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.

 

 

 

 

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

Pickled Cauliflower

pickled cauliflower
It’s been hot in Philly, and very humid. It’s about this time in the summer where the idea of cooking anything is completely unappealing. I had a nice head of organic cauliflower in the refrigerator, no intention of roasting or cooking it, but I don’t really enjoy it raw. What to do? Pickle!

It’s easy to make quick, refrigerator pickles out of almost any produce. I like my pickles garlic and spicy, so I added a clove of fresh garlic and some red pepper flakes to the basic quick-pickle formula, but you could skip it, or add lemon zest, herbs, whatever floats your boat.

Start will clean, trimmed, fresh produce pre-cut into your pickle size and placed in a large, non-reactive bowl. Bring 1 cup of white vinegar to boil with 1/2 cup of water, and sugar to taste (I like my sugar content lsaladow, so I go with 1/4 cup, but you could use up to 1/2 cup). When the sugar has dissolved, pour the boiling liquid over the vegetables, which acts like a “quick cook.” When the vegetables and liquid have cooled, pour into a jar or other refrigerator-happy container and chill for at least 12 hours.

Result – quick pickles! You can serve them as a classy appetizer, or pile them onto salads, like I’ve done (to the left). Enjoy!

 

Fingerling Potatoes with Creamy Worcestershire Sauce

ImageHave 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.

Pickled Green Tomatoes

If your garden looked anything like mine this year, you were left with buckets of undersized, hard green tomatoes and not many rosy reds. No matter – there are all kinds of things to do with green tomatoes! Make a green salsa verde, or a green tomato pie, or drench them in cornmeal and fry them southern style! I’m pickling most of my green tomatoes for extra-special bloody marys and future picnics.

I based my recipe on Marisa’s from Food in Jars, but added some hot dried Thai peppers from my garden and the last of the CSA fresh dill! Remember, you can alter spices in pickling, but not the acid.

Pickled Green Tomatoes
makes 4 12-ounce jars or three pints

2 pounds green tomatoes, stemmed and cut into wedges
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
3 teaspoons pickling salt or 5 teaspoons kosher salt
large springs of fresh dill
8 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon peppercorn
4 bay leaves
6 dried hot thai chilis

Combine vinegar, water and salt and bring to a boil. Keep the saucepan tightly covered and don’t overboil, or you won’t have enough brine!

Place the following into the bottom of each hot, ready-for-canning jar:
-1 large sprig fresh dill
-2 garlic cloves
-1/4 teaspoon peppercorn
-1 bay leaf
-2 dried hot Thai chilies

Pack green tomato wedges into the jars. Pour brine slowly into the jars. Use a wooden chopstick to remove the air bubbles and add a bit of additional brine if necessary. Wipe rims, apply simmered lids and screw on bands.

Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Let the jars sit in the canner for 5 minutes, and then carefully remove them and let them cool on a towel-lined countertop. When jars are completely cool, remove rings and test seals by grasping the edges of the lid and lifting the jar. If the lids hold fast, the seal is good.

Pickled Hot Cherry Peppers

I first got a bag of these beautiful hot cherry peppers at a stand in New Jersey, and then they started showing up in my CSA. I love peppers, but what to do with them all? I found this great recipe from Martha Stewart (I know, I know). These little peppers are especially great cold and sliced with goat cheese or on sandwiches- I might even try to pickle the next batch already sliced.

Homemade Applesauce – it’s not too late!

I admit I was a little late embracing apple season. By the time I finally made it out to Linvilla Orchards, pick-your-own season had just ended. Luckily, they still had plenty of apples. I bought a big box of “seconds” – apples with slight blemishes that are still great for cooking and half the price!

Victorio Strainer
The thought of peeling, coring and slicing all of those apples made me a bit faint-of-heart, but I borrowed my friend Merridy’s vintage Victorio Strainer. My mom has one, and knowing it’s super powers, I didn’t consider making applesauce without one. Here’s the deal: You just chop of the apples, and boil them in a little water and cider until very soft.
the "funnel"

Then you just take a big old measuring cup and dump the apples in the “funnel” of the old Victorio. Save the liquid, as it’s great for boiling more apples, or as a sweet vegetable soup base.

the sauce

All you have to do then is crank the handle and the applesauce slides hot and delicious down the shoot, into your waiting bowl. The peel, core and seeds are miraculously separate and drop into a different bowl. Some people use these peels as moistening additions in breads and muffins.

Cooking

The last step? Add your desired spices (I like nutmeg, cinnamon and star anise) and cook for a bit over medium heat. Now eat it all – fresh applesauce is amazing – or can it, or freeze it. Later, in those cold winter months, you’ll be so glad you did.