pickled raspberries

Pickled Raspberries

I was browsing through some magazines this weekend and came across a recipe for a shrub, which is an alcoholic drink with a base of pickled fruit puree. Could you quick pickle fruit for a fun dessert topping I wondered? Time to experiment in the kitchen.

pickled raspberries

I used red wine vinegar that I flavored with cinnamon, and anise to make pickled raspberries. I LOVED IT.  The play of the sour berries against a creamy vanilla ice cream was fantastic.  Who knew you could eat “pickles” for dessert?

pickled raspberries


Pickled Raspberries

¾ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup white granular sugar
1 cinnamon stick, broken into 3 pieces
1 star anise
1 cup raspberries, washed

 

Place the vinegar, sugar, cinnamon stick, and anise in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Place the raspberries in a glass jar,  place the cinnamon stick and anise on top and then and slowly pour the vinegar over the raspberries.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but preferably over night.  To serve, place vanilla ice cream

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Endive and Watercress Salad

Endive and Watercress Salad

When I plan a special meal, such as holiday gatherings or a Valentine’s Day dinner, I like to start with a fancy salad. Making a special salad such as this Endive and Watercress Salad looks and tastes impressive, yet doesn’t require much more effort than your everyday iceberg and tomatoes version.

I took inspiration from two different salad recipes I had saved from magazines (one from Good Housekeeping  and one from Better Homes and Gardens), switching out the dressings for a balsamic vinaigrette and replaced walnuts with pecans. I added currants for extra sweetness and kept the presentation as a tossed salad, which was easier to prepare for a large gathering ( I made a double batch for our Thanksgiving dinner this past year).

endive and watercress saladThis Endive and Watercress Salad was a huge hit, and I had multiple family members ask for the recipe.  I’m sure it will be a keeper in your house too!


Endive and Watercress Salad

1 package of watercress, (2 cups chopped)
2 endives (1/2 pound)
1 large Bartlett pear, cored and chopped
½ cup dried currants
½ cup blue cheese crumbles
½ cup pecan halves
1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing

 

Remove the watercress from the package, and remove the roots.  Wash and roughly chop the watercress and place it in a large bowl.  Chop the endive in thin rings and add to bowl.  Add in the pear pieces, currants, blue cheese, and pecans and toss.  Pour over the vinaigrette and toss until coated evenly.  Divide between four salad plates and serve.

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chanterelle sauce

Wild Chanterelle Mushroom Sauce

This blog is brought to you by all of the leftover holiday meal ingredient in my refrigerator. I’m sure you know what I mean – that special item or spice you bought for the new recipe you just had to make for Christmas or New Year’s that is just staring back at you.  This Wild Chanterelle Mushroom Sauce is a result of using the ingredient remainders from my holiday meals, with the intent to always use up what I have bought (and encourage you to do the same!).

I loosely followed Giada’s recipe for mushroom ragu, swapping out quite a few ingredients for what I had on hand. The main ingredient in my version – chanterelles – were procured in a large (1 pound!) container from Costco.  I had never seen such a large container of wild mushrooms and I was eager to cook with them. One of the other ingredients – cream sherry – was used in my Langostino Lobster Bisque. I used the sherry in replace of the Marsala in the original recipe.

 chanterelle sauce

This Wild Chanterelle Mushroom Sauce also makes a great topping.  You can enjoy it over lamb with polenta, steak and mashed potatoes, or even pasta. I haven’t decided which one is my favorite!

chanterelle sauce


Wild Chanterelle Mushroom Sauce

2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 teaspoon freshly minced garlic
1 pound baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
¾ pound chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
¾ cup beef stock
¼ cup cream sherry
¼ cup half & half
½ teaspoon salt

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onions and saute for 5 minutes or until they begin to brown, then add the garlic and saute for 1 minute longer.  Add the mushrooms and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender and some liquid remains in the pan.  Add the stock and cream sherry and bring to a low boil and cook for 10 minutes longer, or until about half of the liquid remains.  Remove from the heat and stir in the half and half and salt. Serve.

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boar ragout

Boar Ragout

You know me, I often like to try something new and different. This week I wanted to try ground boar (which I found in the freezer section of my local grocery store).  I decided to use the boar in a hearty, wintery ragout.

boar ragout

A mixture of roasted acorn squash, mushrooms, and purple potatoes, was tossed with a boar and rosemary sauce. I served the ragout over soft polenta, for a beautiful (and filling!) dinner.  The true test – would the kids eat it?  Sure enough, they asked for seconds of the nutty tasting boar ragout.  I’m glad they are willing to try all of mom’s wild new dishes!

boar ragout


Boar Ragout

1 small acorn squash
½ pound purple potatoes
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms
1 lb boar meat
½ tablespoon fresh rosemary
½ tablespoon freshly minced garlic
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup beef stock
Polenta for serving (optional)
 

Heat oven to 350°F. Slice acorn squash in half, and remove seeds.  Cut in half moons and place on a greased baking sheet, cut side down.  Cut purple potatoes into 1 inch width circles, then cut into half moons; place on a greased large baking sheet along with onions.  Place both baking sheets in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until acorn squash and potatoes are tender.  Remove peels from squash and cut into chunks.

 Meanwhile,  heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, or until browned.  Transfer mushrooms to a large bowl.  Add boar meat and brown over medium heat, about 10 minutes.  Add in rosemary, garlic, flour, and stock and simmer, stirring to mix in flour.  Remove from heat and stir in mushrooms, squash, and potatoes.   Serve with polenta, if desired.

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Cape Gooseberry

Gooseberry Salsa

I had mentioned that I went a little bit nuts with the purchase of exotic fruits a few weeks ago. This is my third, and final exotic fruits post for a while. The feature of today’s post is cape gooseberries. The gooseberries of my childhood were of the green variety, which grew in my grandmother’s backyard. I had never see orange gooseberries that resembled tomatillos in packaging, meaning a paper thin husk that surrounds the fruit.

Cape Gooseberry
Cape gooseberries, which are also referred to as ground cherries, have a unique and hard to describe flavor. It is a combination of a bunch of sweet and tart fruits rolled into one, such that I can only suggest you give it a try to see what I mean.
To showcase the flavor I chose to make a simple salsa. I mixed diced cape gooseberries with red onion, green onion, lime juice, and honey, which served as a topping for roasted chicken.

Cape Gooseberry
OK, so cape gooseberries might be hard to find, but I still like trying new things. What unique fruit do you want to recommend?


Gooseberry Salsa

20 cape gooseberries, quartered (~3-4 ounces)
2 tablespoons diced red onions
2 tablespoons diced green onions
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon honey

 

Mix together the gooseberries, red onion, green onion, lime juice, and honey.  Stir to combine and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

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Prickly Pear Syrup

Prickly Pear Syrup

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I picked up quite a few exotic fruits at my local grocery store.  One was prickly pear, which is also known as cactus fruit.  Once the spines and skin are removed, the pulp inside is typically pureed for recipes for easier removal of the seeds inside.

Prickly Pear Syrup

The fruit is a beautiful ruby color, which I thought would be great as an addition to a yogurt parfait or topper for pancakes. Just a bit of sugar and lime juice was all I needed to add to make the prickly pear syrup.  It was a hit with the whole family – I love trying new things!

Prickly Pear Syrup


Prickly Pear Syrup

2 prickly pears
¼ cup white sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice

Remove the skin from the prickly pears, then add the fruit to a food processor and blend until liquefied. Strain the liquid to remove the seeds and add the liquid to a small sauce pan, along with the sugar and lime juice.  Heat over medium heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 5-8 minutes or until juice begins to coat the back of a spoon.  Place in a glass jar and refrigerate until ready to use.  Use as syrup on yogurt, ice cream, or pancakes.

Note: If harvesting prickly pears yourself, make sure to follow safety tips for handling them with spines

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Star Punch

Shining Star Punch

I have been looking for starfruit for months, with an idea of doing a themed drink.  I have used starfruit in the past to garnish a dessert, with a flare of celebration.  I wanted to do a drink in the same vein, whether it be to celebrate a promotion, school accomplishment or other success.  I had given up hope on seeing a starfruit again when my local grocery store help a bloggers dream this August– a highlight of all things tropical fruit.

Star Punch

 Not only did they have starfruit on display, they also had jackfruit, prickly pear, lychee, and rambutans.  You name it, they had it on the floor. For me this was like being a kid in the candy store, so you can bet you will see some more posts on exotic fruit in the upcoming weeks.

While I made a fuss about starfruit, the recipe is actually simplistic. I use the starfuit to garnish a glass and mix a bit of tropical sorbet (pina colada or lemon) with a sparkling juice (I used lemoncello mocktail, but any sparkling citrus drink will do) for an easy punch.  A quick google search will net a variety of sorbet punches, so feel free to play around with the flavors.  I was more interested in using a natural decoration – the starfruit – to play on the theme of celebration.  If nothing else use this recipe as an excuse to celebrate trying new foods!

Star Punch


Shining Star Punch

Pina colada or lemon sorbet
Sparkling lemonade or Lemoncello mocktail
1 starfruit, cut into star rounds and slit to fit on glass

 

Place 4 melon baller scoops of sorbet in the bottom of a champagne glass.  Fit one wedge of star fruit over the rim of the glass and fill the glass with the lemonade or lemoncello mocktail. Serve.

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Lemon and Currant Angel Food Cake

Lemon & Currant Grilled Angel Food Cake

If you are in search of a quick and easy dessert, look no further.  Grilling angel food cake makes this dish look accomplished with minimal effort.  In addition, by grilling the cake it gains a toasted marshmallow flavor which is always a crowd pleaser.

Lemon and Currant Angel Food Cake

The grilled angel food cake is merely a vehicle for the two other flavorful toppings – lemon Noosa yogurt and fresh currants.  The lemon Noosa has a generous amount of lemon curd mixed into it’s creamy base, such that it really tastes like you are eating a lemon whipped cream.  The fresh currants add both a pop of color and burst of tart/sweet to finish the dessert. The final dish is the perfect summer treat. It is both refreshing and light, and requires minimal effort in the kitchen!

Lemon and Currant Angel Food Cake

 

Lemon and Currant Grilled Angel Food Cake

6, 1.5 ounce slices of angel food cake
8 ounce tub lemon Noosa yogurt
6 ounces fresh red currants, de-stemmed
Fresh mint (optional)

 

Heat a grill to medium heat.  Grill the slices of angel food cake for 1.5-2 minutes per side or until grill marks are formed; remove from the heat.  Stir the noosa yogurt to distribute the lemon curd, then plate by topping each of the grilled angel food slices with an equal amount of yogurt and fresh currants. Garnish with fresh mint if desired and serve.

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tamarind BBQ sauce

Tamarind BBQ Sauce

I have tried to make my own BBQ sauce in the past but I felt like it didn’t have the right balance.  Consequently I have been on the hunt to find the “it” ingredient that gives it the right punch.  I have decided that the key ingredient is tamarind sauce. Tamarind is a tart, fruit that lends its unique flavor to Worcestershire sauce and pad thai.

tamarind BBQ

Often you will find tamarind in paste form, but I wanted to try to make my own tamarind sauce from the fresh pods. The outershell is broken off, and the sticky flesh is boiled off, and the inedible seeds discarded.

tamarind

To make my tamarind BBQ sauce I mixed some of my tamarind sauce with other BBQ sauce staples – ketchup and molasses – and seasoned it with some Worcestershire sauce, onion granules, garlic, and pepper. The result was a tasty sauce with I now consider my base to build upon.  I can’t wait to add on more depth to this tamarind BBQ sauce.

tamarind BBQ sauce

Tamarind BBQ Sauce

Tamarind sauce

8 ounces fresh tamarind (~10-12 pods)
2 cups water

Break off the outershells from the tamarind pods, and discard the shells. Place the tamarind in a bowl. the Pour 2 cups boiling water over the tamarind and let sit for 1 hour.  Break apart the flesh, remove the seeds, and strain, squeezing out the juice and flesh.  Add the strained tamarind to a small sauce pan and boil for 10 minutes; remove from heat and place in a sealable glass container. Makes 1 cup; refrigerate.

Note: I found this blog helpful in making sure I got the steps done correctly.

BBQ Sauce

1 cup ketchup
¼ cup dark molasses
¼ cup tamarind sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried onion granules
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper

 

Place ingredients in a large sauce pan and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, place in a sealable glass container and refrigerate until ready to use.

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mayocoba beans

Mayocoba Bean Salad

It is that time of year again where the benefits program offered by my employer encourages healthy eating choices.  By choosing “superfoods” such as beans and legumes I can earn points faster, so I tend to incorporate them even more than I already do in my diet.

mayocoba beans

With this in mind I have been on the search for beans I haven’t tried and I stumbled upon mayocoba beans.  They are a smooth white bean, similar to a northern bean, and equally as mild.

I decided on a basil vinaigrette and tomatoes and heart of palm as mix-ins, which was a decision based on using up some leftover ingredients.  The resulting mayocoba bean salad was a fresh dish that I most certainly will make again.

mayocoba beans

Mayocoba Bean Salad

1 lb dry mayocoba beans
6 cups chicken stock
14 ounce can of hearts of palm, drained and chopped
1 lb vine-riped tomatoes, destemmed and chopped
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup white vinegar
4 tablespoons basil stir in paste
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup grated pecorino Romano cheese

Soak the beans overnight, then drain and rinse.  Add the beans and stock to a large pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 1.5-2 hours or until beans are tender, but firm.  Drain and add to a large bowl. Add the tomatoes and hearts of palm.  In a separate bowl, stir together the oil, vinegar, basil paste, and salt.  Pour over the bean mixture and stir to coat.  Stir in the cheese and serve.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

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Tamarisk Honey Bites

Tamarisk Honey Bites

One of these days I am going to host a honey tasting party.  If you have never tried a honey other than clover, you are missing out. One of my favorites is meadowfoam honey which tastes like cotton candy in honey form. Other honey flavors, such as tamarisk or buckwheat, are dark colored honey with a robust and earthy taste.

Tamarisk Honey Bite

Since I had some tamarisk (and buckwheat) honey on hand, I wanted to make an easy appetizer that showcases the honey.  I topped sweet potato chips with a small wedge of brie cheese, drizzled on some honey and garnished with chives.

Now that I have started to think of ways to sample the honey, I just have to plan and execute the party!

Tamarisk Honey Bite

I typically pick up different honey varieties when I visit farmer’s markets, but some of the larger specialty honey makers sell online as well. A few of the brands that I have tried are Grampa’s Honey and Winter Park Honey.

 

Tamarisk Honey Bites

2 ounce brie cheese
12 sweet potato chips
4 teaspoons tamarisk or buckwheat honey
Chives (optional), chopped

 

Cut the brie into 12 small pieces, then place one piece on each chip. Drizzle evenly with the honey and garnish with chive pieces if desired.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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matcha fried rice

Matcha Fried Rice

Have you heard of matcha? I’m sure you have.  It is one of those “in” ingredients these days.  I have put of trying it because green tea ranks below most other flavors of tea in my book. I tend to prefer spicy/cinnamon or earl grey rather than the earthy flavor of green tea.

matcha fried rice

None the less, I was still intrigued. One of the hypes of matcha is the concentrated antioxidants it offers. Instead of steeping tea leaves in a bag, you are essentially consuming finely ground tea leaves. In addition to beverages, it has found its way into food items, even dessert.  I was determined to try it in an entrée and decided to make a version of my fried rice.  I started with my Ham Fried Rice recipe, and eliminated peas, ham, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and ginger. I added matcha as my replacement spice and a bit of baby tomatoes for added sweetness. The result was a light and refreshing Matcha Fried Rice that was well balanced.

matcha fried rice

This festive dish has been a fun lunch this week and I look forward to experimenting with matcha in other recipes.

Matcha Fried Rice

4 tablespoons butter
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced red onion
4 cups cooked long grain rice
1 1/2 teaspoons matcha
2 large eggs
½ cup baby tomatoes, chopped
4 green onions, chopped

 

Add 4 tablespoons of butter to the pan and heat until melted over medium-high heat. Add carrots, and onion, and saute for 3 minutes or until onions begin to soften. Immediately add the rice, and matcha, and stir until combined. Continue stirring for an additional 3-4 minutes to fry the rice. Keep warm.

Coat a non-stick pan with cooking spray then heat over medium heat. Add eggs, and cook until scrambled, stirring occasionally. Remove egg, and stir into rice mixture, along with the tomatoes and green onions.  Serve immediately.

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