25 August 2011

Dilly Green Beans with Wasabi

Green beans are a favorite vegetable of mine.  I love them prepared any which way, except in cream of mushroom soup. Not my thing. 

My Haricot Verts, planted back in May are still producing their little hearts out!  I picked a fairly great harvest this week and decided to can up some Dilly Beans, but with the twist of adding Wasabi powder to my brine.  This recipe goes together rather quickly and I love the fact it only makes 4 pints...I did 2 batches! 

I used crushed garlic versus minced or sliced and wasn't as happy with the cloudiness of the brine, but since I'm not gifting any of these babies, it doesn't matter to me!
I'm hoping for a great kick from the Wasabi Powder!  I did 2 batches, 4 jars with dill and left the dill out on the other 4 jars and did wasabi powder, about a teaspoon per jar.

It was a great week to set up the hot water bath canner on my outdoor grill burner.  I love not making a mess in my kitchen!  In fact, I made these after work, so you know how quickly they are to construct!

2 pounds fresh green beans, rinsed and trimmed
4 cloves garlic, peeled
8 sprigs fresh dill weed
4 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 1/2 cups water

Cut green beans to fit inside pint canning jars. 
Place green beans in a steamer over 1 inch of boiling water, and cover. Cook until tender but still firm, for 3 minutes. Plunge beans into ice water. Drain well.
Pack the beans into four hot, sterilized pint jars. Place 1 clove garlic and 2 sprigs dill weed in each jar, against the glass. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to each jar.
In a large saucepan over high heat, bring vinegar and water to a boil. Pour over beans.
Fit the jars with lids and rings and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

I like to let mine rest about 2 weeks before opening!  I love them in Bloody Marys, or chopped into potato salad.

We are savoring the remains of the summer.... 

15 August 2011

The Ladies Love John!

For some reason, this photograph did not get uploaded with the rest of the Lutz Farm pictures!  As you can see, ALL the ladies love a cheesemaker!

14 August 2011

Lutz Centennial Farm Celebration

John and I spent a lovely afternoon with our neighbors celebrating the Lutz Farm attaining their Centennial Farm status. 

Only about 3 miles from our home, Lutz's apples are the absolute best around!  A great combination of heirloom and newer varieties of apples, their orchards and apples are fascinating and fabulous.  They also have some quince trees that I am seriously considering renting for the next 5 years! 

We always enjoy a chat and bottle of honey, apples galore and whatever else Ruth or Bill have been growing!  The Lutz's have an interesting heritage in the Tecumseh and Saline areas and we were honored to be a part of this special occasion!  If you are interested in visiting them you can find them here:
Macon Rd, near Saline

Just a few of the varieties of apples Lutz Orchard grows!
The first harvest of Paula Reds, gorgeous!
The pigs were friendly.

Fresh donuts complements of Colemans Corn Maze!  So delicious!

You can add me to the list of supporting members!
Lutz heritage and photos!

11 August 2011

Les Fruits du Vieux Garcon-Old Bachelors Macerated Fruits

I have been hosting a preserving class once a month since April and WOW, has it ever been fun!  Women (and men) from all walks of life, interested in preserving the best fruit and produce Michigan has to offer, by freezing, canning and preserving in BOOZE! 

One of our favorite projects is the fresh fruit macerated in vodka!  Since this recipe takes some time, the anticipation is building and we may need some designated drivers by November's class!

I originally noted these recipes in many French country cookbooks and recipes, as well as seeing them jarred and sold to me at The Boulevard Market.  My thought was: Oh yes.....I need a big jar of that.

There is no recipe per se, it's all about what is in season, fruit wise, a large jar and plenty of booze.
 Here is what you need:

1 Gallon Jar with lid
6 different fruits about 8 ounces each, washed, stems discarded, halve the larger fruits (peaches) and discard pits from stone fruits
Large bottle of Vodka or Cognac
3+ cups of sugar

Sterilize jar and layer in your first fruit, I used cherries.  Cover with about 1/2 cup of sugar and pour in enough vodka to completely cover the fruit.  Cover with top loosely and store in a cool dark place.  Continue adding fruits as they come into season, covering each addition with sugar then vodka.  Let rest for at least 3 months in a cool dark place.

These fruits are incredible mixed into cakes and baked goods, served with ice cream or custard.  The actual vodka is lovely as a dessert cordial, reduced to syrup for pancakes or made into a spritzer with club soda.  The options are endless and delicious!

09 August 2011

My new friend Dukkah

One of the best things about owning a food store is talking to people about their food experiences and passions.  Several months ago, I had the pleasure of a young woman visiting from Australia, Annalise, (so sorry if I've misspelled!) and she talked to me about dukkah.  Annalise has done some traveling around the world and if she starts gushing about a particular food, I take note!  I put the dukkah on my list of things to try and promptly forgot about it, until another friend brought up the Annalise visit and dukkah.  Annalise's folks invited us for an authentic Australian supper last evening, so I thought it high time to try the dukkah recipe out and bring to share.

Dukkah is an Egyptian spice blend traditionally eaten with pita bread and olive oil.  Most references of dukkah are as a street food, warm pita or bread dipped in olive oil and a paper cone of spices for dredging or sprinkling.

I love that there are no hard and fast rules regarding your dukkah recipe, so you can feel free to use what you have on hand adding more of spices you particularly love!  I combined both seeds and a couple of the spices ground since I didn't want to make a trip to the grocery!  I think it turned out great!  So, feel free to experiment!

1/2 cup nuts; pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts
1/4 cup coriander seeds (I used ground coriander)
3 Tablespoons sesame seeds
2 Tablespoons cumin seeds (I used ground)
1 1/2  Tablespoon black peppercorns 
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Other delightful spice additions might be dried mint (I am SO trying that next time!), fennel seeds, cinnamon....

Put all spices together into a large saute pan over low heat.  Stir or shake often until nuts and seeds are toasted.  Let cool a few minutes and put into a food processor or use a mortar and pestle.  Grind until mixture is evenly chopped.  Take care to not grind too much or mixture will turn to paste.

Serve with chunks of warm bread and a separate bowl of extra virgin olive oil.  
Dredge bread into oil and then into dukkah, pop into mouth and sigh with pleasure.

Since I have a bit of the dukkah left over, I am going to sprinkle on a pork tenderloin before grilling, I am thinking it will be great!    


06 August 2011

Gorgonzola and new potatoes

There are not many foods that Italian Gorgonzola doesn't complement!  From fruits to steaks and every kind of vegetable, Gorgonzola is my staple blue cheese.

I ran to the farm last night to see what was available for supper and much to my surprise were crates full of beautiful red skin potatoes! 

Still a bit gritty and rosy red, I picked the smallest of them and headed home! 

A quick wash and quartering and 15 minutes of boiling gave me enough time to get some steaks going and make the decision to add Gorgonzola!  After draining the potatoes, I added about 3 tablespoons of butter, the same amount of Dolce Latta Gorgonzola and a teaspoon or so of fresh rosemary.  A quick stir and it was on the table! 

The blue cheese complemented the beef well and the potatoes were creamy and comforting, all in 20 minutes or less! 

02 August 2011

Paint brush in hand & Zucchini Gratin in Oven!

Our Michigan summer has been beautiful and crazy hot this year!  After spending much of the winter potty training Pierre, I am not complaining!  It has given me time to take a good look at a few area of the house while enjoying air conditioning, however, that could use a bit of attention! 

My living room is looking like Army barracks with all the olive green going on!  I'm not sure what exactly happened, I just kept accumulating green stuff!  So, my first order of business was to give it a boost of color.

Otto got attention today while Pierre was napping!
I took a small white bookcase that was stuffed with *duh* books and got to work!  I went with a Valspar paint called "Copper Glow" in a satin finish.  It works well with the olive tones I currently have everywhere, and I tend to prefer warm colors to cool colors. 
I think you'll agree it turned out great!  I will be stopping at an import store this week to pick out some cool knobs for the drawers.  Maybe copper metal with a verdigris finish?   

I also picked up a new lamp with a fun base and neutral shade and a huge purple jar.  I'm not sure the jar is right for me....but I have other places in the house it could work.
Will commit and remove plastic shade cover :)

I FINALLY finished up the bookcase makeover from months ago.  I twas tough going through those bottom 2 shelves full of magazines!  I organized by color, which seems to be so popular these days, and kept other decor items to a minimum on the shelves.

Whoops-will take and post photo soon!

While I was busy with all that, Pierre was busy with this:

Of course that 4am potty run really took it's toll on the little dog!

As we are inundated with zucchini, so I threw this Zucchini Gratin together while decorating and cleaning.  I demonstrated this at the last cooking class and we've all agreed it's fantastic and fairly quick!  I am giving the amounts for a whole batch, yet I consistently make only a half batch and it feeds 3 comfortably.


6 Tablespoons butter
1 pound onions, sliced thin
2 pounds zucchini, about 4, sliced ¼ inch thick, yellow and green look great together!
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup hot milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
¾ cup bread crumbs
¾ cup grated Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large sauté pan, melt butter and sauté onions until very soft, but not brown over low heat. 
Add zucchini and cook covered about 10 minutes until tender.  Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and cook uncovered about 5 more minutes.  Stir in the flour and hot milk and cook over low heat until a sauce forms.
Pour into 8X10 baking dish.

Combine bread crumbs and Gruyere and sprinkle on top of zucchini mixture.  Bake about 20 minutes until bubbly and brown.

Be prepared to fall in love with zucchini again!