August 25, 2014

Grilled Habanero Peach Sauce

2 cups halved fresh habaneros
2 fresh anaheim or poblano peppers, halved
2 1/2 lb peaches, peeled and quartered
8 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups vinegar
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon powdered roasted ginger
salt and pepper

Toss the peppers with a bit of olive oil. Prepare grill. Grill until blackened. Simmer the remaining ingredients in a large pot for 10 minutes. Add the peppers and cook an additional 10 minutes. Pour into a blender and puree until very smooth. Pour into jars. Refrigerate and use within 6 weeks.

Yield: about 4 quarts

Note: do the use of low-acid foods I do not recommend water bath canning.

My thoughts: asked me to be a Canbassador this year and sent me what seemed like a literal ton of peaches. We've wanted to make a spicy peach sauce for a while now so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. We had the grill going so we grilled the peppers and loved the smoky flavor they gave the final product. Think of the sauce as sort of a cross between hot sauce and barbecue sauce. So far we marinated then grilled chicken using it and I plan to make a killer pulled pork with it tomorrow.

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August 18, 2014

Dill Pickled Mexican Sour Gherkins

1 lb Mexican Sour Gherkins (cucamelon)
1/2 Anaheim chile, sliced
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon dill seed
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
3/4 cup water
3/4 apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons pickling salt or sea salt


Whisk together the water, vinegar and salt until the salt is dissolved. (If you simmer the mixture as you whisk, the salt may dissolve more quickly but this isn't necessary) Allow to cool to room temperature. Evenly divide all of the dill, spices, gherkins and peppers between 2 pint jars.

Pour in the vinegar mixture. Close the jars. Refrigerate. Allow to sit 1 week before eating. Refrigerate and keep up to 6 weeks.

Yield: 2 pints

My thoughts:
I had read about Mexican Sour Gherkins, also known as sandita, several times before but I could never find them. Then my friend Olga told me about her produce delivery boxes that she loved. She is based near DC and tweeted them how jealous I was that they didn't deliver to Baltimore. Well, they tweeted back and it turns out they do! I signed up for a box and noticed that you could add items on to you delivery beyond what comes in the box. Imagine my delight when I found they had Mexican Gherkins! I, of course, ordered a pound. They look like little baby watermelons (mine were about 1/2-3/4 inch long) but taste similarly a tart cucumber and have a cucumber-like interior. They are a bit crunchy so I thought they'd be perfect as bite-sized pickles. I made them into refrigerator pickles (although they are safe to water bath can) to make sure they kept that crunch. They are perfect as it, on a salad and I'd bet as a cocktail (or mocktail!) garnish.

Want to know more about this vegetable? Check out this article in Modern Farmer.

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August 15, 2014

Roasted Zucchini and Eggplant Farro Salad

2 yellow zucchini, sliced into 1/2 inch half moons
3 Japanese eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch half moons
1 cup semi-pearled (semi-perlato) farro
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 small red onion, sliced very thinly
3/4 (loose) cup roughly chopped parsley
3 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons capote capers
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 400. Arrange the zucchini and eggplant on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until fork tender. Set aside.

Bring 2 cups water to boil. Add farro and reduce to simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until desired chewiness is reached. Allow to cool slightly.

Pour the farrow into a medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Stir. Serve warm or cold.

My thoughts:
We've been lucky to get such pretty eggplants and zucchini from our favorite farm stand this year. I think I've had them nearly every day for weeks! We haven't had much luck growing them ourselves so this year we just decided to leave it to the experts. Why torture ourselves? This salad makes the most of the the zucchini and eggplant and is super simple. I served it as a side dish for dinner but then had it the next day for lunch. If you are having it as a meal, might I suggest putting an egg on it? You won't regreat it although it does make this vegan dish non-vegan. If you haven't tried farro, you should! It is chewy and I think tastier than some of the other grain salad options. I used pearled farro for this because it is a little lighter but regular farro would work as well. You may have to lengthen the cooking time for regular farro.

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August 13, 2014

Lemon-Jalapeño Steamed Shrimp

2 jalapenos, sliced into rings
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 lb fresh shrimp
sea salt


Add everything but the shrimp to a large pot. Bring to a boil. Add shrimp. Cover and boil until fully cooked.

My thoughts:
Quick and easy recipe for you today! I love steamed shrimp and normally have it Baltimore-style with lots of Old Bay but occasionally I mix it up. This one used up ingredients I just had around and of course, shrimp. If serving this as peel-it-yourself, I suggest getting the "easy peel" shrimp that has the back already prepped. I learned how to eat peel-on, head-on shrimp with a knife and fork (removing the shell) in Portugal where no one ate with their hands but for a casual summer dinner, take the easy way out.

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August 08, 2014

Cincinnati Chili Dogs

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lbs lean ground beef
16 oz canned tomato sauce*
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

to serve:
8 cooked hot dogs
8 hot dog buns

chopped raw onions
shredded extra sharp cheddar
dark red kidney beans (heated through)

In a large skillet saute onion, garlic until the onion is translucent. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is fully cooked and the mixture is thick. Take care to break the meat into small bits. Serve over hot dogs in buns. Top with desired toppings. Serve immediately.

*Not chunky pasta sauce. Look for it in the canned tomato aisle.

Pro tip: Make this one day before you want to serve it. The flavor will be deeper and all you have to is warm it up while you cook the hot dogs. Bonus: if you are grilling your hot dogs you won't have to run back and forth from the grill to the stove.

My thoughts:
I can't believe it has been over four years since I last posted a chili dog recipe. It was probably the last time I had a chili dog! Obviously, I needed to fix that! Cincinnati chili is one of my favorites so I thought why not try it on a hot dog? I'm glad I did. I don't have room on my bun for beans but if you do, it would make an authentic addition.

Can't get enough? Make traditional Cincinnati Chili, this slow cooker version, and even Cincinnati Chili Mac and Cincinnati Chili-Inspired Sloppy Joes.

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August 06, 2014

Sardine Tagliatelle


2/3 cup breadcrumbs, toasted
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 tablespoons nonpareil capers
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 4-oz cans boneless, smoked sardines in lemon olive oil
3/4 cup roughly chopped Italian parsley
8-9 oz tagliatelle, cooked to package instructions

Heat the oil in a small pan. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add the capers, pepper flakes, and the whole cans of sardines*. Lightly break up the sardines with the back of the spoon and cook until heated though. Toss with hot pasta, then bread crumbs. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

*My sardines came with a tiny, super-thin slice of lemon, toss that in too.

My thoughts:
Portugal is sardine crazy! It is on nearly every menu most often fresh grilled sardines and if not, there is often a dish where tinned sardines has been turned into something delicious. They take their canned seafood seriously; a store in Lisbon that sells nothing but canned sardines of every variety imaginable along with tinned octopus, tuna, mackeral and squid. We even went to two different canned fish themed restaurants; the very charming Can the Can and Sol e Pesca both in Lisbon. Needless to say, we stocked up on canned seafood before heading back to Baltimore. Luckily for you, most of what I found and what I used in this dish can be found at most supermarkets with a good canned fish section. Even not-so-big supermarkets had non-Portuguese versions of the sardines I'm using today but if you can't find them, try looking at a store that carries a lot of international or speciality goods like a Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Fresh Market, Wegmans, etc. You'd be surprised by what they have!

This dish is one of my new favorites because you can make it for just a few dollars and almost entirely out of pantry ingredients. I always have the above on hand and I bet you do too! The flavor is surprisingly light an not "fishy"; the parsley adds a welcome herbal note. I used bright yellow eggy imported Italian noodles, I highly recommend using those for this dish, they have a wonderful texture. Tagliatelle was the noodle I saw on nearly every menu in Europe and I can see why. Try this dish with vino verde!

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August 04, 2014

Beet & Chèvre Dip

24 oz peeled, cooked beets*
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup 2% (plain) Greek yogurt
5 1/2 oz fresh goat cheese (chèvre)
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon ground garlic
1 teaspoon dillweed
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an air-tight container until ready to use.

Yield: about 3 cups.

*Cook your own or use pre-cooked beets like Love Beets
My thoughts:
Beets have been so good this season, I couldn't resist turning some into dip for pretzels and vegetables. I actually love pickled beets on Greek yogurt so that was my inspiration. The dip is creamy yet tart and pretty healthy so you don't feel bad serving it and calling it a "side dish".
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