I came home from a long Memorial Day weekend with family to find my wild rose bush blooming beautifully. The petals on those roses don’t last for long, and Philadelphia was expecting yet another big rain later that afternoon; I wanted to find a way to preserve some of these gorgeous flowers. After some internet searching, I found a few reciples for rose petal jam, a traditionally Syrian and Lebanese condiment that keeps all of the wonderful color and scent of fresh blooming roses. Because the “jam” is made with flowers and not fruit, it doesn’t have any of the natural thickening pectin of fruit, and so the finished product if more of a thick syrup than a traditional jam. I’m so excited to eat it with fresh, organic yogurt, and maybe a few herbs from the garden! I’ve included the link to the recipe I used below.
These roses adjoin my home, so I know that they aren’t sprayed with chemicals or fertilizers, but if you are scavenging for your own, make sure the petals are organic.
It’s Memorial Day weekend, and many of us will be attending BBQs, potlucks, and other early-summer food parties. If you’re looking for a grill or BBQ alternative, sloppy janes are an easy, and delicious option. I cook part-time at a Quaker retreat center that focuses on local, organic and plant-free menus, and we recently made these “sloppy joe” – type sandwiches with crumbled and fried tempeh instead of meat. If you’re new to tempeh, remember to boil it before cooking, otherwise it can have a bitter aftertaste. Then crumble, and fry like you would hamburger for sloppy joes. I fried the above tempeh with onions and garlic, and then added my own special sauce, a spicy vinegar-based BBQ cut with tomato sauce, some spices, extra cider vinegar, and a touch of mollasses. The fried tempeh can then be stirred right into the sauce, until you achieve your desired “sloppy” consistancy. Easy! Like traditional sloppy joes, this is also an easy dish to throw in the crock pot and take along to a BBQ or potluck.
I served sloppy janes on a crusty sourdough roll, with carmelized onions, cheddar, and plenty of mustard and hot peppers, but these sandwiches go great with any kind of traditional BBQ sandwich topping, including pickles, hot sauce, sourkraut or coleslaw – the list goes on! Add some mac & cheese and some greens and youve got a great Southern-Style BBQ meal. Enjoy your holiday weekend!
Have you hear of the vegan restaurant Vedge? This upscale Center City restaurant does amazing things with vegetables, and is justifiably famous outside of vegetarian circles – in fact, chef / owners Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby have won numerous awards for Vedge, which is widely considered to be one of the best vegan restaurants, and restaurants period in the country. If you’re in Philadelphia, it’s definitely worth a visit, but even if you’re not, you can get a taste of the inventive, flavor-forward, vegetable focused menu.
I just got my copy of the new Vedge cookbook, and I’m so excited to work my way through it. I’m most struck by how simple most of the recipes are, and with not many ingredients, but the flavors really shine. For a recent fancy picnic I brought their Fingerling Potatoes with Creamy Worcestershire Sauce. This time of year, new potatoes are so buttery and perfect, and the roasting, combined with the savory mayonnaise, really highlights this Spring treat. I know that Worcestershire sauce is usually not vegan, but it is possible to find both vegan mayos and worcestershire if you would like to keep the recipe vegan. Landau and Jacoby suggest smashing the fingerlings and tossing them with the mayo sauce, but since I was looking for a finger food, I kept mine whole and served the sauce on the side.
I like a little kick in almost everything that I cook, but even if you’re on the lower end of “spice tolerance,” chili oil is a bright, flavorful condiment to keep in your refridgerator. You can purchase ready-made chili oil, but it is usually produced with roasted seseme oil and intended as a finishing oil – not a cooking oil. In many dishes where chili oil would add a nice zing – sautés, pizza topping, risotto, etc. – the flavor of seseme would either be too overpowering, or just plain off-putting. No problem! You can easily and very cheaply make your own chili oil with a neutral, high-temp-friendly base oil. Remember, the chilis will continue to release heat into the oil as it is stored, so always test a bit before adding to any dish or recipe!
Homemade Chili Oil
2 cups nuetral cooking oil, such as safflower
3 fresh serrano or dutch chilis*
3 dried thai chilis
In a heavy-bottomed pot or ceramic-lined dutch oven, heat a few tablespoons of the oil until it shimmers. Add the fresh chilis and garlic, thingly sliced, as well as the dried chilies. Saute carefully until the chilis begin to release their heat (you’ll smell them!), but do not let the chilies brown. Remove from heat, add the remaining oil, and stir. Store in an airtight jar in the refridgerator for up to two months.
*You may used whatever kind of chili you prefer – ancho, chipotle, etc. The flavor of your oil will change accordinging.
After a long Winter, everyone is eager for Spring. It’s so wonderful to go into farmers’ martkets and co-op, or maybe you visit a local farm or are participate in Community Supported Agriculture, and see these first Spring vegetables arriving. Though I have planted my spring garden, all I currently see are little, encouraging green shoots and leaves, and so I was excited to find some beautiful radishes at the farmer’s market last weekend. I was tempted to slice them up immediately and spread them on whole wheat bread with a nice slab of butter sprinkled with Maldon salt (on of my favorite ways to eat new spring radishes), but I held off in order to make a version of the “Thyme Farrotto with Roasted Radishes and Radish Greens,” from the wonderful cookbook “Whole Grains for a New Generation.”
I didn’t have any farro in the house, so I substituted wheat berries, which are similar (though do take quite a long time to cook). I cooked the wheat berries in vegetable stock and thyme , and when it was soft but toothsome, finished it with a tablespoon of butter and a bit more yogurt (instead of the creme fraiche in the original recipe. Meanwhile, I roasted the radishes and greens (after tossing in olive oil, salt and pepper) until the radishes browned and started to shrivel, and the greens crisped. While they look beautiful here (and in the cookbook) the greens will be easter to eat if you chop them a bit first! This simple recipe really let the radishes shine.