Cooking

Zucchini and Corn Sauté

Zucchini and Corn Saute

For those of you looking for another way to use some of those zucchini this dish is really fun and easy. The flavors of the zucchini, corn and peppers work really well together and makes a tasty side dish in just a few minutes. I served mine in pita bread. I sometimes add a little cheese, too.

Quick Zucchini and Corn Sauté

2 sweet peppers, seeded and cut into strips

2 medium zucchini, sliced

Oil

2 c. corn kernels cut from cobs, about 3 ears

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 t. salt

2 t. Italian seasoning

In oil, cook peppers and zucchini until crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook 4 more minutes, or until heated through. Serves 6-8.

Homemade Blueberry Liqueur

Blueberry Liqueur

I always stock up on blueberries when they are in season. I end up with a lot of frozen berries to enjoy throughout the year. I was cleaning out the freezer awhile ago, and decided to use some of my frozen berries to make blueberry liqueur.

After steeping for several months, I strained out the blueberries last night. I ended up making two different liqueurs. One is unsweetened- just blueberries, vodka, lemon zest and a clove. It is sometimes called an eau de vie- French for water of life- or blueberry vodka.

The other was sweetened a little with a sugar syrup- but you could use honey. That is blueberry liqueur or blueberry cordial. It will be allowed to mature for a couple of weeks.

Both are wonderful.

The color is so pretty and they can be sipped, as is, or used in cocktails.  You can use other berries, if you prefer.

I look forward to enjoying these with friends and family.

 Blueberry Liqueur

4-c. fresh or frozen blueberries
Sliced and scraped peel of one lemon, optional
1 clove, optional
3-c. vodka or 2 c. vodka and 1 c. brandy
1 c. sugar syrup, optional, recipe follows

Lightly crush berries with a fork. Combine with peels and clove and vodka and steep 3 months. Strain and filter and add sugar syrup. Mature 4-6 weeks.

Sugar Syrup

Simple syrup is made from 1 cup of sugar and ½ cup of water. Bring to a boil, then cool. You will have 1 cup of syrup. Some recipes call for plain sugar and others for honey. Watch when you substitute honey for sugar, as it is sweeter and stronger flavored. Better to use orange or clover honey.

Safe Canning Basics

crushed tomatoes

A lot more people are canning this year. That’s great, but maybe not so great if they are not canning safely. Following are some facts you might want to know before you can. When you follow the rules, home canning is very safe.

Canning isn’t cooking. The rules are stricter. Not a lot of room to be creative. But you can be creative later on, when cooking with the foods you canned.

Before canning there are some basics you should know.  There are general guidelines that need to be followed and some equipment that will make the job easier. 

Great sources for safe canning recipes are NCHFP (National Center for Home Food Preservation) and recipes from Ball. There are a few reputable sources for information on social media. My own website has many safe, canning recipes. My friend, Debbie Seagraves, has a YouTube channel with safe canning recipes. There is also a lot of bad information out there. Be careful about who you listen to.

The USDA recommends that all jams and jellies be processed in a boiling water bath, unless it is a recipe that is frozen or unless all the preserves are to be kept refrigerated. Sealing jars with paraffin is no longer considered to be a safe way to preserve jams and jellies.

Other high acid foods, like tomatoes (when acidified), fruits and fruit products, and pickled foods can also be canned in a hot water bath. Tomatoes are acidified with bottled lemon juice or food grade citric acid.

Low acid foods, like vegetables (not pickled) and meats and seafood must always be processed in a pressure canner. Contrary to what some people might tell you, there is no safe canning time for water bathing green beans. The water will never get hot enough to kill botulism.

Just because someone didn’t get sick from incorrectly canned food does not mean they were right. They were just lucky. There was a case in Ohio a few years ago where a woman who served improperly canned potatoes, made people sick. At least one person died. Botulism has no taste or smell.

Rice, pasta, flour and most starches should not be used in home-canned foods. Clear -Gel, a modified corn starch, can be used in homemade pie fillings.

Dairy and eggs are also not recommended in home canning. No canned butter!!! However, there is an NCHFP tested recipe for canned lemon curd, using eggs and butter. It has a very short shelf-life- use in 3-4 months!! The lesson here- use a tested recipe. It has been tested over and over to be sure it is safe.

Just because it seals, it does not mean it is safe. You have to process properly, using a safe recipe. I can pour almost any boiling hot food in a jar and get it to seal. Does not mean what I did is safe. Don’t risk your family’s health.

Since the jars are sterilized in the canning process (of at least 10 minutes), there is no need to sterilize jars as a rule. They should be freshly washed in hot, soapy water, rinsed and kept warm until ready to use. You can also run them through the dishwasher and keep them in there until ready to fill. Because jams and jellies are packed when hot, cold jars might crack. Before starting make sure the jars are free of nicks and cracks, being extra careful to check the rims.

Note: the only time you must sterilize a jar is if it contained food that had spoiled. When I get jars second-hand I also sterilize them before use. To sterilize jars submerge them in boiling water for twenty minutes.

To prepare to water bath, have a canner (large kettle with a wire rack) filled with enough water to cover the jars by 1-2 inches and have it almost boiling when the jars are added. Turn up heat and cover the canner. Timing begins when the water comes to a boil (usually only a minute or two when hot jelly-filled jars are added). I get the water in the canner boiling first and turn it down to a high simmer until just before it is needed. Keep it covered to heat up faster and to prevent evaporation. If you do not have a canner, a kettle deep enough to accommodate the jars can be used. However, you must cover the bottom with a towel. Jars that touch the bottom of the pan directly can break during processing. You can also cover the bottom of the kettle with a small cooling rack. I have known people to wire canning jar rings together to make a sort of trivet for the bottom of a stock pot.

Pressure canners for use in the home were extensively redesigned beginning in the 1970’s.  Models made before the 1970’s were heavy-walled kettles with clamp-on or turn-on lids. They were fitted with a dial gauge, a vent pipe in the form of a petcock or covered with a counterweight, and a safety fuse.  Most modern pressure canners are lightweight, thin-walled kettles; most have turn-on lids fitted with gaskets.  At least one style is still made with heavy cast aluminum, has screw-down knobs around the canner and does not have a gasket, however.

Modern pressure canners have removable racks, an automatic vent/cover lock, a vent pipe (steam vent), and a safety fuse. Use only canners that have the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) approval to ensure their safety.

Today’s pressure canner may have a dial gauge for indicating the pressure or a weighted gauge, for indicating and regulating the pressure. Weighted gauges are usually designed to “jiggle” several times a minute or to keep rocking gently when they are maintaining the correct pressure. Read your manufacturer’s directions to know how a particular weighted gauge should rock or jiggle to indicate that the proper pressure is reached and then maintained during processing. Dial gauge canners will usually have a counterweight or pressure regulator for sealing off the open vent pipe to pressurize the canner. This weight should not be confused with a weighted gauge and will not jiggle or rock as described for a weighted gauge canner. Pressure readings on a dial gauge canner are only registered on the dial and only the dial should be used as an indication of the pressure in the canner. One manufacturer now makes a dual-gauge canner; read the manufacturer’s user manual for information on when and how to use either the weighted gauge or the dial.

Pressure canners come deep enough for one layer of quart or smaller size jars, or deep enough for two layers of pint or smaller size jars.  The USDA recommends that a canner be large enough to hold at least 4 quart jars, upright, to be considered a pressure canner for the USDA published processes. Smaller pressure cookers are NOT safe for use as pressure canners.  

To prepare a pressure canner add several inches of hot water in the bottom of the canner that has a rack in the bottom. The canner will usually come with specific directions or a fill line. Some will have a specific amount of water that is added, like 3 or 4 quarts. Water will not cover your jars in pressure canning the way it does in water bath canning. After jars are added to the canner the lid is secured and the heat is turned on. Once steam starts to come out of the vent on top, the canner is vented for 10 minutes. The gauge is applied and the canner will start to increase in pressure. When proper pressure is attained timing begins.

To know when proper pressure is attained, you will just look at your gauge- if your pressure canner has a dial gauge. When using a weighted gauge, pressure is achieved when the weight begins to rock gently. Once you get up to pressure, you will be able to turn the heat down a little. Be careful not to reduce heat too much. If you go below the proper pressure, you have to get back up to pressure and start the timing over.

When the timed process is completed, turn off the heat, remove the canner from the heat (electric burner) if possible, and let the canner cool down naturally. (Lift the canner to move it; do not slide the canner. It is also okay to leave the canner in place after you have turned off the burner. It is better to do so than to let jars inside the canner tilt or tip over if the canner is too heavy to move easily.)

While the canner is cooling, it is also de-pressurizing. Do not force cool the canner. Forced cooling may result in food spoilage. Cooling the canner with cold running water or opening the vent pipe before the canner is fully depressurized are types of forced cooling. They will also cause loss of liquid from jars and seal failures. Forced cooling may also warp the canner lid. When the pressure is back down to zero, wait another few minutes before removing the lid. Always remove the lid away from you- the steam in the canner could burn you.

Prepare foods for canning in enamel, non-stick or stainless steal pans. Never use aluminum or copper, or enamel cookware that has chips.

Today, lids are two pieces consisting of the ring and a flat lid with a rubber ridge. Lids should be prepared according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Some ask you to boil them, others may just ask you to wash them and hold in warm water until ready to use. The rings can be used over and over, but the flat lids should only be used once. They may fail to seal if processed a second time. There are silicone lids, which can be used over and over. They are a little pricey, but you don’t have to replace them.

Jar-lifters are a handy tool to have. They allow you to place and remove the jars easily, with little risk of dropping them. They are available at many grocery stores and in cookware and department stores as well. A wide-mouth funnel (or canning funnel) is also handy when trying to ladle hot liquids into jars.  Be sure to wipe off jar rims before putting the lid on to prevent food from causing the jars not to seal.

Screw the ring on firmly, but not too tight, or the jars will not seal properly. The term you will often hear is finger tip tight. Suggesting you tighten the ring using your fingertips only. That actually works well.

Jars removed from the water bath should be placed on a wire rack or on a towel to cool. You should hear them “plink” as the jars seal. Keep them away from drafts until cooled down. When completely cooled check to make sure that the jars have sealed. Press down on the middle. If the lid makes a “plink” noise it is not sealed. After jars have sealed and cooled remove ring, wipe with a damp cloth and store in cupboard until ready to use. I like to put dates on my jars, so I know when I canned them.

Always start with top quality produce. Bruises and blemishes will lead to spoilage. Small blemishes can be cut off, but be sure to remove all areas of spoilage.

If you are canning tomatoes and have a lot of imperfect fruit you are better off trimming off any bad spots and using this produce in recipes that will be frozen rather than canned.

When canning, always use canning salt or pickling salt. Iodized salt will cause an off-flavor in canned foods. Non-iodized salt can be used in a pinch. Sea salts contain minerals that will make liquids cloudy.

When using older canning books always check with your local Extension Office or the USDA for most current information and canning times. Periodically, times are changed or ingredients are adjusted for maximum safety. If you have old family recipes also check with your local Extension Office to find out if the recipe is still considered safe. You can also email NCHFP with questions about the safety of your recipe.

Never can in an oven. There are no safe canning times for home canning in ovens. Plus, thermal shock can cause the jars to shatter.

Nothing beats planning. When getting ready to can read the recipe all the way through and get all your equipment out. It is often easier and more fun to can with a friend or two. The extra hands always come in handy and when time is critical the extra help will make errors less likely.

In tomato-based products herbs can be added for flavor but do not randomly start adding other vegetables (like onion, peppers etc.). They will reduce the acidity and may make the product unsafe to can in a water bath. 

When you do follow the proper rules, home canning is very safe and fun, too. It is a way of preserving your garden produce to enjoy all year long. Homemade jams and jellies make lovely, thoughtful gifts.

Peach Streusel Muffins

Peach Streusel Muffins

I can’t get enough of peaches these days. I have been eating them fresh, making preserves, freezing peaches and cooking with them. This recipe is one of my favorites.

I hadn’t made them in a long time, so I decided today was the day. Now I remember why I liked them so much. Perfect crumbly texture, not too sweet, and that streusel topping.

They can be for more than breakfast, too. Split, topped with sweetened fruit and ice cream, these muffins make a great “shortcake” dessert.

While they are really great warm from the oven, these muffins are still fine the next day, or even the day after that, assuming they last that long. They freeze, well, too.

Peach Streusel Muffins

Streusel topping:
1/3 c. flour
1/3 c. brown sugar
½ t. nutmeg
4 T. cold butter

Batter:
2 c. flour
½ c. sugar
¼ c. brown sugar
1 T. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. nutmeg
½ t. salt
½ c. cold butter- 1 stick
2 eggs
¾ c. half and half or buttermilk
1 t. vanilla
1 c. finely chopped fresh peaches, about 1 large
½ c. finely chopped pecans, optional

Heat oven to 375. Line 15 muffin tins with paper liners or grease them. Set aside. Make streusel by mixing together flour, sugar and nutmeg in a small bowl. Use your fingers, or a pastry blender, to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside. Make batter: In medium bowl combine flour with sugars and other dry ingredients. Mix well. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In small bowl beat eggs and add half and half and vanilla. Stir into flour mixture and fold in until just mixed. Mixture will look lumpy. Fold in peaches and nuts, if using. Scoop batter into prepared tins, filling about ¾ full. I get more than 12 from this recipe- normally about15, but it depends on how full you fill them. Sprinkle the tops with streusel. Place muffin tins on a baking sheet and bake for 20 or until golden brown. Cool a little before serving, if you can wait.

Noodles and Eggs

Noodles and Eggs

We made noodles and eggs in cooking camp this week. The kids liked it even more than I thought they would. This was one of my favorite breakfast dishes when I was a kid. It is just what the name says, noodles- or pasta- combined with with eggs.

This time I used bow tie pasta. I suspect this recipe came about as a way to stretch eggs to feed more people. Or perhaps somebody had some leftover cooked noodles to use up.

You can keep it simple, or add cooked meats, like ham, sausage or bacon. You could add some shredded cheese or even some cooked veggies. This is a great way to use up leftovers, the way you might in an omelet. In camp, I finished the dish with shredded cheese.

Noodles and Eggs

1 T. butter or oil

8 oz. cooked noodles- any pasta you like is fine

8 eggs

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in large skillet and add noodles, cooking until heated through. Beat eggs in bowl and add to hot noodle mixture, stirring until eggs are cooked and dish no longer looks wet. Season to taste and serve. Serves 6-8.

Variations: Add diced cooked ham, bacon or Canadian bacon with the noodles. Other options add 1 c. chopped tomato or chopped up cooked veggies. You can add 1-2 c. shredded cheese just after you add the eggs.

Zucchini Bread Pudding

Zucchini Bread Pudding

I had some extra zucchini bread and wanted to do something different with it. I ended up making this zucchini bread pudding. It came out even better than I thought it would.  Rich, not too sweet. A simple, classic dessert.

I felt it needed some sort of topping or sauce. I made a vanilla caramel sauce to dress it up a little. It worked great. Ice cream or whipped cream would have worked, too.

I guess I should really call it a zucchini bread bread pudding.  After all, it is bread pudding made from zucchini bread.  My spell check hates it when I type the same word twice, so zucchini bread pudding it is.

I know this would also work with other quick breads, like pumpkin or banana bread.

So here is the recipe- for the bread pudding, the zucchini bread and the caramel sauce.

Zucchini Bread Bread Pudding

6-8 cups cubed zucchini bread- recipe follows

8 oz. cream cheese- cubed

2 c. half and half

3 eggs

1 T. vanilla

1 t. cinnamon

Vanilla Caramel sauce- recipe follows

Butter a 2-quart casserole. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place half the cubed zucchini bread in the prepared pan. Add half the cubed cream cheese, scattering over the bread. Repeat with remaining bread and cheese. In bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, beating until well mixed. Pour over the zucchini bread mixture. Place casserole in oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until bread pudding is set. Allow bread pudding to cool a little before serving. Serve with the vanilla caramel sauce or top with ice cream or whipped cream. Serves 8.

While often served warm, this bread pudding is tasty served chilled, too. Heck, I just had some for breakfast.

Zucchini Bread

3 c. flour

3 eggs

2 c. sugar

2 c. shredded zucchini

1 c. oil

1 c. chopped nuts or raisins

½ c. sour cream or strained yogurt

1 t. each vanilla, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 2 (9×5 inch) loaf pans. Set aside. Place flour in large bowl. Beat eggs and add with remaining ingredients to flour, mixing well and scraping bowl. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until browned and toothpick in center emerges clean. Cool in pans on wire rack. Freezes well. Makes 2.

Vanilla Caramel Sauce

1 c. sugar

¼ c. water

4 T. butter

2 t. vanilla

¼ c. half and half

Pinch of salt

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients. Stir until smooth.

Growing and Cooking with Dill

Dill

On appearance alone, dill is a welcome addition to any garden. It is a feathery, delicate looking plant that can reach a height of 3′ or more. It is an annual, so it has to be replanted every year. The good news is that dill is easy to grow. A lot of friends have told me that their dill reseeds itself and comes back every year.

 When dill gets tall, it should be given some support to keep it from falling over in high winds. If you plant your dill in a clump, rather than in rows, you can put a few stakes around the plants, and run twine around it for support.  I use tomato cages. I put them around the dill plants when they are small, so they grow up in the cages.

Dill does not transplant well, and seed should be sown where it is to grow or in peat pots, so you can transplant them without disturbing the roots too much.  Dill is tolerant of cold, and can be planted fairly early in the spring. The only problem with planting dill early is that the plants are past their prime when the cucumbers are coming into season. I plant small amounts of dill every couple of weeks from Spring into Summer, so I know I will have dill when I need it.  

Dill grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. While both the leaves and seeds are edible, some types of dill go to seed rather quickly, making the leaves less tasty. A cultivar of dill called Dukat, does not grow as tall as most types, and delays flowering by several weeks over other cultivars. For more leaves and a longer growing season, Fernleaf dill is another nice cultivar to plant. It is more compact, so less support is needed. Its bushy growth habit produces lots of fresh dill leaves.

 Dill seed heads are used in pickle making. The mature seeds are used in salad dressings and potato salads. The dill leaves, also called dill weed are used in carrot, potato, and other vegetable dishes. Dill is a must if you are growing cucumbers for homemade pickles.

If your dill heads mature before you need them, all is not lost. Just freeze them to use later. Dill leaves freeze great, too. You can place dill in freezer containers or freezer bags and freeze. I chop up the leaves a little to save space. To freeze dill seed heads, I just place in plastic freezer bags, squeeze out as much air as possible, seal, and pop in the freezer.

My Mom loved dill. She made wonderful crock pickles and used them in cucumber salads. She would also add dill to carrot dishes and potatoes. I have included some of her favorite dill recipes, and a few of mine. Enjoy!!

Couscous Salad with Shrimp and Dill

Couscous Salad with Shrimp and Dill

½ c. olive oil

¼ c. fresh lemon juice

1 clove minced garlic

1 t. celery seed

2 c. couscous, about 10 oz.

2 ¼ c. boiling water or vegetable broth

1 lb. peeled cooked shrimp                                                                              

1 c. diced sweet red pepper

½ c. chopped green onions

2 T. fresh dill weed or 2 t. dried

Whisk first 4 ingredients together for dressing. Place couscous in heat proof bowl and pour over the boiling water. Let stand until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and add remaining ingredients, stirring to mix well. Pour over dressing and toss to coat. Chill at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. 6 Servings.

Cucumber Dill Salad

Dill Cucumber Salad

2 English cucumbers, sliced thin

2/3 c. cider vinegar

1/3 c. oil

2 T. sugar

2 t. salt

1 t. dill weed- I used dried- use about 1 tablespoon if using fresh

1 t. parsley

Fresh ground pepper and hot sauce to taste

Place cucumbers in a bowl and set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in another bowl and mix well. Pour over the cucumbers and mix together. Chill salad several hours before serving. Serves 6.

Cucumbers and Sour Cream

Mom’s Cucumbers and Sour Cream

2-3 medium cukes, sliced

1 c. sour cream or strained yogurt

¼ c. sugar

¼ c. vinegar

2 green onions, chopped

1 –2 T. chopped fresh dill or 1-2 t. dried

Combine all ingredients and chill at least 10 minutes. Serves 4-6.

Easy Dill Pickles

30-40 pickling cucumbers, 5 inches long, scrubbed and ends trimmed off

¾ c. sugar

¾ c. canning or pickling salt (non-iodized)

1 quart vinegar

1 quart water

7 fresh dill heads

3 T. pickling spice

7 garlic cloves, peeled, optional

Mix together the sugar, salt, vinegar, water and pickling spices and bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes. Place a dill head in the bottom of seven clean, hot pint jars. Add the garlic, if using. Meanwhile cut trimmed and washed cucumbers into halves or quarters lengthwise and pack upright into the jars. Trim the length, if needed to fit no higher than to the shoulder of the jar. Pour over the hot brine leaving ½ -inch of headspace. Wipe rims and screw on lids. Place in a simmering water bath and bring to a boil. Process for 10 minutes. Remove and cool. Makes 7 pints.

Dilly Green Beans

 4 lbs. table‑perfect whole green beans

1 3/4 t. crushed dried hot red pepper

3 1/2 t. dried dill seed or seven fresh dill heads

7 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled

5 c. vinegar

5 c. water

1/2 c. less 1 T. pickling salt

Wash beans thoroughly. Remove stems and tips, and cut them as much as possible in uniform lengths to allow them to stand upright in canning jar, coming to the shoulder of the jar. have jars clean and very hot, and lids and sealers ready in scalding water. In each jar place one dill head or 1/2 t. dill seed, add one garlic clove, and 1/4 t. crushed hot red pepper. Pack beans upright in jars, leaving 1 inch of head room. Heat together the water, vinegar and salt. When the mixture boils, pour it over the beans, filling each jar to 1/2 inch from the top. Run a plastic knife down and around to remove trapped air. Adjust lids, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, start timing after the water in the canner returns to a boil. Remove jars. …Wait at least 2 weeks for these beans to develop their flavor. Yield: 7 pints   

Aunt Tillie’s Crock Pickles

1 gallon water (use spring or distilled if your water is hard)

1 c. vinegar

1/2 c. canning salt

1 T. pickling spice

garlic and fresh dill

fresh pickling cucumbers, washed and ends trimmed

     Boil together the water, vinegar, salt and pickling spice. Cool completely. In large, straight sided crock, stainless steel or food safe plastic container alternate layers of cukes with dill and garlic according to your taste. You can also eliminate garlic if you choose.

     Pour over brine to completely cover cucumbers and dill. Place plate or lid on container and weigh down to keep “pickles” submerged. Allow fermentation to take place in a reasonably cool place like a basement, but do not refrigerate. Every couple of days you should skim any scum or foam that forms on the surface. When no scum forms any more, fermentation is complete. The process can take weeks. You can also add more cucumbers as you harvest them, but try to stick the newer ones on the bottom. Pickles can then be placed in sterile jars, covered with fresh brine, sealed and refrigerated. They will keep several months this way. You can also cover with fresh, hot brine, seal and place in a boiling water bath and process at a simmer for 15 minutes to store outside of the fridge.

Green Tomato Dill Pickles- Kosher style

Green tomatoes

Stalk celery

Sweet green peppers

Garlic

2 quarts water

1 quart vinegar

1 cup salt

2-3 T. fresh dill, I sometimes add a little more

Use small firm green tomatoes.  Pack into sterilized canning jars.  Add to each quart jar a bud of garlic, 1 stalk of celery, and 1 green pepper cut into fourths.  Make a brine of the water, vinegar, and the salt.  Boil with the dill for 5 minutes.  Pour the hot brine over the pickles to within 1/2 inch of the top of the jar.  Put on cap, screw band firmly tight.  Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  These pickles will be ready for use in 4 6 weeks.  Yield:  About 6 quarts.

Dilled Cucumber Soup – Serve Chilled

2 cucumbers, peeled and seeded

2 c. yogurt, or sour cream

salt to taste

cayenne pepper to taste

¼ – ½ c. fresh snipped dill

1 T. fresh chopped parsley or cilantro

1½ c. milk

2 ribs celery, diced

1 sweet red pepper, seeded and diced

lemon wedges and dill sprigs for garnish

Finely chop one of the cucumbers and place in a bowl.  Coarsely chop the second cucumber and place in a food processor. Add yogurt and seasonings and blend until smooth. Add the pureed mixture to the cucumber in the bowl and add remaining ingredients, except the lemon wedges and dill sprigs. Chill soup, covered, for several hours or overnight. To serve ladle into chilled bowls and garnish, if desired with lemon and dill. Serves 4.  

Dill Gravy

1 T. oil

2 T. flour

1/2-1 c. fresh chopped dill

2 T. vinegar

1 t. sugar

salt and pepper to taste

about 1/2 c. water

In small skillet heat oil and brown the flour. Stir in all ingredients until dill wilts. Start adding the water, over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Add the water slowly, allowing the gravy to come to the boil and thicken as you go. You may need a little more or less water according to you taste. You can use stock in place of water if you prefer. Serve with meat and potatoes. Makes 1/2 c.

Dill Marinade

1/4 c. white wine

juice of half a lemon or lime

1/3 c. olive oil

2 T. balsamic vinegar

2 T. chopped fresh dill

2 T. Dijon- style mustard

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Use with chicken, swordfish, tuna or shark steaks.

Beet and Carrot Salad

1 large or 2 medium beets

2 large carrots

4 T. olive oil

4 T. cider vinegar

2 T. honey, or to taste

1 T. fresh dill weed or about 1 t. dried

Dash of hot sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Peel beets and shred or grate them using a hand grater or food processor. Place in a mixing bowl and set aside. Peel and shred the carrots and add to the beets. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over the beet mixture. Stir to coat and chill until ready to serve. Makes about 3 cups.

Zucchini and Cheese Tartlets

Zucchini and Cheese Tartlets

Since zucchini are so prolific there never seem to be enough recipes for them. I like this one as an appetizer. You can bake up a big batch, bake and then freeze some for whenever you need them.

Zucchini and Cheese Tartlets

1 recipe of pie crust dough, enough for 2 pies, home made or store bought

1 medium zucchini shredded, about 1 1/2 cups

1 T. flour

1 c. shredded cheese- any kind you like. I like cheddar.

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 c. minced onion

1 t. Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

hot pepper sauce to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thick. Use a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter to cut out circles of dough. Place dough circles in mini muffin pans. Press them in gently being careful not to tear them. Repeat with remaining dough and re-roll scraps. You’ll end up with about 3 dozen in all. If you don’t have enough pans, keep the extra dough circles under a towel or plastic wrap so they don’t dry out until you are ready to use them. In mixing bowl combine zucchini and toss in the flour. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Adjust seasonings to your taste. Place a rounded teaspoonful of zucchini mixture into each of the tartlet shells in the prepared pans. Don’t over fill. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown on top. They will puff up while baking but flatten when cooling. Can be served hot, warm or at room temperature. Makes about 3 dozen.

Can be frozen. To reheat take straight from the freezer and place on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven and bake for about 20 minutes, but check after 15 minutes.

Cherry “Danish”

Cherry “Danish”

We made these little pastries in cooking camp yesterday. The kids enjoyed making them and eating them. If you are a baker, you might balk at calling these Danish. They are not the traditional Danish we are used to. They are tasty, though, and easy to make. I call them pastries, although that seems a little vague. They are more like little biscuits, filled with fruit.

Mom always called them Danish. My Mom used to make a batch whenever she had unexpected guests. They are ready in no time. I used cherry pie filling in these, but you can use other fruit fillings or even make cheese Danish.

They are made with baking mix- like Jiffy Mix. I make my own mix and the recipe follows. You can prep them in the time it takes to preheat the oven. They bake for just a few minutes, so a batch made in no time at all.

Easy “Danish”

2 c. biscuit mix, like Bisquick or Jiffy Mix- I make my own.

2 T. sugar

1/2 c. butter

2/3 c. milk

Assorted preserves or pie fillings or even sweetened cream cheese or ricotta for cheese “Danish” I prefer pie filling over preserves because preserves melt a lot and tend to spill out during baking.

1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar

milk

Combine biscuit mix and sugar. Cut in butter. Stir in milk. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls on lightly greased baking sheet. Indent middle using spoon. Leave 2-3 inches in between, as they grow. Spoon preserves, or pie filling, into indents. Bake in 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Combine confectioner’s sugar with enough milk to make a runny glaze. Drizzle over cooled Danish. Makes 12.

Homemade Biscuit Mix

8 c. flour

1 c. powdered milk

1 c. powdered buttermilk

¼ c. baking powder

1 T. salt

1½ c. shortening- I like to use coconut oil- you can also use butter, but mixture needs to be kept in the fridge if you use butter. I keep mine in the fridge in hot weather if I use coconut oil.

In large bowl combine dry ingredients and mix well. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Store in a tightly-closed container and use it in 2-4 months. Makes 10 cups.

Right out of the oven
Freshly glazed
Cherry Danish

Cherry Liqueur

Cherry Liqueur

I make a lot of homemade liqueurs, but cherry is one of my favorites. I enjoy just sipping it, or adding it to other cocktails or mixing it with soda water.

It is easy, and the reward is having this lovely liqueur to enjoy even when cherries aren’t in season. I added a couple of vanilla beans to mine, but you can leave them out, if you prefer. You could also add 1-2 tablespoons of vanilla extract.

If you like a less sweet liqueur, you can add less sugar. You could also use sour cherries instead.

Cherry Liqueur

2 c. granulated sugar
4 c. vodka or brandy
1 lb. large, washed, stemmed and pitted sweet cherries
2 (6-7 inch) vanilla beans, broken into several pieces

Place sugar and vodka or brandy in a large jar- I used a half gallon canning jar. Stir until sugar is mostly dissolved. Add cherries and vanilla and cover jar. Do not stir. Place in a cool, dark place for 3 months, without stirring or shaking. Strain and filter. Divine! Makes 4-6 cups.

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