Food and Garden Dailies started as a way to record my family's favorite recipes. It has come in handy many times when I'm asked for a recipe. I simply email a link to the blog! But I couldn't just stick to recipes. The kitchen is tied to the garden in so many ways...and so I let you into my ever changing garden as well.

If you're interested in my all-time favorite recipes, check out this post first: My Favorite Recipes

Monday, February 6, 2012

Puff Pastry Pinwheels with Prosciutto, Gruyere Cheese, and Basil

Pin It
Puff Pastry Pinwheel Post Part Two!

Earlier I posted the recipe for Puff Pastry Pinwheels with Prosciutto and Manchego Cheese.  I made two with prosciutto and Manchego cheese filling, and another with prosciutto, basil, and Gruyere cheese.  Which one was best?  Ummm...they were gobbled up so quickly that they were both declared winners.

And how easy were they to make...FAST & EASY!!   Puff pastry pinwheels will now be appearing at any event we host.  They were that good.  (And that easy!)

Now, I'm definitely a measure and follow the recipe kinda' girl, but this is truly one "recipe" where you can easily add more of what you like, or change things up a bit.  Experiment and have a little fun. Live dangerously and just plop on your ingredients.

Puff Pastry Pinwheels with Prosciutto, Gruyere Cheese, and Basil

1 package frozen puff pastry (I used Pepperidge Farm)
About 10 thin slices of prosciutto
About 1/2- 1 cup of shredded Gruyere cheese (found in the specialty cheese section of your upscale grocery stores)
egg white and a little water, whisked together in a bowl
10-15 basil leaves

1.  First you'll need puff pastry sheets.  I used the Pepperidge Farm ones from the freezer section.  Since I was making these right away, I opened up the package and let them defrost on the counter for about 40 minutes.  You can also leave the box in your refrigerator overnight to defrost.

2.  Once the puff pastry is defrosted, lay it flat.  (You can leave it this size, or you can roll it out so that you're able to make a few more pinwheels for your party.)

3.  Layer prosciutto, Gruyere cheese, and basil leaves (however much you'd like!) on the pastry. 

4.  Roll up into one big spiral.

5.  Some recipes say to refrigerate for 3 hours (or more), while other recipes don't mention refrigerating at all before you cut them.  Since I didn't read this step ahead of time, I didn't have 3 hours!  I did put them in the refrigerator for 45 minutes and then sliced them into 1/2" sections.  I saved some of the roll and let that refrigerate overnight.  What I learned is that they're easier to slice when they've been refrigerated.  So, if you have time, go ahead and refrigerate.  If not, just roll up, and slice away!

6.  Lay the sections flat, so you see the spiral.  Brush the egg/water mixture over the top for a glossy finish.

7.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, or until golden on top.

Serve hot or at room temperature.  (That's the beauty of these...they taste great at room temperature, so you can make them ahead to bring to a party.)

You should be able to get about 20 spirals from half the package, so 40 if you're using the whole package.  

Feel free to experiment with other fillings:

Muenster cheese, Parmesan cheese, chopped green onion, garlic salt, spinach

Cream cheese, broccoli, ham

Pesto, cream cheese

Cream cheese, spinach, onion, and Italian sausage

Serrano ham, Manchego cheese

It doesn't have to be savory can go sweet too!  Think of fruit pie fillings...oh my, the options are endless!  Have fun experimenting!

How to Start Gardening

Pin It On a message board I frequent, one of the ladies recently mentioned that she wanted to start gardening, but was overwhelmed with all the information.  Should she make her own potting soil with worm castings?  Should she be composting her food waste to add to the garden?  As a beginning gardener, these suggestions were too much, too soon.  With so much information available online, something so simple was becoming stressful.

I thought back to my gardening beginnings.  I've always grown up around gardening.  My grandmother always had enviable flower beds and fruit trees.  Growing up in Arizona, my mom  had a natural cacti/desert garden bed, but also grew annual flowers in pots every year.  Though I noticed the gardens, gardening didn't especially interest me.

When we moved from Arizona to Indiana (over 20 years ago) we had a small apartment on the ground floor.  This small apartment had a fenced in yard.  A tiny yard, but a yard, nonetheless.  After living in Arizona for so many years, I was amazed at what could be grown in a more moderate climate (as if Indiana is really moderate!).  Anyway, I recall going out back one day and digging up a strip of earth along the fence line.  I remember being on my hands and knees and getting really dirty.  Somehow I knew to amend the soil, as I hauled bags of soil to the yard.  With my bare hands (I've never been a fan of gloves) I mixed up the native soil with the bagged soil.  My gardening had begun.
Markum's Pink Clematis

My next door neighbor, Sug (as in Sugar), was from Louisiana, I believe.  She was a character who was larger than life.  She spoke with a thick southern drawl and had a cigarette in hand every time I saw her.  Her yard was the same size as mine, and I was amazed at how lush it was.  Her favorite plants were clematis, and they were growing up her fence in every direction.  She packed in the plants, and stuck them wherever she saw an empty spot of dirt.  I know she influenced my gardening, as I longed to have a yard as lush as hers.  Still, it would be a good 15 years before I bought my first clematis plant, and another 5 before I could rival her with such a large variety.

So, back to my little strip of land by the fence....I grew flowers there.  And when I ran out of space I started on another strip next to the patio.  Hollyhocks of every color flourished in this space.  I remember growing morning glory plants from seed that ran up the post and to the patio railing of the apartment above me. 

The neighbors above grew gorgeous tomatoes in pots.  When I asked them their secret, they told me about Miracle-Gro.  I went off to buy my first container of Miracle-Gro, and twice a month I religiously watered my plants with fertilizer.  A couple years later, I was bragging to them about how well the Miracle-Gro was working, and that I was amazed at how long it lasted!  They questioned it lasting so long, and as we got to talking about it, I realized that I'd never taken off the plastic seal on the Miracle-Gro container.  For two years I'd been fertilizing with water!

And that was the start of my learn-as-you-go gardening.  You will do silly things.  You will make mistakes.  You will kill plants.  You will be attracted to plants that don't grow in your zone.  You will buy those plants and hope, hope, hope they survive.  Most likely, they won't.  But that won't stop you from trying again...

And that, is what gardening really is...finding out what you like, and just trying it out.  Start small.  Get comfortable tending to one small patch of land.  Then, if you like it, keep going.

Here's the advice I left to the overwhelmed beginning gardener.  Hopefully it will help someone else out who's just beginning too!

How to Start Gardening

If you get caught up in doing everything right and wanting to know everything there is to know, you are going to wear yourself out before you've even begun! I've been
Raised bed
gardening for 20 years now, and I've never made my own potting mix with worm castings.

1) Think about what you want to plant (small scale). Do you want edibles
like veggies or herbs? Or do you want ornamental flowers? With flowers, do you want something that will come back every year (perennial) or something that has a long-lasting seasonal bloom, but has to be replaced each year (annuals)?

2) Pick out a small space in your yard. Start off small. Is it sunny, shady, or partly sunny? That will influence what you can grow there. How is the existing soil? Grassy? Weedy? Rocky? Clay-like?  You can cover weeds/grass with layers of newspaper to kill them. Then you can dig up that area (or build a simple raised bed on top).

Every few years I get 2-3 cubic yards of50/50 soil delivered to my home.

3) Whatever space you choose, AMEND THE SOIL. I can't stress that one enough. Dig up the local soil, add in some compost or 50/50 (50 percent good garden soil/50 percent compost) and mix that all together. You will be AMAZED at how much good soil helps your plants. I think this is often overlooked. 

4) Don't plant so close to your home. You really don't want the mature plant up against the house.

5) When buying plants, go to a local garden center (as opposed to Home Depot or Lowes). Find out what zone you're in (how cold it gets in winter) and buy plants that are recommended for that zone. Look at the plant tag to see if it needs sun or shade. Look at how big the plant gets at maturity (will you have room for it full grown?).

6) Buy the plant and stick it in the amended soil. Water and enjoy!!!

Start with something small and easy like this. Soon, you'll be looking for any little patch of land to re-do! You will make mistakes. You will kill plants. Don't worry...just enjoy and have fun!