Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pickled Asparagus for the May Raw/Cold Pack Challenge

I used Marissa's Pickled Asparagus recipe almost to a T, except I was unable to get Penzey's pickling mix which leads me to believe that I will have a much sweeter pickle than I intended. Marissa's recipe can be found HERE but I will write it out  my method below. One thing I regret not reading before I stumbled through the kitchen vying for available counter space was the recommendation to save the blanching water. Drained and left to cool, it provides a nutrient rich (and sustainable) water to water the house plants with! Thanks for the tip Marissa - no blanching water will ever go down the sink in this household again!

This was nice to do on a rainy Mother's Day after a wonderful Eggs Benedict breakfast from SP. Anticipating the rain, we got 90% of the garden in yesterday which is a tremendous feat for Maine and our track record. I'm still itching to get out there and plant the 160 onions that are just waiting patiently on the porch. 

2 pounds asparagus, trimmed to fit your pint jars and blanched in boiling water for approximately 10 seconds

3 cups vinegar (half apple cider vinegar, half white vinegar)
3 cups water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons pickling spice
1 tablespoon red chili flakes
4 garlic cloves, peeled
4 slices of lemon
4 tall (12 oz)  pint jars

1. In a hot water bath, sterilize your jars.
2. Put a  lemon slice in the bottom of each jar and pack the trimmed and blanched asparagus into the jars.

3.  Tuck a garlic clove down into the asparagus spears.

4. Bring the vinegar, water and spices to a boil. Pour into jars on top of asparagus, leaving at least 1/2 inch of head space.

5. Affix lids and rings on the jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes (you can skip this step if you plan on just putting your pickles in the fridge).

6. Wait at least 24 hours before eating, to give the asparagus spears a chance to get sufficiently pickley.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Cocktail Onions for the Cold Pack/Raw Pack May Food in Jars Challenge

I decided to try my hand at preparing pearl onions from scratch. I had been warned, nevertheless, I persisted. In case of failure or a flailing temper tantrum, I made sure I had frozen pearl onions on hand to bail me out and cover for the wee bag of pearl onions I tasked myself to process.

I was pleasantly surprised by, after a 3 minute boil and three minutes in a cold water soak,  how easy it actually was to peel the onions. What was even better was the fact that the "skins" weren't really skins but more so meaty, that I popped all the waste into the freezer for future broth making!

The draw back I discovered was that my back up plan didn't look as appetizing. The pearl onions I processed were crisp, clear, and white while the frozen onions were blemished, green tinged, or had inconsistent color. Here they are all together just before I sprinkled them with salt, covered them with water and soaked them overnight.

If you look closely you can see some are pure white. Any onion with green came out of the frozen package. Any cloudy onion was also from the frozen package. I sprinkled them with generous amounts of salt, covered them in water, and put them in the refrigerator over night.  The following afternoon I drained them, rinsed well, and packed them into hot sterilized jars.

I then prepared the pickle by combining the essentials of two or three different recipes from the Food in Jars website

and two of my favorite canning books Food in Jars and Canning For a New Generation. (albeit one was just being used as a weight).

~ 3 pound pearl onions
1 cup sugar
3 cups White Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Mustard Seeds
2 to 3 Tablespoons Prepared Horseradish (I love the stuff)
Bay leaves - one for each jar
(I'm lucky enough to have a market that stocks fresh ones right now!)

1. Combine vinegar ingredients in a saucepan and bring it to a boil.

2. Pour liquid over onions in jars.
3. Affix caps and boil in hot water bath for 15 minutes.

Yesterday, once fully cooled, I took them outside for their photo opp in a lovely silver tray. Unfortunately the sun went away and we were left with a grey, dark, damp back ground.

I look forward to trying them in a day or two!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Phyllo Tarts AKA Fillo Tarts

What the heck Athens - is it Phyllo or Fillo? It's driving me crazy!

 We had an entire weekend of eating as vegetarians. It feels good to go back to my roots, especially when SP asks for vegetarian meals. I pinned this recipe a month or so ago and forgot about it until we had the puffed pastry tarts. I was excited to see that our local hot house had the ugly heirloom tomatoes back in stock. I love the heart shaped ones on the tart to the right. Baby doesn't like tomatoes so he made the asparagus and pepper tart on the left. He also added lots of pepper - my kids loves pepper! Does anyone else's kid like pepper? it's strange.

From the blog  Girl Versus Dough, I bring you Tomato Ricotta Fillo Tarts. 


1 roll Athens Fillo Dough
¼ cup olive oil or melted butter
1¼ cups ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, plus more for topping
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, plus more for topping
½ teaspoon lemon zest
Salt and pepper, to taste
1½ to 2 lbs tomatoes, sliced to ¼-inch thickness 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough on parchment paper. Brush lightly with olive oil or melted butter. Top with another sheet of phyllo dough; brush lightly with oil. Repeat until all phyllo dough sheets are stacked.
4. In a medium bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, basil, chives, lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste until well combined. Spread evenly on top of fillo dough, leaving a 1-inch border along edges.
5. Top with sliced or halved tomatoes.
6.  Sprinkle with more salt and pepper.
7.  Bake 30 minutes until dough is golden brown and flaky.
8. Cool tart slightly; top with more chopped basil and chives and salt and pepper, if desired.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Cucumber-Basil Egg Salad by Janice Cole

 This egg salad recipe is a favorite for our Last Weekend in June party. La, MarieNicole and I discovered it for lunch a few years ago and we have been fawning after it ever since. The recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks Chicken and Egg by Janice Cole. It is full of wonderful ideas for both chicken and eggs. Buy it - you will not be disappointed.

It was this morning when I put up my own egg salad recipe that I realized that this recipe still  has not made my blog despite being online in various other sources.
This recipe is on  Serge the Concierge
This recipe is on Epicurious
This recipe is on
This recipe is on my mind and now it is on my blog.

6 hard boiled eggs
3/4 cup seeded and diced cucumber
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/3 cup sliced green onions (green part only)
3 Tablespoons lightly packed chopped basil
1/2 cup Hellmann's mayonnaise
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Image result for hellmans

1. Hard boil the eggs. 
2. Run eggs through an egg cutter and into a large bowl.
3. Gently combine eggs, cucumber, shallots, green onions, and basil in the bowl. 
4. Stir in the mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. 
5. Store in refrigerator for up to three days. 
6. Serve with greens, pita pockets, or slices of crusty bread.

My Egg Salad

I recently made egg salad out of our Easter eggs and realized that I don't think I have put up a recipe for my egg salad.

 One might wonder why/how I used our Easter eggs dye and all, but this year I made sure to do it right. First of all, we dyed the eggs with the very messy but all edible Cool Whip and food coloring. I never managed to get a picture of them but they were beautiful. I fastidiously kept them refrigerated whenever they were not decorating our table. It always amazes me how long egg salad can last when made with more than 6 eggs!

There's nothing very scientific about my egg salad but everyone raves over it. This is not to be confused with the amazing cucumber egg salad from Janice Cole a few years ago. I just realized that that is not on my blog! I will amend that post haste! Anyway, back to why I am here.

Ingredients (this is not done with measurements - you decide your proportions)
had boiled eggs
(Hellman's)  Mayonnaise - and yes I will forever shameless plug this brand.
curry powder
salt and pepper to taste

The above is my "famous" go to recipe. I vary from time to time, depending on my mood or the fridge or the contents of the herb harder. That said, here are some optional additions:
chopped pimentos?
cumin powder?
chopped herbs?
finely chopped pickle?

Lentil Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

This recipe is an adaptation of a recipe from Hannaford's March/April Fresh magazine. The original recipe is the Asparagus and Lentil Salad with Buttermilk Dressing. The dressing is easily one of my favorite buttermilk dressing ever!

We had everything but the radishes so we made it without. You can make and refrigerate the dressing and lentils up to 2 days in advance.
for the dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. minced fresh chives
For the lentils:
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups water
1 cup French lentils, rinsed
6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. lemon zest and 3 Tbsp. juice from 1 lemon
1 head Bibb lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper
1.  To make buttermilk dressing, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, buttermilk, parsley, chives, lemon juice, and mustard in a medium bowl until smooth and season with salt and pepper to taste; refrigerate until ready to serve.
2. Combine water and lentils in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until lentils are tender but still hold their shape, about 20 minutes. Drain lentils and transfer to a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup oil and lemon zest and juice to bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside. (refrigerate for a cold salad)
3. To serve, line a platter with lettuce. Stir lentil mixture to re-coat with lemon and oil, then spread evenly over lettuce. Spoon dressing evenly over top and serve.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Puffed Pastry Tarts or Asparagus, salmon and egg tarts


These wonderful puffed pastry tarts were inspired by the cover page recipe on Hannaford's Fresh this spring. The recipe found HERE was the basis for our nice spring dinner soon after Easter.You have to prep the dough in advance and refrigerate before using so plan ahead. You also can keep the prepared dough ( (steps 1 through 4) at room temperature for up to 4 hours or refrigerate for up to 1 day.
Ingredients - but also additional suggestions. 
1 (12-oz.) container plain whipped cream cheese
2 Tbsp. minced fresh chives
2 sheets puff pastry (about 1 lb.), thawed
2 1/2 lb. small to medium asparagus spears
9 medium eggs
Salt and pepper
8 oz. thinly sliced smoked salmon
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
Other topping options we did:
goat cheese
pickled red onions
sliced carrots (I used lacto-fermented ginger carrot slices) 
sliced tomato

1. On a lightly floured surface, cut each pastry sheet into quarters. Roll each piece into a 6x6" square, then trim with a paring knife to create even edges. Using the paring knife, score a 1" border around each square, being careful not to cut through dough.
2. Working one at a time, pierce area inside the border of each square all over with a fork. Transfer squares to two parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
3. When ready to assemble,  Place racks in upper-middle and lower-middle of oven and heat to 400. 
4. Mix together cream cheese and chives in a small bowl and set aside. 
5. Cut asparagus into 4"-long spears. 
6. Beat 1 egg and brush along the border of each square.

7. Working inside the border, spread 3 tablespoons cream cheese mixture in an even layer.

8. Arrange asparagus side by side on top of cream cheese, alternating the direction of the tips.

9.  Season with salt and pepper and bake until pastry edges are golden and puffed, 10 to 12 minutes.

10. Remove baking sheets from oven. Gently push centers of tarts down with the back of a spoon, then crack eggs into each indent. 

11.  Return to oven and bake until egg whites are just set, 12 to 14 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets halfway through. Top evenly with salmon and dill and serve immediately.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Chicken Stock

After making all that vegetable stock, I felt like I was on a roll and ready to tackle the world. In the freezer I had noticed many bones and bags of meat, incorrectly assuming they were pig for Shane to make pea soup out of!

But no! These are all poultry carcasses saved from a winters worth of eating! That one all the way in the back might even be our Thanksgiving Turkey!

Easy recipe...followed the one in Food in Jars and in my Pressure canners direction booklet.

Look at the time - almost 10 and canner coming up to pressure!

Waiting is the longest part!

6 quarts in the canner!

The chicken stock is such a rich golden color unlike the browner vegetable stock color.