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Hot Sauce is Cool

Do you have a handful of shriveled chili peppers at the bottom of last week’s CSA box? And now a new CSA full of more chilies? Make hot sauce and use them up! Late summer and early fall is hot sauce season. Almost all the ingredients you need are available now from Vermont and New Hampshire farm stands and farmers’ markets.

Homemade hot sauce is easy and delicious. Also, it’s super cool.

My dad makes a sweet and vinegary hot sauce that can sit on the shelf for months, corroding the lid of the jar and getting more and more delicious. I grew up eating it on fried eggs and stir fries. After spending a year working in a barbecue restaurant, I started making my own versions. Now I make a few different kinds each August and September with whatever hot peppers are around.

There are so many ways to make hot sauce – ingredients and technique vary widely by culture and household. You can ferment it (like Sriracha and Tabasco) or use vinegar (like the recipe below). You can keep it plain or add sweetener and other flavors (herbs, fruit, oils, and spices). You can cook the peppers or leave them raw. Make what you like! A quick Internet search brings up a huge range of hot sauce recipes if you are looking for a specific style.
Most of my hot sauces are secret preparations, and sometimes the peppers just tell me what to do. But here’s a very simple formula for making your own.

The first step is to put on a pair of disposable gloves. Hot peppers will burn your skin for longer than they burn your mouth. I have made hot sauce without gloves with mixed results, but that habit ended abruptly after I spent most of a hot summer night last August lying on hot-pepper-herb-sauces-credit-julia-a-reed-2my bed alternately clutching a cold washcloth with both hands and dipping my fingers in ice water while trying to catch snatches of sleep.

If you are fearful of your hot sauce being too hot, remove the seeds and white membrane that holds the seeds and just use the pepper flesh. Absolutely wear gloves for this.

 

Simple Fresh Hot Sauce Recipe

Makes about 1 ½ to 2 cups

Ingredients

10 – 15 chili peppers, any kind
1/2 sweet bell pepper (OPTIONAL)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
4 garlic cloves
teaspoon sea salt
1-2 tablespoon sugar or maple syrup

Directions

  1. Put on a pair of disposable gloves.
  2. Wash the peppers and cut off the stems.
  3. If you want a hotter sauce, leave the seeds in. For a milder but still hot sauce, split the peppers lengthwise and remove seeds and the white membrane.
  4. Puree peppers and all the other ingredients in food processor or blender.
  5. Taste and adjust salt, sugar, garlic, and vinegar as needed. If it’s too thin, add more peppers and puree some more. If it’s too thick, add more vinegar.
  6. Pour into a clean jar and store in the fridge and eat within a few weeks.

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Shelf life of hot sauce

I don’t have one simple answer for this, but in general, if you have a lot of vinegar in the sauce, you can keep the sauce for a long time. What’s enough? Enough that it tastes pretty sour and is fairly thin, like commercial hot sauce. If you want to keep that fresh not-too-sour taste, use less vinegar and use up the hot sauce within a couple weeks. If you ferment or cook the hot sauce and use a sterilized jar for storage, the sauce may last longer. Discard if the hot sauce grows mold, gets slimy or discolored, or develops an off taste or smell.

– Bethany Fleishman

Photo credit: Julia A. Reed

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Rhubarb Orange Sauce

Last week, at a demonstration tasting for GE Aviation’s Wellness Fair, we gave out samples of one of my favorite springtime recipes – Rhubarb Orange Sauce – for its versatility, ease in making and sheer deliciousness.

Rhubarb, also called “pie fruit”, is a long living perennial and a welcome sign of spring in Vermont when the green and red stalks, topped by green, furled leaves, push their way through the soil. With a bit of rain and some warm-ish temperatures, a rhubarb patch will seemingly grow before your eyes.

I like to use oranges (or orange-like fruits) in early spring, because I usually have a few kicking around in the fridge after a long winter. It’s a great way to use up the last of these golden fruits and still enjoy rhubarb before the strawberry season which renders the equally delicious strawberry rhubarb sauce than many of us know and love.

A lip puckering tartness is tempered with sugar in most recipes. In ours, because I like the versatility of a slightly more tart sauce, I use less sugar than most recipes you will see online, and then finish the cooked sauce with a bit of dark maple syrup to lend a bit more subtle flavor.

Use stalks that are not too thick and fibrous, and if you can find the popular red stalks that will impart a lovely rosy color to your sauce, by all means, do so.

 

Without further ado, the recipe follows:

Simple Rhubarb Orange Sauce

2 cups rhubarb stalk, thickly sliced

1 orange or two clementines, chopped whole – peels and flesh – seeds discarded. Save any juice.

1/4 to 1/3 cup granulated white sugar

1/4 cup water

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons dark maple syrup to finish

In a quart pan, combine the chopped rhubarb and oranges, reserved orange juice, water, salt and 1/4 cup of sugar. Bring to a lively simmer over medium high heat, then reduce to medium low and simmer quietly on the stove until the rhubarb “melts” and turns soft. Stir occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and taste the sauce while still warm. Add a bit more sugar if needed, then stir in about 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. Cool and store in a jar or bowl with lid, in the refrigerator.

Makes approximately 2 1/2 cups.

Notes & Options: 

  • Substitute white sugar with 1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar.
  • Substitute maple syrup for honey.
  • Omit the oranges and instead use 1/2 cup of blueberries or 1/2 cup of strawberries, plus the juice and zest of 1/2 lemon.
  • Add a vanilla bean while simmering or a 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract after cooking.

Savory Uses:

  • Spoon on meats like pork, chicken, turkey or sausages.
  • Serve with aged cheese, soft and semi soft, with fresh bread.
  • Use as a base for barbecue sauce.

Sweet Uses:

  • Spread onto toast, English muffins or on a bagel with cream cheese.
  • A generous dollop on yogurt, oatmeal or ice cream is most welcome.
  • Stir into whipped cream and spoon on to a snacking cake like pound cake or angel food
  • Layer with pudding and leftover cake pieces for a springtime trifle.

WHAT ARE YOUR IDEAS?

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Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

The pairing of strawberry and rhubarb is classic. The tartness of the rhubarb and the sweetness of the strawberries creates the perfect balance for many early summer dishes. This compote is the base for several varying uses that I’ll be posting on. A compote might sound fancy, but it’s simply fruit cooked down with sugar.

If you can get your hands on some local strawberries and rhubarb, do so and make this. Right now. Even if you don’t use it now, freeze it and you’ll have it ready to go. Neither fruit (though rhubarb is commonly used as a fruit, it is actually a vegetable – think celery) has a long season and you don’t want to miss out on all that you can do with this perfect pair.

Wash, hull and chop your strawberries.

Prep your rhubarb by rinsing and chopping into small, 1/2 inch pieces.

A few notes on rhubarb:

  • Look for bright colored, firm stalks.
  • Fresh rhubarb shouldn’t be stored for too long. If you’re not going to use it right away – freeze it. Chop into small pieces, blanch (cook for 2 minutes in boiling water then immediately cool in ice water), and freeze.
  • Older stalks may need a little peeling of their fibrous outer strings.
  • Rhubarb leaves are toxic! Don’t eat them!
  • Rhubarb contains a good amount of Vitamin C, Calcium, potassium and fiber.
  • I thought I didn’t like rhubarb until I recently gave it another chance, starting with this recipe.

Place the prepared strawberries and rhubarb in a pan over medium high heat. Within a few minutes they should release a large amount of juice. Add sugar, and flavorings of choice and continue cooking until the rhubarb is soft.

Give it a taste, add more sugar, if needed, and it’s ready to go. That’s all there is too it. The uses are infinite. You could use it to top:

  • A cake
  • Ice cream
  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt
  • Pancakes or waffles

Or look for one of my suggested uses in future posts.

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. strawberries
  • 1 lb. rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup sugar, (more or less, if needed)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Additional flavorings such as vanilla and nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Rinse, hull and chop the strawberries. Reserve a handful.
  2. Chop the rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces
  3. Add the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar and lemon zest to a large pan
  4. Cook, stirring, until juices are release 2-3 minutes.
  5. Simmer 5 minutes or so until rhubarb is tender.
  6. Add in reserved strawberries.
  7. Add flavorings, if desired.

 

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Blueberry, Basil & Jalapeno Salsa

As strawberry season faded in the last few weeks, I quickly turned my attention to blueberries – my all time favorite berry. And once again, I’m looking for some creative uses for experimenting and sharing with you – at least the successes. With blueberries now in season, and pick your own sites offering some of the lowest prices, there’s every reason to take incorporate berries into your diet on a daily basis.

What was I talking about? Oh, right. It’s useful to learn new ways to use familiar ingredients. That way, you don’t get fatigued on something after just a few days. Though, if you just stock up and freeze your berries for use throughout the year, that’s good too.

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How hot is your favorite pepper?

Even though blueberries are the focus right now, that doesn’t mean I’m disregarding the awesome amount of produce that’s flourishing right now. Often, I find the most interesting uses for fruit to be savory, not sweet. With this simple salsa jalapenos, basil, garlic and red onion pair with the berries for a spicy-sweet flavor.

It takes just a few minutes to get everything ready and toss in the food processor. A blender could work just as well too. Despite what many people think, comparatively speaking, jalapenos are relatively mild. Take a look at this pepper scale from www.liveinthenow.com. Jalapenos fall in between poblanos and cayenne peppers. And there’s a big difference between jalapenos compared and habaneros, which are much, much hotter. But there’s nothing wrong with a little heat. In fact, capsaicin benefits the heart.

If you’re hesitant, I suggest starting out with less. It’s much easier to add heat than to remove it. Start with just a 1/4 of a jalapeno if you’re really cautious. Or, use half and add the second half if it’s too mild for you. Note: remove the seeds of the pepper for less heat. Just slowly slide the edge of your knife across the inside of the pepper.

While you enjoy this simply as a snack with corn tortilla chips, it would pair fantastically with grilled pork chops or pork tacos. As the recipe suggests, try simmering for a few minutes to reduce the amount of liquid if you do decide to use in a taco.

 

Blueberry Basil and Jalapeno Salsa

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 cups

Want more heat? Include the seeds and try using the whole pepper. This would also be excellent with cilantro in place of the basil.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 large handful of basil
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Sea salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Puree everything in a food processor until smooth. Optional: Simmer the salsa to remove excess liquid. If using in a taco, for instance, this might be a good idea.

Notes

Adapted from www.closetcooking.com

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No Recipe Vegetable Sauce

If you take a look at my fridge or kitchen counter right now you’ll find odds and ends of lingering summer veggies. Green tomatoes on their way to ripening, a couple of Japanese eggplants, all kinds of peppers, mixes of herbs in jars of water and other remnants.

I’m sad to pull be cleaning out the garden – though the bursts of warm temps are surprisingly keeping the peppers and eggplant going, if not at a bit slower of a pace. And I’m still seeing many of these items still at market – but probably not for too much longer now.

Though they might not be in their prime anymore, that certainly doesn’t stop me from finding a use for them. You could should try the ratatouille, or you could do something even easier – just cook everything down in a big saute pot.

Yeah, that’s right. With some tomatoes in there to release their juices (don’t be afraid to use the green ones for a completely different, but still delicious flavor), it doesn’t take long for everything to break down and transform into one awesome vegetable sauce. Just start with some onions and garlic in oil. Add in whatever veggies you have. Season. Toss in some chopped herbs towards the end of cooking. And when it looks sauce-like, use however you want. If it still needs a little flavor, add a splash of vinegar, another pinch of salt, or a few more herbs.

Toss with pasta, fill up tacos, cover a pizza, serve over your favorite grain or just eat it plain. I’ve even freezed sauces like this with some success.

Whatever you do, just don’t let the last of those summer flavors go to waste!

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Anytime Vegetable Curry

Curry has been on my dinner rotation quite often lately. Maybe you tried the eggplant one I shared with you recently. Well here’s another take on this versatile dish and a little more info on how to make it your own.

What is curry you ask? I made a vegetable curry with some kids at Grace Church in Rutland the other evening and I asked them the same question. I was impressed with their responses, as well as their enthusiasm to try everything as I chopped up the vegetables. And they were eager to chat about some of the foods they cook at home. Keep cooking guys and awesome job parents!

They said curry is a spice, a sauce and vegetables. And that’s pretty much accurate. Curry can refer to the dish itself. In this instance, curry means the sauce, vegetables and whatever else that make up the dish. Curry can also refer to a spice blend, made up of a number of different spices. Curry blends might include coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, red pepper, cinnamon, cloves, mustard seeds, or garlic. And third, curry is a leaf from a curry tree.

People often think that curry is spicy, and this isn’t always true. The powdered spice labeled simply as “curry” in stores is actually often on the sweet side. But there are many other varieties with a bit more kick available. You can also make your own if you have spices you want to use up and want to control the heat. I like Alton Brown’s basic curry spice, but suggest toasting the spices before grinding to really bring out their flavor.

Often, I use a paste, like the one pictured here. I don’t use too many condiment-like products in my cooking, but this is one I don’t mind buying rather than making. I have made it before but found it doesn’t keep as nicely. If you want to give it a go, here’s the one I tried. It’s vaguely similar to the dry spice mix but has some fresh ingredients, like chiles, garlic, tomatoes and vinegar in addition to the spices. You can find both Indian and Thai pastes, in varying heat levels, available in most stores. I find they keep well for some time in the fridge.

This time, I used a mix of veggies that I had hanging around, which having just finished clearing out the very last of my community garden plot, is quite a few. It’s that time of year when there seems to be a mix of everything with fall crops now here. Broccoli, beans, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are just a few popping up back at market. What’s great with this recipe, is that you can sub in the veggies you like no matter the time of year.

Here’s everything that went in the curry. Leeks, cauliflower, cooked winter squash, corn I had frozen from the summer, and a red pepper. That tomato never actually made it.

Tofu was my protein of choice. And coconut milk made for a nice sauce to the dish. It also makes this more of a Thai curry than Indian.

I start with the leeks then add in the peppers and the paste mixed with just a little of the milk. After a few minutes in goes the tofu, milk and cauliflower then the corn and squash.

It doesn’t take long for everything to come together in a vegetable curry – another reason why I’ve been making it so often. It’s quick and I can use whatever I like. By keeping curry paste (or spice) on hand and a few cans (or a carton) of coconut milk, I know I can make this at any time of the year and even last minute.

While everything finishes up, I chop some fresh parsley and toast a little coconut. And you’re done.

 

Anytime Vegetable Curry

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Serving Size: 4-6 servings

These are the ingredients I used this time. Next time, I know it will be different. So just use this as a guide and aim for 6 cups veg with the optional addition of 16oz protein.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks, sliced and rinsed
  • 1 small red pepper, chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons curry paste or powder
  • 2 cups chopped cauliflower
  • 16 ounces cubed tofu
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked, cubed winter squash
  • chopped parsley for serving (optional)
  • toasted coconut for serving (optional)
  • chopped cashews for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a good sized pot over medium heat.
  2. Add in the leeks and cook 2 minutes before tossing in the pepper and the curry paste mixed with just a splash of the coconut milk.
  3. After 2 more minutes add in the cauliflower, tofu and the rest of the milk.
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook 8-10 minutes, stirring once in awhile, then add the squash and corn to the pot.
  5. Cook 5 more minutes then top with the parsley, coconut and/or cashews and serve.
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Apple Cider and Honey Vinaigrette

Everyone wants to spend less money, make healthier choices and eat better tasting food, especially in January. If not all three, there must be one on the list that you consider when it comes to cooking. Making your own salad dressing addresses all three.

I eat plenty of salad. But I buy zero bottled dressings. I can’t remember the last time I did either. While I do buy some condiments and sauces that are not worth the time and/or money that goes into making them, salad dressing is not one of them. It’s quick, can be made with common ingredients you already have at home, and if you have a jar and the capability of shaking it, you have the power to making great tasting dressing.

And that’s not to mention that a homemade dressing, like this delicious apple cider and honey vinaigrette, contains no fillers, emulsifiers, corn syrup, or anything else.

This dressing stars two health rockstars – apple cider vinegar and honey. You can find both of these locally in Vermont. Apple cider vinegar is attributed to numerous benefits, including weight loss, detoxification, and the break up of mucus in the lymphatic system. Honey is believed to act as an antibacterial and antifungal while helping to prevent diseases, ulcers and gastrointestinal problems.

Apple Cider and Honey Vinaigrette

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: About one cup

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 1 TBSP dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • kosher salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine ingredients in a small jar and shake until emulsified. No jar? Whisk all but the oil in a small bowl and slowly stream in the oil as you mix.
  2. Taste the vinaigrette. If it’s not to your liking, it’s easy to fix.Too sweet? Add more vinegar. Too tart? Add more honey. Bland? Add a little more salt. Too strong? Add some water.
  3. Toss with your favorite greens. It pairs well with apples, of course. Get creative and mix with cooked veggies, like potatoes.

 

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Barbecue Sliders

Thanksgiving takes first place as the largest food consumption day of the year in the United States. That’s probably no surprise. But any guess what takes second? It’s not Christmas or New Years. It’s Superbowl Sunday.

It’s estimated that on February 2nd more than 1.25 billion chicken wings will be consumed across the country. That’s about 4 wings for every single American! Ever stop to wonder where the rest of the chicken goes? With factory farms, it’s used for other cuts and purposes, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a small or humane farm selling you a forty pack of wings. It’s just not practical. This Salon article highlights some of the concerns pretty well.

Then there are the 4.4 million take out pizzas that will be sold and the countless bags of chips, bottles of soda and cans of beer. For those who started healthy resolutions for 2014, all that hard work could be undone in one day.

Those statistics make me want to do nothing but get in the kitchen and cook – without any chicken wings in sight. I’ll have chicken another day, thanks. Instead, why not beef sliders? They’re also a good finger food and with a simple homemade barbecue sauce, you’ll get much of the same flavor as wings too.

Let’s start with the sauce. Chances are you have everything you need on hand.

You’ll need onions, garlic, tomato puree or sauce, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, hot sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, Dijon mustard and orange marmalade, if you’d like. These are common barbecue sauce ingredients and you can use my suggested amounts in the recipe below as a guide. The way it’s written will produce a mostly sweet sauce. Increase the amount of hot sauce as you see fit.

I use a combination of tomato sauce (already getting low on my canned supply) and ketchup to get to achieve the consistency I like. The onion gives the sauce some texture too, but you could always puree it if you’d like it smooth.

Barbecue Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • A few dashes hot sauce, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoon orange marmalade (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a small pot over medium high heat.
  2. Add the garlic and onion. Sauté until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
  4. Lower the heat and keep at a low simmer 15-20 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
  5. Taste and add more seasoning as needed. Keeps for up to 1 week in the fridge.

Mixing the barbecue sauce into the ground beef (or other ground meat of your choosing) results in a moist and flavorful burger. If you’re not having a party, these work fine as normal sized burgers rather than the 2 ounce suggestion. In winter I prefer to cook them in a pan on the stove with just a little oil.

For the buns, you could use minis, if you can find them, but you could also just cut out pieces of bread. The top of a small jar makes a great sized cutter. Just toast before using, then place some greens on the bottom bun, like spinach, add your burger then top with cheese, extra sauce and even some bacon for a more unique contribution to the game day party. These would go great with rutabaga fries.

Barbecue Sliders

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: About 12 sliders

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef (or pork, chicken or turkey)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • Olive oil
  • 6 ounces grated cheddar
  • 6 pieces cooked bacon (optional)
  • 12 mini buns

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl combine the ground beef, chili powder, cumin, salt, green onion and barbecue sauce.
  2. Lightly coat a skillet with the olive oil and heat over medium high heat.
  3. Use an ice cream scoop to portion out 2 ounce patties of the beef mix, lightly flattening with your hands before placing in the pan. Cook each patty 2-3 minutes per side, in batches.
  4. When ready to serve, place on a bun, top with cheese and melt under the broiler in the oven.
  5. Top with additional barbecue sauce, bacon, if using, and any other toppings.
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Rhubarb Chutney

Fact: rhubarb is tart. Lie: In order to enjoy rhubarb we must overwhelm it with sweetness.

While the sweetness of ripe strawberries certainly pairs well with rhubarb, rhubarb can actually be a star all on its own. When I saw the first pink rhubarb stalks of the season a few weeks ago, local strawberries weren’t even ready for bubbling together in a pie. So I wondered what else I could do.

Looking back on other rhubarb recipes that I’ve previously shared, I wasn’t feeling good about the amount of sugar they contained. And I refuse to believe it is necessary. Then I remembered a rhubarb chutney recipe that Joann, our bookkeeper at RAFFL, shared a couple of years ago. Sadly, Joann will soon be leaving us and moving on, so I thought now was a good time to revisit her rhubarb chutney. Now I just need to figure out who will appreciate my sense of humor when she’s gone.

rhub

Since I didn’t get a chance to make Joann’s chutney at the time of posting (it was winter), I was excited to give it a try this spring and find that I was right – rhubarb doesn’t need to rely only on sweetness to taste good. I made a few adjustments to her recipe, like adding in orange zest and juice and replacing the sugar with honey, and I liked the results.

In this chutney, the rhubarb is sliced into pieces and sauteed along with chopped red onion. Before long, the rhubarb starts to break down and release its juices while the onion becomes tender.

The chutney gets a good kick of flavor from ginger and garlic, one of my favorite seasoning combos. A splash of cider vinegar and honey help round it out. I think rhubarb does need some sweetness, but it shouldn’t be overpowering. I think the mildness of honey helps solve my over sweet rhubarb frustration.

chutney

The result is part sauce, part condiment that can be paired with pork, fish and poultry or simply over toasted bread with melted cheese. But if you are looking for a sweet rhubarb idea, try this frozen yogurt or this compote.

 

Rhubarb Chutney

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 3 cups

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces rhubarb
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • splash of apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 orange

Instructions

  1. Wash and chop the rhubarb into half inch pieces. Roughly chop the onion.
  2. Heat a pan over medium high heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the rhubarb and onion and let cook until rhubarb has softened and released its juices and the onion is tender. About 10 minutes.
  3. While that cooks, grate the ginger and mince the garlic. Add to the pan when ready to go.
  4. After 10 minutes of cooking, add the honey, vinegar and raisins. Taste and season with salt as you see fit. After 5 more minutes of simmering, add the zest and juice of the orange. Stir. Remove from heat and let cool to thicken.
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Teriyaki Beef Kebabs

Nothing says summer like food on a stick. From popsicles to corndogs, eating with your hands evokes the fun and casualness of the season. And it just wouldn’t be summer without a few kebabs on the grill – whether they’re beef, chicken, shrimp, or vegetables – almost anything goes.

However, the meat kebab is the most traditional. In particular, lamb. It’s a form of cooking that’s been around for thousands of years and varies just slightly throughout the world. But you’ll find that food skewered and cooked on or over a flame is almost always known as a kebab.

Primitive though it is, there are some key tips to a good kebab. First is a marinade.  A marinade will ensure your meat is tender and full of flavor. The longer you can let your meat sit in a marinade the better. Make it at least 30 minutes, though.

marinading-beef
Cut your meat up into pieces before sticking in the marinade, that way there is more surface area to penetrate. You don’t have to place them on the skewers until you’re ready for the grill, though. It’s up to you.

As for the skewers, wood is the way to go. The metal ones are sturdier and reusable, which is great, but they heat up fast and cause the center of your meat to cook too quickly and somewhat unevenly. I don’t see why they couldn’t work for vegetables, though.

Two other notes about the wooden skewers: First, in order to prevent the skewers catching fire, you need to soak them in water. Thirty minutes to an hour will do. Second, use two. Ignore my photo. I learned that one wooden skewer is just too flimsy.

While kebabs composed of all different items are visually appealing, I don’t think they work well. Keep the food on your kebabs consistent. In other words, keep the beef on its own skewers, the shrimp on its own and the peppers on their own. Different foods cook up differently and naturally require different cooking times. You don’t want to overcook your beef because the vegetable you paired it with needs more time. Leave mixing things up until they’re on your plate.

Teriyaki Beef Kebabs

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb beef sirloin, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 8 wooden skewers
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Submerge the wooden skewers in water and soak for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Mix together the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar and oil until combined.
  3. Coat the meat with the marinade, reserving a portion for serving.
  4. Let the meat marinade anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours.
  5. Thread the pieces of meat onto double skewers, leaving a little space in between each piece.
  6. Preheat the grill or a grill pan to medium high heat.
  7. Place the beef kebabs on the grill. Cook 2-3 minutes and turn. Repeat for each side, cooking a total of 10-12 minutes or until your desired temperature.
  8. Let rest for a few minutes then serve with remaining marinade.
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