Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pickled Beets

Source:  Adapted from Mennonite Country Style Recipes

4 qts. beets
2 1/2 c. vinegar
2 1/2 c. water
2 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
2 t. whole allspice
1 (3-inch) stick of cinnamon
1/2 t. whole cloves
1 T. pickling spice (optional)

Cut tops off beats leaving 1" of stem; leave root attached.  (This helps to prevent the nutrients from cooking away in the water.)  Wash thoroughly.  Cover with hot water and cook until tender enough that skins slip off, approximately 15-25 minutes, depending on size.  Dunk in cold water to cool for handling.  Cut off remaining tops and roots and slip off skins.  Cut into cubes, slices or quarters, or leave small beets whole.

Pack beets into quart jars.  Combine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in saucepan.  Tie spices in a cheesecloth and add to pan.  Heat to boiling and boil 5 min.

Remove spice bag.  Pour vinegar/sugar mixture over beets in jars, leaving 1" headspace.  Tighten lids, and process in boiling water bath for 10 min.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Quick-Marinated Yellow Squash Salad

Here's another nice yellow squash salad recipe!

Source:  Everyday Food magazine, September 2007

3 T. fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
3 T. olive oil
coarse sea salt and ground pepper
2 medium yellow squash (8 oz. each), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 shallot, thinly sliced crosswise*
1-2 t. fresh thyme leaves

In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice and oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add squash, shallot, and thyme.  Toss to combine.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4

*Note - I substituted a red onion for the shallot (I haven't had any luck growing shallots!).

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Turnip Soup with Crispy Country Ham and Cornbread Croutons

I just do not like turnips - can I admit that??!!  But, I really want to learn to like them....  They are so easy to grow and oh, so pretty.  This soup recipe gives me hope!  It wasn't too exited about it, but once I added the salty, crispy ham slices and the toasted sweet cornbread, it totally changed my mind about this recipe!!  The cream helps too.  :)  Amazing what flavor and texture combinations can do....

2 oz. unsalted butter
1 1/4 lbs. yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
3 ribs celery, chopped (about 1 c.)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
3 T. chopped garlic
10 c. chicken stock
2  lbs. turnips, peeled and diced
1/4 c. heavy cream
4 oz. country ham, julienned
2 c. medium diced cornbread
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Melt the butter in a 6-quart stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and celery.  Season with salt and black pepper, stirring, until the vegetables are soft and lightly golden, about 8 min.

Add the bay leaf and garlic, stirring for 2 min.  Add the stock and turnips and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until the turnips are very soft and the mixture is thick and creamy, about 1 hr.

Remove the soup from the heat.  Discard the bay leaf.  With a hand-held blender, puree until smooth.  Slowly add the cream.  Stir to blend.  Reseason the soup.

In a small saute pan, over medium heat, render the ham until crispy.  Remove and drain on paper towels.  Set aside.  Toss the cornbread with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown, about 6-8 minutes.  To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls.  Garish the soup with the crispy ham and croutons.

Yield:  8 servings

Monday, July 8, 2013

Squash-Blossom Focaccia

Oh my, this was so surprisingly good!!  Way easier (and healthier!) than Stuffed Squash Blossoms.  It just makes me smile to think that those lovely blossoms can be so delightfully delicious....

Source:  Country Living Magazine, June 2013

2 T. olive oil, plus 2 T. for pan
1 pound store-bought pizza dough, at room temperature
1/2 c. fresh ricotta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 oz.)
1 t. salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
8 squash blossoms

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Meanwhile, grease a 9x13" baking pan with 2 T. oil.  Place dough in pan; press it with fingers to dimple, and then stretch it to the corners of the pan.  If dough springs back, let it rest 10 minutes and stretch again.  Bake for 8 min.

Transfer pan to a wire rack to cook for 5 min.  Spread ricotta atop bread; then sprinkle on half of Parmesan, plus salt and pepper.  Arrange squash blossoms atop cheeses, as shown.  Sprinkle on remaining Parmesan.  Bake until bread is golden, 10 min.  Remove from oven and drizzle with remaining oil before serving.

Note - Instead of prepping the dough like focaccia, I simply turned it into a pizza.

Yield:  6 slices

Friday, July 5, 2013

Grilled Ratatouille Muffaletta

I've been wanting to try this recipe, but it needed an event!  This evening's outdoor Harrisburg Symphony concert on the lawn of Lebanon Valley College was the perfect occasion.  It was so much fun sharing food with friends outdoors on a lovely summer evening.

Source:  Everyday Food magazine, July/August 2013

 1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/2" rounds
coarse sea salt
1/2 c. pitted mixed olives, such as Kalamata and Cerignola
2 pepperoncini, stemmed
1/2 c. fresh parsley
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. olive oil, plus more for grilling
4 small tomatoes (1 pound), sliced into 1/2" rounds
1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise 1/4-inch-thick
1 jar (12 oz.) roasted red peppers, patted dry
1 (8-inch) round rustic bread, split horizontally and hollowed out

In a colander, toss eggplant with 3/4 t. salt.  Let stand 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse olives, pepperoncini, and parsley until very finely chopped.  Transfer to a small bowl and stir in mayonnaise.

Heat a grill or grill pan to medium.  Clean and lightly oil hot grill.  Toss eggplant, tomatoes, and zucchini with oil and season with salt.  Grill, turning frequently, until tender and slightly charred, about 5 minutes for tomatoes and about 7 minutes each for eggplant and zucchini.

Spread bread with olive mixture.  Assemble sandwich with peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes.  Serve immediately or wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
Slice with a good serrated knife to ensure clean slices.

Yield:  Serves 6

Looking back, I should have waited until next month when the tomatoes, eggplant, pepperoncini, and peppers were ready in my garden vs. buying all the ingredients at the farmers' market.  I'll keep that in mind for next year!

Also, I couldn't find the perfect loaf of artisan bread at market, so I tried making my own, but it didn't have a rustic enough texture to support the filling - the sandwiches ended up being soggy and droopy (even though the flavor was good!).  :(    I'll try again!