Cranberry Wine and Ginger Jam

 

cranberry wine ginger jam

 

Do you make holiday food gifts? I like to give my neighbors and co-workers a little something, but I’m not really big on the traditional cookie plates. Every year I make something different, and this year a left-over bag of Thanksgiving cranberries inspired a jam-making evening. The jam is think, really almost more of a chutney, and I used the basic recipe from Food in Jars. With a few jars, I used candied ginger instead of fresh, and I added a big pinch of cinnamon to each batch. The other secret ingredient? Wine instead of cider! I used a cheap red wine – why waste the money – but it gives the jam a nice depth.

You could spread this jam on toast, make a fun PBJ or an exciting grilled cheese. Your meat-eating friends could spread it on turkey sandwiches, but I’m most excited about using it on the baked brie my family traditionally makes Christmas night.

 

 

 

 

Roasted Baby Turnips with Maitake “Champignons au vin”

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Do you have the Vedge cookbook? It’s wonderful, surprisingly simple, and delicious. (Full disclosure — I currently work Vedge Restaurant Group at V Street, but I owned this cookbook before that time! ). One of the things the cookbook does best if show how just a few ingredients of high quality, thoughtfully prepared, can be full of satisfying flavor.

Mushrooms are my favorite of all foods, so when I found a beautiful organic Maitake mushroom at my local H Mart, I snapped it up try out this recipe. I prepared it just as written, with the addition of some peas that appeared in the photo but not this recipe, alongside some hot, crusty, heavily, buttered bread. Heavenly.

I didn’t have baby turnips, just one large, weighty fall turnip, which was less sweet, and I think that I could have reduced the sauce a bit more to thicken it before adding it to the final vegetable bake in the oven, but see what you think!

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Royal Trumpet Mushrooms as Fazzoletti

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Another delicious mushroom dish from the Vedge cookbook. Originally calling for nebrodini mushrooms, but suggesting trumpet mushrooms as a substitution, I sliced the thick stems ever so thinly, as suggested. They stuck to the bottom of my pan when I tried to fry them. So I sliced them less thinly, between 1/16 and 1/18 of an inch thick, and fried them gently in olive oil until they reached a golden brown. The sauce? Fresh cherry tomatoes from my garden, garlic, olive oil, white wine, salt and pepper, and plenty of basil (I also added some parsley from the garden). And it was spectacular. Like, really spectacular. Again, a crusty roll, some butter, and I was in heaven. So simple, so rich, and just perfect.

Miso Vegetables and Rice with Black Sesame Dressing

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Yotam Ottolenghi’s newest cookbook, “Plenty More,” arrived yesterday. I confess – I preordered – and was so excited when it arrived at my door! This dish looked perfect for a night in where I was feeling “comfort food” with an Asian angle. The key to this recipe is to prepare all the vegetables ahead of time, because they each braise quickly in a miso, vegetarian dash broth. I chopped all of my vegetables ahead of time, and plated them for easy access.

IMG_0745    This dish also has a base of sushi rice. I had forgotten just how tender and sweet this rice can be, even without the added sugar and rice vinegar you often find in other recipes. Sugar snap peas, carrots, cucumber, and bok choy from my garden (instead of the broccolini from the recipe) and some beautiful organic beech mushrooms. Topped with fresh cilantro, chili, roasted peanuts, black sesame seeds and rice wine vinegar, this was a great dinner, and leftovers made a great lunch the next day!

Freezing Kale for Winter

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Some years in Philadelphia, we’re lucky to have  kale in our raised beds all winter long. But in other parts of the country, and during particularly hard winters everywhere, your kale isn’t going to make it through the winter.

Though it won’t really work in a fresh salad, frozen kale is a great addition to winter smoothies, soups and stews, sauces, the list goes on.

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If you’re interested in freezing some kale for winter, it’s a fairly easy and straight-forward process. Start by picking the kale (or picking some up at your local farmer’s market. Pull the leaves off of the stem, and slice into thin strips.

Bring a large pot of water to boy, and add a bit of salt, then plunge the kale leaves into the boiling water, stirring, and allow to boil for a few minutes, until it becomes tender. Pull from the hot water bath, and plunge immediately into very cold water (or water with some ice floating in it!

Drain the kale in a colander, and then squeeze any extra water from the greens. Pack highly into freezer boxesProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 preset or freezer bags, and label with “Kale” and the year. I know it sounds silly, but I’ve dug so many greens from the depths of my freezer that I had to thaw to identify. What you’re sure you’ll remember now, you might not remember in a month!

Sure, it takes a few steps, and a little bit of advanced planning, but you’ll be happy to “break off” a hunk of organic greens from your freezer this winter

Muhammara Spread

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Muhammara is a delicious, complex, savory Syrian spread that I can’t get enough of. As a dip for toasted flatbread, spread on a sandwich, even tossed over pasta, the earthy, intriguing flavors of roasted walnut, red peppers and tomatoes, spices, and of course, a healthy drizzle of olive oil have me sneaking into the fridge in the middle of the night, spoon in hand, for my container of cold muhammara.

I base mine on this recipe from 101 Cookbooks, but pantry necessity often requires that I make a few changes. On the last go ’round, I reduced the number of red peppers to one, and substituted 1/2 cup of tomato jam for the 1/4 cup of tomato paste. Tomato jam has a similar consistency, but with the added depth of spices like cinnamon, clove, and star anise, which worked beautifully in the muhammara. If you are interested in making your own tomato jam, you can try this recipe from Mark Bittman or this one from Food in Jars.

Muhammara

reprinted from 101 Cookbooks 

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper 
flakes or 1 small red chile
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup whole-grain bread crumbs
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
, plus more to serve
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 to 3 roasted red peppers
1/2 to 1 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

to serve: torn basil

Using a hand blender or a conventional blender, puree the chile flakes, cumin, most of the walnuts, bread crumbs, olive oil, pomegranate molasses, tomato paste, and red peppers to a smooth, even consistency. Mix in the warm water in increments to achieve an easily spreadable consistency similar to a thick yogurt. If you¹re going to use it for dipping, you might want to leave it a touch thicker. Stir in the salt and adjust the seasonings if needed. Serve topped with torn basil, the remaining walnuts, and a thick thread of olive oil.

Serves 4-6.

Prep time: 10 min

Seared Tofu in “Crazy Water”

seared tofu in crazy water

Have you ever heard of  Acqua Pazza or “crazy water”? It’s an Italian tomato broth infused with olive oil, chills, and fresh parsley. Traditionally, its used to poach fish, but I made this version using local, organic tofu “steaks” cut on an angle.  I carefully poked a few holes in the tofu and marinated it in sesame oil, tamari, a bit of powered ginger and garlic, and a pinch of chili for a few hours. Then I heated a generous amount of safflower oil in a cast iron skillet and seared the tofu slowly, turning it with tongs until each side was nicely browned.

Placed in a bowl, surrounded by “crazy water” and served with bread that had been brushed with crushed garlic and olive oil and grilled, the presentation is simple and beautiful. If served with a nice salad and some fresh fruit to finish, it can also be an easy and impressive dinner-party dish — especially if you make the crazy water the day before (like I did). The whole meal comes together beautifully, and easily. And what a wonderful way to use the last of the summer tomatoes!  I’ve included a link to the Food and Wine recipe from Marcella Hazan for tomato water, which I used (more or less) below.

Marcella’s Hazan’s “Fish in Crazy Water”