Grilled Zucchini Salad with Sea Salt and Lemon

 

 Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of “Grill to Perfection” courtesy of  Page Street Publishing.  Any links to book are affiliate links.

 Zucchini Salad PP

It’s summertime and everyone is in their backyard.  Grills are lit and the smell of lightly charred meat and veggies fill the street.   You are out walking the dog and you can smell a steak on the grill somewhere…  You had dinner planned already, but that just went right out the window.  Now, you’re  on your way to buy a nice, fat steak or a basket full of veggies to throw on the grill.    It’s the smell…  it gets you every. single. time.

First, let me say that I love grilling.   I LOOOOVE IT.    I stand in front of my grill, tongs in hand, listening to the sizzle as meat or veggies hit the grates.  It’s one of the best sounds in the world!  I feel like puffing out my chest and grunting “fire”, but the urge passes and I’m back to reality.   Then…  the smell wafts up and smacks me right across the face with the intensity of an angry mistress in a soap opera.    I just breathe deep and inhale until my lungs are full.   

Before we get to the recipe;  let’s talk about the book! 

The intro to the book gives some great info about grills, tools, technique, etc.   Anyone can learn something from this bit of information.   I suggest reading it, even if you have been grilling for decades.

Each chapter offers a specific grilling technique and recipes to go with it…  here are a few of the recipes from each of the chapters:

Sear It: Hot Direct Grilling

  • Tamari-Glazed Steak with Sweet & Spicy Rice
  • Grilled Steak with Coffee Rub
  • Curried Chicken Tenderloins with Coconut and Papaya Salad
  • Lamb T-Bones and Mint Pistou
  • Molasses-Chipotle Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Roasting for Flavor: Medium Direct Grilling

  • Grilled King Salmon with English Peas and Mint
  • Molly’s Tofu Tacos
  • Grilled Zucchini Salad with Sea Salt & Lemon Zest
  • Honey-Grilled Hot Pepper Jelly

Avoid The Burn: Low Direct Grilling

  • Slow-Grilled Chicken Thighs with Alabama White Sauce
  • Grilled Trout Stuffed with Fresh Herb Salad
  • Thai-Flavored Pork Belly Skewers

Grilling Two Ways: Hybrid Two-Zone Grilling

  • Backyard Clambake on Your Grill
  • Grilled Club Steak with House Butter
  • Grilled Swordfish with Warm Bacon Lobster Salad
  • Grilled Striper Fillet with Summer Corn Succotash
  • Lacquered Pork Belly with Dijon and Soy

Grill It Low and Slow: Two-Zone Grilling

  • Slow-Grilled Beef Brisket
  • Jerk Ribs with Guava Glaze and Grilled Bananas
  • Pumpkin Bread in a Can with Chocolate Sea Salt Butter
  • Peach Mint Juleps

 

Nearly every recipe has an accompanying photograph to go with it, which I really liked.  I’m a very visual person and being able to see the finished recipe is great; even if I decide to execute it slightly differently, it’s nice to see a picture.    There are certain recipes that call for a slightly advanced technique and there are a series of step by step photos to walk you through the process.  Beginners; fear not!  There is a description and picture for every step!

I can guarantee that my grill will be getting a serious workout very soon!  I would happily make the majority of the recipes in this book and considering there is a certain Texan that I cook for, I’m glad I have an ace up my sleeve…

The original recipe of the zucchini salad calls for the zucchini to be cut in half lengthwise and then into 1/2″ thick slices.  I chose to do ribbons instead, just because I think it’s prettier on a plate.  I swapped out regular lemon for Meyer lemon because I had them and I love Meyer lemons…  other than that, the recipe below is the exact recipe from the book:

grill to perfection
     Grill to Perfection: Two Champion Pit Masters’ Recipes and Techniques for Unforgettable Backyard Grilling

 

Zucchini Salad 253

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Sea Salt and Lemon Zest
Serves 4
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 tbsp. olive oil
  2. 2 medium-sized zucchini, ends removed, sliced into ribbons on a mandolin
  3. Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
  4. Juice of 2 Meyer lemons
  5. 2 tbsp. slivered almonds, toasted
  6. 2 tbsp. roughly chopped parsley
  7. 5 basil leaves, roughly chopped
  8. 4 mint leaves, roughly chopped
  9. 1 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  10. Coarse sea salt, for serving
Instructions
  1. Build a medium direct fire. Spread an even layer of unlit charcoal in the bottom of the grill. Fill a chimney halfway with charcoal. Stuff two sheets of newspaper in the bottom of the chimney and light it. When the coals are fully engaged-you should see flames peeking over the top-pour them over the unlit charcoal. If using a gas grill, light the gas and adjust the temperature on both sides to medium.
  2. Lightly oil the zucchini and season with salt and pepper.
  3. When you can hold your hands over the fire for no more than 5 to 8 seconds, clean the grill grate. Place the zucchini on the grill and cook for 30 seconds (2 minutes if doing 1/2" slices), flip and cook for an additional 30 seconds, until golden brown. Remove from heat and place in a bowl.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients to the zucchini and toss very gently to combine. Sprinkle sea salt over the salad and serve immediately or set aside at room temperature until serving time.
Pook's Pantry http://www.pookspantry.com/

Strawberry Key Lime Jam…

Strawberry Key Lime Jam

I was spending my birthday weekend in the Clearwater area and it just so happened to coincide with the Strawberry Festival in Plant City.    I was ecstatic because I happen to know that A LOT of strawberries come out of that area and are shipped all over the east coast.

When I was still cheffing (yes, that’s now a verb) in NYC,  all of the strawberry flats were from Plant City so I knew there were good berries to be had.    Slathered in sunscreen for a day of walking around in the blistering sunshine, we got in the car and drove an hour to have our fill of strawberry everything…  or so we thought.

Perhaps it was my own fault, I envisioned strawberry pies, strawberry jams & jellies, strawberry malts, strawberry pastries, strawberries in every way imaginable and I was practically frothing at the mouth in anticipation.    I was looking forward to the creativity of locals, presenting strawberries in ways I had never thought of, I was so ready to have my mind and taste buds blown!  One would assume if it’s a “Strawberry Festival”, that’s exactly what you’d find, no?   The short answer:  no.  

There were 2 places to get strawberry shortcake, each with a line at least 100 deep and a handful of other booths were strawberry items could be purchased.   It was quite a let down, but there is a BIG silver lining!  

Local farms were set up in tents, like a farmer’s market, along the streets leading into the festival.  I scored an entire flat (that’s about 12 pounds) of the most gorgeous, bright ruby red strawberries you’ve ever laid your eyes on for…  wait for it….  seven dollars!    Seven.  Dollars.      I was over the moon!  I happily lugged that box all the way back to the car.   I also had a glazed doughnut roughly the size of a baby’s head fresh from the oil, so it wasn’t a total loss ;)

Would I go to that festival again?  Probably not.  Would I drive the hour to buy 12 pounds of perfect strawberries for $7.00?   You bet.

Strawberry Key Lime Jam
Yields 8
Basic Strawberry Jam recipe, slightly tweaked with a South Florida flair
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Ingredients
  1. 2 quarts strawberries, washed, hulled and roughly chopped
  2. 1 1.75 oz pkg + 2 tbsp. powdered pectin
  3. 1/4 cup fresh key lime juice
  4. 3 tbsp. key lime zest
  5. 7 cups sugar
Instructions
  1. Place 9 half pint (8 oz) mason jars in a very large stock pot/lobster pot/canning pot. Add enough water to cover the jars and bring to simmer. Place the lids into a small saucepan and simmer those in a bit of water as well. No need to warm the rings, just the lids. Make sure you are using new lids every time. It's best not to reuse them.
  2. That being said, I have reused them when in a pinch, but it's not standard practice.
  3. Combine strawberries, pectin, lime juice and zest in a large stock pot. (You'll want plenty of room at the top when the mixture starts boiling)
  4. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, then add sugar all at once and stir until completely dissolved. Return to a rolling boil and let it boil HARD for 60 - 90 seconds, stirring constantly.
  5. Remove from heat and skim off as much foam as you can without taking too much of the jam.
  6. Using canning tongs (or regular tongs with a dish towel wrapped around them) remove one of the jars from the water, pour the water out and set a wide mouth funnel inside the jar. Using a measuring cup, scoop jam and pour into warm jar leaving 1/4" of space at the top. Repeat until all the jars are filled, then wipe the rim of the jar with a damp towel, making sure the thread of the jar is clean.
  7. Remove the lids from the simmering water, screw on the rings but do not tighten all the way. Enough to secure the lid, but not completely tightened. Repeat with remaining jars.
  8. Place jars into a canning rack if you have one and lower into water in canning/lobster pot. If not, use tongs and lower the jars one by one (fairly quickly) into the water. Make sure water covers the jars by at least an inch, two if possible. Bring water to a full boil. Boil for 10 - 12 minutes, let jars "rest" in the water for a couple of minutes, then remove from water. I always place my hot jars on top of a dishtowel on the counter so nothing slides around.
  9. Leave jars for 24 hours, you will hopefully hear that beautiful "PING" sound fairly soon after they've come out of the water, but it may take a little while. After 24 hours, tighten the rings all the way and check to make sure they have all sealed. Press on the lid. If it has ANY give whatsoever, that guy gets to live in the fridge. Otherwise, your jam is good to go!
Notes
  1. I don't remember where I learned this trick, but a pat of butter help keep the foam to a minimum. If you are so inclined, drop a pat of butter into your strawberry mixture while it's cooking to keep the foam under control.
Adapted from Ball Blue Book
Adapted from Ball Blue Book
Pook's Pantry http://www.pookspantry.com/
My Love 054 My Love 057 My Love 060

Get Your Game Face On…

Break out the fat pants… It’s Super Bowl Party time.   Oh, don’t give me that face!  You know as well as I do that no matter what, you and I will be eating more than we should.    I love football parties;  a gathering of friends, yelling at the television in unison, eating, drinking and being merry… until of course there is a fumble or an interception.  Then the merriment seems to dissipate.

This year, I will have my very first Super Bowl Party.   I love throwing parties and I will use any excuse to have friends over and feed them.  The fact that there will be a football game on is a bonus!    The smile that creeps across their lips as they taste something heavenly (or sinful)… that’s the stuff I live for.  Seriously.

Here are some of the things that will be on our Super Bowl party menu:

photo courtesy of Cravings of a Lunatic

photo courtesy of Cravings of a Lunatic

http://www.cravingsofalunatic.com/2014/01/jalapeno-bacon-poppers-appetizerweek-savorx-giveaway.html

She had me at bacon…  Dang.   You know those (GASP) frozen jalapeno poppers that people seem to be a fan of?!   Make these and they will NEVER think those are a good idea, ever again.  These little babies pack a punch and leave you reaching for more!

 

Who doesn't love a corndog?!

Who doesn’t love a corndog?!

http://www.pookspantry.com/guilty-pleasures/

This is serious.  I don’t recommend eating these often, but once in a while… You need a corndog.  Especially if they are mini size!   These are so much fun!  They are a taste of childhood for me.  It was a special treat that we used to get and that sweet corn batter, deep-fried to  golden brown delicious makes me smile every single time.    A tray of these will make your friends very happy.

 

photo by: Alex Farnum coutesy of: Leite's Culinaria

photo by: Alex Farnum
coutesy of: Leite’s Culinaria

http://leitesculinaria.com/87995/recipes-soft-pretzels.html

These little gems are on my menu.  I love a soft pretzel more than any reasonable person really should…   If I am somewhere that has them, I’m not walking out without one.   I’m making a BIG batch of these and stashing some for those nights when the craving strikes.    These are absolute snack perfection.

 

photo courtesy of: Pastry Chef Online

photo courtesy of: Pastry Chef Online

http://pastrychefonline.com/2014/01/23/turtle-graham-crackers-candy/

Tell me your brain isn’t thinking “how do I get some of that?!”  After all the snacks have been devoured, your guests are going to need something sweet.   Jenni has come up with something that fits the bill quite nicely. 

 

photo courtesy of: Pass the Sushi

photo courtesy of: Pass the Sushi

http://passthesushi.com/huli-huli-bacon-chicken-bites-captainstable/

If these don’t scream “SUPER BOWL PARTY”, I don’t know what does…  Check them out & tweet with #captainstable to help donate a buck to ending hunger!    Chicken wrapped in bacon… that is all kinds of right.

 

photo courtesy of: Foodie with Family

photo courtesy of: Foodie with Family

http://www.foodiewithfamily.com/2014/01/29/garlic-parmesan-stadium-style-baked-steak-fries/

Is there ANYONE on the planet who doesn’t love fries?  These are not just ordinary fries… Look at that cheesy, herb-laden goodness.   These would be good for a party, movie night, dinner, a random Tuesday…  You get my point.

 

Sweet Corn Fritters & a Cold Beer= Perfection

Sweet Corn Fritters & a Cold Beer= Perfection

http://www.pookspantry.com/445/

Sweet Corn Fritters.  What else is there to say?  A plate of these & a cold beer and all is right with the world.   There are so many ways to dress these up.  You can leave them plain, as I did here, or mix in some bacon or crab.  Wanna keep it vegetarian?  Roasted red peppers, chipotle in adobo for a little kick or scallions would be nice.  

 

Thanks to all of my generous friends who allowed me to use their images & links!  Please check them out…  And a big THANK YOU to all of you who take a few moments to read this blog!

 

#SuperBowl  #GameDay  #Food

Franklin Barbecue

Franklin-BBQ

It’s a rather unassuming-looking place, isn’t it?   Don’t let that fool you.  The incredible things that happen on this little corner down a nondescript side street will blow your mind.

We all have those places on our “food bucket list” that we hope we will be able to get to someday.  One of mine was Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas.   It is the epitome of what barbecue should be.  Smoky, full of flavor and soft as butter.  The brisket was so tender I nearly wept, the ribs literally fell off the bone when picked up…  This was it, this was what I had been waiting for.

Franklin-BBQ-3

It was our first stop on the “Tour de Tex”.  We had checked the website and unfortunately found that due to the holiday schedule,  there was only day they would be open while we were in Texas.  So, here is how it went:  We woke up at 3:45 in the morning, got on a plane to San Antonio (our original destination), went straight to the rental car place from baggage claim,  made an hour long drive on a wing (or a rib) and a prayer to arrive at Franklin Barbecue by 11:45 am.    If this seems like a reasonable time to arrive, you’d be mistaken.   The line started at 8:00am, which means we were pretty far back and it wasn’t looking good for us. 

Franklin-BBQ-2

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From Apples to Oranges…

It was snowing the day I left Brooklyn. Not a soft, delicate snowfall… It was coming down thick and heavy.  Wind blowing almost aggressively, as if it were angry.   The sky was the color of pewter and rather ominous looking, the dark-bottomed clouds hung heavy filled with snow.

It felt perfectly appropriate, a perfect fit for my mood.  I had more emotions than I knew what to do with.  I was on the precipice of yet another move, another life-changing event and I had my doubts.   I was terrified, but I stiffened my spine and threw my shoulders back.  I had done this more than once in my lifetime and I wasn’t about to back down now.   I had lived in New York City for 17 years, anywhere I chose to go would be culture shock… little did I know how true that statement would be.

Clementine Cake 3

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Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

I stuff my feet down into my boots, with two pairs of thick socks and grab my heaviest winter coat.  My sock monkey hat on my head, gloves shoved in my pockets and scarf slung over my shoulder ready to protect my face from the biting, bitter cold that awaits outside my door.

A splash of peppermint schnapps in my cup, topped with hot chocolate from the pot on the stove and I’m ready.  Camera in one hand, boozy cocoa in the other.  This is Christmas Eve. 


Every year, I would trek out in the very late night hours around my neighborhood to look at the Christmas lights.  Our neighborhood was infamous.  People came from all over to tour the houses, photographing nearly every single one…  And I lived there.   I would wait until the throngs of people no longer blocked every inch of sidewalk, the crowds had all gone home, the tour buses no longer clogging up the streets.   I waited.   Finally, when the night was quiet and the only sound was the snow and ice crunching under my boots, I made my annual rounds.

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Holiday Spirit…

Last night as I was driving to do a little Christmas shopping, I witnessed some Very Rude Behavior.  The Girl (with whom I was speaking at the time) was subjected to a five minute tirade by yours truly and stories of similar behavior that I had been witness to during previous Holiday seasons in New York.

Instead of rehashing stories highlighting the “not-so-proud” moments, let’s instead focus on something positive.  People I happen to think are fantastic!  Some of them I know in real life and some only through the world of food blogging, but these are folks that I really, truly enjoy and I know you will too.  

They are all very genuine and lovely people.  They are riotously funny and can bring you to tears in the same post.  Their recipes make you want to chip a tooth on the screen trying (in vain) to get just a little nibble…    

They are a talented, kind and wonderful lot, please do check them out and say “hi” for me while you’re there. red velvet

Jenni, otherwise known as “Sissy” of Pastry Chef Online.   Jenni is the Best.  Plain & Simple.  She is extremely knowledgeable and helpful,  her recipes are swoon-worthy and she is one of my favorite people on the planet.  This bread recipe absolutely fascinated me.

Jamie writes some of the most beautiful words you will ever read.  Her blog Life’s a Feast is one of my favorites.  The recipes and the stories that go with them are wonderful.  I can’t even tell you how many I have bookmarked to make someday…  But, this one is next.

Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic is high-larious.  She is my Canadian connection!  Her recipes are straight-forward and delicious, she cooks and bakes with passion, loves to share the wealth with our food blogger community and is an all around great gal.  Her slow cooker pulled pork recipe is something you need.  Trust me…

Rebecca of Foodie with Family is just that.  She is a Mom of some of the cutest, funniest boys and her food consistently elicits the “Pavlov’s dog” drool reaction.  I met Rebecca at a food blog conference this year and we decided to trade goods… I was the recipient of this.  It was magic in a mason jar.  Seriously.  I’ve never had anything like it and I cook for a living.  I can’t say enough about how good it was.  I ate it with a spoon while no one was watching…

Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake  is a delight.  Her food and photos are beautiful and her archive of recipes is massive.  If you are looking for something in particular, chances are you’ll find it over there!  Here is an example: I was looking for a fun something for a breakfast/brunch and this called my name.  Loudly.

David Leite.  Where do I even begin…  He is amazing, his writing is so honest and genuine that he makes you feel as if you are having a conversation.   I’ve met David a few times and believe me when I tell you, he is just as genuine in person.  His site is wildly popular, his book is beautiful and his “Blahg” is like a little peek into his life.   His post about the Thanksgiving debacle had me howling with laughter…  He really paints a picture.

Becca of It’s Yummi! is without a doubt one of the sweetest people that I’ve never met ;)   She is a chef living in Wisconsin, she loves football (so you know we get along!) and she makes a mean bowl of soup.  She is also a newlywed, so go on over and give her some love.

Well, friends… That about does it.    In the spirit of giving, these are the people that are a gift to me through their words, their food and their friendship.  Go check them out and cook something wonderful tonight.  <3

Ride with Pride

Smart Ride Training
Do you remember when you first learned to ride a bike?  That feeling of newfound freedom, the exhilaration of being able to go wherever you wanted (or as far as your Mom would let you), knowing your bike was your passport to places unknown.

Riding with your friends, streamers flying in the wind, baseball cards in the spokes making that cool sound as your tires spun around and around.  

I remember getting my first 10 speed.   I wanted this bike so badly, I could hardly stand it.  On Christmas morning, I walked out into the living room and there it was.  Black, white & red.  It was gorgeous.  I rode the hell out of that bike for years.   Then I learned to drive.

Over the years, I would ride occasionally but never with any regularity.  Then, I found my friends.  This is the story of how we met…

boo

It was about 8 months ago, I had only lived here 5 weeks or so at that point and knew no one.  I had always enjoyed riding bikes and had heard about this charity ride and thought that I would like to do it.  The ride was called “Bike It for Life” and there was a casual meet and greet one afternoon at someone’s house.   I don’t know about you, but I get a little anxious going into an entire room full of people who already know each other…  Making friends as an adult isn’t very easy, but I knew I wanted to ride and to do that I needed to get out of my comfort zone.   Every cell in my body was rebelling against me as I walked up to the door.  Just as I approached, CC was opening the door for the pizza delivery guy and yelled “Hey! I guess you are here for “Bike it for Life!” and with that sentence, I was welcomed inside. 

CC & CB             On top of Mount St.17th 

I remember sitting at CC’s table, talking to KM and DM…  KM had the kindest eyes I had ever seen.  I must’ve looked terrified because he was so sweet to me and I have never forgotten that.  I remember seeing JM, who has become one of my favorite guys on the planet, walk up the stairs that day too.  It’s funny when you look back at when you first met people who are such a big part of your life now, I never imagined that this group of guys would capture my heart, become some of the most important people in the world to me and change my life forever.

thorn between 2 roses

My cycling group is more than that, they are part of my family.   We spend hours upon hours on the road together, training together, changing flats together, laughing together, teasing each other, sharing our nutrition bars and gu, hanging out together after rides and I absolutely adore these people. 

In a few short days, we will be riding in the Smart Ride.  It is a 2 day event, 165 miles from Miami to Key West.   We have been training for almost 6 months for this event, giving our weekends to the road.  It hasn’t always been easy, sometimes it’s been downright brutal, but as one of my teammates said last weekend “I think of the person who would gladly trade my pain to be able to do this”.  Smart Ride is hoping to raise $1,000,000 this year, on the 10th anniversary of this amazing ride.  I am beyond proud to be a part of it and a part of my team.

group shot

I settle into the saddle and feel my feet clip in to the pedals.   Slowly my body melts into its familiar routine.

Serenity washes over me as the stresses of life fade away.   I am granted a temporary reprieve from the constant stream of “things I need to do” and my brain has clicked over to auto-pilot…  pushing my legs, gripping the bars, focusing on nothing but the road ahead.  I am one with my bike.

All I hear is the sound of my own breathing, the only thing I feel is my heart beating in my chest.   Tire greets pavement as it whizzes past in a blur.   The wind races through my helmet,  I feel it against my flushed skin.   I have given the road my all.  I owe it everything and nothing.

I am drenched in sweat, yet fully cleansed.

 

Smart Ride

To make a donation to Smart Ride, please click on the link below:

https://thesmartride.org/participant-home-page/?tsr_id=5036

Thank you!

To Market…

One of the first things I do when I go on vacation is find the local Farmer’s Market.   I love seeing what the locals buy and spotting new items from area farms, bits of the earth still clinging to the roots.  

Walking past the colors and shapes, I can’t help myself…  I have to pick up piece after piece.  Holding it in my hand, feeling it’s heft.  Bringing it to my face, I smell everything from berries to beets;  peppers to herbs.   I am enthralled.   The beauty of food hasn’t been lost on me,  I have yet to become jaded and for this I am grateful. 

Every market is a different experience,  each offering something unique and sometimes things I have never seen or tasted before.    That is when I really get excited,  when I stumble upon something completely unfamiliar.   I begin to imagine all of the possibilities…   That’s the fun in experimenting with something unfamiliar;  there is nothing to compare it to, so you can’t possibly go wrong!  

Here’s where I think some people tend to take a “wrong turn” so to speak…  Fear of failure.  Or, less than perfect.   The people that know me are probably about to roll their eyes at me right now, because I have a teensy bit of an issue with being a perfectionist.  Hey, I’m working on it.  
Don’t be afraid to buy something that you are unfamiliar with; stepping out of your comfort zone is the only way to grow and learn.  Yes, sometimes it’s a bit uncomfortable and perhaps a little painful at times but in the end, it’s usually worth it.    Experiment a little and see where it takes you… 
You may end up creating something magnificent.    

This is my best advice when going to a Green Market:  go in with a rough idea of what you’d like.   
If you are shopping for dinner that night or the next night, peruse the different stands and see what looks good, then plan your dinner.  If you go in with a menu that is  “set in stone”, you may miss out on something really amazing.   That’s usually the way life seems to work out… 

Union Square Green Market, Manhattan
peppers

green pepper
 

La Boqueria, Barcelona
SCAN0049

SCAN0048

gambas

Boqueria

 Prospect Park Green Market, Brooklyn
Grand Army Plaza Market 029

Grand Army Plaza Market 013

Grand Army Plaza Market 004

Grand Army Plaza Market 015

Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, San Francisco
San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco
 

San Francisco

San Francisco

Support your local Farmers and Green Markets!   Fall produce is amazing right now, be fearless in the kitchen!   Buy something you’ve never worked with before and get cooking!   I look forward to hearing about your culinary adventures…

 

(Pear) Butter Me Up…

Pear Butter

Recently I found myself with about 7 pounds of pears that were ripening faster than I could consume them.  Normally, this would never happen as pears are one of my favorites and generally don’t last long enough to even get mushy,  yet here we are.

There were ideas swirling around in my head as to what I could do with them, but none of them really thrilled me so I put out a call on the Facebook page for ideas.   Sometimes you just need to get out of your own head, you know?   Get some fresh ideas and perhaps learn a thing or two…  As usual, my friends came through.  I had a dozen great ideas in under 5 minutes.  It pays off to have “foodies” for friends!  Then, my “wish-she-were-really-my-sister” came through with “you could use this as a filling for sweet rolls”.  Well, that girl knows just how to get to me.  From that point on, it was all I could think about. 

I rushed to make it, take photos and write the recipe;  then life got in the way and it took me two weeks to write it up.    So much for planning…   I am still swooning over the idea of this being used as a filling for sweet rolls.  (That Jenni is a bit of an evil genius)

Now that I had decided on the fate of the pears,  it was time to get everything set up for canning.  Let me preface this by saying it is not imperative to can the pear butter.  Feel free to store it in the refrigerator if you are certain it will be consumed within a week or two.   I happen to get giddy over that “ping” of the lids sealing and thus am drawn to canning like a moth to a flame.   It adds 15 minutes to the process and I can leave them in the cupboard or give them to friends as gifts, well worth an extra fifteen minutes if you ask me and your friends will be impressed with your kitchen prowess…  they needn’t know it wasn’t all that difficult.

pear butter 001

pear butter 009

 pear butter 008

Pear Butter
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Total Time
3 hr 30 min
Total Time
3 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 5 pounds very ripe pears (Bartlett or Anjou), roughly chopped (do not peel or seed)
  2. 1/2 cup Elderflower liqueur (or Bourbon)
  3. 1 cup brown sugar
  4. 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  5. 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  6. 1 star anise
  7. 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. In a large, deep pot, combine pears, elderflower liqueur or bourbon and 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil and cook over medium high heat for approximately 30 - 40 minutes until fruit is falling apart.
  2. Run mixture through the fine mesh of a food mill to remove seeds and skin. Return puree to pot and stir in brown sugar, lemon juice ginger and salt.
  3. Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until thick and amber colored. (about 2 - 2 1/2 hrs)
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.
  5. Makes 6 half pint jars
  6. If you want to can the butter, sterilize jars & lids, spoon butter into jars and process in a water bath for 10 - 15 minutes.
Notes
  1. The original plan was to use bourbon with this... Only to discover I had none and did not feel like going out to buy some. I happened upon elderflower liqueur and it was quite the happy accident. It worked beautifully here.
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