The backyard vegetable garden has probably been plowed under by now; tomatoes, zucchini, fresh herbs and cucumbers almost a distant memory. So to preserve some of the recipes that gardener-cooks spend the summer and fall concocting with their own fruits, herbs and vegetables, author Victoria Wise compiled "Smith & Hawken: The Gardeners' Community Cookbook" (Workman, 1999; $35 hardcover, $19.95 paperback).
More than 400 recipes were sent in from all over the country by people who are neither professional cooks nor professional gardeners but who share those two passions. And some of them are in our own back yard. There's Peg's Oven-Roasted Chicken from Margaret Hosky of Washington; Rose Petal Chicken Breasts from Elena M. Moreno of McLean; Jambalaya from Philip J. Toups of Arlington; Pickled Cymling Squashes from Betsy Hedeman of Relay, Md.; and Summer Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette from Liz Goodroe of Germantown.
"Like a bountiful garden, this collection grew to abundance as gardeners and cooks enthusiastically and generously contributed their tips, tricks and a treasure trove of recipes for the sheer pleasure of participating in the project," writes Wise, who got her start at Chez Panisse in California and took two years to write the book. She tested and selected from a mountain of mail, recipes jotted down on three-by-five cards or sent to her via e-mail. Along the way she also picked up gardening tips, stories, nostalgia and family history.
(A share of the proceeds of the book will go to Second Harvest, a hunger relief organization.)
Other Maryland contributors: Maryland Salsa from Gayle Bauer, Bethesda; Tomato Bruschetta from Mary Pat Blaylock, Hunt Valley; Kay Allen's Mint Cooler from Nancy A. Foster, Catonsville; Sauteed Zucchini with Red Onion, Dill and Aged Gouda from Joan Holmes, Westminister; Lamb-in-a-Pumpkin Supper from Elizabeth Lengenhausen, Timonium; Carter's Mint Julep from William Maseth Jr., Baltimore; Refrigerator Pickles from Betsy Wollaston, Darlington.
Virginia contributors include: Pasta Autunno from Elaine Emerson, Roseland; Chive Soup from James Kinion, Fincastle; Cucumber Catsup from Kim McCreery, Alexandria; Southern Ratatouille from Bunny and Tim Murray, Earlysville; Classic Basil Pesto from Susan Pries, Alexandria; Stir-Fried Kale and Spinach With Hazelnuts from Joan Ranzini, Waynesboro; Baked Carrots in Horseradish Cream from Linda Reynolds, Richmond; Swedish Cream from Mary L. Sadler, Williamsburg; Mirella's Pimentos from Eleanor Ross Taylor, Charlottesville; Baked Herb Tomatoes from Pat Winchester, McLean. In addition, here are recipes from three local cooks that appear in the book.
"I seemed to have had an overabundance of marjoram growing in my garden last year. Rather than cut it and relegate it to the compost pile, I took it to the kitchen to dry for the winter. The large basket of marjoram inspired the following recipe.
"I have since tried the dish with other herbs I have in abundance (rosemary, thyme, oregano) and it has continued to be an easy success." --Sally Williams
Although Williams prefers to grill this chicken, she includes directions for roasting it in the oven.
4- to 5-pound chicken
1 lemon, quartered
1 small onion, quartered
1 cup lightly packed fresh herb sprigs, such as marjoram, rosemary, thyme or oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place the chicken on a cutting board. Squeeze the lemon over the chicken, then place the lemon quarters in the chicken cavity with the onion and herbs. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper to taste.
If grilling, prepare an indirect-heat fire in a charcoal grill. Place the chicken on the grill rack, cover (you may use a tent of a double layer of aluminum foil) and grill until the chicken is cooked through and the meat registers 165 degrees, about 75 minutes.
If roasting, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cover the chicken and roast for 1 hour. Uncover and cook until the juices run clear, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside until the juices have settled, about 15 minutes.
Per serving (with skin): 304 calories, 35 gm protein, trace carbohydrates, 17 gm fat, 111 mg cholesterol, 5 gm saturated fat, 157 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber
Warm Roasted Beet Salad
(6 to 8 servings)
"I love this dish in the fall when the beets are ready and I'm on my second crop of arugula."
Takoma Park, Md.
Oven-roasting is, some say, the way to turn out the sweetest beets. Also, when the weather is cooling and the sun descending earlier in the day, the kitchen gets heated while you wrap a scarf around your neck and go to the garden to pick the greens for the salad plate.
Young beet leaves, the tiny ones that appear at the top of the root, make a delightful addition to a salad of mixed baby greens. They are also a natural choice for a warm beet salad.
1 pound mixed red and yellow beets, topped and rinsed
2 cups arugula leaves, washed and dried
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the beets in a baking dish and sprinkle with a little water. Cover and roast until tender, about 1 hour. Set aside to cool slightly.
Slip the skins off the beets and discard the skins; thinly slice the beets.
Transfer the beet slices to a large bowl and add the arugula, orange juice, vinegar, oil and toss to mix. Add salt and pepper to taste, toss again and serve immediately.
Per serving (based on 6): 69 calories, 1 gm protein, 9 gm carbohydrates, 4 gm fat, 0 mg cholesterol, trace saturated fat, 92 mg sodium, 2 gm dietary fiber
Thyme-Infused Lemon Sorbet
(Makes 3 cups)
"I like desserts that contain savory elements and I prefer sorbet to ice cream. Lemon and thyme are two of my favorite flavors. I created this sorbet especially for a refreshing conclusion to a summer meal. The inspiration comes from my raised beds, mere yearlings still at this moment, especially the one devoted to herbs that sits just outside our kitchen door."
One of the recipe testers remarked that it's interesting to find out how much herb it takes to get a distinctive herb flavor in such a dish, and goes on to note that this recipe has done it. So don't be intimidated by the amount of herb called for--sometimes that's what it takes.
If you wish to include flecks of lemon zest in the sorbet, do not chop the thyme but leave it in sprigs and tie them in a bundle. Do not strain the mixture; simply remove the thyme prior to transferring the mix to the ice cream machine.
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups water
3 to 4 tablespoons minced lemon zest, plus additional to taste
3/4 cup lemon juice (6 to 8 lemons)
3 to 4 cups coarsely chopped thyme*
In a nonreactive saucepan over high heat, bring the sugar and water to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon zest and juice and thyme; set aside to steep for 15 minutes.
Strain the lemon mixture into a large bowl. Transfer to an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's directions.
Serve immediately or transfer to a large container, cover tightly and freeze for up to 10 days.
Note: You can innovate by replacing the thyme with another edible, aromatic herb. Particularly good in combination with lemon are the blossoms or flowers of chamomile, acacia, angelica, lavender, caraway and chrysanthemum.
Per 1/2-cup serving: 201 calories, trace protein, 53 gm carbohydrates, 0 gm fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 gm saturated fat, 1 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber