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Preserves in Action: Avocado Sauerkraut Sauce

avocado sauerkraut toast

If you had asked me a couple of years ago whether I thought that sauerkraut was a good breakfast food, I would have raised a questioning eyebrow at you. My oh my, how my tune has changed. These days, I subscribe to the notion that any time of day is a good time for sauerkraut, kimchi, or salty tangy fermented dilly beans (they are pickle heaven).

To that end, one of my favorite things to eat for breakfast at the moment is a couple thick slabs of toast (no-knead bread leavened with sourdough is my ideal option, but any sturdy loaf will do), topped with mashed avocado, a few forkfuls of sauerkraut, and some freshly ground black pepper. It is fresh-tasting, filling, and perfectly eye-opening.

Now I realize that avocado toast is woefully overexposed these days, but I can’t help it my love for it. I’ve been eating it since my early childhood days in Southern California, when a friend of my parents’ would regularly bring over a grocery bag full of avocados off his tree.

If you happen to have an avocado in the fruit bowl and some kraut in the fridge, you should give it a try. I don’t think you’ll regret it!

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Preserves in Action: Eggs Over Sauerkraut

Fried eggs over carrot/cabbage kraut and a little hot sauce. Breakfast for lunch!

It has been a really quiet week for me (this flu was no joke). My cooking has been limited to soup, eggs, and a single batch of bread. The worst of it has been that my sense of taste was dampened by the congestion and continues to somewhat muted. So even if I had the energy for ambitious cooking or preserving, it would have been lost on me.

Because things are tasting flat, I’ve been reaching for highly flavored things like sauerkraut and pickles, trying to replace nuance with pungency. Yesterday’s simple lunch was particularly satisfying.

I pulled a jar of young sauerkraut out of the fridge and forked out a generous layer onto a place. I cracked two eggs into a hot, buttered skillet and cooked until the whites were set but the yolks were still runny (my father calls this “over easy, hold the wiggle”). Once the eggs were done, I slide them out onto the sauerkraut, and then topped the whole thing with several drops of Alana’s excellent hot sauce.

The eggs warmed the cold kraut slightly and the hot sauce added extra zip. Together, that plate of food offered both high flavor and healing nutrition. Here’s hoping both my energy levels and my sense of taste will be back to normal by next week!

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Preserves in Action: Roasted Tomato and Feta Dip

roasted tomato dip

I am not a sports fan, but I am the daughter of a man who cares deeply about nearly every flavor of mainstream college and professional sports (hockey is the only thing that leaves him cold). Thanks to my dad, I have spent far more hours in stadiums and in front of large television sets watching men run after balls and around bases than I ever would have if left to my own devices.

Despite my disinterest, it never took much to convince me to participate in the watching, because I learned from an early age that snacks were an integral part of being a spectator. And I most definitely wanted in on those snacks.

roasted tomato dip top

This Sunday is the biggest game of them all, and for weeks now, blogs and food websites have been offering up recipes to serve at your party. I typically stay clear of the Game Day Spread topic, but I whirled up a really delicious impromptu dip a few days ago and so it seemed silly not to get it up here in advance of the insanity.

You start with two cups of roasted grape tomatoes (all the better if you added some garlic while roasting). If you have some of these squirreled away in your freezer, you’re halfway there. If not, turn a pint of grocery store grape tomatoes out onto a rimmed cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, add some garlic, and roast hot and fast or low and slow, until the tomatoes have wilted and browned.

tomato dip on a chip

Let the tomatoes cool and then dump them into the bowl of a food processor. Add 8 ounces of cream cheese, 4 ounces of crumbled feta (tangier is better), and 1/2 cup marinated roasted red pepper strips (if your grocery store has a antipasto bar, buy just what you need there instead of opening a jar that you will then have to refrigerate). Process to combine.

Add salt and pepper to taste (go easy on the salt at first, because feta often has plenty). If it needs a little more acidity, go with a squirt of lemon juice. Refrigerate to firm it up a little and then serve with cut-up veggies or chips of some kind. I’ve been eating it for lunch with celery sticks, or using it as a sandwich spread. Delicious and easy, just the way we like it.

(I realize that I wrote a very similar post to this one three years ago, complete with a recipe for a different tomato dip. Life is cyclical and I’m okay with that.)

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Preserves in Action: Jam-filled Turnover

unbaked jam tart

Oh friends. So far, this month has been a doozy. Travel and sickness have kept me away from this space and I’ve missed it (and all of you!). Instead of recounting every detail of woe, I’m just going to dive back in and get things started again.

We are entering the season of pies. In my family, pumpkin and apple are traditional for Thanksgiving (it’s just two weeks away!) and are always homemade. From the time I was old enough to help, I’d be right there during pie making time. Sure, I was interested in how the pies came together, but mostly, I wanted first dibs on the leftover crust.

Once the pies were in the oven, my mom would let me roll out all the scraps with my tiny rolling pin, fill them with jam, and bake them off in the toaster oven. I thought my little tarts were the best thing ever.

baked jam tart

Fast forward to today, and I still love to fill leftover scraps of pie crust with jam. Any time I find myself with a little extra dough, I rummage through the fridge, looking for an open jar that will serve as filling and make an impromptu hand pie/crostada/tart thingie. If can spare an egg, I’ll whisk up an egg wash and paint it over the top so that it bakes up glossy and burnished.

I’ve included my favorite pie crust recipe here, in case you don’t have one that you love. If you’re on pie duty this holiday season, might I suggest making a couple of batches for the freezer this weekend? It will ease the way when you’re making pies a day or two before Thanksgiving and will bring a jam-filled tart within easy reach.

How do you guys use up your extra pie crust?

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Preserves in Action: Pumpkin Carrot Bread with Pear Vanilla Preserves

pumpkin carrot bread breakfast

I realize that no one really needs me to suggest spreading jam on bread. It is a deeply familiar application and one that requires little in the way of imagination. But, when you find yourself in possession of a very special loaf of bread, it feels like the best way to go.

pumpkin carrot bread

The bread in question is the Pumpkin Carrot from High Street’s new Fall bread line. A crisp crust is coated in pumpkin seeds. The interior is vibrantly orange and studded with sweet currants. And while it’s perfect all on its own, spread with a little salted butter and some smooth pear vanilla jam (recipe coming next week), it made for simple, special breakfast.

pumpkin carrot bread with jam

For those of you who don’t live close enough to get your hands on a loaf of this bread (sadly, High Street has just one location here in Philly and they’re not sharing the recipe), don’t fret. Find a bakery in your town that is using sour dough starters, long rising periods, and interesting flours. Or if that isn’t available, make yourself a loaf of no-knead bread. Open up a jar of jam. And have your own simple, special breakfast.

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Preserves in Action: Open Faced Kimchi & Egg Sandwich

Half a bagel, fried egg, kimchi.

Late last week, I came down with a cold. At first, I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening, but it was not to be ignored. And so I spent the last five days in a bit of a haze, doing only the things that absolutely had to be done. I taught my classes and did the demos I’d committed to doing, but I skipped all extras, including grocery shopping.

Today was the first day that I felt anywhere near normal. I woke up ravenous and headed to the fridge, hoping for something fresh and delicious. Instead, I found a number of weird odds and ends, and no fresh vegetables whatsoever.

There was slightly stale half a bagel, a few eggs, and some end of a jar of the most delicious kimchi ever (it was from the July food swap and was so darn good). And so, I toasted the bagel and spread all the kimchi goodness into it (probiotics!). A single fried egg went on top. And it was delicious.

Eggs and kimchi. Make sure to try it.

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