Friday, February 14, 2014

Chocolate for Breakfast

Happy Valentine's Day!
 
 Egyptian & Chioggia Beets
 
 Chocolate Beet Cake

What I love the most about Valentines Day is that it's the one day of the year when it's acceptable to eat chocolate for breakfast.
 
 
This morning I made Nigel Slater's Chocolate Beet Cake in a KitchenAid silicon heart-shaped pan. When I bake this cake I use a sugar substitute - Just Like Sugar. It turned out so much better baked in the silicon pan than a spring-form pan. And, the recipe filled the pan perfectly.
 
I use Egyptian beets when I make Chocolate Beet Cake. I cook and freeze them after they're harvested which makes it really convenient.
 

The beets aren't detectible after the cake is baked.

Chocolate Beet Cake isn't super sweet and crème friache pairs nicely. Although it's great with whipped cream and fresh strawberries too.

Homemade crème friache is easy to make. Its thicker, creamier and half the price of store bought. All you need is a pint of whipping cream and 2 tablespoons of either yogurt or kefir.

Pour the cream into a glass jar. Mix the yogurt or kefir into the cream. Cover with a coffee filter or paper towel secured by a rubber band. Leave it out on a counter-top for 2 days, or until it's set.

Because the cake isn't sugary sweet it's actually perfect
 for breakfast - especially with an espresso.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Just Checking In

Brad's Black Heart
The first tomato of the season.
 
Harvest season is just beginning in my garden.
 
I apologize for being MIA for months - I've been very busy with work which is a good problem to have in today's fragile economy. I've written several posts which need food photos but I'm...well...a terrible food photographer so at this time they remain unfinished.
 
I promise to have some new garden posts very soon! 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Maui Grown Garlic

Providing we have a mild winter, I should have garlic available
for purchase in May and June of 2014.
 
Elephant
 A deliciously mild garlic.
 
Thai Purple
A flavorful turban from Bangkok.
 
In addition to Elephant and Thai Purple I'll be planting:

Aglio Rosso
a creole from Abruzzo

Burgundy
a creole

Cuban
a Spanish creole

Spanish Benitee
 a creole from Andalusia

Thermadrone
a French artichoke

Tuscan
a turban from Tuscany

 There should be a large quantity of Elephant and Thai Purple but limited quantities of the other varieties listed. Pricing will be competitive with Whole Foods. If you reside on Maui and would like to reserve garlic, or to be notified when the garlic is available, please email me at
kitchengardenmaui@gmail.com

Although I'm not certified as organic by the USDA, all of my garlic is container grown with OMRI products. No pesticides or herbicides are used anywhere in my garden.  

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pimientos del Piquillo

   
 
Piquillo peppers are a popular tapas menu item in Spain. The peppers are traditionally fire roasted, peeled and stuffed with goat cheese or seafood.

Piquillo means "little beak" in Spanish and the bright red fruit have a distinguishing crevice at the tip that looks like a beak.

 
 Piquillos are a 4 inch long capsicum annum pepper. Annums are difficult to grow in Kihei due to the heat and bugs. They're a late variety and take about 6 months until they ripen. I couldn't grow Piquillos in Keonekai but I was able to grow them in Maiu Meadows.

 Piquillos are sweet and flavorful. Although fire roasting presents another taste dimension it's not essential as the peppers are delicious just roasted in the oven. The skin isn't as thick as a bell pepper so they're a bit tedious to peel and keep intact for stuffing. But the peppers are also used chopped or layered into sandwiches.

My favorite way to prepare Piquillos is to stuff them with a soft chevre cheese mixed with fresh herbs from my garden. They're also good stuffed with a harder cheese and seared in a skillet.

 Piquillo Peppers with Goat Cheese

I purchased Piquillo seeds from Peppermania but they weren't available for the 2013 season. Seeds are available on ebay. If you live in Maui Meadows, or at a similar elevation in the islands, I recommend planting Piquillo seeds in November or December so the fruit will ripen prior to the hot summer months.

The World of Piquillo
  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Winter Shell Bean Favorites of 2013

Last winter I received these wonderful beans in a trade.
Mahalo Jana for the seeds!
 
 
Petaluma Gold Rush
 
Petaluma Gold Rush is a cranberry bean. They originated in Peru and look similar to one of my favorite Italian cranberry beans - Borlotto Lingua di Fuoco. The plants were prolific and more heat tolerant than Borlatto Lingua. They were ready to begin harvesting as shell beans in 75 days.

Petaluma Gold Rush seeds are available from
 Natural Gardening Company.

True Red Cranberry

True Red Cranberry is not a cranberry bean like Petaluma Gold Rush - they just look like a cranberry. They were ready to harvest as shell beans in 75 days. The origin of True Red is the Abenaki tribe of Maine and they have a colorful history.

True Red Cranberry is available from
Seed Savers Exchange.
 
 
Gigante Lima
 
Gigante Lima was the largest bean I've grown. They flowered in 45 days and I was harvesting shell beans around 100 days. The pods were huge - the vines were huge and they needed a lot of space. Gigante was a prolific producer of big beautiful flat white beans.
 
Gigante are also called Gigandes - they're popular in Greek cuisine and native to Central America. Seeds are available from
 
When searching the web, I found sites noting Gigantes as limas and others noting them as runner beans. When I read the detailed post about growing Gigantes on From Seed To Table I realized there really are two types and both produce huge plants with huge white beans. The limas have small pale lavender flowers and the runners have large white flowers. Lima cotyledons germinate above the soil and runners remain in the soil eventually forming a tuberous root.
 

Fresh shell beans don't take long to cook and they're so delicious.
They can also be blanched and frozen.
 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Fennel Pollen - A Culinary Adventure

Fennel pollen is known as spice of the angels in Tuscany cuisine.
 
A Wild Fennel Plant
 
In September of 2011, I planted wild fennel. It slowly grew 4 ft tall and in June of 2012 a few graceful flower stocks emerged but the plants didn't last through the hot summer.
 
A Flowering Fennel Bulb
 
In June of 2012, I left one of the fennel bulbs bolt and flower for pollen and seed saving. Over 7 months later it's still producing flowering side-shoots full of pollen.
 
Although the fennel pollen used in Tuscany cuisine is said to come from wild fennel, I didn't notice any difference between the wild fennel and bulbing fennel pollens.

 I've been harvesting fennel pollen at various stages. It doesn't detach from the flower heads very easily until it's dry. But when the pollen just begins to form seeds it's easy to remove.
  
Last week I harvested a lot of Suyo cucumbers and I had enough to experiment with different pickling recipes. I have a great recipe for
Citrus Pickled Onions
I modified it just a bit for the cucumbers and it was really ono.

Citrus & Fennel Pollen Pickled Cucumbers

2 cups of sliced cucumbers 
3/4 cup of citrus juice (I used 2 tangerines, 1 lime and 1/2 lemon)
1/4 cup of champagne vinegar
1/4 tsp of fresh fennel pollen
1 fresh bay or allspice leaf
salt and pepper (optional)

These refrigerator pickles are best when used within a week.

More information about fennel pollen:
Playing With Fennel
Edible Foraging in Hawaii - Fennel
 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cima di Rapa - Riccia di S. Marzano

Queen of the
cima di rapa - broccoli rabe - rapini

65 days
 
Cima di rapa is popular in Italy where it's usually cooked and often tossed with pasta. The plants produce a center flower-stalk and side-shoots that look similar to broccoli but taste like an unspicy mustard green.
 
It's so easy to grow during our coolest weather and it's not bothered by the cabbageworms that plague my garden during the winter.

Last year I grew a quarantina (40 day) and a novantina (90 day). This year I added Riccia di S. Marzano, a lovely sessantina (60 day). Each one had distinctly different characteristics.
 
 
At 65 days, the Riccia di S. Marzano were 3 ft tall and producing a center flower-stalk and slender side-shoots with delicately curled leaves.

I had just made the first batch of kimchi of the year when I harvested the first Riccia di S. Marzano so I substituted it for the broccoli when I made
 
Enoki, Broccoli & Kimchi Wraps

This is a simple recipe where I can feature some of my garden harvests - even black sesame seeds that I grew last summer.

Purple Peacock broccoli is perfect for this recipe as it's sweet and tender. And cima di rapa - it's for the more adventurous.

For growing information see my post -
Cima di Rapa - Broccoli Rabe



Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Summer Beans of 2012

After 4 years of gardening in Kihei
I didn't think there was such a thing as summer beans.

 In July and August I plant cover crops and this year I used my reject bean seeds. These were seeds that weren't heat tolerant or that I knew I would never get around to planting. Although beans don't grow well in the summer, some will grow well enough to be turned under as a cover crop.

Great Northern Pole Beans

I had a large package of Great Northern "bush" beans. It takes a lot of bush bean plants to yield a 1/2 lb of shell or dry beans and there's just not enough room in my garden to plant that many.

The origin of Great Northern is the Hidatsu and Mandan tribes of North Dakota. It would seem to be the most unlikely bean for growing in the 90 degree subtropics. It was bred to be drought tolerant but I've learned that doesn't mean heat tolerant.

A Shell Bean Harvest in September
 
To my surprise they were a pole bean and grew beautifully in July and August with minimal bug damage. I had a lot of Great Northern beans - I planted them everywhere - let them grow and had a nice harvest of delicious shell beans on the autumn equinox.

Great Northern bean seeds are available from Heiloom Acre Seeds and Sustainable Seed Company.
 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Aji Amarillo - A Spectacular Hot Pepper

.Aji Amarillo
A medium hot capsicum baccatum

Imagine a dried apricot crossed with a moderately hot pepper.
Aji Amarillo is a spectacular dried pepper. No wonder
 they're so popular with chili-heads.


The bright orange fruit were 5 to 6 in. long. They turn "amarillo"when roasted or cooked but retain the orange coloration when dried. Aji Amarillo are commonly used in Peruvian cuisine.


 These are the largest pepper plants I've grown - over 6 ft tall - in reality they're too large to plant in a container. They take about 4 months to flower and 6 to 7 months to produce ripe orange peppers.

  Seeds are widely available online.
 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Edible Art

Yellow Furry Boar

I love the tomatoes from
They're delicious works of art.

Yellow Furry Boar make an incredible salsa
 with a sweet citrus like flavor.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Hardiest Tomato Varieties of 2012

The late fall and early winter rains were missing this year. The lack of rain and the slightly cooler temps (in the low 80's during the day) were ideal conditions for powdery mildew to thrive. It was raging through my garden in late November through January and it affected the tomato leaves and blossoms. Normally I can't keep up with my January tomato harvest but this year I was lucky to harvest any tomatoes.

Sweet Carneros

In September I planted 22 tomato plants from 16 varieties. There were 3 super-stars that were hardy enough to produce a somewhat normal quantity of fruit in the challenging conditions.

I've been more than impressed with the tomatoes from Wild Boar Farms. They're some of the most beautiful and delicious. In September I planted Beauty King (my favorite), Berkeley Pink, Brad's Black Heart and Sweet Carneros. Sweet Carneros was the only one that bore fruit this season - it was an early, lovely 2 to 3 oz round and delicious striped tomato. 

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Paste tomatoes don't seem to like the warmer temps - I've trialed so many through the years with poor results. This season I planted Amish Paste, Kiev Paste and Plum Lemon. The Amish and Kiev plants succumbed to the powdery mildew but Plum Lemon was a survivor. Plum Lemon weren't impressive as a fresh tomato but they were a good cooking tomato and the plant was prolific in spite of the powdery mildew.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Luscious and delicious Green Moldavan was an early beefsteak. The plant bore beautiful 6 to 8 oz tomatoes with a citrus-like flavor and striking blue-green coloration in the shoulders.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Winter Squash Super Star of 2011

 
Waltham Butternut Squash, Redventure Celery
Rio Zape Shell Beans

In 2011, I trailed five winter squash I hadn't grown before and Waltham Butternut was the only one that was sweet and flavorful. Waltham was as tasty as my 2010 favorites - Greek Sweet Red and Sweet Kikuza.

Waltham were not large squash - they averaged 2 to 3 lbs with 2 to 3 fruit per plant. I planted the seeds in July and this variety was hardy enough to tolerate the intense summer sun.

Kiawe (mesquite) grows in the fields around my neighborhood and I pick up the small dried branches and use them on my grill. I grilled sliced Waltham Butternut with kiawe chips and made this very tasty soup:
Wood Grilled Butternut Squash Puree

I also grilled sliced Waltham Butternut when grilling cedar planked salmon and the cedar added a delicious flavor too.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sweet & Hot Red Pepper Favorites of 2011

 In early February, I planted 20 varieties of peppers that I hadn't grown before and these were my favorite reds.

Rosso Dolce Appendere
A sweet Italian frying pepper

Bell peppers, and most of the sweet peppers, are in the Capsicum Annuum classification. They're difficult to grow in Kihei due to the climate and the relentless bugs but this summer I had great results with Rosso Dolce. They're a 4 to 5 inch long sweet frying pepper, similar to Jimmy Nardello but Jimmy doesn't grow too well in Kihei.

Nepalese Bell
A sweet and slightly hot pepper

Nepalese Bell, a Capsicum Baccatum, was a late season pepper that took 6 months from seed until the first ripe fruit. The Rosso Dulces in the previous photo and the Nepalese Bells were harvested the same day but the Rosso Dolces were the 2nd crop of the summer and the Nepalese were the first. The Nepalese Bells were 2 to 3 inches wide.

A Nepalese Bell towers over the Rosso Dolce Appendere

The Nepalese were 4 to 5 foot tall plants with long branches. Surprisingly, I was able to grow them in large self-watering containers.

Shiso
A sweet and slightly hot Japanese pepper
Mahalo Mac for the Shiso seeds!

Shiso, a Capsicum Annuum, is a sweet, slightly hot and crinkled pepper. They struggled with the Kihei climate and still produced two crops of peppers this summer. The Shiso peppers were 2 to 3 inches long.
 
Aji Angelo
A moderately hot South American pepper

Aji Angelo, a Capsicum Baccatum, was my favorite of the Aji peppers that I grew this year. They were 2 to 3 inches long, fruity and not quite as hot as a jalapeno. They're a good pepper for making a not too hot salsa.

Aji Angelo was also a late variety and took over 6 months from seed to the first ripe fruit. The plants were as tall as the Nepalese Bells but looked like small trees. I was able to grow them in large self-watering containers.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Harvesting Wild Kiawe Beans


 
Kiawe is the Hawaiian word for mesquite - it grows wild in the arid desert areas of the islands and it grows in the open fields in Kihei.

The kiawe trees are full of blossoms and beans in various stages and the trees will continue to produce pods throughout the summer.

A brief history of kiawe in Hawaii


As an island food, Kiawe beans have been forgotten but these bean pods are edible and taste like honey.

After the beans are harvested they need to be dried completely before they can be ground into flour. There's a local insect that sometimes bores small holes into the pods but they're still usable. Since the beans are dried, any insects or larvae would leave the pod before it's time to grind them.

There's usually lots of dead branches on the ground under the trees. These can be cut up and used on the grill to produce kiawe smoke. Kiawe beans can also be fire roasted prior to grinding


How to Harvest Mesquite is a short and informative YouTube video. In Tuscon, harvesting mesquite beans each summer is an annual event. Organic mesquite flour retails for $18/lb on Amazon.

Lots of photos, nutritional information and recipes can be found
on the Desert Harvesters website.

An article about a neighborhood in Tucson with kiawe trees in their sustainable landscape design:
Eat Mequite!

Information and links to uses and recipes for kiawe flour:
Native Cultures: Mesquite Flour

And, more information about kiawe in Hawaii:
Kiawe: Hawaii's Tropical Mesquite

Friday, June 10, 2011

Italian Zucchini Favorites of 2011

This spring I grew an assortment of Italian zucchini
 from different regions of Italy.


Bianco di Trieste was a symmetrical 3 ft wide bush with beautiful pale green fruit. Seeds were planted in mid-February and the first female flowers opened in 4 weeks. The fruit were best when harvested just after the flowers closed.

Bianco is an excellent variety to grow for male flowers and small zucchini. I would not recommend it for growing mature fruit as they aren't particularly attractive when full grown.


Romanesco were big vining bushes - they had the largest leaves of all the varieties I trialed. The first female flowers opened in 5 weeks. The plants produced long ribbed fruit that can be harvested small or mature. Romanesco was a good variety to grow as an all purpose zucchini as it produced good quality flowers as well as mature fruit.


Striato di Napoli (Cocozelle) and Lungo Fiorentino were lovely plants with frilly leaves. They also grew into 3 ft wide bushes and the first female flowers opened at just over 5 weeks. Striato had smooth stripes and Lungo had ribbed stripes. Both were good varieties to grow for male flowers and small zucchini that were harvested just after the flowers closed.

All of these zucchini were grown in 15 gallon SmartPots and planted from seed between mid-February through early March. The female flowers, when harvest just after they closed, remained attached to the fruit for at least 24 hours and most were large enough to stuff with cheese.

In Kihei, February was an ideal time to plant zucchini from seed. The plants survived the ever present powdery mildew better than in the warmer months. Planting in February also avoided the most destructive late spring and summer zucchini pests - pickleworms and melon fruit fly larvae.

Gourmet Seed and Seeds From Italy are good sources
 for Italian zucchini seeds.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Guyana - Another Fabulous Hot Pepper

Guyana, Cyklon,
White Bermuda Onions
and Santa Fe Grande

In early February, I planted 20 peppers that I hadn't grown previously. Most were from the capsicum baccatum and capsicum chinense species. One of the largest and most productive was Guyana.

Guyana grew into a good size bush that produced an abundance of 5 to 7 inch fruit. These peppers were hot, fruity and amazingly delicious when fire-roasted and peeled.

Guyana is a capsicum baccatum and they're on the heat level of a typical jalapeno. Like all the peppers I've grown, they experienced a good deal of blossom and pod drop as the temps increased and sun intensified in May but it was one of the more heat tolerant of the peppers I trailed this spring.

Guyana began to ripen almost two weeks later than Santa Fe Grande and Cyklon - two of my favorites from the 2010 season.

Seeds are available from Peppermania


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Winter Shell Bean Favorites of 2011

Soissons Vert Flageolet
A French Pole Bean
Mahalo Julie for the seeds!

Flageolets are one of the most beautiful shell beans. Most are bush varieties but Soissons Vert is a pole bean with the largest bean seed I've seen in a flageolet. The plants were prolific and grew well in the Kihei winter climate.

When cooked, they lose their lovely green color but they're tender and absolutley delicious. It appears the only source in the US for purchasing seeds is the Seed Savers Yearbook. However, they are available from Ferme de Sainte Marthe  - a French seed company,

Tarbais
A French Pole Bean

Tarbais beans have been grown for generations in the Tarbes region in France. They have the reputation for being the most expensive bean on the international market and retail for over $15 per lb. Tarbais are the authentic bean for making cassoulet but they're delicious on their own.

The Tarbais were as prolific as the Soissons and grew well in our winter climate. Tarbais seeds are also available from the Seed Savers Yearbook.

Purcell Mountain Farms markets Tarbais beans for cooking - they're sold in
1 lb packages and they were my source for seeds.

Both French beans were exceptional in every way.


Borlotto Lingua di Fuoco
An Italian Pole Bean

Lingua di Fuoco are another beautiful and delicious bean. They're definitely a cool season bean and aren't as heat tolerant as the Soissons or Tarbais. If you grow these in Kihei, I suggest planting at the end of December or the 1st week of January so they're growing during the coolest months of the year.

I've grown 2 different Italian brands and I recommend Franchi. They're available in pole and bush varieties and can be purchased from Seeds From Italy. The pods develop their bright red coloration as they grow and they're easier to shell after they turn from green to ivory.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Dream Come True

Parisian Pickling Cucumbers
Bianco di Trieste Zucchini
Tarbais Shell Beans

This was the first harvest of a a few new to me varieties I trialed this winter. I'm so excited these seeds produced harvestable results in Kihei.

Bianca di Trieste has been beyond impressive - they're early and the most powdery mildew resistant zucchini I've grown so far. The fruit are small and lovely when they flower and the male flowers are large - a perfect combination - all the qualities I've been dreaming of.

Parisian Pickling cucumber vines were late in developing fruit and late is not a good characteristic in the Kihei climate. The vines are unbelievable - they've sprawled all over the other trellises. Powdery mildew has set in but the plants are producing an abundance of fruit. These cucumbers are so crunchy and they made great pickles.

There's no guessing when the Tarbais are ready to pick as fresh shell beans. The pods soften somewhat and turn a light lemon yellow. The Tarbais were prolific plants and they held up well in our winter climate. The beans were planted on 1/22/11 and these 1st pods were harvested today.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Daikon Kim Chi - Gung Hey Fat Choy!



Dr. Ben Kim's Kim Chi recipe was so ono! The New Year's Kim Chi is gone and there won't be another savoy cabbage for a few weeks.

Last week, I harvested the first Miyashige White Daikon radishes from my winter garden. Many years ago, when I could eat sugar, I used to make a tasty daikon kim chi using a package of dried, grated daikon from the Asian market and a very hot and sweet Asian chili paste. I thought I'd try making something similar using Dr. Kim's recipe.



Using a spriral grater, it's in the photo above, I cut one of the daikon radishes into something that looked like angel hair pasta. I made the chili paste with dried cayanne peppers from last summer's harvest, grated a piece of fresh ginger root from my garden, added some chopped garden chives and finely diced frozen green garlic from last summer. I used chives this time as I didn't have any white bunching onions that were large enough.

The only recipe ingredients I don't grow are the apples and pears. Surprisingly, these types of fruit trees are grown on Maui but at the higher elevations.

I suggest if you don't like it too salty, rinse the grated daikon 1 or 2 additional times. Add half the chili paste and garlic and then add more to taste. It's easier to add more salt and spicy ingredients then it is to try an correct an overly salty or way too hot kim chi.

This raw, fermented kim chi is a real super-food. I like to eat it with fish and rice.
 


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Kim Chi for the New Year

 

Last week I harvested the first Testa di Ferro, an Italian savoy cabbage. The leaves are crinkled like Napa cabbage and I thought it might be perfect for making Kim Chi.


Testa grows beautifully in a wide range of climates. It's also a compact size plant that's perfect for container gardens. They're harvestable at 2.5 months and range from 2 to 3 lbs. Seeds are available from Gourmet Seed.

Dr. Ben Kim has a wonderful recipe for Kim Chi on his blog.
The recipe calls for using apple, pear and onion puree instead of sugar - it's a much healthier alternative to the commercially produced Kim Chi available from the market.

Here are suggestions I have after making Dr. Kim's recipe:

Unless you like it really salty, rinse the cabbage 1 or 2 more times
to remove more of the salt.
Add 1/2 of the crushed garlic - then add more to taste.
Add 1/2 of the hot pepper mixture - then add more to taste.

Bianca di Lucca Onions,
Cyklon Polish Paprika and New Ginger

Instead of the Ko Choo Kah Rhoo hot pepper flakes called for in the recipe, I used the Cyklon Polish Paprika that I made last summer. Cyklon is a hot paprika pepper, similar in heat level to a jalapeno. I also used some of the ginger and green bunching onions that were growing in my garden.

Dr. Kim's recipe was easy to make and the results were hot and tasty.