March 8th, 2012 by Elaine
Though we keep a vegetarian kitchen at Yelton Manor B&B, we always include some meat and fish options on the party appetizer table for friends and family who love it. When considering fish, tuna is always a handy ‘pantry ready’ choice, but on big special occasions I like to mound up a shrimp bowl around a spicy horseradish red sauce, or a side of smoked salmon with fabulous adornments, like capers, boiled egg, small dice red onion and perhaps cream cheese. But everyday tuna (please do splurge on fine quality canned tuna, of course) dresses up a snidge in this simple appetizer that is easy to make and everyone snatches it up happily. It’s a simple comfort food, no shame in that!
Here’s what we love best when we make this: snip the parsley very very fresh from the garden. When it’s full of water and crisp as can be, it adds the perfect crunch to this appetizer. We consider this munchie much diminished with store bought limp parsley, but use it if you have no other options.
1 can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
thinly sliced celery (preferably the tender heart)
2 can albacore tuna
Finely chopped parsley (and are you in the mood for dill? Maybe.) to taste and color
2 T fresh lemon juice
freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup capers (optional, I only use them when in a salty kind of mood)
Optional ingredients you may want to add: diced sun dried tomato, diced red bell pepper, pickle relish, mustard, garlic, diced black olives, diced pepperoncini, what are you feeling like today?
Combine. Toss with just enough mayo to bind, keep it light. Try not to break up the tuna or beans too much. Serve on small party square breads for hors d’oeuvres, or toasted baguette slices.
For a warm bite, toast quickly, perhaps with a small amount of cheddar cheese. Nice on a toasted whole grain English Muffin too.
For sandwich or pita, or rolled up in a tortilla, add some tomato and red leaf lettuce, perhaps some homemade hummus, top with sprouts.
March 3rd, 2012 by Elaine
Since becoming such an avid herb gardener AND a vegetarian in the last decades, I have become quite willing to take on nearly any adventure imaginable that blends a green leafy herb with a you-name-it nut, garlic, Parmesan cheese and olive oil. There is no end to it! Freeze it, store it, use it for pasta, pizza, bruschetta, this is the simplest, healthiest, tastiest and most beautiful food! Tonight I improvised this concoction, made affordable in winter with some organic baby arugula as the heft of it, accented with some basil. Arugula has an unexpected and pleasant bitterness, very ooh-la-la when used right. I used a penne pasta, absolutely fabulous, but anything you like will work fine. I double the recipe and freeze 1/2 in ice cube trays and use the individual cubes in forthcoming dinners. And don’t forget breakfast, where pesto of all kinds works beautifully with egg dishes like frittatas!
Penne Pasta with Arugula Pesto
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 cloves garlic
2 cups chopped arugula
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmsan cheese
pinch salt, pinch cayenne
Chop the walnuts and garlic in the food processor. Add arugula and basil until chopped, run the olive oil in a stream until a nice paste forms. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the cheese, salt and cayenne. Use however you please!
February 27th, 2012 by Elaine
My husband and fellow Yelton Manor innkeeper, Robert, is a butter freak. He slathers it on everything. I was never much for butter until we started buying organic, sweet cream butter, sometimes imported from France. There IS a difference, and butter can be very, dangerously good.
Butter can also be a main event at the dinner table when paired with exactly the right herbs.
The recipe is simple: pick an herb or spice and mix it with excellent butter. Serve formally by piping it onto individual dishes, or just in a bowl family style, whatever fits the occasion. If you want pretty slices, simply wrap the herb butter in saran wrap , form into a perfectly round log, chill and then slice.
This is also a great way to use up the remainder of those expensive herb packets that you buy in the winter. Make rosemary butter! Or thyme butter! Sage butter! Try different combinations on meats, vegetables and straight on your bread. Mint is my current fave, can’t get enough of it.
At The Manor we grow 3 kinds of sage, 3 kinds of basil, rosemary, thyme, flat and curly parsley, 3 kinds of mint, 2 kinds of chive, rue, lavender, oregano, marjoram, tarragon, dill, chervil, anise, cilantro, lemon verbena and evn more in pots surrounding the walkways and parking lot.
The heat of the pavement keeps them producing heartily through the season. Growing in pots also keep the invasive herbs from taking over in the perennial garden.
Item for a Lull in Conversation: Herbs are made from leaves and spices are made from seeds.
Spices can also be made from other things like bark (cinnamon) or roots (ginger).
February 23rd, 2012 by Elaine
Our beautiful 4th of July garden party made for a wonderful article in the Michigan Blue magazine!
February 23rd, 2012 by Elaine
This beautiful article was published today in Michigan Blue Magazine, Spring 2012!!
We had a great garden party and hope you enjoy the photos too!
February 20th, 2012 by Elaine
Blueberries and lemons, a match made in heaven! Mixing blueberries with lemonade makes a beautiful drink with a tart, intensely refreshing edge. This amazing summer concoction is the cool, cool, cool taste of summer.
Nowadays there are so many foods available ready made for purchase that we rarely think to make something like lemonade from scratch. But there’s such better taste–because of the pure ingredients you choose and the sense of satisfaction you enjoy–when you make it yourself. Also, when you make this from scratch you have an opportunity to adjust the sugar to taste and adjust tartness with the amount of lemon juice you add. Make this treat for a special get-together of family and friends, I guarantee you they will love it.
1 cup sugar
6 cups water
Grated zest of 3 lemons
1 pint blueberries, stemmed
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
Fresh mint sprigs
Mic the sugar, water and lemon zest in a medium size saucepan. Warm over medium medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the sugar has completely dissolved, remove pan from heat and pour the mixture into a large glass pitcher. Refrigerate for an hour or longer.
When the sugar mixture has chilled, combine the blueberries with the lemon juice in a blender and puree. Add to the pitcher and stir to blend. Skim the blueberry skins off the top or strain through a fine mesh strainer into another container. This lemonade can be made up to a full day before serving in the fridge.
Check out our blog entry where we made herb and edible flower ice cubes. This is a perfect opportunity to make up a batch of those and truly wow the family.
Garnish with mint. You may wish to add some vodka or rum…hmmmmmm?
February 19th, 2012 by Elaine
When the local organic herb farm is rocking the summer harvest of basil, I make pesto every day. I freeze it in ice cube trays, then pop out the perfect little cubes to store in the freezer in ziplock bags. Throughout the entire winter and spring I use the pesto for pasta, pizza, and paninis. The cost of buying pesto in jars is ridiculously prohibitive, and it never tastes as good as your own homemade. It’s also nice to know that your pesto has perfect basil leaves, organic garlic, a wealth of toasted pine nuts and the best Parmesan cheese available, something you never get in store bought. And, of course, store bought never has that “made with love” essence that only your own hand can create.
This photo shows me making pesto with purple basil, which has a very spicy, peppery flavor.
Mostly I used traditional Italian basil, but your imagination is the only the limit for pesto ingredients. I have made pesto from most herbs and really enjoyed parsley/walnut. I have also made broccoli and mint pesto, highly recommended. You can also use different nuts, try experimenting with walnuts and hazelnuts.
Use these proportions of ingredients and let your pesto begin!
4 cups basil
4 garlic cloves
2 cups pine nuts, toasted
1 cup olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Place all ingredients in the food processor and process to a smooth paste. If saving in the fridge rather than the freezer, store in tightly covered container with a topping of olive oil to keep pesto from discoloring. If saving in freezer, make sure to get all air out of the bag and seal tightly.
February 17th, 2012 by Elaine
FRUIT smoothie? Sure, we’re all delighted to have one of those……. but a GREEN smoothie?
Absolutely! Charge up your body and then leap tall buildings in a single bound!!!
Here is the simplest, most effective and surprisingly delicious way to get lots of greens into your diet. I drink one every day, varying the greens but primarily a choice of spinach, kale, chard, beet greens, dandelion greens, wheat grass or parsley. Also notable: cucumber and celery.
My favorite fruits to add: kiwi, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, apple, pear, banana, cherries, raspberries, pomegranate seeds. Black raspberries and blackberries are also wonderful, but they tend to make the smoothie a brownish color, somewhat unappealing visually but tasting like heaven. I also add chia seeds and ground flax seed for all-important Omega-3 minerals and fiber.
If you buy organic kiwi, apples or pears you don’t need to peel them, retaining the fiber.
You need a very powerful blender to make these, so if you have a VitiMix, or a blender that comes close, give this a whirl, so to speak.
Layer from the bottom, water, greens, fruit. Process until smooth. Drink! Keeps for 3 days in fridge.
February 17th, 2012 by Elaine
Roasted garlic is another ingredient that I use on a daily basis.
When garlic roasts, the result is creamy, sweet awesomeness to spread on bread for bruschetta, toss into pasta, add to dips or omelets. The way it makes your kitchen smell is epic.
It’s a cinch to make. I have a great little tool, a crockery garlic roaster, that costs about $15.00. It enables me to roast garlic in my toaster oven rather than fire up the big oven. Otherwise just use a cookie sheet.
Simply remove most of the paper surrounding the garlic cloves. Leave the head intact and just slice off the top. dribble olive oil on the tops slowly so it drains into the heads. Roast at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until deep golden brown.
Let cool, the scoop the cloves out with a small knife or spoon. Store in the fridge up to a week or more.
February 10th, 2012 by Elaine
We grow cherry tomatoes in big pots right in the walkways to The Manor Guest House. We pluck them right off the vines and pop them into our mouths as we pass by all summer long.
When the cherry tomatoes are ripening by bowlfuls daily, this simple, fresh and delicious appetizer is always appreciated. We grow multi-colored varieties making the presentation extra beautiful.
Cut top off tomatoes, scoop out inner seeds with a melon baller. Stuff with pieces of good quality feta cheese (preferably goat feta cheese). As an option, it’s especially nice to top with a reduced balsamic vinegar. Simply bring some good quality balsamic vinegar to a gentle boil in a small saucepan, stirring, until it is reduced to a thickened syrup. Drizzle over the top of the tomatoes.
Arrange on a pretty platter and top with chopped, fresh dill. Voila!