Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Canning at the Chelsea Fair




I have never entered anything in a canning contest at a fair, but I decided this year I would give it a try at the Chelsea Fair.    It is held each August in the next town over, Chelsea.  Here's how I did:

First place
Corn Relish (I was the only entrant!)

Second Place
Salsa #5 - very proud of this as there were 9 entries
Bruschetta in a Jar 
Pickled Cauliflower   from Linda Ziedrich's Joy of Pickling, one of my favorite canning books
Mustard Beans
Stewed Rhubarb

Third Place
Rhubarb Jam - this recipe without the Earl Grey tea

Fourth Place
Pickled Asparagus  from the University of Georgia's Center for Home Food Preservation.   One day I will visit that place in person!  I often find myself in Athens, GA for work.

I was surprised that pickled asparagus came in 4th, I thought it looked the best.   This type of canning contest is really a beauty contest, they don't taste the entrants.    When we used to have the Classic Michigan State Fair (RIP), they tasted them.    Probably a better way to do it!

Monday, August 07, 2017

Home Made Gnocchi



It's rare that an Italian restaurant is my first choice when dining out....mostly because Italian food is so easy to make at home.    That being said, I have never made my favorite pasta, gnocchi, at home from scratch.  Instead, I always end up buying that overpriced vacuum sealed product at the grocery store for $4.   My Italian friend Patty said she made hers from scratch, so I decided I'd give it a shot.

I googled around for some recipes, and I really liked the basic ones that included just 3 ingredients: potato, all purpose flour, and an egg.   I was curious about how to form the gnocchi with the ridges in it......but it was super easy!  Just roll it down the tines of a fork with your thumb smushing it down....
I quickly got my gnocchi formed and it was ready to cook in boiling salted water:



I'm at our lakehouse on the Keweenaw this week, so I made a pasta sauce from scratch with the great UP favorite Italian sausage cudighi, but any Italian sausage would be great.   This serves 4 people.

Cudighi Sauce

1 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced small
1 red bell pepper, diced small
1 lb.  cudighi or Italian sausage
1 large can (29 oz) tomato sauce
1 small can (6 oz) tomato paste
2 T chopped fresh basil



In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat and add onion and pepper, saute until soft.  Add sausage and brown until cooked through.   Add tomato products and simmer on low.

While the sauce is cooking, make the gnocchi.   Super easy!

Gnocchi
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
2 c. all purpose flour
1 egg

Cook potatoes in salted water until soft.   Drain and mash in a medium mixing bowl.   Add flour and egg and stir until well combined.   Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth.    Divide into 6 pieces and roll out into 1/2 inch thick snakes, just like you did as a kid with Play Dough.   Cut each snake into 1/2 inch pieces.   Roll the pieces down a fork like shown in the video above.  At this point, you can freeze them on a baking sheet, or cook them in a large pot of boiling salted water, a half batch at a time.   Boil them until they float, and then strain them out of the water and put them in the sauce.    If the sauce is too thick, add some of the pasta water to it to thin it.  Plate gnocchi and garnish with basil.

It really didn't take much time at all to make this.....about an hour, start to finish.  And the texture is so much better than the plastic pouch gnocchi.  



Sunday, July 09, 2017

Copper Country Strawberry Festival Muffins



We are always glad to be in the Keweenaw for strawberry season.   There is something about the hard winters and late springs up here that make for really outstanding strawberries.   I have fond memories of strawberry shortcake and margaritas made with the local ones.   This year, I made 12 half pint jars of jam using my outdoor canning rig.

I still had lots of berries to use up, so I tried a variation of a recipe I once made for blueberry lemon ricotta pound cake.   I updated it to use whole wheat flour and strawberries, and I baked it in a muffin tin.   Fantastic!  And good for you, too.

Strawberry Lemon Whole Wheat Muffins
makes 1 dozen

¾ cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons lemon zest
4 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters
2 tablespoons packed confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.  Beat sugar and butter in a large bowl  until creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Beat in ricotta, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and vanilla until just combined. Sprinkle flour on top, then evenly sprinkle baking powder and salt over the flour. Beat until almost combined. Add berries and gently fold into the batter. Transfer to the prepared muffin pans, filling cups to the top.  Bake the muffins until starting to brown around the edges and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about  25 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, remove from pan.   Clean the bowl, add confectioners' sugar and whisk in the remaining lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle the the glaze on the muffins.