Preserving Food – Mixed Greens Blog http://mixedgreensblog.com Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest Thu, 17 Nov 2016 02:01:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 When You’ve Got Lemons & Turkey… http://mixedgreensblog.com/2011/11/27/seasons-eatings/basic-recipes-on-the-local-table/when-youve-got-lemons-turkey/ Sun, 27 Nov 2011 20:06:44 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/?p=14973

We’re going on three days of turkey leftovers and by now, it’s time to introduce some different flavors to the mix. I’m craving something new, more ethnic and with a little spice. Besides having a huge container of turkey and yes, I made my turkey stock, I also ended up with two extra bags of organic lemons. Citrus is one non-local item I can’t resist during the winter. It helps to brighten up even the most mundane dish. Our leftovers, at this point, could definitely use some brightening up. Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons, substituting turkey, was a revelation to me and made the whole thing new all over again. As an added bonus, I made a batch of preserved lemons to use throughout the holidays.

Moroccan Turkey with Preserved Lemons and Green Olives

Ingredients: 2 T olive oil/ 1 large onion, thinly sliced/ 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced/ 1T fresh ginger, minced/ 1 T paprika/ 2 t ground cumin/ 1 t ground cinnamon/ 1 1/2 cups turkey or chicken broth/ 10-15 pitted green olives, sliced/ leftover turkey, slices or chunks/ 8 wedges of preserved lemon, all pulp removed, cut into thin slices. (You can also use regular lemons, just add them when you add the broth so they can simmer in the sauce)/ Chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)/ Salt & pepper to taste.

Directions: Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat/ Add sliced onions, garlic and ginger, sprinkle with salt & pepper, saute 8-10 minutes/ Add paprika, cumin, cinnamon, stir and cook for a minute or two/ Add broth, bring to a boil/ Reduce heat to medium-low, add turkey, olives and lemons/ Stir, cover and allow to heat throughly/ Serve on a bed of couscous or rice.

Homemade preserved lemons are simple to make and are the perfect solution when you have more than you can use fresh. You can use them in soups, salads, stews, cocktails and like I did in a Moroccan leftover turkey dish. Make a big batch, divide into several small jars and give them as Christmas gifts. If you have Meyer Lemons, by all means, use them. If you don’t, not to worry. I would recommend using organic because you will be eating the rind.

Preserved Lemon Recipe

Ingredients: 6 lemons/ 2/3 cup kosher salt (my lemons were on the small side so I only used about 1/3 cup)/ Juice from 4-5 additional lemons/ 2 T olive oil

Directions: Wash lemons, then blanch them in boiling water for 5 minutes/ Drain/ Cut each lemon into about 8 wedges, removing seeds, ends and extra pith/ Toss lemons with salt in bowl/ Pack lemons tightly in jar and cover with extra lemon juice/ Seal jar and let lemons stand at room temperature for 5 days/ Shake gently once a day/ Add oil to the jar and refrigerate (if covered in juice, lemons should keep for up to one year)

Before I knew how much I’d love preserved lemons, my motivation in making them was to use in this dish, now I can’t wait to try them in other ways, just think of the cocktail possibilities. I waited only two days to starting using mine and the taste was already wonderfully complex and distinct. Mark Bittman has an even faster method for Quick Preserved Lemons for when you need them in a hurry.

Enough about cooking and on to shopping… That’s right. I know we never encourage you to consume products here at Mixed Greens. I’ve been asked over and over how we make any money since we don’t sell advertising. Well, we don’t, but once a year we put out a lovely calendar featuring our seasonal whole food photographs, one for each month with a recipe on the back. It all sits in a sweet little CD case that doubles as a stand (great for the reading the recipes). It’s printed on 100% recycled paper, of course, and comes in a cardboard mailer. The perfect gift, for you, your friends, family or co-workers.

You won’t find our calendar at any large stores but you can buy yours here on the blog. We’re also selling them at a couple of our favorite stores, Click and Capers in West Seattle and Roses Bakery & Cafe in Eastsound on Orcas Island.

 

 

 

 

 

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Turn Up the Heat with Peppers http://mixedgreensblog.com/2011/10/05/seasons-eatings/basic-recipes-on-the-local-table/turn-up-the-heat-with-peppers/ http://mixedgreensblog.com/2011/10/05/seasons-eatings/basic-recipes-on-the-local-table/turn-up-the-heat-with-peppers/#comments Thu, 06 Oct 2011 00:20:42 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/?p=10581 Sriracha Sauce

I love the warm, earthy smell of peppers in the fall at the farmers market. Roasted-on-the-spot peppers are a treat worth waiting all year for but this year I had a different mission in mind once I discovered a simple recipe to make my own chili garlic sauce.  Now I can dole out my pepper pleasure a little at a time. This recipe is insanely easy and even better than processed sriracha. It’s local, organic, has no added sugar and gives a kick to any dish that needs a little extra spice. All you need is 4 hot peppers, 2 sweet red peppers, 5 garlic cloves, some white vinegar and salt. It can become very addictive so you might think twice before sharing your first-born batch like I did.

Red Hot Padrone Peppers

Homemade Sriracha Hot Sauce

4 hot chili peppers, chopped ( I used red padrons from the farmers market).

2 red bell peppers, chopped

5 garlic cloves, chopped

3/4 cup distilled white vinegar

1/2 t kosher salt

Wearing rubber gloves, roughly chop the chilis.

Combine all ingredients in a small pot over medium-high heat. Once mixture is simmering, reduce heat to low, cover and continue to simmer until peppers are tender – 7 to 10 minutes. (Don’t be tempted to put your face over the pot and inhale the vapors even though it smells delicious — it will sting).

Transfer mixture to blender and puree. Pour in medium jar and allow to cool uncovered. Cover tightly and refrigerate. It will keep stored in the fridge for several weeks or months but it’s unlikely it will last that long — at least not in my house.

Many thanks to Melissa Clark in her NY Times column, A Good Appetite for these fabulous recipes.

Jalapeno Peppers

The last visit I made to the South I found a jar of pickled jalapeno peppers and got in the habit of eating them with our nightly fish taco. I didn’t think to bring a jar home and just assumed I’d be able to find them in the Northwest. I’ve been looking ever since without any luck so I jumped at the chance to make my own once I saw Melissa Clark’s recipe. These are easy non-processed pickles that will last for as long as it takes you to finish a jar in the fridge.

Pickled Jalapeno Peppers

8 hot green peppers (I used jalapenos)

1/2 – 1 cup distilled white vinegar

2 t kosher salt

Wearing rubber gloves thinly slice the peppers and pack into a clean jar.

Stir the salt into the vinegar to dissolve.

Pour vinegar over the peppers.

Cover loosely with a lid or with cheesecloth and a rubber band. Refrigerate for 5 days, then close the lid tightly.

Pickled Jalapeno Peppers

Depending on the heat of your chilis, I’d recommend  trying a tiny bite before popping the whole thing in your mouth unless you’re very macho when it comes to peppers. The ones I made could knock your socks off if you aren’t cautious.

Rice Noodle Salad

Having peppers in my pantry has inspired me to make all sorts of new dishes including a memorable noodle salad. Since I’m not quite ready to make the seasonal switch to soups and stews, adding some pepper heat to practically any cold dish is helping me make the transition gradually. I love the way this salad dressing tastes so fresh and still has a slow burn from the sriracha sauce.

Vietnamese-Style Salad Dressing

1/2 cup fish sauce

1T freshly grated ginger

1 1/2 t homemade sriracha sauce ( see recipe above)

1/4 cup water

Juice of 1 lime or more

Mix all ingredients together and pour over rice noodles, shredded chicken, grated carrots.

Garnish with fresh basil and shiso and extra lime wedges.

Sriracha Hot Sauce

It may not take the place of heat from summer sunshine but make a batch of  homemade sriracha and see if you don’t feel just a little warmer.

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Put a Cherry on Top http://mixedgreensblog.com/2011/07/24/seasons-eatings/basic-recipes-on-the-local-table/put-a-cherry-on-top/ http://mixedgreensblog.com/2011/07/24/seasons-eatings/basic-recipes-on-the-local-table/put-a-cherry-on-top/#comments Mon, 25 Jul 2011 04:42:11 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/?p=13881

Every Christmas Eve when we make Old-Fashioneds, I swear that I’ll make my own maraschino cherries when they finally come into season and this year I finally did. I’m talking about the real thing — just cherries soaked in maraschino liqueur — a clear, bittersweet, Croatian concoction that has nothing to do with red dye # 2 or artificial sweetners. Luxardo makes real maraschino cherries in a jar but they’re expensive and hard to find. If you make your own, go to the farmer’s market and do a taste test. Last weekend at the University Farmers Market, Tonnemaker Farm had at least five different varieties, each with its own distinct flavor. I chose the Sonata variety. It’s a sweet cherry but very firm and more acidic than the others making it more like the commonly used sour cherries. Since this recipe doesn’t call for any sugar, I decided a little sweetness couldn’t hurt. You can use other types of booze as well. I just bought a bottle of Cherry Heering and might try that next time.

Maraschinos make an excellent garnish in all kinds of cocktails but they’re also easy to drop on top of an adult-style ice cream sundae.

Maraschino Cherry Recipe

Ingredients:

1 pint sweet or sour cherries (about 2 cups)

1 cup Maraschino liqueur, Cherry Heering or Brandy

Directions:

Wash and remove stems and pits from cherries. (I know the cherry in the photo has a stem. If I could figure out how to remove the pit without removing the stem, believe me, I would).

Bring the liqueur to a simmer in a small pot. Turn off heat and add cherries.

Let cool then store in the fridge for up to several months.

I love pickles and quick pickle recipes are turning up everywhere. When I saw one for pickled cherries in the June issue of Bon Appetit, I knew I had to try it.  The original recipe says to simmer the cherries in the pickling juice but I had some liquid left over and just poured it over some uncooked fruit and the results were crisper and just as good. Next time this is what I’ll do….

Pickled Cherry Recipe

Ingredients:

3/4 cup distilled white vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

2 t whole black peppercorns

1 t coriander seeds

1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes

1 lb fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted

1 sprig fresh rosemary

Directions:

Bring first 5 ingredients and 3/4 cup water to boil in medium saucepan, stirring sugar to dissolve. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.

Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain into a medium bowl.

Place cherries in a clean 1 qt. mason jar. Pour pickling liquid over cherries to cover.

Cover and chill. Store in the fridge.

Use pickled cherries pretty much the same way you use other pickles. I make this appetizer with La Panzanella croccantini,  prosciutto, Port Madison chevre and a pickled cherry on top. Since I used sweet cherries, mine were sweetish but still plenty of good pickley bite.

I posted a cherry salsa recipe last year that’s still one of my all time favorite ways to serve cherries, especially alongside grilled salmon or chicken.

I almost always like sweet flavors of fruit balanced out with something sour. Unless of course, I’m eating cherries straight from the bowl. Nature’s sweetness just can’t be improved upon.  Lucky for us that cherries love our Northwest weather. This year we may all suffer from Vitamin D deficiency but damn, we sure are eating well.

 

 

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The Winter Tomato Dilemma http://mixedgreensblog.com/2011/07/17/local-living/small-actions/the-winter-tomato-dilemma/ http://mixedgreensblog.com/2011/07/17/local-living/small-actions/the-winter-tomato-dilemma/#comments Sun, 17 Jul 2011 23:55:35 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/?p=13827 How can I put this delicately? You’d be out of your mind to buy tomatoes mid-winter? Or the more delicate version, think twice before consuming an industrial winter tomato from far away that’s grown with extremely questionable, shall we say, techniques.

The human cost is devastating to consider and has been referenced in a previous post, Tomato Love Gone Bad. But the industrialized tomato itself, à la southern Florida, devoid of its essential character and flavor, still, technically, a tomato, is another story. The other other story is how we can have winter, and eat good tomatoes. First, some information to strengthen your resolve.

In his recently published book, Tomatoland, How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit , Barry Estabrook reveals more than we may want to know, but need to know, about industrial tomato growing in southern Florida, where, apparently, nearly all of our winter tomatoes are grown. Here’s an excerpt from Dwight Garner’s July 5th New York Times review of Tomatoland, which is worth reading in its entirety.

Why is South Florida such a grim place to grow tomatoes, the fruit we’ve agreed to accept – don’t ask, don’t tell – as a vegetable? Florida’s sandy soil, Mr. Estabrook writes, is as devoid of plant nutrients as a pile of moon rocks. “Florida growers,” he writes, “may as well be raising their plants in a sterile hydroponic medium.”

He continues, witheringly: “To get a successful crop, they pump the soil full of chemical fertilizers and can blast the plants with more than 100 different herbicides and pesticides, including some of the most toxic in agribusiness’s arsenal.”  Migrant workers are coated with these chemicals too. The toll that’s taken on them, in the form of birth defects, cancer and other ailments, is hideous to observe and should fill those who eat Florida tomatoes with shame.

I guess they’re one of the vegetables, OK fruit, that we miss the most mid-winter. We’ve all eaten them off season, been unable to resist trying one just to make sure we’re not missing something delicious. Looks kind of like a tomato, quacks kind of like a tomato, but in heart and soul, not a tomato.

Recipes for Tomatoes in Winter . . . Preservation!

So, here’s the deal. Take advantage of local summer tomatoes wherever/whenever/however you can get them – they may not be cheap, but certainly no more than the arm and a leg required at the cash register for winter tomatoes from across the land or the world. Buy or grow some and preserve them for next winter, like a squirrel. They won’t disappoint, I promise. Tomato fiend that I am, I can testify that preserved summer tomatoes retain the glamorous aura of real honest-to-god tomatoes, canned, roasted and frozen, or dried. And in January, trust me, the tomatoes’ culinary glam factor is something to behold. Your palate will dance with joy.

Roasted Tomato Sauce, Frozen or Canned

Roasted Tomato Sauce, a Walk in the Park, Tomatoes for Winter

Sundried Tomatoes

Happiness is a bowl of Sungolds mid-winter

If all else fails, get the best tomatoes you can in late summer, a little overripe is OK. Even in a cool, wet year like this one there will be tomatoes in August and September. Rinse and quarter them, place in zip lock bags and freeze. Ten minutes, done. Use in sauce, soup, juice whenever you’re ready.

 

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Salt of the Cod http://mixedgreensblog.com/2011/03/06/seasons-eatings/protein/salt-of-the-cod/ http://mixedgreensblog.com/2011/03/06/seasons-eatings/protein/salt-of-the-cod/#comments Mon, 07 Mar 2011 00:49:17 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/?p=12488

I know what you’re thinking. Why would anyone spend time salting fish just to turn around and reconstitute it? I know it sounds a little crazy but if you think of it in terms of pickles vs. cucumbers, you might understand the flavor added by the curing process. It takes a fairly mild, okay, bland fish and transforms it into something very tasty.  Still a star in many countries around the Atlantic, salt cod hasn’t made a big splash in our neck of the woods which has probably saved it from being overfished. When caught in the U.S., Alaska Cod, True Cod or Grey Cod are good sustainable choices according to Seafood Watch unlike it’s disappearing cousin, Atlantic Cod.

Granted, the salting process in your home kitchen isn’t nearly as picturesque as the traditional method of salting and hanging fish on wooden scaffolding or spreading it on rocks to dry in the wind and sun on the cliffs of a beautiful coastal fishing village in Portugal, Italy or Southern France. There’s no harm in holding that picture in your mind while remembering that you’re carrying on one of the world’s oldest preservation methods, a practically forgotten skill that could come in handy some day, if say, you have a load of fish and no refrigeration. You never know….

How to Salt a Cod

Ingredients: 1 lb cod, bones and skin removed/ Kosher or Sea Salt

Directions: Lay the fish fillets on a clean kitchen towel and cover completely with salt, about 1/4 cup on one side/ Flip and cover the other side in the same way, rubbing salt on all sides of the fish/ Wrap the fish in the towel and lay it on a rack over a baking dish/ Refrigerate for 10 – 12 hours, then add more salt and flip it over to the other side for 10 – 12 additional hours/ The towel will become wet and there will be water in the baking dish/ The fish will start to feel more rigid and dry/ Remove the towel, add more salt and put the fish back on the rack, still in the fridge/ Continue to flip the fish a time or two each day, adding a teaspoon or so of salt each time/ At this point, I kind of forgot about it and just left it in the fridge air-drying for 4-5 days, flipping it whenever I remembered to/ The fish is cured when it’s firm and rigid/ You can wrap it in parchment paper and double-bag it, refrigerate it up to four months.

If all this feels like way too much trouble, you can buy imported salt cod in wooden boxes at Whole Foods. But if you’re trying to keep it local, I promise it’s a really easy process. My only regret is that I didn’t make more.

Thanks to Karen Solomon and her book, Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It for this recipe.

Now that you have some salt cod, you may be wondering what to do with it. The first step is to soak it all day and overnight in water, changing the water several times to remove most of the salt. Drain the water, rinse the fish and then poach it by completely covering it with water (or milk) in a saucepan and simmer gently over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes. Drain and rinse well and flake into small pieces in a bowl, removing any bones or skin.

Salt Cod Fritters

Ingredients: 1/2 lb reconstituted, poached salt cod broken into small pieces/ 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks/ 1 onion, finely chopped/ 2 garlic cloves, finely minced/ 1 handful each of cilantro and chives, finely chopped/ 2 large eggs/ salt & pepper, to taste/ vegetable oil for frying.

Directions: Poach salt cod as described above/ Steam potatoes in steamer basket until very tender, 20-25 minutes/ Once potatoes are cooked, drain water and mash them well with a potato masher/ Add cod, onion, garlic, chives, cilantro, and eggs/ Beat well with wooden spoon until well combined and very firm/ Form into balls using a tablespoon, you should have about 12 fritters/ Fry in about 3 ” of very hot oil, turning several times to brown on all sides/ Lift onto a platter lined with paper towels to drain excess oil.

Serve with lemon wedges, salt (taste first) & pepper, mayonnaise, tartar sauce or aioli.

If deep-frying isn’t your thing, with practically the same ingredients you can make a luscious traditional puree called brandade of salt cod, potatoes, garlic and milk to serve on toast or crackers. I used the recipe from the ever inspiring Canal House Cookbook, Volume 2.

Canal House Salt Cod Brandade

Ingredients: 1/2 lb reconstituted, poached salt cod (see above)/ 2 small russet potatoes, peeled and diced/ 2 cloves garlic, crushed/ 1/2 cup whole milk, warmed/ Extra virgin olive oil/ Salt & pepper to taste.

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees/ Put potatoes and garlic in steamer basket and steam until the potatoes are very soft, about 20 minutes/ Drain and set aside/ Put salt cod, potatoes, garlic, milk and splash of olive oil in food processor and process until fairly smooth/ Season to taste with salt & pepper/ Spoon puree into small baking dish/ Drizzle with olive oil and bake until golden on top, about 20 minutes.

Salt cod has been traditionally eaten during the Christian forty day fasting period called Lent, which begins this year on March 9. There are various degrees of abstinence practiced, one of which is giving up meat. I don’t follow this practice but trust me, eating either of these delicious dishes made from salt cod could hardly be considered a sacrifice.

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Green Tomatoes: Just Fry Them http://mixedgreensblog.com/2010/09/30/seasons-eatings/basic-recipes-on-the-local-table/green-tomatoes-just-fry-them/ http://mixedgreensblog.com/2010/09/30/seasons-eatings/basic-recipes-on-the-local-table/green-tomatoes-just-fry-them/#comments Thu, 30 Sep 2010 14:15:50 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/?p=10682 Sliced Green Tomatoes

Okay, I give up. Many of my tomatoes just aren’t going to ripen this year. Plan B is to make fried green tomatoes and to ripen the rest off the vine. This week I took some big steps toward mentally preparing myself for the impending winter. I packed away my summer clothes, most of which I didn’t even wear this year. I also picked green tomatoes — the ones that have been stubbornly hanging on the vine without any intention of ripening. If it hasn’t been warm enough to wear shorts, my tomatoes certainly aren’t going to ripen. That’s not to say I haven’t had some ripe tomatoes this summer — the Stupice variety hasn’t seemed to mind the unusually cool weather nearly as much as I have.

Sliced Green Tomatoes

To make fried green tomatoes, you should use the ones that are bright green with no blush at all. These are the least likely to ripen on their own or with a little help (I’ll describe my ripening method below).

Fried Green Tomatoes

Green tomatoes, sliced – figure about 1 tomato per person

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup breadcrumbs or cornmeal

1 large egg

1 T whole milk

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

Wash and slice green tomatoes about 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Arrange 3 shallow bowls or plates, 1 with flour, another with egg whisked with milk and the third with breadcrumbs or cornmeal. ( I prefer breadcrumbs. I tried a coarse cornmeal this time and thought they were too crunchy for my taste).

Dip each slice first in flour, then in the egg/milk mixture and finally in breadcrumbs or cornmeal, covering both sides with each.

Place 1/2 inch olive oil in frying pan and heat over medium-high heat.

Using tongs, place each tomato slice in the hot oil until you fill the frying pan leaving a little room around each slice.

Fry 2 – 3 minutes until golden brown on the first side, turn over and fry second side.

Remove from oil and place on a tray or plate lined with paper towels to drain.

Tomato Goat Cheese Appetizer

I made a simple appetizer using fried green tomatoes, a round of Port Madison goat cheese, a slice of ripe tomato, topped with basil.

BLT with Fried Green Tomatoes

Or make a BLGT — a bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwich with a fried green tomato and a round of goat cheese. Yum!!

If you want to try to extend the season and give your green tomatoes a second chance, place them in a paper bag or cardboard box with a ripe apple or banana. Krista has had good luck with putting her tomatoes in a cardboard box lined with newspaper, separating each layer with more newspaper and an apple per layer, making two or three layers. Close the bag or box, and store in a cool dark place. Check back often, every day or so, removing the tomatoes as they turn red. Given enough space and time, you’d be surprised how well they’ll ripen using this method. Unless your tomatoes are almost completely red on the vine, placing them in a sunny window doesn’t seem to work nearly as well.

Ripening Tomatoes

I know, it’s sad to say good-bye to tomatoes after such a short season. If you’re more organized or motivated than I’ve been this year, you may have a freezer full of tomato sauce or soup. Just remember to invite me over when you pull them out in the dead of winter … pretty please.

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Happiness is a bowl of Sungolds mid-winter http://mixedgreensblog.com/2010/08/25/in-the-garden/happiness-is-a-bowl-of-sungolds-mid-winter/ http://mixedgreensblog.com/2010/08/25/in-the-garden/happiness-is-a-bowl-of-sungolds-mid-winter/#comments Wed, 25 Aug 2010 08:02:40 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/?p=10352 A Bowl of Sungolds

dried sungold tomatoes

dried tomatoes in olive oil

Golden orbs of sublime flavor these Sungolds. We love August and September when their vines are loaded and tomato grazing is prime. I return to the house after such a foray – me and my tomatoes alone at last – with my culinary soul satisfied and hands tinged with tomatoes’ invisible aura, the pigment that, when you wash your hands, colors the water with its golden green tint. Busted!

I know. This PNW summer’s a little lame in the tomato department, but hang in there, they’re coming. I have many on the vine, some actually ripening. And there’s always Billy’s reliable eastern Washington crop at weekend Farmer’s Markets.

Dried and zip locked into the freezer for another season, preserved Sungolds, or any cherry or pear tomato, are pure glory mid-winter. Not literally sun dried. Who does that? The Greeks and Italians in their Mediterranean climate? We use our own taciturn, but efficient dryer and rehydrate later with olive oil, garlic and salt. Scrumptious. At least as good as straight off the vine mid-summer. I know that’s saying a lot and it might actually be true. Guests come for dinner mid-winter and dig into these like there’s no tomorrow and, truthfully, at that point summer does seem impossible.

drying sungold tomatoes

fruit and vegetable dryer

Drying Cherry Tomatoes

Directions: I use a dryer, nothing fancy at all. Cut each Sungold or cherry tomato in half and place cut-side up on racks. Depending on the dryer, it can take from 12 – 18 hours to get them right. Careful not to dry them too long or they become crisp and difficult to chew. (In which case you can always use them in soup or rehydrate in boiling water for 30 seconds and then drain.) We try to remove tomatoes from the dryer when they’re just leathery and still pliable, which means checking them from time to time after the first few hours.

Store in zip lock bags in any amount you like and freeze – 1/2 cup portions work well.

Some time, in say November, open a bag, put them in a bowl and cover with olive oil. Add a smashed clove of garlic, a pinch of salt, maybe dried oregano. Let it sit for a few and then . . . a couple of tomatoes and plenty of olive oil on a piece of crusty bread or crostini . . . gild the lily with a dab of goat cheese, with roasted garlic, hummus . . . what would happen if you put the dried tomatoes, garlic and olive oil into a blender with some balsamic and made dried sungold tomato salad dressing?  Good or gawdy? I’m going to go with sounds good.

sun dried tomatoes in olive oil

dried tomatoes in olive oil

Don’t have a dryer? Oven-dried, though I’ve never done it, is supposedly easy. Same deal, cut them up, lay cherry tomatoes out in one layer with Silpat (a silicone mat) or parchment underneath. Turn oven on as low as it will go, 150º – 200º. Ten or twelve hours later tomatoes should be about right. Keep an eye on them and when they’re leathery, not juicy, but still pliable they’re done.

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Put Some Fire in Your Belly: Kimchi http://mixedgreensblog.com/2010/01/12/seasons-eatings/basic-recipes-on-the-local-table/put-some-fire-in-your-belly-kimchi/ http://mixedgreensblog.com/2010/01/12/seasons-eatings/basic-recipes-on-the-local-table/put-some-fire-in-your-belly-kimchi/#comments Tue, 12 Jan 2010 21:03:13 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/2010/01/12/uncategorized/put-some-fire-in-your-belly-kimchi/ Bowl of Kimchi

Making your own kimchi isn’t as hard as it sounds and you may find it’s just what’s needed as an antidote to the winter doldrums. I figure just about everybody could use a spicy little kick-in-the-pants right about now. Kimchi will spice up any meal and at the same time gives your digestion and immunity a boost thanks to all the beneficial bacteria it contains — lactobacillus kimchii, and no, I didn’t make that up.

We have an inside joke in our family about losing your spark. It’s easily recognizable in others, especially when you know them well. Sometimes your spark just goes out for no apparent reason — you know what I mean — when everything seems kinda blah. Trying something new, even a new food, often reignites my spark — maybe it will for you too.

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Kimchi falls into the same category of fermented vegetables as sauerkraut. The most common type of kimchi in the western world is made of cabbage and daikon radishes but in Korea it’s concocted from all kinds of foods from winter squash to soybean sprouts depending on the region and the season. Cabbage is plentiful at our farmers markets so this is as good a time as any to whip up a batch. Chopping and mixing are quick, then you’ll have to wait a few days for the fermentation to do it’s magic. The only special equipment you’ll need is a large glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.

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Quick and Easy Kimchi

1 or 2 large heads of cabbage (napa is traditional but any kind will do)

1 medium daikon radish, peeled

1/4 cup coarse sea salt (this was very salty, the next time I’ll cut back to a couple of tablespoons)

1 cup water

4 green onions or baby leeks, cut into 2″ lengths

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 T minced or grated ginger

2 T Korean chile powder

1 T Asian fish sauce

Cut cabbage crosswise into 2″ lengths. Cut daikon lengthwise into quarters, then into pieces about 1/2″ thick.

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Dissolve salt in 1 cup water. Put cabbage and daikon in a large bowl and pour the salt water over them. Let sit in a dark, cool (not as cold as the fridge) spot overnight.

The next day drain vegetables and reserve the liquid to use later. Return cabbage and daikon to the large bowl. Add green onions, garlic, chile powder and fish sauce and mix well. Pack tightly into a clean jar and tamp down with wooden spoon. Pour the reserved salt water over the vegetables to cover, leaving an inch or so at the top of your jar. Wipe the jar opening well with a clean cloth and then close tightly.

Let the jar sit in a cool, dark place for 2 to 3 days, depending on the weather and how ripe you like it. Refrigerate after opening. It will keep for a couple of weeks.

When you first open the jar it may make some noise and smell stinky, but in a good way. Those are signs that fermentation has occurred which is what you want. At first it tastes lovely and crunchy all by itself as a side dish. It will continue to ferment in the fridge. As it ripens, you may want to use it in fried rice or in kimchi pancakes. I saw this recipe for kimchi pancakes this morning in the NY Times. I want to give it a try.

I highly recommend the cookbook, Quick and Easy Korean Cooking by Cecila Hae-Jin Lee that sparked my interest in kimchi and gave me the basis for this recipe.

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If you’re looking for some food for your soul instead of your belly, Sally and I have a collection of our photographs displayed downtown at the Sightline Institute. They’re a not-for-profit research and communication center — a think tank — based in Seattle. Their mission is to bring about sustainability, a healthy, lasting prosperity grounded in place. Their focus is Cascadia, or the Pacific Northwest. Sightline is located on the fifth floor of the Vance Building directly across the street from Benaroya Hall. Poke your head in during business hours, take a look at our photos and check out all the cool maps and graphics they have available, including a map of walkable King County. They’re doing some very important work and we’re excited to have our photographs there.

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Roast It! Apples, cranberries, tomatoes . . . http://mixedgreensblog.com/2009/11/05/seasons-eatings/basic-recipes-on-the-local-table/roast-it/ http://mixedgreensblog.com/2009/11/05/seasons-eatings/basic-recipes-on-the-local-table/roast-it/#comments Thu, 05 Nov 2009 01:49:53 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/?p=6074 Apples, cauliflower, tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplant, cranberries . . . you name it, you can probably roast it. Starting with this applesauce.

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My roasting memories involve a chunk of meat on Sundays with a pile of vegetables that were conveniently roasted along side. The word roast was synonymous with the meat so I grew up assuming that you must have to have a piece of meat to legitimize the roasting. Not so much. Roasting has come into its own as a process that adds dimension and a culinary exclamation point to any fruit or vegetable. And that would be FLAVOR.

On a roasting bandwagon, I consulted the internet to find out something about the science and was immediately delivered to Wikipedia and introduced to the Maillard Reaction. A lot of scientific jargon in the first couple of paragraphs, but the bottom line is flavorization (my language).

“The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, usually requiring heat.”

“In the process, hundreds of different flavor compounds are created. These compounds in turn break down to form yet more new flavor compounds, and so on. Each type of food has a very distinctive set of flavor compounds that are formed during the Maillard reaction. It is these same compounds that flavor scientists have used over the years to create artificial flavors.”

A devotee of almost anything roasted as the easiest and most delicious mode of preparing vegetables and fruits, especially when it’s cool outside, I hadn’t thought about applesauce until now. You literally pile the ingredients into a big pot, put the lid on and leave it alone. Take it out, stir and you have applesauce that, for me, surpasses anything I’ve had before. The same sort of epiphany I had with tomato sauce this summer – just roast ’em dammit, and the sauce will reveal itself.

Roasted Applesauce Recipe

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Ten, fifteen minutes of prep.

Ingredients Place together in a large roaster: 6 or 8 peeled and quartered apples (I used Braeburns & Granny Smiths)/ 1/3 – 1/2 C brown sugar/ 1/2 – 1 t cinnamon/ 1/2 C apple, orange juice or water (I used apple juice)/ Sprinkle with a big pinch of salt/ If you’ve used a red apple, place a couple of long strips of peel onto the top, easily removed later and it adds color to the sauce. roasted-applesauce-2

Directions: Lid on, place in a 350º oven for 45 minutes; stir apple mixture and return to oven for another 30/35 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir together thoroughly, including scraping the darkened caramelization from around the edge of the pan. This applesauce is thick, which is part of its appeal. Eight apples yields about 4 cups of sauce.

This has the potential to burn after about 75 minutes. Keep an eye on the pot. Set a timer, don’t lose track.

While apples are roasting, make a mustardy/garlicky rub for a pork loin. This herb topping is a guideline for any ingredients you’d like to emphasize. Mix it up and spread it over the top of the pork. For a  2# roast: 3 finely chopped cloves of garlic, 1 1/2 t finely chopped fresh rosemary, 1 t salt, 1/2 t pepper,  1 T mustard, 1 t olive oil. Stir together and pat the mixture over the top of the pork. Make more or less of this rub as you like. You can’t mess it up. Cook at 400º for ten minutes, turn down to 325º and continue to roast to an internal temperature of 160º, which will take another 35/40 minutes, depending.

Easy dinner. Aromatic, herb encrusted slices of this roasted pork – cooked in the oven along with the apples, together with the deliciously flavored pan juices – precipitated a collective family swoon the other night. Second thought, maybe it was the World Series.

It’s possible these days to buy pork that’s sustainably raised, local or at least regional in origin. PCC carries Pure Country Pork from Euphrata, WA , for example. Sea Breeze Farm has pork available at some Seattle Farmers Markets, and Audrey from Eat Local Northwest tells me that Lopez Island Farm pork is excellent.

Roasted Spicy Cauliflower roasted-cauliflower-2-1

roasted-cauliflower-2-4 roasted-cauliflower-2-3 Preheat oven to 425º/ Slice the cauliflower into 3/4″ wide sections, or cut into florets/ Place cauliflower on a parchment-lined baking pan, drizzle with olive oil/ In a small dish mix 1/2 t turmeric, 1 t cumin, 1/2 t chili powder, 1/2 t paprika, 1/2 t salt, & pepper to taste/ Sprinkle this over the cauliflower/ Gently toss florets/ Roast uncovered for 20 – 25 minutes or until fairly tender. Remove from oven, add a sprinkle of sea salt and serve.

During roasting natural sugars are seduced and reawakened. Vegetables and fruits caramelize and darken, signaling that the science has happened and it’s gonna taste good. Roasting elicits something extraordinary in vegetables and fruit that we might as well take advantage of. It’s easy cooking. Pop it in the oven, set a timer and walk away. Brussels sprouts in the backyard, you’re next.

More roasting possibilities: Oven Fried Sweets (sweet potatoes) from Shelley at the Tom Douglas blog.

Previous MG roasting postings:

cranberries Roasted Cranberry Sauce,

Roasted Root Vegetables,

tomato-sauce Roasted Tomato Sauce

Gourmet magazine, November 2009, inspired the roasting of cauliflower, and Mangochild host of the Living in the Local Zone blog inspired its spicy rub. Ima Garten, Food Channel, opened my eyes to oven-roasted applesauce. Check out her oven-roasted vegetables.  Fellow cooks, thank you.

Turn on the oven and roast on.

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Peachy Mornings on the Horizon http://mixedgreensblog.com/2009/09/10/local-living/farmers-markets/peachy-mornings-on-the-horizon/ http://mixedgreensblog.com/2009/09/10/local-living/farmers-markets/peachy-mornings-on-the-horizon/#comments Thu, 10 Sep 2009 08:07:51 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/?p=5248

. . . thanks to Billy.

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In the pouring rain we dashed in and out of our farmers market the other morning with solid intention to buy only what we needed for dill pickle making – cukes, garlic and fresh dill. We accomplished that, plus some cauliflower, at Whistling Train Farm where Shelley had it all. So we had our hands full, literally: 20 pounds of cucumbers plus a few accessory products and an afternoon of pickle making before us.

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Things went awry, in the nicest way, when Bob ambled over to say hello to Billy, a Tonasket farmer and beloved Market vendor. Urban farmer Bob, and our garden, benefit from occasional chats with Billy, and Billy’s curious about how Seattle’s tomato-growers are faring each summer. He brings farming advice, along with tomatoes, peppers, basil and peaches, to Farmers Markets here every weekend. We Seattleites are his fans, lining up for tomatoes and peppers – his culinary autograph.

Hello and a bagful of sweet peppers lead to a box of peaches given by Billy, for my birthday he said. It just so happens that it’s barely past my birthday season – good call Billy. So, with 20 pounds of cukes plus a big box full of ripe peaches, plans changed. First the dills and then peach preserves.

He suggested canning this particular variety, and I must say he pulled my heartstrings there. My grandmother – I know that I mention her frequently, she was an awesome presence in my life – canned peaches every summer right about now and I often helped out. We ate them all winter long. Sometimes just a bowlful, sometimes with cottage cheese, sometimes in a little peachy tart which she would make in a minute. I swear. But truthfully, except for sentimental reasons, I’m just not that into canning peaches.

Peach jam, however, is another matter. peach-jam-2 I’m a coffee, toast & jam aficionado. It’s my morning fling, my kick-start, my moment of zen. Or just another bad habit. Haven’t made peach jam in a while (ever?), but I knew I wanted plain and simple, just the peaches and the inevitable sugar. Fresh or candied ginger or orange can be a delectable addition. Another time perhaps.

I was surprised that it wasn’t so easy to find a plain peach jam recipe, even in our trusty putting food by-type cookbooks. Nothing at all in Joy of Cooking. I resorted to what my mom and grandma used to do, which was to use the recipe inside the pectin package as a guide. Except that, but of course, I ignored their dire warnings about following the recipe exactly, crossed my fingers and forged ahead using a lot less sugar than suggested.

Two batches, two versions, both reviewed below. The batch using pectin thickened beautifully even with about half the sugar suggested; second batch without any pectin at all thickened, it’s acceptable, and a little runny. The trick to some success with each version, I think, was that I cooked it vigorously for fifteen minutes, allowing it to reduce and thicken naturally. This is definitely a traditional cooked jam.

Peach Jam, Version #1 (w/pectin)

9 C sliced peaches

6 C sugar (rather than 11 cups!)

6 T lemon juice

2 pkg. regular pectin

Stir ingredients together in a pot, turn the heat on high and bring to a rolling boil/ Adjust heat accordingly, stir often and maintain a steady boil for another 15 – 20 minutes/ Mixture will reduce and gradually thicken/ It can be tested on an icy cold dish (placed in freezer 30 minutes previously); drip some of the liquid on to the frosty dish and in a few moments the jam will cool to about its final consistency/ Smash peaches into smaller bits with a potato masher if desired/ Place boiling hot jam into sterilized jars, screw on sterilized seals and lids. Some sources say this enough. If jam mixture and jars are hot they will automatically seal and preserve.

Or, process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. (Consult a reliable source for more detail on these procedures.) Or, just put it in a jar, store it in the fridge and eat it up. It will be fine for about a month. Small batch jam is a great way to make a quick jar or two without much fuss – adjust ingredient amounts accordingly.

Honestly, if you’re at all hesitant about the whole jam making thing, consider making a small batch. It requires about half an hour, and will yield a few cups of fresh jam that can be stored in the fridge, slathered on toast or drizzled over ice cream. Worth it.

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Peach Jam, Version #2 (w/o pectin)

6 C sliced peaches

3 C sugar

3 T lemon juice

Proceed as above, minus the pectin, boiling mixture vigorously for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring often and then testing on a frosty dish. Final result is slightly runny, but we thought it fine.

A  3rd version, using low-sugar pectin and directions followed exactly, resulted in an overly gelatinous jam, in my opinion. Definitely the worst of the three batches. Never again. Or did I make a mistake somewhere in this process?

We’re freezing peaches too: peeled, sliced and laid out in a single layer on a parchment-lined cookie sheet until frozen, then placed into zip lock bags. freezing-peaches

Fruit smoothies in the wings, a piece of toast and jam, a cuppa java. Peachy.

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