January 5, 2013
Once you fall in love with Brussels sprouts, it is impossible to get enough. We eat them like candy at our house, or most of us do. One child has chosen to shun these green meatballs for now- more for us! While we enjoy them shaved in salads and sauteed with garlic, the best preparation in my opinion is to simply toss them in oil, season them with salt and pepper and roast in the oven.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Blue Cheese Dip can be served as either an unexpected appetizer or a gratifying side dish. The Brussels sprouts caramelize a bit in the oven and match beautifully with the blue cheese and yogurt dip. The dish hits all the notes of a warm, savory, dippable treat, but without the guilt of fat and carbohydrates that so many appetizers carry.
December 30, 2012
Some people have all the luck, like a few weeks ago when I came home to a ginormous bag of Fuyu persimmons and Meyer lemons on my front porch. I love each of these fruits and am lucky enough to have a friend who is happy to share the bounty from her trees. Since then I have done my best to make a strong dent in the harvest, despite the fact that my family members have all opted out of the challenge. After weeks of nibbling and a double batch of our long-time favorite Fuyu Persimmon Chutney failed to exhaust my fruit supply, I began to question my luck. I cannot stand for food to go to waste, and yet there were just so many persimmons. That is when it occurred to me that when life gives you just about any fruit, it is almost always a good idea to make salsa!
Fuyu Persimmon Salsa marries the slight sweetness of firm fleshed Fuyu persimmons with the savory goodness of garlic, a little heat from a spot of ginger, and a pop of acid from Meyer lemon. While I would not turn down an opportunity to scoop this onto a crispy tortilla chip, this salsa is perhaps better paired with seared fish or roast chicken. Its bright fresh flavors are just the thing to erase the memory of one (or more) too many Christmas cookies.
Do you have a favorite persimmon recipe? If so, please share in the comments below!
November 15, 2012
With Halloween behind us, we are officially hurtling towards the Thanksgiving. For me that means it is time to get serious about meal planning. While Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy time-honored dishes, each year I like to try something new as well. Here a a collection of special occasion-worthy recipes from My Pantry Shelf that my family loves. What is your favorite dish to make for Thanksgiving? Tell us in the comments below. Feel free to add a link to your recipes.
sides and salads
October 27, 2012
The rains came this week and called the official end to summer. The cool weather came a bit late if you ask me, our sweaters and socks, not to mention our umbrellas, were looking mighty lonely. We picked our last lug of peppers just in time, hauling in a respectable bounty before the soaking. Our pepper plants have nearly given us more peppers than we know what to do with, or than we would know if we were not busy making all sorts of yummy pepper dishes every few days. There was no question of how to prepare this last harvest of peppers. For the last year there has been a habañero pepper-sized hole on my pantry shelf (and in my heart- sigh). Before you jump to judgement and label me as a dramatic preserved foodaphile, let me explain. I started making a version of this jelly years ago. In the early days of our relationship, my husband and I would make whole meals out of Swedish crisp bread topped with cream cheese and pepper jelly. It was so good, we dubbed it “THE snack”. It became a staple in our pantry and our diet. For some reason, I never got around to making it last summer, so there was sweet relief in filling the pantry void with this jeweled treat.
Sweet, tart, and spicy, Habañero Pepper Jelly is nearly irresistible. Habañero peppers have a robust flavor that infuses the jelly, but they are very spicy. For this batch, I used a combination of semi-hot Hungarian wax peppers and a handful of habañeros. There is a serious kick. More often I pair the spicy habañeros with sweet bell peppers. Of course, you can add whichever kinds of peppers you wish. Not a fan of the heat? It is fine to use only sweet peppers. The only guideline is to try to use peppers that are in the same color range. I once tried to use green, yellow, and red peppers and the result was a murky brown jelly. Serve this jelly with a cheese course (great with goat cheese, brie, or cream cheese- a sharp cheddar is good too). The jelly adds a serious kick to a simple grilled cheese or spread it on a turkey sandwich. Come to think of it, this would be a wonderful hostess gift for Thanksgiving. This recipe is all the reason you need to run out to the Farmers’ Market today to snatch up the last of the fall peppers. You will not be disappointed.
August 27, 2012
There are certain foods I count on to take me through the dreary winter months. Summer tomatoes are without a doubt on the top of that list. We are not fantastic tomato growers, but each year I scan the plant sales and farmers’ markets for ten or so tomato plants to sink into our backyard garden. At least one of those plants must be a Principe Borghese. This heirloom tomato is a bit larger than a grape tomato and bred to be dried, If you cannot find that variety, any Roma type or smaller tomato will do. While I have sliced and tossed these beauties into my dehydrator, I much prefer to dry them in the oven.
Savory Oven Dried Tomatoes are unlike the brittle sun-dried tomatoes found in stores. They are dehydrated only to the point that their juices intensify and the flesh develops a slight chewiness. Because they still have some moisture to them, they are not shelf stable and must be kept in the refrigerator or freezer. Dry a few baking sheets worth and enjoy them through the winter. These oven dried tomatoes taste great in any number of dishes. Toss them on pizzas or into a simple pasta dish, lay them in frittatas, or on a simple Oven Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart.
May 9, 2012
One of the many wonderful things about salsa is there are no shortage of excuses to make it. Any time of year, any weather, any occasion, there is a salsa to fit the bill. This most recent concoction folded beautifully into a pre-Cinco de Mayo/ baby shower (yes, Fresh Lime Margaritas were included, of course! ).
Mango Avocado Salsa combines sweet tart mango with creamy avocado spiked with red onion and jalapeño and doused with lime. This palate pleasing mix is equally at home on a piece of grilled salmon or chicken as it is on a tortilla chip or quesadilla. It is the kind of dip that makes you want to whip up another batch as soon as the first is gobbled up. If you are unsure how to cut a mango check out this post. I would love to hear what creative ways you come up with to serve this salsa!
April 25, 2012
One trip to the Farmers’ Market is enough to know that spring is truly here. Mounds of fava beans, pea shoots, and strawberries compete for space with kale, beets, and last season’s potatoes. My kids and I headed over last weekend to pick up some fresh foods and the obligatory honey sticks. When we returned home, our house was unpleasantly warm thanks to unseasonably sultry weather. It may have been too hot to cook, but it was the perfect temperature to put together some quick refrigerator pickles.
Pickled Spring Vegetables are an Asian-inspired quick pickle. Quick pickles are a fantastic use for all sorts of vegetables and do not require time or canning equipment. I used Easter egg radishes, fresh nantes carrots, and leeks from our trip to the market, though you could also use cucumbers, onions, daikon radishes, or just about any other vegetable you want to pickle. The brine is based on rice wine vinegar and lime juice that tempers the sweetness. These pickles have hints of flavor from slices of ginger, garlic and cilantro. Slice up the veggies and pour over the brine. The pickles will be ready to eat in under an hour. Letting them sit overnight will intensify the flavor, if they last that long.