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Garden Update: All Things Wild

Garden Update: All Things Wild

One of the true joys of the last couple of months has been walking our every morning onto the garden and finding out what is growing there! So far, I have found blackberry, raspberry bushes that have delighted me with their blooms, fragrant wild rose, lemon balm, lamb’s ear, wild iris and azaleas and lots of boxwood. I also confronted critters - stubborn, cut and with resignation…!

This post talks about living with nature and appreciating its beauty. Plus notes on the wild fruit bushes, and, tips on critter management.

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Spelt Berry Cobbler

Spelt Berry Cobbler

Ok, I admit it. I still have not found my groove yet. Something is amiss. A bit of lethargy perhaps. There are days I wake up pumped up and ready to take on the world (These are days when I work out in the morning) and then those that I feel rather sapped (these are days when I don't work out at all.. and yes, I deny all patterns!)

And, yes, this blog seems to be bearing the brunt of it in my unpredictable posting and lack of schedule. I am fully aware of that now. First Step complete. Phew!

Now that I have acknowledged it, it should get better. Right? Right? Oh! please say it is so! I cannot bear another year of lackluster performance! I mean, what will my shareholders (ahem! so what if it is just me!) say.
Berries & Rosemary

Only another year of negative returns in an artificially propped up market. Ah! it's all fine. Not a bubble at all. Just keep pouring the money into it. It will come up someday.... Right? Black holes are a myth. What goes in always comes out, honey..

Hmmm.. Why is there no resonance on this? It is very disconcerting! Do you not love me? I mean people, what more can I do! I am at a loss. I have my head in the sand already. I am doing all I can, to do nothing, and, it doesn't seem to be working. Am I missing something here? Perhaps, a change of government will help?!

Wait! That's it!! Elections! That should provide a catalyst! I mean, all that money being poured in endless chats.. Surely, some of it will come my way... umm...may be?
Spelt dough

What do you mean, Never?! Hey! don't break my bubble! I like my glass house. It's warm and cozy, even there is nothing to eat in here....

In other news, I bring you a successful sequel to my spelt failure from ere while ago. Bursting with summer sweetness, these berries need no additional sugar, which takes the decadence out of the dessert while leaving behind all of its indulgence. And yes, the flaky dough buttons are made from the spelt croissant attempt.

The trick I realised in working with spelt dough made without additional gluten is to care for it low and slow. For these cobbler knobs, the heat was at 325F for 20 minutes and then turned up to 400F for 10 to crumble it.
Rosemary & Berry Spelt Cobbler

I find that, in general, slightly lower heat (compared to regular all purpose) works better when baking with spelt flour. I am curious about the chemistry behind it. So, if there are the more scientifically aware out there, please come forward quench my thirst..

Summer Berry Cobbler
1/4 of Spelt Croissant dough (made using Stephane's recipe)
1 pint mixed berries (I used blueberries and blackberries)
1 T rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1 T mild honey

Preheat the over to 350F.

Arrange the berries and rosemary in a baking dish. Sprinkle the salt over. With a cookie cutter, cut little rounds of the spelt dough. Arrange the dough in any fashion over the berries.

Place the dish into the oven and immediately turn down the heat to 325F. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes. Increase temperature to 400F, drizzle the honey all over and bake for another 10 minutes until the dough kind of starts caramelizing.

Cool on rack for 5 minutes and serve warm as is or with ice cream!

What's with the Heat!

Ice cream

Ummm.. I am really curious.. What IS happening to the climate around the world. As bizzare as it sounds, the East coast seems to be caught rather scorchingly flatfooted between the surrealistic chill of the West Coast and Europe! I cannot help but wonder if this is not some kind of cosmic vengeance for the dithering politics of Washington?!

Nevertheless, it is always the poor souls who bear the brunt of any tirade. For about 350 days of the year, I love my cute, little 1800's apartment with it's original fixtures, huge windows that let in a lot of natural sun light, old coil radiators, seperate kitchen and no air conditioning. Yes.. NO built in air conditioning!

Blackberry icecream sandwich in plate

For the rest of the 15 days I debate weather all that charm and, yes, even that one NYC luxury of an independent kitchen, is really worth the blistering heat that those lovely, large windows, and being on the top floor, let in. Forgive my rants, but I am currently ensconced in one of the 2 rooms that has an a/c and dreading stepping out of the cool haven even to pee!

Ofcourse, the heat translates to much cool consumption and ice cream beats the boat by a mile lead! :) With the season's abundance of refreshing fruits, the possibilities are endless and it's only a matter of pick and play and you have delectable delights that offer glimmers of happiness in the midst of heat-ridden lethargy...

Blackberries and Sage

Sometime back, I was in the mood of combining sweet and savory. I find herbs add a flavor element to sweets that elevates the simplest creations to a new experience for the palate. Besides, as our palate grows, it becomes ever more persnickety and such experiences are no longer coveted but indeed essential, like this Peach and Thyme Icecream I made last year.

So became this Blackberry and Sage Icecream! I love blackberries.. they are naturaly sweet (perhaps the sweetest of all the berries) and combining them with the earthy sage creates the perfect symphony on your tongue. It's a play and a whimsical one at it! :)

Blackberry and Sage Icecream

1-1.5 cups ripe blackberries
2 tsp sugar
7-8 fresh sage leaves

For the custard:
3 egg yolks
1-1/4 cup half and half
3 thyme stalks
1/4 cup sugar

Blackberries and Sage icecream sandwiches

Over low heat, cook the blackberries and sugar until the juices start releasing. Cook for about 5-7 minutes until they are just soft but stil retain some shape. Set aside to cool.

With a hand whisk, cream the yolks and sugar together until light yellow in color. Meanwhile, heat the half and half with the sage leaves until just barely simmering. Remove the pan from heat and discard the sage. Slowly, and while continuously whisking the mixture, incorporate the hot milk into the yolk mixture.

To prepare the custard, pour the mixture back in to the pan and over medium heat, gently heat the mixture, stirring often. The mixture will start to thicken. Continue heating until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon (about 8 - 10 minutes) and if you run your finger along the back of the spoon, the streak remains without the cream running down through the streak.

Remove from heat immediately. Do not over heat as the eggs will curdle (done that before!). Whisk the mixture for a minute to stop the custard from cooking further. Strain through a fine sieve to remove any lumps or scrambles. Stir in the blackberry sauce till fully incorporated. Cool the mixture to room temperature.

Cover the custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate for atleast two hours until completely chilled. At this point, you can process the mixture in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions.

If you don't have an ice cream machine, once the custard mixture is cold, move it to the freezer. After about 45 minutes, check on the mixture. If it has started freezing on the edges, remove and whip up the mixture with a hand-held mixer to break the ice crystals and incorporate some air to create the fluffiness.

Return to the freezer and repeat the whisking every hour, three more times. By this time, volume of the ice cream would have doubled. If it hasn't, then you are not whisking enough each time. After the final repetition, freeze the mixture for atleast 6 hours or overnight.

Orange and Rosemary Scones with Blackberry and Rosé Quick Jam

Orange and Rosemary scones

Weekends are, for me, days to unwind, relax and think about what I want to eat. This weekend, I felt like scones. So I baked fresh scones for breakfast, well, actually it turned out to be brunch :D.

I love scones, as much as I love many other British things. But, I can honestly say that the ones from Starbucks are not it! For the real treat, you really have to get them homemade or well, perhaps from Britain would also work, I suppose..:)

I have yet to find a quaint, mostly British place that serves good scones around here. Well, Tea and Sympathy here in NYC was fine but it seemed a tad too adapted for the west-of-the-Atlantic tastes. Besides, I am yet to visit the United Kingdom. So, until then, I guess I'll just have to keep baking them myself! :)

Scones ready to eat

Sometime back, Julia had run a series on adding savory touches to sweet dishes. One of her creations stayed in my mind, a rosemary kissed orange custard. So, when opportunity presented this time, I decided to test out the combination and make these Orange and Rosemary Scones.

I have to say that orange and rosemary make a fabulous combination! I used a ton of orange zest that kept the flavors of the scone fresh while rosemary nicely balanced it out with a grounded earthiness! As I soared on the citrus, the herb played the good gravity goddess :)

These scones go great with butter or clotted cream (of course!) and Blackberry and Rosé Quick Jam I had made before. The Rosé reduction adds a mellow note to the jam and acts as a natural preservative as well!


Orange and Rosemary Scones
(inspired by the recipe here)
{makes 8-ten 2.5 inch scones}

Orange and Rosemary scones close up

200 g flour
2 T sugar
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking powder
zest of 1 orange
2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely minced
60 g cold butter, cubed
140 g buttermilk
1 yolk + 1 T cream for egg wash

Sift together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder together. Cut into the mixture the cold butter until they are no more than the size of peas. Stir in the zest and rosemary and mix well. Add the buttermilk and mix for form a dough.

On a floured surface knead just a bit to make into a non-sticky dough ball. Pat the dough out with your palms to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter, cut out scones and place on a greased baking sheet. Brush egg wash over the scones.

Bake at 425F for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool on rack. Serve warm with butter and jam.

Blackberry and Rosé Quick Jam


2 cups ripe blackberries
1/2 cup Rosé wine
2-3 T sugar
2 tsp pectin

Bring everything except the pectin to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Mash the blackberries into the sauce and cook until it reduces to half its volume. Add the pectin and cook until the sauce thickens. Pour into a sealable glass jar and seal while still hot.

Share your creations tagging @ashafsk on Instagram and hashtag #MadeFromFSK