Saturday, December 18, 2010

Winter Arrives

Winter made an appearance in the Edible Garden last weekend and demonstrated a beautiful recipe:  Start with a variety of winter veggies, add a generous sprinkle of snow, enjoy!


Mache 'VIT' and Beet 'McGregor's Favorite'
Cabbage 'Buscaro'

Kale 'Winterbor'

Radicchio 'Rossa di Verona'

Broccoli 'Romanesco'

I have to admit that this picture is misleading.  The blanket of white is actually frost cloth.  While many of the plants in the Edible Garden will survive a winter in Atlanta, some of them can use a little help when temperatures dip below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  Atlanta Botanical Garden horticulturists chose to cover the lettuce, which is not hardy below freezing.

The Herb Wall received a protective layer of frost cloth because some sections are newly planted and the wall design leaves plants exposed to the cold air.

Tips from Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Amanda Campbell and Colleen Dudley:
  • Horticulturists at the Garden order frost cloth by the roll. Home Depot and Pike’s sell something similar, although thinner.
  • Sheets and old blankets can protect plants if you don’t want to invest in frost cloth.
  • Plastic isn’t recommended for covering plants since it doesn’t breathe, traps moisture, and can scald plants if the sun comes out and temperatures warm up before it is removed.
  • When you are expecting a freeze, it’s important to make sure that your plants are well watered. Turgid plants can withstand the freeze better. When frozen plants start to thaw out, the tops will warm up faster than the roots. Frozen roots can’t transport water and a thirsty plant could become stunted or die.
  • Parsley may die back to its crown after exposure to cold temperatures. Cut off the dead leaves and it should re-emerge.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sesame Soba with Wilted Kale and Mizuna

With the cool temperatures of fall (by Atlanta standards), the Edible Garden is flourishing with cool season greens and vegetables such as Swiss chard, beets, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and mache.  Kale 'Winterbor' is pictured above and featured in the recipe below.

Garden Chef Christina Curry also worked mizuna into her dish.  Plant it because its feathery leaves are handsome or because it’s resistant to cold.  Either way, harvest some of the slightly peppery leaves, march to the kitchen and whip up this tasty dish featuring Asian flavors.  A lesser known lettuce, mizuna is sometimes included in mesclun and other mixed salad greens. 

Sesame Soba with Wilted Kale & Mizuna

3 T grape seed oil
2 T ginger root, chopped
2 cups kale, cleaned and cut
2 cups mizuna lettuce, cleaned
2 T sesame oil
1/2 lb. cooked soba noodles
2 T toasted sesame seeds
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 T sweet chili sauce
1/3 cup chopped green onion

Heat the grape seed oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chopped ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Add the kale and allow to cook just until wilted, about 1 minute. Next add the mizuna lettuce and remove from heat. Mix well with the sesame oil. In a large bowl, combine the soba noodles, kale-mizuna mix, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, green onion and toasted sesame seeds. Toss together gently and garnish with more toasted sesame seeds.

Find printable versions of the Garden Chef recipes here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wheat Berry Salad with Pomegranate and Fig Vinaigrette

While many fruits have come and gone in the Edible Garden, the 'Nana' Dwarf Pomegranate still shines, heavily laden with fruits well into fall. Bred to be small and ornamental, they taste tart and aren't as juicy as the ones you get in the supermarket, but are definitely edible. To test for ripeness, squeeze a fruit that hasn't turned yet as a baseline before squeezing one that's red. Ripe pomegranates should have deep red skin and a little give to the fruit.   

Whether you grow pomegranates in your yard or buy them at the store, combine them with wheat berries and a fig vinaigrette for a dish that's simple and tasty.

Although not featured in this recipe, here's a photo of an 'LSU Gold' Fig fruiting in the Edible Garden.  Garden Chef Christina Curry used dried figs and fig infused vinegar for her dish. 

Wheat berries are the unprocessed wheat kernel including bran, germ, and endosperm.  This whole grain contains more nutrients than stripped-down flour, pasta, or bread.  Because it can take nearly an hour to cook wheat berries, consider preparing them in advance and storing in the refrigerator until you're ready to throw this simple and tasty dish together.  Look for wheat berries at the grocery store.

Wheat Berry Salad with Pomegranate and Fig Vinaigrette

2 cups cooked wheat berries
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup dried figs, chopped
3 T red onion, chopped
2 T mint
2 T oregano
2 T fig infused vinegar
3 T olive oil
salt and cracked black pepper to taste

In a large bowl combine wheat berries, pomegranate seeds, figs, red onion, mint and oregano. Mix together gently to incorporate ingredients. Add the vinegar and olive oil, mixing gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Find printable versions of the Garden Chef recipes here.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Taste of Atlanta Preview at the Garden

The Edible Garden Outdoor Kitchen has proven itself to be a gateway for the Atlanta Botanical Garden to host several of Atlanta's finest chefs throughout the course of its first season.  The Taste of Atlanta Preview at the Garden on October 16 was a day of beautiful fall weather, great chefs, and delicious food.

Chef Shane Touhy of Dogwood woke up the kitchen with a big batch of Creamy Polenta and Red-eye Gravy.

Perfect for a 10 a.m. demo on a cool day, the gravy is made with coffee. If you’re looking for polenta or grits done right, Shane Touhy is your chef.

Chef Dave Larkworthy of 5 Seasons Brewing joined Garden Chef Christina Curry for her usual noon demonstration.

Chef Dave used a melon baller to carve perfect little spheres from his favorite eating pumpkin – the Jarrahdale pumpkin.

He dropped the pumpkin balls into the hot mixture of apple cider and spices to cook briefly. Can you get any closer to tasting fall than pumpkin, apple, and spices? I think not.

Chef Marie Nygren of Serenbe had the visitors salivating as she prepared Grits and Greens with Sweet Onion Butter and Goat Cheese.  I love when chefs bring out the big equipment.  Note the huge cast iron pan used as a serving dish.

One of the kale varieties that Chef Marie brought from Serenbe had such large leaves, it apparently stumped her staff. We confirmed that the greens in this container were indeed kale before serving to the one hundred plus people who attended the demonstration.

Chef Joe Truex of Watershed wrapped up the day with Silken Turnip Soup.  Finished with a few drops of truffle oil, the soup brought warmth to our stomachs and smiles to our faces.  Want to give turnips a try at home?  Here's Chef Joe Truex's recipe:

Silken Turnip Soup
Serves 8

2 oz. butter
2 cups yellow onions, roughly chopped
1 ½ lbs. turnip roots, peeled and roughly chopped
6 oz. baking potato, peeled and roughly chopped
1 qt. chicken stock, maybe more needed after blending
½ tsp. nutmeg berry, grated
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
truffle oil, for garnish

Heat butter until foamy, then add onions and season. Cook for 5 minutes, then add potato and turnip root and season with salt again. Cover a cook on low heat for 10-25 minutes, stirring often. Add heated chicken stock and cook uncovered until root vegetables are tender. Blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust thickness by adding more heated chicken stock if needed. Finish with grated nutmeg and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with a few drops of truffle oil if desired.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Taste of Atlanta Preview

Garden Chef Christina Curry was invited to guest blog about the upcoming Taste of Atlanta Preview at the Garden as well as her upcoming appearance at Taste of Atlanta.  If you've been meaning to catch a Garden Chef demonstration in the Edible Garden Outdoor Kitchen, make sure you mark your calendar prior to our last demos of the 2010 season on October 31.

Fall is in full swing and it is the perfect time to check out the Atlanta Botanical Garden and see what’s cooking in our outdoor kitchen.  My name is Christina Curry and I am one of the Garden Chefs at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.  The Edible Garden and Outdoor Kitchen are a wonderful addition to all the beautiful attractions that have brought visitors to the Garden for years.  As one of the chefs, I am able to harvest, prep and cook with the herbs and vegetables that have been growing each season.  It has been a great experience working in the Edible Garden Outdoor Kitchen, and we have prepared some delicious recipes this year.

With just a few weeks left before our demo season is over, we have some exciting things coming up.  On October 16, Shane Tuohy of Dogwood, Dave Larkworthy of Five Seasons Brewing, Marie Nygren of Serenbe, and Joe Truex of Watershed will join us in the Outdoor Kitchen for the Taste of Atlanta Preview.  Each will prepare a dish keeping with the seasonal theme that we embrace weekly at the Garden.  Later this month we invite you to come out and support us at the one of the country’s best food festivals, Taste of Atlanta.  I will be doing a cooking demo on the Farm to Festival stage on October 23, at 1:00 p.m.  The Taste of Atlanta presentation will be an extension of what we do at the Garden every weekend.  Mark your calendar and come on out!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Okra and Tomato Sauté

Don't be fooled by the rasberry shade, this is some good looking 'Hill Country Red' Okra.  Thriving in the Edible Garden during our hot summer, it stood tall and proud in August and September.  These red okra are stockier than their common green counterparts and suprisingly not woody or stringy for their large size.  The flowers are attractive as well, once again demonstrating that edibles can be a beautiful addition to your home landscaping.  

We like to keep food light and fresh in the Outdoor Kitchen.  Chef Megan McCarthy thought outside the fried okra box and presented a tasty and quick side dish.

Okra and Tomato Sauté

2 T extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb. fresh okra
2 large fresh tomatoes, diced
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Wash and trim okra.  Cut okra into 1-inch pieces.  Dice tomatoes.  In large skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high heat and add chopped garlic.  After 1 minute, add in okra and diced tomatoes.  Turn down to medium heat and sauté for about 10 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Watch a video of Chef Megan McCarthy preparing this dish.  Find printable versions of the Garden Chef recipes here.

The okra was pulled out two weeks ago to create space for cool crops.  Still standing is this fabulous display of glass pumpkins and gourds by Cohn-Stone Studios.  Witness the stunning displays throughout the Edible Garden before October 31, 2010.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chocolate September!

Where did September go?  I recall a plethora of chocolate crumbs, chocolate smears, and chocolate treats as the Garden opened Chocolate: Seed to Sweet, an exhibition celebrating this favorite indulgence.  Here’s a photo journal highlighting some of the chocolaty September moments.

A Quick Lesson: Chocolate comes from the fruit of the cacao tree.  This cacao tree is displayed in the Atlanta Botanical Garden Orangerie.  Another is located in the Tropical Rotunda.

Flowers and pods grow directly off the trunk and limbs rather than the tips like many other fruits. Cacao (pronounced ca-COW) refers to the tree and the beans inside its seed pods; cocoa (pronounced KO-ko) refers to the two byproducts of the cocoa bean: cocoa butter and cocoa powder.

Opening Weekend, Sept. 4 - 6, 2010 was full of fun activities.  These little ones are fingerpainting with melted chocolate on graham cracker canvases.

Chocolate Scented Play Dough

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup salt
1/2 tablespoon cream of tartar
1/2 tablespoon cooking oil
1 cup boiling water

Mix flour, cocoa powder, salt, and cream of tartar together.  Add cooking oil and boiling water to mixture. Stir quickly and mix well.  Cook over low heat until dough forms a ball.  When cool, mix with your hands.  Store in airtight container.

Very few passed up the opportunity to decorate a chocolate cupcake!

Karen Porteleo and Joshua John Russell of Highland Bakery wowed the crowd during a chocolate cake decorating demonstration. 

This fabulous chocolate sculpture was created by Victor Dagatan from The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead.  Chef James Satterwhite also participated in the opening weekend by creating chocolate butterflies, flowers, and cacao pods. 

The Atlanta Cupcake Factory joined the Garden for the first Chocolate Sunday.  Jamie Fahey provided home baking tips, demonstrated how to decorate giant chocolate cupcake cakes, and provided cakes and frosting for all to decorate and consume.  There wasn't a clean face in the Outdoor Kitchen!

Garden Chefs Megan McCarthy and Christina Curry indulged in some chocolate recipes in September: 

Spicy Dark Chocolate Fondue

6 oz fine dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped
½ cup almond milk (or cream)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp sea salt

Heat almond milk on low heat until it lightly boils.  Turn off heat and add chopped chocolate.  Whisk until smooth.  Add in cayenne pepper and sea salt and gently stir.  Transfer to fondue pot.  Arrange your favorite accompaniments on a platter with the chocolate fondue using fondue forks or bamboo skewers for dipping.  Serve chocolate fondue with strawberries, kiwi, fresh figs, pineapple, bananas, graham crackers, shortbread or pound cake.
Serves 4

Vegan Dark Chocolate Mousse

8 oz dark chocolate
1 12 oz package silken tofu
2 T agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 T espresso, chilled

1. Using a double boiler, slowly melt chocolate until smooth.
2. In a blender, combine tofu, melted chocolate, agave nectar, vanilla extract and espresso.
3. Blend on high until smooth and creamy.
4. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Find printable versions of the Garden Chef recipes here.

It's not too late to get a chocolate fix!  Chocolate: Seed to Sweet runs through January 2, 2011.  Find an up-to-date list of happenings here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Grilled Watermelon Salsa

Want to sweeten your next cook out?  While the grill is hot, try throwing on some peaches, pears, or even watermelon.  Yes, watermelon.  Garden Chef Christina Curry enticed the crowd in the Edible Garden Outdoor Kitchen with the sounds and smells of watermelon slices on the grill.

Grilled Watermelon Salsa

2 cups grilled and diced watermelon
1/4 cup chopped green onion
2 T chopped cilantro
2 T chopped mint
1/4 cup lime juice
2 T olive oil

Slice watermelon into 1 inch thick pieces and grill on each side for about 30 seconds, or until you get good grill marks.  Next, dice up the grilled watermelon and put in a mixing bowl.  Add the chopped green onion, chopped cilantro, chopped mint, lime juice and olive oil.  Mix together gently.  Serve with tortilla chips, flatbread or as a relish to compliment your favorite fish.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you can’t miss Melon Fest this Saturday, August 21 from noon to 3 p.m.  Join Garden Chef Christina Curry in the Edible Garden Outdoor Kitchen at noon, 1 p.m., or 2 p.m.  Enjoy a laugh and participate in a melon seed-spitting contest or watermelon rolling on the Great Lawn.  Taste a variety of European melons from locally owned Phoenix Gardens and learn about pickling watermelon rinds.

Find printable versions of the Garden Chef recipes here.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Citrus Marinated Fennel Slaw

Fennel stands proud in the Edible Garden because of its many edible parts.  All of these plant parts possess a flavor similar to anise or licorice.  The feathery leaves are used as greens or as an herb.  The dried fruits, commonly misnamed "seeds", are widely found in spice racks.  The bulbs are cooked or used fresh as Garden Chef Christina Curry demonstrated in the Outdoor Kitchen.

 Citrus Marinated Fennel Slaw with Fresh Herbs

2 cups thinly shaved fennel
1/2 cup julienne Vidalia onion
2 T chopped oregano
2 T chopped mint
2 T chopped flat leaf parsley
2 T lemon juice
3 T orange juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt, to taste
fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
Citrus zest, to garnish

1. In a bowl combine, fennel, onion and herbs.
2. Toss gently to mix ingredients together.
3. Add the olive oil, lemon and orange juice, mix gently.
4. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Garnish with lemon and orange zest.

Find printable versions of the Garden Chef recipes here.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Herb Wall

I’m happy to introduce Plant to Plate’s guest blogger, designer Tres Fromme. Tres has worked with the Garden on many exhibitions and projects over the past few years including Moore in America, Orchid Daze, the Southern Seasons Garden, as well as the new additions: Cascades Garden, Storza Woodland Gardens, and the Edible Garden. He is an Associate with MESA Design Associates in Dallas, Texas and leads the firm’s Public Garden Studio. With degrees in both horticulture and landscape architecture, he possesses a unique combination of artistic sensibility and plant knowledge. One of Tres’ favorite parts of leading the design team for the Edible Garden was envisioning the living Herb Wall which he writes about below.

Functional Aspects of the Herb Wall

The Herb Wall is an iconic element of the Edible Garden. It is also one of the most practical components and serves several important functions. The planters holding the living part of the Wall hang on a CMU (concrete masonry unit or cinder block) wall. The height and thickness of the Wall deflect noise and exhaust from the greenhouse fans behind the Edible Garden. Without the barrier the Garden would be a noisier and windier place. The Wall is a perfect example of creatively turning a necessity into an asset.

The Herb Wall adds much needed square footage in the relatively small space of the Edible Garden. Building upward creates a planting space with unique characteristics. The wall faces west and captures the warm Atlanta sunshine. The “soil” mix in the hanging planters drains quickly. The irrigation system allows for relatively controlled watering (we hope!). All these factors allowed us to feel comfortable planting evergreen herbs that might otherwise suffer in Atlanta’s heat, humidity, and rain.

Aesthetic Aspects of the Herb Wall

The Herb Wall was one of the most enjoyable parts of the Edible Garden to design. Essentially, we wanted to take a traditional herb garden and get it off the ground so there would be more room for other crops. We also wanted to put a chic and contemporary interpretation on the typical geometric knots and forms of many herbal plantings. Think “living wall paper.”

The Wall encourages a new relationship between people and plants. It creates an immersive and multi-sensory experience. You look up at the herbs rather than down on them. The wall places the plants at heights so people of all heights (and ages) are able to smell and touch the plants with ease.

Imagine a living canvas approximately 55 feet long and nine feet tall! The possibilities seemed endless, until we decided the plants had to meet three major criteria. One, they had to be evergreen so the wall looked good in winter. Two, the plants had to be edible or culinary. Three, they had to be low growing and respond well to regular shearing since we wanted to maintain the Wall as a “flat” surface. Being clip-able also assures raw ingredients for the many cooking programs.

After much searching and discussion, we decided to allow flowers traditionally associated with kitchen or herb gardens. There were just not enough evergreen herbs to offer a broad palette of texture and color. We also wanted to include Boxwood hedges, a time-honored element of herb gardens. All these plants might not be edible, but they are attractive. The major non-herbal plants are: Boxwood, Creeping Phlox, and Bouncing Bet (Soapwort).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pineapple Walnut Coleslaw

Cabbage looks beautiful in the garden and it's quick and easy to harvest when you're ready for a fresh dish.  By mid-June, it was time for the red cabbage to come out to make room for summer crops.

Chef Megan McCarthy chose to put a twist on traditional coleslaw and added some pineapple for a refreshing summer flavor.  Take this one to the next bar-b-que and at least one dish on the table will be a healthy choice.

Chef Megan offered shortcuts such as buying shredded carrots and canned pineapple when you need to save some time.

Pineapple Walnut Coleslaw

1 small head green cabbage, shredded
1 small head red cabbage, shredded
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 cup plain yogurt, Greek-style
Sea salt to taste

Shred green cabbage, red cabbage and carrots.  Combine in large bowl.  Add crushed pineapple, walnuts and yogurt.  Mix thoroughly.  Season with sea salt.

Pineapple Walnut Coleslaw served in an outer cabbage leaf and garnished with flat leaf parsley

Find printable versions of the Garden Chef recipes here.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Father's Day

What do fathers like to do on Father’s Day?  Go to the Atlanta Botanical Garden and eat bugs, weeds, and flowers of course!  With the adventurous eating theme in the Edible Garden, there was only one person in Atlanta that we trusted to cook bizarre delicacies: Chef Ryan Cobb.  Beginning a relationship with the Garden in 2007 as the bug chef during Big Bugs and Killer Plants, Ryan cooked mealworms, crickets, and scorpions in such a way that made people rush for a sample.  Chef Ryan has been the Executive Chef at the Colonnade Restaurant for almost four years now.  In addition to being in the AJC over a dozen times, he has appeared on 11Alive news, The Food Network, The Travel Channel, and PBS.  We hope that Chef Ryan will soon demonstrate his fine dining background coupled with classical southern cuisine in the Outdoor Kitchen sans bugs.  As today’s guest blogger, Chef Ryan comments on his Father’s Day experience and shares a few recipes.

This was my first visit to the Garden since Big Bugs and Killer Plants.  Wow!  What amazing changes at the Garden!  First of all, I was to cook in the new Outdoor Kitchen in the Edible Garden.  This kitchen is beautiful and well appointed.  It had everything I needed to cook bugs, flowers, weeds, or a four course fine dining meal.  In previous years, I had prepared food in the Children's Amphitheater.  I was faced with the challenge of preparing food for large crowds on two portable electric burners!  That would not be the case this time around!

Despite intense heat and humidity, there was a large crowd forming for the first show of the day.  I chose to cook bugs for the first show and I whipped up three tasty dishes joined with a fact filled presentation on edible insects.  Today I was preparing Crickets and Grits, Meal Worm Peanut Brittle, and Low Country BBQ'd Hissing Cockroaches.  At the end of the show, I had convinced a large portion of the crowd to come up and try some bugs; I actually ended up running out of the cockroaches at the end of the day!

Low Country BBQ'd Hissing Cockroaches awaiting the grill

Shortly after the first show, I jumped into a kudzu and edible flowers presentation.  Starting with kudzu, I challenged the crowd to "eat the vine that ate the South!!!”  After a short description on kudzu, I prepared Stuffed Kudzu Leaves and Tempura Fried Kudzu Leaves.  These two dishes were easy sells, and most of the crowd tasted one or both of them.  Immediately, I switched gears and started an edible flower demonstration.  The flowers at the show today consisted of: Orchids, Chrysanthemums, Snap Dragons, Marigolds, and Chamomile.  With this medium, I prepared Caramelized Orchids, Orchid and Aspic Glazed Brie Cheese, Flower Petal Ice Cubes, and Flower Tea.  Once again, there was little fear factor in eating flowers and the crowd ate them up!

Orchid and Aspic Glazed Brie Cheese

All in all, on a hot humid day, there were large crowds of people eagerly awaiting the opportunity to try new and different types of cuisine. I think everyone in attendance learned something too!!!

Caramelized Orchids

12 edible orchids
2 egg whites
1/4 cup superfine sugar

Carefully rinse and dry all of the flowers, set on a paper towel, and allow to dry. Separately, vigorously whisk egg whites together adding a touch of cool water if the egg whites need to be thinned to a brushable texture. Carefully brush egg white mixture onto all parts of the flower. Immediately dust, by hand, with the sugar. Place on a wire rack and allow to dry and harden at room temperature overnight. Enjoy as a colorful garnish!

Caramelized Orchids on far right

Clear Meal Worm Brittle

500 meal worms, dry roasted
8 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
2 oz. unsalted butter

Combine sugar, water, and cream of tartar in a heavy bottomed, non reactive saucepan. Over low heat, stir until all ingredients are incorporated and dissolved. Increase heat to medium high and bring to hard boil. Place a candy thermometer in mixture and cook until 320 F (light caramel stage). Remove from heat and quickly, with an oiled wooden spoon, incorporate the meal worms and butter. Carefully pour mixture onto a lightly oiled baking sheet and spread to 1/4 inch thick. Allow to cool completely then break into desired size pieces. Store in an airtight container in between wax or parchment paper.