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Welcome to Gardens to Tables Recipes Soups and Salads Showing Celery a Little Respect at Cafe Pinot
Showing Celery a Little Respect at Cafe Pinot Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Cafe PinotCafe Pinot, offering a serene outdoor garden setting behind the public library in downtown Los Angeles, has launched a new farmers' market dinner menu. Inspired by Executive Chef Kevin Meehan's trips to the local farmers markets and their abundance of fresh local produce, the menus change weekly based on what is in season and include three courses for $39/person. A recent dinner included such highlights as an amuse bouche with ahi tuna, compressed cucumber and tomato mousse; a wild mushroom risotto; and John Dory butter basted with lemon verbena and served with cherry tomatoes and melon balls (never would have occurred to me to mix the two and I have to say it really worked).

What really impressed me, though, was what Chef Meehan managed to do with celery, a -- let's face it -- somewhat neglected vegetable when it comes to fine cuisine. He created a cold-smoked celery soup poured over an alfalfa-sprout nest and served with chevre and olive oil. Even better, he was kind enough to share the recipe (see below). A home gardener himself, Chef Meehan said that for fall, he's looking forward to growing Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, beets, chives (which he always grows and says he puts in everything) and tea-oriented herbs for his wife.

Cold-Smoked Celery Soup

Serves 4

1 head celery (reserve 2 tbsp celery leaves)
1/2 onion
1/2 fennel bulb
5 garlic cloves
2 shallots
1/2 cup virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
1 1/2 quarts water
salt, pepper, nutmeg (to taste)
goat cheese


Rough chop all vegetables. Smoke them in a smoker with hickory wood for 1/2 hour.

Heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan. Add smoked vegetables and cook until tender. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Once tender cover with water, cook until tender. Using a blender, puree in batches. Strain and cool.

Once cool, with blender slowly emulsify the rest of the virgin olive oil into soup and adjust the seasoning to taste. Garnish with celery leaves and some crumbled goat cheese.


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