Juliet’s Balcony is gone.
For over two years I’ve been a little afraid of going out on this balcony. The wrought-iron railing was broken and disintegrating. The floor, with I thought was concrete, was crumbling. It didn’t look the least bit safe.
I was so very wrong.
The floor was not concrete, but three 8″ solid stone slabs, carved on the edges to interlock with each other. They rested on carved, solid stone beams, about 12″ square that go all the way through the walls of the cellar, about 22″, resting on the solid stone blocks that make the wall. Plus the slabs were cut into the wall as well.
Not only would the balcony have nicely supported my weight, it likely would have supported all 37 of Hannibal’s war elephants… if we could have managed to get them on it.
All that being said, taking it down was not quite the easy job mon mari had anticipated.
He won’t tell me how he actually got them down…. And I’m not asking.
But once he got them on the ground he had to figure out a way of getting rid of them… Thus the rental of the jackhammer on Friday. He broke them into smaller chunks and hauled them away.
Did I mention that he was doing all this just so he can paint the bottom of the house?
BTW, we would have liked to have kept the stone floor in place, but he couldn’t figure out how to do it, and the center stone was in pretty bad shape. Of course, had we known then what we know now we might not have worried about it.
The original balcony was about 3′ x 8′ (1m x 2.5M). We’re replacing it with one that will be 8′ x 8′ (2.5m x 2.5m), just big enough for a small table and two chairs…. So we can sit and watch the sunset on warm summer evenings.
Until last Friday we were sadly lacking in warm summer evenings.
Instead of grilling chicken I was making quiche.
But the garden stops for no one, and, in particular, the chard seemed to love the cool, damp weather. (Although I’ve noticed that it seems to love the hot, dry weather of the last few days equally well).
In search of something interesting, and warming, to do with it all, I thought about stuffing it. One can stuff grape leaves and cabbage leaves, why not chard leaves?
A little Googling discovered I was right.
My inspiration came for this recipe on Taste of Beirut
I made wonderful Sausage and Rice Stuffed Chard Leaves – I’ll do that recipe on Wed.
The problem I was working on at the time, was a second vegetable for my dinner party. I wanted it to be seasonal and from my garden, but I didn’t want any last minute cooking.
Why not chard leaves stuffed with other vegetables?
Mushroom Stuffed Chard Leaves
5oz mushrooms, finely chopped
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1.5oz bacon chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs lemon vinegar
2 tbs dried bread crumbs
2 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
15 – 20 chard leaves
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
Sauté bacon and onion until onion is starting to brown and bacon is crisp. Add mushrooms, garlic, cumin and paprika. Sauté until mushrooms start to brown. Add soy sauce, lemon vinegar, and cook until almost dry. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly – or completely if making ahead.
Cut stems off of chard leaves. Blanch chard leaves in boiling water for 20 seconds. Remove and refresh in cold water.
To assemble: Lightly beat egg. Add egg, crumbs, parsley to mushrooms and stir well. Mixture should be fairly dry, if not add a bit more crumbs. Put a heaping tablespoon on each chard leaf and roll up, making a bundle. Put into a skillet just big enough to hold them in one layer, add chicken stock and poach for 20 minutes.
As a second vegetable for a big dinner, this served 6.
As a main vegetable, served with a simple grilled chicken, it served the 2 of us nicely – with a few left over for snacks. They were excellent cold, as well.