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.