PHOTO: Vigne Vierge (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is a popular vine for walls in Burgundy. This is the plant that got me in trouble with the agricultural beagle at the airport one time. But that's another story.
One of the highlights of living in Burgundy, with it's rolling hills and verdant pastures, is the grand and glorious fall. It almost makes up for the long-ish winter that follows.
This week was sunny and it was almost warm so out came the camera. Fellow gardeners, hope you'll find a couple of plant ideas here. Burgundy is roughly equivalent to hardiness zone 7a in the states.
I hope some gardener can explain this to me: in temperate Charleston, grass turns brown in winter. In Burgundy (with a climate similar to the Washington DC area), the grass looks just like this, flourescent green, all year---even in the dead of winter. The tree is a cutleaf Japanese maple called 'Seirku'.
A fading fall rose. This rose is one of the all-time greats in my book: 'Michka', by Meilland, un rosier grimpant (a climber). In my garden it doesn't just bloom, it goes through full flushes, virtually all the time. It's flushing right now as if it were spring. My other roses are nearly leafless (OK I didn't get around to spraying much this year), but this rose, a disease-buster, has foliage that looks fresh and green. Golden yellow in fall, it takes on a much peachier tone in spring. It gets big--mine is eight feet tall and nearly that wide.
A very happy Thanksgiving to all! Now here's a recipe for the week after, that could feed a crowd of lingering, turkey-fatiqued guests.
RECIPE: Butternut Pecan Lasagne
Though they have many other pumpkins and squash varieties, butternut squash is a fairly new arrival in France. In fact, at the market the other day, A French woman, who saw me buying one, asked me what one does with it. (A first for me---usually I'm asking about THEIR new and different veggies). This rich, vegetarian main dish is perfect for fall. Butternut squash is fairly mild, so I like to add some assertive flavors and contrasting textures to it. (Not my best photo, by the way, but we were in a hurry to dig in!).
- 1 cup pecans, toasted
- One butternut squash, about 2.5 lbs., peeled and sliced then cut into pieces
- olive oil
- ½ teaspoon red chile flakes
- 2 onions, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh sage, chopped
- ¾ lb. ricotta cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese, divided
- no-cook lasagna noodles, about 12
- 2 balls fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- ½ cup crème fraîche or sour cream plus 2 tablespoons
Toast pecans in 300 degree oven for 7 minutes and set aside.
Raise oven temperature to 400. Toss squash with chile flakes, salt and pepper, and a little olive oil. Roast until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375.
Meanwhile, cook onions in a little olive oil on low heat until caramelized, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sage and stir for 2 more minutes.
Toss squash with onion mixture in a bowl.
In another bowl, mix ricotta with egg and ½ cup parmesan, plus nutmeg, salt and pepper.
To assemble, spread a tablespoon or two of crème fraîche in bottom of an 8” (20cm) square pan. Cover bottom with lasagne noodles, breaking one in half if needed to fit. Spread with half of ricotta mixture, then half of squash. Place half of mozzarella over all then top with half of pecans. Top with another layer of noodles. Repeat (ricotta, squash, cheese pecans). Top with a layer of noodles.
Spread crème fraîche evenly over noodles. Sprinkle with ground pepper and top with remaining half cup parmesan.
Bake until bubbly, about 35 minutes; check periodically, if it browns up too much, tent with foil. Let sit a few minutes before serving. Serves 6.
In the COMMENTS: Well we certainly have some strong opinions on tea, y’all! Everything from buying it ready-made by the gallon (that would be my mother), to special chinese kettles that bring the water to the perfect temperature (Suzanne). A professional weighs in, and if you’re visiting Napa you must stop by Tillerman Tea to say hello to David. Linda has two recipes for us, including homemade decaf. Jan, please tell us the name of that wonderful tea you’ve been searching for! Frank and Herm are going solar, Libby of Libby Wilkie Designs is horrified by tea bags, and Debbie, thanks for reminding me about Luzianne! Natalia talks about Tea Forte, Diane (Under an Olive Tree) is making tea in Italy..well there’s lots more, to further your tea education!
Favorite Reads: Great news for book lovers, we LOVE the new book site for women, Shelf Pleasure. You'll be hearing more about them from us soon. Also one of our readers, Paula Hogan, has written many children's books, including The Life Cycle of the Honeybee which was the featured book on the PBS series Reading Rainbow. Find it here ,then click on her author page to see other works.