Category Archives: Add-ons

Grenadine

Grenadine

I thought about posting a recipe that you could make for the big game. I am making buffalo wings myself. The thing is, there are lots of great recipes out there for appetizers, entrees, and desserts all geared toward tomorrow’s festivities.

Ingredients (juice is already in the pan)

So instead, I thought I would post a recipe that will help you with the other important element of game day… the drinking. Beers are of course, de rigueur. However, sometimes you just want an ice cold cocktail. And when you make a cocktail, you want to use the freshest ingredients available.

Simmering the deliciousness

This recipe for grenadine takes only a couple of ingredients and a little bit of time. Mix real pomegranate juice (POM is good) with sugar, lemon juice, and orange zest and let it cook down until syrupy. Bottle, store in the refrigerator, and swoon over the delicious taste it adds to your cocktails. Forget that bright red cough syrup stuff sold in the grocery stores, make this and make your cocktails great.

Straining the grenadine

Grenadine

Recipe from Boozehound by Jason Wilson

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups pomegranate juice

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

Strips of zest from half an orange

To Make:

Place pomegranate juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and add the sugar and lemon juice and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the orange zest. Let the mixture simmer until reduced by about half (30-45 minutes). Strain into a bottle or other glass container. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

To Serve:

Use in delicious cocktails of all sorts. If you would like to store it longer (up to 2 months), add 1/4 ounce of 151-proof rum.

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Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce


Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce

About a month ago we decided it was finally time to cook the gigantic 16lb pork shoulder we have had in our freezer ever since we bought our last hog (hint: almost a year now).  Rather than eat leftovers for weeks we decided to throw a party where the centerpiece was a huge brined and smoked hunk of pork.  Doesn’t that sound like the best centerpiece ever?

The Simple Ingredients

The pork was pretty amazing on its own.  However, we are sauce people at heart.  Marc has been known to whip up a batch of his favorite Thai peanut sauce and pour it over just enough rice to make it appear as if he is not eating only sauce.  The problem with commercial bbq sauces is that they tend to be loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup and light on things like tomatoes and spices.  So we figured we had best make our own. Besides, if we are going to spend 11 hours smoking fresh pork, why would we let someone else add the final touch in the form of a sauce?

Onions and Garlic in the Pan

Turns out that this project was really pretty simple.  As a matter of fact, we already had all of the ingredients in the house, no shopping necessary.  Gently saute some onion and garlic in oil, add all of the ingredients, simmer 15 minutes and it’s pretty much done.  A final whiz in the blender to make a nice smooth sauce and it was ready to go.  So easy… why haven’t we done this in the past?

Simmer Simmer

Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce

Adapted from Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (70 grams) chopped onion

1 tbls (18 grams) chopped garlic

1 tbls (15 ml) vegetable oil

1/2 cup (25 ml) cider vinegar

1/2 cup (125 ml) Worcestershire sauce

1 tbls (4 grams) dry mustard powder

2 tablespoons (26 grams) dark brown sugar

2 tbls (16 grams) paprika

1 tbls (15 grams) kosher salt

1 tsp (3 grams) cayenne pepper

1 cup (250 ml) catsup (we like Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup because it actually tastes like tomatoes, you could substitute the same volume of tomato puree if you would like)

To Make:

Start with a medium sized heavy bottom sauce pan and heat the vegetable oil (or use olive oil if you want that flavor as part of your sauce). Add the onion and garlic and gently saute until soft but not browned.

Add in the cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, dark brown sugar, paprika, kosher salt and cayenne pepper.  Stir the ingredients together and bring to a gentle simmer.  Add in the catsup, return to a simmer and set your timer for 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally to make sure the mixture isn’t sticking to the bottom of  the pan.

After 15 minutes of simmering, remove the pan from the heat and allow to slightly cool before blending.  Using a blender, puree the mixture until smooth.  Please, please, please be careful blending hot or warm liquids.  The steam builds up and can cause the sauce to splatter all over, creating both a mess and potentially burning you.  To avoid this, puree in small batches and remove the top from the blender lid to allow the excess steam to be released.

To Serve:

This is a nice, slightly tangy bbq sauce that is great on meats of all kinds (especially smoked ones!).  It would also make a great base for a bbq chicken pizza (like this one). Makes about 2 cups and stores up to a week or so in the fridge.

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Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam

Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam

Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam

For my birthday this past year my mother-in-law gave me The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving to further encourage my canning aspirations.  Marc and I have been making jam and applesauce for years, dabbling in the occasional fruit butter.  However, I was looking to move beyond the traditional strawberry, blueberry, and peach jam and into the world of unusual jams, marmalades, conserves, and pickles.  Unfortunately, my birthday is in January so I have been staring longingly at the book and waiting for the day when I could pick it up and start using it.

The key players

The key players

Finally, those days are here.  In anticipation of the start of u-pick fruit season and our veggie CSA I sat down with the book a few weeks ago and found myself tagging lots and lots (and lots) of recipes that I want to make.  The first one I picked was for a strawberry lemon jam made without added pectin and cooked in the microwave.  I made two pints of that yummy, deep red jam and I was hooked.

Lots of honey

Lots of honey

Next up, this rhubarb and honey jam.  I was fortunate to be able to take an armload of fresh rhubarb stalks from the many plants at my in-law’s house and immediately set about prepping and chopping.  Overall, this recipe is pretty easy to make.  The prep time is relatively low as all you have to do is clean and chop two cups of rhubarb and one tart apple (I used a Granny Smith) and zest and juice a lemon.  The fruit cooks with a little water until is is bubbling and starting to break down.  Then you add sugar, a lot of honey, lemon juice and some candied ginger.  You cook the whole thing until it forms a gel, ladle into prepared canning jars, and process for 10 minutes.  Because it is a small batch (makes 3 cups plus a little more) it cooks relatively quickly.  In fact, it only took about 6 minutes of strong boiling for my gel to form.  The finished jam is balance of tart and honey-sweet with the occasional bite of ginger.  It is a nice option for those who like their jams a little less sweet than typical commercial products.

A couple of things to consider:

  1. Make sure to follow the most recent guidelines for safe boiling water canning.  Properly preserved, this jam will last for a year in a cool, dark place.
  2. Take a few minutes to read about how to test to see if your jam is set.
Gel is almost set

Gel is almost set

Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam
Ingredients:
2 cups finely chopped rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
1 large tart apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1 lemon zested and juiced (reserve 1 tbls lemon juice)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup honey
1 1/2 tbls diced candied ginger
To Make:
Prepare your jars, rings, lids, and canning vessel.  I used a small stockpot with 5 jar rings tied together to serve as a rack.  A nice thing about small batch canning is that I don’t have to bust out my large speckled canner which uses an enormous amount of water.
Combine the rhubarb, apple, and lemon zest in a stockpot or large saucepan with 1/2 cup of water.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower heat, cover, and simmer until fruit is tender and starting to break down, about 15 minutes.  Add the sugar, honey, lemon juice, and ginger to the pot.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Turn the heat back up and bring the contents to a rapid boil that can’t be stirred down with the spoon.  Boil, uncovered, stirring frequently until the jam starts to set, anywhere from 6-12 minutes. I recommend using the freezer test (link above) to test if your jam is gelled.  If you watch it closely, you will see when the mixture starts to thicken and change into its gelled form.
Once the jam is set, ladle into your hot jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.  Get rid of any bubbles, wipe the rims, top the jars with the lids, put the rings on, and tighten until they are finger tight (don’t crank them on).  Place the jars in the canning vessel, cover, and bring the water to a rapid boil.  Once the water is boiling set your timer and process for 10 minutes.  Once the 10 minutes is over, remove the canner from the heat, take the lid off, and let the jars sit for 5 more minutes.
After 5 minutes, carefully and gently remove the jars to a towel or rack set in a draft free area.  Then walk away.  Leave them alone and don’t touch them until they are sealed and cool (can take 12-24 hours).  If you are lucky, you will hear the tell-tale “pop” of the jars sealing.  If you have a jar that doesn’t seal you can either reprocess with a new lid or simply put it in the fridge and eat it first.  Once the jars are sealed and cooled, remove the rings, wipe off any wayward stickiness, and store.
Apple and lemon juice both add nice amounts of pectin so you should be able to achieve a good gel.  However, pectin levels vary by individual fruit so if you can’t get a good gel, process it anyway and use it as a delicious ice cream topping.
To Serve:
I probably don’t need to tell you how to serve jam.  This jam is delicious on toast or biscuits but would also work well in more savory applications such as on top of a piece of roasted chicken or pork chops.  Makes 3 1/2 cups.

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Pickled Radish Greens

Pickled Radish Greens

Pickled Radish Greens

Summer is finally here in New England and I couldn’t be more excited.  For me, the start of summer doesn’t correspond with a date on the calendar, a particular holiday, or even the weather.  Summer truly begins when I come home to that first veggie CSA pickup.  After a long winter of root vegetables, potatoes, and sad grocery store tomatoes, the box full of greens, strawberries, spring onions, and radishes makes me so thrilled.  We were all so excited that when that first box arrived, we consumed its entire contents in 3 days flat.  I think that might be a new record of vegetable consumption for us.

With our second box, I was determined to eat every single thing in the hopes of making our veggies last longer than 3 days.  I thought I remembered reading that you can eat radish greens so I hit the internet in search of some inspiration.  Turns out, radish greens are absolutely edible and many bloggers sing the virtues of sautéed  radish greens and radish green pesto.  Unfortunately I had just made a nice batch of pesto using fresh peas, Italian basil, and Thai basil.  After doing a bit more searching I decided to create more of a pickle / brined radish leaf dish to use as a condiment on top of some polenta slices.

Turns out, this is an easy and really delicious way to use radish leaves.  The brine softens the leaves and imparts a nice pickled flavor but still allows the flavor of the greens to come through.  Even better, the whole thing takes minutes to pull together and can sit in the fridge for a day if needed.  So instead of tossing your radish greens, try this recipe and see if it doesn’t convert you to a greens lover*.

Greens soaking in the brine

Greens soaking in the brine

Pickled Radish Greens

Ingredients:

1 large or 2 small bunches of radish greens

1/2 cup water

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp rice vinegar (white wine vinegar would work too)

1-2 dried hot chilies, snipped into pieces

Sesame oil, for drizzling

To Make:

Wash the greens very well in several changes of cold water.  Radish greens tend to be very dirty so err on the side of over-washing so they aren’t gritty.  Once they are clean, spin them dry and remove the tough (and sometimes spiny) stems.  Coarsely chop the leaves and place them in a small bowl along with the chilies.

In a measuring cup (or another small bowl) mix together the water, salt, sugar, and vinegar, stirring until dissolved.  Pour the mixture over the greens and let sit on the counter for at least 3o minutes (toss it in the fridge if you are going to let it sit longer).

Drain the liquid and drizzle the greens with toasted sesame oil.  Toss gently to combine and serve.

To Serve:

Serve as you would any Asian-style pickle… on top of rice, on a burger, alongside a piece of meat, or just eat it from the bowl.  The beauty of this preparation is that it seems to take the bitterness and sharpness out of the greens while still leaving their earthy flavor.

* Or at the very least, you can enjoy the weird stares people give you when you tell them you ate pickled radish greens

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Filed under Add-ons, CSA Talk, Dairy-free, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd

Lemon curd… just the words make me start drooling.  I happen to love sour foods (read: vinegar, citrus, mustard, rhubarb, etc.) and pairing sweet and sour together makes me even more happy.   On a recent trip to London I enjoyed some lemon curd spread on scones with my afternoon tea.  The British are so darn civilized with their little sandwiches and scones in the middle of the afternoon.  When I came home, I was itching to make some curd of my own.  Lemon curd is one of those things (like custards and pie crusts) that have always intimidated me.  Turns out, I really didn’t need to fret.  Making lemon curd was surprisingly easy and the results were fantastic.

Curd ingredients

Curd ingredients

Marc helpfully picked up a sack of organic lemons from Trader Joe’s and set about juicing them over a fine mesh sieve using a lemon reamer.  On the other side of the counter I zested the spent lemon halves, measured the sugar, and cut up the butter.  Then came the stirring, and the standing in front of the stove, and more stirring.  Admittedly, the stirring part took a long time.  I kept my heat on the low side of medium because I was afraid of scrambling my eggs.  Next time, I might turn it up a bit to speed things up (keep in mind, I have an old electric stove that takes quite a while to heat up. I might not try this if I had a powerful gas version).

Spent lemons

Look at all those spent lemons

Luckily, all the stirring time was absolutely worth it. The finished curd is a thing a beauty… deep yellow color, thick, satiny-smooth texture, and the best tart/sweet lemon flavor.  I had my mother-in-law do a taste test – our curd vs. Trader Joe’s.  We did not tell her one was homemade.  She picked ours “hands down because it tasted more like lemon and less like sugar.”  Now that is a ringing endorsement if I ever heard one!

Straining the thickened curd

Straining the thickened curd

Lemon Curd

Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 tbls plus 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

1-1/3 cups sugar

4 large eggs

14 tbls salted butter (if you use unsalted butter, make sure to add a pinch of salt to the curd)

To Make:

Choose a 2 quart, heavy-bottomed sauce pan to make the curd in.  Set the pan over medium-low heat and whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and eggs until smooth.  Adding the butter, a few tbls at a time, and whisking constantly, cook until the curd is done.

How to tell if the curd is done:

After you have been cooking for a while, the curd will start to thicken noticeably.  It is done when the curd is thick and bubbles are just starting to form on the top.  The original recipe said this take about 10 minutes.  Using medium and medium-low heat it took us closer to an hour.  So don’t be surprised if it takes longer than you think.  Just keep whisking and be patient and you will be rewarded with a rich, thick curd.

As soon as the curd is finished cooking, run it through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.  Let it cool to room temperature on the counter, stirring occasionally.  Once it is cool, refrigerate covered until it is cold.

To Serve:

Lemon curd is a remarkably versatile condiment.  You can spread it on toast, spoon it over ice cream, or use it between the layers or on top of a cake.  You can fold it into whipped cream to make an instant “mousse”.  Spread it on a muffin, scone, or waffles.  Or just eat it with a spoon.  The original recipe says to consume within a few days and once you taste it, I assure you that won’t be a problem.

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Filed under Add-ons, Breakfast, Dessert, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Recipes

Refrigerator Sour Pickles

Refrigerator Sour Pickles

Refrigerator Sour Pickles

When cucumbers first start to appear in the summer, it is blissful.  After a fall and winter of heavy root vegetables, and a spring of greens, cucumbers are wonderfully light and refreshing.  Plus, they usually come along with tomatoes, zucchinis, and other denizens of high summer.  The problem with cucumbers is that they are pretty prolific and I have a hard time doing anything with them other than putting them in salads or on sandwiches.

Pile o' cucumbers

Pile o' cucumbers

Sure, I have a couple of Asian-style salads that cucumbers star in, but honestly, my repertoire is pretty limited.  So when the cucumbers start to overwhelm our crisper drawer, I reach for my trusty refrigerator pickle recipe and make a big batch.  The beauty of refrigerator pickles is that they are simple to make and because they are so acidic, they last a long time* in the fridge without the need for fancy canning.  The best part is that in about 30 minutes, we can make enough pickles to last us most of the year.  Which means we don’t ever have to buy them in the store.

The brine

The brine

This recipe is a modification of a recipe from Alton Brown.  I love the original for its simplicity but I have tweaked it a bit for my tastes.  Namely, I switched up the vinegars a little and cut the sugar in half because I like my pickles less sweet and more sour.  However, if you wanted more of a sweet-sour balance, feel free to increase the sugar.

Yummy vinegar and spices

Yummy vinegar and spices

Refrigerator Sour Pickles

Adapted from Alton Brown

6-8 pint-sized glass canning jars with lids

12 cucumbers (mix of all sizes), about 4 lbs.

1 medium onion

3 cups water

3 1/2 cups cider vinegar

1 cup white wine vinegar

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tbls kosher salt

1 tbls mustard seeds

3/4 tsp turmeric

2 tsp celery seeds

1 tbls pickling spice

1 tbls granulated garlic

To Make:

Thoroughly wash the cucumbers and trim the ends.  You can take the peels off (which I would do if I was using cucumbers that had been sprayed with pesticides) but leaving them on makes the pickle a bit crisper.  Slice the cucumbers approximately 3/16 of an inch thick.  Using a mandoline or food processor makes this job significantly easier and more consistent then doing it by hand with a knife.  Slice the onion into half moons that are 1/16 of an inch thick.  Set sliced cucumbers and onions aside.

To make the brine, combine the vinegars, water, sugar, and spices in a non-reactive saucepan large enough to hold everything.  Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, turn down the heat and let simmer for a full 4 minutes to allow the flavor of the spices to bloom.

Pack your cleaned and dried canning jars with the cucumber and onion.  Pack them full, and don’t be afraid to push down to get as much air out as you can.  Pour the warm brine over the cucumbers, filling the jars as full as you can without spilling everything when you put the lid on.  Let the jars cool to room temperature, top off with extra brine as need, put the lids on and put them in the fridge.

To Serve:

Let them sit a couple of days before you dive in.  Makes 6-8 pints of pickles, depending on how much cucumber and onion you use and how tightly you pack your jars.

*Public Service Announcement: The recipe says that these keep for a month or so in the fridge. However, we have kept them for longer than 6 months and still had them come out tasting fine.  So, feel free to keep them longer if you like, just use common sense (you know, throw away any jars that get moldy or appear discolored or cloudy) and don’t blame us if something goes wrong.

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Sweet Cherry Lemon Jam

Sweet Cherry Lemon Jam

 

The bounty of summer just keeps on coming.  Last week, it was the 7 pounds of cherries Marc and the small Things picked at our favorite U-pick place.  The girls and I really love cherries.  The day that I go into the supermarket and see bags of cherries for $3.99 a pound I get very excited.  I usually manage to eat a two pound bag all by myself over the course of a couple of days. 

Cherries!

 

You can imagine how thrilling it was to see a huge mound of bright red cherries (with a few Rainier cherries thrown in).  After three days of eating cherries for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacking on them throughout the day, I decided that I needed to actually make something.  I thought about making this again, but ultimately decided that I wanted to go the jam route.  I feel that store-bought cherry jam is never that good.  I wanted something with deep cherry flavor but also a jam that was bright and full of spark. 

Simmering cherries and lemon

 

I knew that I didn’t want to go the full canning route.  I wanted a small quantity that we could eat in a few weeks (and I didn’t feel like spending two days pitting cherries).  So I went looking for some inspiration and found this and this.  I cut the proportions but upped the lemon zest.  After cooking the fresh cherries down, I ended up with a thick, rich jam that is full of cherry-lemony flavor.  If you can get your hands on some fresh cherries, definitely try this delicious jam. 

The right jam consistency

 

Sweet Cherry Lemon Jam 

Adapted from The Hungry Mouse and David Lebovitz 

Ingredients: 

1 lb sweet cherries, pitted and stemmed 

1/2-3/4 cup of sugar (use as much as you need, depending on the sweetness of your cherries) 

1 lemon 

To Make: 

Start by zesting the lemon into a heavy-bottomed, medium saucepan.  Cut the lemon in half and juice each half into the saucepan.  Next, pit the cherries.  I don’t have a cherry pitter so I cut each cherry in half and pull the pits out.  Put half the cherries (either whole or cut in half) into the pan and toss with the lemon juice to prevent browning.  Roughly chop the remaining cherries and add them to the pan. 

Place the pan over medium-high heat and let it sit until the juices start to simmer.  Turn the heat down to low and loosely cover the pot.  Let the cherries simmer until they are soft and starting to fall apart, about 15-25 minutes (stir occasionally and be careful not to let it boil over).  Add the sugar and stir until combined.  Raise the heat and let the mixture simmer until the jam thickens (anywhere from 5-20 minutes, depending on how watery your cherries are).  To test if the jam is done , place a small dollop on a ceramic plate.  Put the plate in the freezer for a few minutes until the jam is cold.  Take it out and give it a little nudge with your finger.  If the jam wrinkles and forms a skin, it is ready.  It should coat the back of a metal spoon. 

Once the jam is done, take it off the heat and let it cool to room temperature (it will continue to thicken).  Once it is cool, place in a small, covered bowl and refrigerate. 

To Serve: 

Makes about 1 cup.  Jam will keep for a few weeks in the fridge.  Use it to spread on toast, top ice cream, make a glaze for grilled chicken / pork.  Or just eat it with a spoon.  It is that good.

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