End of Summer Pickles

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Hi, this is our last food post of the summer! Honestly I’m pretty relieved. Having a garden has been fun but I’m overwhelmed by the abundance of the harvest. I’m doing what I can to salvage my tomatoes and cukes but there’s just so many! Once I have more mouths to feed this should be easier. Anyway. I’m really looking forward to some cozy ass recipes for this fall and winter. For now, I’ll let Addie tell you about pickles:

Basic Refrigerator Pickles

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At this point in the harvest season, it’s easy to become fatigued by all of the fruits and vegetables you have coming in in your garden. Taking small easy steps for preservation can save you the heartache of having to toss the veggies you just couldn’t consume before they’d spoiled (which has happened to me more than once this summer). There are tons of preservation techniques to give a new life to your fresh produce, but pickling is probably one of the easier ones. I’m advocating here for quick refrigerator pickles, which are super easy and nearly fool proof because you don’t have to deal with the sanitizing and sealing that goes one with true canning and pickling for shelf stable pickles. It also means that if you want pickles with dinner tonight, make these in the afternoon, and they’ll be ready. 

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Basic Brine

Ingredients
– 1 part sugar
– 2 parts water
– 3 parts vinegar (I used white distilled vinegar)

Method
Bring brine to a boil in a sauce pan. Pour over vegetables and any pickling spices while still boiling hot. Make sure to fill container so that vegetables are completely submerged in the pickling liquid. Weight down with a plate or a bowl so that vegetables stay submerged. Wait until liquid has completely cooled to before putting lids on containers. Once cooled and lidded, put pickles directly in the fridge. Pickles will keep in the fridge for about 6 months. Use your best judgment, but I used 2 cups sugar, 4 cups water, and 6 cups vinegar for three quart-sized mason jars worth of vegetables.


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Cucumbers

Cucumbers are the obvious pickle, and by now I think most people know what kind of cucumber pickles they like. Sweet, dill, spicy, you can probably easily judge what types of seasonings and spices you’d like to add to these before pickling. Here is what I used that really almost encompasses all three flavor profiles:

– Salt
– Thinly sliced white onion
– 2 large cloves garlic
– Chili Flake
– Whole black peppercorns
– A few small slices of jalapeño
– Dill
– Basil
– Curry Powder
– Fennel Seeds

PICKLES-9If you want to really highlight the sweet, add some whole cloves and cinnamon stick. If you want spicier, add more jalapeño. If you want a little bit more straight dill, just go with garlic, peppercorns, dill and salt.

I sliced my cucumbers thinly, so they would pickle a bit faster. Spears work well, too. I grew pickling cucumbers in my garden, but other cucumber varieties will work just as well.

These pickles will be ready to snack on within about 30 minutes of sitting in hot brine.


Green Beans

Green beans are a great thing to pickle because they are so crunch and snappy. They are truly an abundant crop, so they beg to be preserved in some fashion. The only disadvantage is these may end up taking a little longer if you’re looking for a strong vinegar flavor. You can use these the same way you might use any other pickled veg, but mine will be reserved for snacking, cheese plates, and chopped up in potato salad.

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– Salt
– Thinly sliced white onion
– 2 large cloves garlic
– Chili Flake
– Whole black peppercorns
– A few small slices of jalapeño
– Basil
– Fennel seeds

Make sure to trim beans before pickling, and cut in half it they are especially long. You want to make sure they will all fit underneath the brine.

These will have a milder flavor right away, but will become more vinegary as they sit.


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Jalapeños

This is one of the best ways to preserve these peppers. It’s great to have pickled jalapeños on hand for tacos/nachos, chili, bloody marys. They will still be pretty aggressively spicy, so use these only in the same way you would use jalapeños raw.

– Salt
– Thinly sliced white onion
– 2 large cloves garlic
– Basil

Slice jalapeños thinly for the best effect. This will make for easier use in the long run. I had some jalapeños that did not come in too spicy in my garden, but when they share the same brine as really hot jalapeños they will pick up their heat.

These will still be pretty hot right away, but will mellow out and become a bit more complex as they sit.

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End of Summer Salads!

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If you’re like me, you started a garden for the first time this year, and it was more successful than you ever could’ve imagined, and you also get a CSA, and now you’re like “what the hell do I do with all this?”

I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of salads. Must be something wrong with the types of salads I usually have. It feels like they’re always too dry, and it’s difficult to mix everything up. When Addie came over and announced she was going to make just salads for this post, I was not 100% on board. She assured me that I would learn some ways to use up a bunch of vegetables, notably tomatoes and cucumbers (guys, help me, I have TOO many cucumbers).

I need to give salad more credit. We all could probably use more veggies in our diet, and these are a terrific way to do so. They’re also super quick and easy. I’ll let Addie take it from here.


Macerated Tomato Salad

When I was growing up, I hated raw tomatoes. I was probably eating out of season tomatoes that had been kept in the fridge. I remember the first time I had heirloom tomatoes in peak summer, I almost felt embarrassed for being so proudly against tomatoes my whole life. They’re delicious! And treated properly, they’re like candy. This “recipe” is how I like to treat my large heirloom tomatoes. They’re too lovely to be turned into sauce, or baked (I still don’t care for baked tomatoes-too sour). The flavor is really more on the sweet side thanks to the copious amounts of balsamic vinegar, so it could be appealing for tomato lovers and haters alike.

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A note: This recipe is for tomatoes only without greens, but I often eat this served over arugula (which is abundantly in season right now and peppery and delicious!) or raw kale. If you’d like to serve over arugula, follow the recipe and top the arugula just before serving. The liquid that releases during the macerating will be the dressing. For kale, do a thin chiffonade and macerate the kale and the tomatoes in the same bowl together at the same time. SUMMER_SALADS-30

Ingredients

-Several large heirloom tomatoes (Brandywine are best, Valencia are great as well)
-A large handful basil
-1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
-Olive oil
-1/4 cup fresh feta
-1/4 cup raw, unsalted almonds

Method

Slice tomatoes into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Place in large bowl. Douse with balsamic vinegar-more than you think you need. About 1/2 cup for 3 large tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and fresh cracked pepper and toss. Roughly chop basil and combine with the tomatoes. Let sit at room temperature to macerate for at least 10 minutes up to 30 minutes. Crumble the feta and chop the almonds to top the salad. Sop up remaining macerating liquid with bread or store in the fridge for salad dressing.

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Cucumber Salad

It’s the end of August and cucumbers have been exploding for some time. Every time I’ve gotten out to my garden, I have at least 10 I need to harvest. It feels irresponsible to use them in a recipe that doesn’t truly highlight them when you have so many. Creamy cucumber salads can be a little tricky to get right-if the cucumbers don’t release enough liquid before dressing, the whole salad ends up watery and flavorless. So with that in mind, I’ve been making a nice light vinegar based salad this summer and it’s such a perfect answer to the over abundance of cukes. Goes really well alongside grilled meats as a side dish.

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Ingredients

– 2 large cucumbers, half peeled
– 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (I like apple cider vinegar but red wine vinegar is more delicate if you choose)
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 teaspoon sugar
– 1/4 teaspoon red chili flake (or more, or less)
– 8 large basil leaves

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Method

Half peel two large cucumbers. Slice in half length-wise and chop 1/4 inch thick. Toss in a mixing bowl with vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add chili flake to taste. Chiffonade basil and and gently toss together, and serve immediately.

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Green Bean Niçoise Salad

Niçoise salads have many variations, but its fairly easy to spot one when you see one. Nobody really needs another Niçoise recipe, but here’s mine. This is the only salad that requires any actual cooking. It’s also the only one that could realistically be enjoyed as a main course, so it’s worth the minimal amount of effort. It’s hearty and satisfying for a salad, and all of the different briny elements make for an incredibly satisfying meal. I usually use greens as well, but I wanted to make the green beans the star. If I were making this earlier in the season, I would swap radishes for the Sungold tomatoes.

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Ingredients

– 1 1/2 cups Green beans
– 2 eggs
-1/4 cup olives (I use Kalamata olives simply based on personal preference)
– 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (such as Sungolds) halved
– 1/2 can canned tuna
– Dijon vinaigrette
– Microgreens (for garnish)

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Method

Hard boil two eggs. While eggs are cooking, prepare green beans by trimming the ends and then rinsing. If the beans are particularly long, slice in halves or thirds. Be sure to use beans that are a bit thinner, as opposed to more mature beans that can be a bit woody. Blanch the beans to take out some of the starch and set aside. Halve the cherry tomatoes and roughly chop the olives. Make Dijon vinaigrette by whisking together a tablespoon of dijon mustard, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Compose the salad by placing the green beans in a bowl, and arranging the tomatoes, olives, halved eggs, and half a can of tuna on top. I like Wild Planet tuna which comes a bit more steak-y and a little less shredded. Drizzle dressing over the salad and top with microgreens (I used radish microgreens).

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Garden Cocktails For Your Weekend

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For this edition of Cookin’ Sisters (that’s not what it’s called) we thought nothing would be more fitting for the middle of summer and the sometimes oppressive heat than some delicious cocktails. I encouraged Addie to come up with some drinks that were good and boozy but also a little innovative. AND! I wanted to use local spirits because there are *so many* in Minnesota. By the way, we (me, Addie and Alan) all tested these out and can vouch for their fortitude. We have two for July and we’ll have two more in August!


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Chamomile Basil Lemonade

I wanted to make a fresh herb cocktail that was a little less obvious than some cocktails can be, but one where I knew the flavor combinations would be spot on. I have fresh chamomile growing in my garden and I had the idea to use chamomile simple syrup to elevate a simple lemonade cocktail to be a bit more floral and fresh. It pairs really well with the basil, which is subtle enough because you’re only using it to shake the drink and then garnish. This is a drink that I originally wanted to make without the alcohol, but the addition of vodka was a no-brainer. Feel free to omit the booze for an n/a summer drink you can enjoy anytime.

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Ingredients

1 1/2 ounces chamomile simple syrup
1 ounce vodka
Juice of one lemon
5 fresh basil leaves (3 for muddling, 2 for garnish)
Soda water
Lemon wedge (for garnish)

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Method

For the simple syrup: Heat equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan on the stove. Add your fresh chamomile (dried if you don’t have fresh, preferably loose-leaf). For this recipe I used 1/2 a cup each of water and sugar to about 1/4 cup of the chamomile flowers. Steep for 15 minutes and strain. Let cool.

Using a cocktail shaker, muddle 3 to 4 basil leaves in the bottom of the cup. Add simple syrup, vodka, lemon juice, and ice cubes. Cover and shake for about 15 seconds. Pour into a lowball glass filled with a few ice cubes. Fill the rest of the glass with sparkling water. Finely chiffonade the remaining basil for garnish.

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Blueberry mojito

I have a soft spot in my heart for rum. I went to college in small town Wisconsin, so I cut my teeth on cheap rum and cokes. While white rum doesn’t quite have the same warmth as a darker, spiced rum, it’s perfect for fresh garden cocktails. Upping the ante by adding blueberries to the ubiquitous mint mojito makes it feel even more summery and adds a little more depth (Ed. note: July is also National Blueberry Month!). If you grow your own mint, you’ll have it coming out your ears by the time July rolls around when the fresh local blueberries start arriving. Which will be the perfect time to make this drink over and over.

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Recipe

1/4 cup blueberries (half for muddling, half for slicing)
1 ounce white rum
1 small bunch mint (about 10 leaves or so)
1 teaspoon white sugar (more if you prefer it sweeter)
Juice from one lime
Soda water

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Method

In the bottom of a lowball glass, muddle 6 or 7 mint leaves with the sugar and lime juice. Add half of the blueberries and mash into the mint with your muddler. Add the rum, sparkling water, the other half of the blueberries sliced in half, and the rest of the mint leaves. If you prefer to mix separately and strain before adding the soda and garnishes, it will be much cleaner, but I prefer the look and taste of it without straining. That being said, you may wish to use a cocktail straw in that case.BLUEBERRYMOJITO-11

Radish Toasts

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Another in the recipe and food photography series my sister Addie and I are collaborating on. This one is basically foolproof and I recommend it for breakfast or snacks or lunch! It’s really delightful. I’ll let Addie take it away:

 

Radish Toasts

Prep: 5 min | Total: 5 min

This is barely a recipe, but I started making these the first summer that I subscribed to a CSA and I had all these radishes that I wasn’t sure what to do with. I always had leftover bread from work (ed note: she used to work at a bakery/cafe. She does now, but she used to, too!), so I decided to make some spring radish toasts. RADISHTOASTS-2RADISHTOASTS-3Pea shoots are my favorite garnish, but I used chive blossoms here as well, which lends a great onion flavor. Using whole-milk ricotta really makes a difference, but feel free to use skim milk ricotta if you’d prefer. RADISHTOASTS-9The squeeze of lemon at the end definitely changes the whole flavor of the toast, so don’t skip that step! (This same recipe works really well with english cucumbers in place of the radishes).

Ingredients

Hearty multigrain bread (I used a multigrain bread from Rustica)
French breakfast radishes (one full sized french breakfast radish usually covers a small piece of toast, so 3-4 for three slices of toast will suffice)
Whole milk ricotta
Fresh lemon

For garnish
Pea shoots, chive blossoms, microgreens, sunflower sprouts, or fresh herbsRADISHTOASTS-6RADISHTOASTS-5RADISHTOASTS-8

Method

Slice bread into about 3/4” thick slices and toast (if you’re making a really large quantity of these, toast them in the oven on a sheet tray at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until they’re looking crispy and brown). Meanwhile, slice your radishes into small coins, thick enough that they still retain their crunch. Spread a thick layer of ricotta on the bread once it’s fresh out of the toaster and arrange the radishes on the toast, and give a generous spritz of lemon over each toast. Salt and pepper, and top with garnish.RADISHTOASTS-12RADISHTOASTS-14

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

RHUBARBCOBB-24RHUBARBCOBB-8My sister Addie and I present our *first official* collaboration which incorporates her knowledge on local cultivation and my desire for an art direction/photography project. Addie keeps a large garden out at the Royce family farm, which she and my dad tend to. We’ll be dedicating a post in the future to the farm and its beauty. For now I let Addie take it away:

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

PREP: 20 min | TOTAL: 55 min

This cobbler recipe is so simple and fast, and so customizable. The recipe originally calls for blueberries, but since it’s not quite that season yet, I decided to go with strawberries and rhubarb which are both really abundant right now in Minnesota, and I had a ton of strawberries from my garden. RHUBARBCOBB-1RHUBARBCOBB-12.jpgRHUBARBCOBB-11

You could make this same recipe all summer long and switch out the fruit depending on whats in season and you’d have a different dessert every time. One tip would be to adjust the amount of sugar and lemon in the fruit filling depending on how sweet/tart the fruit you’re using is. People typically think of crisp or pie when they think “strawberry rhubarb” but a cobbler is just as easy and feels reminiscent of strawberry shortcake. RHUBARBCOBB-16RHUBARBCOBB-19RHUBARBCOBB-21I already had buttermilk on hand which is really the only ingredient you will probably have to go out of your way to buy. The biscuit topping only calls for 1/3 of a cup, so use the leftover buttermilk in salad dressings, smoothies, pancakes, homemade ice cream, etc.

Ingredients

Filling
6 cups fruit (I used about equal parts of strawberries and rhubarb)
1/2 cup sugar (you may want closer to 3/4 cup sugar to mellow out the rhubarb)
1 tablespoon cornstarch (more or less depending on how soft and juicy your fruit is)
A pinch of salt
Zest of one lemon Juice from half a lemon

Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract Milk to brush on top of the biscuits
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Method

Pre-heat the oven to 375.
For the filling:
In a large bowl, mix together sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add fruit and mix. Add lemon zest and juice and mix. Once everything is evenly coated, pour into a 9×13 pan. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the filling is getting bubbly around the edges. This may take longer for starchier fruits.

For the topping:
While fruit filling is baking, combine flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut butter into small cubes and work into the dough with your hands. Shortly before the filling is ready, add the buttermilk and the vanilla and stir to combine. Turn the dough out onto a board and form it into a rectangle. Cut 6-8 even pieces and shape them into biscuits.

Pull fruit mixture from the oven and increase the oven to 425. Arrange the biscuits on top of the bubbling mixture. Brush the tops of the biscuits with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Return the pan to the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops of the biscuits are golden brown.RHUBARBCOBB-26RHUBARBCOBB-28

Cool the cobbler for a few minutes and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

(Recipe adapted from Alexandra’s Kitchen)

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