Monday, October 22, 2018

Green Olive Dressing #AbramsDinnerParty

Once again, I'm working with Abrams Books to tell you about their cookbooks. I had a blast doing this last year (and I collected a lot of cookbooks!) so I was more than happy to sign on again.

One of the first books I got was Matty Matheson, A Cookbook. The author, in case you hadn't guessed, was Matty Matheson.

The book follows his culinary life, with the first recipes being family favorites, moving on through culinary school, and then finally through his restaurant years.

I settled on one of the family recipes, and this one is from the section about his inlaws. As much as I love eating at restaurants, and I like making complicated recipes when I'm in that mood, I'm always curious about recipes that have been passed down through families, particularly when they're nothing like the things I remember from my own family.

I know, salad dressings seem pretty simple, but I'll bet this one is quite different from ones you've made before. And I'm a sucker for salad dressings. If I pick up a cookbook at it has a recipe for salad dressing that looks interesting, it's a pretty sure bet I'll give it a try.

This was tasty and well-balanced. While it's meant as a salad dressing, I think it would be lovely on top of fish, as well.

I made one little "oops" with this dressing. The instructions say that you shouldn't let it emulsify. It's supposed to be chunks of olives and stuff floating in a vinegar and oil dressing.

I don't know if the issue was me being heavy-handed with the blender, or if my blender was just too overpowered to not emulsify this, but it started emulsifying pretty quickly, and then I just said the heck with it and blended it until it was almost smooth.

I can see how chunky bits of olive would be appealing, but I thought it was fine as its smoother version, too. This made just about a pint of dressing, so it's plenty for a party and it ought to keep well in the refrigerator for at least a few days.

Green Olive Dressing
Adapted from Matty Matheson, A Cookbook

2 cup pitted Cerignola olives
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 green onion, chopped
Zest and juice of one lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 bunch parsley, leaves chopped
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
Salt and pepper
Salad greens, because if you're making dressing, you'd better make a dressing.

Put the olives, garlic, green onion, lemon zest and juice and olive oil into a blender. Pulse several times until it becomes frothy and lumpy, like a tapenade. Keep pulsing, but don't blend, since you don't want it to emulsify.

Pour this into a bowl and add the shallot, parsley, vinegar and canola oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Just to make sure you know, I'll be getting all these books for free.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Canned Whole Cherries #Canbassador

I love cherries. When I was a kid, they were undoubtedly my favorite fruit. Apples and bananas were okay, but cherries were awesome.

So, when the Northwest Cherries Canbassador Program asked me if I wanted some (a lot!) of cherries, of course I said yes.

What I didn't know about cherries was how easy they are to can. Apparently cherries sit up and the tree and they say, "Hey, being in a jar would be awesome. We should make sure that we're like the perfect acidity so we can go into jars and into a hot water bath and be pretty round things in jars forever."

Or something like that.

Because when I started looking up recipes for canning whole cherries, I found out that you can use pretty much anything for the canning liquid. You don't have to add a ridiculous amount of sugar. You don't have to add lemon juice or vinegar. You can put them in fruit juice, sugar syrup, or even plain old water. Just plain water. Let that sink in.

Oh, and that's not the end of it. You can hot-pack or raw-pack and just adjust the time in the canner.

I was ... totally surprised.

And pleased. Because it's hot as Hades here and thinking too hard makes me sweat. So I liked the idea that I couldn't mess this up, no matter what I did. And YOU can't mess this up no matter what you do.


So, pit the cherries. For each quart of cherries, you'll need about 1/2 cup of liquid. But you know what - if you're off by a little, you can just add some extra boiling water since we're not worrying about acid levels.

Then figure out how much liquid you'll need. (Math ensues.)

Figure out what liquid you're using. I used a light sugar syrup (1 part sugar to 4 parts water by volume), plus a vanilla bean pod for each quart jar.

Then decide if you want to hot-pack or raw-pack.

Read up on safe canning procedures. Make sure your jars and lids are clean and hot and have everything ready to go.

For hot pack, put the liquid in a saucepan along with the cherries and bring to a boil, then put the cherries and liquid in the jars.  For the raw pack, put the pitted cherries in the jar and heat the liquid separately, then pour the liquid over the cherries. Make sure there's no excess air in the jar and the liquid is to about 1/2 inch of the top.

Process according to this chart. Or seriously, check that page for way more information about canning cherries than you can imagine.

So ... what's this stuff good for? Yeah, pretty much anything you like. They're good over ice cream, French toast, or in cocktails. The liquid is flavorful, so don't leave that behind. They'd probably be good in smoothies, too. Since I went with a really light syrup, they'd be good in recipes, too, and wouldn't add a mad amount of sugar.

So good. So simple. The hardest part is pitting the cherries, but even that isn't hard.

Hint: if you only have a quart of cherries and you're going to use them right away, you could do this without the water bath and just refrigerate the jar. Heat to a boil, maybe a few seconds more, then throw them in a jar. When they've cooled a bit, toss them in the fridge.

I received cherries at no cost to me from the folks at Northwest Cherries. Otherwise I would have been buying them. Because ... cherries.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp scampi. What's not to love? Butter, garlic, seafood ... yum!

For some reason, I don't make it very often, but when I saw a recipe in Gumbo Love by Lucy Buffet, I had to give it a try.

Of course, I switched up a few things. Fresh shrimp really doesn't exist here, but I buy it frozen when it looks good. I happened to have a bag of cooked, peeled shrimp in the freezer, so I used that. The recipe actually called for raw shrimp, but I knew I could make it work.

Gumbo Love is another one of the books that's getting passed around in the group I belong to. I also made a pound cake from the book that I thought was almost perfect. The texture was good - which is really amazing up here at high altitude - but I thought it was just slightly too sweet for my taste. But that's okay. I'll probably made it again and adjust the sugar level down and see if the texture remains the same.

I also made a black bean and corn salad from the book. Most of the time, I just toss things together for a salad like that, but this time I (mostly) followed the recipe.

The scampi, though ... I really need to keep this recipe. Thus, a blog post.

Shrimp Scampi
Adapted from Gumbo Love by Lucy Buffet

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp (The book specifies wild-caught gulf shrimp, but here in Colorado, sometimes you take what you can get. I used cooked frozen peeled shrimp.)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (I used onion instead.)
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup white wine
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I just eyeballed it when I shook it on.)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided (I just eyeballed it.)
2 cups white rice, for serving (I use rice that had been cooked with saffron, so it was yellow.)

In a large heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.

While the oil is heating, season the shrimp with just a little of the salt and pepper. Add the shrimp to the skillet and saute for 3 minutes, then remove the shrimp and set aside. (Since my shrimp were pre-cooked, I skipped all of this.

Add the butter to the skillet and allow it to melt, but be careful that it doesn't burn. Add the shallot and garlic (here's where I added salt and pepper) and saute until they start to caramelize.

Add the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any gooey bits stuck to the pan and stirring them into the wine. Add the lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and the remaining salt and pepper. Cook for a minute or two, or until the liquid has reduced by a third.

Return the shrimp to the pan (here's where mine entered for the first time) and cook until the shrimp is cooked through (or warmed through, if they're precooked).

Turn off the heat, add 1 tablespoon of the parsley, and stir well.

Serve the shrimp over the rice and garnish with the remaining parsley.