From the earth to the table

Alice Waters started a program called Edible Schoolyard some years ago in California. The concept has made its way across the nation and now in my own backyard. Neighborhood and school gardens are growing all over the community. Thanks to the relentless commitment of volunteers who are passionate about the earth and how children eat.

It is hard to imagine that, unlike the way I grew up in the midwest, kids today all over America rarely understand where their food comes from and how it gets from farm to table. Community gardens and edible schoolyard programs are a great way to bridge that gap in a way that is fun and engaging for the kids. .I got to experience the kids at play first hand myself. The local Boys and Girls club of America and Oakhurst Community Garden teamed up to make the summer for these kids delicious fun...and fun, it was.

I was so amazed at how focused the kids were and their knife skills were great! They made every recipe on their own and they all came out delicious!

We made fresh corn cakes with cilantro and Sweet Pepper Pesto Sauce

We made fresh tomato bruschetta with mozzarella and kalamata olives and fresh basil leaves for garnish.

There was an impromptu dish of pasta with sauteed onion, corns and tomatoes with fresh basil.

They whipped up a Lemon and Mint Poundcake as if they had been baking all their lives.

The help of some very special volunteer helpers from the community and the garden director made it all a success!

Here's HIllary, from Holeman & Finch, spending her morning helping us out.

We gathered around the table to share our simple feast made from fresh produce from the garden.

This is what cooking and eating is all about!

I love to use fresh corn in season for this recipe because of its sweet flavor and crunch. Our Sweet Pepper Pesto complements these savory cakes nicely.

3 ears fresh corn
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed and diced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 six-ounce jar Bella Cucina Sweet Roasted Red Pepper Pesto
sprigs of fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Remove kernels from the ears of corn. In a medium sauté pan, heat 4 tablespoons of the butter and add corn. Sauté until just tender, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan and add 2/3 of the corn to a large mixing bowl. Reserve the remaining corn for garnish.

Add flour, baking powder, jalapeño, cilantro, salt, and pepper to the mixing bowl with the corn. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and add the milk. Pour the liquid into the flour/corn mixture and stir until smooth. Let the batter sit 2-3 minutes to activate the baking powder; the mixture will expand slightly.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter until foamy. Add ½ cup batter for each cake to the pan. When the edges of the cakes begin to bubble and the bottoms are lightly browned, flip over and cook on the opposite side. Serve warm with heated sweet red pepper pesto pesto and garnish with the remaining sautéed corn and fresh cilantro leaves.

Makes 10 to 12 3-inch cakes.

A classic Bella Cucina recipe, we get requests for it all the time. A delicious and simple cake for dessert, tea, or breakfast.

4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 wedgesBella Cucina Preserved Lemons, diced , OPTIONAL
(remove the pulp and rinse the lemons before dicing)
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint, OPTIONAL {we decided to add this in to the cake to incorporate herbs from the garden. It was a delicious new addition to the recipe!}
½ cup heavy cream at room temperature
5 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted then cooled
1 Jar Bella Cucina Preserved Lemon Cream
1 cup fresh berries in season {we used fresh blueberries from the garden}

Preheat oven 350°

Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and dust with flour, shaking off the excess.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract until blended. Stir in the lemons until combined. Fold in the sifted flour and baking powder. Add the heavy cream, stirring until incorporated. Gently fold in the melted butter and oil. Once combined, pour into the pan and bake in center of the oven until golden brown and a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes.

Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool.
Serve with 1 cup Bella’s Preserved Lemon Cream folded in with 1 cup whipped fresh heavy cream. Garnish with fresh berries and a sprig of mint.

Serves eight

Buon appetito!
copyright 2008 Alisa Barry

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