Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rustic Mediterranean Salad

Peppers are in season in Georgia.  The Edible Garden rows are bursting with five different varieties of peppers ranging from sweet to hot.  

Two bell peppers were used in the recipe below: ‘Tejas’ and ‘California Wonder.’  Bell peppers are rich in vitamins A and B and contain twice as much vitamin C as oranges.  Most green bell peppers are simply immature red bell peppers.  

Rustic Mediterranean Salad

15 oz can white butter beans, drained
1 cup canned artichokes hearts, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
½ cup kalamata olives, chopped
½ cup red onion, chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 T white balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
sea salt & fresh cracked pepper, to taste
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped

In a large bowl, combine beans, artichokes, peppers, black olives and diced onions and toss.  In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper.  Drizzle vinaigrette over bean mixture and toss again.  Garnish with chopped basil.

Recipe by Garden Chef Megan McCarthy

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Walnut Pesto Caprese with French Bread

May was a busy month in the Outdoor Kitchen with Garden Chef cooking demonstrations on the weekends and during Cocktails in the Garden on Thursday nights.  In addition, the Outdoor Kitchen served up seven dinner classes in May alone.  It’s early in the season and we hope you can join us for a cooking demonstration or class soon!

Garden Chef Christina Curry served up a delicious seasonal pesto for happy visitors one weekend.  Her recipe features a basil, arugula and walnut pesto.  Arugula is a peppery lettuce that pairs well with walnuts to make a smooth and buttery pesto.  If pine nuts were used, as in traditional pesto, the peppery flavor of the arugula might be overwhelming.  Chef Christina recommends tasting the mozzarella and adding salt to bring out the flavor as needed. 

Walnut Pesto Caprese with French Bread

8 oz fresh basil leaves
4 oz arugula
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
2 T lemon juice
1/4 c parmesan cheese
1/4 c olive oil
tomato slices
fresh mozzarella
French bread, sliced & toasted
kosher salt & black pepper, to taste
lemon zest, to garnish

In a blender or food processor, combine the basil, arugula, garlic, walnuts, lemon juice, parmesan cheese and olive oil.  Blend on high until smooth and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Spread the pesto on one side of French bread slices.  Top with a tomato slice and a slice of mozzarella.  Garnish with the lemon zest.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What a Season!

2012 was a very busy season in the Edible Garden Outdoor Kitchen. Over 10,000 visitors attended a Garden Chef cooking demonstration. The Outdoor Kitchen was also used for three glorious weeks of summer camp (ages 4–6 or 7–10). On top of demonstrations and camps, the Garden offers an assortment of classes ranging from Pickling & Preserving to Chocolate in Five Courses to The Well-Seasoned Chef Series. In fact, we held 44 cooking classes in the Outdoor Kitchen this season between April and November! Here’s a photo journey of this spectacular season of classes: 

Sautéed Shrimp and Kale over Grits (in the largest cast iron pan!) artfully created by Marie Nygren, The Farmhouse at Serenbe, The Well-Seasoned Chef Series

Farm Burgers with Sautéed Swiss Chard, Grilled Onions and Herbed Goat Cheese

Chef Eddie Hernandez, Taquería del Sol, Fresh Plates Series

Chef Steven Satterfield, Miller Union, The Well-Seasoned Chef Series

Chef Gillespie’s Sweet and Sour Garden Cucumbers with Dill, Charred Fennel, Compressed Radish, and Whipped Chevre

Chef Turbush’s Pimento Cheese Crostini

Chef David Gross of MARKET Buckhead plates his Frisee and Goat Cheese Salad with Pickled Peach and Crystallized Wasabi for the Fresh Plates Series

Chef Anthony Gray and Chef Art Smith, Southern Art, The Well-Seasoned Chef Series

Chef Ron Eyester of Rosebud’s Breakfast Casserole, Brunch in the Garden

These wonderful classes and series are listed on the Atlanta Botanical Garden's website on the Classes page.  Registration for April 2013 classes will begin by the end of December.  Check back often and register early - seats are limited.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sweet Potato Season

Three varieties of sweet potatoes thrived in the Edible Garden this summer: ‘Georgia Jet,’ ‘Carolina Ruby,’ and ‘All Purple.’  By the middle of September, we had a bumper crop of beautiful, but not quite ready, sweet potatoes.  It takes time for the roots to sweeten and develop a moist texture.  We piled the sweet potatoes in crates and cured them inside for a few weeks before using them for cooking demonstrations and classes.  They lasted for many, many demos and classes!  Enjoy these simple and delicious Garden Chef recipes this fall.

Gingered Sweet Potatoes

4 organic sweet potatoes, peeled and chunked
2 T fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
¾ cup coconut milk beverage
3 T maple syrup or agave nectar
1 T extra-virgin coconut oil
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
1 pinch sea salt
½ cup pecans, toasted

Cover sweet potatoes with salted water to boil.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until fork tender.  Drain sweet potatoes.  In food processor, pulse ginger to mince.  Add cooked sweet potatoes, coconut milk, maple syrup, coconut oil, nutmeg and sea salt.  Pulse sweet potatoes in food processor until desired consistency.  Top with toasted pecans to serve.

Recipe by Garden Chef Megan McCarthy

Coconut Whipped Sweet Potato

1 lb sweet potato, peeled and diced
1/3 cup coconut cream
3 T honey
1 tsp cinnamon
toasted coconut, to garnish

Place the sweet potato in a pot, cover with water and simmer until fork tender.  Drain well and place into a food processor.  Add the coconut cream, honey and cinnamon.  Blend until smooth and serve with toasted coconut on top.

Recipe by Garden Chef Christina Curry

Grilled Sweet Potato and Thyme Hummus

2 sweet potatoes, peeled
3 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
½ tsp sea salt, divided
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 T sesame tahini
1 lemon, juiced
½ tsp cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
1 T fresh thyme

Preheat grill or grill pan to high heat.  Slice sweet potatoes into ¾-inch thick wedges.  In large bowl, toss wedges with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil until coated and season with ¼ teaspoon sea salt.  Place wedges on hot grill and cook for 5-6 minutes, turning once, or until potato is tender.  

In food processor, mince garlic.  Add grilled sweet potatoes, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne, ¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste.  Pulse mixture until smooth.  Add fresh thyme and pulse until blended.  Serve with baby carrots or toasted pita bread.

Recipe by Garden Chef Megan McCarthy

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Paw Paw Patch

Colleen Golden, Atlanta Botanical Garden Senior Horticulturist of the Edible Garden, writes about a particular patch of interesting trees.

Asimina triloba, or Paw Paw, is the largest fruit native to the eastern United States, yet many people have never heard of it.  At the Atlanta Botanical Garden, we have a handful of paw paw trees in the beds adjacent to the edible amphitheater.  I grew up singing a song about paw paws that some might be familiar with, something about being “way down yonder in the paw paw patch.”  But in my entire life I had never seen a paw paw tree or tasted a fruit.  Consequently, I have been very excited for our paw paws to fruit and have paid very special attention to them each year, first noticing the non showy burgundy flowers that emerge before the leaves in the spring and then searching for any sign of fruit set in vain.  People suggested the trees had not made any fruit because they weren’t old enough yet, but others gave this advice: since paw paw flowers are pollinated by flies and beetles hang raw chicken necks on the branches when the trees are in bloom to attract pollinators.  Gross!  I knew that latter nugget of advice would not fly here at the Garden.  Don’t worry, I have good news, apparently seedlings will fruit when they get about six feet tall.  We harvested our first fruit in August sans a raw chicken gallows!

One fruit, one intoxicatingly fragrant kidney shaped greenish-yellow fruit.  Other common names for the paw paw include Poor Man’s Banana, Custard Apple and Hoosier Banana.  The skin is thin, and cutting through the middle reveals a handful of large lima bean shaped brown seeds and a soft creamy colored pulp.  We ate it straight out of the skin with a spoon although it is said to be good in ice creams and pies as well.  It tastes like a cross between a banana and a mango - really delicious.  It is actually a very healthy fruit rich in manganese, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper and amino acids. 

A paw paw is a deciduous small tree or large shrub.  It is the only temperate member of the tropical Annonaceae family which includes other delicious fruits like soursop (guanabana) and custard apple.  In the wild, the plant grows along streams or ravines in full sun or shade.  Optimum fruit set happens in the full sun; however, the first year or two after planting the trees can benefit from a little shade.  The term ‘paw paw patch’ comes from the plant’s ability to produce root suckers.  If these suckers are allowed to grow and produce suckers of their own a patch is formed.  The seeds contain alkaloids and are toxic if eaten.  These same toxic chemicals served early settlers well as they would used crushed seeds as an insecticide.  Paw paws are not self fertile so make sure to plant at least two unrelated trees to ensure fruit set.  

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Stuffed Grilled Figs with Walnuts and Goat Cheese

Garden Chef Megan McCarthy prepared stuffed figs in the Outdoor Kitchen one evening during Cocktails in the Garden. In the Edible Garden we have ‘LSU Gold,’ ‘LSU Purple’ and ‘Celeste’ fig trees. 

She sliced the fresh figs in half lengthwise and dipped them in a vinaigrette of balsamic vinegar, walnut oil and maple syrup.

Next she grilled the figs and stuffed them with goat cheese, walnuts and prosciutto.  She plated the figs on top of an arugula salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette.  This recipe would be great for a cocktail party!

Stuffed Grilled Figs with Walnuts and Goat Cheese

1 lb fresh figs, halved lengthwise
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T roasted walnut oil
2 T maple syrup
sea salt, to taste
4 oz creamy goat cheese
¼ lb prosciutto, thinly sliced and cut into small strips (optional)
30 walnut halves, toasted
5 oz arugula

Preheat grill or grill pan to medium high.  Slice fresh figs in half lengthwise.  In small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, walnut oil and maple syrup and season with sea salt to taste.  Dip fig halves in balsamic mixture until coated.  Place fig halves on hot grill for about 3 minutes with flesh side down.  Once fig is caramelized, remove from grill.  With flesh side up, make a small slice down the middle of each fig.  Place ½ teaspoon of goat cheese in each slice along with a small piece of prosciutto and a toasted walnut.  Place stuffed grilled figs on a bed of arugula greens and drizzle remaining balsamic mixture.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Grilled Cucumber Dill Vinaigrette & Mixed Greens

Garden Chef Christina Curry fired up the grill to make a delicious salad dressing. The main ingredient in this dressing is grilled cucumbers. Christina used ‘Suyo Long’ cucumbers fresh from the Edible Garden.

You can modify this recipe to make a dip or marinade. Adding more cucumber and using a food processor instead of a blender will thicken the consistency for a tasty dip. Using less cucumber and adding more lemon juice or vinegar will make a great marinade for chicken.

Grilled Cucumber Dill Vinaigrette & Mixed Greens

1 medium cucumber, sliced, grilled & seeded*
1/4 cup lemon juice 
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 T honey
2 T fresh dill, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
6 oz mixed greens
red onion, shaved
1/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
kosher salt & pepper, to taste

Using a blender or food processor, combine the grilled cucumber, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, honey and fresh dill.  Blend on high while slowly adding the oil until incorporated.  In a large bowl, combine the mixed greens, red onion and grape tomatoes.  Add the vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper.  Toss gently until mixed greens are evenly coated with vinaigrette.

* To grill the cucumber, slice lengthwise, coat lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill over medium heat until tender and grill marks appear.  Allow to cool.  Discard seeds.

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