29 September 2009

Fresh Tomato Scallop


I discovered this fantastic recipe many years ago. It was the photo that caught my eye but the directions that sold me. While it looked like a gorgeous side dish baked as a casserole it was really made from fresh sliced tomatoes, minimally cooked in the microwave and topped with some tasty crumbs. Fast, simple and delicious, relying mostly on the fabulous flavor of tomatoes fresh from the vine, this recipe is one I turn to again and again during tomato harvest season.

The original recipe called for white wine Worcestershire sauce. I remember it being very good but when I ran out of my last bottle I found that it was no longer available. I have substituted regular Worcestershire sauce since then but now I am thinking it might be worthwhile to try mixing ½ Tablespoon of white wine, if you have any open, with ½ Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. Try that if you like but mostly try this recipe. It is a great way to accent the taste of fresh tomatoes with an appealing presentation.



Fresh Tomato Scallop
from the August 1989 issue of "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine

2 Tablespoons sliced green onion
1 Tablespoon butter
1/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons chopped toasted pecans
5 medium tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Combine the green onions and butter in a glass measuring cup and microwave on high for one minute, or until the onions are crisp tender. Add crumbs, cheese and pecans. Stir to combine. Set aside.

Peel the tomatoes, if desired. Cut tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices.

In an 8 inch round microwavable quiche dish or pie plate, arrange the slices in a spiral. Sprinkle with the Worcestershire sauce. Microwave on high for 1 - 2 minutes, or until almost heated through.

Sprinkle crumb mixture over the top and microwave on high, another 30 to 60 seconds.

Serve and enjoy!

23 September 2009

Walnut Pesto


Gardening Challenges

This has been the best summer yet in my backyard garden. I have grown nice gardens before but when we moved to the Pacific Northwest, over a decade ago, I found myself facing a whole new set of gardening challenges. One was the location of the backyard garden. It is bordered by a fence on one side and is crowded by a tree on the other. Though I try to keep the tree trimmed the garden still struggles for enough sunlight.

Another challenge has been adapting to the cycles of this climate. The Pacific Northwest is a region of microclimates. Fine-tuning local gardening recommendations to suit the elevation, orientation and proximity to our house of our particular garden site has required a number of adjustments too.



A Good Year

Finally, this summer things have gone very well. I had tomatoes on several vines. Better yet, the flavor of the little yellow tomatoes that thrived on one of them has been exceptional. Few of them ever make it into the house. My husband and I simply eat them as we discover them before we even leave the garden. There is no better treat than a perfectly ripe tomato warm from the sun and fresh off the vine. Popping one in my mouth and biting into it is bliss.

This year we also had a couple of very productive zucchini plants. As simple as it is to grow zucchini I have not had the best of luck with zucchini vines in my garden here. This year has been different and I have been blessed by that age-old cliche of too many zucchini. I have been roasting them and shredding them and freezing them, but more on that later.

And then there was this huge mystery vine that took over half of the backyard. It turned out that it produced little yellow gourds on a plant that seemed better suited to pumpkins or watermelon.



This Summer’s Success

Among these successes and delights, what I have been most thrilled with in my garden this summer (besides the bunny who hangs around a lot and only nibbles on a few of my least favorite herbs) is the basil. My basil plants have grown tall and lush with thick smooth leaves. I can see them from my kitchen window. I have harvested the luscious fragrant leaves for bruschetta and Summer Berry Basil Sauce and salads and it keeps growing beautifully. I have lemon basil, sweet basil, and at least three varieties with names I'm not sure of.

Not long ago I felt that it was time to really harvest this beautiful herb and make some pesto. I cut back my plants carefully, I cut, and cut, and when I finally got back to the kitchen I had a huge basket full of basil. When rinsed and separated I had eight cups of firmly packed leaves. I was amazed! In years past I have been lucky to harvest a twig or two of basil in my backyard.



Getting down to business I pulled out a pesto recipe that I discovered back in Dallas where my basil and parsley grew with abandon. There I made large batches of this pesto and preserved it to use through the winter by freezing it in mini muffin tins. I filled each muffin cup 2/3 full then placed the tin in the freezer until the mixture was firm. When solid I transferred the frozen circles of pesto to a Ziploc freezer bag.

For a quick side dish just boil pasta according to package directions. Take one circle of pesto from the freezer for each serving and defrost it slightly in the microwave. Add the pesto to the drained pasta along with toasted walnut pieces and Parmesan cheese. 




Walnut Pesto

from an old magazine clipping

¾ cup packed fresh basil leaves
¼ cup packed parsley sprigs
¼ cup walnut pieces
1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt

1 lb bow tie or other pasta

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

 ½ cup toasted walnut pieces



In the container of an electric blender or food processor, combine basil, parsley, untoasted walnut pieces, garlic, olive oil and salt. Blend or process until nearly smooth, turning on and off and scraping the sides of the container as needed.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain.

Toss hot pasta with pesto sauce and Parmesan cheese. Top with toasted walnuts and more Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Or add shaved parmesan, toasted nuts, pitted olives, and sliced bell peppers to make a pasta salad that tastes great served warm or cold. Serve and enjoy!



Note: Pesto is also good spread on flat bread or slices of French bread and sprinkled with Parmesan or mozzerella cheese. Add a few white beans if you like, some sliced tomato and/or basil sprigs and bake till the cheese softens and the bread is toasty. It makes great snacks or appetizers.

20 September 2009

Pan Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad


Some of the old recipes, the ones I remember fondly from when I was a child, are hard to come by. Recipes for Squash Pancakes, Southern Green Beans, Cooked Kale or Collard Greens and Fried Corn, the stuff we ate as weeknight fare, don’t show up in any of my old cookbooks. If you turn to the vegetable section in those you will find mostly casseroles: Broccoli Cheese Casserole, Green Bean Casserole, Squash Casserole, even Eggplant Casserole. Those were company style vegetables, recipes calling for lots of butter, cheese, cracker crumbs and, almost always, Campbell’s soup.

Those casserole recipes don’t appeal to me much these days. What I crave is the comfort of old fashioned home cooking without an excessive amount of added fat, salt and artificial ingredients. I want vegetables like we ate fresh from the garden on a daily basis.

Take, for example, a simple skillet of Fried Corn. I remember my aunt cutting the corn from the cob and how I was intrigued by the way the kernels stuck together in clusters. I remember that the frying browned the corn a little, but did she add onion? How much pepper and bacon grease were added to the skillet? No matter how I adjust these basic ingredients I can’t seem to match the flavor I remember. Nor do I know how to update the recipe to a more modern tasting version of Fried Corn that still hits on at least some of the flavor notes that set off my nostalgic comfort food endorphins.



In a great stroke of good luck, while catching up on my blog reading, I found a post at Eat. Drink. Think. about Mark Bitman’s recipe for Pan Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad. Reading through it I had to smile! This recipe's title made me think of succulent fresh corn, heat seared and simply dressed. Imagine my surprise when I recognized in it the makings of the Fried Corn from my childhood, updated.

Of course my aunt never added avocado, chile peppers or lime juice to her Fried Corn, but this recipe for Pan Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad does make use of one staple from her kitchen; it uses a fair amount of bacon grease to season the corn. Since I just can’t seem to get the seasoning right for a basic pan of plain old Fried Corn I decided to give this slightly more embellished version a try.

Am I ever glad I did! It turned out to be wonderfully full-flavored but not too fussy. Good hot or at room temperature, the taste is fabulous and in there somewhere there is enough of a hint of the real thing from my childhood to bring a wistful smile to my lips. This is what we called good eating! Give it a try. I think you will like it as much as I do.



Pan Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad
from Mark Bittman (via Eat. Drink. Think.)

¼ lb. bacon, diced
¼ - ½ cup red onion, chopped
4 large ears of corn, cut from the cob (2 to 3 cups)
1 or 2 small chile peppers, seeded and minced
Juice of 1 lime
2 cups tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped
salt and black pepper
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to brown.

Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften, approximately 5 minutes.

Add the corn and chile peppers. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the corn begins to brown, approximately 5 more minutes.

In a large bowl mix together the lime juice, tomatoes, avocado and corn mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in cilantro.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy!

17 September 2009

Gelato Affogato


The Power of Suggestion

It’s been done. Yes, I know, its been done. Earlier this summer I saw Ina Garten on The Today Show with Al Roker making Affogato sundaes while Al was slipping a little extra Tia Maria into his. And then I opened the August issue of "Martha Stewart Living" and sure enough it also sported a recipe card for Gelato Affogato.

The next thing I knew I was eating a small scoop of Snoqualmie’s Espresso Chip ice cream and I found myself spooning hot coffee from my cup over the top. I always liked my ice cream soft and melty so it made sense, you know? And, wow, was it delicious! It was even better than I had imagined as I spooned the softening edge of the ice cream scoop into my mouth with the coffee that ran across it. No wonder everyone is doing it. It was a pleasing combination of extremes, cold and hot but not too cold or too hot anymore, in tandem, sort of like a backward overview of our weather here in the Portland area over the past month or so. When averaged it is a very amiable and balanced mixture of the elements but, along the way, I have enjoyed that distincitve taste of both extremes.

Having that small taste of what an Affogato is all about I was sold. In my view it is the perfect way to end a late summer meal. I can picture the sun beginning to set, the cool evening air beginning to settle and brushing against my skin as I dig into the hot and cool spots of this luscious dessert. And there are so many possibilities my imagination just took off.


So Many Possibilities

I could make mine with a scoop or two of espresso chip gourmet ice cream from Snoqualmie in my café au lait bowls. Over that I’d pour ¼ to ½ cup of espresso. That would be simple and great on its own. No fuss, no bother.

Snoqualmie also makes gelato. Doesn’t a scoop of Coconut Rum gelato, the kind I used in my Butter Rum Ice Cream Cupcakes earlier this summer, drenched in espresso, with a dash of dark rum and a drizzle of caramel topping sound delicious?

Or I could serve my favorite Villa Dolce Vanilla Gelato in china bowls with a small glass of Amaretto or Kahlua and a demitasse cup full of hot espresso, as Martha Stewart suggests on her website. Then my guests could assemble their desserts on the spot, pouring the espresso and the liqueur over the gelato just before tasting that first exquisite bite. This would allow for the optimum contrast of hot and cold and would make an elegant presentation.

Or I could make mine Barefoot Contessa style, just like on The Today Show, with a scoop each of hazelnut and vanilla gelato topped with a pour of hot fresh espresso straight from the pot and a splash or two of Kahlua or Tia Maria from the bottle. Pass some whipped cream and top with crushed chocolate covered espresso beans.

Actually I think this is the perfect end to a casual meal with friends in any season. The cold of the ice cream makes it a perfect choice for summer entertaining and the hot espresso makes it an appealing way to end a meal in cooler seasons. The cold and the hot marry in sweet affection, mellowing into a rich complementary understanding. The espresso warms the gelato while adding a terrifically dense layer of bold flavor. The gelato cools and sweetens the coffee as it melts and mixes lending a complexity to the taste and a creaminess to the texture. This celebration of opposites is too simple and too special not to leave your guests with a warm sense of satisfied refreshment.


PS - If you don’t want to try this at home why not order one out? Di Tazza, my favorite little gelato and coffee stop, serves Gelato Affogato, though they don’t list it on their menu. I ordered mine with Amaretto gelato and whipped cream. It was exquisite! I highly recommend running out to get one right now before the gelato case is closed for the season.

13 September 2009

Gelato


This has been a beautiful weekend. Yesterday the temperature spiked near ninety degrees and the evening, spent out in the back yard, was delightfully warm. Summer is still here but not for long. It is late and autumn will officially arrive in just a week or two. Before the summer gets away from us, let's talk about gelato...

Under the Shade Tree

When the temperature soars my mind turns to ice cream. It has ever since I was a little girl. In the summer, my Aunt Hen’s kitchen could feel uncomfortably steamy. Her house did not have air conditioning and the heat of the oven and stove, in addition to the heat and humidity of a Kentucky summer, were sometimes overwhelming. On a day like that, a great treat was to sit outside under the big old shade tree between my aunt's house and the old house where she and my dad grew up, drinking iced tea or sipping lemonade while we made homemade ice cream.

Outside my aunt's kitchen door, across the breezeway and beyond the shade tree was a cistern with a hand pump on top. After we had strategically placed lawn chairs where they would optimize the shade, my aunt would get an old ice cream freezer or two from her garage and set them up on top of the cistern. Then she would bring out canisters filled with the raw materials of what we craved: milk, cream, sugar, eggs and vanilla. The canisters were placed in the tub of the ice cream freezer, ice and rock salt were layered around, the crank assembly was attached and then we began to churn the ice cream.

The Best Part

Sometimes we would have two ice cream freezers going at once. We waited patiently, helped to turn the crank from time to time, watched the water level, added salt or ice, and waited some more until the churning got harder and water began to spill from a small port on the side of the tub. Then we knew the ice cream was ready. We gathered around as my aunt checked, taking off the crank assembly, carefully wiping away any liquid or salt from the top with a kitchen towel and removing the dasher, before replacing the lid and packing it back in the tub filled with ice to cure for a while.

That dasher covered in freshly churned ice cream was the very best part. It was especially yearned for by us kids who could scarcely wait for that first taste of the cool sweet custard we had been anticipating so patiently. I don’t remember how we determined who would get the honor but I was the youngest and I got to lick the dasher often enough.

A little later, when the canister was opened and the ice cream was served I got a full bowlful of my favorite flavor, plain vanilla, soft and fresh, with a bit of Hershey's syrup on top.


Fast Forward

That was many, many years ago. I don't live in the south anymore and I don't even own an ice cream freezer. I had one, maybe fifteen or twenty years ago, but it had an electric motor on top and having been admonished never to feed my children raw eggs, well, the thrill was gone. I gave it away years ago.

Still the memory of my favorite flavor, vanilla, the unique taste and smell of it just as my aunt used to make, has stuck with me over the years.


Now here's where the gelato part comes in...

Years ago, about the time I moved to the Pacific Northwest, I quit eating ice cream every evening after supper. The weather wasn't right for it. It wasn't really hot in the evenings and the ice cream didn't get soft the way I liked it. Besides it was time to start watching my weight and giving up my evening ice cream seemed like a good place to start.

A Modern Day Equivalent

Leaving the ice cream alone was all fine and good most of the time. Yet there are some hot summer days when I simply crave a taste of cold sweet ice cream. I eat it outside in the shade if I can. I adore each spoonful of that soft outer layer of cream melting in the heat and glazing the cold firm center. It is a symphony of taste, temperature and texture that I can't help but enjoy.

While I very rarely get it home made these days, I have found the next best thing to homemade ice cream. It is called Gelato. Smooth and soft, the rich flavor and texture are reminiscent of that hand-churned ice cream I remember from my childhood.

When it gets hot outside I try to go out for gelato as often as I can. Several of my favorite coffee shops offer gelato in the summer. It comes in a number of exotic sounding flavors: stracciatella, tiramisu, lemoncello, and amaretto. At one time there was even a baklava flavored gelato with baklava bits. That was my favorite.

Until recently I didn't know of any other way to get a delicious dish of gelato than to stop by the coffee shop. Then one day, cruising the frozen food section of my local Safeway for some ice cream bars my son had asked for, I saw something new: Villa Dolce Vanilla Gelato. I bought some and took it home. There I had several pieces of Pop-a-Bak Baklava fresh from the Farmer's Market. I crumbled the baklava over a scoop of the vanilla gelato and, hopefully, drizzled it with a little bit of honey. I thought it was worth a try to recreate one of my favorite gelato flavors. What I got was even more than I had hoped for.


No doubt about it, my dish of gelato was grand! It did turn out to taste much like the baklava gelato I enjoyed so much a few summer's ago. The crispy flakes of the pastry and the sticky sweet honeyed nuts were a delicious contrast to the smooth vanilla cream.

Even better, there was something special about the flavor of the vanilla gelato itself. Imagine my delight when I took my first taste and was immediately transported back to that old cistern beside my aunt's house under the shade of that big old tree. The taste was the closest I have ever had to what I indelibly remember as the flavor of my aunt's homemade vanilla ice cream. Ahhh. The simple pleasures. This vanilla gelato is summer bliss!

10 September 2009

Sunflower Cake


In the herb garden outside my kitchen window a weed sprouted. I wasn't sure what it was. It was different than everything else that was growing there. It grew singularly upright and seemed to be minding it's own business. It wasn't invasive and didn't cast shade on anything I valued so I left it alone.

As it grew it looked rather awkward. It was tall and lean with rough homely leaves on a gangly stalk, sprouting up in a bed of basil, parsley, oregano and other compact and pretty herbs. The stalk continued to grow without much promise and it stuck out like a sore thumb. From neglect as much as anything I left it to its own devices.

In time I recognized it as a sunflower plant. Having had bad luck with sunflowers I assumed it would blossom and open a large heavy head which would soon droop and bow to the ground. I thought of pulling it up, but I never did. Sunflowers are pretty and, though this one was growing in an odd location, I knew if it survived I would enjoy looking at it. Eventually I invited it to stay.

When the ungainly stalk was about five feet tall it formed a flower head. The shape was interesting and I began to take notice. From my kitchen window, day by day, I watched it get larger and begin to take on color as it gradually opened and unfurled its petals. I was wrong about it having blossoms too heavy for the stalk to support. This sunflower has smaller blossoms than the ones I was familiar with and looks like it will develop at least five flowers on that one lanky stalk.


In the end that little weak and awkward weed that I thought of as an eyesore turned out to be an education and an inspiration. Little birds gather and sit on its coarse leaves. It has been a subject of my photography and its bright petals, now opening and reaching outward, make me smile.

The harvest from gardening is in more than the abundant produce we bring in to supplement our menus and enrich our meals. It is also in the lessons learned from nurturing and watching the garden as it grows and in the little surprises that turn out to be God's quiet blessings.

This cake reminds me of that blessing and it is easy to make at this time of year, especially if you have sunflowers in your garden that you know have been grown pesticide-free. If not ask your vendor about how the flowers were grown to make sure the petals are safe to eat. Sunflower petals are edible but still they may not compliment the flavor of the cake. Declining to eat them is really okay. Still you might try any that are left over in a tossed salad where the flavors would be more compatible.


Sunflower Cake
Idea from the October 2003 issue of "Better Homes and Gardens"

One 8 inch round chocolate cake layer
Chocolate Frosting
12-15 large mint leaves
30 or so pesticide-free sunflower or yellow chrysanthemum petals

Bake a one layer chocolate cake in an 8 inch round baking pan. You can use the recipe below for low-fat Midnight Chocolate Cake, the recipe for Less-Mess Chocolate Cake, or another recipe of your choice.

Ice the cake with your favorite chocolate frosting. I used ½ recipe of Mexican Hot Chocolate Frosting.

Decorate the top of the cake by placing twelve or so mint leaves at even intervals around the outside edge of the cake, pointing outward like petals on a flower.

Arrange the sunflower petals over the mint leaves around the outer edge of the cake with the petals pointing outward to resemble the petals of a sunflower blossom

Arrange chocolate chips inside the circle of petals, touching and overlapping a bit, to resemble sunflower seeds in the center of a sunflower blossom.

Serve and enjoy!

Note: Sunflower petals are edible but the taste is somewhat bitter. Whole you may eat the sunflower or chrysanthmum petals if they are chemical free, you may not want to. If not just remove them before biting into your slice.


Midnight Chocolate Cake
Recipe from the February 2000 issue of "Sunset"

2/3 cup cocoa
1 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup salad oil
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 large egg whites
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8-inch round cake pan by cutting a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Oil the pan and paper and dust with cocoa powder. Shake out the excess. Set aside.

In a medium bowl mix the cocoa, flour, soda and salt until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the sugar, salad oil, egg whites, vanilla and water. Add the flour mixture and continue beating until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake and invert the pan on a wire rack, lifting off the pan and peeling off the parchment paper. Allow to rest until cool.

Transfer the cake to a serving plate. Frost as desired or dust with powdered sugar.

03 September 2009

Railroad Cole Slaw


Picnic Recipes

It’s no secret that I don’t like mayonnaise. I never have. It is a peculiarity that has always made summer entertaining a bit of of a challenge.. I love picnics but often picnics and potlucks mean lots of salads drenched in dressing made with mayonnaise. It can be discouraging.

Some believe it can also be dangerous. Mayonnaise based salads are one of the foods we are most often warned to treat with particular care during picnic season. Believe me, I embrace that warning. Whether it is the mayonnaise itself that is the culprit or the conditions surrounding its use, mayonnaise has a reputation for hosting bacterial growth in warm atmospheric conditions.

For me that’s reason enough to collect recipes for salads that have an oil and vinegar based dressing, especially for hot weather social events. One of my favorites was given to me by my Father-in-Law. It was a favorite of his from my Mother-in-Law’s recipe box.

An Old Favorite

My husband comes from a large family. At one family gathering the conversation turned to memories of favorite foods. There were stories of holidays and special events, dinner guests, cleaning up after dinner and more. And of course there were stories about favorite recipes.

My Father-in-Law told the family, “Your mother used to make Railroad Cole Slaw. You’ll never get cole slaw like that anywhere nowadays. You could make it and it would last for weeks. Shred cabbage, I think you add an onion sliced thin. Then you put together vinegar, oil and dried mustard. Then you boil it. Pour it over the slaw and it sits out for 4 or 5 hours. After that you put it in the refrigerator and eat it out of the refrigerator.”

It sounded interesting. I asked for the recipe and he let me copy it from a card in my Mother-in-Law’s recipe box.

Railroad Slaw
From my Mother-in-Law's kitchen

1 head cabbage, grated
1 onion, sliced thin
½ cup sugar
¾ cup vinegar
¾ cup salad oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon dry mustard

Place half the grated cabbage in a a bowl and layer half the sliced onions on top.

Sprinkle sugar over onion. Layer other half grated cabbage and then other half sliced onions over this.

Bring to a boil, in a saucepan, the vinegar, oil, salt, celery seed and dry mustard. When mixture comes to a boil, pour over cabbage-onion mixture.

Do not refrigerate. (Due to modern sensibilities I suggest refrigerating it. The recipe will still work out just fine.)

Let slaw stand at room temperature rest in refrigerator four hours, then stir to dissolve sugar.

Add carrots or green pepper for color , if desired.

Store in the refrigerator.


Barbecue Food

I like Railroad Slaw. I remember eating it every summer when we would visit my husband’s family, often served with Starnes Barbecue. It was picnic food I could eat without looking picky and I was grateful.

Making it in my kitchen is somewhat nostalgic. I began this summer by making it for a Memorial Day barbecue. It is a good reliable recipe with a lot of fond associations for me. Still, I get the urge to tinker with it from time to time. The dressing contains a fairly heavy dose of sugar and oil and, like many salads, it seems to me the recipe calls for more dressing than the slaw actually needs. Sometimes I add more cabbage to the recipe the second day. Sometimes I supplement it with other vegetables.

A New Variation

This summer I saw an article about slimmer slaw in "Martha Stewart Living." I used it as an inspiration to update this favorite family cole slaw recipe by cutting down on the amount of sugar and oil as well as the overall quantity of the dressing. then I added red cabbage and carrots as well as a diced apple and some craisins for color and a fresh taste that transitions well into fall.


Slimmer Slaw
Inspired by a recipe in August 2009 "Martha Stewart Living"

¼ cup dried cranberries
1 head green cabbage, sliced to desired texture
2 cups purple cabbage, chopped
2 large carrots, grated
1 apple, cored and diced
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar
¼ cup salad oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon dry mustard

Soak the dried cranberries in enough boiling water to cover. Allow to stand for at least 15 minutes.

Combine the green cabbage, purple cabbage and carrots.

Place half the cabbage mixture in a a bowl and layer half the diced apple on top.

Sprinkle sugar over apples. Layer other half of the cabbage mixture and then other half of the diced apples over all.

Drain cranberries and scatter on top.

Bring to a boil, in a saucepan, the vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, celery seed and dry mustard. When mixture comes to a boil, pour over slaw mixture.

Refrigerate.

After several hours, stir to dissolve sugar and serve.

Store in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

Note: The recipe in "Martha Stewart Living" used honey instead of sugar in the recipe. It also added a minced jalapeno pepper (seeds, ribs and stem removed) to the dressing. I haven't tried it yet but I might. It sounds like an interesting variation!

01 September 2009

Spiked Watermelon - Martha's Way



Ever had a spiked watermelon? I have heard about them time and again, told by friends with a wistful glint in their eye, but I had never thought to make one myself. I'm not all that fond of the ingredients I'd heard they were spiked with and I didn't really have any great serving ideas ...at least not until I opened the July 2009 issue of "Martha Stewart Living."

I don't know about you but I never thought there’d be a recipe for Spiked Watermelon the Martha Stewart way. I always think of Martha Stewart as making things pretty but, you know, complicated. All the same, there it was, so un–Martha-like: simple, accessible, to the point.

Though it is appealingly simple the recipe still kicks it up a notch. It calls for a somewhat unexpected combination of ingredients, using a mixture of tequila and Triplesec to spike the watermelon, then dresses it up ever so slightly with an optional wedge of lime and a sprinkle of sea salt. It’s genius really. Relaxed, pretty, egalitarian, and just a little bit edgy, all at the same time.

It was hard to go wrong here but I did make one mistake. That was in not paying good attention while shopping and bringing home a watermelon with seeds. Because of the stickiness of the syrup this would be much improved by using a seedless watermelon, as Martha suggested.

Tequila Spiked Watermelon Wedges

1 small seedless watermelon, cut into 1-inch wedges
1 cup sugar
¾ cup water
½ cup tequila
¼ cup orange liqueur
2 limes
sea salt

Place the watermelon slices in one or two 9 x 13 glass casserole dishes. Set aside.

Combine the sugar, water, tequila and orange liqueur in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves, approximately 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Pour the syrup over the watermelon wedges. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Remove the watermelon wedges from the syrup and arrange on a serving platter. Squeeze lime juice over melon and sprinkle with the sea salt.

Serve with more lime wedges and enjoy!