Thursday, September 29, 2016

Buttery Pound Cake with Harvest Apple Compote and Homemade Whipped Cream

Every weekend from May through October, Garden Chefs put on demonstrations in the Outdoor Kitchen, showing visitors some creative, simple ways to highlight the tastes of the season. With fall officially underway, the flavors are turning crisp and warm. 

This recent recipe from Chef Amanda Dew Manning takes advantage of the fresh, local apples that are at every farm stand at this time of year. Homemade whipped cream is always worth the little extra effort, and the addition of a dash of apple brandy here really kicks things up a notch.

Apple Compote
  • 3 lb apples (use a variety of sweet and tart), cored and sliced
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1/4 tsp cloves, ground
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 2 Tbs apple brandy
Wash, core, and slice the apples. Place apples, sugar, water, and spices in a large, heavy bottom sauce pan. Bring to a boil and turn down heat to simmer. Cook for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If apples appear dry, add a small amount of water. Taste for sweetness, and add an additional tablespoon or two of sugar as necessary. Add brandy, and simmer for 10 minutes more. If you desire a smoother consistency, break up any larger chunks of apples in the mixture.

Homemade Whipped Cream
  • 1 C heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 1 Tbs powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbs apple brandy
Using a stand or hand mixer or just a whisk and a strong arm, whip cream, powdered sugar, and brandy until soft peaks form. For best results, chill the (metal) bowl and whisk ahead of time.

Serve compote warm over sliced pound cake, and top with a dollop of whipped cream.

Garden Chef demos run every Saturday and Sunday from May through October at 12 PM, 1 PM, and 2 PM in the Edible Garden Outdoor Kitchen. Next time you're in the Garden on a weekend, be sure to stop by, try a nibble, and discover a new recipe!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy First Day of Fall!

Bok choi!

Raleigh (R) and other horticulturalists

One of the great things about gardening in the South is how long our growing season is! This week, Senior Horticulturalist Raleigh Saperstein, who oversees the Edible Garden, has been leading a veritable army of horticulturalists and volunteers in removing the summertime crops and planting the fall plants.

Excited at an opportunity to get away from my desk for a few hours, I lent my hand yesterday as one of the volunteers. The Garden hums along thanks in great part to our dedicated volunteers, and a number spent the morning planting all sorts of vegetables.

Volunteers hard at work
I spent most of my time planting all sorts of greens: leaf lettuce, two lovely varieties of Swiss chard, cauliflower, and bok choi. The young cauliflower was surprising to see. It's clearly a brassica, with a leaf that looks a little bit like baby kale, but without the distinctive head it doesn't look obviously like cauliflower to my novice eye.

Bok choi on the left, and cauliflower to the right

Yesterday may have been the last day of summer, but it sure didn't feel like summer was ready to let go just yet. Under a hot sun, we worked up quite a sweat. It drives home that the fruits and vegetables that we enjoy really are the fruits of someone's labor! I'm looking forward to watching the Edible Garden flourish over the next few weeks and months. Check back regularly to learn more about what exactly we've planted, and how we intend to eat it!

Look at all these little guys!
-Julia da Silva, Interpretation Coordinator

Monday, September 5, 2016

Okra's Southern Charm

You wouldn't know it from the still-sultry weather, but September has arrived, which means that fall is right around the corner. The Edible Garden is still bursting with delicious offerings, though. This year, Garden horticulturalists planted a large-growing heirloom okra cultivar, Hill Country Red. The okra was planted in mid-summer, but in a short time have grown to great heights, with most individuals now towering well above my 5'7" head. I am completely enamored of these beautiful plants, with their red stalks and creamy white flowers with deep crimson centers. And I'm not the flowers' only fan. They're very popular with pollinators-- both bees and ants do a busy trade among the blossoms.

I am a fairly recent transplant to the South, so okra was not always in my culinary repertoire. Since moving to Atlanta a few years ago, I've enjoyed exploring this oft-maligned vegetable. Although fried okra is delicious, it's also messy, time consuming, and not exactly healthy. My favorite preparation is also the simplest I know. It works best with small okra, about a finger's length, but any size works well. Trim the stems short, but don't remove them. Those little leaf hairs can be prickly when uncooked, so be careful when handling the okra. Toss the okra with a little olive oil, some large flake sea or Himalayan salt, a few grinds of pepper, and an optional dash of whatever spices you're craving. I really enjoy a sprinkle of cayenne. Cajun or Mediterranean blends are good bets, and garam masala seems a natural given okra's place in Indian cuisine. Heat a cast iron pan until it's screaming hot, or turn your grill up high. Add the okra to your pre-heated pan, and cook until they're blistered, about 5-7 minutes, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking. When you're done, you'll have a pile of crisp yet tender okra with no hint of sliminess. It's a fabulous side dish, though honestly I happily eat okra cooked this way as a snack!

Check out your local farmer's market this weekend. If you're in the South, chances are you'll find okra waiting for you to take it home and make it delicious. One more garden gift before the summer's out.

'Red Hill Country' can grow well over ten feet tall!

-Julia da Silva, Interpretation Coordinator

Friday, September 2, 2016

A Garden Visitor

I spotted this pretty little guy on the patrinia that's currently blooming in abundance in the Edible Garden's orchard. I didn't recognize him, and he looks a bit like a bug or a beetle here except that probiscus would be all wrong. Some research confirmed that he's actually a moth! Atteva aurea, or the ailanthus webworm, is native from southern Florida through Central America, but is now found all over the United States and even into Canada. The patrinia are thick with these moths as well as multiple species of bees, though none of the latter would pose nicely for my camera this morning. If you're visiting the Garden sometime soon, be sure to stop by and pay them a visit.

-Julia da Silva, Interpretation Coordinator

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Preserving with Marisa McClellan

At this time of year, we at the Edible Garden are practically overrun by the abundance of the summer harvest. Delicious, fresh food at every turn! But, how to stretch this bounty into the coming months? Canning and preserving are enjoying a renaissance, as more and more Americans discover the pleasures of enjoying the garden's gifts year-round.

Whether you're a canning newbie, curious about where to start, or an old hand, join us at the Garden to learn from food blogger, author, and canning connoisseur Marisa McClellan. The class fee includes a copy of Marisa's newest cookbook, Naturally Sweet Food in Jars, which features over 100 jams, spreads, dips, whole fruits, and sweet pickles. Rather than rely on traditional refined sugar, Marisa explores a variety of natural sweeteners, such as honey, maple, agave, coconut sugar, dried fruits, and fruit juice concentrate.

Marisa will demonstrate a recipe from Naturally Sweet Food in Jars, as well as discuss canning and blogging and personally sign your new book. This class is a perfect introduction to a delicious and nutritious way to enjoy your garden all year  long, and we hope you'll join us. To register, visit and select "Learn."

Schedule          Saturday, September 3, 3--4:30 p.m.
Fee                   $44 (Members $39), Book Included
Deadline            August 15
Instructor          Marisa McClellan, Author, Food in Jars