Rhubarb Sorbet

This next Monday is Memorial day if you’ve forgotten, with that being the kick off to summer everyone is sure to start looking for lighter and cooler summer treats. Summer in Florida is slow for work meaning I will have plenty of time to keep preparing recipes and working on new flavor combinations for easy and enjoyable summer entertainment.

In the meantime I’m making use of late spring fruits such as Rhubarb, cherries, mango’s, and strawberries. This is my first time using Rhubarb and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I just did a strawberry jam recently so that idea was out. I’m trying to avert from making pies and cakes because between Brandon and I we don’t eat enough sweets and it would just go to waste. I did some research and after a little planning decided to make a sorbet. It’s an effortless project and the results are sure to make you happy. The weather down here has been getting hotter by the minute and my friends and family up north  say its starting to get hot as well. Nothing goes better with the heat than the delightful smooth texture of a frozen treat. Did I mention this is a healthier alternative to ice cream? I love ice cream myself but sometimes depending on the area your in, heat and dairy don’t mix. The only downfall to this recipe is you have to have an ice cream maker to make the sorbet. If you don’t have one you can look up other options on how to make a sorbet minus the machine. Or you can make popsicles, another great way to cool off!

<<—Rhubarb

Ingredients:

-1 Cup granulated sugar

-1 Cup water

-3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

-1 Pound fresh Rhubarb (or frozen) cut into 1 inch pieces

-2 Tablespoons light corn syrup

Method of Prep:

-Combine lemon juice, sugar and water in a pot over low heat and stir until sugar dissolves.

-Bring to a boil, add in Rhubarb, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

<<–Let Rhubarb simmer, don’t boil it!

-In a food processor or blender puree mixture then stir in corn syrup.

-Set in refrigerator and let cool down.

-Add into ice cream machine and churn according to directions, about 20 minutes.

-place in a plastic container and place in freezer for 4 hours before serving.

Enjoy!

<<—Delicious!

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Spiced Strawberry Jam

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This recipe was published last year but I added a few changes to it and updated the photos. This is one of my favorite ways to utilize strawberries during their peak season.

If you read my post about pickled vegetables, then you should be familiar with my liking for preserving food. I didn’t fathom just how simple canning something is. Since I was constructing strawberry recipes I decided to go ahead and produce jam. Its simple to make and another great staple to have on hand in your refrigerator.

With no more than 3 simple steps and 30 minutes you can have fresh strawberry jam which is a lot better  and cheaper than buying it from the store. You can also use mixed berries or peaches as well for this recipe.

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Mise en Place:

-2 Cups prepared fruit (For this recipe I used 1 pint of fresh whole strawberries with the stems removed.)

-2/3 Cup Granulated sugar

-1 Cinnamon Stick

-2 Cloves Allspice

-1 Teaspoon Whole Black Peppercorns

-2 Tablespoons Pectin (found in the baking isle by the sugar in grocery stores)

-1 Mason Jar or other freezer friendly container

 

Method of prep:

-In a small bowl crush strawberries using a potato masher (Use the head of a whisk if you don’t have a masher and crush as if you were using a mortar and pestal)

-Pour mashed berries into a small sauce pot along with spices and place on the stove over medium heat. Allow berries to cook down for 20 minutes over a low simmer, stirring often.

-Add in sugar and mix until dissolved.

-Taste and adjust sugar if needed.

-Allow to simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

-Remove from heat and pour into mason jar. Let cool in the refrigerator before covering.

-Cover and keep for up to 3 months in the refrigerator or 1 year in the freezer.

Enjoy!

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Strawberry Salsa

One of my favorite things about late spring-early summer is the appearance of strawberries. They are at their peak this time of year and come in large quantities for a reasonable price plus there’s numerous  methods with how to use them.

I was playing in the kitchen with some recipes on how else I could use strawberries other than in yogurt, smoothies, ice cream, or dipped in chocolate. I asked a few friends on facebook and received a good amount of feedback. Some great suggestions were: strawberry cheesecake, strawberry shortcake, tossed in salads, macerated with balsamic, or mousseline cream, and dehydrated for use in granola. One of the pastry Chefs at work mentioned to me she does a strawberry salsa that is served with cinnamon sugar chips  for the brunch buffet every day.

I hunted around my kitchen to see if I had what it would take to make this salsa, lucky for me I did. This is a simple, and enjoyable snack. I paired mine with Chobani vanilla yogurt, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction to add more essence. (A great gluten free option is to use corn tortillas)

For the Salsa:

-1/2 Cup strawberries, stems cut off, cut in small chunks or diced.

-1/2 Mango, peeled, sliced, and diced same size as strawberries.

-3 Each mint leaves, chiffonade.

-1 Teaspoon Vanilla extract

-2 Tablespoons Sugar

Cinnamon Chips:

-2 six inch flour tortillas, cut in fourths.

-Oil for frying

-1 Tablespoon cinnamon

-1 Teaspoon Allspice

-1 Cup Granulated sugar.

Method of prep:

Salsa:

-Cut up strawberries, and mango and place in small mixing bowl.

-add in vanilla, and sugar. Stir until evenly incorporated.

-Finish with mint.

Cinnamon chips:

-Heat up oil in pan on Medium high heat until ready to fry, approximately 15 minutes.

-In a large mixing bowl add in cinnamon, sugar, and allspice. Mix until combined.

-Slowly add in tortillas to the oil up to 4 at a time.

-Cook on one side until golden brown, approximately 2 minutes.

-Turn over using a pair of tongs and cook another 2 minutes.

-Set on a plate lined with 2 paper towels to soak up the oil for 1 minute.

-Using one chip at a time, add to sugar mixture until coated on both sides. set aside.

-garnish chips with salsa and drizzle with balsamic reduction and  dip in Chobani Greek yogurt.

Enjoy!

In a pickle

If you enjoy pickles you might also appreciate pickled vegetables. Pickled vegetables have become likable amongst many people over the past few years in salads, as garnishes, a side item, and even an accessory to menu items. Pickling is a way of preserving food in a brine commonly made up of salt, water, and an acidic solution, mainly vinegar. This method is used for the fact that it can safeguard perishable food for months.

The last few restaurants Ive worked at there’s  been an appearance of pickled vegetables  on the menu even if it was pickled beets for a salad or pickled onions for a sandwich. Since I began working with them more I thought about making my own pickled vegetables at home so I had an acceptable snack with a salty and sour flavor to it. This recipe is easy to do and you can hold these in your refrigerator up to 1 year. You can use any vegetables you like. I would’ve included Okra and cauliflower, however there wasn’t enough room in my little jar.

To Pickle vegetables you will need:

A.) Pickling Liquid

1.) 2 Cups Water

– 1 3/4 Cups Distilled White Vinegar

– 1/2 Cup Granulated sugar

– 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

– 1 Tablespoon Pickling spice (You can make from scratch. Add in 2 bay leaves, 1 Tablespoon peppercorns, dry herbs/spices of choice.)

B.) What to pickle

-1 Each Cucumber, sliced in thin rounds

-3 Each sweet peppers, sliced into thin rings

– 12 Each Green beans

-1 Cup Dill, preferably fresh or you may use dried.

-8 Each garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin

-2 Each dried red chili peppers or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

-2 Each Mason jars or storage jar of choice

How to prepare:

-Place all ingredients in a pot except for vegetables and bring to a simmer over medium high heat.

-While waiting to boil, disperse vegetables between the two mason jars.

-Add the hot pickling liquid until covering the vegetables.

-Let cool before putting the lid on. This step is important!!! If you place the lid on too soon before it cools you risk botulism. This will inhibit the growth of bacteria. You want to avoid that!

-Cover and place in refrigerator at least 10 days before eating.

Enjoy!

– If you like gin and tonic, this spicy pickle recipe goes great with this cocktail. Simply add a little bit of the brine into your tonic class and garnish with 3 vegetables. Add a splash of hot sauce and enjoy the delicious taste of a spicy gin and tonic!! 🙂

Smoked Gouda Mac-n-Cheese

As a kid Kraft macaroni and cheese was one of my favorite foods to eat. There was something about that blue box with the creamy texture not to mention cheesy flavor it had that always had me begging my father to make more. As I grew older I faded away from  macaroni and cheese. I started eating more food and beginning to learn how to cook and opened my taste buds up to other cuisines. Ive always loved cheese and thought that people who didn’t care for cheese were weird, unless they were lactose intolerant.

I was at a friends house one evening having what you could call a girls night. Sex and the city, lots of wine, and good home cooked food with just me and my two lady friends. Sitting on the breakfast bar attached to the kitchen was a cheese board one of the girls had assembled to go with our wine to snack on while  calmly waiting for our dinner to finish. I bit into a cheese Id never had before. This hard cheese with an edible brown rind and yellow interior blew me a way, I was instantly hooked. I began buying Gouda even though it was expensive and started coming up with recipes to use this cheese in. I decided one day to test it out in the form of a cheese sauce to make home made macaroni and cheese. That was the best idea I’ve ever had.

I make smoked Gouda mac and cheese at least 3 times a year. Its easy to make and has exceptional flavor. If you are usually an out of the box or frozen macaroni and cheese individual you should step out of your convenience bubble and give this recipe a shot.

You will need:

-4 Oz Smoked Gouda, grated fine on a micro plane (not box grater)

-2 Ea Slices American cheese

-4 Ea Slices bacon, cooked, rough chop

-1 Ea large yellow onion, brunoise

-1/2 Box of pasta noodles of your choice, for this recipe I used Penne, cooked al dente

-3 Ea garlic cloves, minced

-3/4 C Heavy cream

-1 C whole milk

-TT Salt and pepper

-4 Ea sweet peppers cut in rings

-1/2 C breadcrumbs, lightly toasted

-1/2 T Paprika

–  TT Hot sauce (optional)

Preparation:

-Cook bacon until crisp and set on a paper towel to catch grease. In the same pan on medium heat sauté garlic in leftover bacon fat for 1 minute then add in vegetables and sauté until translucent about 2 minutes. Set aside when done.

-In a sauce pot over medium high heat, bring cream and milk to a simmer.

-Begin slowly adding the Gouda one small handful at a time to keep it from clumping while stirring constantly.

-Add in American cheese one slice at a time still stirring until melted.

-Season with salt and pepper.

-Add in vegetables and stir until combined.

-Add in pasta.

-Garnish with bacon, breadcrumbs, and hot sauce.

-Enjoy!