Turmeric Pickles

Turmeric PicklesNothin’ But Time
So here we are at the end of May still with a lot of time on our hands. If you planted a veggie garden at the beginning of all this, time may not be all that you have on your hands. My tomatoes have been going crazy, and even more so with the recent heat. I don’t have any actual tomatoes yet but they are definitely coming. What I do have are cucumbers.

I love cucumbers. I use them in salads, obviously, but I really like to use them by slicing them up and putting them along with a fresh mint sprig in a pitcher of water to keep in the fridge. The cold cucumber water is especially refreshing on hot days.

The best use for an over-abundance of cucumbers is, of course, pickles. These Garlic Dill Pickles are my favorite but sometimes the same old thing gets, well, old. My sister is big into pickling and has a number of favorite recipes—but the one I think she uses the most is the turmeric pickle recipe from the Mustard’s Grill Napa Valley cookbook that we highlighted for one of our Cookbook club dinners. Mustard’s is a Napa Valley icon and, since things seem to be opening up in those parts, it might be worth a trip in the weeks to come…

In the meantime, try these pickles if you have the inclination. They are excellent when made with both cucumbers or zucchini which means you will always have a way to handle an over-producing garden. I like to add a dried chili in there for a little extra kick….

Turmeric Pickles
Yields about 4 Cups
Adapted from Mustard’s Napa Valley Grill Cookbook  Read more…

Grilled Apricot and Ricotta Tartine

Grilled Apricot and Ricotta TartineGroundhog Day
Until yesterday, I had no clue that this weekend is Memorial Day Weekend. Let’s be real. I even struggled to try to remember that it was Wednesday today. Every day feels like the same day on repeat. It is, in fact, groundhog day. I don’t really feel there is much of a difference between Tuesday and Saturday and I am pretty sure I am not the only one.

So, Memorial Day…

Theoretically, it is the unofficial beginning of Summer. Any other year we’d be packing for a tournament and figuring what to throw on the grill when we got home. This year? *Sigh*

I’m sure you all will forgive me for my lack of enthusiasm. It’s becoming harder and harder to be excited about what I am making for dinner. Call it culinary lethargy. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Just as some restrictions are slowly being lifted around the state, stone fruits are starting to make their appearance in the produce department. Hurray!

Yep, the arrival of cherries, apricots, and early peaches and nectarines are just the thing to get me excited again. In fact, these two recipes got my mouth-watering to the point of embarrassment just by looking at them. Grilled Apricots with Burrata, Country Ham and Arugula can also be made with plums, peaches, and pears (depending on the season). And our recipe for Grilled Apricot and Ricotta Tartine is the bomb.

From there it was not hard to picture snacking on either while enjoying this weekend’s warm weather on my back patio, cold beverage in hand…Voila!

Memorial Day Weekend saved!

Grilled Apricot and Ricotta Tartine Recipe 

Read more…

No-Knead Rustic Bread

No-Knead Rustic BreadStill We Rise
I struggled with bread making for years. It was only in the last few that I figured it all out. Since then I have mastered a couple of recipes, Vermont Whole Wheat Oatmeal Honey Bread and Hearty White Sandwich Bread. And, have experimented with others with a decent amount of success. Lately, since I seem to have a little more time on the weekends, I have branched out to make some of the harder stuff. And, by harder I mean those beautiful crusty loaves that you would normally purchase from people who know what they are doing.

The most difficult thing about baking bread right now is finding the flour and even the yeast. I was fortunate to be able to order a 10# bag from the King Arthur website but I had to keep checking to see if they had stock before I got lucky. I will say that we have been able to get some flour in here at the store, though it’s been spotty. (But, it’s getting a little better.) Yeast is a different issue. The good news is thousands of years of bread making on this planet have taught us that you don’t need foil packets of yeast to make bread. It’s in the wild, man…

There have been a number of recipes popping up that require using “wild yeast” which for all intents and purposes means making a “starter”. The most obvious example is a sourdough starter. I have mostly tried to avoid making sourdough during my bread making journey because of the requirement of using a starter. Starters can be labor-intensive. They require daily feeding to keep them active. It can take over your life and become a real chore if you have an active calendar. As my calendar has become less active in recent weeks, I was working up the courage to start the process but I was saved by a friend of mine who not only dropped of a tasty loaf of her rosemary sourdough but some of her starter as well. This is a common practice amongst sourdough bakers. You gotta do something with the “discard” so why not dispense it to your friends? You can only make sourdough waffles so many times…

Because I am unable to share my starter with all of you I am sharing a few recipes for your viewing pleasure. The first is a fairly basic recipe for a rustic sourdough. Please note it does use packaged yeast as well as starter. And here are instructions for how to get your started going. If you are unable to get yeast, I encourage you to do a little research about natural yeast. (The King Arthur Learn section of their website is great.) Yeast from dried fruit is a very old but effective method of baking bread and might be a good option. ( It’s also a great science lesson for your kids.)

The recipe below is a fantastic peasant bread for those who want crusty loaf but aren’t big into sourdough. I made this one last weekend and it was so tasty. Also, remember that these recipes and ideas require time. Good news is, right now, we have that time…

No-Knead Rustic Bread
Adapted from the Food Network
Yields 8 servings Read more…

Mini Frittatas

Mini FrittatasEasy Like Christmas Morning
Christmas morning is a time of magic, wonder, and barely-controlled chaos. Sometimes it can be a challenge just to get the coffee pot going. Though for most people, that is priority one especially if your children woke you at the crack of dawn because they just couldn’t stand it anymore.

By the way, this doesn’t end just because they hit their teenage years. Mine still do it. It’s harder to have the family snuggle in our bed though when the 15 year olds are both 6 feet tall or above…but they still try!

Making breakfast amongst all of this activity can be difficult. For one, there are too many excited people running around in your kitchen. At least that is how it is for me. For another, who wants to be in the kitchen all morning and miss out on all of the fun. Lastly, sometimes you just don’t think about it until the last minute. In the rush to make sure you have gifts for everyone including the dog, forgetting that your family would like to eat breakfast has been known to happen. Something easy and tasty for Christmas morning with ingredients you probably have on hand is the answer.

Sure you could go the tried and true pancakes or waffles route. Those are always a hit. Personally, I like these little guys listed below. They’re quick and easy and you can pretty much put whatever you have on hand in them. No ham? No worries. How ‘bout a little jack cheese and chilies? Or sausage? Or diced green onion and red pepper? No matter what you decide to put in them, you could easily serve them alongside the pancakes and waffles. Because it’s Christmas…you get to live a little and have both…

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Mini Frittatas
Adapted from Giada De Laurentis and the Food Network
Yields servings
Read more…