Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Quick Pickles - April Challenge

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A group of us are participating in a year long Food in Jars Mastery Challenge hosted by Marisa of Food in Jars, and April was Quick Pickle Month.

So what is a quick pickle? Quick pickles are also known as refrigerator pickles. They are simply vegetables (or fruits) that are pickled in a vinegar, water, and salt (sometimes sugar, too) solution and stored in the refrigerator. Quick pickles don't develop the deep flavor that fermented pickles do, but they also only require a few days in the brine before they can be enjoyed. Quick pickles also do not require canning when refrigerated.

Cool, briny pickles straight from the fridge are one of the simplest pleasures of summer. Quick pickling is also a brilliant solution for preserving a plethora of vegetables from the market or your garden. Quick pickling doesn't require canning or a bushel of vegetables. Best of all, you can adapt this simple formula for any fresh vegetables; try a mixture of vinegars and spices for a truly custom pickle pleasure.

Pickling is best done with super-fresh vegetables or fruits. Save the slightly bruised specimens for soups or other forms of preservation. Almost any vegetable or fruit can be pickled, and the shape you choose to pickle in is entirely up to you. For example, carrots can be peeled and sliced into matchsticks or coins. Cherry tomatoes are best preserved whole. Green vegetables, such as green beans or asparagus, can be blanched in boiling water for two to three minutes and then shocked in an ice bath to preserve their color, but this step is purely optional. (source: The Kitchn)

So off we set to make Quick Pickles! It was fascinating to see what each of us came up with. We had everything from pickled avocado, to broccoli, garlic, 3 bean salad, green beans, zucchini, cauliflower, eggs, peas and carrots and so much more! Just take a look!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Crunchy Dill Pickles

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Finally I have crunchy dill pickles. I have tried all kinds of recipes, and while I enjoy all the ones I've made, I love this one for their tangy, crunchy dill flavor!


I've always wondered if salting was the key, and it certainly is, just as I discovered last year when I made my Old Fashioned Southern Squash Pickles. What a difference some time in salt water makes! You have to try it to believe it.


RECIPE
Ingredients
8 lbs of 3 to 4-inch pickling cucumbers
2 gals water
1 1/4 cups canning or pickling salt
1 1/2 qts vinegar (5 percent)
1/4 cup sugar
2 quarts water
2 tbls whole mixed pickling spice
Whole mustard seed
Dried minced dill -or- dill seed

Method
Wash your cucumbers and thinly slice off the blossom end. (the blossoms have an enzyme that will make your pickles soft). Cut into spears or leave whole.

Add 3/4 cup salt dissolved in 2 gallons water. Soak cucumbers in water for 12 hours, covering bowl with plastic wrap, and letting sit on your kitchen counter-top. Drain, but do not rinse.

Combine vinegar, 1/2 cup salt, sugar, and 2 quarts of water. Place pickling spices in a cheesecloth, or in a mesh strainer that fits inside your pan below the surface of the liquid, and place in your vinegar brine. Heat to boiling.

Fill pint jars with drained cucumbers. Add 1 tsp mustard seed and 1 tsp dill weed or dill seed per pint. Fill jars with hot pickling brine (discarding pickling spice), leaving 1/2-inch head-space. Cover with lids and rings and process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.

Remove jars and let cool on a kitchen towel on your counter-top 24 hours. Store in pantry up to one year. Open jars must be refrigerated.

Cook's note - I find these do best in pint jars. Quart jars are processed longer which can cause the pickles to get mushy. For optimum flavor, do not open for 4 weeks. Patience is key!

Yield: approx. 9 pint jars

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original 
content.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Old-Fashioned Pound Cake

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Did you know? Pound cake refers to a type of cake traditionally made with a pound of each of four ingredients: flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. However, any cake made with a 1:1:1:1 ratio, by weight, of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar may also be called a pound cake, as it yields the same results. Pound cakes are generally baked in either a loaf, bundt or tube pan, and served either dusted with powdered sugar, lightly glazed, or sometimes with a coat of icing.


It is believed that the pound cake is a northern European dish, that dates back to the early 1700s. A recipe for pound cake is in the first American cookbook, American Cookery, which was published in 1796.

There are numerous variations on the traditional pound cake, with certain countries and regions having distinctive styles. These can include the addition of flavoring agents (such as vanilla extract or almond extract) or dried fruit (such as currants or dried cranberries), as well as alterations to the original recipe to change the characteristics of the resulting pound cake. For instance, baking soda or baking powder may be incorporated to induce leavening during baking, resulting in a less dense pound cake. A cooking oil (typically a vegetable oil) is sometimes substituted for some or all of the butter, which is intended to produce a moister cake. Sour cream pound cake is a popular variation in the United States, which involves the substitution of sour cream for some of the butter, which also is intended to produce a moister cake with a tangy flavor. Some of these variations may drastically change the texture and flavor of the pound cake, but the name pound cake is often still used.


My family loves pound cake and we enjoy eating it plain or topped with strawberries and whipped cream for a delicious spring and summer treat.


This pound cake is rich, buttery, and deliciously decadent. It's an old-fashioned timeless recipe, one I am sure you will make over and over again ... and don't change a thing, it comes out perfect every single time just the way it is!



RECIPE
Ingredients
6 farm fresh eggs
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
3 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
1 tsp real vanilla extract

Method
Grease and flour, or spray with baking spray, tube (or bundt) pan and set out eggs and butter to allow them to come to room temperature.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. Sift the flour and add it to the creamed mixture alternately with the whipping cream. Mix until fully incorporated; stir in vanilla.

Pour into prepared pan and place in a cold oven. Turn the oven to 300 and bake for 80-90 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely before removing from pan.

Original recipe adapted from Southern Plate

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Kale and Strawberry Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette

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If you've followed my blog for awhile now, you know I love my small local family farms! I visit them quite often, purchasing almost all of our groceries at local farms and farmers markets.


Many, many times I come a away with something free, as was the case the other day on a visit to Willard Farms to pick up strawberries. While chatting with Jay Willard, he sent his boys out to cut some of his new Kale crop for me to try. Nothing better than cut fresh while you wait, is there?


The first thing I wanted to do when I got home is decide how I could incorporate the kale and the strawberries I picked up. Pretty much I was sitting in my kitchen looking at both of them, and then I thought, why not a salad, and even better, what about a salad with a strawberry vinaigrette?


I'm really glad I did because I am so happy with these results, and I think you will be too! Easy to do, light and delicious to eat, this salad is perfect with the zesty, yet sweet strawberry vinaigrette.



Friday, April 7, 2017

Cinnamon Roll CAKE

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Imagine all the taste of a cinnamon roll in a cake format! Oh my, when I first saw this recipe, I just knew I wanted to make it.


What could be easier than this? One large sheet pan full of deliciousness, perfect for breakfast, dessert or an after-school snack. Cinnamon, brown sugar, buttery goodness!




Saturday, April 1, 2017

Quick Pickled Broccoli

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"Cool, briny pickles straight from the fridge are one of the simplest pleasures of summer. Quick pickling is also a brilliant solution for preserving a plethora of vegetables from the market or your garden. Quick pickling doesn't require canning or a bushel of vegetables. Best of all, you can adapt this simple formula for any fresh vegetables; try a mixture of vinegars and spices for a truly custom pickle pleasure." (source: The Kitchn)



And so I set out to make Quick Picked Broccoli! I was amazed when I tried them a few hours after they'd been refrigerated; crisp, tart, tangy and delicious.



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Lazy Daisy Oatmeal Cake

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This is one of those old-fashioned vintage recipes, said to be from the 1940's; I love recipes like that. This is the one your grandmother used to make, and said to be an original recipe developed for Quaker Oats.

Tender, moist and delicious, it is a one pan cake, great for after-school snacks, or anytime you want an easy dessert. No fuss or muss, I love it!


RECIPE
Ingredients
For the Cake:
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbls unsalted butter, very soft
1 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon

For the Topping:
6 tbls unsalted butter, very soft
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tbls milk
2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

Method
Combine oats, boiling water, and milk; let sit 20 minutes. Adjust oven rack to upper and lower middle position and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease,or spray with baking spray, a 9 x 9 -inch pan.

Add salt, butter, sugar, and vanilla to oat mixture and stir to combine. Stir in eggs and coconut. Add flour, baking soda, and cinnamon to bowl, then stir until completely combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake on middle rack until just set, about 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

While cake is baking, mix topping in same unwashed bowl: toss butter, brown sugar, milk, coconut, and nuts to form moist crumbs.

As soon as cake is baked, remove from oven and spread topping over the top. Return pan to oven and increase heat to broil. Briefly heat until topping melts and coconut is lightly toasted, about 1 minute. Transfer pan to wire rack to cool.

You can also see this recipe at Meal Plan Monday

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Jellies and Shrubs - March Challenge

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Mango, Szechuan Peppercorn, Kaffir Lime Leaf Shrub - Tami Young - see recipe below
A group of us are participating in the Food In Jars Mastery Challenge hosted by Marisa at Food in Jars and the March challenge was JELLY OR SHRUBS. Wait? What? What the heck is a shrub?

According to Rodales's Organic Life shrubs are "Derived from the Arabic sharab, meaning “drink,” a shrub is a zingy libation of fruit and sugar steeped in vinegar. People have enjoyed versions of these concoctions the world over—from colonial America, where sailors used them to prevent scurvy, to modern Asia, where people sip drinking vinegars as a health tonic. The shrub was one of America’s first drinks, kept without chilling and imbibed by settlers as an alternative to water, which was often unsafe. Popular through the 18th and 19th centuries, shrubs fell out of fashion after modern refrigeration eliminated the need for shelf-stable beverages."

The Huffington Post even had an article on "How to Make a Shrub aka The Secret to Cocktails That Taste Like Summer."  "Shrubs started as a household practicality. Back before refrigeration, fresh fruit would spoil quickly, but you could extend its life by piling it into a big crock with some sugar. The juice that came off the fruit was redolent with the bright flavor of the fruits in the crock, and after a few weeks it would ferment into vinegar."

So off we set to make either jelly or shrubs. While most chose to make jelly, a few brave souls tried making shrubs and are now all fans of this fruit, sugar and vinegar beverage.

See our results and recipes here:

Balsamic Vinegar Jelly with Onions Seeds - Sue Harris -
Jams 'n' Pans
Recipe

Cantaloupe, Orange and Coriander Shrub - Pamela Gram -
The Pitt Stop BBQ, LLC
Recipe

Cherry Jelly - Lynn Vining -
Southern with a Twist
Recipe

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Chocolate Coffee Cake with Cocoa Crumble

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Who doesn't want chocolate for breakfast? Well this coffee cake gives you a great reason to enjoy chocolate for breakfast because it's a coffee cake! Topped with a cocoa crumble, this coffee cake is sure to become a family favorite.


When serving, drizzle the top with some chocolate syrup or glaze, if desired, to really put it over the top.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Marinated Grilled Pork Chops

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One of the very first farms I ever visited when I began my quest for local, pasture raised meats and products from small, local family farms was Sunny Cedars Farm. It was an eye-opening experience, and I've been friends with the farm owners ever since.


Pigs raised humanely on pasture with no antibiotics or added growth hormones is most definitely not the white meat. These pork chops are a rosy red color, tender and delicious.


If you ever have a chance, do yourself a favor and seek out a local farm to buy your meat from ... I think you'll be very happy you did.



Friday, March 17, 2017

Strawberry Sangria Jam

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This jam will remind you of  Strawberry Sangria! Made with Merlot wine, orange juice, brandy, and fresh strawberries from Willard Farms, it is a true taste explosion in your mouth.

Sweet from the berries, little hint of the orange juice and a nice tinge of wine it is delicious served over cream cheese on crackers. Light, sweet and refreshing, the perfect companion to a cheese board and summer casual dining.



RECIPE
Ingredients
3 cups crushed strawberries (about 6 cups whole berries)
1 cup red wine
1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup brandy
6 cups sugar
1 pkg Sue-Jell (powdered pectin)

Method
In an 8- to 10-quart heavy pot combine strawberries, orange juice, red wine, brandy and Sure-Jell. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar adding it all at once. Return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon.

Ladle hot jam into hot sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4-inch head-space. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids and screw bands.

Process filled jars in a boiling water bath 10 minutes. Remove jars from canner and let them cool 24 hours on a kitchen towel on your counter-top. Store in pantry up to one year. Open jars need to be refrigerated.

Yield: 7-9 half-pints.

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Strawberry Margarita Jam

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Strawberry season came early this year in South Carolina since we had such a mild winter. Literally there were berries on the plants almost a month ahead of time, and all of us were anxious to get some as soon as they were available.


A group of us have been buying strawberries in bulk now from Willard Farms, and as soon as Jay (the farmer) told us they were ready, we put together an order. Many of us flash freeze the berries, then put them in food saver bags in our freezers to use throughout the year.



This was the case again this year, and it was great to see these pretty berries all packaged up in my freezer.

Since I have plenty, I decided to try making this Strawberry Margarita Jam ...  oh my goodness, so delicious. Really amazing taste and flavor, sweet with the strawberries, with a hint of the tequila, triple sec and lime juice. It really does taste like a strawberry margarita only in "jam" form.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Easy Greasy Review and Giveaway

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I was given an Easy Greasy to try and review. I'd never heard of it before Michelle offered to send me one, but as soon as I posted pictures of it on my Facebook page, a few friends immediately chimed in saying they had one and loved it. My sister even commented "best thing since sliced bread" so, naturally I was excited to try it.


Their website says "Easy Greasy™ is a kitchen tool to make draining hot grease from food fast, easy and safe! Its patented design consists of a strainer that sits securely in a heat-resistant container. Simply pour cooked food into the strainer and allow draining. Then, remove the strainer and easily move your food to a pot or dish. Your hot grease is safely contained! Once your hot grease has cooled, just scoop it into the trash or secure the lid to store it. It’s that easy!"


"Easy Greasy™ is designed to contain hot grease produced as a byproduct of cooked food, such as ground meat (like for tacos, meat sauce or beef nachos), bacon, sausage or other meats. Easy Greasy™ is great for straining pasta or vegetables too! The Easy Greasy™ strainer can be lined with a cheese cloth for making jams or jellies."


I tried it with bacon grease today and it worked just as they said it would. Then I took out a measuring cup and filled the bottom with water just to see how much liquid it holds, and it holds a whopping 4 cups.

Four (4) cups is a quart which makes it the perfect vessel when I get ready to make some fruit jams this summer; simply line the colander with cheesecloth, place it on the bottom and pour in the fruit. This will be especially wonderful for straining the seeds out of blackberry or raspberry jam to make a seedless jam.

I can also see the Easy Greasy coming in handy when I'm making a variety of sauces, because once they are cooked down, you strain the liquid from the solids, then I could store the sauce in the bottom section covered with the lid (provided) until I was ready to use it ... perfect!


Easy Greasy would also be very helpful when making small batch veggie or chicken broth; easily stain the liquid while the bones, etc. you want to discard stay in the colander ... excellent! I'm sharing the Easy Greasy promo video here for you to watch, then be sure to enter my giveaway to WIN one for yourself!!

Watch the Easy Greasy demo video below!





Enter below to WIN an Easy Greasy of your own!


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer - I received a free Easy Greasy to try and review. All opinions expressed herein are my own.

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Pickled Red Onions

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If you've never tried pickled red onions, you really need to. They are perfect for topping on sandwiches, wraps, burgers, tacos, and salads. Slightly sweet and tart, 2 large red onions makes just enough for 2 pint sized jars.


Ingredients
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
⅔ cup sugar
1 tbls pickling salt
2 tsp pickling spice, divided

Method
Cut onions into 1/4" inch slices. Dissolve the vinegar, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the onions to the saucepan and simmer on low for 5 minutes covered, stirring often to move onions on the bottom to the top.

Sterilize a pair of tongs by dipping the ends in boiling water for a minute. Add 1 tsp pickling spice to each jar. Use the tongs to pack the onions into two 12 oz or 16 oz sterilized canning jars.

Using a ladle, fill the space around the onions with the pickling juice, leaving ½ inch of head space.

Process for 10 minutes submerged in a boiling water bath. After removing the jars from the water, allow them to sit undisturbed for 24 hours before handling. Store in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year with the rings removed. Once opened, store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Salt Preserving - February Challenge

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A group of us are participating in the Food In Jars Mastery Challenge hosted by Marisa at Food in Jars and this month's challenge was SALT PRESERVING. It was fascinating to me to see all the varied ways to preserve foods with salt and many of us tried several of the suggested methods during the challenge.

The most intriguing one was Salt Cured Egg Yolks! The way the process changes the molecular structure of  the egg yolks from their original state to one where they are more or less solid and can be grated was fascinating. Then there was salt preserved citrus, sauerkraut made simply with cabbage and salt, a vegetable soup base, salt infused with herbs and spices making your own salt blends and so much more.

The Recipes suggested were:
  • Salt preserved lemons – This is an easy starting point. I make at least one batch of these every year. They add a tangy, funky bite to soups and stews. I often heap a bunch of them in the blender and puree them smooth. I dollop that puree into hummus, vinaigrettes, and other creamy spreads.
  • Salt preserved key limes – Some readers argued whether the fruit I used were in this project were actually key limes, but that’s what the bag said. They’re zippy and bright and worth the making.
  • Citrus salt – Another really simple one. Zest a bunch of lemons, limes, grapefruits, or oranges and combine them with chunky salt. Spread it out on plate or parchment-lined cookie sheet and let it air dry. Then sprinkle it over chicken, fish, dips, and roasted vegetables.
  • Herb salt – A variation on the citrus salt above, this expansive, wide-ranging recipe is flexible and adaptable.
  • Herbes salees – There’s a version of this recipe in my second book, but I learned everything I know about salt preserved herbs from Joel and Dana at Well Preserved. And so if their post was a good starting place for me, it’s a good starting place for you!
  • Gravlax – Quick cured and seasoned salmon that takes a few minutes to prep and just a couple days in the fridge to get good. It’s a low effort, high reward project and just the thing to make if you’re planning a dinner party or fancy brunch.
  • Cured egg yolks – I’ve not made these before, so I point you in the direction of Hank Shaw for instructions here. From what I hear, this relatively quick cure produces something with the flavor and depth of good cheese.
  • Kraut – There’s so many directions to go here. Start with a recipe that appeals and begin to explore.
  • Kimchi – This is my favorite approach, but it just one of many. If you decide to go in this direction, do try to stay away from the brined recipes and stick to the ones that are salted directly, as we’ll focus on wet brined foods later in the year.
  • Soup base – I almost always have a jar of this vegetable-heavy paste in my fridge for giving depth to soups and stews.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Sauerkraut Made Easy!

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I am participating in the year long Food in Jars Mastery Challenge and February was salt preserving. While there are many ways to use salt in preserving, from lemons to herbs, egg yolks and flavored salts, I chose to salt preserve some sauerkraut.


My husband enjoys sauerkraut, and I must admit while I like the flavor, store bought sauerkraut doesn't always agree with me, but salt preserved sauerkraut is teeming with "good for you" healthy bacteria, which is an excellent way to boost your gut health, and it's so easy to make ...  much easier than I anticipated.


What do you need? A small'ish head of cabbage a tablespoon of salt, a mason jar and a weight. That's it, that's all there is to it. Well, that and time as the sauerkraut must ferment on your kitchen counter-top for approximately 3 weeks. The ideal room temperature for making sauerkraut is 65-72 degrees, no warmer, which is why its typically made in the cooler fall and winter months, and not in the summer. After it's fermented, it can be stored in your refrigerator for months, some say up to a year.