Oh gosh, I had so much fun doing my first Zoom presentation for the Boone County Arboretum’s Annual Tea with Josh, Nicole, Stephanie, Donna, and Kris last night.
Log onto to their site to see just how lovely and productive this community arboretum is. There may be time for you to bid at the silent auction, too.
My talk was about the 4 seasons and food and herbs that are appropriate.
Here’s the recipes I shared:
BELGIAN ENDIVE WATER LILY
This spread is better than the Boursin cheese spread you can buy. The spread
is also delicious on crostini or as a dip for veggies.
Mix everything together well and go to taste on the herbs. You can also add
less butter if you like. This easily doubles or triples.
Belgian endive – 4 heads
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened (Ok you can use 1/2 stick if you want less fat)
3/4 to 1 teaspoon minced garlic or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ea: dry oregano, thyme, marjoram, basil and dill or 3X mount if using fresh herbs
1/2 teaspoon black pepper or dash cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and squeeze of lemon juice
Endive leaves: 4-5 heads.
Cut bottoms from endive heads. Set aside while making herb spread.
Place mixture on large round plate. Shape into a disk.
Starting with largest endive leaves first, insert leaves into bottom of
mound and push in about an inch, making a single layer of leaves. Keep
inserting layers of leaves in alternate rows, making a flower petal pattern.
This can be made several hours ahead to this point. Cover lightly and
When ready to serve, sprinkle with chopped edible flowers or insert an
edible flower petal into the base of each endive leave where it meets the
cream cheese mixture. This spread is a good keeper, covered, in the
refrigerator, up to two weeks.
An old fashioned vinegar drink that is now trendy. Makes 2 to 3 cups, depending on the juiciness of the fruit. To make it more healthy (it already is a good drink if you use organic vinegar, like cider, with probiotics), sweeten with stevia or honey or your favorite.
2 cups dead ripe fruit, cleaned, peeled, seeded, and chopped (if necessary)
2 cups vinegar
1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar
Sterilize the container and then add fruit. (I use a large glass jar).
Add the vinegar:
Place the vinegar in a saucepan and heat to just below the boiling point, or at least 190°F. Pour the vinegar over the fruit, leaving at least 1/4-inch headspace in the jar and cap.
Let it infuse: Let the vinegar cool completely and then store the jar in a cool, dark place, such as a cupboard or the refrigerator. Let it stand at least 24 hours and up to 4 weeks until the desired flavor is reached.
Strain it: Strain the fruit from the vinegar through a damp cheesecloth or coffee filter. Do this at least once, or repeat as desired until the vinegar shows no cloudiness. Discard the fruit or save it for another purpose (it’s often delicious for use in chutneys).
Add the sugar: Place the fruit-infused vinegar and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and let cool. Taste. Now if you want to put in a tiny bit of water, go ahead, but I usually don’t. Remember this is a syrup so it should taste strong.
Pour into a clean, sterilized container and cap.
Store: Store the shrub syrup in the refrigerator up to 6 months. Discard if it has mold or any signs of fermentation, such as bubbling, cloudiness, or sliminess.
Serve: To serve, mix 2 tablespoons shrub syrup into a glass of still or sparkling water. Taste and add more syrup, if desired.
Shrub syrups may also be used as cocktail mixers, in salad dressings, and more.
MY MOTHER’S TABOULEH
Fresh parsley is a must. Go to taste on ingredients!
1 cup bulghur cracked wheat
Tomatoes, chopped – 3 large or 4 medium
1 bunch green onions, chopped – use less if real strong, about 3 or so
1 bunch parsley, chopped
Radishes, chopped – optional but good
1 medium English cucumber or garden cucumbers, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
Cumin, to taste
Several sprigs mint leaves, chopped
Several sprigs basil leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Up to 1/4 cup Canola oil, or to taste
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice if necessary
Place wheat in bowl and rinse under cool water three times. Leave about ¼ inch water on top of wheat after third rinse. Let sit for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Squeeze to drain remaining liquid out.
Meanwhile, mix vegetables together. Add cumin and herbs and mix. Add wheat, and mix. Add oil, a little at a time, and mix. Add salt, more cumin and lemon juice if you want.
Tips from Rita’s kitchen: Bulghur
Make sure you buy cracked bulghur wheat, which is cooked, dried and cracked, and only needs to be reconstituted. Whole-wheat berries are sometimes labeled as bulghur – it’s the cracked, creamy tan looking grains you want to buy.
The vegetables are also tasty mixed with cooked, chilled couscous. When vegetables are home grown, I don’t add lemon juice and use very little oil.
½ lb. fresh ginger, roughly peeled and coarsely chopped
7-8 cups water (I used a bit more than 7)
1 to 1-1/2 cups raw, natural or regular sugar (or less if you want)
1 Tbsp. molasses
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon wine or regular bread yeast (active dry yeast)
1 jar large enough to hold contents, covered
In a blender, pulse ginger with 1 quart water until roughly puréed.
Combine the ginger-water, sugar and molasses in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
Add lemon juice and taste to see if it needs adjusting.
Remove from heat and let cool to just slightly warmer than room temperature.
Line a funnel with coffee filters (2) or cheesecloth doubled over and use it to strain the liquid. There should be some air space left on top of the liquid for fermenting bubbles. I used a big canning jar.
Sprinkle the yeast on top of the liquid in the bottle.
Cover with canning jar lid or cloth. If using lid, position it so a tiny bit of air can come in.
Let ferment/sit at room temperature for 12 hours or more. I let mine sit a full 24. The longer it ferments, the more “beery/yeasty” it tastes.
After fermenting, pour into bottles, leaving air space at the top, seal and store in refrigerator. I don’t seal mine real tight.
Keep ginger beer refrigerated, and drink within 1 week.
Tip: Alcohol content
Although we call this beverage “beer”, the alcohol content is about 1%, so you’re good to go!
Butterfly pea flower tea
This cobalt blue flower is native to Southeast Asia.
Antioxidant, anti-aging and good immune system drink.
Order dried flowers/powder online. Just google the name.
I like to mix it with hyssop and mint, or add it to regular black or green tea. As my herbalist friend, Lisa, says: “Hyssop, mint and pea flower tea is magical.”
Already on my site!
ROASTED CHICKEN WITH GREEK HERBS
Sometimes I’ll use just breasts and thighs or all thighs
The high heat gives the chicken an incredibly crisp skin. This is one of those “hurry home” meals. Freshly ground pepper makes this a standout dish.
If you don’t have a peppermill, put it on your wish list. My favorite mill is Peppermate.
Makes all the difference in the world, and pepper has lots of antioxidants. Ditto for the oregano, one of the most healing herbs on the planet.
1 chicken, cut up, about 3# (or several pieces, whatever you like)
6-8 Italian tomatoes, cut into quarters or 14.5 oz. can diced or whole or 1 jar, 16 oz., home canned tomatoes
1 large yellow onion
4-5 Yukon gold or large Red potatoes, cut into quarters or big chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh oregano, or a generous 2 teaspoons dry
1/3 cup olive oil or bit more as needed
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
Preheat oven to 450. Toss chicken, tomatoes, onion and potatoes with salt and pepper. Put chicken and vegetables in large bowl. Mix oregano, oil, lemon juice and garlic together. Pour over chicken and vegetables. Put into shallow roasting pan, placing chicken pieces skin side up on top of vegetables. Roast 1 hour or until chicken is golden and cooked through.