Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Honey Lavender Posset

I'm not sure why it has taken so long for this British dessert to show up in USA. Maybe I just wasn't paying attention. Consider making it a part of your repertoire because there are few easier or more impressive ways to end to a meal.

If lavender isn't your favorite flavor, visit this recipe:  Lemon Posset.


Honey Lavender Posset

Serves 8-10

4 c heavy cream
1/2 c 100% honey (the better your honey, the better the dessert will taste)
1/2 c lemon juice
1 T lime juice
4-5 culinary lavender sprigs or 1 teas lavender buds
more honey to drizzle on top

Place the cream and honey in a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. When the honey is incorporated continue to boil, stirring constantly, for three minutes. Lower heat if the mixture threatens to boil over. Remove from heat. Stir in the lemon and lime juices. Drop the lavender into the mixture so it is fully submerged and allow to steep 10-20 minutes until you like the level of lavender flavor.

Strain mixture and pour into ramekins. Allow to cool on counter. Cover with plastic and place in the refrigerator to cool at least 2 hours. (Apparently, if you are in rush, these can be placed in the freezer for 40 minutes to set, but you'll get a better blend of flavors if they take longer to cool down.

Remove from fridge 5-10 minutes before serving and pass flavorful honey to drizzle on top.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sweet and Spicy Green Tomato Bread

Some years we end up with tomatoes that ripen so late in the season that I have a bumper crop of green tomatoes. I've tried all sorts of recipes to use them up and found this one last year published in a Salt Lake City newspaper. I thought the altitude would be close enough to my own (the city is about 650 feet lower) but I had to tweak this recipe some to achieve correct rising results. I baked about 10 loaves of this bread and finally got one batch that had a bit of a rounded top. I'm not sure how this recipe will work at any altitude other than mine. If you are interested in trying the bread and you live at an altitude of 4300-4500 ft. go to the link below and follow the original recipe.

I think I like this bread better than zucchini bread.


Sweet and Spicy Green Tomato Bread

Adapted from Deseret News
Makes 2 loaves (8x4)

2 c finely chopped green tomatoes complete with skins and seeds (I processed these in a food processor and let them drain until they measured about 1 2/3-1 3/4 c of solids)
1 1/8 c granulated sugar (2 T equals 1/8 c)
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c plain yogurt, any kind but non-fat
1/2 c oil
3 eggs
1 teas salt
2 2/3 c wheat flour
2/3 c unbleached flour
1/2 teas baking soda
1/4 teas baking powder
1 teas cinnamon
1/2 teas ground cloves
1/4 teas nutmeg
1 c chopped walnuts (your preference)

Note:  I cooked this with frozen chopped tomato, already drained, and it worked just fine.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour the loaf pans.

Making the batter can be done by hand. Mix the tomatoes, sugar, yogurt, oil, eggs, vanilla, and salt together in a large bowl, stirring until well blended. Mix dry ingredients (remaining ingredients except for walnuts) in a small bowl. Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the wet until just moistened. Add the walnuts.

Divide the batter into the prepared loaf pans and bake for 60-65 minutes. Test with a toothpick and when it comes out with just a few crumbs, the loaves are done. Let sit on cooling rack for 10 minutes before removing from loaves and allow to cool completely before slicing.

In one of my tests, I divided the batter and cooked 12 muffins and one loaf . The muffins turned out wonderfully and had a shorter baking time, 25-30 minutes. I think I'll try them with a streusel topping next time.

I haven't tested this, but here's a suggested streusel recipe (or you can search the Internet for others):

1/3 c sugar (either white or brown)
1/2 teas cinnamon
1 T butter
1/2 c finely chopped walnuts

Mix the sugar and cinnamon together. Work the butter in with a fork, smashing it until the butter is mostly incorporated. Stir in the walnuts and sprinkle over the batter in muffin tins.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Roasted Tomato Salsa

Occasionally, I (along with thousands of other home cooks) volunteer with America's Test Kitchen to give my impressions of how soon-to-be-published recipes work for a non-professional. About a year ago, I tested this salsa recipe and thought it the most flavorful canned salsa I had ever tasted. I've canned it several times since and America's Test Kitchen has now published their canning book.


Roasted Tomato Salsa

Adapted from Foolproof Preserving: A Guide to Small Batch Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Condiments & More by America's Test Kitchen
Yields four 1-cup jars

Note: I checked with my County Extension Agency about using less chile if the salsa is too hot, like it is for me (to my shame). You may want to reserve some of the chiles until time to cook the salsa since it is easier to add than to remove. However, don't add more chiles than the recipe calls for. I have also reduced the salt (I find it still plenty salty but use salt free chips). I was told neither change would affect the safety of the recipe.

2 1/2 pds tomatoes, cored and halved
5 red jalapeno or Fresno chiles, stemmed and halved lengthwise, seeds removed
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 onion, sliced into 1/2-in thick rounds
1/3 c bottled lime juice (do not use fresh)
2  teas salt (the original recipe calls for 2 1/2 teas salt)
2 teas sugar
2 teas chopped fresh cilantro
1 teas ground cumin

Prepare the jars for canning by washing and heating in the canning pot. Allow them to remain in the pot until ready to use. Wash the lids and bands.

Place the onion slices and tomatoes, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. (You may want to cover the sheet with aluminum foil to facilitate cleaning. I don't because it seems wasteful.) Place chiles (also cut side down) and garlic on another.

Place the sheet with the tomatoes and onions under the broiler 4 inches from the heat. Place the onions and garlic on a rack below the tomatoes. Turn on the broiler (or preheat if that works better in your oven) and cook until vegetables are blistered and charred and have softened somewhat. Remove the tomatoes and onions from the oven when they are charred to your liking. Continue to cook the chiles and garlic until they are softened and beginning to char. I find it difficult to get everything to char "just right" at the same time, so I check frequently and remove vegetables one by one from the baking sheets if necessary. At this point the oven may be turned off.

Place the onions into a food processor and process until they are about 1/4-inch in size. Remove about half the onions and reserve. To the onions in the food processor, add all the garlic, half the tomatoes and all the chiles and run until all is well pureed. Pour into a large pot on the stove top. Place remaining tomatoes and reserved onions and pulse until all is chopped about 1/4-inch, only a few pulses. Add these to the pot.

To the tomato mixture, stir in the lime juice, salt, sugar, cilantro, and cumin. Taste it and if you want more heat add some of the reserved chiles. Cook over medium-high heat until the salsa has reduced and thickened slightly. It should measure slightly more than 4 cups.

When salsa is ready and jars are hot, remove from water and ladle the salsa into the jars leaving 1/2-inch head space. Bounce a skewer up and down in each jar to remove bubbles. Clean the rims with a dampened paper towel and top with the lids. Screw the bands on and tighten with your fingertips. Return the water in the canner to a boil. Then place the jars in the water making sure you use a rack so the bottles do not touch the bottom of the pot. Also ensure that there is an inch of water over the tops of the jars. Cover the pot and bring back to a boil and keep water boiling. Timing is according to altitude:  15 minutes for up to 1,000 feet; 20 minutes for 1,001 to 3,000 feet; 25 minutes for 3,001 to 6,000 feet; 30 minutes for above 6,000. After the time has passed, remove the lid, turn off the heat, and let jars sit in the pot for 5 more minutes. Remove jars from pot and place on a towel and allow to cool for 24 hours. Remove bands and check seal. Sealed jars can be stored up to 1 year.

I have doubled this and canned 4 pints. I looked up recipes on National canning site and they recommended the same processing time for half pints and pints. I also checked with the Extension agent and it is fine to use full pints. But I figured I'd add another 5 minutes in the water bath just in case.

If you chose not to can the salsa can be refrigerated for up to a month according to ATK.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Blackberry Fool

A few weeks ago, next to some mountains in Utah, two boys and their mom pulled a neighbor's blackberries out of the freezer. They grabbed the cream from the fridge that had been delivered overnight from a local dairy. They consulted the recipe at the end of the picture book they had checked out from the library a few days before.

The boys whipped the cream with an electric mixer. Zzzzzzzh. In just a few minutes: whipped cream. "You should lick the beaters," the woman said to her boys. And they did. Mmmmmmm.

The woman defrosted the berries in the microwave, then the boys enjoyed smashing the berries with a fork. Everyone took a turn pressing the berries through a colander. Then the boys sprinkled sugar over the fruit and together they mixed the fruit into the cream. They placed the mixture in the fridge for several hours.

For their afternoon snack, the family ate the blackberry fool, on their back steps, looking up at their mountains. The baby was napping, but he enjoyed the dessert after dinner that night.

Something wasn't quite right with their fool, though; it was too runny. The mom thought maybe they should have whipped the cream longer, or maybe used fresh berries. And next time she might reduce the sugar. But that's for the next iteration of this fine dessert!

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat illustrates some ways the world has evolved over the last four hundred years, as viewed through the preparation of blackberry fool. The source of the cream and the blackberries, the people that prepare it, the tools they use, and the people that eat the fool change over the centuries. But everyone licks the spoon and bowl clean!

As I wrote this post I discovered some criticism about the way this book portrayed slavery in 1810 South Carolina. See here or here for more information. I understand the objections, though admit to conflicted feelings since the book is otherwise so lovely. But be aware and use your best judgement as you read it with children.


Blackberry Fool

Source: A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall

2 1/2 c fresh blackberries
1/2 c sugar, divided in two
1 teas vanilla
1 1/2 c heavy cream

Mash the berries with a potato masher, large fork, or food processor. With clean hands, press the crushed berries through a colander or sieve to remove the seeds. Sprinkle the fruit with 1/4 c of the sugar. Stir.

In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining 1/4 c of sugar, the vanilla and the cream. Using a whisk or whatever kind of beater you have, whip the mixture until it makes soft peaks, but not stiff ones.

Fold the sugared berries into the whipped cream. Taste it to see if it's sweet enough. Add more sugar if you need it. There should be streaks of white and purple.

Refrigerate for 3 hours or more, and then enjoy!

Note: We used frozen berries, which the recipe says you can, but I want to try it again. Our fool ended up too runny. So either we didn't whip the cream enough or there was too much extra moisture in the frozen berries.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Mint and Lemon

This is a simple and easy salad made delicious by the lemon and mint dressing.


Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Mint and Lemon

Serves: 4-5

Use this recipe as a guide. If you like more or less of anything change what you add.

Serves 4-6

2 medium cucumbers (about 1 pd), peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut 1/4-in thick slices
1 teas salt
4 ripe tomatoes (about 1 pd) and cut into 3/4-in thick wedges, or halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
8-10 large fresh mint leaves , cut into thin strips
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 T fresh lemon juice
freshly ground pepper

Toss the cucumbers and salt in a large colander set over a rimmed plate or a bowl. Fill a zipper-locked plastic bag with ice water and set the bag on top of the cucumber slices. Allow to drain for an hour. Thoroughly rinse the cucumber slices under cold, running water and pat dry with a towel. The salad will be considerably less watery if you complete this step, but in a pinch you could skip it if you taste for seasoning before serving.

Place the tomatoes into a large bowl and add a tiny bit of salt being careful not to overdo it since the cucumbers will remain salty. Add the cucumbers, onion, and mint and toss gently. Drizzle the oil and lemon juice over the salad and toss again. Season with pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Corn, Bacon, and Avocado Salad

A delicious option for corn-on-the-cob season, my favorite time of year.


Corn, Bacon, and Avocado Salad

Source: Inquiring Chef
Yield depends somewhat on the size of your ears of corn. With really large ears, I halved the recipe because I knew I'd be the only one eating it and I ate generous servings probably 3 times. But I made it again with smaller ears of corn and there wasn't as much.

4 ears corn, shucked
6 strips bacon
1 red pepper, finely diced
1 large avocado, diced
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
juice from 2 limes
salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. While bacon is cooking, cut the kernels off the ears of corn.

Remove the bacon and let it cool on a paper-towel lined plate. Spoon out all but 1 T bacon grease from the skillet, then put the pan back on medium heat. Add the corn kernels to the hot skillet and don't stir for a couple of minutes until the corn sizzles. Then stir occasionally until the corn is cooked and the kernels have begun to brown. Place the corn in a large bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While the corn is cooling, dice the red pepper and avocado. Chop the cilantro and crumble the bacon. Mix it all together, add the corn, stir in the lime juice, and season with salt and pepper. Feel free to improvise with the ingredient ratios--I added extra avocado when my ears of corn were very large. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Strawberry Rhubarb Freezer Jam

I'm a fan of strawberries and rhubarb combined. So I'm going to enjoy them throughout the year.


Strawberry Rhubarb Freezer Jam

Adapted from: Southern Living Little Jars, Big Flavors
Yield: 4 half pint jars

This makes a rather thin-spreading jam but it tastes wonderful.

2 c sugar, divided
3 c strawberries (if you use frozen allow them to partially thaw)
3 c sliced rhubarb (if frozen allow them to thaw partially)
1 pkg. pectin (the original called for 1.59 oz. package, but I found only 2 oz.)

Stir 1 c sugar into the strawberries and let sit at room temperature, stirring occasionally to help the sugar dissolve.

Place rhubarb and remaining cup of sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until the rhubarb is soft and the sugar is melted. When it begins to simmer, turn it down and stir frequently. Remove from heat and let it cool for 10 minutes.

Combine the strawberries and the rhubarb and pulse in a food processor 8-12 times until slightly chunky. Transfer into a glass or plastic bowl and let stand for 15 minutes. Gradually stir in the pectin. Stir constantly for 3 minutes. Let stand, again, for 30 minutes.

Ladle mixture into clean half pint jars or other freezer containers. Leave 1/2 inch head space. Freeze upright in the freezer where they can remain for up to a year. Thaw in the refrigerator and use within 3 weeks.

The book recommends Ball Fruit Jell Freezer Jam Pectin. (Next time I'll try it.)