This beautiful recipe, or rather photo of drool worthy food, has been floating around Pinterest for a bit. What’s the hold up? It’s in Russian. My pal Natasha over at Alaska Knit Nat had a friend translate some of the recipe with a translator and ended up with things like “butter sauce.” So, no one is much closer to making this beautiful thing…So I
bribed kindly asked my friend Sergios to translate the ingredients for me as he is super cool and speaks both Russian and Greek (go team Cyprus!).
From there I approached this a bit like a British Bake Off technical challenge. Read: Imma make this up! Sort of.
- Make your pie crust
- Mix 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 2 tsp sugar, 3/4 tsp salt in a bowl
- Cut in 2 full sticks of butter. (Yeah. 2 sticks. No one ever said vegetables were healthy.) until you have a nice mealy mix.
- Add 9 – 12 TB of ice cold water and mix until the dough holds when pressed. Don’t over mix or your pastry will be tough. And ain’t nobody got time for that.
- Wrap/cover in cling film and pop in the refrigerator
- Run out of the house in your flour covered shirt to go to the expensive (but very cool) housewares store in rush hour traffic. Buy spring form pan because even after all these years, you still don’t have one. And believe me – this veggie tart won’t be nearly as cool if you can’t see the whole thing.
- Dig out your butcher glove (the Michael Jackson thing you use when filleting allthefish so you won’t cut your hand off) and prep the mandolin. Slice 1 full green zucchini, 1 full yellow zucchini squash, 2 potatoes, half a beet and some carrots. Realize the carrots don’t cut as nicely as you would like, and feed some to the dog.
- After your dough has chilled for at least an hour, remove from the fridge, roll, pack and blind bake for 15 minutes at 375*. I’m too cheap to own weights, so dried kidney beans and tin foil won the day. Why do we blind bake? No soggy bottoms!
- Cool your pastry for 10 minutes, and begin layering your veggies in the mold.
After your veggies look super pretty, set aside and begin making your cheese sauce. I did not have Sergios translate the entire recipe (my bribe powers have limits) but from the photo, it looks like a modified cheese sauce.
- Grate a lot of cheese – like 2 1/2 cups or so. I used 3/4 pepper jack and 1/4 cheddar. It was what we had – I don’t judge.
- Begin your roux – 1 -2 TB of melted butter with 2 -3 TB of flour, yadda yadda. (If you don’t know how to make a roux – go forth to Google)
- Slowly add 1 1/2 cups of milk, stir until thick, begin adding portions of cheese and stir until melted and all is incorporated.
- Add a few TB of water because of course you made the cheese sauce too thick. Salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.
- Feel terrible you are about to pour this stuff all over your pretty vegetables.
- Bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour at 375* – until the pie is set.
While you are waiting for the pie to cook, snack on some salmon spread leftover from last night’s onigiri. Have 3 or 4 slices, because it’s snacking.
Allow your pie to cool for about an hour – you want all that stuff to set and congeal before you hack into it and it all comes rushing out….Make sure someone in your house asks “Is it ready yet? Can we eat it?” every 15 minutes.
Cut, serve and send photos to your friends. This thing turned out amazingly well and it is definitely making it in to our meal rotation. Seriously. Super good.
Summer has officially arrived in Anchorage…and it’s making up for lost time or something because it is HOT. I know 80* to other folks doesn’t seem bad, but to us, it’s a bit like Hell and the surface of the sun all rolled into one, sad, sweaty, ball. However, while we slowly die in a pool of something gross, the plants couldn’t be happier.
The plants at the shop are loving life and throwing fruit like no other. According to the thermostat, it’s getting into the 90’s in there at night and they are thinking it’s great. This was my first year with the minibel tomatoes and I’m already quite pleased with their production. The plant will grow no bigger than a small bush and doesn’t require support. Of course we have yet to see how these taste, but so far it’s a winner.
The filius pepper was also another first for this year. Another small bush plant great for small spaces and urban gardens it will produce crazy hot peppers for over a year. When the peppers first form they are out of this world hot, but cool down when they turn from purple to red. Several of these plants are growing and all of them are loaded.
Remember Audrey the giant tomato from last year? I think the title has been taken by this cabbage. Though I have 6 growing, this is by far the largest and happiest. Can’t wait to see how big it gets!
The first french radish harvest happened in the garden just before the heat hit. I had never been a fan of radishes – admittedly I hadn’t put one in my mouth in probably 20 years – but gave these a try and they are awesome!! The husband now has to fight me for his share as I initially grew them for him… The first zucchini is finally showing itself and the cayenne peppers should be ripening to red any day now. Loving all the green!
I can’t wait to get these beauties outside!
I really love mashed potatoes. Like. A lot. But the old school mashed potatoes – none of this fancy horseradish/wasabi stuff. But what do you do when you only have 3 or 4 small potatoes in the house and for some reason your husband wants to eat too? Gather up all the other misfit veggies and make mashed root vegetables! It tastes almost exactly like mashed potatoes (and not like mashed cauliflower that supposedly tastes like potatoes….it just tastes like cauliflower) and gets rid of some of those random bits and pieces that lay around the kitchen.
Last night I threw 1 peeled & cut carrot, 4 small peeled red potatoes, a cut and peeled yam (a gift from a neighbor who was heading out of town), 5 cauliflower bunches, a small sliced onion and 3 garlic cloves in a pot of water and boiled for 20 minutes or so until everything was fork tender and mash ready. Add some butter, sour cream, salt and pepper, and a little milk or cream and viola! Mashed veggies which are awesome.
Don’t have the above? No worries! I’ve added sweet potatoes before, turnips, and just about any other boil-able veggie to the pot in the past and it all comes out tasting just like mashed potatoes. I love it.
As the season has gone on and already seems to be coming to an end, we have learned even more lessons. Namely:
Lesson 9: An article I read told me to trim some of my tomato branches, starting with the little guy that sprouts in the ‘crotch’ of 2 branches. This is totally incorrect as the little crotch sprout (it’s funny to say, right?) is where the future blossoms and thus, tomatoes, will come from. One does need to trim excess greenage from the plants though as they take away growing power and water from the little growing fruits, so look for the giant leafy branches without a connection to fruit or flowers.
Lesson 10: If you see that a particular branch is heavily laden with fruit (in our case one of the Topsy Turveys with the most direct sun), keep an eye on how that fruit is dangling. One of our branches snapped with 8 or 9 large tomatoes hanging from it, as it was just too heavy to be supported. Had I been paying closer attention (or known?) I could have secured the branch and allowed the tomatoes to naturally ripen on the vine. Between that accident and a drunken intruder’s murder of a full plant off the side rail, we had quite a few little green guys evicted from their bushes too soon, but they are starting to ripen as they sit next to other ripe fruits.
Lesson 11: It’s funny – the tomato cans we used as planters have weathered elements very well, while the coffee cans used have gotten rusty on the outside and pretty ugly. I’ll be ditching most of the coffee cans after this season and continuing to save the whole tomato cans that we use for tomato soup.
Lesson 12: While the summer squash have gone totally crazy in the larger containers, they did not do nearly as well in the cans as hoped. The lack of root space inhibited fruit growth to the point where we only got 2 or 3 squash total from the cans as opposed 2-3 per week in the larger bins. Next year, no squash in cans.
Regardless it’s been a lot of fun and we’re really excited to work out more of the kinks next year to have a totally kick ass garden. Hooray!
The husband and I had a CSA subscription a few years ago which was great on many levels. First, fresh veggies in a box without any thought. Second, we were forcibly introduced to a lot of vegetables which we normally wouldn’t choose or necessarily know what to do with (this is both a good and a bad thing depending on how creative and/or adventurous you are). One of the first boxes contained the funny looking kohlrabi – we actually had to text photos to people to help with identification.
One of my favorite uses for the funny looking German turnip is in coleslaw, or rather kohlrabislaw. It’s super easy and tastes just as good, if not better than the standard cabbage slaw.
- Thinly slice half a large kohlrabi (or use a mandolin or shredder) into strips
- Grate a peeled carrot and thinly slice 1/4 of an onion, and chop 1/2 fresh jalapeno
- Add 2 TB white vinegar and 1/3 cup mayonnaise to the mix
- Dash of salt, pepper, cayenne and a handful of raisins
- Let sit in the fridge for 1/2 an hour and serve
I’ve never been a big coleslaw fan, but I think this is pretty darn good.
I was so excited to stumble upon our first little cucumber while I was trying to coax a vine back to the trellis – I had no idea it was even there! So exciting! The whole ‘grow stuff’ thing is really working! We also have a squash which is starting to form and most of the tomato plants are in blossom at the moment. I’m amazed at the sense of accomplishment and straight up pride I’m taking in these little plants started from seed….!
We had intended to get our feet wet in the container garden arena last year as we had a deck put on our condo. However, the best laid plans and all that, as well as the deck building crew taking all summer to build the damn thing, put us behind schedule to an entirely new growing season. So here we are. Still gardening virgins. We read all the books and the blogs and thought we were ready, and then mama nature showed up and put a wrench in our plans by snowing in May of all ridiculous times. So needless to say, the seeds I started in March (Lesson 1: too early for everything but tomatoes) either didn’t make it or were barking to get outside. I have already learned a lot in our foray into the world of seed starts…Shall I share the knowledge? I hear it has power.
Lesson 2: Eggshells are great to start your heartier plants in (squash, zucchini, etc) but too tough for delicate things like herbs. I lost most of my herbs because I either lost track of watering in the shells (whoops) or their root systems were too delicate to maneuver in the small space.
Lesson 3: A grow light is great to get your starts green and growing, but after the first 2-3 inches of growth, doesn’t supply enough light to keep them growing any larger (except of course for the squash which is apparently a super plant and just wants to take over the world) – they stay the same stagnant size until presented to actual light on a windowsill or (someday, maybe) outside. Most of my tomatoes and my pepper plants just sort of stopped growing – it took forever for secondary leaves to come in, and I fear I wasn’t as ahead of the game as I would have liked.
Lesson 4: Dirt is expensive! I know this is a big investment for the moment and doesn’t need to happen each year, but the cost for (on sale!) bags of dirt was more than I had planned for. My suggestion: slowly buy bags throughout the year or when they are on sale to help offset the cost (or at least spread it out).
We definitely still have a ways to go as these little guys aren’t ready to go outside yet. Strike that, the outside world is not ready for these little guys. We’re still dipping close to freezing at night and though the days are sunny, we’re not quite there….So for now, all available windowsill real estate is spoken for and then some. I took all of the cucumbers and remaining peppers to my shop where I planted them (inside) in the containers there. I am still unsure as per whether they will stay the summer outside the retail space, or come home to hang out on the deck….the learning continues!
We try very hard to have at least one meatless day per week. We also tend to make pizzas on that meatless day as it corresponds to the only day of the week where I am home early enough to effectively rise some super kick ass dough. We each make our own concocted creation which makes for perfect pizzas each.
This week I made the following:
- A layer of pesto and light olive oil with sauteed onions and mushrooms with chopped fresh jalapenos & cabbage and sweet basil
- A little fresh mozz (which I will be finally making soon) and some grated parm and chopped green onion
- Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper – bake @ 400* for 15 or so minutes
Viola – the best little rustically handmade pizza you can get (at home). Something like this in a swanky restaurant would run you around $20 or possibly more. At home? Maybe $3. We use cheap ingredients on hand and have lunch covered for the next day too. Perfection.
We have been on a ‘tiny taco’ kick at our house. Small street style tacos with anything from halibut to ground turkey to the best pulled marinated pork you’ve ever had with rough chopped cilantro, a little cabbage, a noticeable lack of cheese (I am told the cheese part of those molten burritos we’re all so used to are not what you would call authentic), other random fixins’ and of course salsa. We have been making our own salsa and it’s so stinkin’ easy it hurts. After chatting with my friend Minerva, who runs her own handcrafted food biz with deep roots in Mexican culture and tastes, we figured that people are just lazy or honestly don’t know how easy (and cheap!) it is to make salsa. She is constantly asked to jar and sell the stuff. Why? Make it yourself! And why go to the store to pay $5 for some jar of processed junk that tastes like, well, processed stuff in a jar, when you can whip up your own batch of ‘can’t get fresher than this’ salsa for pennies.
- Chop one medium tomato – making sure to remove the seeds and guts
- Chop half an onion and throw in a bowl with the tomatoes
- Grab a few sprigs of fresh cilantro and chop, stems and all (cilantro is super cheap – .69c sometimes for a bunch and can be kept in the fridge covered in water for up to 3 weeks)
- Finely chop half a fresh, gutted, jalapeño (or more – depending on your preferred level of heat) and toss into the mix
- Squirt a little lemon juice and a little lime juice, throw a dash of salt and a dash of pepper and let your mixture sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Stuff face with tiny tacos topped with fresh salsa that cost $1.50 – max.