It hasn’t exactly been crockpot weather – but I had a nice little package of local beef braising ribs. I cut them up and loaded them in my mini crockpot, added BBQ sauce, a little red wine, chopped onions and quartered cremini mushrooms.
I added new potatoes after about 3.5 hours, and it was all done in 4 hours (on high).
And then – the leftovers turned into this. I chopped everything up, tossed it in a saucepan with a little white wine, freshly shelled peas and a few cherry tomatoes.
One bowl easy. Included lots of food groups. And was as tasty as it was colourful.
Tis the season for a lot of fresh local produce…and I just keep looking for more things to preserve. It’s so satisfying – in a whole different way than cooking a meal – to make something that I can eat or share all year long.
Maybe I should have been born before refrigeration.
This week it’s been more raspberry jam. Bread and butter pickles. And zucchini relish – which I don’t even like but am so happy to make it on request for someone else. I’m waiting for some fresh apricots to ripen a little more to make them into jam.
I’m slowly getting the tools I should have had all along to avoid hot water bath burns and the inevitable cursing when I try and remove a mason jar with simple tongs.
It took me a total of about 30 minutes to make these two jars of pickled onions and cucumbers. The only ingredient I didn’t have was the coriander seeds but a quick stop at Ed Hyder’s Mediterranean Marketplace solved that problem. (If your travels take you to Worcester MA, stop at Ed Hyder’s!)
The brine was simple: 1 cup white vinegar, 1 cup water, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns.
Bring the mixture to a boil.
For the red onions: Combine 2 medium red onions cut in thin wedges, 1 teaspoon coriander and 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper in a 1 qt mason jar. Pour the hot brine into the jar to fill it and screw the lid on and let cool. Store in the frig for up to 1 month.
For the cucumbers: Slice 2 unpeeled cucumbers into 1/4″ rounds, combine with fresh dill and 3 cloves of sliced garlic in a 1 qt mason jar. Add the hot brine, seal and store.
I served the pickles and onions with just about every meal this weekend and loved the tangy taste of summer!
My daughter-in-law-to-be’s parents gave us a book for the holidays called Shrubs – An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times by Michael Dietsch. I had never heard of a shrub before but since they are from Northern California where all cool trends start, I eagerly read more to enlighten myself!
A shrub is a colonial day drink, derived from the Arabic word sharab, to drink. It’s a concentrated syrup made from fruit, vinegar and sugar and then mixed with water, seltzer or alcohol.
I decided to try the Fresh Ginger Shrub since it was used in the recipe for Moscow Mules in the next chapter. I peeled 4 or 5 large pieces of fresh ginger, cut them into smaller pieces and pulsed them in the food processor. Then I squeezed the pureed ginger into a sieve lined with paper towel to get 1/2 cup of ginger juice. I added 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar and 1/3 cup sugar and put it in a mason jar.
When I tested my shrub, my mouth puckered! This was spicy from the ginger and tangy from the apple cider vinegar. But it’s meant to be a concentrate so I knew enough to wait until I mixed it with vodka and lime juice!
The next day I made the Moscow Mules from the book. They called for 2 oz vodka, 1 oz fresh lime juice, 3/4 oz fresh ginger shrub and soda water. Friends were over for dinner and they were game to try the drink so I filled four glasses with ice, followed the recipe, added a little tonic water and a lime garnish and we clinked our glasses and drank. The faces we made were not pretty! This was a tart drink that tasted like a lot of ginger and apple cider vinegar! With the addition of more vodka and tonic, we got the ratios right and it was a very refreshing summer cocktail.
Most of the recipes involve fruit as the original idea behind a shrub was the vinegar would preserve the fruit before the days of refrigeration. The NYTimes has a recipe for Summer Fruit Shrub from the same book if you are curious to try making one but I scared you off with the ginger recipe! If you like kombucha, you will probably like shrubs. Let us know if you try it!
Here’s a sampling of the amazing meals we dined around PEI on last week. We actually barely skimmed the surface of all the great fresh food – but did a pretty good job in the eastern end of the island where we stayed.
Breakfasts at Inn at Bay Fortune were all served in mason jars and on cast iron. There’s something about the presentation that made everything more yummy. Like the trio of fresh squeezed OJ, fruit smoothie, and yogurt and granola. Perfect portions. Good thing, cause there was beef brisket hash with a poached egg coming right up.
Lunch time often found us at The Lobster Shack in Souris for shucked oysters and the best lobster roll. The clam platter at Shipwreck Point Café was also perfect.
A six-course plus apps FireWorks feast at the Inn is worth the price tag. It came complete with a sketched map of the property and food stations. Take your best eating game to this one, I didn’t make it through dessert. But I was ready to chow down on a steamer pot the next night at Point Prim Chowder House.
I love eating local. Just wish there was a little local lobster in southern Ontario right about now.
Read more about our trip on HAR’s travel blog.
As promised, I made this last weekend. As predicted, it wasn’t difficult but took a fair amount of time. That might have to do with the fact that I decided to make my own breadcrumbs, or the slicing, oiling and salting both sides of all the vegetables.
It looked interesting but since the recipe didn’t have any egg or cheese between the layers, it didn’t really hold together when sliced. Everyone who ate it seemed to like it but who knows, they may just have been being polite! I wanted to love this, but it only gets a B+ from me.
I also made Roasted Feta with Honey which was way easier and more impressive. Try it! 8oz of feta drizzled with some olive oil, baked for 8 minutes at 400F, drizzled with honey, under the broiler and add some pepper. For the effort involved, the roasted feta wins, hands down!
If you pay attention to the initials at the end of each blog, you will notice that mine (HAR) have been mostly absent. CJR has been carrying the load and it’s time for me to step up and get inspired to cook again.
I started by actually reading those emails I receive from cooking.nytimes.com! This one for layered vegetable torte caught my eye. It doesn’t look difficult, but slightly time consuming. You do need to grill the vegetables first and then layer them in a springform pan but it seems like a pleasant Saturday afternoon task to ask my husband to grill while I mix drinks.
I’ll let you read the specific directions in the link above but the general idea is to layer grilled eggplant, zucchini and portobello mushrooms with fresh basil and garlic and top it all off with some bread crumbs, plum tomatoes and Parmesan. It bakes for 30 minutes and can be served hot or at room temperature. Here’s what it’s going to look like when I make it on Saturday!