Being fall, we’re all about preservation for the upcoming winter in the kitchen. At Succulent Catering we’ve been canning everything we can get our hands on. While preserved lemons aren’t canned per se, it’s the same idea; extending the life of foods in season to be enjoyed once that season has ended. What we got our paws on weren’t just any lemons though, they are meyer lemons. These little gems originated in China as a hybrid between lemons and mandarins, which resulted in the tartness of lemons with a less acidic bite. If you find them in the store enjoy them, they are not often available.
Preserving lemons is simple and creates a flavorful punch to a variety of dishes. Most common in middle eastern cuisine it is typically only the skin that is used once the process is complete. There is some variety in how it’s done, but all involve lemons and salt. You can also add aromatics, such as cardamom, for additional flavor.
- 4 lemon
- 5 t salt (I prefer kosher, but sea salt works also. Do not use iodized salt.)
- optional aromatics
- sanitize a glass pint jar and lid by boiling them in water for 10 minutes
- set aside
- wash lemons thoroughly
- being careful not to cut completely through, cut into quarters, leaving the bottom attached
- rub 1 t salt inside the cut lemon, being careful to leave it intact
- packed lemons tightly into jar, layering optional aromatics between
- cover and refrigerate for 1 month
- to use, remove pulp and pith, leaving yourself with just the skin
- cut into small pieces (strips or cubes) and add to recipe
- note–a little goes a long way
Quince is an interesting fruit, no really that’s not just a trope. It is native to south-west Asia, Turkey and Iran to be more specific and is found in many middle eastern recipes both sweet and savory. It does grow in the United States, but isn’t a well know fruit and I have found many people who have looked at me quizzically when I’ve mentioned it. Unless they’re die hard cheese lovers, then they are familiar with the sticky red cube that often accompanies a cheese plate.
Recently a friend got involved in helping to steward an old orchard near where we both live and to my surprise the orchard includes several quince trees. When it came time to harvest the fruit she thoughtfully emailed me and asked would I like some? Of course I talked to Chef Traci about it and we decided to buy fifty pounds of fruit to cook into marmalade and can for the holidays. What I got was a serious education in quince, which is right up my alley.
The fruit itself is covered in a sticky fuzz, it is how you know the fruit is ready to pick. When the fuzz rubs off easily, it’s ready! Nature is so amazing in it’s simplicity sometimes. Once it’s picked you wash off the fuzz, peel the fruit, and clean out the inside with a melon baller and a sharp knife. Quince is surprisingly hard so be careful when you cut it, a very sharp knife is important. The flesh is very pale, but it oxidizes quickly. You can put the fruit in acidulated water (1 quart of cold water mixed with the juice of on lemon should do it). It won’t keep it completely from turning brown on the outside, but it slows it down. In my experience I found it actually didn’t matter that much if the fruit oxidized, the end result was the same beautiful color.
Once your fruit is ready you cook it in simple syrup (a dilute syrup, roughly a 3:1 ratio in the recipe we used) until it turns that signature red. We grated ours to make marmalade, but you can poach the halves, similar to a pear and serve in syrup. Honey & Co. (see the bookshelf page) cooks them in large slices with meatballs. I read a recipe where they were used in a candied bacon recipe. There are myriad possibilities with this fruit. The season is over for this year in our area, but I’m already looking forward to the 2017 harvest.
freshly picked quince
the fruit catcher helps pluck fruit from the tree
50# of quince, filled my car with the most amazing fragrance
it’s harder than you think, cut carefully
winter moths are a common inhabitant of quince in this area, simply cut out where they’ve been
use a melon baller to scoop out the core
it oxidizes fast
when you’re doing a small batch you can grate by hand
add the freshly grated quince to the simple syrup
quince in syrup
adding aromatics–juniper berries and cardamom
the color is starting to chance
an amazing transformation
- 3/4 c sugar
- 3 c water
- 1 c grated quince (peeled and cored)
- optional aromatics: vanilla bean, cardamom pods, juniper berries, use your imagination
- bring sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan
- add quince and optional aromatics (taste after 1 hour, you may opt to remove aromatics at this point)
- stir occasionally for up to 2 hours (possibly longer) or until most of the liquid has evaporated and quince is very soft
- remove aromatics, if you haven’t already done so
- cool, place in a clean jar and store in the refrigerator for up to a month
- Serve with toast (challah is an amazing match), with cheese, or just eat it straight out of the jar. I recommend you share it with someone you love.
Well, hello there. It’s been a while hasn’t it? 2016 has been a wild year for me. Divorce, job change(s), new relationship, raising three teenagers, needing to regress twenty years and get a roommate to make the paychecks stretch a little farther, and the rest of life all caught up in the mix. It’s sort of like when you look in the fridge and make dinner with whatever’s in there. Sometimes it’s a winner and sometimes it’s good enough. That’s kind of what 2016 has been like over here.
Highlights have been trying (what I thought) was my dream job and realizing it wasn’t. Hosting the third year of the Nelson Ranch Farm dinner; five of the best friends in the whole world volunteered their time and hard work to make it the most amazing one yet. Seeing all three of my kids enter high school (and realizing I have four more years of them being children). I’ve also reconnected with my niece that I’ve been estranged from for three years, hearing her voice each week over the phone brings me joy, and I am hopeful for her again. I met a man that has a boat, loves to build fires, and smoke meat. It looks like we’ve stumbled upon something really special.
So many other ups and downs, food was made and bread was baked to heal the sad days and celebrate the good ones.
My latest adventure is part of an old one. I’ve taken a full time position as sous chef for Succulent Catering here in Seattle, Chef Traci and I have worked together for a few years and we compliment each other in the best ways. Our other adventure together is building a cooking school, currently called Wallingford Culinary School, but the name may change slightly to better suit our intent. We both love food, and even more to share food with others. Food provides comfort, sustenance, and even more, as Chef Traci said in a recent interview, “food is love.”
Beef liver pate is a bit of a departure from your typical pate. It doesn’t typically come out quite as smooth as, say, chicken liver pate. If you happen to have a tammis handy you can probably come close, but I find beef liver lends itself to going for a country style pate anyway. It is after all, much more intense in flavor so trying to make it refined seems a bit contrary to the product at hand.
This recipe originally came from Paleo Mom, as usual I tweaked it a bit. Feel free to play around with the flavors.
Beef Liver Pate
- 1 lb. liver
- 2 shallots, minced
- 2T canola oil
- 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 6-7 sage leaves
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 3-4 sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/3 c sherry (spring for the good stuff)
- 1/2 tsp salt, add more to taste at the end
- 1/2 c butter
- Peel and cut liver into 2” chunks and remove any vessels
- Line a 7.5″x3.5″ Loaf Pan with parchment paper
- Heat canola in a large skillet over medium high heat
- Add onion, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, sage, and garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft
- Add liver to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until browned on the outside and still pink in the middle
- Add sherry to pan, cook 2-3 minutes
- Remove from heat. Remove bay leaf, rosemary stem, and thyme stems. Add salt and butter
- Pour hot liver mixture into a blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth.
- Pour into the prepared loaf pan
- Let cool for 20 minutes, cover tightly with plastic wrap (plastic wrap should be touching the pâté with no air bubbles) to reduce oxidation
- Refrigerate overnight before eating
Oh man, life has been wild for the past couple of months. Working six, sometimes seven, days a week and some personal changes have kept me from getting much time in front of the computer. When life is going off the rails I often find eating is something that gets set off to the side, which is ironic given what I do for a living. I spend all day making other people food, make sure my kids get fed, and then find myself drinking a glass of water and heading off to bed at the end of the day. So, when there is something I’m interested in eating, I’m all over it. This week it’s lasagna. While I’d love to say I’d made the pasta, ricotta, and sausage by hand, the reality is time doesn’t allow for such luxuries right now and that’s perfectly ok. What I did have were pumpkin cream and tomato sauces I had made from scratch hanging out in the freezer, plus some frozen ramp greens preserved in olive oil that I froze in cubes last spring. All of that certainly makes a strong case for making sauces in large batches and canning or freezing them for later use!
To make my lasagna even easier to make, I used noodles that don’t require being boiled and pre shredded cheese. Now, I know the cheese has stabilizers and preservatives in it and that there’s something that’s probably equally as bad about the par cooked noodles, but when time is in short supply and life is stressful, eating a homemade meal takes precedence over some other things. So onward and upward we go.
- 1 package par cooked noodles
- 1 quart sauce–tomato or cream sauces are equally tasty, pesto is a lovely addition
- 1/5# sausage
- 1 1/2-2# shredded cheese–mozzarella, parmesan, provolone blend is best
- 1 pint ricotta
- you can add mushrooms, olives, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, thin sliced squash, or anything else that suits your fancy
- preheat oven to 375 degrees F
- Pour a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a 8×12 cake/casserole/baking dish
- layer enough noodles to cover the bottom, pour enough sauce over the top to coat (reserve enough sauce for each layer
- spread a layer of cheese over this (reserve enough for each layer, plus the top)
- continue to layer all of you ingredients in this way until your dish is full
- pour the remaining sauce over the top, cover with foil and bake 45 minutes
- remove the foil and sprinkle enough cheese to just cover, return to oven and bake 15 more minutes or until the cheese is starting to brown
I recommend putting your dish on a baking sheet, just in case your sauce spills over. It’s far easier to clean up a baking sheet than a dirty oven!
Serve with a green salad if you have the wherewithal to get that far and regardless, enjoy your lasagna!
I love chocolate cake, I mean really, really love it. If there is a dessert that I would cry to have to give up that would be it. What that means though, is that I hardly ever make it, because if it’s in the house I will eat it. This week I made an exception, and there wasn’t even a birthday at our house!
This week’s recipe was a take on a recipe from gimmesomeoven.com, I changed up the frosting (her’s calls for ganache) because I wanted to play with swiss meringue buttercream this week.
- 4 oz softened butter
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 room temperature eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup coffee
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
- prep cupcake pan as desired (use paper liners or grease and flour)
- Make frosting while waiting for ingredients to come to room temperature and oven to preheat
Swiss Meringue Buttercream a riff on the version in Julia Child’s Baking with Julia
- 4 egg whites
- 1 c sugar
- 12 oz room temperature unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 5 oz unsweetened chocolate (you can add a couple more ounces for a more chocolatey buttercream if you wish)
- 1/2 c cocoa powder (optional)
- 1/4 tsp instant coffee (optional)
- 1-2 T amaretto (optional, other liqueurs can be used as well)
- Melt chocolate in a double boiler, set aside to cool slightly
- You can use the bowl from your stand mixer for the next part, which eliminates a dish to wash, always a bonus!
- Over medium-low heat continually whisk egg whites and sugar until it reaches 140 degrees F (err on the side of lower heat and take your time, curdling your eggs means you have to start over)
- Return bowl to stand mixer, and using whisk attachment, whisk on high until glossy peaks form
- Add in butter, roughly 2 T at a time, allowing it to incorporate before adding more
- Remove from the stand mixer and pour in melted chocolate, stirring to combine
- At this point I decided my buttercream wasn’t chocolatey enough, so I added cocoa powder, coffee and the amaretto to give it a boost. You could add more melted chocolate to get a similar effect, the cocoa powder is a quick and easy way to get just the amount you like without added more liquid
- Let set in the fridge while you finish your cupcakes
Cupcake Method, cont…
- Cream butter and sugar with a stand mixer
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition
- Add in vanilla
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt until combined
- Whisk together buttermilk and coffee
- Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk mixture to the mixing bowl, beating well after each addition
- Fill paper-lined baking cups two-thirds full
- Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean
- Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely before frosting
Once your cakes are frosted, just try to keep everyone in your house away from them, it won’t work, but you can try.