Quick Bread & Butter Apple Pickles

November 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

Quick pickles are my go-to recipe when the cucumber crop goes gang-busters.  But it wasn’t until this past fall, when I cooked side-by-side with Cammy at Super Chilly Farm, that I added apples into the vinegar brine.  We made this recipe six times in three weeks and since coming home to Arizona, my mom has kept the crisper drawer stocked with cucumbers.

Two things to note:

(1) Use the very best apple cider vinegar you can find.  If you can, seek out a local apple orchard and buy vinegar in bulk (we buy gallon jugs).  The cost isn’t prohibitive (in fact, it’s often comparable to grocery store prices, or cheaper when purchased in larger quantities); it only requires a bit of extra effort.  While I lived in Maine I tracked down Sewall’s cider vinegar.  I brought home a bottle for my mom who tried it and said it tasted like wine and was the best she’d ever tasted.

(2) At Super Chilly Farm I was fortunate to have a stock pile of heirloom apples at my disposal.  With each batch of pickles, I sliced up different kinds of apples — softer, crisper, sweeter, tarter.  My favorite pickle batch used sweet, only slightly acidic, very crisp crab apple varieties called Chestnut and Pipsqueak.  Close runner-ups were Red St. Lawrence and Garden Royal apples.  (Photographs here.)  I suspect that this recipe would be quite good with the conventional varieties Pink Lady, Fuji, Braeburn or Gala.  Or, if you live in apple country, visit an orchard growing out apples native to your area and try out a couple that strike your fancy.

 Ingredients:
4 medium-sized pickling cucumbers, thinly sliced
4-5 small/medium apples, unpeeled, cored
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 early onions/shallots
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup honey (or more, to taste)
1 cinnamon stick

Method:

1. Prep cucumbers: Cut off ends, discard, and thinly slice with a cabbage shredder, mandolin, food processor or sharp knife.  Place cucumber slices in a colander and toss with sea salt.  Let sit for 20 minutes.  Prep apples and onions using the same slicing utensil—aim for uniform thinness and size.

2. In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, water and honey until full incorporated.  Add cinnamon stick and pour dressing over apples and onions.

3. Rinse cucumbers and lightly dry.  Add slices to bowl with apples and stir well.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, nut-free, gluten-free

A Simple Side: Slivers of Summer Tomato and Onion Bake

June 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

I normally crow that it’s “positively criminal!” to cook tomatoes before July.  In fact, I usually eat them only out of hand for the first three or four weeks of harvest season before I venture to put them into salad-y dishes like quinoa tabouleh.

Well, I’m getting off my high horse.  This week (it’s only Thursday, mind you) we’ve picked over two dozen gigantic, heirloom globes from our seven tomato plants.  (I was a bit overenthusiastic during planting season.)  Yesterday I hacked up a dozen tomatoes and made a sauce for a veggified lasagna.  (Instead of noodles, I thinly sliced a zucchini the size of a baseball bat.  See Exhibit A, below.)

Exhibit A

The day before I made this dish, below.  It was a breeze to prep.  The tomatoes overlap slightly sweet red onions and then they bake together.  Sprinkled with only heirloom garlic chunks, salt, pepper and a drizzle of fruity olive oil, this dish is mostly hands-off.  My family of three polished off this 9×13″ pan in about twenty minutes.  My only suggestion: Before serving, leave on the counter for seven or eight minutes to take away the initial bite of heat.  It’s miserable to burn your tongue on a hot tomato and you can taste the veggies better when they’re not quite so hot.

P.S.  Thanks to “Everyday Food” for recipe inspiration.

Ingredients:
2 large tomatoes, preferably heirloom
1 large red onion
4-6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fruity olive oil
sea salt, pepper

Method:

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Drizzle a 9×13″ pan with olive oil and spread around the edges so the pan is well-greased.

2.  Slice tomatoes and onions in 1/3″ slices.  Overlap on top of one another in the baking dish.  Layer with roughly chopped garlic, sea salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until slightly crisp around the edges.

3.  Remove from oven and set on the counter for 7-10 minutes to cool, just slightly, before serving warm.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free, nut-free, vegan

Fiesta Salad: Roasted Tomatoes, Corn and Mango

May 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

The saying goes, “Knee high by the fourth of July,” but blog-o chums, just two hours South of my Saguaro-ville home, corn has grown past the thighs.  Harvest season, in the hotsy-totsy southern parts, has begun.  It occurs to me that unless you live in Arizona, south of the border or in Florida, none of the three star ingredients in this salad (see title) will be seasonal.  But for the smattering (read: four of you?) that live in these parts, I wanted to share a salad I’m smitten with.  I’ve made it two times in three days and I intended to make it again tomorrow, but my third mango was ripe for peeling tonight.

Ingredients:
8 cups leafy greens
2 early onions, chopped (including scallion-like green part)
1 large mango, cut in slivers
2 ears corn, cut from the cob

2 cups cherry tomatoes, preferably heirloom
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Ingredients for the Dressing — approximations
Juice from one large orange (~ 1/3 cup)
few glugs of white balsamic vinegar (~ 2 tablespoons)
small spoonful dijon mustard (~1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon)
pinch sea salt (at least 1/4 teaspoon)
10 cracks pepper
2 teaspoons maple syrup (real-deal)
1.5-2 tablespoons olive oil

Method:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Chop tomatoes in half.  Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chopped garlic and sea salt and pepper.  Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and stir.  Bake for a remaining 15 minutes until carmalized and slightly browned/blackened around a few edges.

2.  Meanwhile, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil on the stove.  Cut corn kernals from cob.  Boil in salted water for 2 minutes, ridding the kernals of a raw-corn taste.  Blanch in cold water (or rinse thoroughly under cold tap water) and set aside.

3.  Prepare the rest of the salad ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk together all ingredients in the salad dressing, save the olive oil.  When thoroughly combined, begin adding in a slow stream of olive oil.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

4.  When tomatoes are finished, remove from oven and cool for ten minutes.  Assemble salad.  Toss with dressing just before serving.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, vegan, nut-free

A Simple Side: Grilled Peaches

September 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

Early in the stone fruit season, it seems criminal to eat a peach or nectarine in any other way than out-of-hand.  But fifteen dozen peaches later, the cobbler, crisp, pie, chutney and jam recipes become splotched and stained.  There comes a point when a cook simply doesn’t know what to do with all those orange globes, piled high on the counter top.  If you find yourself in this predicament, lips stained and cheeks sticky, here’s a twist on this summer staple.

While the sun is still letting off steam in Arizona, I’m reminded by friends in other parts of the country that a cool morning chill is starting to creep under the windowpanes, enticing a transition from iced coffee to hot coffee and oatmeal bowls instead of cereal and cold milk.  Barbecuing days of summertime are numbered; burgers and hot dogs will soon be replaced by squash soups, hearty breads and about a thousand pumpkin recipes.  And so, it’s with a head-nod to the rest of the U.S. that I present the simplest side imaginable: grilled peaches.

Grilled peaches have a syrupy, more concentrated peach-flavor. If grilled for just a few piping minutes per side until softened (but not mushy), they’re sublime.  Especially tasty with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients:
Peaches

Method:
On a hot grill, place peach halves or large slices, cut-side down.  Grill for 2-4 minutes on one side and then turn with tongs.  Grill long enough for grill marks, but not blackened sides.  Serve hot or warm.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, vegan, nut-free, SCD-safe

Zucchini Spice Muffins

August 26, 2010 § 1 Comment

Upon returning from Guatemala and California, I started perusing my bookmarked cookbooks, flipping through crispy, new Cooks Illustrated & Bon Appetit magazines and revisiting old recipes that could use a face-lift.  Since gardens are exploding with zucchini and summer squash, I decided to tackle zucchini bread.  I started with an old favorite, then tweaked the whole grains, oil, zucchini and sugar.  I fiddled with the proportions until I landed this combination, below.  I find these muffins even moister than the original version, which I can tip my hat to the molasses and brown sugar swap-out.

One thing to note: In my Zucchini Chocolate Cake recipe, I expel as much liquid as possible from the zucchini before adding it to the batter, so as to not add any additional moisture to the cake.  In this recipe, the extra moisture is desirable, so I simply shred the zucchini and place it directly into the batter.  No sugaring, no osmosis!

Ingredients:
2 eggs
1/3 cup veg oil
¼ cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup brown sugar

1 + ½ cup shredded zucchini

½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup oat bran
½ cup white flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon all spice
bit of nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt

few dark chocolate chips to sprinkle on top

Method:

1.  Preheat to 350 degrees on convection or 375 in a standard oven.

2.  Mix wet ingredients and set aside.  In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients.  Fold into wet ingredients in alternative batches with the shredded zucchini.

3.  Scoop into muffin cups or a greased muffin tin and sprinkle with a few chocolate chips.  Bake approximately 20-23 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely on a cooling rack before packaging or freezing.

Diet Notes: Nut-free

Quinoa Tabouleh

August 4, 2010 § 1 Comment

For the past six weeks, I can count the number of vegetables I’ve consumed on five fingers.  (I’m cheating: The “fifth vegetable” is really an herb — called “chipilin” (apparently similar to a Night Shade).)  Instead, I’ve been eating bread (“pan”), bananas ’round the clock and a few corn tortillas and cup or two of hot chocolate.

If you guessed that I had a parasite… dingding!  You win! My meal prospects were bleak for a while; in fact, I actually started dreaming of vegetables in my sleep (no joke!) and, now that I’m feeling nearly all better, I have a new found love of eating simple, fresh foods.  This recipe was just what the doctor ordered: vegetables from the garden (parsley! mint! tomatoes! onion!) and a whole-grain base.  This salad is light and made me feel squeaky clean from the burst of lemon.  And an added plus: it didn’t bump the house temperature up eight degrees by turning on the oven — it’s a one pot meal, requiring only 15 minutes of stove time.

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa, cooked
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1/2 red onion, diced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup mint, chopped

4 tablespoons lemon (juice of 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, diced
sea salt, pepper, to taste

Method:

1.  Heat water and quinoa on the stove and cook according to instructions, until al dente.

2.  Chop vegetables and herbs and toss.  Set aside.

3.  Once quinoa is cooked, remove lid and squeeze in juice of one lemon, olive oil and chopped garlic.  Stir.  Combine with vegetables and herbs.  Add sea salt and pepper to taste and serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.  (Room temperature is my favorite.)

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, nut-free, vegan

Corn & Pesto Crunch with Roasted Tomato Toppings

June 16, 2010 § 1 Comment

After caroling the glories of roasted tomatoes, I roasted the heck out of an additional three dozen red globes.  I like eating the big ones plain, their sides blackened and tops crunchy from heirloom garlic chunks.  Each bite is a burst of caramelized tomato flavor and smoky balsamic vinegar.  I’m quite certain that food simply doesn’t get much better than this.  I’ve also been roasting cherry tomatoes.  Although they’re teeny and shriveled out of the oven, I think they are well-suited as a delectable (not to mention gorgeous) garnish.  As luck would have it, I came across a recipe that used roasted-tomatoes as a salad mix-in so I took a little detour.  This recipe is inspired by Heather, via Heidi’s 101 Cookbooks, and I plan to make this dish after my next sojourn to the farmers’ market on Thursday, when I’ll pick up another bundle of fresh corn cobs.

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa, raw
1/4 cup pesto
1/2 cup roasted cherry tomatoes*  (aim for 2-3 cups, raw)
3 ears corn
1 bunch leafy greens (dandelion greens, arugula or spicy greens are great)
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup cashews, toasted
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted

Method:

1.  Premake roasted cherry tomatoes and pesto.

2.  Bring two cups of water and one cup dry quinoa to a boil on the stove.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook until al dente, about 15 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, in an ungreased skillet, heat cashews and walnuts on medium-high heat until browned and fragrant, about 7 minutes.  Keep an attentive eye and toss every few minutes to avoid burning.  Remove toasted nuts and set aside.  In the same skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and saute onion until golden, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, cut corn from cob and roughly chop greens.  When onions have started to brown, add corn and cook briefly, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and add the leafy greens.  Toss until wilted.

4.  When quinoa has finished cooking, add pesto and fluff with a fork.  In a large bowl, add quinoa and toss with sauteed vegetables.  Add toasted nuts and toss.  Scoop onto serving platter and generously garnish with roasted cherry tomatoes.  Best served warm or at room temperature.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free

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