucumber, peeled and diced
2 pints cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 c. kalamata olives, pits removed
basil vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1/2 - 1 c. crumbled feta cheese

1) Place white beans, cucumber, tomatoes and olives in a large bowl.

2) Add a few tablespoons of the basil vinaigrette.  Toss salad well.  Add more vinaigrette if it appears dry (but do not overdress).  Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld.  Just before serving, add feta cheese (or leave at the table for guests to sprinkle on).  Serve chilled.

Basil Vinaigrette

1/2 shallot, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 c. fresh basil leaves, packed down
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
salt and black pepper
1/2 tsp. sugar

1) In a blender or food processor, pulse the shallot and garlic.  Add the basil leaves, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and sugar.  Pulse until smooth.  Adjust seasoning if needed.

Store the basil vinaigrette in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

**Linking up to Wendy's GTTC at Greenish Thumb**

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Roasted Garlic Basil Pesto

I had a large harvest of basil to use up.  My favorite way to preserve basil is to make a batch of pesto.  This year I tried something new.  I roasted the garlic first.  It made for a more mellow pesto that tastes delicious!  It's perfect for spreading on bread for a sandwich or French bread for an appetizer or tossing with pasta for a quick dinner.   

I froze this recipe into 2 batches.  Since I was freezing it, I omitted the lemon juice and parmesan cheese.  I'll add that after I defrost it and am ready to use it.  Enjoy!

Roasted Garlic Basil Pesto
Yields 1 and 1/4 cups (about 8-10 servings)

1 head of garlic
2 tsp. olive oil (for roasting garlic)
4 c. fresh basil leaves, packed down
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. toasted pine nuts
1/4 - 1/2 c. parmesan cheese
salt and black pepper
juice of 1/2 of a lemon

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2) Cut of the top 1/3 of the garlic head, place on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with 2 tsp. of olive oil.  Wrap foil around the garlic and bake in the oven for about 1 hour.  The garlic should be extremely soft and golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool enough to handle.

3) Once cool, squeeze the garlic out of the paper skin into a blender or food processor.  Add half the basil, half the extra virgin olive oil and half the pine nuts.  Pulse until blended.  Add the other half of the basil, extra virgin olive oil and pine nuts.  Repeat pulsing until the pesto is well blended.

4) Pour the pesto into a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste.  (If you are freezing the pesto, you can do so now.  When ready to use, defrost and add parmesan cheese and lemon juice.)  If using the pesto now, add the parmesan cheese and lemon juice.  Mix well.  Adjust seasoning as needed.

Serve on pasta (reserve about 1 cup of pasta water after cooking the pasta to thin out the sauce and help the pesto stick to the pasta; add a little bit of pasta water at a time to desired consistency) or serve on toasted French bread as an appetizer or use as a sandwich spread.

**Linking up to Robin's Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard at The Gardener of Eden**

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pickle Palooza 2012

25 pounds of cucumbers + fresh dill = love

Last year I used up 25 pounds of cukes in trialing 6 different pickle recipes. Stay tuned to see which ones are pickled this year!

Harvest Monday 8/20/12

Summer is finally doing her thing in Oregon!!  My garden was very bountiful this week!  I'm shocked! I already talked about my neglected Swiss chard.  Fortunately, it appreciated being left alone.  When I finally harvested it, it gave me over 3 pounds worth of veggies.  I used it to make Kalua pig and a yummy side of Swiss chard and froze the rest of the leaves for next time.  I'm not one to waste the Swiss chard stems if I can so I made it into a delicious pickle.  You can see my Swiss chard post here.     

One weird thing I noticed when I was slicing up the leaves was that on the red stemmed Swiss chard, one side was red and the other was orange.  Weird!  This really is the same leaf.  No fooling!

Earlier in the week I also harvested more cherry tomatoes with my first Chocolate Cherry tomato.  This cherry tomato is larger than the others but not as prolific.  We'll see how it passes the taste test.  Exciting news but I harvested the first 2 Green Zebra tomatoes this season.  I love the zingy taste of these!  There was also one Asian Cucumber ready for pickin!

Here are a few Greek Pepperoncini peppers, more cherry tomatoes, a few very small Viva Italia tomatoes from the dying plant and a few Marionberries.

Mid-week I harvested a large basket full of basil.  This went into 2 batches of Roasted Garlic Pesto Sauce and some Basil Vinaigrette.  The recipes will be posted this week.  They were delicious so check back soon!
I picked a few leaves of the fall lettuce to make gyros this week.  I also picked some tomatillos and surprising enough, a few of the main season tomatoes were coming in.  You can't tell but I'm doing a little tomato dance.  Don't look!  

The ribbed tomatoes on the left are Rosso Sicilian, followed by Amana Orange, Cherokee Purple, Amish Paste and Viva Italia. 

This weekend I harvested yet more cherry tomatoes.  Holy cherry tomatoes!!  I brought these over for some friends to share.  There were also a few more Rosso Sicilian tomatoes and Amish Paste tomatoes. I also picked a few Millionaire eggplant on the small side since there were so many fruit on the plant.  Also, I found 3 more ready Asian cucumbers.  These were used for a Tzatziki sauce and sliced veggies.

The peppers are starting to produce too.  Here are Shishito peppers (in the berry basket), Greek Pepperoncini and Jalapenos.  The small red peppers on the bottom of the basket are also Jalapenos.  I'm not sure why they look that way.  Maybe it got cross pollinated by the neighboring Cherry Bomb peppers?  Cute eh?
Happy Harvest!!

This week's harvest totals: 
- Swiss Chard = 3.05 lb
- Tomatoes:
    - Green Zebra = 0.16 lb
    - Cherry tomatoes = 3.82 lb
    - Viva Italia = 0.41 lb
    - Amana Orange = 0.25 lb
    - Rosso Sicilian = 1.18 lb
    - Cherokee Purple = 0.38 lb
    - Amish Paste = 0.28 lb
- Asian cucumber = 3.15 lb
- Peppers:
    - Greek pepperoncini = 0.4 lb
    -  Shishito = 0.12 lb
    - Jalapeno = 0.58 lb
- Marionberries = 0.12 lb
- Basil = 0.42 lb
- Lettuce = 0.17 lb
- Tomatillos = 1.39 lb
- Millionaire eggplant = 1.06 lb

**Linking to Daphne's Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions**

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sign of Things to Come

As I was tending to the garden, I noticed several tomatoes blushing and some near ready.  There were also several other fruit striving to be ready to pick.  I got out my camera and took a break from the gardening to snap a few photos.

This one is an Amana Orange tomato.  It's my first year growing it so I'm excited for this one to ripen so I can have the first taste.  

These Green Zebra tomatoes almost snuck right by me.  I didn't notice that they are really really close to ripening.  You can tell because although they're a green tomato variety, they start to develop beautiful yellow (near chartreuse) colored stripes.  They're one of my favorites to grow cause they're so pretty and usually an earlier variety for me.  

The cherry tomatoes are growing like crazy.  I've been picking them every other day.  I've shared and shared and shared.  I'm also convinced that by the end of summer, I'll have eaten my weight in cherry tomatoes!

This one is still green but I wanted to show it off.  It's a monster and easily larger than my palm.  I'm not sure what variety it is.  It's a volunteer plant.  Still waiting for it to declare itself so I can guess the variety.  So far though, it's not playing along!

Clusters full of Rosso Sicilian tomatoes.  This one is also new for my garden this year.  It's an Italian heirloom tomato with ribbed edges.  It's said to be great for saucing or making paste.  So far it's been very prolific with lots of fruit and flowers.

My 2 Millionaire eggplants have so far performed like a million bucks.  Each plant is very prolific, sending out tons of fruit and flowers.  This one plant has at least 6 or 7 fruit and lots of flowers.  Lucky I *heart* eggplant!

The "Asian" cucumber bought from the nursery is doing extremely well this year.  It has lots of cucumbers and flowers.  I'm still not sure what kind of "Asian" cucumber it is but its been a nice crisp and very tasty variety.   

I've never had good luck growing melons and watermelons.  Our extremely short summers put a damper on growing conditions.  It never stops me from trying though.  So far no fruit on the watermelon plant but eye spy with my little eye.....a tiny melon!  This one is a French Charentais variety.  It's smaller than a tennis ball right now but I'm hoping I'll get one ripe melon before fall. 

I've never grown Delicata Winter Squash before but have been excited about the results.  So far I have about 4 fruit on my vining type and another couple on the bush variety.  I love the sweet flesh of the Delicata when it's roasted.  Mmm...can't wait!

This one is Kelloggs Breakfast.  I loved the taste of these last year.  I'm hoping this year they don't disappoint!

This is the little Cherokee Purple that could.  The plant suffered leaf roll early on and never produced new leaves.  The vine continues to push out flowers though and some of the fruit (although small) are starting to ripen.  I hope they taste good!

Here's my container Marionberry that I just planted this year.  I really didn't expect any fruit at all but here's a cluster of yumminess.  I'm not going to lie.  I'm pretty excited and proud of this little plant!

Here's just a small sample of all the exiting things to come from the summer garden.  What have been your most anticipated fruits or veggies?  For me it's definitely been the tomatoes.  I wait all summer for them and then they all start to ripen at the same time.  I'm hoping they'll be ready soon!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Deal of the Day - Albertson's Star Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I was at Albertson's today and this caught my eye.  Star Extra Virgin Olive Oil 750 ml bottles were buy one get one free.  One bottle cost $11.99 with your Albertson's card.  I thought that was a good deal.  The larger 1L or 1.5 L bottles of EVOO were $15-$18.  I typically use supermarket olive oil when sauteing or frying things.  It has been my go to oil these days for cooking. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Preserving Swiss Chard

The Swiss chard in my garden had gone largely unnoticed in favor of the main warm weather veggies.  When I finally got around to checking in on them, they had gone bonkers.  I had them covered with shade clothe to protect them from leaf miners.  It worked.  The leaves were nice and untunneled.  I harvested about 3 pounds of Swiss chard this week.  YIKES!!  What to do with all that Swiss chard??  I preserved some of it and you'll see 3 ways I used the entire harvest this week.  

My dad is still visiting from Hawaii.  He made a yummy Oven Roasted Kalua Pig one night.  In addition to the traditional spinach, we threw in about a pound of Swiss Chard leaves and some sweet potatoes.

I really liked the texture of the Swiss chard in this.  Because the kalua pork slow roasts in the oven, the frozen spinach becomes mushy.  The Swiss chard, on the other hand, cooks down beautifully but maintains a nice firm texture.  If you're familiar with Hawaiian cooking, it's sorta like lau lau leaves but much tastier!  Two thumbs up and note to self when I make this next time....use Swiss chard!

The rest of the Swiss chard leaves were chopped and blanched in hot water then squeezed dry.  They were placed in Food Saver bags and frozen for another meal (maybe more kalua!). 

Lastly, I hate to waste the beautiful Swiss chard stems so I save them and make Swiss chard stem refrigerator pickles.  You can find the recipe I use here.  I love how pretty they look!

I made some minor changes to the quantities of ingredients in the recipes (based on previous attempts):
1 1/2 c. Swiss chard stems, chopped
1 c. distilled white vinegar
1 and 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 sweet onion, sliced thinly
1 and 1/2 tsp. Sambal Oelek (or to taste)
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. dill seed

Whew!  That Swiss chard gave me a run for my money!

**Linking up to Robin's Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard at The Gardener of Eden**

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Harvesting Onions and Planting Out Leeks

On Monday I ripped out all the Walla Walla onions I had planted last summer.  They had bolted rather early this year due to our wanky weather.  I had waited to rip them out because the bees were enjoying the flowers.   I didn't have the heart to take them away.  Even on Sunday as I was working around the bees, I felt bad.  But I soon got over it....I had work to do.  

I yanked out the onions and some bulbs looked salvageable even though most had bolted.  I decided to dry them and see if I would be able to still use them.  They'll be weighed once I know if they're usable or not.  I got quite a bit of onions.  

After the old stuff was pulled out, the bed was prepped with chicken manure and organic fertilizers.  I planted 2 rows of Scotland Leeks.  I enjoyed the leeks this spring that I had planted last summer.  Although I wasn't quick enough to use them all (and they also started to bolt), I will try to be more diligent next spring.  I love leeks as an alternative to onions in recipes.  They offer a nice sweet and different taste.  

I haven't had the best of luck with onions so far so I may just scratch them this year.  I'll save some space here for some cloves of garlic that I'll try to plant in the fall.

Fall Garden Update

It's amazing how quickly my fall broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce have grown.  This is what they looked like when they were planted out on July 23rd.  They've been loving the little cover that provides shade from the heat and protection from the bugs.

The pea seeds that I chitted indoors and planted on August 6th have started to sprout.   
The beets, carrots and turnips planted on August 4th are sprouting also.  I'm amazed the carrots have sprouted with the 90+ degree days we've had.

The seedlings I planted on July 23rd are coming along nicely.  These inclue some kale, swiss chard, baby bok choy, Chinese cabbage, gai lan and sprouting broccoli.  They'll be ready to plant out very soon.

What's growing in your fall garden?

**Linking up to Jami's Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage**