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Posts from the ‘Condiments & Sauces’ Category

Italian Meatballs & Cavatappi


With record-breaking snowstorms back east, and some 35ºF mornings here…I’ve been in the mood for comfort food.  Spaghetti and meatballs has not been a go-to meal for me…probably because I don’t like spaghetti.  This, in and of itself seems silly…since pasta is pasta…but shapes make a rather large difference.

My problems with spaghetti start with the messy factor…I would like the sauce in my mouth and not splattered on my chin.  Also…I think the pasta shape should mirror the shape of whatever else is in the dish…and meatballs do not look like spaghetti.  Then there’s the fork issue…it seems like eating spaghetti with a fork should come with instructions like using chopsticks in a japanese restaurant – step 1: take a deep breath and prepare to stab your fork into the pile of innocent long thin noodles; step 2: Twist fork in circles with tines braced against the bottom of the dish until an appropriate bite-size amount of noodles are twirled around; step 3: Lift fork without noodles sliding, falling or unraveling off of the fork and insert into mouth; step 4: chew spaghetti and meatball bite and savor each delicious morsel…oh wait…you forgot the meatball.  See?  It’s complicated.

Let me simplify.  Don’t use spaghetti when you are making spaghetti and meatballs!

I based this recipe loosely on Ina Garten’s Real Meatballs & Spaghetti from her Family Style cookbook.  I halved the recipe for the meatballs as I only had 1 lb. of ground beef in the house, but made the full recipe for the sauce.  I deem it a very successful recipe and know that it will become a favorite!  (just my humble opinion)  :)

Italian Meatballs & Cavatappi

Makes 10 golf-ball-size meatballs

For the meatballs:
1 pound ground beef
2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp. dry bread crumbs
1 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1½-2 tbsp of whole milk
¼ cup of minced onion
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 heavy tsp. of ketchup
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup of warm water
Vegetable oil
Olive oil

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon good olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
1 large shallot, chopped
1½ tsp. minced garlic
½ cup good red wine, such as Chianti
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
1 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp. of dried Italian herbs (like Penzey’s)
dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsps. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Put the beef, breadcrumbs, parsley, parmesan, onion, garlic, ketchup into a bowl together.  Beat the egg and add the 1/4 cup of water and beat together a bit more.

Pour the egg/water mixture over the top of the beef et al., and mix together with your hands.  Mix gently and not for very long.  Overworking the mixture will cause the meatballs to be tough.  Once I get a sense of the consistency of the meat mixture, here’s where I decide how much of the milk I will add.  I used about 2 tablespoons of whole milk.  It’s a judgement call…not enough moisture or fat…and the meatballs will be dry…too much and they can fall apart or end up spongy.  Roll the mixture into balls…size is up to you…I went with golf-ball size…assuming two meatballs per person for portion size.

Heat olive and vegetable oil together in a pan on the stove top and place the meatballs in gently, making sure to not crowd them.  It’s better to cook them in batches than to squeeze them all in.  You want the meatballs to brown, not to steam.

Place the pan in the 400° oven for 25 minutes (less if they are smaller).  After 25 minutes, pull them out and give each meatball a turn, turn the oven up to 450° and then put them back in to brown a bit more for about 5 minutes.

Once browned, remove them from the pan and set aside.  Place the pan back on a burner…being highly aware that the pan is hotter than the sun…so don’t touch the handle!  I like to rest a hotpad on the handle as a reminder since I have a (small) history of burning myself when I ought to know better!

Now that you’ve got your pan back on the heat, pour in the tablespoon of olive oil and heat a bit before adding the chopped shallot and onion.  Cook until the onion and shallot are translucent, probably about 5 minutes.

Add in the minced garlic and cook for another minute or so.  While the onions were sautéing, I prepped my tomatoes.  I had a can of whole peeled tomatoes and I wanted them chopped…so I pull them out, gave them a rough chop, making sure not to lose any of their juice and put them back in the can, ready for use.

Next pour in the wine and deglaze the pan, making sure to scrape up all the delicious bits stuck on the pan from the meatballs and the onions.

Now it’s time to add the tomatoes and all of their liquid.

And it’s also time to add in the parsley, italian seasoning, salt and pepper and the dash of Worcestershire sauce.

Let the sauce come together for 10 minutes or so, before adding the meatballs back in and cooking for another 10-20 minutes.  The timing really depends on how quickly you want dinner on the table…as long as the meatballs are cooked through and warmed back up…you are good to go!

Serve over freshly cooked al dente cavatappi (we used De Cecco brand) and top with a sprinkling of fresh grated parmesan and some minced parsley.  This goes amazingly well with a buttery slice of garlic bread! Just saying!

Buon Appetito!

(but seriously…am I alone in my lack of love for spaghetti…?)

Sous Vide Turkey Breast (or Thanksgiving…Round Two!)


We had a wonderful thanksgiving…including our four cranberry sauces…with 15 friends at 3 different houses.  The evening was wonderful and the food delectable including two different turkeys (one smoked) and incredible sides and of course dessert!  Apparently, that just wasn’t enough for us.  Since we had quite a bit of cranberry sauce left…we decided to do Round Two (downsized a bit!) on Sunday.

First…let’s give credit where credit is due…

This is our official Thanksgiving feast.  Complete with turkey, brussels sprouts, beets, green beans, salad, two gravies, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams, four cranberry sauces and of course, stuffing.  My plate looked like this…

I may have overdone it…but that is what thanksgiving is for!

Now for round two!

We purchased a (fairly) reasonably sized bone-in, skin-on turkey breast to sous vide.

We dried it off, seasoned it well with salt and pepper, placed it in a vacuum bag, added a few pats of butter and a bunch of fresh thyme, and sealed it up.

Before getting started, we turned on our thermal-immersion circulator to get it up to the temperature that we wanted – 149º F.  Once it was ready, we dropped the turkey in and set a timer for 2 hours and 30 minutes.

We were so taken by the stuffing that our friend Paul made…we just had to remake it.  I may have mentioned in the past my issue with soggy foods – and stuffing generally falls into this category…however, I had trouble resisting this one…it has green olives!  Let me repeat…it has GREEN OLIVES!  What’s not to love!  We had  no trouble finding the recipe since it was in one of the recent Bon Appétit and is all over the internet!  Since we followed the recipe exactly (making only a half batch), I won’t write out the entire recipe here…all you need to know is that it’s called Italian Mother-in-Law Dressing and is very good!

I cooked up some chard, then onions, dried out some bread, chopped some olives, toasted some pine nuts and tossed it altogether with some rosemary and thyme!

We had one lonely sweet potato on hand, so I diced it up, steamed it a bit and then added some butter and fresh thyme.

The stuffing went into a buttered casserole dish and had the final broth and egg mixture drizzled over the top before getting covered and placed into the oven.

Cleo tends to be very interested in what we’re doing in the kitchen and has become quite bold as of late and thinks this perch on the couch is just perfect for her.  I’m not sure I agree!

Apparently I did not take any photos…but we also had some mashed potatoes cooking.  Rather than mashing, we used a food mill that was handed down from my parents.  I’ll be honest, it has been a while since I have made mashed potatoes that good!  They were so smooth and of course, it doesn’t hurt that they are really just a vessel for butter, cream and salt!

Two and a half hours later, we pulled the turkey out of the water bath.

Once you open the bag, discard the thyme and remove the skin (we saved this and cooked it up a day or two later…it crisped up nicely!).  Once the breast was removed from the bone, I cut slices and drooled a bit.

We set the table and opened a lovely rosé from Frog’s Leap that we purchased on a visit in April to Napa.

And then it was time to plate it up…oh, we also had gravy…and don’t worry…all four cranberry sauces were on the table ready to be enjoyed!

The turkey was very moist, tender and flavorful.  Until we are serving more than just two of us at our house…the sous vide option is just too easy and dependable to not do.  This is definitely just the first of many sous vided turkey options!

Oh…I almost forgot.  Let’s discuss cranberry sauces!  I personally loved the chutney.  I think it has found a way into my recipe box for future thanksgivings…it is savory and a little different while still maintaining that tart flavor that you want from your cranberry sauce.

At our feast, the chutney and the raw orange relish (a Connelly family recipe) were the favorites.  The standard cranberry sauce (another Connelly family recipe – Thanks Dad!) also had its followers.   But I have to say, I know the Mama Stamberg’s recipe is beloved by many an NPR listener, but it was just not a hit.  Perhaps there were too many options!

I hope you all enjoyed an abundant Thanksgiving and were surrounded by friends and family.  Anyone else have more than one thanksgiving?

 

 

 

 

 

Cranberries – Four Ways for Your Turkey Day!


Thanksgiving is probably my most favorite of the major holidays.  It involves a lot of cooking, a lot of food, and usually a lot of family and friends.  Expectations are only to enjoy a meal together…no gifts are exchanged, no pressure for a new years eve kiss, no costume to come up with…just eating and hanging out with folks you like, and maybe even love!

However…I can be picky when it comes to those traditional turkey day recipes.  First, stuffing and I have issues.  Spoiler alert:  stuffing is just soggy bread!  At least in my head, that is all it is…and no one likes soggy bread.  Second, let’s talk sides…I think the side dishes that make the cut for a thanksgiving feast should be savory in nature…I just can’t get on board with marshmallows and brown sugar in my sweet potatoes.  Third, I’m not the biggest fan of putting fruit on my meat…which means cranberry ________ (fill in the blank) on top of my roasted turkey.  But this year, I’m ready for change.  Go big or go home right…?

So I went BIG and made FOUR different cranberry accoutrements for this years turkey.

Let’s start simple…

Straight up Homemade Cranberry Sauce 

1 cup water
1/3 lb. fresh cranberries
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. grated orange rind (optional)

Boil Water.  Add sugar and cranberries.

Cook 10 minutes or until all skins pop (longer cooking, thicker sauce).

Skim froth and add optional orange rind.  Chill.

 

Next…Cranberry Relish

1 navel orange, quartered, with peel
2 cups fresh cranberries
¾ to 1 cup sugar

Process orange quarters, sugar and cranberries in food processor until fairly fine.

Chill.  Stir occasionally.

 

Moving into the slightly less traditional, we have a…

Garlicky Cranberry Chutney 

(from Madhur Jaffrey‘s Cookbook: Easy East/West Menus for Family and Friends)

1 inch fresh ginger
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
½ cup apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp.’s sugar
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 lb. can whole berry cranberry sauce (I couldn’t find a 1-lb. can…so I used a 14 oz. can instead)
½ teaspoon salt (or less)
ground black pepper.

Cut ginger into paper thing slices, stack them together and cut into very thin slivers.

Combine ginger, garlic, sugar and cayenne in a small pot.  Bring to a simmer; simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes or until about 4 tbsp.’s of liquid are left.

Add the can of cranberry sauce, salt and pepper.  Mix and bring to a simmer.  Lumps are okay.  Simmer on a gentle heat for about 10 minutes.

(pardon the missing photos…I lost my daylight and apparently got distracted and forgot to take any more photos until it was done.)

Cool, store and refrigerate.

 

And finally…

Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish

(I’ll warn you…this is not in the traditional category!  Found via The Splendid Table on NPR)

2 cups whole fresh cranberries
1 small onion (or half a larger onion)
¾ cup sour cream
½ cup sugar
2 tbsp.’s prepared horseradish

Grind the raw berries and the onion together – rough chop the onion and toss both into a food processor, pulsing until they are ground…but not puréed.

Add everything else and mix together.

Put in a plastic container and freeze.

Early Thanksgiving morning, move it from freezer to refrigerator compartment to thaw.  When served, it should have some little icy slivers, and be thick, creamy and have a color similar to Pepto-Bismol.

 

There you have it…three pictured below and 1 in the freezer for tomorrow.  I’ll let you know my thoughts, ratings and a verdict on which cranberry sides passed muster.

(left to right: Garlicky Cranberry Chutney, Cranberry Relish, Cranberry Sauce; Not pictured: Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish)

What cranberry dish are you partial to?  Any weird hangups about holidays or about food…or about holiday food…?      …….?         Bueller….?      Bueller….?

Roasted Corn Cakes with Tomato Avocado Salsa


I know that it is now, technically, October…however, Los Angeles is not behaving that way and therefore I feel completely justified cooking like it is still seriously summer…as in triple digits!  Also…I wasn’t joking when I said we have been on a serious corn and tomato kick – and this recipe uses both!

I first stumbled on this recipe through Pinterest (you can follow @lizfisch) and then I happened to have everything in the house to whip up a batch.  The best part is that the source of the pin is easy to find.  Thanks to EzraPoundCake for posting the recipe, which actually comes from “Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen“.  I made a few changes to the recipe from EzraPoundCake, including roasting the corn before shucking and not adding any jalapeno peppers (didn’t have any on hand…and as previously discussed…I can’t take the heat!) to the tomato salsa.

Corn Cakes

3 ears of corn, shucked and roasted
1 cup flour
½ cup cornmeal
¼ cup diced red onion
¼ cup thinly sliced basil
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. well-shaken buttermilk
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Canola oil for frying
Chopped Tomato & Avocado Salsa (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a brown paper bag or paper towels.
Cut the corn from the cobs into a large bowl, and scrape the stripped cobs with the back of the knife (or a spoon) to release the juices into the bowl.

I find the easiest way to do this is to set a small bowl upside down in a larger bowl and use the smaller bowl as the base for the cob.  The kernels tend to fly all over the place as you are cutting them off and you can maximize the stability of the cob while also catching the majority of the kernels.

Place 2 cups of the corn kernels into a food processor, and pulse several times, until the corn is slightly puréed but still chunky.

Scrape into the bowl with the remaining corn kernels.  Add flour, cornmeal, onion, basil, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper to the corn. Stir to mix.

Add the eggs, buttermilk and butter, and stir just to combine. (Do not overmix.)


Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add just enough canola oil to barely cover the bottom, and heat until sizzling hot.

One heaping tablespoon at a time, scoop the batter into the skillet. Cooking in batches of 4 to 5 to avoid overcrowding, fry the cakes 1 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown.


Drain on the lined baking sheet, and place in the oven to keep warm while cooking the remaining corn cakes. Serve warm topped with a heap of Chopped Tomato and Avocado Salsa.

Chopped Tomato and Avocado Salsa

Makes about 2 cups

1-2 pints of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 scallion, minced and trimmed
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
juice of ½ lime
1½ tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tsp. white wine vinegar
kosher or sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed

Place all of the ingredients (except the avocado) in a bowl, and stir to mix. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve, for up to 2 days.

Just before serving, add the avocado, and mix gently.

Once you’ve got everything ready to go, stack two corn cakes on a plate and top with salsa, garnish with more of the freshly chopped herbs, sliced scallions or minced red onion…any or all of them will do.

Anyone still hanging onto summer favorites out there?  Anyone…?  Bueller…?

Okay, I’ll make a promise…I’ll move on to fall dishes, as soon as the LA cools off a bit…I’m not asking for much…let’s say, highs in the 70’s?  Until then, I consider it summer!

Deal!

 

 

Stuffed Squash Blossoms with Shaved Baby Zucchini & Toasted Pepitas


When someone utters the words “…this is the best thing we’ve made…ever!”  ’nuff said.

Squash blossoms are available for only a short period of time in the summer and are the epitome of ‘seasonal’.  They are typically picked in the morning and brought to the farmer’s market that day and are best used within a couple of hours.  This dish is perfectly simple and refreshingly light without being short on flavor.

I spotted the original recipe on epicurious as we were walking through the farmer’s market trying to solidify our dinner plans.  Our modified recipe is shown below.

Besides squash blossoms, in looking for shallots, we stumbled upon green shallots, which I don’t believe I’ve used before.  I am positive the dish would have been delightful with regular, good ‘ole shallots…but I believe the green shallots made it just a touch more special!

Let’s talk tomatoes!  Tomatoes in the summer are serious business.  It is not summer without tomatoes that need nothing other than to be plucked from the vine and tossed in one’s mouth and with a tiny squeeze of the jaw burst forth with flavor and juice.  These miniature (sometimes referred to as Sweet 100’s) citrusy orange delights would have been so offended had we tried to cook them…they would have sprouted legs and walked right out of the kitchen (original recipe called for roasting the tomatoes).

I am often made fun of for appreciating things that come in small proportions (read: I love anything that is small or comes in a miniature size).  Prime examples of such behavior: I refuse to use anything other than the mini-taster spoons when eating ice cream from a shop; we shouldn’t even talk about the number of small bowls that crowd my cupboards; and I am addicted to small notepads and mini-books and have recently discovered some half-size mechanical pencils; so my love for baby vegetables should not surprise anyone!

How can you resist these little guys!?!

Make sure to roast the pepitas, the nuttiness and the crunch are very important for the final dish!

For squash blossoms

2 teaspoons olive oil
1-2 oz mild fresh goat cheese (6 tablespoons) at room temperature
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped green (hulled) pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted until they puff
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
6 male squash blossoms with stems (not with baby zucchini), stems trimmed to 1 inch

Filling:

Stir together goat cheese, cream, pumpkin seeds, basil, salt, and pepper in a bowl and set aside.

Pipe filling into each blossom and twist ends of petals gently to close.  We used a ziplock bag and cut off the tip to pipe the filling into the squash blossoms.  Chill them covered, until ready to fry.

*We realized that we should have made the mixture immediately upon returning from the farmer’s market and filled the blossoms as soon as possible as the flowers were open when we bought them and closed up tighter and tighter as the day went on making it more difficult to fill them later on without ripping the delicate petals.

For vinaigrette and shaved squash

1 tablespoon rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1 tablespoon minced green shallots
2 tablespoons mild extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3-4 baby zucchini, rinsed and stems discarded

Purée vinegar, shallot, oil, pepper, and salt in a blender until smooth and emulsified.

Slice squash paper-thin (lengthwise) using a mandoline, then overlap squash slices decoratively on 2 plates.  Do this shortly before frying the blossoms and plating the dish, otherwise the slices will dry out.

For tempura batter and frying

6 cups vegetable oil (preferably canola or grapeseed)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup chilled sparkling water

Make tempura batter and fry blossoms:
Heat 2 inches of oil in a 3-quart saucepan to 350°F on thermometer.

Set a bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water, then whisk together flour and salt in smaller bowl. Then whisk in sparkling water until combined well.

Working in batches of 2 or 3, coat blossoms in batter, lifting each out by its stem and letting excess drip off, then fry, turning, until batter is crisp (it will not brown), 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer blossoms as fried with a slotted spoon to paper towels, drain, then season with salt.

For topping

2 tablespoons green (hulled) pumpkin seeds, toasted until they puff
Handful of small basil leaves (preferably Thai) or sliced larger leaves
1 cup small cherry tomatoes (sweeter the better), halved lengthwise or served whole 

Assemble plates:

Drizzle vinaigrette over squash slices, then arrange 3 fried blossoms in middle of each plate. Sprinkle remaining oven-dried tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, and basil around blossoms and season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately and enjoy with a glass of white wine – we went with a 2008 Russian River Chardonnay.

The crisp raw zucchini where perfect paired with the crunch of the tempura and the richness of the goat cheese…add in the juicy tomatoes and the acid from the vinaigrette…and it was perfection!  Seriously…perfection!

We are dying to make this again…but just might have to wait until squash blossoms are back in season next summer!

What are your favorite completely seasonal dishes for summer?

 

DLW :: Whatever-is-in-the-fridge Calzones


Sometimes we’re fancy around here and spend a lot of time and effort planning and cooking a meal…and others…it is just about filling your stomach for the evening.  These are the evenings when having some random ingredients in the fridge and pantry comes in handy!

Although pizza dough is incredibly easy and relatively quick to make…every so often I grab a bag of dough from the refrigerated section of Trader Joe’s – it can be so versatile.  So…we happened to have one just waiting to be used.

Throw in a leftover half an onion, some green olives and some roasted red peppers and whatever remnants of cheese you have along with some herbs and seasoning…and all of a sudden, you’ve got a delicious calzone.  I tend to leave the sauce out of the calzone and serve it warm on the side…otherwise, it can make everything a bit soggy.  We split this one between the two of us and it was a nice light meal.

What are your go-to pantry meals and creations?

Cuban Sandwich :: Porky & Delicious!


So last week…we had some pork and later last week…we needed to eat up what little was left and what better way than to make the traditional Cuban sandwich!

According to my sources (the interwebs of course – nothing but the best for you readers!), all Cuban sandwiches contain roast pork, ham, pickles, swiss cheese and a spread of mustard and are always served hot off the presses. Sounds like a pretty pungent sandwich, right? Wrong…it’s delicious, strongly flavored…but apparently many wrongs make a right!

Do you live near a Trader Joe’s? Good! We find that using the mini-ciabatta loaves which are only par-baked and ready to be crisped up before serving are perfect for any panini. Soft enough to let the panini press squish it a bit and grill up the outside but not so much that when you take a bite, you either get all bread or only the filling.

Moving on…slice the bread and spread with mustard on both sides, we happen to be fans of this one from Sierra Nevada Brewing. We also like their beer…but that’s another post! Layer a few slices of ham on the bottom side of the sandwich, cover with slices of the roast pork.

Having only dill pickle spears in the house…which I thought too difficult to slice lengthwise, I was relegated to many little slices of the spears.

Ready for the swiss cheese, layer it on and give a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. (Remember rule #4 – season at every step! – It’ a rule…maybe not rule #4…but it’s a rule.)

Top with the other half of the bun and get it into your panini press stat…or fry pan…or whatever works for you.

;

Once the cheese is melty, the bread toasty, and the filling delicious-looking…pull it off the grill and cut in half. (Also…make a giant mess for just one sandwich!)

Serve with crunchy potato chips and a pickle on the side.

Dig in (and then wish you had a little more leftover roast pork).

In lieu of additional pork…throw together another sandwich with ingredients found in your fridge!

Filled with sliced roast turkey, roasted red peppers, arugula, mozzarella cheese and some sprinklings of garlic dried Italian herbs.

I love panini night…you never know what might make it into a sandwich! Do you have a favorite filling?

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Black IPA and Heirloom Salsa


The month of May makes me think of sitting outdoors, enjoying the lingering light of the still somewhat cool evenings, having a beer and noshing on some chips and salsa.  What better way to do all of this than with a delicious Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale and some homemade chips and heirloom tomato salsa from one of our favorites…Cacao Mexicatessen in Eagle Rock.

The word salsa almost lacks any kind of specificity…it can mean anything.  This is a perfect variation of unadulterated flavors.  Heirloom tomatoes, cilantro, diced onions peppers.  A little heat, but mostly crisp and fresh tastes of summer!

Beer.  I’m partial to IPA.  I like me some hops.  This takes me overboard.  It’s black as night without any hint of chewyness, it’s hoppy and oh so good!  It might just be my favorite beer of the moment.  It has the right match of malt and hops, along with some noticeably different floral notes.

It’s not for the faint of heart…as the alcohol is 8.7%.  An added benefit, we can find it on draught at Lucky’s up the street.

What dishes make your feel like summer has arrived?

Quick Pickled Daikon with Lemon


I don’t like radishes.  I know…believe me, I would like to enjoy the simple Parisian pleasure of sliced radishes sprinkled with fleur de sel on a buttered slice of baguette.  But I just. don’t. like. them!  I do like daikon radish pickles (as of last week), and I’m guessing you will too.

Recipe thanks to Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon.  I had to have this book when I saw it.  It seemed a little ambitious as I don’t have a long and successful history of canning, preserving and pickling…but I want to…and that is what counts.  (At least, that is what I tell myself!)

Quick Pickled Daikon with Lemon
adapted from Karen Solomon, Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it

1 1/2 pounds daikon, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
3 pieces lemon zest, about 2-inches long

The recipe is super simple and just takes a bit of time.  Start by slicing the radish thinly – in hindsight, I would slice a little thicker – think dill pickle slices.

Once sliced, toss them with 1/4 cup of kosher salt and let them sit in a colander or strainer for at least 15 minutes over a bowl or the sink.

While you are waiting on the radish slices, you can prep all the other ingredients.  Sesame oil, honey, rice vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and lemon zest.

Juice the lemon – and please use a fresh lemon…it makes such a big difference in your final product.

Mix together the oil and vinegar.

Add in the honey.

After letting the radish slices sit all mixed up with the kosher salt, rinse them off in cold water.  Next, lay out the slices on a clean tea towel in a single layer.

Roll up the towel, pressing gently to help dry the radish slices.

Unroll the tea towel and peel all the slices off.

In the meantime, chop up the garlic and add to the ingredient mixture along with the lemon juice.  Add the daikon to the bowl.

Mix well and then add in the lemon zest.

Place in a clean, rust free jar (or jars) and seal it up.  Let it sit for at least an hour before sampling and the pickles will keep at least a month in the fridge.

I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and they retain a nice crunch…with just a little tang.

Perfect to be served alongside a banh mi sandwich or with sushi.

 

Roasted Pepper Hot Sauce – Hotter than you think!


It was inevitable.  Eventually we would open our box of weekly vegetables from our CSA, and find we had a whole lot of something that we aren’t quite sure what to do with.  Peppers.  Many peppers.  Please don’t misunderstand my conundrum…I appreciate peppers, I enjoy their flavors…in small quantities.  I’ve mentioned before that I have a little problem with spice.  As in heat…I am a complete and total self-admitted pathetic wuss when it comes to spicy heat!  I’m trying, really, I am!

After holding onto them for a few days…hoping they would make themselves into some wonderful dish…we finally knew what to make.

Inspired by our local taco joint, and their amazing hot sauce made purely of crack goodness that Woody has often considered offering them cash for one of squeeze bottles of sauce…hot sauce it was.

We started out roasting the peppers to mellow their flavor just a bit.  We used bell peppers, jalapeños and serrano peppers.  The skins are easy to remove; once you’ve blackened the skins, place the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  This steams the pepper and helps the skin release.  After the peppers have sat for 10 minutes, the skins should peel off easily and a little running water can help the process along.  I de-seeded a few of the peppers and then threw everything into the blender together.

Peppers , garlic, onions, lemon basil (’cause we had some) and cilantro went, I added a little olive oil, a little vinegar, and of course salt and pepper.  BEWARE…when you remove the blender lid after puréeing, don’t lean over and take a deep breath of the hot sauce fumes…it went straight to my eyes and throat…and Woody laughed.  I made him sample a bit, we adjusted the seasonings and called it good.

For dinner that night, I made cornmeal crusted pan-fried tilapia with a quick pico of onions and cherry tomatoes served with cilantro rice and black beans, some roasted spaghetti squash and sliced avocado with a dollop of sour cream.  Unfortunately, I can’t always stop everyone else from digging in to get a few pictures…so the photo below in my plate…and therefore the hot sauce does not make an appearance on my plate.  Details!

 

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