Friday, August 26, 2011

Basil Fritters (Foglie Di Basilico Fritte)

It has been awhile since we've prepared this dish. Our first time trying it was at a friend's wedding in Italy. Upon arriving home from our trip a few years back, we immediately began to search for a recipe. Our efforts did not go unrewarded.

The kids we more reluctant about this dish, but as with anything they learn to eat, we'll try again. Next time we will have them help prepare it. That is always a sure way to have them chowing something down.

Thanks to my green thumb gardening friend, we had a had bunch to cook up. I believe we owe her a batch of these. So get on out to your gardens, down to your farmer's market, or best place to score some fresh basil.

Basil Fritters

1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup corn starch

1/2 cup club soda or mineral water (approx.)
canola oil

20 large basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry

Combine flour, salt, and corn starch in a small bowl. Add the club soda slowly, until you have a thick batter (I had to add a few more tablespoons). Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.

Add oil to a small pan to 1/2" depth, then heat on medium until warm.

On a large plate, put down paper towels to help soak up excess oil after cooking, plus have more set aside to cover the finished leaves.

Dip a few leaves in the batter until they are completely covered (swirling works well), then place them in the pan. Cook for a few minutes, flip with a fork or tongs, and cook a few more minutes until crispy and golden.

Place the finished leaves on the towel-lined plate, then cover with paper towels to remove extra oil and keep them warm (though they are best consumed right away).

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Berries, Berries, Berries

We love our berries here at the veg household. Naturally we decided to plant some blueberry bushes and raspberry canes in our yard. By far these have been the most popular and fruitful endeavor in our gardening (bad pun intended).

The kids absolutely love to pick them, no mind that a large portion never make it inside. There are a few things I've noticed after tending to these berries, which I hope help you in your gardening.

First is that raspberries love water. It doesn't have to be a lot, but a frequent, shallow watering led to much larger berries this year. Second, don't make the same mistake I did and skip pruning at the end of the season. They are the shoots which produce berries should be cut back to the ground, otherwise they are prone to pest issues.

Blueberries love an acidic environment, and also did much better with more frequent shallow watering. We are still getting berries off of the bushes, and it has been producing for about a month. Another tip, is to plant more than one variety for cross-pollination, which will yield larger berries. If you are planting highbush blueberries, two varieties are not necessary, but still recommended. It also helps to have native flowers to attract pollinators to your yard.

If you are looking for some delicious recipes for berries, try lemon blueberry muffins or chia raspberry muffins. We also love to add raspberries or blueberries to our pancakes, but go the lazy route with Healthy Smart Heart Bisquick. I've heard at Food Snobbery is my Hobbery there is a nice vegan pancake recipe in   Vegan with a Vengeance, which I'd love to try out.