August 22, 2016

Dandelion Green and Smoked Jalapeño Egg Salad

7 hard-boiled eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2-3 tablespoons finely diced smoked jalapeño*
1 bunch dandelion greens, chiffonade
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
freshly ground black pepper


Slice eggs in half and remove the yolks. Place the yolks in a small bowl. Set aside.

Remove one egg's worth of white. Discard or eat. Chop up the remaining egg whites. Place in a medium-sized bowl. Add the jalapeño, dandelion greens and red onion. Stir.

Place the mayonnaise and spices in the small bowl with the yolks. Mash with a fork until smooth. Pour over the chopped egg mixture. Stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*I bought this at our local smokery but it is easy to make yourself. The next time you grill, place applewood chips in a foil packet (poke holes in it) or in a smoker box among the coals. Place the jalapeno(s) on the grill until charred and soft. Wrap in foil and allow to cool. Remove skin; it should easily peel/rub off.

My thoughts:
I keep adding dandelion greens to my produce delivery when they are available. They are a seasonal change from other dark greens and I find they do very well in salads. It seems silly to spend a couple of dollars on something that we have in our own admittedly weedy backyard but we have three dogs and well, I don't want to eat anything they or I stepped on.

I've been on a bit of an egg salad kick lately (it is like deviled eggs but I can eat it for lunch and no one looks askance!) so it seemed natural to toss them in. I actually used my herb scissors to cut up the greens because they were huge and the stem and ribs were a bit thick on this batch so it was easier to just to cut them with my fancy chiffonade producing scissors than to remove the ribs and chop. Dandelion greens can veer to the bitter side but I don't normally find them more robust than say endive or arugula. The smoky jalapeño and paprika added a slightly spicy savoriness to the eggs that the greens complemented. It made for quite a treat on a hot day.

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August 17, 2016

Pattypan Squash Bake

4 medium pattypan squash, sliced into 1/8- 1/4-inch rounds
1/2 white onion, sliced into 1/2-inch half-moons
3 eggs
1/4 (loose) cup chiffonade'd* basil
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
12 saltines, crumbled
2 tablespoons butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch pie plate. Layer the squash and onion in single layers starting and ending with squash. Set aside.

In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, basil, milk, salt and pepper until fluffy. Pour over the squash.

In a small bowl, stir together the saltines and butter until the crackers are well coated. Sprinkle an even layer over the squash. Bake 45 minutes or until the squash is tender.

* I used my herb scissors and cut from the leaf directly into the beaten eggs
My thoughts:
I think pattypan (also known as "scallop squash') is my favorite summer squash. It is certainly the cutest. I like how it doesn't need to be peeled and the seeds to flesh ratio is perfect; small seeds, lots of flesh. It doesn't give off a lot of liquid which makes it perfect for casserole-like dishes similar to this one, there is no pool of water at the bottom of the pan like what can happen with undrained zucchini. This dish super light, the egg keeps it from being just a pile of squash hanging out all dry in a pan but it doesn't add a lot of bulk to the dish.

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August 12, 2016

Espresso Chocolate Syrup


1 espresso (40 ml, about 1 1/4 oz)*
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Bring espresso, water and sugar to a boil, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Whisk in cocoa and continue to whisk until thickened. Allow to cool. Can be made and refrigerated overnight prior to serving.

*I used Etiopia Blend Forte from Gourmesso

My thoughts:
There comes a time in everyone's life when it is necessary to have gelato for lunch. For me, that time is August. Also known as the month of the momentous occasion of my birth, August is one of the most humid, hot, sticky and downright icky month of Baltimore summer. One barely wants to go outside to pick herbs much less garden or enjoy one's hammock. Even walking to the corner for a snowball seems arduous. No, it is better spent sitting in front of your room air conditioner in your non-centralized air conditioned home and eating gelato (or ice cream or frozen yogurt! I don't judge) and watching British television and dreaming of a day that is cooler but not fall (or worse, winter) yet. That gelato should be topped with whipped cream (from a can, let's be real) and sprinkles and drizzled with the most adult chocolate syrup one can make in 5 minutes. Alternately, swirl this coffee-packed, super dark syrup into a milkshake. You won't be sorry.

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August 10, 2016

Peppery, Umami-Packed Grilled Brussels Sprouts and Summer Squash

1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved
2 small-medium zucchini and/or summer squash, large dice
1 onion, cut into quarter moon, 1/4-inch slices
2 1/2 tablespoons shichimi togarashi (seven flavored Japanese spice mix)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce*
1/2 tablespoon chile oil
3 tablespoons canola oil

Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and toss to evenly distribute all ingredients. Prepare a charcoal grill according to manufacturers' instructions. Place the vegetable mixture in a grill basket and cook, turning occasionally until the vegetables are fork-tender, about 10-20 minutes. Pour back into the original bowl and toss again. Serve immediately.

*I love Red Boat fish sauce and pick it up whenever I see it

My thoughts:
My favorite grilling days are the ones where I can make the whole meal on the grill at once. This time we grilled boneless, skinless thighs we marinated in teriyaki marinade spiked with chile-garlic sauce and onions for sandwiches while we made this speedy, spicy side dish.

The zucchini, yellow squash, Brussels sprouts and onions all still had a bit of a bite to them but wonderfully charred edges and a pleasant smoky flavor. Despite the spice-packed ingredients there was just a gentle heat to the dish, enough to keep it interesting but not enough it was overwhelming. Don't be tempted to eliminate the oil, it is what keeps the veggies from sticking to the grill pan and a lot drips off so no worries--the dish isn't greasy at all.

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August 08, 2016

Peach and Smoked Jalapeño Jam

1 jalapeno
4 cups lightly crushed peaches
3 tablespoons instant pectin*
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons bottled lemon juice


To make the smoked jalapeno:

The next time you grill, place applewood chips in a foil packet (poke holes in it) or in a smoker box among the coals. Place the jalapeno(s) on the grill until charred and soft. Wrap in foil and allow to cool. Remove skin; it should easily peel/rub off. Refrigerate until ready to use; up to 1 week.

To make the jam:

Dice the jalapeno, discarding the stem, membrane, and seeds.

Evenly sprinkle the bottom of the Ball Jam Maker with the pectin. Spoon the fruit and pepper  in a relatively even layer over the pectin. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Press the jam button. You will hear a beep at 4 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar over the fruit mixture while the machine is still running. Cover and wait for the jam cycle to complete. Press the cancel button and unplug the machine.

If not using a Ball Jam Maker, make the jam on the stovetop using the traditional method as seen in this recipe.

Ladle the jam into prepared jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in the hot water bath for 10 minutes. I used my electric canner which takes the same amount of time as processing on the stove but without heating up the house.

Yield: about 5 8-oz jars

*I recommend these jars of flex batch pectin. 3 tablespoons equals 1/2 of a pouch of boxed pectin.

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:
Wondering what I did with the rest of my peaches from my shipment from Washington State Fruit Commission and the masterminds behind Sweet Preservation? After I finished my Peach Blueberry Lemon Verbena Jam I went in a less traditional direction and made this. I think peaches and hot peppers pair really well together and this jam is no exception. It is smoky, hot and bursting with peach flavor. You can use it as you would normally use jam but it is also great as a marinade, glaze or dip. I even dipped pork chops in it instead of egg before coating them in panko and frying them. Yum. Hurry up and make it while it is still peach and jalapeno season!

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August 05, 2016

Old Bay Zucchini "Pie"

3 cups shredded zucchini
5 eggs
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon Old Bay
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup shredded aged, sharp cheddar
1 cup flour
2 teaspoon baking powder


Preheat oven to 350. Squeeze dry zucchini if needed. Saute the onion in a skillet using a small amount of olive oil until translucent. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Add the zucchini, cooled onion, eggs, Old Bay, oil and cheddar to a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix, using an electric mixer until well combined. Mix in the flour and baking powder until a pancake-like batter forms. Spray with cooking spray or grease an 8x8 inch pan. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes or until fully cooked (just few dry crumbs when a toothpick is inserted in the center) and golden brown on the bottom. Allow to sit in pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

My thoughts:
This is sort of a mash-up of the old favorite "impossible pie" made with Bisquick and an Australian dish I've encountered called "zucchini slice". Impossible pie is so named because it seems impossible; you basically mix meat, fruit or vegetables with Bisquick and bake it and it magically forms a crust. Zucchini slice is sort of a cornless corn bread made with zucchini and sliced into squares. Both sounded pretty good to me so I thought I'd come up with my own version. I dropped the Bisquick in favor of flour and baking powder and used an 8x8 inch pan rather than a pie plate for easy slicing and serving. I had to add Old Bay because well, it is summer in Baltimore. The end result was ridiculously light and fluffy, almost souffle-like in texture. We couldn't resist going back for seconds and (ahem) maybe thirds. It was a great light meal with a small salad or sliced tomatoes.

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August 03, 2016

Roasted Shrimp with Summer Vegetables and Wild Rice

12 oz peeled, medium shrimp
4-5 sprigs worth of thyme leaves
1/2 oz lemon verbena, chiffonade
1 eggplant, small dice
1 fennel bulb, diced
1-pint grape tomatoes, halved
8 oz crimini mushrooms, halved
1 small-medium pattypan squash, cubed
8 oz cooked wild rice

olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Toss the shrimp and herbs together in a small bowl. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375.

Arrange eggplant, fennel, tomatoes, mushrooms and squash in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 5-10 minutes or until the eggplant is nearly fully cooked and soft. Add the shrimp and roast for 5 additional minutes or until the shrimp is fully cooked.

Place all items in a bowl and add wild rice. Stir to evenly distribute all ingredients.

My thoughts:
This is sort of like on of those "sheet pan" meals I keep hearing about except you have to toss it with wild rice at the end so it isn't totally done on one pan. I cheat and use these vacuum-sealed pouches of wild rice because wild rice takes forever to cook but you can, of course, make it on the stove top according to package instructions. Even though this is made in the oven, it is pretty quick and doesn't heat up the house too terribly. It was incredibly tasty and filling. The wild rice makes it into a full meal and it is loaded with vegetables and shrimp. So easy yet so satisfying. I even enjoyed the leftovers cold the next day.

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August 01, 2016

Nectarine Dreams Ketchup

5 cups pureed (skin-on*) nectarines (about 8 large nectarines)
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground jalapeno


Prep your jars/lids. Place all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed nonreactive pot. Bring to a rolling boil and cook until thickened to ketchup consistency**, about 20-30 minutes. Ladle into pint jars leaving 1/4 inch headroom. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. I used my electric canner for this step but a traditional canning pot on the stove is fine too. If you'd like to skip the canning step, you can refrigerate the ketchup up to 6 weeks.

*If you do not have a high powered blender, you may want to peel your nectarines.

*The sauce does thicken up a bit upon cooling. You can place a small amount on a dish and chill it in the refrigerator (while you're cooking the ketchup) to check the cooled consistency if you'd like.

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 are some of my other favorite canning books and supplies.

My thoughts:
These nectarines came in a box with their furry cousins, the peach all the way from the west coast courtesy of the Washington State Fruit Commission, masterminds behind Sweet Preservation. I love nectarines so much. I look forward them eagerly every year and this year's nectarines (both locally and from Washington) have been so juicy! I have canned chile pickled nectarines, ginger-cardamom nectarine jam, nectarine barbecue sauce and nectarine-apricot butter before but never nectarine ketchup. Clearly, this was an oversight on my part, you know how much I love fruit ketchup (and loathe tomato ketchup). What was I thinking? What was I going to slather on burgers and dip my tots in this winter? This had to be remedied. So I whipped up this easy ketchup that is full of spices (including dry mustard which seems almost perverse to put into ketchup!) and fresh, juicy nectarines. It is the hit of sunshine your burgers, tots and dogs need.

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