Strawberries, apples make jams just right

Peaches, blackberries and even local apples are starting to dictate food preservers’ plans.

The biannual peach-canning spree with my mother-in-law is slated for Friday. But that hasn’t kept her from filling the freezer with other local fruits, including blackberries I picked, to put up at her leisure.

Indeed, strawberries, given the low- and no-sugar treatment in this week’s food section, are still going strong at the patch off Hanley Road and a newer one near Vilas Road. And rhubarb, often considered a springtime fruit (but actually a vegetable) is looking robust in my garden after a good feeding and mulching. With the wide availability of mangos in grocery stores, I could produce my own batch of Rhubarb-Mango Chutney that accompanied this week’s canning story.

And now that apples are on at Ashland’s Valley View Orchards and others locally, they could play off the strawberries in this jam recipe from cookbook author and food blogger Cathy Barrow for The Washington Post. The pectin in the apple helps to set jam, of course. But it’s still important to use about three-quarters perfectly ripe berries and the rest underripe; the latter have more natural pectin, further contributing to a proper set.

This recipe requires a candy thermometer and 4 sanitized half-pint jars with new lids and rings. A preserving pan is recommended but probably only worth the investment for those who do a lot of canning.

Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey

Just Right Strawberry Preserves

3 pounds (about 2 quarts) strawberries, hulled

3 cups granulated sugar (organic or raw may be substituted, but use weight, not volume; 26.4 ounces)

Juice of 1 lemon

1 Granny Smith apple

1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice; use a potato masher or broad, nonflexible spoon to mash fruit into sugar just enough so that some larger pieces of berry remain.

Use large-holed side of a box grater to grate the (unpeeled) apple directly into bowl, turning it once core is exposed. Stir to incorporate thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.

Pour mixture into a colander set over a heavy-bottomed, 5-quart preserving pan or pot. Stir, encouraging collected syrup to fall into pan or pot. Remove colander, seating it inside bowl to capture any remaining syrup; add that to pan or pot as needed. Leave solids in colander while you cook syrup.

Clip a candy thermometer onto preserving pan or pot; cook over high heat to bring syrup to 220 F, the soft-ball stage in candymaking. Syrup will foam and rise up, so stir it from time to time. Add berry mixture to syrup, stirring as preserves return to a rolling boil. Preserves will foam and rise up as water boils away and the set is achieved. Once foam is nearly gone, jam will be done. Turn off heat and test the set (see NOTES, below).

Once set has been achieved, add the butter, if desired. Stir well and thoroughly without scraping sides or bottom of pan or pot until last bits of foam have disappeared.

Ladle preserves into sanitized jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Run a chopstick or flat plastic knife along inside of jars to dislodge any air bubbles. Clean rim of each jar, place warmed lids and finger tighten rings (not too tightly). Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and use a jar lifter to transfer jars to a clean, folded dish towel to cool for several hours.

Label and date sealed jars. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening. Makes 3 1/2 to 4 half-pint jars.

NOTES: There are three ways to test the set. The sheeting test entails stirring preserves, then lifting the spoon to watch jam sheet off the spoon, flowing slowly and collecting along the bottom of the spoon before languidly dripping back into the pot. It should look like jam, not like syrup. The sheeting test takes a practiced eye.

The cold plate test is a surefire method of testing the set. Before beginning to cook jam, tuck 3 small plates and three spoons into the freezer. Once preserves seem to be set, use a cold spoon to place a tablespoon or so of jam on the plate. It should set instantly. Press against blob of jam. Does it resist just a bit? Wrinkle a little? It’s done.

The third method is the lazy cook’s cold-plate test. Remove preserves from heat and cool for 3 to 5 minutes. Press against surface of the jam. Does it resist just a bit? Wrinkle a little, as though a very small pebble has hit the surface of a pond? The jam is ready.

For jam that is not yet set, return preserves to the stove; cook for 2 to 5 minutes at a strong, hard, foamy boil that rises up no matter how much you stir; then test again. Stop and start cooking process as many times as necessary until you are satisfied with the set. Jam will set further as it sits, so err on the side of a loose set versus a very firm set.

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Pack these salads, chilled soup for picnics

Saturday at Britt Festivals wasn’t just a chance to see one of my favorite artists; it also afforded one of the summer’s first occasions to picnic.

Kudos to Britt for still allowing outside food and beverages at its venue. It’s a tradition I always plan to exploit, not least because I have so many garden vegetables during the summer concert season to enjoy and share with friends.

Predictably, zucchini played a role in Saturday’s spread. If my fellow gardening friend hadn’t called to check on what I was making, we probably would have ended up with more than one variation on summer squash. As it was, we enjoyed it sautéed with eggplant and garlic and doused with balsamic vinegar to top slabs of country bread.

The last of my snow peas made a crisp salad that drew rave reviews from my other friend for its dressing, a simple vinaigrette of rice vinegar, lime juice, soy sauce, Sriracha and sesame oil. The fish sauce that I forgot goes even further to evoke a Vietnamese dish, replete with fresh mint. Paper-thin slices of garden radishes, a bit of sweet onion and lots of toasted, slivered almonds finished off the salad.

Grilled broccoli composed the third salad with feta, olives and tomatoes, courtesy of my gardening friend. I can only hope that once the sweet potatoes size up in her garden, she’d pledge those toward another picnic or potluck.

If I grew sweet potatoes, I might consider this lighter alternative to traditional, mayonnaise-laden potato salad. And if I need to extend zucchini’s appeal, this cold soup would fill the bill.

Sweet Potato Salad With Lime Vinaigrette

2 pounds sweet potatoes

1 cup sliced red onion, slices cut into half-moons

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon grated lime zest

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic

1/2 fresh serrano chili, seeded and finely chopped

Place potatoes in a large pot, add enough water to cover them, cover pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are pierced easily with tip of a sharp knife, for 15 to 20 minutes. Cooking time will depend on size of potatoes. Drain and let cool until you can handle them. Peel and cut into 1/2-inch slices, then cut slices in half.

In a large bowl, toss potatoes with the red onion. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lime zest, olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar, garlic and chili. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and serve, or refrigerate for several hours to overnight. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe from “Potato Salad: 65 Recipes From Classic to Cool,” by Debbie Moose (John Wiley & Sons, 2009).

MCT photo

Cold Zucchini Soup

3 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks

1 medium onion, peeled chopped

1 bay leaf

1 sprig fresh parsley

1 sprig fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

4 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the zucchini, onion, bay leaf, parsley and thyme with 1 cup of the chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer mixture for about 10 minutes, or until zucchini is tender. Remove bay leaf, parsley and thyme. Puree mixture in a blender or food processor until it is of uniform consistency.

For a smooth soup, strain puree by pressing it through a strainer or sieve with back of a spoon. An unstrained soup will have a slight texture. Add remaining chicken stock, the yogurt, lemon juice, salt and white pepper and stir well to blend. Pour soup into a 1 1/2-quart covered container; chill for at least 1 hour before packing in a cooler.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe from “Picnic: 125 Recipes with 29 Seasonal Menus,” by DeeDee Stovel (Storey, 2009).

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Dairy-free dressings won’t weigh down salads

Salads are the cook’s defense against cooking in such searing heat.

Although a stove or grill is indicated for portions of the recipes that ran with this week’s salad story, lower serving temperatures still have the cooling effect we’re craving this time of year. And while the salads featured in this week’s food section are hearty, they’re all lightly dressed without mayonnaise and dairy ingredients that both spoil easily in the sun and weigh down digestion.

In that vein, here are some dairy-free dressings to try throughout the summer. They make good use of herbs that are starting to flower in the sustained heat. The first, a variation on classic goddess dressing, can be made in a food processor. But because the subsequent two recipes rely on nuts for richness and texture, a blender is required to ensure emulsification.

These are from The Washington Post Food editor Joe Yonan, author of “Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook,” (Ten Speed Press, 2013).

From left, Cilantro Goddess Dressing, Cherry Tomato-Basil Dressing, Cashew-Mint Dressing. Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey.

Cilantro Goddess Dressing

12 ounces silken tofu, drained

1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, peeled

1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves and stems

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

1/4 cup peanut oil (may substitute vegetable or canola oil)

1 tablespoon peeled and chopped, fresh ginger root

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste

In a blender or food processor, combine the tofu, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, vinegar, oil, ginger and 1/2 teaspoon salt; puree until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of blender or food processor bowl as needed. Taste and add salt if needed.

Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid; use right away or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Makes 16 servings (about 2 cups).


Cherry Tomato-Basil Dressing

1 pint cherry tomatoes, stemmed, each cut in half

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup pine nuts (may substitute walnuts)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste

In a blender jar, combine the tomatoes, oil, basil, pine nuts, mustard and 1/4 teaspoon salt; puree until creamy and smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of blender jar as needed. Taste and add salt if needed.

Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid; use right away or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 12 servings (about 1 1/2 cups).


Cashew-Mint Dressing

1/2 cup raw cashews

1/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste

In a blender jar, combine the cashews, mint, vinegar, honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt and ¼ cup water; puree until creamy and smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of blender jar as needed.

Taste, and add salt if needed. Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid; use right away, or refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Makes 8 servings (about 1 cup).

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Steamer clams for the stockpot stir memories

Speaking of abundant seafood: A cache of steamer clams narrowly missed their date with my stockpot after a recent weekend at the coast.

Seeing those sturdy shells never fails to remind me of my childhood dining at the now-defunct Moe’s restaurant in Coos Bay, where plastic sand pails of steamers were a staple.

I still adore littleneck clams and mussels, simmered in broth and wine and plucked straight from their shells. Bivalves and other mollusks always seem a bit road-weary in Rogue Valley fish cases, and most in freezer sections are farmed in Asia.

The ones at Chuck’s Seafood in Charleston were particularly fine specimens, harvested in chilly Washington waters, the fishmonger confirmed. Clams will keep, still live, on ice for several days. But I didn’t want to chance purchasing them too far in advance then subjecting them to the road trip home. So I vowed we wouldn’t miss out next time.

Recipes abound for steamed clams, but this one with kimchi recently caught my eye. The addition of sausage would please my husband, a fellow lover of big bowls of mussels and their ilk.

Garlic sausage, listed in the ingredients, may be almost as elusive here as truly fresh seafood. Recipe testers for The Washington Post found it at Whole Foods Markets.
I would choose any good-quality, fresh sausage. Fennel-flavored goes well with the traditional flavor profiles for clams and mussels. The garlic component would be even better achieved with slices of garden- or farmers market-fresh allium.

The Post adapted this recipe from one by Lee Gregory of the Roosevelt, in Richmond, Va., included in “80 Forks: A Cookbook Featuring Richmond’s Most Admired Chefs, Restaurants and Cuisine” (Blunt Objects, 2014).

Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey

Clams With Sausage and Kimchi

30 to 40 littleneck clams

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

12 ounces to 1 pound fresh garlic sausage

8 ounces kimchi

4 ounces white wine, pale ale, no-salt-added chicken broth or water

Toasted bread, for serving

Place the clams in a bowl of clean, cool water; swish them about for a minute or two, then rinse clams and scrub them with a stiff brush under running water. Discard any that remain open when tapped with a finger.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saute pan or wok over medium heat.

Remove and discard the sausage casings. Pinch off pieces of sausage into butter. Cook for about 6 minutes, stirring to break up sausage, until it loses its raw look.

Meanwhile, puree half of the kimchi in a food processor until the chunks disappear. Coarsely chop remaining.

Add clams to pan or wok, stirring to incorporate, then add the liquid of your choice (wine, beer, broth or water). Cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes, then stir in pureed kimchi and chopped kimchi. Increase heat to high; cover and cook/steam for about 6 minutes or until clams open.

Divide mixture among wide, shallow bowls, discarding any clams that failed to open. Serve hot, with toasted bread. Makes 3 or 4 servings.

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Forget fish sticks; treat kids to spicy, fried fillets

Several months of adventurous eating were bound to run their course.

My 1-year-old son, previously undeterred by most fruits and vegetables, has gravitated to the comfort of white bread washed down with large quantities of goats’ milk. Fairly bland foods don’t make the cut, of course, if their textures are too soft or mealy, as my boy longs to sink his new teeth into all things crunchy and crispy.

Fresh fish, therefore, should be presented battered and fried, according to my mother-in-law. I somewhat reluctantly agreed, eager for my son to consume his portion of local lingcod and rock fish while we visited the coast for Fourth of July.

The fish was so delicately delicious that it really only needed a quick saute in butter, a sprinkling of salt and a squeeze of lemon. But with several nights’ worth of fillets to prepare, we likely would have fallen back on a fish-n-chips preparation anyway.

And my son did show a bit more interest and enjoyment in the meal. Maybe it would have gone over better with a bit more spice in the batter, as my boy’s preference for shrimp only with horseradish-spiked cocktail sauce suggested.

Here’s a fish recipe I’m eager to try on the next coast trip. The presentation inside a lettuce wrap no doubt would please my mom, who orchestrates all the fish fries.

Our favorite seafood market even stocks the rice noodles suggested as an accompaniment and fish sauce to make nuoc cham a simple Vietnamese condiment of one part fish sauce, one part sugar and two parts water, flavored with lime juice or vinegar, minced garlic and chilies.

This recipe is adapted by The Washington Post from “The Little Saigon Cookbook: Vietnamese Cuisine and Culture in Southern California’s Little Saigon,” by Ann Le (Globe Pequot, 2011).

Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey

Hanoi-Style Fried Fish With Turmeric and Dill

1 1/2 pounds firm, skinned white-fleshed fish fillets, such as monkfish, red snapper or striped bass

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt

3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon peeled and minced, fresh ginger root

2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 1/2 cups rice flour

Peanut oil, for frying

3 to 4 ounces dried rice vermicelli noodles

1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (optional)

1/3 cup nuoc cham

1 lime, cut into quarters

Pickled carrots

12 large lettuce leaves

1 small bunch mint leaves

1 small bunch cilantro

1/2 cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts

Cut the fish fillets into 2-inch chunks. Sprinkle pieces all over with the salt; let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the fish sauce, ginger, scallions, sugar and pepper in a small bowl until sugar has dissolved. Rub mixture over fish pieces so they are thoroughly coated, then place them on a plate. Sprinkle them with the turmeric, cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels, then seat an oven-safe, wire rack on top; place on middle oven rack and preheat to 200 F.
Place the rice flour in a shallow bowl. Lightly coat each piece of marinated fish in flour, shaking off any excess.

Pour enough oil into a wok to create a depth of at least an inch (1 to 2 cups; oil will be shallower if you use a large skillet instead). Heat over medium-high heat until oil is almost smoking.

Working in batches as needed (do not overcrowd the pan), add fish and cook for 4 to 8 minutes (depending on thickness of pieces), using tongs to move and turn fish as needed so that it becomes evenly cooked and golden-brown. Use tongs to transfer cooked fish to wire rack in oven.

Boil a kettle of water. Place the vermicelli in a heatproof bowl. Pour just-boiled water over noodles; let them sit according to package directions. Drain, then toss with the chopped dill.

When ready to serve, arrange dilled vermicelli on a platter along with pieces of warm fried fish; the soy sauce, if using, and/or nuoc cham for dipping; the lime wedges; pickled carrots; lettuce; mint; and cilantro. Garnish with the peanuts. Makes 4 servings.

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Fruit-flavored sambal a firecracker of a sauce

Recent recipes for red, white and blue foods that ran in A la Carte relied on fairly mainstream concepts for capitalizing on peak-season berries.

Even the white fish suggested in this blog’s previous post couldn’t be fresher, as proven on a weekend visit to the South Coast. Calm waters have made for excellent bottom fishing locally, and seafood markets were awash in sole, lingcod and other species of rockfish.

One item that isn’t in such stellar supply despite quintessentially fitting into red, white and blue menus, is cherries. The tree in my yard did produce more cherries last month than in previous years, but the quality was poor, and I cut away evidence of widespread bug infestation while pitting the fruit.

This summer’s closure of Sugar Plum Acres’ cherry orchard to U-pickers left fewer options for the fruit locally. And Valley View Orchard’s stock of pie cherries already is sold out.

So while I could dispose of my frozen cherries in a single bang with pie or cobbler, I’m more inclined to stretch them over a few meals that each would gain a firecracker-like pop of flavor from this condiment recently featured in The Washington Post.

Photo Renee Comet for The Washington Post

It starts with home-preserved Maraschino cherries, which could be pleasing enough on their own. The cherries need to macerate overnight in the salted water solution, and again overnight in the sugar-lemon juice solution. The maraschino cherries can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks or canned via the water-bath method for longer storage.

Take the preservation one step further with this fiery, homemade sambal, a commonplace sauce in Southeast Asia. At DC Coast in Washington D.C., it’s served with duck confit gyoza but also could accompany roast chicken or enliven vinaigrettes and Asian-style slaws. The Post advises against using commercially produced, bright-red Maraschino cherries in the sambal.

These recipes are adapted by the Post from Scott Clime, wine and beverage director for the Passion Food Hospitality group, and Miles Vaden, executive chef at DC Coast.

Maraschino Cherries

4 cups pitted (fresh or frozen/defrosted) sour cherries

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 1/4 cups sugar

Juice from 1 lemon

1 tablespoon almond extract

Place the cherries in a shallow, heatproof glass or ceramic bowl.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 1 1/4 cups water and the salt. Bring to a boil, stirring until salt has dissolved. Remove from heat; cool for 10 minutes, then pour over cherries. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Drain cherries, discarding liquid. Rinse them under cool water. Rinse out bowl they were in to remove all traces of salt, then return rinsed, drained cherries to bowl.
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar, lemon juice and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and immediately pour over cherries. Cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight; stir cherries once or twice during that time, if possible.

Strain, reserving cherries and letting liquid drain into a small saucepan. Place cherries in a heatproof container with a tight-fitting lid. Bring liquid to a boil over high heat, then add the almond extract. Remove from heat and pour over cherries, making sure they’re all submerged. Cool, then refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Makes 2 pints.

Cherry Sambal

2 cups Maraschino Cherries, drained (see above recipe)

1 tablespoon peeled and finely grated ginger root

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons homemade or store-bought sambal (see NOTE)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed

1 teaspoon kosher salt

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the maraschino cherries, ginger, sugar, sambal, lemon juice, salt and 1 cup water. Once mixture begins to boil, reduce heat to medium; cook for about 20 minutes or until mixture has reduced by about half.

Transfer to a blender; remove center knob in lid (so steam can escape), then place a paper towel over opening. Puree to a pourable consistency. If puree is too thick, add water as needed. If mixture seems thin, return it to saucepan and cook over medium heat to thicken.

Transfer to an airtight container; cool completely before serving or storing. Makes 1 cup.

NOTE: To make basic sambal, combine 7 ounces thinly sliced, stemmed/seeded red and green Thai or bird’s-eye chilies and 1/2 cup water in a pot. Bring to a boil, then cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Drain and transfer chilies to a blender, along with 2 tablespoons plain rice vinegar, 2 peeled garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil. Pulse until finely chopped but not smooth. Add water to adjust consistency as needed.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

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Red, white and blue fills holiday bill of fare

A full slate of red, white and blue recipes for the holiday weekend was my intent for this week’s A la Carte article.

But in a scenario that has repeated itself year in and year out at the Mail Tribune, the more copy planned for the print edition, the more advertising fills the pages, which leaves less space for said copy.

So here are two recipes from Ashland Food Co-op, mentioned in the story, that could compose the main and side dishes for Fourth of July. And because it wouldn’t be a celebration without dessert, I’m throwing in a festive accompaniment to fresh raspberries (more red). Zabaglione is only a tad more difficult than whipping fresh cream but worth the effort. And for special diets, it’s dairy-free.

Slate photo

The Italian custard consists only of egg yolks, sugar and some type of alcohol, traditionally marsala. But for summertime, prosecco or another sparkling wine lightens the dish, literally. The carbonation gives zabaglione some extra lift.

The first step takes place over a double boiler (or metal bowl set over a pan of boiling water). Then, after adding the prosecco, take the mixture off the heat and whisk or beat until it cools to room temperature. If you have a stand mixer rather than a hand-held model, do the first step by hand with a whisk and then transfer the custard to the stand mixer.


White Fish With Fresh Strawberry and Blueberry Salsa

¼ cup chopped strawberries

¼ cup blueberries

½ medium avocado, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon chopped, canned green chilies

1 small jalapeno chili, stemmed, seeded and minced (optional)

1 tablespoon chopped scallion

1 tablespoon orange juice

½ teaspoon granulated sugar

½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

4 fillets of favorite white fish, such as cod or halibut

Olive oil, for grilling

Black pepper, to taste

In a bowl, combine the berries, avocado, cilantro, chilies, scallion, orange juice, sugar and salt; refrigerate until ready to use.

Coat the fish with the oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill on 1 side for 4 minutes. Then turn and grill for another 4 minutes.

Serve fish with salsa and fresh spinach. Makes 4 servings.


White Bean and Tomato Salad

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

¼ cup basil leaves, finely chopped

4 large, ripe tomatoes

3 to 4 cups cannellini beans, cooked and drained of excess liquid

½ cup finely diced red onion

4 to 6 cups mixed salad greens, washed and torn

Petals from 4 calendula flowers

12 to 20 borage flowers

In a small bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and salt; whisk together. Add the basil and whisk for another minute.

Cut the tomatoes into slices and place in a bowl. Drizzle a little dressing over them. Toss gently and set aside.

In a bowl, combine the beans and red onion. Toss well and add all but a couple tablespoons of dressing. Toss to combine.

Place the greens in a large salad bowl. Toss with remaining dressing to lightly coat greens. Spread beans on top of greens and arrange tomato slices around edge of salad bowl.

Sprinkle the calendula petals and borage flowers on top just before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


Raspberries With Prosecco Zabaglione

8 large egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1/3 cup prosecco or other sparkling wine

4 cups fresh raspberries

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Put the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine, then set bowl over boiling water. Cook, beating continuously with a handheld mixer or whisk, until mixture is thick and pale yellow, for 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove bowl from heat, whisk in the prosecco, and continue beating until mixture cools to room temperature, about for 5 minutes. Serve at room temperature or cold with the raspberries. (Store leftover zabaglione in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to a day.)

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

— Recipe from Slate magazine.

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Chicken, cauliflower collide in curried salad

I’m calling out cauliflower for my recent curry craving.

True to form, the cheddar cauliflower in my garden sized up all at once, leaving me with mounds of gorgeous vegetable matter whose very color suggests curry. Cumin and coriander seeds, on my palate, are some of the most pleasing foils for cauliflower. And roasting is one of my favorite ways for enjoying cauliflower, on its own as a side dish or folded into quick pasta sauces or cooked grains.

When I started considering one of my other favorite vehicles for curry, chicken salad, an interesting variation suggested itself. I roasted off some cauliflower in coconut oil, toasting cumin and coriander seeds with it for just the last few minutes. Then I pulled chunks of meat from a chicken roasted the evening before and liberally seasoned it with curry powder, ground ginger, red-pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

The garden gave up spring onions and parsley to mince and add in, along with the roasted cauliflower, golden raisins plumped in sherry and, of course, a healthy dollop of mayonnaise. I served the mixture on lettuce leaves from the garden with garnishes of blanched sugar-snap and snow peas, one of the first ripe tomatoes and toasted, slivered almonds. My favorite packaged naan bread, Stonefire, made a nice accompaniment and could have conveyed the entire dish in a hearty wrap.

The same suggestion arose in a recent Washington Post recipe for curried chicken salad. Now that the weather’s heating up, and perhaps sapping enthusiasm for heavier mayonnaise-dressed salads, this dish’s appeal lies in its lighter dressing of yogurt. And grilling chicken, instead of oven-roasting, helps to keep the house cool.
Although apples provide crunch here, I might swap the out-of-season fruit for mangos, peaches or apricots and add a sweet onion for its crunch factor.

Photo for The Washington Post by Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Grilled Chicken Curry Salad

1 teaspoon mild curry powder, or more to taste

Finely grated zest and fresh juice of 1 large lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 pound thinly sliced chicken breast cutlets

1/3 cup nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt

2 tablespoons regular or low-fat mayonnaise

1 large sweet and crunchy apple, cored and cut into 1-inch matchsticks

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

In a zip-close bag, combine the curry powder, lemon zest and juice and oil. Season lightly with the salt and pepper, then add the chicken cutlets. Seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible; massage to coat chicken completely. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, or refrigerate for 2 hours.

Prepare grill for direct heat: If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (400 F) with lid closed. If using a charcoal grill, light charcoal or wood briquettes; when briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly over cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above coals for 4 to 6 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Brush grill grate.

Place marinated chicken cutlets on grill. Close lid and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until chicken has good grill marks and is almost cooked through. Turn cutlets over, close lid and cook until cutlets are done throughout, for 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool for 15 minutes. Slice each cutlet into 1 1/2-inch-long strips, each a generous ¼ inch thick.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt and mayonnaise; season lightly with salt and pepper. Add sliced chicken, the apple and cilantro, stirring to incorporate. Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 4 or 5 servings (makes 4 cups).

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Say howdy to new brand of hardwood charcoal

This week’s steak glossary for grillmeisters acknowledged that the size of steaks isn’t just a show of machismo. A thick steak is easier to grill to perfection.

MCT photo

But for backyard cooks who want to infuse their meat with an extra measure of manliness, there’s new fuel for the fire. The image of John Wayne wearing his trademark bandana and hat (and toting a rifle) adorns bags of hardwood charcoal hitting supermarkets this summer.

The oak-and-hickory charcoal has joined a collection of four spice rubs sold under the John Wayne Stock & Supply line, according to a recent story by the Sacramento Bee. The products come from the Fire & Flavor company, in partnership with John Wayne Enterprises (

The marketing slogan is simple: “Authentic. Straightforward. Honest. Just like the man himself,” are the words on the bag. And of course, the Duke loved a good steak, grilled to perfection, his son Ethan Wayne, and president of John Wayne Enterprises, states on the product website.

Bee food writers bought an 8.3-pound bag of charcoal for $7, tested it on a Weber grill and reported that it worked just fine. They didn’t weigh in on the spice rubs, so here’s a recipe courtesy of McClatchy News Service based on the quintessential blend from Montreal that steak lovers everywhere swear by.


2 garlic cloves, unpeeled

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried parsley leaves

1 teaspoon smoked ground paprika

1 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Heat a small, heavy, dry skillet over medium. Toss in the garlic and cook, shaking skillet now and then, until garlic is blackened in spots and soft, for about 10 minutes. Set garlic aside to cool.

Measure the salt into a mortar (or small electric spice grinder). Peel garlic and mash into salt. Mash in the remaining ingredients.
Rub about 1 teaspoon on each side of a steak during the last few seconds of grilling. Also good on pork and chicken.

Makes about 1/4 cup, enough for 6 steaks.

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Roll out fried rice balls for watching football

Now that a week of family wedding activities has passed, the excitement of World Cup soccer is taking over my household.

We shared football fever with some international houseguests for my sister-in-law’s nuptials, in between spa appointments, fishing excursions, pool parties, brunches and Saturday’s big bash. The schedule didn’t leave much time for cooking, or I may have gravitated toward some menus evocative of Brazil’s multiethnic culinary heritage.

Traditional Brazilian food has its roots in home cooking, according to the new book “Brazilian Barbecue & Beyond,” by David Ponté, Jamie Barber and Lizzy Barber. The country’s eclectic flavors originated with its indigenous people, Portuguese colonists, African slaves and immigrants from Japan, Italy, Lebanon and Germany, to name a few.

Black beans, rice, shrimp, pork, cashews and fruit of all varieties are common ingredients. And as the book title suggests, grilling and barbecue are a big part of the nation’s culinary identity.

Sometimes dubbed Brazilian beignets, bolinhos are a mainstay bar snack in Brazil. A Portuguese staple, salt cod flavored the version seen on Anthony Bourdain’s previous food-travel show “No Reservations.” This one from “Brazilian Barbecue & Beyond” smacks more of the Italian arancini with its pairing of rice and Parmesan cheese

Either leftover or freshly made rice can be used. If the rice is too dry, add an extra egg to help it stick together.

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3/4 cup long-grain uncooked rice

1 egg, lightly beaten

4 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped

2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish

1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup flour, plus more if needed

Small bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped

Vegetable or peanut oil, for deep frying

Lime wedges, for serving (optional)

Put the rice in a pan with 1 ¾ cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partly covered, for about 10 minutes, until most water has been absorbed. Remove, cover and let steam for another view minutes. It will be slightly overcooked and sticky, and you should be able to shape it easily. Set aside to cool completely.

To the rice, add the egg, scallions, Parmesan, salt, baking powder, 1/4 cup flour and most of the chopped parsley (all but 1 tablespoon). Mix well and check consistency: It should be stiff enough to shape into balls. If it’s too sticky, gradually add more flour until you get the right consistency. With well-floured hands, roll into walnut-size balls.

Heat the oil in a deep-fryer to 350 F (it should sizzle when a little rice mixture is added to it). Fry in batches for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden-brown all over, then drain on paper towels. Keep warm while you fry remaining batches. (No deep fryer? Use a sturdy pot and cover bottom with about ½ inch oil and fry rice balls, turning them around to brown them.) To serve, transfer to warmed bowls and serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan and remaining parsley, with the lime wedges alongside.

Makes 20 to 25.

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  • Blog Author

    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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