Sometimes life just stumps you. Such was the case when these absolutely, incredibly, beautiful and delicate garlic scapes found their way into my kitchen and onto my plate. A friend of mine, Daleen gave me a bunch of these green little wonders and said that I needed to cook something with it. But there I was, utterly stumped. What was I going to do with these culinary flowers? They belonged in a pretty flower vase on the window sill surely? At first I thought the little buds on these slender green shoots were “onion flowers” and then with a wicked smile, Daleen informed me that they were actually garlic scapes or garlic flowers. I had never seen these little miracles before …Clearly, I need to get out more… Anyway, these flowers were just so fragile and perfect – long leafless stems with the little closed flowers on the top – and inside the flowers were the seeds of the garlic plant. It was another wonder of creation.
But how and what could I do with these edible creations? As always my weekly food journey starts with the world’s greatest encyclopedia, the internet. I read that the flower of the garlic plant is sometimes eaten and that it has a much milder flavour than the actual garlic bulbs. I read further that these seeds were mostly consumed while immature and still tender. This seemed to make some sense as the bottom part of the stem was rock hard. These stalks will be great in soups and stews.
I don’t know why but my mind took me to Asia when I saw them … a dish of greens and pork. That is what I eventually decided to do…. My secret for this recipe was to keep everything simple. The idea was to let the subtle garlic scapes infuse with lemon and then just let this flavour the greens and the pork. The delicate simplicity of the flavours makes this a genuinely blissful, if not whimsical combination. Garlic scapes are available in stores at the moments – so please try it – it’s both fun and delicious.
lemony pork fillets + garlic scapes
- For the pork
- 300g Pork fillet
- Juice of one lemon
- 1T Soya sauce
- Black pepper for seasoning
- Salt – if you need extra seasoning
- Oil for frying in pan
- For the garlic scapes
- 4-6 Garlic scapes (keep some whole and have some cut in halves) - use only a small piece of the stem and the flower
- 2T Butter
- Fresh juice from ½ lemon
- A bit of white wine - +- 50ml
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- For the Asian greens
- Asian greens for two people - I went to the Chinese market and got a variety of greens i.e. bok choy
- 1-2T Soya sauce
- Oil for frying
- Fresh juice from one lemon
- Lemon infused olive oil to drizzle over your dish when cooked
- For the pork: Add the oil to the pan and sear the fillets.
- Then add your seasoning - pepper + lemon juice + soja sauce - fry the pork fillets on medium high heat till done.
- Make sure your fillets are properly cooked through - but do not over cook. Add a bit of salt if you like.
- For the scapes: Add butter to a medium hot pan.
- Braise the garlic scapes till soft in butter and wine. This will take about 10 minutes.
- Add the lemon juice and some salt and pepper for seasoning.
- For the other greens: Heat a wok until it is very hot – add the oil and then the greens.
- Flash fry the greens for a few minutees and add the soya sauce + lemon juice + pepper.
- Taste for seasoning.
- To serve: Add the greens to the plate.
- Cut your pork and put that on top of the green.
- Drizzle the juices of the pan over the pork + drizzle some lemon infused olive oil over the whole dish.
- And then place some garlic scapes on top.
I have written about white pepper before but today I want to dedicate this page to a lovely pink lady – the pink peppercorn. She is somewhat of a foxy, seductive siren. Always dressed up and ready for any occasion … wonderfully pink with so many fabulous and flavourful guises. Who would have thought that she is actually a type of dried berry with a peppery taste and not technically a peppercorn? Her French name is “baie rose” – translated in English to pink berry.
I decided to combine two berries together – the strawberry and the pink peppercorn. This is undoubtedly one of the better combinations I have tasted. It is sophisticated – the sweet and tartness of the strawberry jam dallied with the ever-tempting pepperiness of the pink peppercorn. It is kind of like the Thelma and Louise of the berry world, a wicked pairing of the unconventional with the traditional – if you like pop it on a scone, add a fresh strawberry, a dash of sour cream and a finish it with an extra peppercorn or two … taste how the taste is catapulted into another dimension.
Strawberries are in season … so get out there an get some … a jar of pink peppercorn strawberry jam will make a special gift … but warn your gran first – as the taste could blow her socks off!
Note: I use half the normal amount of sugar (I don’t like the jam being too sweet), always add a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
pink peppercorn strawberry jam
- 800g Strawberries – cut into halves
- 400g Sugar
- 2 ½ t Pink peppercorns
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- Put all ingredients in pot. Put on low heat until the sugar has melted and starts to boil.
- Then put on medium-high and cook for 25 minutes.
- If foam has formed on the top of the jam just scoop it off if necessary.
- Bottle in jars or just tuck in.
A hangover is the wrath of grapes. ~Author Unknown
They say that a Bloody Mary cocktail can cure hangovers – I think we all need to know this before the silly season gets underway…. But does it work? Is it fact or mere fiction? I decided to try this one out myself – so just last week with a very hectic social schedule filling my outlook calendar I decided it was a good time to plan a good hangover and test this myth or truth. So I attended a social function where the wine was literally on tap… (I booked a driver to ensure that I made it home safely), went home and decided to finish off my little experiment by rounding the evening off with a few more whiskeys – just a couple of night caps you know. I felt fabulous that evening – did a few dances for the hubby and went to bed. The next morning not so fabulous … what on earth was I thinking? I am no scientist…on cue though Rick woke me up with a Bloody Mary in bed! Thankfully it was Saturday morning, but whichever way you look at it … facing a cocktail concoction that that time of the morning can scare even a full-time professional drinker! For some crazy reason, I had to finish what I started, so with eyes wide shut, I tilted the head and knocked-back the Bloody Mary thingy. I lay about curiously waiting for this healing elixir to do its curative work. An hour later, no change, I still felt 10 000 hammers in my head. This Bloody Mary was clearly nursing somewhere else – or had taken the day off. It was – and is in my opinion a myth. I do know that scientific experiments are verified by a series of tests, so to be fair I decided to take this test to the next level.
If the Bloody Mary did not do its work in a cocktail glass perhaps the sum of its ingredients would be a better tonic if they were deconstructed. I took a cherry tomato injected it with a few drops of green tobasco, then I took a short shot glass of vodka and placed it adjacent to a bowl of salt.
The regimen is then to dip the tabasco infused tomato into the vodka and then douse it in the salt and pop it in your mouth. I added a bean for some protein and then a celery stick for the more traditional version. It is just so fab.
Did this cure my hangover? I reckon that you will have to go through quite a few kilos of tomatoes before this deconstructed Bloody Mary will make some sort of dent on a decent hangover.
So my deconstructed Bloody Mary may not be the cure for hangovers but try it – it will definitely be the showstopper at your next summer soiree or cocktail party!
Roll on summer!
the deconstructed bloody mary
- Cherry tomatoes
- Maldon salt
- Green tobasco
- Butter beans or celery sticks cut into 2.5cm pieces (optional)
- Injection needle
- Tooth pics
- Inject a few drops of green tobasco into each tomato.
- String a tomato and a butter bean onto a toothpick. Repeat (depending on how many you want to ingest).
- Pour some vodka into a bowl and salt into a separate bowl.
- Now dip the tabasco infused tomato into the vodka and then douse it in the salt and pop it in your mouth.