WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU A BAG OF LEMONS . . . MAKE PRESERVED LEMONS!

The other day my favourite local grocery store featured organic lemons twenty five cents each.  A bargain.  I filled my shopping bag  with a couple of dozen of these little darlings to make PRESERVED LEMONS.

PRESERVED LEMONS are one of the indispensable ingredients of Moroccan cooking.  I use it not just in tagines or with lamb and chicken I add the lemons to salads and vegetable dishes and use the pickling juice in salad dressings.  No matter what some food writers  say  their unique pickled taste and silken texture cannot be duplicated with fresh lemon or lime juice.

The important thing in preserving lemons is to cover them with salted lemon juice.  You can use the lemon juice over and over again.   Preserved lemons are not complicated to make.  You partially slice the lemons.  Jam them into sterilized jars, add a few spices if desired and freshly squeezed lemon juice,   You let the lemons ripen in a warm place for thirty days, shaking the jar each day to distribute the salt and juice.     To use simply rinse the lemons as needed under running water, removing and discarding the pulp, if desired.

I have preserved lemons with olive oil but I prefer this recipe from  Paula Wolfert’s book on Morocco food.    Join me in MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen  for this exotic recipe for PRESERVED LEMONS.

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IT’S NOT JAM! IT’S GOOD MORNING SEVILLE ORANGE MARMALADE

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I will never forget the first time I tasted home made marmalade.   I was visiting relatives in Scotland.  They lived on a sweet farm just outside Dumfries.        A behemoth, ancient  Aga stove  dominated their kitchen.  Several large pots simmered away and filled the air with the perfume of oranges.   Knives flashed and turned the knobbly peel of Seville oranges into fine, slender  slices.   Batches of the most perfect of preserves, homemade marmalade, cooled in small jars.

The season for these sour oranges is short.  Just a few weeks in late January and February.    Sometimes you can still find them in stores as late as March.  Our divine Ladner food store, JARRY’S MARKET,  made it possible to make marmalade this late in the year. Every marmalade aficionado know the best marmalade uses Seville oranges.  Their thick, bitter peel holds the secret to this most heavenly concoction.   It is this peel and pits that supply the necessary  pectin.    One can buy marmalade but it never tastes quite as delicious or gives us the same satisfaction of making it ourselves .

Making Seville orange marmalade is a two day process.   However, it is not difficult.   You juice the oranges and thinly slice or finely chop the rind the first day and have it  sit quietly over night.  The next day you add the sugar and cook the marmalade.  You do need a good size pot and a candy thermometer.   Absolutely no pectin is added.

One does not refer to marmalade as jam.  Jam is made with fruit and even vegetables, but marmalade is always and only made with citrus fruits.  The name is Portuguese in origin and refers to a preserve made with quince.

The recipe for SEVILLE ORANGE MARMALADE awaits you in MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen.  Bon Appetit dear friends.

 

 

 

IT’S MAGIC. ZUCCHINI ‘S TUMBLE INTO YOUR BASKET AND BECOME ZUCCHINI RELISH.

This morning’s garden expedition is zucchini hunt.    The zucchini has an uncanny ability to hide its slender form under large, bristly leaves.   It masquerades as part of a thick stem.  The unsuspecting gardener turns her back and before you can say ratatouille  it becomes  a behemoth of a vegetable.

There is simply nothing more glorious than canning the bounty of your garden.  The heady fragrance of spices simmering in vinegar.  The chop chop chop sound as your knife flashes its way through mounds of vegetables. The wonderful feeling of accomplishment as you tuck away the jars of produce to enjoy in the months to come.

This recipe for ZUCCHINI RELISH is deliciously tangy and sophisticated  accompaniment for hot dogs, burgers, and any cold meats that require a little zing.   Slip over to the place I cook up wild and wonderful food.  Click on ZUCCHINI RELISH  and let the magic begin.  Bon Appetit dear friends.

WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU A BOWL OF CHERRIES MAKE CLAFOUTI AUX CERISES (cherry clafouti)

One has a rather small window to make this classic French dessert.     It’s a bit of a waiting game.  First you wait patiently for the first of the dark, sweet cherries to make their grand appearance.    I shop almost daily in our lovely, quiet and delightfully old-fashioned village.  We have a wonderful locally owned  grocery store in Ladner.  JARRY’S feature local and regional products.       I have been buying shiny, ruby red cherries every day for a week or so, and today the cherries were deeply rich and sweetly ripe.   This is where the waiting and tasting game pays off.  The cherries are perfect for  clafouti.

Clafuti is a crepe like batter poured over cherries and baked in a very hot oven.  There are many recipes for this seasonal dessert and they are all variations of melted butter, flour (not much) a bit of sugar, several eggs , milk and ripe, plump cherries.   It is traditional to leave the pits in the cherries.  It adds to the flavour of the clafouti.    Just  remind your guests about the pits.

This very, very French dessert is easy to whip up and pop into the oven about two hours before you want to serve it.   At the last minute I dust it with a little icing sugar.  You can serve it warm or cool.

The recipe  for  CHERRY CLAFOUTI  awaits you in MRS.BUTTERFINGER’S kitchen.  Bon Appetit dear friends.

 

 

 

ZEN AND THE ART OF PICKLING DILLY GREEN BEANS

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Pickling is a state of mind.  Ask anyone who pickles.  There is something rather atavistic about preparing food to be stored away for the coming winter.  There is a strong feeling of accomplishment as you tuck away jars of preserves.  Once you’ve made your first batch of pickles it could be the beginning of a wonderful, addictive relationship with all kinds of pickles and relishes.

It’s really not complicated.    You prepare your vegetables.  Wash and sterilize your jars.  Fill the jars.  Process the jars,  That’s it.  If you don’t have a canning pot with a rack – no worries.    Simply follow the processing instructions in the recipe.

This recipe for oh- so -mouth-puckering pickled green dilly beans is quite simple.  You cut your beans to fit into the wide-mouth canning jars.  Mix up your vinegar, water and salt.  Then you put a little red pepper flakes, some mustard seeds and lots of dill seed into each jar.  Tuck in the beans.  Pour the hot vinegar mixture over.  Seal the jars and process them in boiling water for 15 minutes and you’re done.  You can cut the recipe in half if you just have a few beans picked up at the farmer’s market.

The very, very best part of these pickled bean – they make the best ” nibbly” appetizer along with some crackers and a little cheese.The recipe for PICKLED DILLY BEANS is on my food blog MRS.BUTTERFINGERS.

 

 

PUTTANESCA SALSA

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Take the classic ingredient for Puttanesca sauce.  Deconstruct the recipe. Now it becomes  an extraordinary salsa perfect for everything from grilled sausages and fish  to grilled bread.

Using this basic recipe you can joyful indulge in your own favorite flavours and make this sauce very much your own.

Tomatoes, olives, capers, anchovy fillets and garlic are the ingredients of this briny salsa.    Add a handful of chopped fresh basil. A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.  Perhaps a little extra capers or use green Castelvetrano olives intsead of Kalamatas or add  just one more anchovy fillet.  It’s all up to you.

This sauce is fabulous on grilled Italian sausages served crusty buns.  Click on              PUTTANESCA SALSA and bring a little Italian to your dinner table.

 

WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU A LEMON … MAKE PRESERVED LEMONS

 

Preserved-lemons

In 1988 Paula Wolfert’s cookbook,  WORLD OF FOODS,  introduced me to PRESERVED LEMONS.    The dishes in this book share common elements:  deep, earthy flavours;  richness without heaviness; and “big” flavour.  Paula Wolfert is probably America’s most outstanding food writer.    This book  conveys the irresistible sheer pleasure of preparing extraordinary food.  I have loved every recipe I’ve cooked from any of her books.

PRESERVED LEMONS gives you that oh so important bold flavour.  Use them in salads, to finish tagines, and definitely in Caesar Salads.   The recipe is quick and simple.  Make lots because they keep months  in your refrigerator.  Put them into small jars.  They make dazzling gifts.

SEVEN DAY PRESERVED LEMONS

2 Ripe lemons,      1/3 cup kosher salt (coarse),      1/2 cup lemon juice,      olive oil

Scrub the lemons and dry well.  Cut each lemon into four quarters leaving the bottom still attached.  (so you’re not quite cutting all the way through).

Fan the lemons and pack as much salt as you can between the wedges.  Pack them into a 1/2 pint glass jar with a glass or plastic-coated lid.    Cover them with lemon juice (I use Real Lemon).  Close the jar tightly and let the lemons ripen at room temperature for 7 days, shaking the jar each day to distribute the salt and juice.  To store, add olive oil to cover and refrigerate for up to six months.  I always use at least 6-8 lemons.  What luxury to have these lemons tucked away in your larder.  Share them they are so wonderful.

To use rinse the salt from the lemon wedge, peel the flesh away and toss.    Then  finely slice and enjoy the amazing salty lemon flavour.