Mother’s Day Brunch? Garden Fresh Ingredients & Ina Garten’s Chive Rissoto Cakes Help to Make it Special…

May 8th, 2010 § 4 comments § permalink

Do you love breakfast in bed? I sure do, and when I was growing up, sometimes my sister and I would serve it to our mom as an unexpected treat – especially on Mother’s Day. Part of what made it so special was the ritual of harvesting fresh flowers and herbs from the garden, and arranging them in petite bouquets on a tray filled with fresh squeezed orange juice and homemade treats like eggs over-easy, French toast or homemade muffins. There’s something about enjoying a decadent meal, without leaving the comfort of warm covers, that can make a girl feel really special. And every mom deserves to feel like a queen on Mother’s Day…

The herbs in my potager are overflowing their boundaries this year; mainly due to the unseasonably warm temperatures we are having in the Northeast. With all of the extra chives on hand, I decided to give Ina Garten’s Chive Rissoto Cakes a try; substituting them for the usual potatoes with my eggs for brunch. Not surprisingly, I was once again blown away by Ina’s ability to turn a few simple ingredients into a knock-out dish. This rice cake recipe will definitely be added to my regular brunch -and dinner- rotation. I think the flavor and texture of these cakes make them the perfect accompaniment to almost any main course -especially fish or shrimp-  or simple light meal, such as a garden salad.

I wish I could cook something special for my sister tomorrow, since this is her first Mother’s Day with baby Morgan, but we are many hours apart, and I will be working the holiday this year. Hopefully, I will be able to make it up to them on a more leisurely weekend. Someday, I will show my nephew how to arrange a special tray, like the one pictured above, for his mom. I know she would love it.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Mothers out there. Enjoy your day. Thank you for the love and care you give to your children all over the world…

A fragrant bouquet of Viburnum ‘Anne Russell’ makes a lovely centerpiece if you decide to dine at the table… (raku vase by Richard Foye)

Chive Risotto Cakes

From: Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics


1             cup Arborio rice

4             quarts fresh, cold water

1/2         cup plain, Greek-style yogurt (or sub. sour cream)

2             extra large eggs at room temp

3             tbs freshly minced chives

1 1/2      cups grated Fontina cheese, (or sub. 5 oz Gruyere)

1/2          tsp fresh ground black pepper

1 3/4       tsp Kosher salt

3/4          cup Japanese panko/ dried bread flakes, (or sub dried bread crumbs)

Good quality olive oil


In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, add 1/2 tsp salt and Arborio rice. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the grains of rice are soft. Drain and run rice under gold water in a sieve until cooled. Drain and set aside.

While the rice is cooking, mix yogurt, cheese, eggs, chives, pepper and 1 1/4 tsp salt in a medium sized bowl.

Add the cooled rice to the yogurt mixture and and thoroughly combine ingredients.  Wrap the bowl in plastic and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours until the mixture is firm.

When you are ready to begin preparing for your meal, preheat an oven to 250 degrees. Spread the dried bread flakes, (or crumbs), in a working dish or bowl with low sides. Form rice balls from the mixture using a large spoon or ice cream scoop.

Using a patting motion, flatten the balls into round patties approximately 3/4″ thick, (about 3″ diameter). Place a half dozen or so patties into the bread flakes and turn to coat both sides. Heat 3 tbs of oil in a skillet set to medium-low heat.  Add the patties to the hot oil and cook 3 minutes or so on each side until golden brown. Cook in batches and add to a heat-safe dish in a warm oven.

Patties may be kept warm in an oven for a half an hour or so, and should be served hot. Try them with eggs and a special mimosa for Mother’s Day Brunch, or with dinner anytime. The patties may be made and refrigerated in advance.

Travel back to this post to find my favorite Mimosa recipe...

Time to Relax Mom …

From Ina Garten’s Endlessly Inspirational: Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

Fresh flowers from the garden…

And chives from the spring potager…


Words and Pictures copyright 2010 Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden. All Rights Reserved.

All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without prior written consent. Inspired by something you see here? Great! Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…

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A Coffee Break with Kick! Lee Bailey’s Sour Cream Corn Bread with Onions, Cheddar and Optional Hot Peppers…

April 12th, 2010 § 9 comments § permalink

Lee Bailey’s Sour Cream and Cheddar Corn Bread with Onions – Photo © 2010 Michaela at TGE

Oochie, Owie, Yowie. Those are my  biceps, triceps and trapezoids speaking. They have been getting quite the workout. Gardening can be physically intense, and I work up a serious appetite raking, dragging debris and edging my client’s gardens. I also have very little free time to cook these days, (this post should have gone up yesterday, but I ran into a bit of a sanfu entering information into TurboTax on Sunday, and well, Uncle Sam must come first). On the weekends, when I’m not working, I try to make a few hearty things in the kitchen to carry me through the week.

I am a big fan of all Southern cooking -OK, who isn’t?- and I am especially fond of Lee Bailey’s country-style recipes. Cornbread has always been one of my favorite comfort foods, but although I think it’s fabulous drizzled with honey, I don’t like for the bread itself to be sweet! I prefer to to taste the flavor of real corn -very forward in this recipe- and I am picky about a moist, springy texture. One of the things that makes cornbread special is its versatility. Sure, you can make it plain and simple -without the onions or peppers I mention here- but you can also really jazz it up with fresh things from the garden. Depending upon my main course, I might add chives, sweet onions, garlic, sweet or hot peppers, and just about anything else that strikes my fancy. Sweet onions -such a rewarding crop to grow- are one of my favorite additions. It will be sometime before I have ripe, hot peppers in my garden, but they also add a special kick to this recipe – especially if you are cooking Cajun or Tex-Mex. I will be talking more about gourmet peppers, and other potager-delights in the coming weeks.

The recipe below is taken from Lee Bailey’s Country Weekends. If the gorgeous photographs of al-fresco meals in various outdoor settings don’t inspire you, the recipes and menus surely will. Although Lee’s beautiful book has gone out of print, I believe it can still be found online, both new and used. I received my copy as graduation/first-housewarming gift in the 90’s, (from a fabulous foodie-friend), and I still think it’s a wonderful book worth seeking out.


Lee Bailey’s Sour Cream Corn Bread with Onions and Cheddar Cheese


2/3 c       Safflower oil

2             Eggs, gently beaten

8oz         Greek style Sour Cream (low fat is OK, full fat is heaven)

16oz       Creamed corn, (homemade is best, but canned will work)

1 1/2 c    Yellow cornmeal

2tsp        Baking powder

1tsp         Salt

1c            Extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1              Medium size sweet onion, grated

2              Finely chopped hot peppers, such as jalapeños, (optional, and awesome)


Preheat oven to 350°. Butter an 8 or 9″ pan. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. In another bowl, mix together the oil, eggs, sour cream and creamed corn. Mix the grated onion, (and optional jalapeno), into the wet ingredients. Quickly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. The batter will be a little lumpy and clumpy – that is good. Pour half the batter into the pan and sprinkle 3/4 cup of cheddar cheese on top. Then pour in the remaining batter. Top with the leftover 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese. Bake 45 minutes and cool for 10 minutes before cutting into wedges. This is best served hot, and don’t refrigerate it or it will ruin the texture…

And Hooo Wee. Try it with hot peppers, such as Jalapeños or Heirloom Hungarians, for an incredible kick !

Last year’s hot peppers, (including heirloom Hungarians), on my terrace in August

2009 Onion Harvest


Words and Pictures copyright 2010 Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden. All Rights Reserved.

All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without prior written consent. Inspired by something you see here? Great! Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through our affiliate links. A small percentage of any sale originating from The Gardener’s Eden site will go toward web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you for your support!

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Is There a Cure for Spring Fever? How About a Flirty Little Cocktail to Celebrate the Vernal Equinox…

March 20th, 2010 § 3 comments § permalink

The Strawberry Flirt – A Spring-Fling Cocktail to Celebrate the Vernal Equinox

Spring is a flirtatious season. A coquettish, unpredictable lover. We long for her, but she makes us wait. She takes her time, dropping hints; kissing flower buds with her pouty lips and sending promises on winged messengers. When she finally arrives she often comes on strong, and then she suddenly disappears, giving us the cold shoulder for weeks. In spite of her youth, she is practiced in the art of seduction. But we love her anyway. In fact, we love her all the more I think, because of her indecisive ways.

Flirtation can be fun -in fact I rather like it- especially in the garden. So to celebrate the arrival of Spring today, I have chosen a decidedly insouciant cocktail; using fresh herbs from my windowsill garden. A hint of sophisticated mint, a kiss of strawberry sweetness clipped by lime, a rumor of racy hearted rum, and a bit of champagne-bubble charm: This Strawberry Flirt is all about anticipating the delightful season to come.

Oh Spring, how you give me FEVER. So, go ahead – put your Peggy Lee on the play list and kick back in the warm sunshine. Welcome the first day of Spring with a tasty Strawberry Flirt. But for heaven’s sake, do try to be casual about it -don’t be too eager to please- or she will up and change her mind again!

The Strawberry Flirt – A Spring-Fling Cocktail

( Inspiration: Salvatore Calabrese and Maria Hunt )

Ingredients (makes one cocktail):

5    Organic Strawberries (fresh, small berries tend to have best flavor)

10  Organic Peppermint Leaves

1    Ounce lime syrup*

1    Ounce white Puerto Rican rum**

Dry Prosecco, sparkling wine or champagne**


Wash strawberries, remove stems and slice. Place in a chilled, round wine glass or goblet or with 10 mint leaves and muddle. Add 1 ounce of homemade lime syrup, (see recipe below), and 1 ounce of white rum. Mix. Fill the glass to near full with cracked, (but not crushed), ice. Add Prosecco to top-off the glass and gently stir. Garnish with a wedge of strawberry and/or a sprig of fresh mint.

*Lime syrup (will keep in a refrigerator for several weeks in a sealed bottle)


1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 cup granulated sugar


Combine both ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.

** A non-alcoholic version of this drink can be easily made by substituting sparkling water in place of the wine. Artificial rum flavoring made also be added if you so desire.

The Strawberry Flirt


For more delightful springtime libations, check out these lovely books:

Denise Gee’s Southern Cocktails

Maria Hunt’s – The Bubbly Bar


Article and photographs copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden. All rights reserved. All content on this site is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without written consent. Inspired by something you see here? Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…

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Apple Pancake Tart for Breakfast: The Simple Pleasures of Country Living…

February 19th, 2010 § Comments Off on Apple Pancake Tart for Breakfast: The Simple Pleasures of Country Living… § permalink

Apple Pancake Tart for Breakfast, Brunch or Dessert. Platter by Aletha Soule

I adore cities: San Francisco; New Orleans; New York; Florence; Munich – in that order. I love urban energy, art, culture, food and people. But as much as I enjoy traveling, I am a homebody at heart. After a day spent struggling through city traffic yesterday, I was more than ready to head home. So this weekend I am planning to enjoy the leisurely pace of my country life, complete with a slow, decadent brunch.

I have mentioned Marion Cunningham‘s delightful Breakfast Book here before, and I am sure I will mention it again. When it comes to creating comfort food, it’s really hard to beat the wisdom of Marion Cunningham. I found Marion’s recipe for apple pancakes one morning a few years back when I had a bag of apples and little else in my kitchen. Although it is categorized under pancakes, I file this delicious cast iron skillet creation somewhere between tart and souffle. But no matter what you call it, it is simply scrumptious, and easy-peasy to make.

Yes, the Big Apple is fun for a day or two, but after getting my fill, I am more than content with a few little apples served warm in an Apple Pancake Tart here on my country hilltop. There’s no place like home…

Marion Cunningham’s Apple Pancake Tart

From the Breakfast Book , (with tasty little adaptations)


6     Tablespoons Butter

2     Large, tart apples, (peeled, cored and sliced)

3     Tablespoons Lemon Juice

1/4  teaspoon cinnamon

1/4  teaspoon vanilla

1/8  teaspoon nutmeg

5     Tablespoons confectioners sugar (plus or minus, to taste)

3     Eggs at room temperature

1/4  teaspoon salt

1/2  cup all-purpose flour

1/2  cup milk


Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a large bowl, mix apples with lemon juice. Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla and toss to mix well.

In a 10 inch skillet, melt butter until just liquified. Remove from heat and reserve 2 Tbs of butter in a separate bowl. Return skillet to stove and bring the heat to medium. Add the apple mixture and cook, (stirring), about 5 minutes. Apples should  retain shape but be cooked through and tender. Test with a fork. Remove from heat and spread them into a uniform layer at the bottom of the pan. Set pan aside.

Place milk, eggs, four salt and 2 tablespoons of reserved butter in a food processor or blender. Combine until smooth. Pour the mixture atop the layer of apples in the skillet.

Carefully place the skillet in the stove and bake for 20 minutes, until puffed up and golden brown.

Wait a few minutes for pan to cool, then flip upside down on a large platter to expose the apple top. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve warm…



Article and photographs © 2010 Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden. All rights reserved.

All content on this site is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without prior written consent. Inspired by something you see here? Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…

Thank you !

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What’s Up Doc? Waskilly Seeds and a Recipe for Velvety Baked Carrots…

January 23rd, 2010 § 7 comments § permalink

Baked Velvet Carrots

Beautiful Bolero …

Flat leaf Italian parsley from the windowsill herb garden…

Sliced Bolero Carrots…

We all know that old Elmer Fudd thinks Bugs Bunny is a terribly, waskilly wabbit. But frankly I think Elmer has it wrong. I think it’s Bugs Bunny’s carrot that’s a bit waskilly – at least as a seed. Itsy bitsy, teeny weeny carrot seeds are notoriously difficult to sow. Tiny, fine and lighter than a feather, it’s easy to lose track of those little devils. They stick to the packet; slip through your fingers; blow down your shirt; and before you know it they are spilling all over the ground. Waskilly Kawits. Unfortunately, if you want beautifully shaped, full size carrots, then seed spacing is pretty darn important. But you know, I’m also fairly sure that I’m not the only gardener to lose track of how many carrot seeds have fallen into the soil, and how close they ended up being planted together. To solve the spacing problem, some gardeners broadcast seed with sand or coffee grounds. Other gardeners have showed me how they create elaborately folded paper contraptions. And a few frugal New England gardeners I know have ended up breaking down and buying pre-seeded carrot tape. Me? Oh I am stubborn. I usually struggle through the planting and then, weeks later, I test my patience by thinning seedlings with a pair of scissors on a buggy day. But there is another, fully-organic, OMRI approved solution: pelleted seeds. This year I am going to give them a go…

Pelleted carrot seeds with radishes, (photo courtesy of The Old School House Plantery)

Never heard of pelleted, (or pelletized), seeds? Well, they are just regular old seeds, coated with an organic substance, (usually an inert material like starch), that makes them easier to see and handle. The coating is sort of like the dusty, crusty stuff on the outside of a chocolate truffle, (sorry chocoholics, I didn’t mean to do that to you). If you are planning on planting a vegetable garden with kids, or if you have less-than-steady hands, or less-than perfect eyesight, (or, err,  less-than saintly patience, like me), pelletized seeds can come in very handy. I just ordered up pelleted Bolero, Mokum and Sugarsnax carrot seed from Johnny’s Seeds yesterday. I also chose a few packs of pelleted lettuce seed, since I find them a bit waskilly as well. Johnny’s Seeds is a wonderful employee-owned company in the great state of Maine, and they carry a wide variety of organic, heirloom and gourmet vegetables. I order many of my unusual vegetable seeds from Johnny’s Seeds and the other great online companies, including Renee’s Garden Seeds and Botanical Interests, listed in the sidebar at right under “seeds”. I have found that each company usually has some special variety I want, (such as the pelleted seeds from Johnny’s), so I always end up spreading my orders around the country a bit. And this year, I notice seeds are selling out faster than usual, so it’s always helpful to have a few reliable sources.

Carrots are a cook’s kitchen staple. The foundation of many stocks, carrots also add color, sweetness and vitamins to everything from salads, appetizers and soups to savory baked dishes, casseroles and breads. And can you imagine life without carrot cake and cream cheese frosting? For such a rewarding crop, carrots are remarkably easy to grow in the garden. These bright colored veggies aren’t fussy, but they do like very deep, loose, compost-rich soil. So if you have rocky loam, you might have better luck with carrots if you raise your beds with mounds or planters. Many gardeners use radishes as companions for carrots to mark the row, and to help break the crusty soil. Of course it also helps to keep the soil evenly moist during germination, (but be sure not to overwater carrots during the growing season). During the hot summer, carrots will benefit from a layer of mulch; keeping their roots cool and their tops warm enhances flavor. I also like to shade carrot roots by planting them between rows of leafy lettuce, spinach and/or chard. If you sow a fast maturing variety in the early part of the season, (when soil temps reach a consistent 60° F), and then plant a second crop when the soil is warm enough to plant tomatoes, (70-75°), you can harvest carrots all year long, (and for those of us with frozen tundra, carrots will also store well in root cellars, layered in damp sand).

Hungry yet? There’s nothing like a serving of bright orange, velvety carrots to remind me of summer’s sweetness, and I truly love this rich, savory old recipe. Brilliantly colored baked carrots are the perfect side dish for a potato-vegetable gratin or a roasted or baked pretty-much-anything. Mmmmm. Sweet Bolero, my lovely carrot, you don’t seem quite so rascally now….

Greene on Greens

Velvety Baked Carrots

(an oldie but a goodie, from Bert Greene’s Greene on Greens cookbook)

Ingredients (serves 4-6 as a side dish):

3 1/2 c       homemade vegetable stock or chicken broth

1 pound     peeled carrots cut in half lengthwise

3 Tbs         unsalted butter

3 Tbs         all-purpose flour

1/2 c          heavy cream

1/8 tsp       ground allspice

1/8 tsp       fresh grated nutmeg

dash          Sriracha hot chili sauce, (or other pepper sauce)

to taste      salt

to taste      fresh ground pepper

1/4 c          fresh bread crumbs

2 Tbs         fresh chopped parsley

1 Tbs         grated Reggiano Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350° F. Wash and peel carrots, and slice them in half lengthwise, (more if they are particularly large). In a medium saucepan, bring 3 1/2 cups of vegetable, (or chicken), broth to a boil.  Slowly add the carrots and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the carrots, uncovered, until they are soft. Test with a fork after 25 minutes. Drain the carrots over a bowl, reserving the broth. Place the carrots in a separate bowl and mash, (lightly with a potato masher), until smooth but still attractively textured. Set aside.

Return the saucepan to the stove and melt 2 Tbs. of butter over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour and cook, continuously stirring, for a couple of minutes. Add 1 cup of the reserved cooking stock and whisk together while brining the mix to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Add the nutmeg, allspice, pepper sauce. Whisk in 1/2 cup of cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the mixture from the heat and combine with the mashed carrots. Pour into a buttered, shallow baking dish and set aside.

In a small skillet, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs and stir into the butter, cooking and turning until golden brown. Remove from the heat and add in the chopped parsley. Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the carrots and top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the topping is bubbling.


All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden, and may not be used or reproduced without express written consent. Please do not use photographs or text excerpts without permission, (see contact at left). Inspired by something you see here? Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams.

Thank you !



A Golden Cake for the Holidays – Fragrant with Spice and Bartlett Pears…

December 13th, 2009 § 4 comments § permalink

Bartlett Pear Cake

Spiced Yogurt Cake with Bartlett Pears

Bartlett Pears on a Turquoise Plate

Bartlett Pears on a Turquoise Plate

I love getting up early on a winter morning and baking in a sunlit kitchen. To me, the scent of fresh baked goods, coffee and fragrant, warm spices makes a house feel comforting and homey. So this morning, when my cat nudged me awake before the sunrise, I started a fire in the wood stove and began throwing open the cupboards and canisters.

Fruit from the fall harvest is still plentiful at my local orchards and markets, and as you may have noticed, I have been enjoying it ! Although I have been writing a great deal about heirloom apples lately, in truth I have a great weakness for all fall fruit – and I am particularly fond of pears. Simply gazing upon their blushing, golden beauty as they bask in the early morning light on my table, I find them absolutely irresistible. Sometimes I will buy a few pears, intending to poach or bake with them, and then I will eat them all before the weekend. The flesh of this sweetly perfumed fruit has such a beautiful, delicate texture, usually I can not control myself. But this time I bought a dozen Bartlett pears at the market, enough for baking as well as for impulse-pleasure.

Last week I mentioned my fondness for Marion Cunningham’s delightful Breakfast Book. Marion’s collection of recipes includes many delicious coffee and breakfast cakes. Also last week, while visiting one of my favorite cooking blogs, Clotilde Dusoulier’s Chocolate and Zucchini, I found a slightly different twist on a much loved, basic coffee cake from Marion’s book. Gateau au Yaourt is a simple and easily modified French cake recipe. Clotilde posted a variation on this yogurt cake with apples and maple sugar, (in honor of her nephew’s first birthday – we are both new aunts, and I was excited to read that she takes this as seriously as I do!). I tried this cake and I absolutely loved it. So, this morning I decided to combine Clotilde and Marion’s recipes together, adding fresh Bartlett pears atop the cake, and the result is quite delightful, (I am enjoying a slice with coffee as I write to share this with you). I think the subtle, exquisite flavor of Bartlett pears works perfectly with this recipe – it’s a simple, easy-to-make treat for this wintery, holiday season.

I am so enamored of Clotilde’s cookbooks that I have ordered several copies to give as holiday gifts this year. Her blog is fantastic, and I was hoping to attend her book signing in New York in order to meet her, but we were hit with a severe snow storm and I was unable to drive to the city. Sigh. Next time! Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris is her latest collection of wonderful recipes. Her instructions are always easy to follow and her style of writing is both clear and entertaining. I could go on and on, but I am sorry, I need to finish eating my slice of cake !

Spiced Yogurt Cake with Bartlett Pears

(with the French influence of Clotilde Dusoulier and American Marion Cunningham)


2         eggs

1         cup whole milk yogurt (or use sour cream, as Marion does)

1         cup sugar

1/3      cup butter, melted (or use vegetable oil, as Clotilde does)

1         teaspoon vanilla extract

1         tablespoon light rum (I used Puerto Rican golden rum)

2         cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2  teaspoon baking powder

1/2      teaspoon baking soda

3         ripe Bartlett pears, cored and sliced in thin wedges

dash  fresh ground nutmeg

dash  fresh ground cinnamon

butter for greasing pan

Warm oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and set aside. Core and thinly slice three ripe Bartlett pears to wedges. Set aside. Grease a 10″ round, ceramic pan or cake dish with butter.  Mix yogurt, eggs, vanilla, rum, sugar and melted butter in a large bowl.  In a smaller bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet and blend until just mixed. Pour mix into the greased pan. Arrange sliced pears in a circle atop the cake and sprinkle with fresh ground nutmeg and cinnamon.

Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and test with a stick for doneness. Let the cake sit for 15 minutes before removing from the pan or serving.

Mixing the Yogurt Cake

When mixing the ingredients, remember that a few lumps are OK – best not to overwork the batter…

Slicing the Bartlett Pears

I sliced Bartlett pears into thin wedges and arranged them in a spiral atop the cake. A dusting of fresh ground nutmeg and cinnamon topped things off before I set it into the hot oven…

Bartlett Pears on a Turquoise Plate 2

Bartlett pears look so beautiful on my table, it is almost like having Cezanne to breakfast.


Two favorite cook books from Clotilde …


Click here for: Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris


Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen


Article and photographs, (with exception of the two book links above), copyright 2009, Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without express written permission. Inspired by something you see here? Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…


As a matter of personal integrity, all product and book reviews on this site are purely editorial. No payment of any kind is received for mention here. However, The Gardener’s Eden is an affiliate, and any purchases you make at Amazon by accessing the store through links on this site will help support The Gardener’s Eden by netting this site a small percentage of the sale. Thank you !



Baby it’s Cold Outside! Warm Up a Bit – Sweet Butternut Squash Soup, with a Kiss of Apple Confit and Creme Fraiche…

December 5th, 2009 § 2 comments § permalink

Butternut Squash Soup with Apple Confit and and a dollop of Crème Fraîche…

So what am I doing outside these days? Oh all sorts of last minute, before-the-snow-flies chores and holiday decorating. Up until today, it has been unseasonably warm in New England, and I have been delighting in the temperatures while gathering greenery and stringing lights. But this morning, the air is a bit nippy, and I still need to wrap and protect some ornamental trees, (more on that later), in my garden.

After only an hour outside today, my fingers were already getting cold. I know I will get cranky this afternoon if I don’t make something warm to fill me up later. The wintry clouds are moving in now, promising at least a few inches of snow. I can hardly contain my excitement ! Just imagine how beautiful everything will look in the morning. I sure hope the forecast is accurate, don’t you? Things are looking a bit drab outside these days. A blanket of white will really bring out the red twigs and colorful berries in my garden, and I think the conifers look particularly magical all cloaked in fluffy snow.

Speaking of color, I am a push-over for bright orange soup on a grey day. This recipe for fragrant, creamy-textured butternut squash soup delivers exactly the warm temperature and hue I am craving. I love Annie Somerville’s Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes From The Celebrated Greens Restaurantcookbook for many reasons, but this soup recipe is really at the top of the list. I messed with the ingredients just a bit, since I do not have Calvados on hand. But I have found that Zeke’s heirloom apple cider, (from local Scott Farm), is a delightful flavor substitute when combined with a bit of French brandy.

So if you are working outside this weekend, or just feeling a bit blah, give this sunny soup a try. The bright orange-gold color in my charcoal colored bowl feels just like a ray of sunlight streaming through dark clouds…

butternut squash close up

Butternut Squash Soup with Apple Confit and a Kiss of Creme Fraiche

Adapted from Annie Somerville’s, Fields of Greens New Vegetarian Recipes

3 cups of Light Vegetable Stock (homemade is best)

1 Tbs light olive oil

1 medium onion, sliced thin

3 Tbs Calvados , ( I substituted French Brandy and 1 Tbs apple cider, listed below )

4 lbs Butternut Squash, (1 good sized squash or 6 cups), peeled and cut into cubes

1 Tbs. unsalted butter

2 average sized, flavorful, sweet-tart apples, ( 2 1/2 cups peeled, cored and sliced)

1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs apple cider (or apple juice)

1/2 cup Creme Fraiche


Freshly ground white pepper

Warm the vegetable stock in a pot over low heat. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbs of olive oil in a medium sized soup pot. Add the sliced onion, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bit of pepper. With the burner on medium, saute the onions, stirring regularly, for about 15 minutes, or until slightly caramelized. Add a bit of stock and scrape the onions from the bottom of the pan. Add 2 Tbs. of brandy and 1 Tbs apple cider, and cook over medium high heat until the pan is nearly dry.

Add the squash and 1 tsp of salt to the pan. Pour about 2 cups of vegetable stock, perhaps slightly more, into the pot until the squash is just covered.  Cover and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the squash is soft. Pour the soup into a blender or food processor, add a bit more stock to liquify, and puree to a thick but soupy consistency.  Add more stock as needed.  Pour the soup back into the pot and simmer for a half an hour over low heat.

To make the apple confit: Melt 1 Tbs. butter in a saute pan, (with a lid). When the butter is melted, add apples and saute, medium-high, stirring to coat the apples in butter. Add 1 Tbs. Calvados or Brandy and cook down for about 2 minutes, or until the pan is nearly dry. Add the apple cider and cover, cooking the apples over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until soft. Uncover and cook another 5-10 minutes, reducing the liquid. Mash the apples lightly.

Divide the confit in half. Stir one half into the soup and set the rest aside to spoon atop each serving bowl. Add a dollop of creme fraiche and float a bit of apple confit atop each warmed bowl of soup before serving. Swirl for a pretty effect.

butternut squashThe color of butternut squash is the most beautiful golden orange…

fieldsofgreensFields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes From The Celebrated Greens Restaurant


Article and photos ⓒ Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

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Holiday Brunch from the Kitchen Garden and Local Orchard…

November 28th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

Heirloom Lady Apple and Yukon Gold Potato Fry…

Anticipation is in the air. Twinkling lights. Aromatic, evergreen boughs. Crackling fires. Stories. There are so many simple things to love about the coming holiday season and winter months. For me, late morning breakfasts always top the December weekend-pleasures list. After a busy year, doesn’t it feel luxurious to enjoy a leisurely morning at the sun drenched table, sipping coffee and lingering over scattered newspapers? Or better yet, how about a half day spent sprawled out upon the king size bed with a tray of warm pastries and a pot of steaming tea?  Oh, the delights of the quiet season ahead. And while it is certainly a feast made for lovers, brunch is also a fun meal to share with family and friends during the holiday season.

This is the time of year when I begin to pull out my favorite, dog-eared cookbooks, returning to the eagerly anticipated smells of homemade brunch. Although there are many fine culinary titles collecting dust on my shelves, there is one that never needs brushing off – Marion Cunningham’s Breakfast Book Marion’s delightful little collection of recipes has long been my secret, brunch-weapon. French toast, eggs, waffles, potatoes, muffins, cakes; Marion has included everything your heart could possibly desire. She even has a brunch-defining recipe called the ‘Sunday loaf’. Exactly what I was thinking Marion – exactly.

Late last night before turning in, I boiled some homegrown Yukon gold potatoes to enjoy in my own, modified version of Marion’s ‘Apple Potato Fry’ this morning. I have altered the recipe a bit to include sweet onion from my kitchen garden and heirloom lady apples, (see photo notes below), from local Scott Farm Orchard. When I got up today, I simply fried the potatoes, added fresh diced apples, a bit of onion, and cooked it for a few minutes while I stoked the fire. When done, I topped the whole thing off with fried eggs and farm-fresh sour cream. It was pretty much heaven –  and since this is the season of giving, I felt I should let you in on it….

Lady Apple (Pomme d' Api, or Roman)Beautiful heirloom Lady Apples, (Pomme d’ Api) – tiny and tart-sweet, these citron-green apples with a rosy blush are delightful to cook with, eat fresh, or enjoy in holiday decorations such as wreaths…

Pan Fried Yukon Gold Potatoes with Heirloom Lady Apples

Adapted from Marion Cunningham’s Potato Apple Fry, in The Breakfast Book


6    Heirloom Lady Apples, (or 3 regular sized tart apples such as Pippin or Granny Smith)

5    Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4    Tablespoons fresh butter

3    Tablespoons vegetable oil

12  Small or 6 medium sized left-over, or freshly boiled and dried Yukon Gold potatoes, (or new red potatoes)

1     Small sweet onion, (such as Vidalia)

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

6     Tablespoons fresh, whole-milk sour cream, (or whole Greek Yogurt)

Wash, core and dice the heirloom Lady apples, (about 1/8-1/4″ thick). I leave the skin on for color and flavor. Place apples into a small bowl, tossing with lemon juice. Set aside.

Peel and chop the sweet onion, medium dice.

In a small skillet, heat 1 table spoon of vegetable oil over low heat. Raise the burner temp. to medium, add the onion and cook until translucent, (about 5-7 minutes). Remove onion to a plate and set aside.

In a large skillet, (one with a lid), heat the butter and remaining oil over low heat. Meanwhile, cut up the left-over potatoes into 1/8-1/4″ dice, (or use freshly boiled potatoes, patted dry). I always leave the peels on my boiled potatoes for vitamins and texture, (I simply wash and scrub them clean before cooking). As you turn the burner up to medium, slowly add the potatoes, spreading them evenly in the skillet. Add salt and pepper. Cook potatoes on one side until crispy and brown, (5 minutes), turn and brown again, (another 5 or so).

Drain the lemon juice from the apples and pat them dry. When potatoes are a crisp, even, golden brown, add the apples and toss well. Cover with a lid and cook over high heat for two two to three minutes. Uncover, stir and add sweet onion.  Cook uncovered for a few more minutes.

Remove to a serving platter and serve hot with fresh sour cream.

Lady apples diced upLady Apples diced up…

Yukon gold potatoes in panYukon gold potatoes, pan frying to a crispy, warm brown…

Heirloom Lady Apple and Yukon Gold Potato FryLady apples added to the browned Yukon gold potatoes…

Potato Apple Fry with Egg Over-EasyHeirloom lady apple and Yukon gold potato fry with an egg, cooked over-easy, and a dollop of fresh sour cream…

Article and photographs copyright 2009, Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

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