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.

Enjoy more Garden Chef recipes.

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.

Discover more Garden Chef recipes.

Crispy Roasted Okra

Okra is actually quite good for you. It is high in fiber, folate, calcium and potassium.  Turn off the fryer and try this easy preparation - a little seasoning and a few minutes in the oven or on the grill.  Garden Chef Megan McCarthy showed Atlanta Botanical Garden visitors two different ways to whip up this healthy snack.

Crispy Roasted Okra

1 lb fresh okra
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
sea salt and pepper, to taste

To Roast:
Preheat oven to 400◦.  Wash and trim okra.  Slice okra into ¼ inch pieces and toss in large bowl with olive oil.  Season okra with cumin, sea salt and pepper to taste.  Spread okra onto baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, stirring once, until edges are browned.  Remove from oven and serve warm.

To Grill:
Preheat grill to medium-high.  Wash and trim okra and leave whole. Toss in a large bowl with olive oil.  Season okra with cumin, sea salt and pepper to taste.  Grill the okra for approximately five minutes, turning once, until you see grill marks on both sides.

More simple, delicious Garden Chef recipes here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Melitzana Eggplant Dip

Eggplant ‘Little Fingers’ is doing well in the Edible Garden and producing large amounts of 4-6” fruits. Garden Chef Megan McCarthy prepared a Melitzana dip to take advantage of this bounty.

Chef Megan grilled the small eggplants whole before blending them in the food processor. She used tahini, made from ground sesame seeds, and Greek yogurt to create a “dip-like” texture.  She served the dip with baby carrots and pita chips. Perfect summer party food!

Melitzana Eggplant Dip

2 medium eggplants
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
juice of 1 lemon
2 T tahini
¼ cup plain yogurt
sea salt, to taste

Preheat grill or grill pan to high. Trim and cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Brush eggplant with olive oil and place on grill and cook until soft. Let eggplant cool.

In food processor, mince garlic. Add grilled eggplant and pulse until smooth. Transfer to large bowl and blend with lemon juice, tahini, yogurt and salt to taste.

Serve with pita chips or flatbread.

Find more delicious recipes here.

Astoria Chicken Salad

Garden Chef Megan McCarthy mixed it up perfectly at Cocktails in the Garden with a light, summer Astoria Chicken Salad on butter lettuce.

Remember the “Chia Pet”? The very same seeds are high in omega-3s and fiber and they can be used whole in salads to add nutrients. Chef Megan uses them in her Astoria Chicken Salad. She also adds extra flavor with roasted walnut oil and toasted walnuts. Don’t forget the grapes; they add a nice unexpected touch of sweetness when you bite into them. Enjoy, we sure did!

Astoria Chicken Salad

½ cup low fat plain yogurt
2 T mayonnaise
2 T roasted walnut oil
½ lime, freshly squeezed
2 cups grilled or rotisserie chicken, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 Granny Smith apple, diced
1 cup red seedless grapes, halved
½ cup toasted chopped walnuts
2 T chia seeds
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh herbs, to taste

In small bowl, whisk together yogurt, mayonnaise, roasted walnut oil and lime juice.

In large bowl, combine diced chicken, celery, apples, grapes, and toasted walnuts. Add yogurt dressing and stir to combine. Add chia seeds and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on butter lettuce.

Recipe by Garden Chef Megan McCarthy

Discover more Garden Chef recipes here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cucumber, Tomato & Corn Relish

The cucumbers are rolling in - right into the Edible Garden Outdoor Kitchen

Garden Chef Christina Curry kept it simple and tasty with her recipe for the weekend demos. Try this Cucumber, Tomato and Corn Relish on fish tacos, hot dogs, or toss with lettuce for a colorful salad. 

Cucumber, Tomato & Corn Relish 

1 cup cucumber, diced
1/4 cup tomato, diced
1 cup yellow corn, cooked
2 T shallot, minced
3 T Italian parsley, chopped
2 T chives, chopped
3 T olive oil
1 T white balsamic vinegar
kosher salt & pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, tomato, corn, parsley and chives. Add the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and toss together gently. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

More delicious Garden Chef recipes here.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fusion Slaw Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette

Garden Chef Megan McCarthy fused flavors from Italy, Latin America and Asia for this fresh and tasty dish. The food processor makes quick work out of shredding Napa and red cabbage. Jalapeño and fresh ginger add a touch of heat and toasted sesame oil adds a depth of flavor. Chef’s tip of the week: Accept no substitutes for the toasted sesame oil!

Fusion Slaw Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette

2 cups Napa cabbage, shredded
2 cups red cabbage, shredded
1 cup carrots, shredded
3 scallions, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
½ cup cilantro, chopped
3 T toasted sesame oil
2 T white balsamic vinegar
2 T garlic chili pepper sauce
1 T minced fresh ginger
sea salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup low salt dry roasted peanuts, chopped (optional)
2 cups skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken, chopped (optional)
toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

In a large bowl, combine Napa cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, scallions, jalapeño and cilantro.  To make vinaigrette; in medium mixing bowl, whisk together toasted sesame oil, vinegar, garlic chili pepper sauce and ginger.  Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste.  Toss cabbage mixture with sesame vinaigrette.  Toss with peanuts and rotisserie chicken if desired.  Garish with toasted sesame seeds to serve.

Recipe by Garden Chef Megan McCarthy

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Zucchini ‘Ronde de Nice’ are in season in the Edible Garden. Colleen Golden, Edible Garden senior horticulturist, decided to grow this variety of zucchini for its mild nutty taste and tender flesh. Since this variety of zucchini bruises very easily due to their tender skins, they are not readily found in the supermarket. This variety is best harvested when the zucchinis are about the size of a billiard ball. 

Growing alongside the ‘Ronde de Nice’ we have three varieties of basil. Basil ‘Mammoth’ resembles traditional basil in flavor and has leaves that can grow to the size of your hand. Basil ‘Purple Ruffles’ was selected for the color contrast and has proved to be one of the darkest and best performing purple basils that we have grown. Finally, Basil ‘Samui’ or Thai Holy Basil was selected purely for its beauty, with slightly jagged, purple tinged leaves.

During the weekend cooking demos, Garden Chef Megan McCarthy paired a creamy grilled zucchini hummus with fresh basil leaves. She cut the zucchini into thick slices and grilled them for added flavor before processing them into “hummus” in the food processor. She seasoned and served the hummus alongside flatbread and carrots. Enjoy this quick summer treat the next time you fire up the grill. 

Grilled Zucchini Hummus with Fresh Basil

1 lb zucchini, cut crosswise on the bias, 1/2 inch-thick slices
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 T tahini
1 T lemon juice
½ tsp cumin
sea salt and pepper, to taste
5-10 fresh basil leaves

Preheat grill or grill pan to high heat.  Brush zucchini slices with olive oil on both sides and place on hot grill.  Cook for 3-4 minutes or until tender.  Let cool. 

In food processor, mince garlic.  Add grilled zucchini, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, salt and pepper to taste and pulse until smooth.  Add fresh basil leaves and pulse until blended.  Serve with baby carrots or pita bread.

Recipe by Garden Chef Megan McCarthy

Discover more quick and simple Garden Chef recipes.

Garden Gazpacho with Avocado and Shrimp

Crisp cucumbers are ripe and plentiful in the Edible GardenGarden Chef Megan McCarthy paired them with tomatoes for a traditional Spanish gazpacho.  This cool refreshing treat was perfect for a warm summer evening of Cocktails in the Garden.

Gazpacho is a cold soup that is native to Andalucía, Spain. Traditional recipes include stale bread and require a mortar and pestle to mix the ingredients…thank goodness for modern conveniences like the food processor. Chef Megan’s secret ingredient is a splash of balsamic vinegar. Try this recipe and make it your own. You will love gazpacho in the summertime. Enjoy!

Garden Gazpacho with Avocado and Shrimp

2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 ripe garden tomatoes, rough chopped
2 cucumbers, 1 peeled and rough chopped and 1 peeled, seeded and diced
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
½ sweet Vidalia onion, finely diced
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
juice of ½ lemon
½ tsp ground cumin
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, diced
peeled shrimp (optional garnish)

In food processor, pulse garlic until minced.  Add tomatoes and pulse until pureed.  Add in the rough chopped cucumber and half of the bell pepper and pulse until pureed.  Transfer puree to a large bowl.  Add remaining diced cucumber, diced pepper and diced onion and fold into puree.  Stir in extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice and mix well.  Season the gazpacho with cumin, salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in cilantro.  Chill before serving.  Serve with diced avocado and peeled shrimp for garnish. 

Recipe by Garden Chef Megan McCarthy

Check out more Garden Chef recipes.