June 28, 2017 Sour Cream Ice Cream

When we first moved to our Windy Bush road property thirty years ago, we were always on the lookout for new plantings to add to our new homestead. Joe bought various fruit trees and started a vegetable and herb garden.

Back then we found interesting herbs at a yearly plant sale at the Churchville Nature Center. Gardeners are very generous people and a fellow plant and herb enthusiast offered us some raspberry bushes in exchange for some scented geraniums from Joe’s collection. We took her up on the offer and Joe planted the bushes in the vegetable garden. As the variety of the vegetables and herbs increased in the garden, we needed to find a new location for the raspberry bushes. Joe cleared a new area, not just for raspberries, now also including golden and black varieties, but for strawberries, blueberries, currants and blackberries as well.

Back in the original location where the raspberries were planted, a small piece of one of the bushes was left behind. Surprisingly, or maybe not, this small bush not only grew but thrived over the years. The transplanted bushes were fruitful for a time but eventually died off. Over the years we have put in more bushes but none has been as productive as that original planting that was never moved. For years Joe would cut it back, but it kept coming back stronger each year. We finally gave in and the bush is getting larger and is putting out beautiful plump red berries. I used to look for berries around the fourth of July, this crop started in mid June and will produce another harvest in August.

We enjoy them right off the vine, of course but I was looking for another way to enjoy this special treat. While picking one day my thoughts first went to crème fraîche but decided that a sour cream ice cream would be the perfect foil for these berries. The recipe I found for sour cream ice cream on Epicurious was originally from Gourmet magazine, July 2009 and was contributed by Ian Knauer. I met Ian several years ago at our local farmers market where he was signing copies of his cookbook, The Farm, subtitled, “rustic recipes for a year of incredible food.” The Farm is a cooking school in Stockton New Jersey, about twenty minutes from our home. Making a mental note to check it out sooner rather than later.

This is a very easy recipe, especially if, like me, you have made custard based ice creams in the past. Custard ice cream, although very delicious, requires a watchful eye to carefully temper the eggs with the cream and milk. One false move and you will have sweetened scrambled eggs.

This recipe is a Philadelphia style ice cream, which means it contains cream and/or other dairy products, a flavor base, but no eggs. All of the ingredients are whirled together in a blender, chilled well and churned in the ice cream maker. The sour cream makes it tangy and pairs well with any summer berry. I served it with toasted pound cake.

Raspberries in various stages of ripeness on the vine.
Beautiful raspberries from the garden.

Sour Cream Ice Cream

Makes about 5 cups


  • 1-16 ounce container sour cream
  • 1 c chilled half and half
  • ¾ c sugar
  • ½ c chilled heavy cream
  • 2 t fresh lemon juice
  • ½ t vanilla extract


  1. Puree all ingredients with 1/8 teaspoon salt in a blender until mixture is very smooth and sugar is dissolved. Chill until very cold.
  2. Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to firm up, about 6 hours.
Everything is whirred together in a blender.
After the mix is well chilled in the refrigerator, it is churned in an ice cream maker.
The Tovolo “Glide-A-Scoop ” ice cream storage container makes it easy to make a perfect scoop every time.

June 13, 2017 Green Harissa

Harissa is a spicy and aromatic chili sauce, commonly found in the cooking of the North African countries of Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. The basic recipe calls for hot peppers, garlic, salt, olive oil and spices. This version from Vedge , a vegetarian restaurant in Philadelphia, uses green jalapenos, onions, garlic, a generous amount of fresh cilantro, along with dried coriander and cumin. Cilantro haters can substitute parsley or half parsley and half fresh spinach. Some mint might be interesting in the mix.

The original recipe called for 2 jalapenos, one was enough for my palate, remember you can always add more heat, it’s harder to take it away. It’s a good idea to wear gloves when handling chilies. Chili oil on sensitive parts of your body (hands, lips, eyes etc.) will burn for a long time. Chili oil is not water soluble, it’s fat soluble. So if you get some on your hands, rub some cooking oil into your hands before washing with soap and water.

Serve green harissa as a sauce for grilled vegetables and fish, lamb burgers, an unconventional taco topping, the possibilities are endless.

Green Harissa

Makes 1 cup


  • 2 c loosely packed cilantro leaves
  • 1 c finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 T or more olive oil
  • 2 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 t sugar
Cilantro in the greenhouse.



  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth

June 11, 2017 Carrot Top Pesto

Spring is an ideal time for planting root vegetables like turnips, beets and carrots. They especially love the cooler temperatures that we have been blessed with this spring. We try to be frugal with seeds, so the ones that aren’t planted are saved from season to season. I catalog them alphabetically like a card file in clamshell plastic containers that in a previous life held spinach or lettuce from a big box store. I use 3×5 cards to separate them into specific categories, beets, cucumbers, fennel etc. This year I even did a little clean up, getting rid of all packets before 2013.

Last year a friend gave Joe quite a few packets of carrot seeds he purchased on sale. Some were planted but most went into storage in the fridge over the winter. He wasn’t certain how many of them would germinate this season so he planted them very densely. As luck would have it, every carrot seed germinated.  Now it was time for some serious thinning.

Thinning is a necessary step in vegetable gardening if you want to have mature healthy plants. This can be done in stages. Armed with my Cutco scissors, I did the first thinning when the plants were about four inches tall. Pulling out the unwanted seedlings can often pull out the ones you wanted to leave growing. I snipped the plants at the soil line. With a colander full of the lacy feathery tops I thought about how I could use them. I remembered that parsley and carrots are related so I tasted a few of them. They have an herbaceous flavor, that to me was reminiscent of parsley.

I have made pesto with basil and arugula, why not carrot tops? I used a basic formula that I have used to make other types of pesto, herbs or a green, in this case carrot tops, garlic, nuts, a hard cheese and olive oil. Baby carrot greens are more delicate in flavor and are a special reward for the gardener. Organically grown full-sized carrot greens can be used too, eliminating any thick stems. I used my pesto as a topping for roasted salmon. It would work with chicken breasts and of course, roasted carrots.

Time to thin the carrots.
The first thinning of carrot greens.

Carrot Top Pesto

Makes about a cup


  • 3 cups lightly packed carrot tops
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 T pine nuts
  • ¼ c extra virgin olive oil, more if needed to make a paste
  • ¼ c grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place the carrot tops, garlic and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Pulse until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, slowly add olive oil until a paste forms. Add cheese and pulse several times to combine.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately or cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

June 4, 2017 Arugula and Snow Pea Shoot Salad

I am pleased to say that the weather this spring  has cooperated with Joe’s spring plantings. Many years spring  has brought just a little cool weather followed by a blast of 90 degree plus temperatures that we never recover from. We have had our share of rain, but only one heat wave ( 3 consecutive days of 90° heat)  in May.

The cool, occasionally rainy weather makes for plump healthy radishes, too much heat and they become tough, pithy and hot. This week I picked the first harvest of beautiful crimson red, pink, purple and white Easter Egg radishes. Joe does consecutive plantings of quick-growing crops like radishes, arugula and salad greens so that they aren’t all ready to harvest at once.

Peas are one of the first seeds we plant in the garden, not just for the edible pods, we also reserve one section to harvest for the shoots alone. The round leaves and wispy tips are reminiscent of a green butterfly. To harvest I pinch off the tender tips, the top several leaves and the tendril that ends the vine, in turn they will send out new growth for the next harvest in several days.

This salad combines the best of spring, spicy arugula, snow pea shoots, crunchy sweet radishes from our garden and kohlrabi from the local farmers market. I accented the salad with some toasted hazelnuts and creamy French feta. For this vinaigrette I combined champagne vinegar, Dijon mustard, shallot, a touch of honey and extra virgin olive oil. When making a salad be sure to use a bowl that gives you plenty of room to toss your ingredients. I start by tossing the greens with dressing to coat them lightly, then I add some of the other ingredients and toss again. I leave the rest to top the salad with, this ensures that the last person who is served doesn’t get all the heavier ingredients that end up in the bottom of the bowl.

A cool spring makes for nice plump radishes.
Mature arugula
More arugula, but not as mature.
Snow pea shoots

Arugula and Snow Pea Shoot Salad

Serves two

Ingredients for the Salad

  • 4 c snow pea shoots
  • 4 c arugula
  • 4-5 medium radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 c kohlrabi, peeled and cut into matchstick julienne
  • ¼ c toasted hazelnuts
  • 1/3 c crumbled French feta

Ingredients for the Vinaigrette

  • 2 t champagne vinegar
  • ½ t honey (more to taste)
  • ¼ t Dijon mustard
  • ½ t finely chopped shallot
  • ¼ c extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until evenly combined. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper.
  2. Place the arugula and snow pea shoots in a large bowl and toss with some of the vinaigrette and taste. Add about half of the other ingredients, toss again, adding more of the dressing if necessary. Top the salad with the remaining ingredients. Season each portion to taste with freshly ground black pepper.