Fennel and Leeks

Fennel and Leeks

Monday, July 30, 2012

Fancy Brandied Cherries

Photos Courtesy of Brad Lovejoy

This recipe is quite a departure for me because I have never tasted brandy, let alone cooked
with it.Of course, there is nothing more exciting than a new idea for my cooking adventure so
when I came upon this recipe, I was immediately intrigued. My only experience with
liquor-infused fruit is the Fresh Fruit Infused Vodka Kamikazes offered in the Lava Lounge
at a restaurant called Ring of Fire in my hometown of Eugene, Oregon. The bartenders
change the Fruit Infused Kamikaze options weekly so I have tried many variations including
kiwi and strawberry, blackberry, black currant, watermelon and pineapple. From what
I understand, in order for the vodka to effectively soak into the fruit and for the fruit flavors
to infuse the vodka, the fruit needs to be tender and the soaking period needs to be at least
24 hours. Lava Lounge houses their Kamikazes in large clear jars with the fruit at the bottom
for all to see. They serve each Kamikaze with chunks of fruit so the vodka flavor is
definitely present. With all of this in mind, I began preparing the following recipe for Fancy
Brandied Cherries. 

2 lbs sweet, blemish-free, cherries, washed (I used Washington grown Van Cherries from
Martin Family Orchards)
4 cups high-quality brandy (I chose Hennessy Cognac) 
3/4 cup raw sugar
1 Tbsp almond extract (or use half vanilla and half almond for a twist)

Combine sugar and brandy in medium saucepan over low heat. Cook just until sugar is
dissolved, stirring constantly. Mixture will be only slightly lukewarm, don't overheat; you
want to retain alcohol content of brandy. Cool and stir in almond extract.

Wash two one-quart canning jars. Carefully place washed cherries, one by one, into jars
and cover completely with brandy. If cherries are not completely covered, they will spoil.
Carefully agitate jars to settle fruit. Put lid on each jar and refrigerate. Cherries will keep
in refrigerator for up to one year.

Okay, when I say these cherries pack a punch, I am not kidding around. There is no doubt
that they are delicious and fun, but they are not for the faint of palate. Here are a few things
to keep in mind. First of all, cherries are high on the Environmental Working Group's
"Pesticides in Produce" list so it is important to consume them in their organic form. I
purchased mine from an organic grower at the West Seattle Farmer's Market. Second, the
pits are left in to impart a delicate, nutty flavor to the brandied cherries so make sure to
warn others to bite into the cherries carefully.

Finally, if you are wondering what you can do with Brandied Cherries other than eat them
straight from the jar, they can be used in cocktails, dipped in chocolate, or used in sundaes,
yogurt, cake and brownies. Brad and I decided that out of these options, we would dip
them in chocolate or use them to top ice cream in order to cut the alcohol flavor with

Recipe Source:
"Mary Jane's Farm; The Everyday Organic Lifestlye Magazine"
Volume 11, #4, June-July 2012, Pages 48-49

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Turkey Burgers with Brussels Sprouts Slaw

Photo Courtesy of Brad Lovejoy

I needed a quick idea for dinner tonight and by sheer luck, I happened upon this recipe for Turkey Burgers with Brussels Sprouts Slaw. As I have mentioned in prior posts, we recently discovered the beauty of Brussels sprouts and are now open to experimenting with them in various applications. This is my third time preparing them and once again, Brussels sprouts did not disappoint.


2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1/4 cup minced onion
1 1/4 lbs ground turkey
4 Tbsp mayonnaise (optional)
4 hamburger buns, toasted

In small bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar, lemon juice and sugar; add oil and whisk until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Using food processor fitted with 1/8" or 1/4" slicing disk, slice Brussels sprouts. Or, slice by hand. In medium bowl, toss Brussels sprouts with dressing. Let marinate for 30 to 60 minutes.

Preheat grill to medium-high. In medium bowl, combine onion and ground turkey. Divide and shape mixture into 4 patties. Season with salt and pepper. Cook burgers on one side for 5 minutes. Flip and continue cooking for about 4 minutes.

Spread bun bottoms with mayonnaise, if desired. Top with burgers and slaw.

In a nutshell, this recipe is quite tasty and I would absolutely prepare it again. The Dijon mustard and lemon juice are quite acidic so if you prefer mild flavors, I recommend reducing the Dijon to one tablespoon. I used all-natural ground turkey, organic Brussels sprouts, whole grain hamburger buns and Grapeseed Oil mayonnaise. My final contribution and only deviation from the recipe was a thick slice of Heirloom tomato from the West Seattle Farmer's Market. Enjoy!

Recipe Source:
"Mary Jane's Farm; The Everyday Organic Lifestlye Magazine"
Volume 11, #4, June-July 2012, Page 60

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tomato and Three Bean Salad with Vinaigrette

Photo Courtesy of Dave McCoy

Every 4th of July, we invite two groups of our dearest friends to join us for three days of celebration. We convene at my husband's family home on Dewey Beach near Anacortes, Washington. This holiday is one of our favorite times of year because it is truly an All-American event; down to the small town 4th of July Parade, roasting hot dogs and making s'mores over a bonfire, followed by fireworks on the beach. We even dress the kids in 4th of July colors and help them make goodie bags for the treasures they score at the parade. It is a magical experience for all of us.

Photos Courtesy of Brad Lovejoy and Dave McCoy

We had an absolute ball this year, as you can see in the photos above. Of course, with all of the festivities, I would be amiss not to prepare at least one recipe to share with our friends. This year, I decided on Tomato and Three Bean Salad with Vinaigrette to accompany barbecued flank steak and chicken courtesy of our friend Carl. Natalie then followed up with a blueberry cobbler for dessert. The salad recipe follows:

1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 shallots, thinly sliced
15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained (or freshly made beans)
15-ounce can butter beans, drained (or freshly made beans)
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup Wendy's Vinaigrette
Freshly ground pepper
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. For cherry tomatoes less than 1/2 inch in diameter, leave whole; cut larger ones in half. Put tomatoes on rimmed baking sheet cut-side up and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Bake for 40 minutes, until tops begin to slightly char. Set aside to cool.

Photo  Courtesy of Brad Lovejoy

Meanwhile, prepare ice-water bath by filling large bowl with ice and water. Bring large pot water to boil. Add green beans and cook until tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain, then immediately plunge beans into ice-water bath to stop cooking process and to set beautiful green color of beans. When cooled, drain beans and spread them on clean kitchen towel to dry.

In small skillet, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add shallots and saute until they begin to caramelize, 5 to 6 minutes. Season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remove from heat.

In large mixing bowl or salad bowl, combine green beans, kidney beans, butter beans and parsley, then add shallots and tomatoes, including any juices. Stir gently to combine, then drizzle vinaigrette over everything. Toss gently until everything is evenly coated. Season with pepper, then taste and adjust seasoning. Squeeze lemon wedges over salad just before serving.

Wendy's Vinaigrette-
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, minced
1/2 tsp Veganshire or Worcestershire Sauce
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper

In small bowl, combine lime juice, vinegar, mustard, shallot and Worcestershire Sauce and whisk together. Slowly add olive oil in thin stream, whisking constantly until smooth and emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Store tightly covered in refrigerator for up to one week.

This salad is delicious! I chose to prepare the butter beans from scratch but used canned kidney beans. Regardless of this difference in preparation, both types of beans provided the perfect texture. The green beans were a wonderful addition to this recipe. I have never considered putting legumes and green beans together but it really works beautifully. My favorite part of the recipe however, was the roasted tomatoes. My oh my..... roasting already sweet cherry or grape tomatoes is a fantastic idea. They were beyond sweet and juicy.

We also enjoyed the vinaigrette. Lime juice and Worcestershire Sauce make a dynamic dressing and this particular vinaigrette would lend itself to several applications, including meat marinade or green salad dressing. One tip for this recipe; don't think of the lemon wedges as optionional. The brightness of the lemon juice adds an integral flavor profile to this dish.

Recipe Source:
"Pure Vegan" by Joseph Shuldiner
Pages 131-133, 86

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pine Nut Parsley Quinoa

My husband is a quinoa fan through and through. Because of this, I have many quinoa dishes in my arsenal, a few of which I have shared in prior posts. The following happens to be one of my mother-in-law's go-to dishes to serve as a side. I have eaten it before but this is my maiden voyage preparing the recipe at home. I think this dish is tasty but I personally only like to eat it served cold. There is something about the crunchy texture of quinoa that appeals to me in conjunction with a cool temperature. To the contrary, Brad prefers it warm so he always dishes up a big bowl and heats it in the microwave. A double batch only lasts two days once Brad is alerted to its existence so if Olivia and I want any, we have to get on it right away!

2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley (any type of parsley will work but my mother-in-law prefers flat leaf)
salt and pepper to taste
organic no salt seasoning (optional)

Toast pine nuts in large dry skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown and fragrant. Stir frequently; pine nuts burn easily. Remove nuts from pan and set aside.

Heat oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften and begin to brown.

Put broth and quinoa in medium sized saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and grain is tender. When quinoa is done, add pine nuts, onion and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm. If there are leftovers, serve cold.

I need to further explore the wide world of warm quinoa recipes because this was delicious and so easy to make! The only ingredients that required chopping were the parsley and onions, which took all of 5 minutes. The pine nuts toasted up quickly (they took only 7 minutes) and the onions browned easily.  From a preparation standpoint, this recipe is a no brainer.

From a health standpoint, this recipe is even better. The dish calls for one tablespoon of olive oil for the entire batch of quinoa. The only other fat found in this recipe is from the pine nuts; which add a lovely and rich texture to the dish. I know I have gone here before, but I just can't help but mention the nutritional benefits of quinoa. It is considered to be a complete protein and is high in fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and iron. Quinoa is also gluten-free and easy to digest. It is a true dietary gem.

I really can't think of one element of this dish that I don't like. The flavor, texture and nutritional value are so extraordinary that this is now officially one of my go-to side dishes. It's always smart to keep fabulous recipes in the family. :)

As a side note, I was really excited today because I harvested my first lettuce from the garden. I couldn't resist including a photo of my bounty below. Isn't it lovely?

Recipe Source:
Sharon Lovejoy (my mother-in-law)