Monday, February 25, 2013

goat cheese, pesto & roasted red pepper picnic sandwich


We've had some pretty wonderful days here in Texas of late. It feels like Spring.  Cool evenings, warm days, sunshine ... time to take advantage while we can, before the 100 degree temps and mosquitos put a stop to it.  It doesn't get much nicer than a picnic lunch consisting of a hearty sandwich, and fresh, bright red, sweet strawberries.


I make these sandwiches often when I need to quickly put together an easily-transportable picnic lunch. They aren't at all fussy, using a prepared pesto, and quality roasted peppers in a jar. I also like lots of baby spinach scattered on this version. In the summertime, when cucumbers are plentiful, they are quite tasty here too. It literally comes together in minutes.

goat cheese, pesto & roasted red pepper picnic sandwich
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1 loaf ciabatta bread
1 (11 oz) goat cheese, room temperature
prepared basil pesto
roasted red peppers (I use ready-to-go-from-a-jar)
a few thin slices red onion
a couple of generous handfuls of baby spinach
sliced cucumbers
sea salt and black pepper to taste
drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Slice the ciabatta, and spread the goat cheese evenly over the bottom half of the loaf. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic.  Spread a nice layer of pesto evenly on the top half.  Arrange red peppers on top of cheese, then add the red onions, and top with spinach (and sliced cucumbers if you so choose).  Put the whole thing together, squish it down a bit, and slice into 4-6 sections.  Wrap, and pack away in your picnic basket.  Add some fresh berries, and a fizzy drink, and you have yourself a most excellent picnic lunch, ready to enjoy with friends on a beautiful, picnic-weather-kind-of-day.



Friday, February 8, 2013

carrot citrus cumin spiced marmalade


My friend, April, recently gifted me a jar of  a seriously good three citrus marmalade she had made from a food in jars recipe. She also shared her recipe for orange tofu, which uses the marmalade as a base, and we've been madly-crazy making that with the broccoli that's been in our farmhouse bushels so much lately -- it's our "fake-out/take-out" go-to.  Anyway, it got me on a marmalade craze, and this carrot citrus cumin spiced marmalade was birthed of that.


Carrots, orange and cumin, love this combo, and so that's what happened in these jars.


See that huge meyer lemon in the upper left above? That was also kindly provided by a nice lady at a community garden meeting I went to last weekend.  Use a serrated vegetable peeler to take the zest from the fruit, without taking the white pith, which is bitter.  Once you've removed the zest strips from a meyer lemon and an orange, stack the strips and cut the zest into fine ribbons.


Remove the pith from the fruit and supreme both citrus over a bowl, saving juice, reserving the seeds, and squeezing the membranes over the bowl to get all the juice. The seeds have the highest concentration of pectin, and will go into this process by placing them in a cheesecloth sachet or scrap, or you can also use a stainless steel tea ball.




While you prepare the marmalade, you'll process your jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes to sterilize them.  Follow safe canning guidelines.


The finished product will cool for 12-24 hours before removing the rings to check the seals, and be stored.


Store your final products without the rings.


carrot citrus cumin spiced marmalade
(makes five to six 1/4 pint jars, or two to three 1/2 pint jars)
Ingredients:
1 large meyer lemon
1 orange, with seeds (I used a Texas native orange)
2 cups water
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Wash the lemon and orange in soapy water and dry.  Use a serrated vegetable peeler to take the zest in strips from the fruit, without taking the white pith, which is bitter.  Once you've removed the zest strips from a meyer lemon and an orange, stack the strips and cut the zest into fine ribbons. Remove the pith from the fruit and supreme both citrus over a bowl, saving juice, reserving the seeds, and squeezing the membranes over the bowl to get all the juice. Place the seeds in a cheesecloth sachet or scrap, or you can also use a stainless steel tea ball.

Place the jars in a large stockpot in a canning basket with enough water to cover them about an inch over the rims.  Turn the heat to high to bring to a boil while you prepare your marmalade.  You will want to boil the water for 10 minutes.  At the same time, place the lids and rings in a small pot on a burner and just barely simmer them as the marmalade cooks.

Place the lemon and orange zest, segments, juice and seeds in a large, heavy pot with the water, and boil for 10 minutes.  Add the carrots, sugar and cumin to the pot and continue to boil for about 20-25 minutes longer, stirring throughout the process.   It's ready when the marmalade reaches 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer.  Remove the seeds, squeezing them well over the pot.

Fill sterilized jars with marmalade, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Place the lids on and screw on the rings to just finger tight -- don't over-tighten.  Place the jars back into the water bath, bring up to a rolling boil and process for 5 minutes.  Remove to a clean towel and allow to cool completely.  You should hear the jar lids start to ping shortly after removing from the bath, as the seal takes hold.  After 12-24 hours, remove the rings, check your seals, and store without the rings.

I had it this morning on toasted seeduction bread.  OH. MY. GOOD. GRAVY.  That's the good stuff.





Monday, February 4, 2013

spicy pickled carrots



After devouring a bowl of the pickled carrots with tortilla chips at Berryhill one lazy weekend afternoon with my husband several months ago, I came home intent on making those slightly-spicy-still-crunchy-pickled-treats.


And, so, we did.  They're yummy chopped in tacos, eaten alone, or my favorite... the perfect bite on top of a crunchy tortilla chip.







Grab some tortilla chips, and a margarita or cerveza.  You'll have all the fixings for a happy, lazy weekend afternoon.  Which you oh-so-deserve.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

marinated greek slaw


When this giant head of Nappa Cabbage appeared in my bushel today, I remembered the yummy marinated slaw I had for lunch one day last week at Zoe's Kitchen in the Heights.  This is my take on that slaw.  Lots of the crisp, mild, shredded cabbage tossed with scallions, feta and a Greek vinaigrette.  Simple Saturday lunch, coming right up.


I made a simple Greek Vinaigrette. Put everything in a jar and gave it a good shake.


Combine the cabbage, feta and scallions in a salad bowl, and toss with the vinaigrette. 


marinated greek slaw
Ingredients:
6 cups shredded Nappa Cabbage
1 bunch green scallions, chopped
1 cup crumbled feta
Greek Vinaigrette

Combine the cabbage, scallion and feta in a large salad bowl.  Toss with vinaigrette.  Eat it up!