Links: Apple Butter, Vegetable Broth, and Winners

roasted butternut cubes

This past weekend was a relatively quiet one. I taught a jam making class on Saturday morning at the Morris Arboretum’s Bloomfield Farm. After the class was over and I was outside, loading up my car, I took a moment to stand and listen to the wind blowing through the trees. I love so much about my high rise life, but whenever I hear it, I’m reminded how much I miss the sound of that leaves and branches being moved by the breeze.

The Homemade Kitchen

Time for the winners in The Homemade Kitchen giveaway. The winner of the big prize pack is #361/Jen. The winners of the two books are #98/Dan and #130/Kim.

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Thoughts on Potlucks + Baby Arugula and Oregon Berry Salad

baby arugula and berries

This post is sponsored by the folks at the Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission. Nobody grows berries like Oregon does!

All week now, I’ve had potlucks on the brain. It’s in part because I’ve been reading potluck-centric comments all week on that The Homemade Kitchen giveaway (have you entered yet?). However, it’s also because with fall-like weather finally here, it just feels like the time to make a shareable dish, and gather with friends to eat.

Stahlbush Island Farms berries

Whenever I plan a dish to bring for a potluck, there are a few things I keep in mind. First in my mind is to make something flexible, that could make up the bulk of a meal (if offerings are sparse) but that can also be comfortably eaten alongside a wide array of other items. To me, that means that I want to make something that includes both a vegetable and a protein, but that isn’t too strongly flavored.

Oregon berries

I also want to plan something that can travel well, needs minimal assembly, holds up well at room temperature, doesn’t take up too much space on the table, and can be eaten with a fork (there’s also a subset of things I consider when taking food allergies into account).

What this typically means is that I often opt for either sturdy salads, a whole grain bake, or if I’m rushed for time, a multigrain baguette, a log of goat cheese, and a jar of jam or chutney (what good is a homemade pantry if you don’t use it?).

berries to defrost

When it comes to building a salad to take to a potluck, I have a steadfast formula. First, I pick a tasty green base (young kale, baby arugula, chopped romaine hearts, or a combination of all three). Then I choose something sweet (berries, apple slices, slivers of pear, or roasted beets are some favorites).

Finally, I choose a protein source (cheese, nuts, tofu, or chicken), something creamy (cheese or avocado, mostly), something crunchy (slivered onions, nuts or seeds, cucumbers, or carrots) and a dressing (homemade vinaigrettes made with fruit shrubs are the best).

defrosted berries

This time of year, most of us think that we have to wave goodbye to berries on our salads, but thanks to the clever folks at the Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission, I’ve learned a trick for defrosting frozen berries that keeps them whole and perfect for tossing into salads.

Essentially, you spread the berries out on a lined plate (paper towel or clean kitchen rag), and the use the defrost setting on your microwave in short spurts, until the berries lose their frostiness. It’s impressively effective and the berries keep their shape beautifully.

tossed berry salad

I wasn’t on top of things enough this summer to freeze local berries, but have been employing this microwave trick to prep frozen Stahlbush Island Farms berries for my salads. As a former Oregonian, I love knowing that I’m eating berries from my beloved home state.

The salad you see above included baby arugula, slivered almonds, sliced shallots, raspberries and Marionberries, crumbled feta, and a dressing of blueberry shrub, olive oil, salt, and pepper. While it was big enough to take to a potluck, this was one I didn’t share. I ate the whole thing for lunch instead.

For more information about Oregon raspberries and blackberries, look for the commission on Facebook, Twitter, or by searching the hashtag #ORberries.

Disclosure: The Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission is the sponsor of this post. They provided the berries, the OXO salad dressing shaker, and covered ingredient costs. All my opinions are my own and I’m honored to shine a spotlight on the berries grown in Oregon. 

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Pumpkin Pie Spiced Applesauce for October Unprocessed

chopped apples

It is apple season, which means that no matter where I go or what errand I’m running, inevitably a sack full of arlets, honeycrisps, or jonagolds comes home with me. I’ve been working my way through the bounty, making jam, butter, and sauce (hopefully more than enough to last what is predicted to be a very cold winter).

finished applesauce stack

Today, my technique for super-easy (no peeling or coring necessary) pumpkin pie spiced applesauce is up on Eating Rules, as part of October Unprocessed. Now, I know that we’re currently in the midst of a pie spice backlash, but truly, there’s nothing better than sweet sauce spiked with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice. Try it in your next batch of applesauce. I’m certain you’ll be convinced.

Get the Pumpkin Pie Spiced Applesauce Recipe!

Also, for this applesauce post, we’ve teamed up with MightyNest to offer a snazzy canning giveaway. Head over to Eating Rules to enter.

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CSA Cooking: On Using a Giant Head of Curly Endive

escarole

Time for another installment of CSA Cooking, where I write about how I’ve used, prepped, eaten, or preserved items from my monthly Philly Foodworks rolling farm share. Use the code FOODINJARS to get $10 off your first Philly Foodworks order.

I didn’t manage to take a group picture of all that came in my share this month. However, the box was a season-spanning collection of fruits and vegetables. I got sweet potatoes, garlic, a hefty eggplant, a small of kale, a big red bell pepper, a quart of plums, and a giant head of curly endive.

chicken soup

Heating soup leftovers on the second night. The original batch was far larger.

There was so much of the curly endive that it made an appearance in two different dishes. The first was a pot of chicken soup that stretched across four days, two dinners, a breakfast, and a lunch (when it’s available, I do love a warm bowl of soup for breakfast).

The soup was made using my standard technique. I pulled the meat off leftover chicken, piled the bones in a pot, added vegetables, and made stock (this time, I used a pressure cooker, which was amazingly speedy). I sauteed chopped onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, and garlic in some olive oil, added the roughly chopped greens, poured the hot stock over the top, and stirred in the leftover chicken.

Seasoned with salt, pepper, a little Better than Bouillon (to round out the chicken-y flavor), a couple tablespoons of vinegar, and a splash of soy sauce for depth, it was done when the carrots were tender. As with all soups, it was good the first night, but far better the second and third days.

beans and greens

The second curly endive dish was based on one I ate while in Pittsburgh a couple of weeks ago. My friend Cindy lives near an Italian place called Legends of the North Shore that is particularly well-known for their beans and greens (they also sell them out of a food truck). We ordered a small spread from Legends the first night I was in town, and I so loved that dish that I dug around online until I found a recipe that the chef had shared with their local CBS affiliate.

What’s so interesting about this dish is that it doesn’t actually depend on traditional cooking greens they way you might think. Instead, it uses spring mix, chopped romaine, and spinach. Adapting it to my needs, I made my version with the other half of the curly endive, one romaine heart, and the very end of a bag of baby arugula. This is going to be my approach from now on when I have an abundance of salad greens that need to be used, because it is fantastic.

Essentially, you heat a bit more olive oil than feels reasonable and heap your greens into the pan. While they wilt, you mince/press/grate several cloves of garlic, rinse off some white beans (I used a jar of these), and measure out a little grated parmesan or pecorino. Once the greens have wilted, you add the garlic, beans, cheese, and a splash of water or broth. With just a couple stirs, the cheese melts and the liquid in the pan magically transforms into a lush, creamy sauce. Salt and pepper to taste and you’re done.

We ate our beans and greens alongside some scallops, but you could easily turn this into the main event by tossing in some pasta or a bit of cooked and crumbled sausage. I can already tell, this is a dish that is going to be in heavy rotation this winter.

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Giveaway: Alana Chernila’s The Homemade Kitchen + Prize Pack

The Homemade Kitchen

Last spring, I spent the better part of four days tucked into a tiny cabin near Neumann University, working on my natural sweeteners book. I took a cooler full of food, a pile of cookbooks to use as reference when my own inspiration failed me, and a few things to read simply for fun.

THK Contents

Included in my pleasure reading was a PDF of Alana Chernila’s book The Homemade Kitchen, provided by her editor in the hopes that I might write a sentence or two of praise. After my first day of writing was over, I warmed some soup for dinner and settled down to read.

How to Cook a Vegetable

My original intention had been to read just a bit that night and then go to bed early. Instead, I sat at that little, formica-topped table and hungrily took in every word. Friends, I devoured this book.

Queen Garlic

Now, I had a feeling I would like The Homemade Kitchen before I even opened up the document. I am a fan of Alana’s writing and always feel a moment of anticipatory pleasure when I discover she’s posted something new on her blog. What’s more, since we met four or five years ago, Alana has become a dear friend. We don’t get to see each other too often, but whenever I find myself passing through Western Massachusetts, I point my car in her direction.

Reusables in the Kitchen

The reason I tumbled head first into these pages is that they bring together everything I want from a cookbook. It’s got appealing food, smart and sensible kitchen advice, wonderful writing, a glimpse into the author’s life, a pretty design, and glorious pictures.

The Kitchen in the Morning

When the physical book landed in my mailing box late last week, I was reminded of my time with that PDF all those months ago. While I haven’t cooked anything from it yet, I’ve broken the spine in half a dozen places and have littered the pages with post-it notes.

Just a few of the recipes I’ve marked include Broccoli Raab with Cheddar Polenta (page 61), Roasted Salmon with Yummy Sauce (page 163), and the Congee with Chicken and Greens (page 202). I’m hungry just listing them out.

prize pack pic

I would have written about this book whether or not there was a giveaway attached, but happily, I have a few copies to share with you guys. One lucky winner will get The Homemade Kitchen prize pack, which includes a tote bag featuring a quote from the book, a fancy knife, and a signed copy of the book. Two more winners will get copies of the book.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your favorite potluck dish.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, October 17, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, October 18, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States and Canadian residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: The nice folks at Clarkson Potter sent me a copy of this book for review and photography purposes and are providing all the giveaway gear. No additional compensation was provided!

Upcoming Classes: Morris Arboretum! Mullica Hill, NJ!

class image revised

Happy Monday morning, friends! I’ve got both a class and a demo happening over the course of the next week and hope I’ll see some of you there. Oh, and I’ll have copies of both books with me at these events for sale and to sign (they make an excellent holiday gift).

This coming Saturday, October 17, I’ll be teaching a jam making and canning basics class at the Morris Arboretum (in Philadelphia, PA), using a batch of pear vanilla jam. I’ll talk about best canning practices and will make sure that everyone goes home with the knowledge and empowerment necessary to tackle a wide array of preserves. It’s a good class for both first time canners and those who want to refresh their rusty skills. All attendees will leave with an introductory canning guide and a small jar of jam made in class. The class is from 10 am – 12 noon. Registration information.

Then, on Monday, October 19, I’ll be at Gloucester County (New Jersey) Library’s Mullica Hill Branch for a free apple cranberry compote demo. We’ll start promptly at 6:30 pm and will be finished no later than 8:00 pm. I’ll talk about preserving for the holidays, will offer lots of safe canning tricks and tips, and will have books to sell and sign.

And, if you’re too far flung to attend one of my classes, don’t forget about my Brit + Co online class. It’s just $9.99 and is a great way to learn jam making and canning from me!

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