Tuesday, March 8, 2011
My last post was about Ellen Ecker Ogden's new book The Complete Kitchen Salad, which I was asked to review. If you click over, you can read about the various kitchen gardens described in the book, and one of the most delicious salmon recipes I have ever made (no joke). But I wanted to post one more recipe from the book, along with a brief interview I had with the author. This Warm Winter Salad is incredible. It's beautiful, and colorful, and its flavor matches its aesthetics. They say that you should judge a cook by her (or his!) roast chicken. But I think the ability to put together a delicious winter salad is much more of an indication. It requires creativity, resourcefulness, and using produce that normally is a bit shunned. Here, heads of garlic, roasted to a thick paste and then whisked with oil, vinegar and lime, slightly wilt the spinach when the dressing gets tossed with the leaves. Paired with the Baked Salmon in Phyllo with Tomato-Ginger Filling from last time, it was a truly beautiful meal.
CB: What was the most surprising thing about writing and developing this book?
Ms. Ogden: The Complete Kitchen Garden captures my passion for art, food and garden design with one simple message: Grow Beautiful Food. When we shop for food instead of growing it, it becomes a commodity. Yet it is truly a miracle that a small seed can grow into a magnificent edible plant. There are so many ways to plant a garden and the designs in my book are focused on transcending the ordinary vegetable garden into a work of art. In writing this book, I gathered many ideas by simply visiting other peoples gardens. And I found that my inspiration for the designs came from the most unusual places as well as looking at old engravings of historic kitchen gardens of the 17th and 18th centuries. I love the way history is repeating itself and that our interest in locally grown is valued, and we are once again making the connection with our food. To fully answer your question, I would say that the most surprising aspect about writing this book was to discover that my interest in food gardens continues to expand and I love the connections with other gardeners. I enjoy listening to people talk about their gardens and the parts that work and the elements that could be improved. And I enjoy sharing ideas and techniques to simplify the art of growing food so that it is always a pleasurable experience.
CB: Do you have any tips for bringing a very reduced garden inside for apartment dwellers?
Ms. Ogden: There are lots of wonderful plants that can be grown in containers, and mixing and matching a range of ornamental edibles is the key to success. Here are a few tips:
1. Focus on crops that are specifically bred for containers which may require a little research to know which varieties will grow in containers.
2. Select varieties that you can't find at the market - and that will add to your cooking: salad greens and herbs are on the top of my favorites list.
3. Plant in containers that are as large as you can get. The smaller the pot, the more likely it will dry out. Container growing require constant vigilance to make sure the plants are watered and have enough nutrients. If you plan to grow crops indoors, be sure you have a south facing window.
CB: Since you are an artist, and I am an art historian, if you could choose any artist to paint your garden, who would it be and why?
Ms. Ogden: My first choice would be Matisse. I love his work, and the colorful shapes of his cut out art would make for a wonderful interpretation of the garden. I think that a simple wash of colors is the best way to see the garden, rather than an accurate depiction of the plants and the form. One of the benefits of a kitchen garden is that the plants are replaced each season, so there is always the opportunity to start a new work of art each year. Gardens are always evolving and taking time to photograph the garden throughout the season is an excellent way to see how the plants expand and blend together.
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For more on the book, please visit Ms. Ogden's website, and my first review post.
Warm Winter Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing
Excerpted (with permission) from The Complete Kitchen Garden by Ellen Ecker Ogden, 2011. Stewart, Tabori & Chang
For the Salad:
1/2 cup pine nuts
Roasted Garlic Dressing (follows)
1 shallot, finely chopped (2 tablespoons)
4 cups spinach, washed and rinsed, stems removed
1 cup grated carrots
2 cups grated cabbage
1/2 cup dried cranberries
4 ounces plain chèvre (soft goat cheese), crumbled
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a skillet over medium heat, dry roast the pine nuts until golden brown, about 3 minutes. While they toast, make your dressing. Transfer the nuts to a small bowl.
Return the saucepan to the heat, and gently heat the dressing. Add the shallots and simmer for 3-5 minutes, until soft.
Meanwhile, tear the spinach into bite-sized pieces. In a large bowl, combine the spinach with the carrots and cabbage. Pour the hot dressing over the greens, carrots and cabbage and toss to coat. Allow to marinate for about 5 minutes, until softened. Sprinkle with the pine nuts, dried cranberries and chèvre. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
For the dressing:
2 heads garlic
1/2 cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon for drizzling
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400F. Without peeling the garlic heads, drizzle them with 1 tablespoon olive oil, wrap them in foil, and place them on a baking dish in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the cloves are tender to the pinch.
Unwrap the foil and let the garlic sit until just cool enough to handle. Using kitchen shears, snip off the pointed tops of the garlic heads, hold upside down over a bowl, and gently squeeze the garlic so that the soft pulp falls into the bowl.
Blend in the remaining ingredients and stir until smooth.