March 28, 2011

Easy-Peasy Pickles

4 lb pickling cucumbers, quartered length-wise
3 cups water
2 3/4 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup pickling salt
1/4 cup minced dill
3 teaspoons black peppercorns
3 teaspoons dill seeds
3 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
4 large cloves garlic, minced

Bring the water, vinegar and salt to a boil. Prep the lids/jars. Evenly divide all of the spices, and garlic between 6 pint jars. Add the cucumber spears and dill.

Pour in the vinegar mixture. Close the jars and process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath. Allow to sit 2 weeks before eating.

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.

My thoughts:

These are a great, non-fermented family-friendly, no too dilly dill pickle. I think they would make a great first canning project for someone new to canning, they are quick to make and there is a little chance of messing up.

March 25, 2011

Site Updates

As some of you have noticed, I've done some updates to the blog this week. I've streamlined the design a bit. I have added some pages: a new FAQ page, and pages about me, press and cookbook information. I've also added a  section showcasing the most popular recipes of all time on the blog.

The address of this blog is now Old links will redirect automatically to the new address so there should be no broken links due to this move. The blog feed has stayed the same.

Let me know if you encounter any issues with the redesign. I'll return to my regular posting next week.

March 23, 2011

Artichoke Basil Dip

1 lb labne (Kefir cheese)
14 oz canned artichoke hearts in brine, drained and chopped
3/4 (loose) cup of fresh basil leaves
1 shallot
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons nonpareil capers
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
zest of one lemon
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Place the basil, shallot, zest, Worcestershire sauce and spices in a food processor or blender. Pulse until smooth. Scrape into a medium sized bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

My thoughts:
Today is National Chip & Dip Day! I don't always celebrate these sorts of "holidays" but I happened to have some labne and some sturdy blue potato Terra Chips and thought I'd go for it. Of course thanks to Mad Men I can't even say the words "chip and dip" without Pete Campbell's words ringing in my ears "You have your fingers in your ears? It's a Chip 'n' Dip. You have your friends over. You put chips on the sides and dip in the middle." If only I had a kitschy dish like the one he returned.

Anyway! I love using labne in dips. It is so thick and creamy, you'd swear it was cream cheese but it is yogurt so you can feel some what virtuous. A lighter, brighter twist on the old artichoke dip standbys.

March 21, 2011

Rice Cooker Caribbean-style Chicken Rice Pilau

1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
15 oz canned fire roasted diced tomatoes
8 oz canned pigeon peas, drained
1 cup light coconut milk
1 cup chicken stock
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, diced
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Caribbean-style curry powder*
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper

about 1 1/3 cup jasmine rice (2 "slow cooker" cups)

1 to 24 hours before cooking, marinate the chicken with the spices, onion, garlic and peppers in a marinading container or resealable plastic bag. Then, heat the oil in a large pot. Saute the entire contents of the bag or container until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Add the canned ingredients. Stir. Simmer for 35 minutes. Place the raw rice into the rice cooker. Strain all of the liquid out of the chicken mixture into a bowl. Pour into the rice cook. Add water or stock to reach the correct liquid level in the rice cooker. Top with the chicken mixture. Close the lid set to automatically cook (the "mixed rice" setting if possible). When the rice cooker is ready, stir the contents before serving.

Yield: about 4 servings

*Available at well-stocked grocery stores and spice shops. It is a mixture of ground coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, clove, bay leaf, fennel seed, ginger, cayenne, allspice and cardamom. There are also many recipes online to make your own.
My thoughts:
My husband has been using the rice cooker to make meals to take to work for years now. Since our trip to the Caribbean he has been making this particular dish nearly every week! He divides it up into separate containers and has it for lunch for several days. Now that he has perfected it, he suggested I share it with all of you. It is pretty quick and very easy to make. The rice cooker cooks the rice to perfection in the flavorful broth, making it a true pilau (pilaf). The gentle cooking of the rice means that the meat and vegetables do not become overcooked, just meltingly tender with their flavors well melded together.

Quick note: we made this in my wonderful Zojirushi Umami Micom Rice Cooker so I can really can only 100% vouch for the success of this recipe in this particular rice cooker. That said, I cannot imagine that it wouldn't work in another 5 1/2 cup rice cooker.

March 18, 2011

Chicken Salad with Pickled Beets and Vidalia Onions

1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 bunch Vidalia onion (with greens) chopped*
1/2 cup diced pickled beets
1/4 cup mayonaise
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed

Poach the chicken breasts. Allow them to cool until easily handled and diced the meat. Add to a large bowl. Add the onions, their greens and the beets. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, vinegar, spices and mustard seed. Drizzle over the chicken mixture and stir to combine.

*I have seen these labeled as Vidalia Salad Onions. They look like large, more bulbous spring onions.

My thoughts:
It is actually pretty warm and sunny right now. I don't want to jinx it but I am hoping we are moving towards the "out like a lamb" portion of March. I am ready for it! Not much local produce is about but I have been coming across some "spring-y" greenhouse vegetables like these Vidalia Onions. They are less pungent than a regular onion, which made them perfect for pairing with the pickled beets. Now, the beets do make the chicken salad slightly pink looking but I swear, the whole thing doesn't taste like a big pickle. Instead, it just adds an sweet-sour accent, much in the same way a bread and butter pickle would. Just the lunchtime treat to celebrate the lovely weather.

March 16, 2011

Corny Jalapeno Shallot Cornbread

1 1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/3 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/3 cup melted butter, cooled slightly
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, at room temperature
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 shallot, chopped

Preheat oven to 400. Grease or spray one 8x8 baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and sugar. Beat in the egg, buttermilk and butter until well combined. Fold in peppers and corn. Pour into pan and bake 25 minutes or until golden brown and a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

My thoughts:
Every time I make cornbread, I wonder why I don't more often. It is indeed, a quick bread, even with the peppers and shallot I cut up the whole thing only took a few minutes to go from raw ingredients to baking in the oven. I'm not a huge bread/roll at dinner person but some times a meal just needs cornbread! This particular one went wonderfully with the turnip greens I made but I think I will make it again the next time I get the urge to make chili.

March 14, 2011

Turnip Greens with Cottage Ham

1 lb turnip greens (young, smaller leaves if possible), thick ribs removed
6 cups chicken, ham or turkey stock
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 onions, diced
2 bay leaves
2 cups boneless cottage ham, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
2 tablespoons canola oil
leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


In an 8 quart pot, heat the oil. Saute the onions, ham chunks, garlic, peppers, thyme and bay leaves until the onions are just softening and the ham is starting to brown, about 10-15 minutes. Add the greens. Add the stock, salt, and pepper. Stir. Bring to a boil. Stir so all of the greens are coated in broth and starting to wilt. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes or until the greens are very tender. Discard the bay leaves.

My thoughts:
After seeing both turnip greens and cottage ham (smoked pork butt) for sale at my local farm store I knew I had to make something using the two together. Normally we make this sort of thing with mustard greens or maybe collards. I actually like turnip greens a lot. They are a bit peppery, but not especially bitter. They are also a major source of calcium and various vitamins, if that is of interest. Farm stores, farmers markets and well-stocked grocery stores should sell them, and cheaply.

The shortish cooking time (especially when compared with some traditional Southern-style greens recipes) helps keep the green bright and the texture intact. Really, a light, brothy, satisfying dish with minimal effort. Serve with crusty bread or cornbread to sop up the leftover juices.

March 13, 2011

Meyer Lemon-Tangerine Ginger Jelly

3 cups freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
1 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice
4 cups sugar
1 packet dry pectin
2 inch knob ginger, thickly sliced

Whisk the juice through a sieve to get rid of any pulp. If it goes below 4 cups, add more juice or water (gasp!)to compensate. I really didn't lose any juice during this step but better safe than sorry. Add the juices, ginger and sugar to a heavy bottom pot. Bring to a temperature of 220. Fish out the ginger. Add the pectin and stir. Cook for 5 additional minutes. Pour into prepared jars. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Yield: about 4 8-oz jars

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.

My thoughts:
Jelly! The last of the fruit frontier. Jelly can be very sweet so I thought the spicy addition of fresh ginger would be a welcome one. Citrus jelly is (I think) the easiest to make, it is easy to ream out even slightly dodgy fruit and discard the leftover pulp and peel while other fruits need to be steamed or sieved/jelly-bagged to achieve enough juice for jelly. I had some Meyer lemons and tangerines hanging around way too long and knew I wouldn't get through them before they spoiled. So I turned them into a small batch of jelly. I think it will be great on bread and toast of course, but also as a glaze on vegetables or meats. Or even part of a salad dressing!

March 11, 2011

Cajun Cornish Game Hens

2 Cornish Game Hens (about 2 lb each)
2 shallots
2 bay leaves
4 springs of fresh thyme

dry rub:
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon hot paprika
1/2 tablespoon ground cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons minced dried onion
1 1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon parsley

olive or canola oil

Preheat the oven to 325. Pat dry the hens. Stuff each with 1 shallot, a bay leaf and half of the thyme. Drizzle with oil. In a small bowl, whisk together the spices. Rub the spices thoroughly into the skin of the hens.

Roast for about 45 minutes or until fully cooked.

My thoughts:
I went to our local farm store the other day and spied these plump little hens and couldn't resist. Cornish Game Hens are fun to serve because they are pretty much single proportioned (unless you get a freakishly large one) and a little different than the usual chicken. To keep them juicy, I always heavily coat them with some sort of spice coating. It seals in the juices which is important because CGH can easily over cook. Spice rubs also permeate their thin skins really well and since the amount of meat is rather small, it makes every bite flavorful. This time I mixed up some homemade Cajun spice rub and it was great! Spicy yet fresh and the hens themselves were so juicy, it looked like a river was flowing from the spot where I checked the internal temperature.

March 09, 2011

Fruity Pulled Chicken

2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup chili sauce (like Heinz)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
4 oz orange jam
3/4 cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 chipolte pepper in adobo
1 1/2 teaspoon mesquite liquid smoke
1 shallot, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
freshly ground pepper


Slow Cooker:
Add all ingredients to a 2 quart slow cooker slow cooker. Cook on low for 4-5 hrs

Non-Slow Cooker:
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a dutch oven, reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hr.

When done, meat should shred easily. Remove from the pot. Shred. Mash the contents remaining in the pan if desired. Return the chicken to the pan. Toss to evenly coat with sauce. Serve on rolls.

My thoughts:
I created this recipe to serve to some recent dinner guests and to appease the numerous reader requests I've recieved for a not-so-spicy pulled chicken. There is a slight kick from the single chipotle pepper but thisn't a spicy dish. Most the flavor comes from the fruity jam, balsamic and pineapple juice which provides a lot of natural sweetness. I love using jam or preserves in pulled chicken and pulled pork because it is a easy way to not only add flavor but thickness to the "sauce" without having to use thickeners or bottle sauces.

March 07, 2011

Banana-Peanut Bread

2 cups flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup mashed overripe banana
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup chopped salted roasted peanuts
1 egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour or spray (with baking spray with flour) 1 loaf pan or 1 4-well mini loaf pan . In a medium mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients, mix until thoroughly incorporated. Add the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Fold in the nuts. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake about 30 minutes.

My thoughts:
I only like bananas that still have a green tinge to them. Unfortunately, they don't stay that way for long and then I am left with a bunch of spotty bananas I have no interest in eating. Luckily other people I know don't have this quirk so I can turn them into banana bread and muffins to share or freeze. I wasn't sure how to make this banana bread different than the last but then my husband suggested a take on the classic peanut butter and banana combination and add peanuts to the batter. I also sprinkled a few across the top for dramatic effect, but that is entirely optional. The Saigon cinnamon adds a bright bite of spice.

March 06, 2011

Minneola Old Fashioned (Cocktail) Marmalade

8 minneola tangelos
4 cups water
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup bottled lemon juice
1/4 cup rye
1 vanilla bean, split
1 tablespoon orange Angostura bitters

Wash the peel. Cut the minneolas in half across the "equator" and remove the pulp to a large, heavy, wide bottomed pot. Add the water and bring to a boil. Discard half of the peels. Scrape the pith from the peels using a spoon. Slice the peels into 1/8 inch wide slices. When the pulp water mixture has reduced and thickened a bit strain it through cheese cloth back into the pot. It should yield about 4 cups of juice. Add the peel. Cover and cook until the peel softens, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the lemon juice, rye, sugar, vanilla bean and bitters. Cook over low-medium heat until it thickened, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes. You can dribble some on a cold plate and see if it gels but I could tell it was ready by how it started to form "sheets" of liquid coming off the spoon vs. coming off in drips. Fish out the vanilla bean. Divide evenly among jars. Process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath.

Yield: about 4 8-oz jars

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.

My thoughts:
Minneolas (a cross between a Duncan grapefruit and a Dancy tangerine and some times referred to as a "Honeybell") are rare sights around here and my husband was excited to find and bring home a huge bag of this delicious fruit. I have to say though, he saw them, bought them and then once he got home could not remember what their name was. It involved a rather long conversation on the phone with a nice girl from the local farm store he bought them at to figure out what exactly they were.

Minneolas are so fragrant! Our house smelled like a citrus grove (in a good way, not a fruit rotting on the ground sort of way) all day. I almost was tempted to move to FL. Of course, we had to pick the first truly warm day of the year to can (we also made that yummy orange jam at the same time) but that is another story involving many fans, opening of  windows and shutting off the heat for a few hours.

I had not made marmalade before and it was both easier and trickier than I thought it would be. It basically took all day and quite a few steps to yield only 4 8-oz jars of marmalade. Which is about what I expected but the chopping the peel, squeezing the pulp was pretty hands-on intensive and time consuming. You can't help but think that after all that work you'd want to cut someone who'd dare try and sneak a taste, much less a jar. My husband is a much better chopper than I so he chopped the peel and removed the pith for me which helped. We actually chopped all the peel so we could experiment on the leftovers. I will keep you posted on that! I recommend that you do what we did and set up in front of the tv and watch something (preferably British since you are making marmalade-we watched Inspector Lewis) to distract yourself from the monotony of the chopping/peeling steps. The boiling bits don't require much attention so you can keep watching your show and just check on it occasionally.

The truly only tricky part was deciding on the best method of cutting up the skin and deciding if it is better to let the fruit macerate in sugar overnight, to juice it or boil the pulp etc. I swear every marmalade recipe I found called for a different technique and the reasons for the differences were not (nearly never) always entirely clear. I think this one worked because minneolas are easy to peel and the pith can be easily removed. If we had left all of the pith in, it would have become too bitter, in my opinion. As it was is, the finished product is on the bitter side of sweet but not uncomfortably so. ANYWAY! This marmalade has a wonderful, deep tangelo flavor that is only enhanced by the old fashioned-inspired add-ins we came up with. I can't wait to eat it with everything!

March 04, 2011

Cara Cara Orange Jam

8 cups supremed Cara Cara segments
4 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 box liquid pectin (3 oz., one of the little packets in the box)
1/4 cup lemon juice (I used bottled)
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
zest of 2 Cara Cara oranges

Prep jars/lids for canning. Add the orange segments and zest into a large, heavy bottomed pan. Add the sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring carefully to avoid splashing, break up the segments, occasionally. Boil until it begins to reduce and thicken. Stir in the pectin, Grand Marnier and lemon juice. Continue cooking at a low (rolling) boil for 5-10 minutes or until it looks jammy. Fill the jars leaving 1/4 inch headroom. Process in the hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Yield: 5-6 8-oz jars. I ended up with 5 8-oz, 1 4-oz and a couple of spoonfuls

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.

My thoughts:
Today was a busy citrus day at the Rappaport house. I made this jam and marmalade for the first time. I had many pounds of citrus I wanted to use up and marmalade is a lot of fiddly work. I can't imagine doing two batches of that in one day unless a. I suddenly became very, very quick at it or b. someone was paying me. So I started to think of something citrus-y I could make that would be a little less time consuming. Don't get me wrong, it takes a long time to supreme so many oranges but at least I didn't have a peel to worry about and the actual cooking of the jam was quick and easy. I honestly I have never seen a recipe for citrus jam before but I didn't see any reason why it would work or be perfectly tasty. Sort of a marmalade without the candied peel. As it turns out, it makes a lovely jam, freshly orange scented and not as sweet as jelly would have been. The segments almost caramelize and really pop. Since Cara Caras are pink inside, the jam is a pretty orangish rose color. It is yummy on bread etc but I am already thinking of ways to use it in new recipes that need a bit of citrus.

I did "cheat" and added some liquid pectin despite oranges being pretty high in pectin. Cara Caras are seedless and I didn't want to add any bitterness from the peel to the jam. I knew it would easily set up with just a bit of pectin and it did.

March 02, 2011

Oyster Po'Boy

16 oz raw, shucked oysters
1-2 cups matzo meal
1 cup superfine flour (like Wondra)
1-2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
hot sauce*
2 eggs, beaten

hot sauce romulade
2 pickle spears, diced
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup mayo
1/2 teaspoon worchesetershire sauce
1/2-1 teaspoon hot sauce*

4 hoagie rolls
1 tomato, sliced
1 leaves Romaine lettuce

canola oil (for frying)

*I used my favorite classic style red hot sauce


Whisk together the sauce ingredients. Set aside. Heat about 1/2 to 1 inch of oil in a large, shallow skillet, enough to cover the oysters. Meanwhile pour the egg, flour and matzo meal into separate shallow bowls. Stir the hot sauce into the eggs. Stir the the spices to the matzo meal. Stir a few drops of hot sauce into the egg. Dredge each oyster in the flour, then in the egg then the matzo meal. Drop the oysters into the hot oil, taking care that they do not overlap or they will stick together. Cook until golden on all sides, about 1-2 minutes. They should float to the top when ready and may not need to be flipped. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Place on a split hoagie roll that has been lined with lettuce and tomato and spread with sauce.
My thoughts:
Is there a better sandwich than the oyster po'boy? I am not sure. I like them with a bit of a pickle-y sauce. This time I added hot sauce to the sauce vs. drizzling it on top and I really liked it because the oysters seemed to stay crisper.

Matzo meal is slightly untradtional but makes for super crispy oysters and is easily found at grocery stores, especially as we move closer to Passover. Cornmeal is pretty good too but depending on the brand, it can taste too corn-y and overwhelm the oysters. Regular bread crumbs would work too.