Lime Marinade and Herb Salad for Steak

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This lime marinade has become my new favorite. Couple with the fresh herb salad topping and hit a homerun  with those at your table!.  The fresh brightness of herbs and tangy lime juice adds layers of flavor to grilled meats, fish or chicken. I use Mexican Mint Marigold in my herb mix because tarragon does not grow well here, but if you have tarragon, use that. We will have this again tonight with sides of baked potato and crispy lettuces, also from our garden. This is my version of Danny Boome’s, used when grilling flank steak on his Food Network show Rescue Chef.

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Lime Marinade

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
1 orange, juiced
3 garlic cloves, smashed
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put all ingredients in a large Ziploc bag. Add the steak and refrigerate for 30 -45 minutes, turning occasionally.  Remove from refrigerator and let come to room temperature before grilling or pan-searing steak.

Herb Salad

1 small bunch Italian parsley
1  small bunch sweet basil
1 small bunch cilantro
1 small bunch Mexican Mint Marigold  (or use fresh Tarragon if you have it.)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 limes, juiced
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash the herbs and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Remove the leaves from stems and chop slightly. Whisk together olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Add  to chopped herbs a few spoonsful at a time until mixture is lightly coated with dressing.  You may not need all the dressing, but serve any remaining to pass with a small spoon at the table.

 

Fall Garden Dill Pickles

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Fall means a number of eagerly anticipated things in our part of Texas.  One of them is a second growing season.  In our fall garden, Kristen and Nora are harvesting cucumbers! So we made dill pickles this week, a small batch which can be stored in the refrigerator.

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Fall Garden Dill Pickles

Prepare the jars and lids you wish to use.  The number will depend on the size and quantity of available cucumbers.  Prepare more than you estimate needed.

12-15  pickling cucumbers, washed and patted dry

6 cups water

3 cups vinegar

2 Tablespoons pickling salt

2 teaspoons sugar

12 or more cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

whole  peppercorns

large bunch of dill

yellow mustard seed

Set jars out on a tea towel.  Into the bottom of each jar, place a garlic clove, one dill frond, several peppercorns, 1 teaspoon mustard seed.

Set aside any cucumbers you want to leave whole. Slice remaining cucumbers into 1/2 inch slices or spears. To make brine, combine water, vinegar, salt, and sugar in pan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from heat. Add cucumbers to jars to within 1/2 inch of top of jar . Do not pack them too tightly as you need room for the brine. Scatter more fresh dill,  garlic, mustard seed, and peppercorns on top of the cucumbers. Finish by pouring into each jar enough brine to cover the cucumbers. Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least one week before eating. Pickles should be good for at least 6 weeks after that. These small batches disappear fast.

 

 

No Cook Dill Pickles

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PIckles, pickles, pickles. Our family loves dill pickles. When I have access to fresh pickling cucumbers  and fresh dill, I try to make them .These pickles require no cooking, not even heating vinegar. We decided to experiment with 2 different seasoning mixes. Pickles on left were made with a Knorr packet of seasoning that features vinegar salt and is a German product, with all instructions in German. I Googled the name to get instructions. These pickles got a low rating from my tasters so I am posting only the recipe for those pictured in the right.

No Cook Dill Pickles

8 larger or to 10 smaller firm, fresh pickling cucumbers

3 teaspoons coarse or pickling salt

2 Tablespoons fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dried dill weed

1 Tablespoon Penzy’s Pickling Spice blend

1/2 cup white vinegar

Slice your cucumbers very thin — I used 1/8-inch slices here but usually go even thinner on a mandoline. Place them in a 1-liter or equivalent lidded jar. Add 3 teaspoons salt and dill, then pour in white vinegar. Close the jar and give it a few shakes to begin distributing the ingredients.

You’re going to find the liquid level in the jar worrisomely low as it is well below the pickle pile line, but don’t fret. Within an hour or two, the salt will draw the moisture from the cucumbers and wilt them, while the liquid becomes a perfectly balanced pickle brine.

Place jar in the refrigerator near the front, which should remind you to shake it once or twice more over the new few hours. (Or whenever you’re back at the fridge.) Youcan eat them as little as 1 to 2 hours later, but they become ideal at 6 to 8 hours. They’ll keep in the fridge, submerged in their brine, for 3 weeks, though never around here.

Mustard Seed Magic

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Mustard seeds have become a staple in my pantry. Yellow, Brown, Black, Spicy – the seeds can be used in many ways.  I like to throw in a tablespoon or two with the olive oil when I heat the iron skillet to wilt some fresh greens.  When the seeds begin to pop, I add the greens, toss, and serve with vinegar.  The result:  a peppery flavor that is addictive!  I have coated fish and chicken with whole seeds before baking, creating a spicy crust. Of course, there are many variations of mustard as a condiment.

You can experiment with different vinegars or other liquids; adding spices (I like curry!) or adding honey or other sweeteners like molasses, sugar, or maple syrup.

Here is one delicious alternative to the ubiquitous yellow jar we usually find on the table for burgers, brats, or hot dogs. Spice up your grilling this summer!

Spicy Brown Mustard

1 cup white wine vinegar

3/4 cup brown mustard seeds

2 teaspoons sea  salt

1/2 teaspoon turmeric.

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Water, as needed

Place mustard seeds and vinegar in a small bowl or container, cover, and let soak at room temperature for 1 day. Transfer mustard seeds and liquid to jar of a blender. Add salt, turmeric, allspice, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Puree until smooth, adding 2 tablespoons of water at time to thin consistency as needed. Transfer to airtight container and store in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days before use.

 

 

5 Spice Candied Pecans

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This is one more recipe I cooked during the holidays that makes a treat welcome anytime!  In fact, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and  these spiced nuts make a nice thinking of you surprise. I filled some glass star dishes with these for small gifts for friends before Christmas. .  There are many ways to make candied nuts but this one is different because of an ingredient called Five Spice Powder.  5 Spice is a blend of wonderful flavors and fragrances –  Chinese cinnamon, cloves,sichuan pepper, ground fennel seeds, and star anise.

Five spice is used in Chinese cuisine, but is also found in other Asian food and Arabic cookery.  It may be used with fatty meats such as pork, duck or goose. It is used as a rub for chicken, duck, pork and seafood, or added to the breading for fried foods.is used in recipes for It is used in recipes for beef stew as well as a marinade for Vietnamese broiled chicken.  In Hawaii, some restaurants place a shaker of the spice on each table.

I like having a small bag of these in the freezer to use as a topping for salads.An extra bonus for us is the fact we are able to buy locally grown pecans.

Five Spice Candied Pecans
Yields 2 cups, or four 1/2 cup gifts

4 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons five-spice powder
2 cups pecan halves
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Preheat oven to 350°.
In a medium saucepan, warm 4 teaspoons vegetable oil over medium-low heat. Add 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar, 4 teaspoons water, 1 1/2 teaspoons five-spice powder; stir until sugar dissolves and mixture bubbles. Add 2 cups pecan halves; cook, stirring until pecans are thickly coated, about 3 minutes. Spread evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Bake 5-8 minutes,or until fragrant and crisp. Cool completely.

Store in an airtight container, or place 1/2 cup portions in four cellophane bags and tie with festive ribbon.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

Olive Piccanti

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Olives all by themselves are a treat, but with the addition of a few ingredients, a jar of large pitted olives becomes the star of the party!  This recipe is one I adapted from a tiny recipe book by Frances Mayes: Bella Tuscany, The Sweet Life in Italy. I have Mayes’ larger Tuscan cookbook and have used recipes in several other books she wrote, but this one was a freebie with one of the book purchases. It has lots of “want to try” recipes. This one is certainly a keeper!

Olive Piccanti

2 cups large green olives

2  hot peppers, 1 red, 1 green, minced

1/4 cup onion, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I use Meyer lemons from our tree)

1 thinly sliced lemon

Put all ingredients in a bowl with cover, mix, and refrigerate.  Best after about 24 hours.

 

 

 

Lemon Zucchini Pickles

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I have loved this recipe for a long time and have always made it with zucchini. However,  it is a great refrigerated cucumber pickle as well. We have a bumper crop of Meyer lemons so I am delighted to say my granddaughters went out to the tree the day before Thanksgiving and brought in a bucket full of lemons for our holiday cooking. This is a perfect side for so many meals,adds a fresh veggie touch that is more condiment than salad, but so good that you want to eat a bowlful!  It keeps in the refrigerator for 3 weeks, but never lasts that long around our house.

Lemon Zucchini Pickles

5-6 medium zucchini, sliced very thin.  Do not peel

1 green pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 Tablespoon sea salt

2 teaspoons celery seed

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1 lemon, sliced very thin into rounds, then halved

Cut thin zucchini slices and combinewith green pepper, celery seed, onion, and salt in large bowl.  Toss gently and allow to stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Combine sugar and lemon juice and stir to dissolve. Pour over vegetable mixture and add lemon slices. Stir gently to blend, cover, and refrigerate at least 24 hours. This will keep up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Fig and Apple Chutney

IMG_2836One of summer’s gifts comes to us from the fig tree in our garden. When its fruit begins to ripen around the first week in July, it seems as if its branches will break from the hundreds of green figs. The foliage is so dense that I really have to work at finding the blushing fruit whose softening texture and slight bent on the stem say “pick me” even more than the color. This year because we had such a wet June, the harvest began a bit sooner. Picking twice a day can be a chore, especially as the temperatures rise.  We have many ways we like to use the figs, but because I know we won’t use all of them, I start giving bags away to those I know love figs, and try to make at least one batch of fig chutney.  This year, the figs I used for a small batch were almost the last to ripen.  Because of the sudden extreme heat, the tree went into preservation mode and all the green figs on the tree stopped ripening, hardened, and began to drop.  Even though we watered heavily, there were no more ripe figs.  So the few little jars of fig and apple chutney will have to do. It is some of the best I have made, so I will certainly try the recipe again next year.

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Fig and Apple Chutney

1 pound of fresh figs

2 apples 1

1 1/4 cup of sugar

1 / 2 cup cider vinegar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Clean the figs and halve or quarter depending on size. Peel and cut apples into cubes. Put everything in a saucepan with sugar, vinegar, spices and salt. Heat until boiling. Reduce heat and cook for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Ladle the hot chutney in sterilized jars. Close immediately. Turn the jars over until completely cooled. Best after 2 or 3 days. I store mine in the refrigerator.