June 30, 2016

Smoky Hot Cherry Barbecue Sauce

3 1/2 cups whole sweet cherries, pitted
3/4 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup pureed chipotle peppers in adobe
1/3 cup chili sauce (like Heinz)
1 small sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon butter (can omit if vegan)
1 teaspoon mesquite liquid smoke
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Pulse all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a small saucepan and simmer on the lowest setting until heated through and it reduces and thickens, about 15-25 minutes.

Ladle the sauce into prepared jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in the hot 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:

Once again the friendly folks at Sweet Preservation and North West Cherries tapped be to be a canbassador and sent me a big box of Washington stone fruit to can. I ended up with one of the largest amounts of cherries I have ever seen. It was quite daunting. I did some experimenting and this was my tastiest creation. Slather it on ribs, meatballs, pork and chicken or dip your fries and tots in it. Quick, get to the store now and you will have plenty for the 4th!

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June 21, 2016

Upcycled Crab, Tomato, Cucumber + Mozz Salad

1/3-1/2 cup leftover blue crab meat (from 3 large crabs)
10 fresh mozzarella pearls
1/2 pint grape tomatoes
1 cucumber, chopped
2-3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 tablespoon fennel fronds
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Toss all ingredients together until thoroughly combined.

My thoughts:

The other night, we had my favorite kind of dinner (especially in the warm weather months but also a solid favorite for the winter holidays as well) that I like to call snackies. All appetizers and no main course.  It is sort of picnic-y and in honor of summer, this one was made entirely of food I did not have to cook. For an international flair, I had a super delish assortment of my favorite things (truffles, pickles, and sausage! oh my!) from Les Trois Petits Cochons: Mousse Truffée, Saucisson Sec aux Herbes de Provence (Dried Sausage with Herbs de Provence) and Cornichons; and from our local Italian grocery: bread, tomato and (mostly) mozzarella salad, various olives and marinated eggplant. We ended up with some leftovers from this exciting meal and I turned the handful of remaining mozzarella balls into a new salad by adding some grape tomatoes I had leftover from another salad, a forgotten cucumber and a bit of leftover steamed crab from earlier in the weekend. The new dish was a taste sensation that is easily made using bits and bobs of what is on hand. If you are not in Baltimore, feel free to omit the crab although it does make the salad much more of a treat!

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June 13, 2016

Smoked Gruyère Grits with Dandelion Greens, Mushrooms and Corn

2 cups yellow stone-ground grits
6 cups water or chicken stock
1 cup grated smoked Gruyère
2 1/2 cups chopped dandelion greens
3 ears of corn worth of kernels
8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, diced
freshly ground black pepper


Heat a small amount of oil in a medium skillet. Saute the onion until starting to soften, 3-5 minutes, then add the greens, corn, and mushrooms and saute until the greens have wilted and the mushrooms are softened. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a medium pot, bring the water or stock to a boil. Add the grits and stir continually for about 10 minutes or until all the broth is absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, pepper cheese and greens mixture. Keep covered until ready to serve.

My thoughts:
I tend to forget about making grits and then when I do, I am always pleased with how they turn out. It is a great alternative to rice, potatoes or pasta. You can, of course, just stir in some cheese and call it a day but I like to spike them with a variety of vegetables for a really full side dish. My produce delivery service had dandelion greens again (a huge bundle this time!) so I used them but I think arugula would provide a similar peppery bite. I loved the juicy bits of corn, it isn't quite in season now but I found some corn from the south that was very good giving me hope for our corn season this year. The mushrooms? Well, I love mushrooms and couldn't resist tossing them in. If you have leftovers, try it topped with a fried egg for a quick, filling lunch.

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June 09, 2016

Super Umami Burgers

1 1/4 lb 93% lean ground beef
8 oz crimini mushrooms, minced
1 small onion, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

to serve:
6 slices fontina cheese
6 brioche buns
2 tablespoons grainy Dijon
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
freshly ground black pepper


In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, mushrooms, onion, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce until well mixed. Form into 6 patties.

Prepare grill according to manufacturer's instructions. Grill the burgers for 5-8 minutes on each side or until desired doneness. When in the last minute or so of grilling, top with cheese and allow to melt. Remove to a platter.

In a small bowl, whisk together the Dijon, mayonnaise, and pepper. Spread on rolls. Top with burgers. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
Mushrooms are one of my favorite toppings for burgers. I shy away from them when making burgers at home because it usually involves me stuck inside sauteeing mushrooms and onions while the burgers cook on the grill outside in the sunshine. That's no fun! So for these hamburgers, I mixed in super finely chopped mushrooms and onions into the burger. All of the flavor and less work! Plus the mushrooms (chopped to the point of almost ground beef texture) stretched 1 1/4 lbs of ground beef into 6 good-sized burgers while adding a deeply savory note. I upped the umami factor by adding soy sauce and Worcestershire which made the burgers moist and flavorful without. Adding the mock mustard aioli, fontina and brioche just added to the wow factor. If you like savory, rich (but not heavy!) burgers, this one is for you!

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June 07, 2016

Roasted Shrimp and Snap Pea Rolls

24 oz medium shrimp, peeled
3 tablespoons minced dill
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 lb sugar snap peas, chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (I used Colavita prosecco vinegar)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
6 hot dog rolls

Preheat oven to 400. Line one baking sheet with foil. Set aside.

In a small bowl, toss together the shrimp, sugar snap peas, dill, salt, pepper and oil. Pour onto the baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Roast for 10 minutes or until the shrimp is fully cooked.

Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar and mayonnaise. Allow the shrimp to cool. Stir together the dressing, scallions, and the shrimp/sugar snap peas mixture until well coated in a medium bowl. Divide among hot dog rolls. Refrigerate leftovers.

My thoughts:
When we left for our trip two weeks ago it was unseasonably cool and rainy. Then we spent nearly two weeks in London, Bath, Windsor and Lille where it was cool and rainy (I had to buy a scarf!) then came back to Baltimore where it is nearly 90, humid. What a change! For my first meal back I wanted to make something tasty but easy to ease back into dinner-making. Roasted shrimp has a great flavor and is super quick; only 10 minutes and doesn't require boiling water in 90% humidity conditions. The snap peas add crunch like celery would but provided a more summery touch. A picnic perfect dinner! Think of it as a lobster roll's more affordable cousin.

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