We’re busy at Petraia as high summer starts easing into fall. I’m sorry I don’t have much time these days to post but here is a quick overview of what we are up to in the kitchen and in the vegetable garden.
1. Tomatoes are starting to come in strong. I haven’t yet had time to catalogue all the varieties we planted this year but there are tons of new ones. We make tomato confit with the cherries and tomato water, passata and castup with the fleshier preserving varieties. The tomato seeds and skins are dehydrated to make powder or as a garnish for our plates. The colourful heirlooms we are using up fresh, in beautiful composed salads. The green ones we’ll fry, ferment or use for mincemeat. You can find out how we do all this in the Dispensa chapter of Dinamica.
2. I’m making lots of lacto fermented vegetables these days including cucumber, green, purple and yellow beans, horseradish leaf, violet kohlrabi, onion, radish, carrot, garlic, beet, kale, chard stem, okra, tomatilla… My preference is to ferment vegetables whole, so I have more options when it comes to using them. In searching for the perfect pairing for these sour pickles I’ve discovered a match is made in heaven if they are sliced thinly and rolled up in a slice of our Cinta Sensese prosciutto.
I’m also experimenting dehydrating sliced fermented vegetables to pulverize later into a tangy powder. This will be used to bring a subtle complexity and depth of flavour to some of our dishes.
3. I’m having fun with our alliums, we had a beautiful crop this year of scallions, garlic and several kinds of onions. I’m drying garlic bulbs whole in the oven and dehydrating scallions and onions. Once completely dry I’m turning them into powders to use as garnish, to make garlic and onion salt and allium oils. One happy result is a delicious sourdough black onion rye bread (made with our own rye flour). We are eating this bread thinly sliced and topped with our olive oil and garlic mayo, sour pickles, fresh cucumbers, thinly sliced fresh onion and heirloom tomatoes. Even if I do say so myself, gosh, this is really good!
4. This year we have tons of wonderful yellow, chioggia and red beets. We’re pickling them along with their stems or baking them whole in a salt paste to slice thinly over our pickled quails eggs.
5. The first time I tasted our home grown cumin seed I had an epiphany, the flavour was simply out of this world. Since then I have never looked back and now we grow almost all our own spices. The nigella, poppy, flax and nasturium flowers we grew as companion plants in our orto provide us with some of these as the flowers fade and the seed pods form. We harvest them along with seeds from many of our herbs and some of our vegetables too. Cumin, anice, dill, chevril, lovage, celery, onion and radish seed are just a few of the things we grow for our spice rack. The wild fennel is coming into flower now too and we use the pollen in our salumi and pork products.
6. Our roses are almost finished, we made the last batch of our delicious rose brachetto sorbet last week.
7. The fragolina grapes and figs are starting now and we’ll soon be making dried figs and raisins with those as well as grape juice for the breakfast table.