Saturday, July 07, 2007

Luscious Beet Salad

I first tasted this at an Ann Arbor La Leche League potluck a long time ago. It’s great – even beet haters love it.

It's even prettier with red beets!

Luscious Beet salad

4 large beets
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1 bunch beet greens, chopped
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/4 pound feta cheese (optional)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil

Wash beets. Remove greens but leave beet tops and roots intact. Place beets in a large pot filled with water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until beets are tender (about an hour). Set aside to cool. Toast pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Remove seeds from skillet and set aside.

To prepare beet greens, fill a large skillet with water to a depth of 1 inch and heat to a simmer. Wash greens by submerging the bunch in a sink full of cold water. Shake off water and drop greens into simmering water. Let them cook for about 30 seconds, until tender and juicy. Place greens in a colander and gently run cold water over them to halt cooking.

Peel beets by cutting off the tops and slipping the skins off with your hands. Slice beets. Squeeze excess water out of the cooked beet greens and chop. Put beets, beet greens, pumpkin seeds, and scallions in a salad bowl. Shake dressing ingredients together in a jar. Pour dressing over salad and toss gently. Crumble feta cheese on top. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Makes 6 servings

Friday, July 06, 2007

Roasted Garlic Dressing

I can't wait to try this recipe that was in the Ann Arbor News this week.

It can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Makes 1/2 cup
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 head roasted garlic (see NOTE)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or smoked paprika

Whisk together the buttermilk, roasted garlic (preferably still warm), vinegar and salt in a small bowl. Add the cayenne pepper or smoked paprika 1/4 teaspoon at a time, tasting after each addition. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use; shake well before serving.

NOTE: To roast garlic:
Slice the top off 1 head of garlic so that the tops of the cloves inside are exposed. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the garlic has softened and browned. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then squeeze the softened garlic cloves out of their skins and discard their stem ends.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Cherry Lime Jam

I bought some dark sweet cherries at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market yesterday - I bought 6 pints, with the thought of trying my hand at cherry jam. When I was grocery shopping, I saw that IBC makes a cherry limeade, and it gave me an idea....why not cherry lime jam? Many moons ago, I made a blueberry lime jam out of the Ball Blue Book that I loved. I consulted my trusty Ball Blue Book - this year's edition is terrific, by the way - and followed the cherry jam recipe on page 33. I added the zest of two limes to it.

I had never pitted cherries by hand before - I wasn't sure where to get a pitter, but suspected that Downtown Home and Garden had one. They had a couple, actually, but I went for value. My pitter cost only $1! I had heard it was a pain to pit cherries, but I have to say it wasn't too bad...only about 1/2 hour total. I had the foresight to put on a black Tshirt and sit on the back deck to do it. Pitting cherries is really messy and they stain everything. After pitting, when I was chopping, I found about 15 pits. Even when cooking the jam, I found a few. I hope my jam is pit free! Can I make it for better and cheaper than I can buy it? I think so. I have never seen cherry lime jam, but it is a flavor combination I really enjoyed upon sampling. The color of the jam was spectacular - a beautiful ruby color. To check out the value proposition:

  • I paid $20 for 6 pints of cherries (I used 2/3 of them for this recipe) - cherries cost me about $13.40

  • liquid pectin - I had never used liquid pectin. It's more expensive than powdered pectin, and they are not interchangeable. 2 envelopes cost me $2.99

  • 2 limes were $.99

  • 6 cups of sugar is about 3 lbs. I paid $2.59 for 5 total sugar cost was about $1.50.

I made 9 half pints of jam, so my cost per jar was about $2.10 per half pint. Not bad, for minimal effort!

Here's the recipe:

Cherry Lime Jam

1 qt. finely chopped pitted dark sweet cherries
6 1/4 cups sugar
2 T. bottled lemon juice

2 pouches liquid pectin

zest from 2 limes

Yield: About 8 half-pint jars

Procedure: Sterilize canning jars and prepare two-piece canning lids according to manufacturer's directions. To prepare fruit. Sort and wash fully ripe cherries; remove any stems and pits. Chop fine.

To make jam. Measure prepared cherries into a kettle. Add sugar, lemon juice and lime zest and stir well. Place on high heat and, stirring constantly, bring quickly to a full boil with bubbles over the entire surface. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the pectin. Skim off foam.

Fill hot jam immediately into hot, sterile jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids. Process in a boiling water canner.