Shiso (Perilla frutescens) is a beautiful herb that self-seeds with abandon. It’s flavour is hard to pinpoint, something akin to mint meets a savoury herb like caraway with a hint of citrus. I’ve been growing it for years, but it’s aggressive nature always seemed to be curbed on the roof where conditions could be exceedingly hot mid-summer. It’s population of the rooftop’s pots was never more than I could handle or use within any given growing season.
Last night we enjoyed dinner at The Black Skirt, a Sicilian/Calabrian Italian restaurant here in Toronto. Before the meal, we were served slices of Italian loaf, as is the custom in most Italian restaurants. But where most restaurants tend to provide a plate of good quality olive oil for dipping, The Black Skirt offered something a little unusual, an oily and aromatic, bruschetta-meets-pesto sauce called ammoghiu.
I have a bit of an obsession with salt. I went through a phase tasting every kind of salt I could find, and I still get excited when I come across new types in specialty food stores. Last summer we happened upon a store called The Meadow in New York’s West Village that carries over 100 types of salt and I know this sounds a bit twee and hyperbolic, but I was pretty overtaken by the thrill of a wall of exotic salt from all over the world.
Garlic scapes are the immature, unopened flowers that form at the top of the plant’s leafy stalk in early summer. They have a delicate, garlic flavour and are much less potent than the bulb. In fact, I can’t eat much garlic raw or cooked, but I can devour garlic scapes aplenty with no stomach upset.
Among the recipes in my book, “Easy Growing: Herbs and Edible Flowers from Small Spaces” are three herb and edible flower infused spirits that I make each year from ingredients grown in my garden. Were more space available, I could have written an entire chapter on this exciting subject — narrowing it down to just three recipes was no easy task. Instead, I opted to throw in references throughout the book to those that are straightforward, including one in the section on Pinks aka Dianthus. Before I go on to the recipe, a little backstory…