You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2013.
I recently decided to dry a bushel of rosemary. (Note: “Bushel” is defined here as, “as much rosemary as Lacey could carry and still see enough to put one foot in front of the other.”) When you dry enough rosemary to keep a college dining hall well-seasoned for a year, you learn a few things.
- Only dry what you can use within a year.My bushel of rosemary was not only a pain in the ass to process, but it made way more dried rosemary than I anticipated. I’ll be giving away dry rubs and salts for several months in the frantic hope that I give it away before the flavors all dissipate.
- Rinse well.Especially if you grew your own herbs in a garden, or got them from a buddy with a similar set-up. My bushel of rosemary was laced with weeds, dried grass, tiny beetles, and a nice layer of dirt, none of which I want on my chicken. Rinse each sprig of herb well, then either pat it dry or lay it out to dry.
- Let air circulate.If you’re not doing the oven-drying method, it’s important to dry your herbs in such a way that lots of air can get to the leaves. Remember, you’ve just rinsed them, plus they hold their own water, so you want to avoid mold. You can tie them in small bundles and hang them from the ceiling, or you can find a way to lay them out so that air gets underneath. I used a canoe frame, but you may not have one of those– instead, maybe you have a cooling rack?
- Be patient. It takes time to rinse the herbs, let them dry, and strip the leaves from the stems, but this is a great way to preserve herbs you got for free, or extend the life of expensive herbs you purchased from the store. If your dried herbs are strong, you can use dried herbs in place of fresh in many recipes, with not much noticeable difference in flavor.
I’m rewatching Grey’s Anatomy at the moment. I’m to the part where everyone, including Callie, knows that George slept with Izzie. George and Izzie don’t know yet that they are totally not supposed to be together, and Meredith and Derek still haven’t figured out that they ARE supposed to be together. In the meantime, we’re still a whole season away from Tumor-Izzie and Dead Dennie, and George won’t die for a couple more years.
Don’t worry, I’m also reading.
But Grey’s is like my comfort food. I’m so attached to these doctors, their silly sex lives, and their interesting cases. D hates it; he’s super fond of exclaiming, “These people need to stop with the sex and do their damn jobs!” But then we’d just be watching regular medicine, no melodrama whatsoever, and who wants to see that?
Anyway, that’s all beside the point. The point is that, like Grey’s, candied citrus is becoming my comfort food. It’s super easy and non-threatening (great for a first attempt at preserves, actually), and it’s completely delicious. I ate my candied clementines straight out of the jar for weeks, and I can’t wait to dive into these candied Meyer lemons. They’re a little more tart than the clementines, but still with that delicious, sweet, vaguely vanilla-y taste. And they look so impressive and fancy in the jar, despite the purely minimal amount of effort required from you.
You will need:
3 lbs. Meyer lemons, sliced (remove pits as you go)
2 c. water
4 c. granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
Prepare your jars for canning: sterilize the jars and rings, and simmer the lids in a small pot of water. Also prepare your canning pot by bringing a lot of water to boil.
Combine sugar, water, and vanilla bean in a large pot and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Add lemon slices and cook about 15 minutes, until lemons are softened.
Divide lemons up among your jars to within 1/2″ of the top of the jar. Wipe the lips of the jars, and add lids and rings. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. Let sit overnight, without disturbing. Any jars that don’t seal, refrigerate immediately and use those first.
There’s this great restaurant in Austin that serves blistered, roasted edamame in shells, and another great place that serves steamed spiced edamame. I could snack on either of these versions for the rest of my life and die a happy woman. But when the two come together, and you remove the shell (as delectable as it is to bite it and suck out the bean, savoring the salty starch), you’re left with a snack that feels more like popcorn, and with no shells to clean up!
Roasted edamame is a little crisp on the outside, with that not-quite-burned flavor that makes us love grilled corn on the cob. The papery exterior gives way to a soft, savory explosion when you chew it. It’s seriously fun to eat, but then I’ve always felt that way about edamame. Like its starchy friend, corn, these crisp and tender beans would benefit from a squeeze of lime and a dash of chili powder just as much as they would be elevated by the simplicity of oil and salt, so feel free to experiment with spices and other flavorings.
The clear winner for me, though, is the salty-spicy cajun seasoning. I made these on a rainy Sunday when I didn’t get out of my pajamas until after 5, and that was just because I was meeting my mom for dinner. I snacked on these while I watched Bones and snuggled with my cats, and didn’t feel the least bit guilty.
Roasted Spiced Edamame
You will need:
1 cup edamame, shelled
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. cajun seasoning, or other flavorful seasoning
Preheat oven to 475.
Toss edamame with oil on a parchment-paper lined cookie sheet, and sprinkle with seasoning.
Roast about thirty minutes, or until edamame are blistered and tender. Serve immediately.
I’ve been taking a break from canning. I canned and canned and canned before Christmas (and didn’t even blog half of it), so the thought of standing over a hot stove for an hour after spending another hour peeling, dicing, and otherwise prepping a small mountain of fruit sounds a little unattractive right now. But you might remember I mentioned that I am currently in possession of more dried rosemary than God. I’ve picked about a fifth of it off its branches, and that alone made three cups. All told, I will probably have 15-20 cups of dried rosemary. (Not that I’m complaining! I like rosemary. And if you know me, you probably have some rosemary-spiked treats in your future.)
Speaking of treats, a friend of mine recently experienced a gift-giving occasion of the bridal kind. I got her the standard kitchen-y things off her registry, but I also wanted to give her something special, something from my kitchen. She knows I can, but I don’t think she had ever tried any of my projects, and her bridal shower seemed like the perfect time. I put together a small basket of registry items, some marmalade I had stashed away from the Christmas preserving extravaganza, and this rosemary salt.
Guys, it’s delicious. It would be good on the rim of a cocktail glass (for the right kind of peppy, herby, adventurous cocktail), on popcorn, sprinkled on chicken or potatoes, or even on fresh veggies like cucumbers or tomatoes. I’m sort of swooning right now thinking of how exciting a little of this would be on watermelon, or on your next batch of homemade chocolate truffles. And here’s a pro secret: Homemade finishing salts are super easy and inexpensive to make! A box of kosher salt and some fresh herbs could keep you in homemade gifts for a long, long time, and all you need to shell out for is cute packaging. The Kitchn has a great post that suggests some great combinations, if you’d like to venture beyond rosemary and citrus.
Adapted from Edible Austin
Makes 1/2 cup flavored salt
You will need:
2 tbsp. dried rosemary
2 tbsp. fresh orange or lemon zest
1/2 c. kosher or other coarse salt
Process all ingredients in a food processor until rosemary and citrus are chopped fine. Store in an airtight container up to 2 months.