Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Vanilla Sunday

find the recipes from Vanilla Sunday at the end of this blog

Vanilla Sunday at the Atlanta Botanical Garden is an afternoon of cooking demonstrations, sensory experiences, and vanilla sundaes in celebration of the vanilla orchid.   Of over 20,000 species of orchid, only the vanilla orchid produces an edible fruit.  If vanilla flowers are pollinated (this is commonly done by hand on commercial plantations), a long green pod will grow.  The pod, commonly referred to as the bean, is full of tiny black seeds.  A complicated process of growing, fermenting, and aging develops the familiar flavor and aroma of vanilla.  The Garden displays a few Vanilla planifolia orchids in the Fuqua Orchid Center.

Complimentary vanilla sundaes were a crowd pleaser.

The beautiful weather allowed us to use the Edible Garden Outdoor Kitchen for the cooking demonstrations.

 Garden Chef Christina Curry showcased vanilla in both a savory pasta dish and a delicious sweet treat.

Yellow Corn Ravioli with Vanilla Cream Sauce

Ravioli Dough
2 cups flour
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
  1. Combine all ingredients into a mixer. Using the dough hook, mix until it forms a ball.
  2. Knead by hand for 1 minute more. Smooth out the ball, place in fridge and chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Using a pasta machine or rolling pin, roll the dough into a thin sheet.
  4. Cut the sheet in half and set one half to the side.
  5. Place the filling onto the pasta sheet one tablespoon at a time leaving about one inch between each portion of the filling.
  6. Place the remaining pasta sheet on top and press down firmly around filling.
  7. Using a knife or cutter, cut the ravioli apart.
  8. Cook or freeze immediately.
  9. Cook the ravioli in boiling, salted water for 2 - 3 minutes.

3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups yellow corn kernels
1 medium shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 T fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  1. In a sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
  2. Next add the corn, shallot, garlic and thyme.
  3. Sauté for a few minutes until the corn becomes tender and reduce heat to low.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the mascarpone cheese and stir until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  6. Allow to cool for a few minutes before assembling ravioli. 

Vanilla Cream Sauce
1 T olive oil
2 T shallots, chopped
1/2 cup sweet white wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 vanilla bean
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 T unsalted butter
  1. In a pan, heat olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the shallots and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Next add the white wine, thyme and vanilla. Cook until wine is reduced by 90 percent.
  4. Add the heavy cream and allow to reduce by half.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Finish the sauce by adding the parmesan cheese and remaining butter.
  7. Serve over hot ravioli. 

Vanilla Crepes with Minted Fruit Salad

Vanilla Crepes
1/2 cup milk
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
Seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp butter, melted
1/2 cup flour
  1. In a bowl, combine milk, egg, egg yolk, vanilla and sugar. Mix together with a whisk.
  2. Add the flour and stir until smooth.
  3. Stir in the melted butter.
  4. Allow the batter to sit in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes before using.

To cook crepes, use a good non-stick pan. Over medium high heat, spray the pan with cooking spray or a thin coat of oil or butter. Pour ¼ cup of the batter (adjust as necessary for different pan sizes and desired crepe size) into the center of the pan. Move the pan around to distribute the mixture forming a very thin pancake layer.

Cook for 30 - 45 seconds on one side. Using a rubber spatula, flip and cook the other side. Repeat process.

Minted Fruit Salad
1/2 cup orange segments
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, diced
3 T fresh mint, chopped
1 T sugar
  1. Combine all of the ingredients into a medium size bowl and toss together gently.
  2. Let mixture sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Serve with Vanilla Crepes.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Are Tulips Edible?

The spring-like weather in late February produced signs of spring all around the Atlanta Botanical Garden.  The Edible Garden is teeming with daffodils and tulips which raises the question, “are bulbs edible?” We eat garlic and onion bulbs but can you eat flowering spring bulbs?

Daffodils are poisonous to humans and animals, so keep those off your plate.

There are conflicting views on tulips, so I’m not going to recommend that you eat them without further research.  Many people say that you can eat tulip flower petals but caution that some people may have allergic reactions after consuming or even touching them.  During WWII, the Dutch ate tulip bulbs when times were tough.  Sounds like you could eat them if necessary for survival but stay away from plants treated with pesticides or possible fungus on decaying bulbs.  Gardeners know that squirrels find them delectable.  Maybe they’re on to something.

Along with the bulbs, a few other things are waking up in the Edible Garden.

Definitely edible!  The warm weather queued the asparagus to grow in February, usually harvestable in late March through June in Georgia.

The crabapples are budding.

Waves of daffodils welcome visitors to the Edible Garden.  This is a tiny portion of the 200,000 bulbs planted for Atlanta Blooms!