Fig chutney

I made fig jam and fig preserves with lemon, ginger and cinnamon to give the flavor a little lift, and after eating, cooking or canning dozens of jars of the mellow fruit, I decided I wanted to step it up a little and enhance the flavor profile. 

20140729-234125-85285381.jpgGinger and cinnamon are very aromatic, so it would be difficult to build on those spices without getting too sweet or heady, so I decided to make a chutney that would warm the spices and add a little sharpness without losing the delicate flavor of the figs.

I searched for a recipe that I could work from, and settled on one by Emeril Lagasse. I changed a few things and created a chutney that turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. 

Emeril’s recipe can be found here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/fresh-fig-chutney-recipe.html

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Lici’s Fig Chutney

2 cups apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup red wine (I used cabernet sauvignon)

1/3 cup blackstrap molasses

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 bunch of green onions, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated

1/4 cup fresh ginger, chopped

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

zest of 1 lemon

1/2 lemon, quartered with peel on, seeds out

2 cinnamon sticks

6-8 allspice berries, crushed with mortar & pestle

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves20140729-234124-85284914.jpg

1/4 teaspoon dried pepper flakes

1 teaspoon salt

 2 pounds firm figs, stems removed

Put all the ingredients except the figs into a 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat. Let simmer for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce is reduced by half (Emeril says 2/3, but half worked fine for me). It should be a little syrupy. Remove lemon pieces and cinnamon sticks. Add figs and let simmer another 30 minutes, stirring gently on occasion, being careful not to damage the figs. That way when you serve it, the figs open up to release their flavor and really shine above all the stronger ingredients.

I canned my chutney so I can serve it on multiple occasions. 

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Zucchini bread with chocolate chips

Zucchini bread with chocolate chips

This summer I have seen a bounty of fresh vegetables and fruits make their way into my kitchen, either from a friend’s garden or one of our many farmers markets. That means I have my apron on when I get home at night or early in the morning to prepare a tasty treat or mouthwatering meal for friends and family.

This zucchini bread is one of them. I had to make a second loaf because the first one was so popular it didn’t last long at all!20140702-213919-77959294.jpg

The zucchini came from a friend’s family garden. It was huge. There was enough for both loaves, zucchini chips and a zucchini sauté.

Zucchini bread with chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups spelt (or whole wheat) flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup granulated (or turbinado) sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup light olive oil
1/3 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup Greek yogurt (I use orange or vanilla flavored)
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 1/2 cups grated zucchini
4 to 6 ounces chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together first five ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. In a separate mixing bowl, lightly beat eggs, then stir in olive oil, milk and vanilla. Add in yogurt and orange zest, stirring often to get rid of lumps. When mixture is smooth, add in zucchini. Stir into flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for about an hour or until toothpick comes out clean (make sure to poke around in a few spots as it doesn’t seem to bake consistently). Let cool, then slice and serve. Refrigerate leftovers. (Adapted from a recipe on simplebites.net)

 

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I found some golden beets when I went to Whole Foods (they also had some at Rainbow Co-op). I knew I must buy some, but I didn’t cook them until today.

I wanted to make a soup since the weather has been horrid the last couple of days. The thought of something hearty and warm cheered me up as I prepped the beets and put them in the oven.

But after working in a hot kitchen for more than an hour, I decided to chill the soup instead.

I love the contrast of the sweet beets to the savory greens. It makes every spoonful an adventure.

This is adapted from a recipe on epicurious.com. I served it with an olive hummus and raw green beans.

Roasted golden beet soup
4 golden beets with greens
2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
3/4 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Kosher salt to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups unsalted vegetable stock

Wash beets. Remove greens and set aside. Peel the beetroot and cut into 1 1/4- inches pieces. Place in a baking dish and toss in 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Place in a preheated 400-degree oven for about 45 minutes. While beets are in the oven, sauté ginger, onion and garlic in remaining olive oil using a 1-quart saucepan. Reserve 2/3 of the mixture for the soup.

Rough chop the beet greens (I added some spinach and chard since I had a little left in the fridge). Add to the ginger/onion/garlic mix and sauté until leaves are wilted. Stir in 1/4 cup vegetable stock, letting it warm up, then remove from heat and set aside for a few minutes to cool. Purée with an immersion blender. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Remove beets from oven. They should be soft, but not quite fork-tender. Put the remaining 2/3 ginger/onion/garlic mix and the beets in a 2-quart saucepan and let heat up, stirring in the remaining vegetable stock and a pinch of salt (you can add more later, if needed). Let dimmer about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and zest. Let cool a little, then purée in a blender or food processor.

If serving hot, return to saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring often to avoid burning on the bottom. If serving chilled, cover and let soup cool to room temperature before serving (you can place bowl of soup on top of a bowl of ice to chill further if desired).

Place in individual bowls then spoon a little puréed greens on top before serving.

 

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I wanted to do something different on New Year’s Day instead of the traditional black-eyed peas and cabbage. I already shared the recipe for black-eyed pea falafel.

I found this recipe for Brussels sprouts, and substituted pecans for walnuts since that’s what I had in the cupboard. http://theshiksa.com/2013/11/12/roasted-brussels-sprouts-with-pomegranate-molasses I have store-bought pomegranate molasses, so I used that instead of making my own (recipe for pomegranate molasses: http://theshiksa.com/2011/09/07/pomegranate-molasses/).

The dish has a nice balance of sweet, tart and savory, and has layers of textures, from the crunchy nuts to the pop of the pomegranate kernels.

Here’s how I made it:

Brussels sprouts with pomegranate

1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved

1 tablespoon olive oil

Kosher salt (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)

1 cup toasted pecan halves (about 1/2 cup chopped)

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the Brussels sprouts in olive oil and place in a single layer in a large ceramic baking dish. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes. In the meantime, place pecans in a separate baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for about 5 minutes. Chop lightly. Toss Brussels sprouts and pecans in pomegranate molasses, then add pomegranate kernels and serve.

Black-eyed pea falafel

Black-eyed peas are a traditional Southern food, and if eaten – with cabbage – on New Year’s Day is supposed to bring luck. I made falafel from black-eyed peas yesterday to celebrate the new year, but this falafel is good any time of year.

They are a great source of protein, with 14 grams in 1 cup of cooked peas.

Black-eyed peas

Black-eyed pea falafel

8 ounces dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup cilantro, lightly chopped

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

2 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Soak peas overnight in 2-quart saucepan. Add salt. Bring to a boil, then let simmer 20 to 25 minutes until peas are done, being careful not to overcook. Skim off foam; drain well. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add peas and remaining ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until texture is fairly smooth and consistent. Add a little more flour if needed to firm it up enough to hold together. Form balls about 1 inch to 1 1/4 inch in diameter and place on ungreased ceramic baking dishes. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn falafel over and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Serve with sprigs of fresh cilantro and tzatziki or tahini sauce.