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Showing posts from April, 2010

Strawberry Black Pepper Preserves

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Strawberry & pepper, a flavor paradox

Strawberries have an ugly side. You'll recognize the one when you flip open a box to inspect a gray furry berry nestled among the bursting red ones. The clock is ticking on that box of berries. Use or lose the rest. Preserving you strawberries is an excellent option for stopping the clock on Spring's freshest strawberries. A little jar of strawberry pepper jam is a sweet, savory, creeping towards spicy way to add a dab of strawberries on cracker, toast, muffins, peanut or almond butter, cheeses or top pork, chicken for a few extra months.

Strawberry Black Pepper Preserves

1 qt strawberries, hulled and quartered
3 tblsp balsamic vinegar
1 pinch of salt
1 tsp fresh black pepper, finely ground
1 cup brown sugar

Place strawberries, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. After 5 minutes break up berries with a potato masher or fork.

More than enough

Simmer for 20-30 minutes until…

Strawberry Fever

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Solid Strawberry

April is raining strawberries. Florida had some bad luck earlier in the year, delaying the normal strawberry season. Now it's annual harvest is overlapping with California's and a rash of fresh bright red berries is reddening up the aisles of grocers across America. I'm toiling all this week to find a cure strawberry fever. First up, cool strawberry ice cubes. Drop one or two into a glass of lemonade and watch it melt into strawberry heaven. The cubes can be stored in freezer bags for 1-2 months, so you can keep that strawberry feeling strong.

Strawberry Ice Cubes

1 qt strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/4 sugar
1 tblsp orange juice

Set aside 2 big berries. Toss all the ingredients in a bowl and let sit for one hour. The sugar and juice will macerate the berries, making them softer and easier to puree.

Sweetness

Add berries with juices to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. Slice up the remaining 2 berries. Garnishes bottom and sides of an empty, cl…

Pickled Lemons are Your New Best Friend

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Influence of salt and lemon as one

My kitchen has an calendar of its own. 2 seasons, oven off (hot outside) and oven on (cold outside). We are entering the oven off season as the fresh greens and veggies poke out of the ground and find their way to my kitchen. I won't be cooking them, but I would love to layer them with homemade condiments, pickles, marinade, dressings, and other goods. Pickled lemons are the new phenomenon around here, and I've been salivating over them since I spotted them on Tigress in a Pickle's blog. Salty, lemony, punchy, bright, and spicy acid flavors with an exclamation point. You can use them anywhere you would use salt, or every darn place.

Hot Pickled Lemons

1 lb lemons, seeded, quartered and cut into 1/8ths, organic are best
pinch saffron
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
3/4 tablespoon sugar
4 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
2-3 extra lemons

Coat lemons with all the ingredients in a bowl. Add to a clean 1 quart jar with a lid. Squeeze down the lemon with a very clea…

Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Mini Cupcakes

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3 cheers for banana, peanut butter, and chocolate in one tiny cup cake

Bananas and chocolate are two powerhouse flavors made shrunk into one cute little guy iced with a harmony of peanut butter and sugar. Dessert with the frosting, and fine muffin without. Top with candied bacon for an Elvis style mini cupcake. Inspired by my pal Nicole's terrific baking!

Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Mini Cupcakes

Cupcakes
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 very ripe large bananas
1/2 cup yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 bag of mini chocolate chips

Frosting
1 cup creamy peanut butter (do not use old-fashioned or freshly ground)
2 tblsp salted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To bake cup cakes preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 24 mini muffins cups with butter. Whisk the first 4 ingredie…

Coarse & Fine Ginger All the Time

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Fragrant

Ginger so much to offer and asks for so little. Peel, slice, chop or scratch your way down to ginger's aromatic flesh. Ginger has been used to treat nausea, motion sickness, and indigestion around the globe. Mixed reviews claim that ginger can treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and may prevent heart disease. The knobby tuber of the Zingiber plant pairs up with spicy flavors (garlic, chilies, coriander, cumin, basil) savory (pork, chicken, seafood, legumes, onion, vegetables, basically everything) and sweet (cookies & cake, pear, pineapple, plums, and other fruits). It also deserves its own spot light as the major flavor.

Ginger can be bought ground as a powder, in sweet crystallized cubes, or fresh. In America ginger is commonly found in its mature form with a tough skin, but dig around Asian specialty stores and you may find young ginger with edible skin. When buying ginger look for firm smooth skin, not wrinkly or dried. Avoid pieces with mold.

Ginger root…

Moist Mocha Brownies

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This is the brownie recipe you want to write in stone
I have 2 categories for determining whether a recipe is worth baking. 1) Its easy and contains ingredients I usually stock in my cupboard. I will bake this to please myself or in a pinch for guests. 2) Recipes with a few extra steps and ingredients that make the dish a singing show stopper. Category 2 are what reputations are made out of. After hundreds of brownie recipes I've baked this one may be my favorite crowd pleaser category 2 recipe. Rich, flavorful, decadent, the right amount of fudgey, and soft not dense.

Moist Mocha Brownies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 bag good quality chocolate chips, divided (24 oz / 680 grams)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tsp instant espresso powder or instant coffee
2 tblsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs
1 scant cup flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease the bottom and corners of 10 x 13 inch baking pan with butter. Lay a piece of with foil lengthwise…

Loving Lamb One Burger at at Time

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Burger upgraded to fresh ground lamb

Hey hamburger move over, make some space for the lambburger. Lamb seems to be the trend food of the season, bumping pork belly and short ribs off menus nation-wide. Racks, legs, chops are all full on ways to savor lamb's assertive meat flavors. Not mouthwatering options for the non-lamb loving crowds. Enter the approachablelambburger. So juicy and flavorful it deserves its own minty condiment.

Lambburgers with Cucumber Mint Sauce

8 oz greek style thick yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 tblsp chopped fresh mint
1 tblsp cucumber, diced fine

1 lb ground lamb *see note below
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp chopped fresh mint or parsley
salt
3 english muffins, split
3 slices tomato and sprouts or lettuce to garnish

Mix the first ingredients in a small bowl to make the cucumber mint sauce. Chill. Can be made 2 days in advance.

Lightly fold worcestershire sauce, pepper, and mint into the ground lamb until even…

What we are eating right now

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This week New York Time's writes about the gaggles of foodies picking up their cameras before picking up their forks to share online. The article holds true! Keeping Cantaloupe Alone has thrown a kink in the way interact with food. I eat around what I plan to eat for the week balanced by what I think people will find interesting or (to quote Brian of NYDP's) blog-worthy. I know people don't want to pictures all of the baby carrots, oatmeal, trident bubble gum, bananas, apples, veggie burgers, and lentils I constantly eat.

I submitted some of my blog photos. Heck yeah, the NYT posted them with a wall of other food. Enjoy grazing, and thanks as always for keeping this cantaloupe company!

Official Salad of Spring: Pea Shoots

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Easy peasy salad

Spring is in sprouting everywhere. My windows are open and the oven is off. I'm calling pea shoots with buttermilk mint dressing the first real salad of the season. Pea shoots are the succulent leaves and stems of pea plants and also some of the first green produce to hit the farmer's markets. The succulent leaves and tendrils are not unlike alfalfa sprouts, but with more crunch and a touch sweeter.

Pea Shoots with Buttermilk Mint Dressing

6 oz buttermilk
1 tblsp olive oil
2 tsp, about 1/2 lemon, fresh squeezed lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1 pinch red pepper
1 pinch sugar
1 heaping tblsp chopped fresh mint
4 handfuls of pea shoots, or one handful for each person

Place the first 7 ingredients in a jar and shake until mixed. Place pea shoots into serving bowl and lightly dress and mix the greens. Isn't it nice to make something simple and green after a long winter? Use the extra buttermilk dressing on other vegetables, or try a splash on rice dishes.

tangy and minty

Coffee Break: City Census 2010

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Today is census day, and that's not an April Fool's joke. Take a break, make a cup of joe, and fill out your census form. Most importantly mail it back— note the free postage. Sending in your census form is like voting for your neighborhood. Be loyal to it and more city services may come to your hood. AND the census bureau is looking to employ part time employees to complete the counting process. You can help and make bucks. This message brought to you in part by social ink.