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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Adventures in Canning Part 2

Adventures in Canning Part 2

Earlier this week I took the day off work to clean and in general prepare for Yom Kippur.  While there isn’t a whole lot to do in prep to do for Yom Kippur.  It’s not like you have to create elaborate feasts to eat all day (ha!), but it does make thing easier to have most of the stuff ready to go for the break the fast so you’re not prepping when you can’t eat.  But mostly I cleaned, waited for the HVAC guys to assess our place, and chopped a bunch of veggies.  Summer is officially done, but there is still some pretty good produce left at the farmer’s market to pick up.  So, I got a huge daikon radish, two quarts of green beans, and a few carrots this Sunday at the market under 83.  FYI, if you come to Baltimore anytime between April and December, you should totally check it out.  Lots of local produce, prepared foods, and arts.  You may even see a local celebrity or two.

Prepped Veggies

But I digress…  After having spent most of the morning cleaning, I prepped the three veggies that I wanted to preserve for later.  I found the recipe for Dilly Beans from the Food in Jars book, but it is also found on her website.  I had a few habanero peppers from the farmer’s market, so instead of using the cayenne pepper in the recipe, I used habanero pepper rings instead.  For the daikon radish, I really wanted to use rice wine vinegar, but I didn’t have enough on hand, so I just used white vinegar instead.  I did use sriracha to spice them up!

Recipe

Spices in jars

  • 2.5 cups white vinegar (make sure it’s 5%)
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt (I used Kosher salt)
  • 8 cloves garlic smashed
  • 4 tsp dill seed (not dill weed)
  • 3 habanero peppers sliced
  • 2 pound green beans trimmed to fit the jar

Veggies in jars

Clean your four pint jars.  Prep your canning pot by putting in the rack and filling the pot to cover your jars (sterilizes the jars).  While the pot is heating, put your lids in a separate pot to get the seal warm.  In a third pot add the water, vinegar, and salt and bring to a boil.  Wash and trim the green beans to fit the jar.  I cut a few green beans to fit to the jars, then trimmed the rest of the beans to these models. To each sterilized jar add two smashed cloves of garlic, one teaspoon of dill seed, and some habanero slices.  I mixed it up by adding almost a full habanero to two of the jars and then half the amount to the two others.  This way I’ll have some more spicy ones and some less spicy.  Add the hot pickling liquid to each of the jars and leave about a 1/2 in head space.  Tap the jars down to dislodge air bubbles and/or use a chop stick to get rid of any bubbles.  Add a lid and band to each jar and add to the boiling canning pot.  Once the water has returned to boiling, allow to process for five minutes.  Allow to cool and marinate for 2 weeks before eating.

Dilly Beans

Dilly Carrots

I actually doubled the pickling liquid above as I also had the three carrots and the daikon radish I wanted to preserve as well.  The carrots were packed in two jars and used the same pickling ingredients as the beans.  Each jar got two smashed cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of dill seed to each, and about a habanero and a half (again one spicier than the other) split between the two jars.  The lids and bands were applied to each jar and these were also processed for five minutes as well.

The daikon also used the pickling liquid, but I would suggest trying rice wine vinegar (again at 5%) with this next time.  I think it would keep with the asian theme of the vegetable.  I added two cloves of garlic to each of two jars for the daikon. Instead of dill and habanero, I just used a few good squirts of srirachasauce.  If you have garlic chili sauce, that would also be excellent as well (my guess).  Again, I added the pickling liquid to about a half-inch of the top, sealed the jars with lids and bands, and processed the jars for 5 minutes.

Sriracha Daikon

The jars are just sitting there now.  I also made a set of the daikon as refrigerator pickles since I had cleaned another jar, but couldn’t put it in the pot with the others.  Hopefully I’ll taste them soon and report back.  Have you preserved anything this year?  Tried pickling?  Do you have a special Yom Kippur tradition or food you eat to break the fast?

Cans Lined Up

Apple Raisin Challah

Apple Raisin Challah

 

I can’t believe I haven’t posted in two weeks.  I really didn’t mean for the time to get away from me, but with life and the Jewish Holy days, the blog unfortunately fell into the background.  But I have been cooking a bit and canning a little, so I have been trying to keep up with life in general.  I had a craving for some challah, and since the New Year was on us, I thought I’d take a stab at it.  My first try wasn’t a complete failure, but I think between using both whole wheat flour and a flax egg, there was way too much graininess going on.  The challah didn’t have the light and airy flair to it that it should.  This recipe uses Ener-G egg replacer in it, and I think the results were SO much better.  I could actually knead the dough without it falling apart.  Awesome.  My recipe is a kind of piecing together of two different recipes found here and here.

 

Rum soaked currants

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (I used rapid rise) plus 2/3 cup warm water

    Challah Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tsp divided honey
  • 1/3 cup neutral oil (I used canola) plus more to coat bowl
  • 4.5 tsp Ener-G egg replacer plus 5 TBSP water (or 2 large eggs and one egg yolk)
  • 1.5 tsp salt (I used Kosher)
  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 medium apples (I prefer a tart apple, but sweet would also be fine) diced
  • 1/2 cup currants soaked in spiced rum and a cinnamon stick overnight
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Add warm water to yeast and 1 tsp honey and set aside.  You are waiting for the mixture to get foamy.

Yeast mixture

Dissolve the Ener-G egg replacer in the water (if you use slightly warm water, the powder will dissolve a bit better).  Add the egg replacer,  honey, and oil to the yeast and mix well.  Add flour and salt to the mixture all at once and stir until the dough is mixed but uneven.

Uneven dough

Add the cinnamon and turn out dough on a lightly floured surface to knead.  Knead for 5 to 10 minutes.  You want the dough well worked, but not so much that it becomes tough.  Lightly oil the bowl and add the dough back to the bowl.  Let the dough rise for an hour covered.

Dough ready to rise

Dough in quarters

After an hour punch down the dough and cut the dough into quarters.  Take one of the quarters and flatten it out into an oblong shape.  Add 1/4 of the apples and currants to the flattened dough.  Roll up the dough so that it stays long and pinch the ends to close the rope.  Do this with the other three-quarters and keep the finished ropes covered to help retain moisture.  Next, take two of your ropes and place them parallel to each

Flattened dough

other and right next to each other.  Take a third rope and weave it over and under the two ropes, but perpendicular.  Take the fourth rope and weave it so that all ropes form an over under with the others.  The ropes are going to be crossed over the rope closest to it in a counter-clockwise

Currants and apples to dough

fashion, then in a clockwise pattern.  Look at The Shiksa Blog’sinstructions for how to do this.  She has some great pictures.  Place the loaf on a baking sheet with parchment paper covering it and let the dough rise again for 20ish minutes (more is fine).  Right before placing the loaf in the oven, mix the last teaspoon of honey with a teaspoon or two of water and brush the tops of the loaf.  This will give the loaf a nice coloring to it.

Rope

Ready to bake

Bake the loaf at 375 F for 45 minutes.  Check the loaf half way through to make sure it’s baking evenly.  When finished, the challah will be nice and brown.  Allow the challah to cool, then enjoy!  The challah can definitely be made the day before (and maybe two days) it’s needed.

Finished Challah

 

Square 1682

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Square 1682

I had the honor of eating at this restaurant on Saturday night with my parents.  I had gone up that morning to head up to Kennett Square, PA for the Mushroom Festival.  We unfortunately missed Antonia Lofaso from Top Chef‘s demonstration, but we did get to see her at the book signing tent.  We did get to see Dana Herbert of Desserts by Dana do a demonstration of non-pastry items.  None of it was vegetarian, so I wasn’t really invested.  Nothing was really new at the festival from previous years, but there are some really cool exhibits on growing mushrooms, the different kinds of mushrooms that are grown in the area, and there are a TON of local vendors.  My mom and I totally stocked up on some aged balsamic vinegar, she got a bunch of other vinegars, and I got a sun-dried tomato oil as well.  We also tried some hot sauces.  I went for the sauces starting at medium and worked up to hot/extra-hot.  I didn’t go for ones that ghost peppers in them.  But what did my mom do?  She went for the ghost pepper hot sauce first.  And then she had the hiccups :).

I digress…  So, that evening we went to Square 1682as my mom had bought a vegetable tasting (6 courses plus a glass of sparkling wine!) for two and knew my dad wasn’t going to be thrilled to have to eat all those veggies.  So, I was the beneficiary of this lovely offer!  What’s especially cool about this place is that it is a LEED certified restaurant.  They recycle everything they can, compost, and make pretty much all their preserves and pickles in-house.  Also, the chef is committed to sustainable fishes, local meats and cheeses, and choosing in season vegetables.  If that doesn’t sell you to the idea of going to the restaurant, maybe this will… My brother is a chef there!  He’s been there for a while, but I haven’t had a chance to eat there.  So, I not only got to eat there, he actually made some of my food!

Blue Sage

We ordered drinks to start.  I ordered the Blue Sage which was tequila (yum!), blueberries, sage, lime, and coconut sugar.  I really like tequila, so I enjoyed the drink, but I felt like it needed more blueberry or some other flavor if the goal was for the drink to not taste just like tequila.  We had an order of the truffle oil popcorn with citrus salt sent to our table.  It is super good, so I definitely recommend it to

Beet Salad

share.  Our first course was a beet salad.  This was not just any beet salad.  It had thinly sliced yellow beets, locally sourced goat cheese, frisee, pine nuts, and red beet puree.  But the puree was from pickled beets, which I don’t normally like.  But they had been pickled in honey, so were really sweet!  This salad was amazing.  I could have totally eaten a huge thing of this (my brother actually made this salad!).  The breads were then put on the table.  It was an interesting mix of lavash, sourdough ,and focaccia.

Lavash, sourdough, and focaccia

There was butter and garlic infused olive oil to dip them in.  I wish I could make my bread that light and fluffy…  The next course was a super creamy carrot saffron soup with celery and celery root.  This soup is actually vegan!  It looks and tastes like there is cream in there, but apparently if you puree veggies with a touch of oil, you end up with a super creamy base.  I loved the celery and celery root topping on the soup.  It added a needed amount of texture and salt to the soup.

Carrot Saffron soup

Tomato tart

The next course was a tomato tart.  There was this amazing grilled tomato with a tough of ricotta salata on top of puff pastry.  The tomato looked like meat.  It was a little unnerving.  I had to touch it with my fork a few times before I actually ate it.  There was a lovely arugula salad on the side (a little heavy on the salt, but I love salt) along with some pesto and tomato sauce puree on the plate as well.  The tomato was smokey from the grill, which was complemented nicely by the ricotta.  The arugula was nice and peppery, and the dish was really nice over all.  The second entrée was a stuffed cabbage roll.  It

Cabbage Roll

had mashed potatoes and black eyed peas inside with some finely diced pickled vegetables on top.  There was also some kind of vegetable puree and it tasted like a pepper (not spicy) infused oil on the plate.  Those two parts were honestly the only misses of the evening.  Not that they were bad, but I don’t think they added to the dish.  I loved the acid and bite the pickled veggies added to what could be a fairly bland cabbage roll.

Duo of sorbet

Next up was our first dessert.  It was a peach tart topped with grilled peaches and a side of peach gelato and brown butter diced peaches.  I REALLY loved the grilled peaches on top.  Unfortunately my phone didn’t take a great picture of this, so I don’t

Champagne

have a photo to post.  My dad actually ended up ordering this as his dessert he thought it looked that great.  Our second dessert was a duo of sorbet with some diced strawberries.  One was this coconut, which I found slightly gritty to start but had a great finish for taste.  The second was a pomegranate berry one.  This was amazing.  In fact it was so amazing my mom went to take some of mine and ended up knocking over a glass of water.  It was pretty humorous.  And we capped off the night with a glass of sparkling wine.  It was really nice.  All in all, I had an amazing meal, I was full but not stuffed, and I had a great time with my parents.

My brother, Zach

Garden Update (End of Summer)

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I haven’t written about my garden in awhile.  One of the reasons is an animal has been eating my eggplants.  I go out to the garden one day and have an eggplant that just needs a day or two…  Then I go out two days later to harvest, and the eggplant has been eaten!  Ernie saw a groundhog on the property the other day, so we think that’s what’s been getting at it.  I guess next year I need to build a fence around the garden….

Another reason is my yellow pear tomato plant has taken over the garden.  It’s true.  Most of the other tomato plants now can’t grow due to this plant having grown so tall and wide.  Note to self: prune this plant.  The funny thing is that while there is a TON of fruit, it just never seems to mature.  There is a ton of green little tomatoes, but not so many yellow.

Tree in garden

I went up to the garden this week to see about some eggplants and tomatoes and noticed that a tree from the back of the property had fallen over and INTO my garden.  Now I have these branches encroaching on my plants!  I brushed back a branch or two of the tree and tried to get a few tomatoes.  I brought them in along with a few jalapenos.  Then I started to talk to Ernie and absently scratched my wrist.  It swelled up immediate.  CRAP.  I have poison ivy.  I ran upstairs to shower and put Tecnu on the site.  I thought I got it.

Poison ivy on wrist

I was wrong.  The next day I ended up with poison ivy not just on my left wrist but my left and right biceps, my right forearm, my left armpit (NO idea how it got there!), behind my right knee, and on my right  ankle.  Yeah, I had it bad.  I made it through half a day before I HAD to go home.  After a few more Tecnu baths, I realized it

Poison ivy on right bicep

stopped spreading, but the itch wasn’t going away.  So, I picked up some Ivy Dry next.  So, I tried that for a few days, but the area around the sites were drying out and getting itchy.  So, I wanted to get SERIOUS about getting rid of the poison ivy.  I bought this stuff called Calagel.  It’s also made by the people who make Tecnu.  It immediately stopped the itching.  It’s WONDERFUL.  But, I now have some hypersensitivity to hot water.  Not sure what’s worse (the itching….). 

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Sorry this posting is gross, but I guess I just wanted to put it out there that poison ivy sucks.  I hope no one gets it.  EVER.