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Sunday, August 1, 2010

An extraordinary garden in Ojai and a recipe for Passion Fruit Mousse

SUCCULENT GARDEN IN OJAI- This is one of the more remarkable gardens around.The whole garden is about an acre, covered with live oaks, on the edge of a ravine. The gardener has managed to blend an astonishing array of plants (roses, Peruvian lilies, poppies, day lilies on one side of a path (in the sun) culminating in this triangular succulent garden under an oak, in semi-shade. (One reason the succulents look so lush is the shade).The top of the triangle is the wall of the house containing two doors.
The succulents are combined with a lavish hand.
The bright green is E. agavoides, the furry one bottom right is E. v. Doris Taylor.(Woolly Rose)

In this bit of the garden,:far left is Pachphylum amethystinum
Next is e. nodulosa , a beautiful and subtle echeveria whose coloring doesn't show up well in the group photo, (taken in the late afternoon.) In the close-up you can see its fine fuchsia lines like painted china.
 By the way, echeverias are named for an 18th c.. botanist Atanasio Echeverría y Godoy who set out with two other naturalist to catalogue all the flora and fauna of Mexico. This worthwhile endeavor was subverted by Europe's endless wars during the period.

 The  big blue rosettes are E. sp of Hens and Chicks and are hard to beat for dramatic display. Prolific and un-fussy. To the right is e. nodula also called Painted Echveria.   Hens & Chicks turn up in different colors  throught the design.                                                                                   
Echeveria sp.

To the top left of this arrangement is E. agavoides v. Maria (photo from San Marcos Growers)

Presiding over this exuberant  succulent garden is a terra cotta statue of the benevolent Hindu deity, Ganesha, the guardian of thresholds and remover of obstacles.


Assuming you are going to race out to get your passion flower vine so you can have lovely orange butterflies( Gulf Fritillaries) as we suggested last week, an added bonus is ---you can  eat the fruit of the passion flower as long as you are careful to buy passiflora incarnata (and the butterflies will like it fine) --- or maracujá (P. edulis) , the fruit of  which you can buy  at the grocery store in SoCal. The blossoms are quite similar, and butterflies like both vines.
                                                 maracujá (P. edulis)
                                                             p. incarnita

This recipe looks like something dramatic to do with the fruit (which the vines produce prolifically in our climate.)

Café Brasil's passion fruit mousse (Mousse de Maracuja) L.A Times 7/22/10 - copyright LA Times (means you can't put it in a cookbook and sell the book.)  Total time: 25 minutes, plus chilling time.Servings: 6
Note: Adapted from Café Brasil in Los Angeles. Superfine sugar is also referred to as baker's sugar and can be found at well-stocked markets and cooking and baking supply stores. Fresh passion fruit might sometimes be hard to find due to seasonality and related availability; unsweetened passion fruit concentrate is a great substitute. Unsweetened passion fruit concentrate can be found at select cooking and Brazilian markets, as well as at well-stocked Latin sections in select supermarkets. It is also available online.
1/2 cup strained fresh passion fruit juice, from about 14 passion fruits or 1/2 cup unsweetened concentrate, divided
1/2 envelope unflavored gelatin powder, about 1 1/8 teaspoons
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated milk
1/2 cup superfine sugar, divided
4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
Fresh passion fruit seeds, for garnish, optional

1. If using fresh fruit, halve the fruit and strain the pulp through a fine sieve, rubbing to remove the pulp from the seeds. Wash the seeds in water, then dry on a paper towel. They will be used to garnish the mousse.
2. Place 2 tablespoons purée or juice concentrate in a small, nonreactive heavy-bottom saucepan and sprinkle over the gelatin to moisten. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring, just until the gelatin is dissolved and no lumps remain. Remove from heat and place the mixture in a medium bowl.

3. Add the remaining juice to the bowl and stir to combine. Add the evaporated milk and one-fourth cup sugar and stir until dissolved. Place the mixture over an ice bath and stir until chilled and slightly thickened. Remove from the ice bath.

4. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites and salt to soft peaks. With the mixer running, gradually add the remaining one-fourth cup sugar and beat until the meringue is stiff and glossy.

5. Add a large spoonful of the egg white mixture to the chilled passion fruit mixture and gently stir until thoroughly combined. Fold in the remaining meringue, one-third at a time, careful not to over-mix.

6. Spoon the mousse into individual margarita or stemmed glasses and chill. Sprinkle with the optional reserved passion fruit seeds before serving.
Bon Appe'tit!

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