Bearnaise Sauce

My cousin Tam gave me these directions. I believe they come from the Joy of Cooking. This is wonderfully easy and of course delicious, since it is nearly all butter.

1 stick of butter, melted. Keep hot

But in a blender:
3 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. tarragon vinegar, or in my case 2 T sherry vinegar and about 1/2 teaspoon or more of dried tarragon
pinch of cayenne, optional

Blend.

With the blender on, add the butter in a very slow stream.

If the sauce is not thick enough for your liking, put it back in the pot and heat over low heat, whisking until thick. Be careful not to break the sauce or cook the yolks. Tam says that if you break the sauce add an additional yolk to bring it back together.

For hollandaise sauce, use 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice instead of the vinegar.

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Butternut Squash Coins with Cilantro Salsa

This recipe is from an ancient copy (1995 to be exact) of Food & Wine. And truthfully it’s all about the salsa. This salsa is great over lots of other vegetables, like grilled eggplant as well as chickpeas and white beans.

For the butternut squash:
Use only the neck.
Peel and slice into 1/4-inch thick “coins”

Work in batches. Heat 3 Tbsp. of olive oil in a wide skillet over medium high heat. Put in a single layer of squash. Cook about 5 minutes, turning once, until lightly browned.

Salsa:
makes about 1 1/3 cups

1 large bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
Fresh ginger, 2-inch piece, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 serrano chile, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup water

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lime juice
1 Tbsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. salt

In a food processor, combine the cilantro, mint, garlic, ginger, chile and 1/4 cup water and puree until a smooth sauce forms. Add remaining ingredients and pulse to combine.

The salsa can be prepared up to 4 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temp.

Mint Sauce

From Great British Cooking by Jane Garmey.

In our house, lamb is not complete without mint sauce. This recipe makes about 3/4 cup. If made with vinegar it will keep at least a month in the fridge.

1 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. boiling water
2 Tbsp. sugar
4 Tbsp. white wine vinegar (or white wine)

Place the mint in a pitcher and pour the boiling water over it. Let stand 20 minutes to infuse the water. Add the sugar and vinegar or wine and stir well. Serve.

Arugula Pesto

Spring is here and the new planting of arugula is ready!

In the bowl of a food processor put:
±3 cups arugula
3 small garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 Tbsp. Kosciusko mustard (spicy mustard)
2 Tbsp. maple syrup

Pulse until coarsely chopped.
With the motor running add enough olive oil to make a spreadable pesto.

I made an appetizer of grilled zucchini rounds topped with a spoonful of this pesto, a thin slice of filet mignon (leftover) and some diced tomato mixed with balsamic vinegar.

I also added some as a pizza topping.

Cranberry Chutney

It is time for the cranberry harvest in NJ. A few buckets of cranberries have made their way into my kitchen. I made this for the first time this year. It is good, but very sweet. If I make it next year, I think I would like to add some mustard seeds & cumin seeds or maybe curry powder.

4 medium to large green tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 cup salt
1 quart cider vinegar
3 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar (3 would be better)
8 large tart apples, peeled, cored & chopped (used kieran pears because that is what I had, they are hard & crunchy like an asian pear)
4 cups cranberries
2 red onions, peeled & chopped
2 cups dried currants
1/2 cup finely chopped, peeled ginger root

In a medium bowl toss chopped tomatoes with 2 Tbsp. salt, cover, and let stand for about 12 hours or overnight.

Drain tomatoes well and soak in fresh cold water for 15 minutes. Drain again.

In a large pot combine vinegar, brown sugar, and the remaining salt. Add apples, cranberries, onions, currants, ginger and drained tomatoes. Bring just a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat and cool, let stand 1-2 hours so the raisins plump and the flavors blend.

Bring back to a simmer and cook uncovered, over low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until apples & onions are very tender and chutney has thickened slightly.

Pack into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Wipe rims, and cap with 2-piece caps.

Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.**

Makes about 7 pints.

**Please see a reliable website, like the Ball website or your local extension service, for directions on canning.

Pepper Jelly

Oddly, I have an surfeit of peppers in my garden this year. I can’t see the point in canning another jar of hot peppers so I made a small batch of “hot” pepper jelly.

This is half of the recipe from the Sure Jell direction page from an old package of pectin. For the past few years I have been buying the Ball brand pectin in the large bottle so I can measure out what I need for small batches of jam. It worked great here.

The recipe specifies sweet peppers and 10 jalapenos, minced. I used what I have in the garden, hot cherry peppers, jalapenos, poblanos and sweet Italian frying peppers.

2 cups minced peppers (if the peppers become too soupy, strain off some of the liquid before adding to the pot)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. powdered pectin
1/4 tsp. salt
a pinch of butter, about 1/4 tsp.
2 1/2 cups sugar

Sterilize your jars. This amount will make about 3 half-pint jelly jars or 7 4-oz jelly jars.

Put water on to boil for the water bath. The pot should be able to hold all the jars at once, covered by 1-inch of water.

Measure your ingredients carefully.

Measure the sugar into a bowl and set aside.

Prepare the peppers, measure out exactly 2 cups and add to a large pot (4-quart pot works nicely). Add the vinegar, pectin, salt and pinch of butter. Bring to a full, rolling boil. That’s a boil that can not be stirred down.

Add the sugar all at once. Bring back to a full, rolling boil, stirring constantly. Once boiling, boil exactly one minute.

Remove from heat and pack into sterile jars. Wipe the rims Cap with two piece caps that have been put in hot, not boiling water.

Process 10 minutes in water bath. Remove, place on towel or rack and let stand until completely cooled, at least 12 hours. Check the seals. Refrigerate any jars that have not sealed.

No Bake Energy Bites

1 cup oatmeal
2/3 cup coconut
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 c ground flaxseed
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey or agave
1 T chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract

Stir all ingredients until combined.
Cover and chill in refrigerator.

Roll into balls. Store in airtight container and
refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Editor’s note: these are tasty little treats that are surprisingly filling.

Creamy Artichoke Dip

From epicurious.com

2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. Fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
——
18 oz. marinated (or not) artichoke hearts, drained and coarsest chopped
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
3 green onions, finely chopped
2 tsp. minced jalapeño chili

Beat first 8 ingredients in an electric mixer.

Fold in remaining ingredients. Spread into an 11x7x2 glass baking dish.

Bake at 400F until bubbly and browned on top, about 20 minutes. Serve with pita chips.

May be made one day ahead, cover and refrigerate before baking.

Stuffed Baguette

This is adapted from the blog Baking Obsession. I recommend seeing their blog for detailed instructions and beautiful pictures.

I used a 24″ long Italian bread (baguette) from our local Shoprite. I doubled the filling. There was enough left over to fill another bread, however, we just ate it on crackers.

Filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temp.
4 oz. goat cheese
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper (about 1 medium) – pick your color
1/4 cup finely chopped sun dried tomatoes in oil
2 Tbsp. finely chopped Kalamata olives
2 oz. finely chopped Genoa salami
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
freshly ground black pepper

In a mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in goat cheese and garlic. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Slice off the ends of the baguette. Using a long thin knife and working from both ends, hollow the baguette, leaving a 1/2-inch thick crust all around. If working with a very long bread, cut it into 6-inch pieces to hollow.

Working from both ends stuff the baguette. The recipe recommends using a shot glass to stuff the baguette but I had better luck with small spoons.

Wrap the bread tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to two days (oops we just cut the bread). Right before serving, slice into 1/2-inch thick slices.

Spicy Cucumber Relish

Adapted from True Thai, The Modern Art of Thai Cooking by Victor Sodsook. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1995.

Dressing:
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup light brown sugar (or white sugar)
1 tsp. salt

Relish:
1 large cucumber
2-3 serrano chilis or 4-6 small thai chilis, finely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, crushed or finely chopped
1/3 cup loosely packed chopped clilantro

Combine vinegar, sugar & salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stir to dissolve sugar & salt. Cook 1 minute at a gentle boil. Set aside to cool.

When ready to serve, peel, seed (if necessary) and dice or thinly slice the cucumber. Place the cucumber, chilis, peanuts & cilantro in a bowl. Add cooled vinegar. Mix and serve immediately.

The dressing can be made a day in advance. Add to the rest of the relish ingredients just before serving so that everything remains crisp.