Friday, July 21, 2017

Hibiscus Greens also know as "sour leaves"

The subject of this post is the leaf from the edible Hibiscus sabdariffa. Grown on our farm for 3 years, we are expanding our knowledge of this attractive heat loving bushy crop and its many uses. At first we grew this variety of hibiscus solely to harvest the bright red caylces called hibiscus flowers by many. When I offered some to a friend from India, she mentioned how her mom had cooked the tart tasting leaves in Indian cuisine. We couldn't have been more excited to find out there was a plant with edible summer greens already being grown on our farm in the scorching, humid days of July and August.  I will have to ask my friend if she would share her mom's recipe but I have found it rewarding and interesting searching for different ways to cook with it on my own.  As you can see from our photo, our plants have dark red stems and vibrant green leaves. We sell the leaves in bunches. The stems are too fibrous to use but it is easy to tear or cut the leaves off. They have an intensely tart taste fresh and cooked. Experiment with them by slicing them into ribbons and dropping them into boiling water. Take them out after 7-10 min when they are tender. I like to add them this way in small amounts to my cooked kale or collard greens. Like other greens, the sour leave shrink significantly as they cook but that's ok because you don't eat them on their own in large quantities.

Around the world in tropical areas sour leaves are  known to be key ingredients in special dishes.  People from Senegal cook them into a savory stew with fish, rice, tomato sauce, carrots, cabbage and cassava. It is called "Thieboudienne" and is the national dish in Senegal so you know it must be wonderful! I found a nice recipe by Saveur. Use the sour leaf instead of the flower.  Or try pairing the sour leaves with shrimp in a different popular dish from Burma called "Chin baung kyaw". published an article including a recipe for this exotic side dish which is made with garlic, onions, spicy peppers, turmeric, bamboo shoots and shrimp.

TRY OUR FAVORITE WAY TO EAT THE HIBISCUS LEAVES "Hibiscus Leaves Stuffed with Mushroom Risotto". The recipe (our unique creation) with photos is posted on the Tips and Recipes page.

I hope I have your mouth watering and your fingers ready to surf the internet for more sour greens uses. Let us know how you love to cook it best. We will be happy to provide greens at the farmers market in Artisan Alley Deland FL. You can find us there every Friday from 6-9pm rain or shine!

Friday, December 2, 2016

We have been digging sweet potatoes this week and are bringing them to our  booth at the Artisan Alley Farmers Market in downtown Deland. We have two types: the orange flesh one that most folks are familiar with and another with dark reddish skin and a white flesh that stays firm when cooked (this one is especially good in soups and stews).  Use your sweet potatoes along with your turkey leftovers to make a lovely chowder. Go to our recipes page and scroll down to find our new favorite farm recipe!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Baking with Hibiscus Flowers

It's Hibiscus flower harvest time at our farm, and we are having some more fun with them in our farm kitchen. This time we used them as a cranberry substitute and baked them into this lovely, moist cake. Try it yourself using our recipe. We sell our hibiscus flowers at our farmers market stand at the Artisan Alley Farmers' Market in Deland FL.   It will take a bit over an  hour. Also called "roselle" and  "Florida cranberry" the part we use and call "hibiscus flower" is not truly the flower but actually the seed pod surrounded by tart tasting sepals. These are removed and can be used dried or fresh. We used them fresh in our cake. This delicious cake makes 10 servings

4 cups hibiscus flower sepals (start with about 68 whole fresh flowers ~3/4 lb)
1  1/2 cups sugar
2 cups water
zest from 1 orange

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup buttermilk

TO PREPARE YOUR HIBISCUS FLOWERS: simply pull off the red sepals around the seed pod. This is easy and not messy. When you have 4 cups, pulse them quickly in a food processor to chop them coarsely. Place them in a large sauce pan with the 1 1/2 cups sugar and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil on medium high heat stirring then reduce heat to medium cooking 10 more minutes. Remove from heat, stir in orange zest, allow to cool.


PREPARE THE CAKE BATTER:  Melt butter. Using a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, add 1 cup sugar and blend well. Stir in melted butter gradually, mix well. Sift dry ingredients together then add to egg mixture alternating with buttermilk. Stir carefully to combine without over beating.

Oil a 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking pan.  Using a slotted spoon scoop out cooked hibiscus flowers from sauce pan and place in bottom of baking pan. Save the syrup to pour over on the side or decorate plates with later. Carefully pour the cake batter over the flowers. Bake for about 30 minutes. Cake will be golden brown on top when done.  Cool completely. Carefully cut out pieces and plate hibiscus flower side up.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Summer's end and Roasted Eggplant Spread "Baba ghanouj" Recipe

Summer on the farm is coming to an end.  That is great news for us at our central Florida tiny farm! As it cools down below 90 degrees it is time to regrow all the great greens, herbs and veggies we had in the spring backwards!  After months of scorching weather here we CAN'T WAIT to have cucumbers, zucchini again and then afterward beans and GREENS!!! But before we seem ungrateful for the veggies that got us through the heat, I have to say how nice it has been to have had a fruitful crop of eggplants that have given us all kinds of good eating! So as we approach the last eggplant harvests we are sharing another yummy recipe. We hope you like it!

To make a lovely EGGPLANT SPREAD:  "Baba ghanouj"

6 small EGGPLANTS (skin on halved lengthwise)
1/2 cup tahini
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (2 lemons)
fresh minced parsley to garnish optional
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 ° f. Roast  eggplant halves  cutside down on a lightly oiled cookie sheet for about 45 minutes. They should feel soft when you press them. When cooled enough to handle, scoop out the soft interior, discard skin. Place eggplant and remaining ingredients in food processor and pulse to puree. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh minced parsley if desired. Makes about 2 cups. Spread on crackers or fresh French bread. Makes about  2 cups

note: for folks sensitive to intense garlic flavor replace fresh with garlic salt.

Friday, August 26, 2016

My all time favorite eggplant recipe

The following recipe has been my favorite for years. It's a curry with a tomato base wonderfully flavored with cumin seeds and raisins. I love this served with rice

From Kathy Cooks

2 tablespoon oil or ghee
1/2 cup diced onions
2 cups eggplant in 1/2 inch cubes

1 green bell pepper thinly sliced

3 tomatoes chopped
1/4 cup raisins

1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon chili seeds
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon soy sauce

Sauté first 3 ingredients together for about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add next 2 ingredients cover pan and cook over medium heat for another 5 minutes. In a separate small pot, mix together the next 4 ingredients and cook on high until spices are toasted and aromatic. Uncover the pot with the cooking vegetables and pour in the oil with the toasted spices. Add soy sauce. Mix well and serve. Makes 3-4 servings. Great hot or at room temperature

Friday, May 20, 2016

Most wonderful zucchini dish

I remember as a child my mom made this dish as a light dinner and served it with salad. I am sure she made it at the height of zucchini season when it was summery and we would eat dinner at our picnic table in the yard. She stopped making it when we moved to a home with a yard too small to grow squash. I asked about it as an adult and she never told  me where the recipe came from which surprised me because I think the dish was always emptied when she made it. I finally rediscovered it in my mom's copy of The Jewish American Cookbook. They call it Zucchini with Cheese. In my version I used a blend of cheeses where their recipe called for American Cheese. I know my mom would not have used American Cheese but whatever good quality Cheese  she had on hand. I urge you to try this version.

 Cheesy Zucchini Casserole.............. 4 servings

3 small Zucchini
2/3 cup grated cheese (harvarti or sharp cheddar mix)
1/4 cup milk
1 egg well beaten
3 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 400°f
Grease a 10 inch square casserole dish. Wash and cut zucchini into slices 1/4 inch thick. Place slices in a large pan with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook SQUASH until tender but not mushy. Remove from pan and place in casserole dish. Blend egg and  milk. Pour over Zucchini. Dot with butter and cover with grated cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and golden about 10-20 minutes.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Our "go to" favorite farm salad dressing

Mediterranean Lemon & Garlic Salad Dressing 
My mom made our salad dressing like this all the time although she claims she didn't use any sweeteners. It is the perfect compliment to our spring mix , arugula and LETTUCES! Crumble some feta cheese on top to make it even better!
(makes 2 1/4 cups, easy to make half recipe)

2 cloves garlic

2 1/2  lemons
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp locally produced honey
2 cups canola oil

DIRECTIONS: Mince garlic and crush with the back of a spoon in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Squeeze lemons and add juice to bowl.  Stir in salt, pepper and honey.  Blend well. Slowly whisk in oil pouring it into bowl in a thin stream.  Store in a glass jar.  Use within 5 days.