Cherry Butter | Kitchen Notes

Summer in full swing means berries and stone fruit in full swing. I’ve had some haphazard experiences with canning: there was the blueberry jam which turned gummy and grainy; the Rainer Cherry jam which was hard as a rock; a lovely lower sugar Raspberry that delighted us for months; most recently a horrid quince jelly fiasco. All this precipitates an ecstatic outcome with some sweet cherries.

The market is over flowing with cherries at the moment, all ridiculously priced and all incredible delicious. And as we all know, cherries are only with us for a short season, making them perfect “can”didates for canning. No pun intended.

Cherry jam holds a special memory for me. My Omi in Germany made the best cherry jam. I remember slathering it on laugenbroetchen (pretzel rolls), it sweet red-black color contrast to the creamy European butter it rested on. I revere that memory so fully that I couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy when, a few years back, my sister returned from a trip abroad with some of Omi’s homemade jelly. Omi doesn’t produce the cherry jam in the quantities she used to, but I sure did think of her as pitted three pounds of cherries and watched them turn into utter deliciousness.

Cherry Butter, adapted from Food in Jars

  • 6 cups of pitted cherries (about 3 lbs of cherries)
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Pit the cherries and add them to a non-reactive pot. Add 1 and 1/2 cups sugar. Heat over medium heat until the cherries and sugar start to bubble. Cook the cherries and sugar over low heat for roughly 1 hour, until the cherries have cooked down. Allow to cool slightly.

With an immersion blender, puree the fruit. Taste to see if the remaining sugar is needed — I have made this recipe twice. Both times I have not added the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Add the lemon juice and stir to combine.

Test the consistency of the butter. If the fruit is think and seems spreadable, the butter is done. If the fruit mixture is still water, cook on low heat until it takes on a thicker consistency. The butter will thicken as it cools.

Prepare canning jars, as indicated by Food in Jars. Ladle the butter into the prepared jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Enjoy your cherry butter for up to 6 months. Cherry Butter | Kitchen Notes

 

Turkey Burgers | Kitchen Notes

We do enjoy a good burger in our house…and it’s usually not a traditional burger with cheese either! In fact, I can’t remember the last time we made classic cheeseburgers. Not that a good one isn’t tasty, but it occurs to me that burgers are perfect experimental slates. Endless adaptability in a defined form.

So here is a burger for you. I give you endless permission to adapt it, tweak it, make it your own. Be forewarned, the measurements on this are haphazard. When the weather’s hot and the sun is shining, who needs exact measurements. So, I give you exact-ish measurements. 

And really,you should try it un-tweaked first. Just to give it a go. Then you can adapt as needed. 

 

Turkey Burger with Saint Andre Brie, Raspberry Chipotle Sauce, and Alfalfa Sprouts, on a sprouted grain bun

  • 1lb lean ground turkey breast
  • Freshly ground black pepper – a few generous turns of the pepper mill (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Shallot pepper, about 1 tablespoon
  • Dash of salt (1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 egg
  • Panko bread crumbs – start with 1/4 cup and add in 1/4 cup increments if needed
  • A wedge of brie 
  • Raspberry chipotle sauce, about 1 teaspoon per burger
  • One carton of alfalfa sprouts
  • One avocado, sliced.
  • Four burger buns (we’ve been loving sprouted grain buns)

In mixing bowl, combine the turkey breast, black pepper, shallot pepper, salt, egg, and panko breadcrumbs. Combine until the turkey mixture comes together, but is still moist. If the mixture is too wet, add more bread crumbs a little at a time. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. 

Remove bowl from fridge. Heat a sauté pan and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. While the pan warms up, form the turkey mixture into 4-5 patties, depending on the size of burger you want. Pan fry the burgers, until crisped on the outside, about 4-5 minutes per side on medium to medium high heat. Please make sure your burgers are cooked through before serving. 

Once the burgers are finished, prep your hamburger buns. I like to toast mine, then spread the raspberry chipotle sauce on the lower bun. Add a slice of the brie, followed by the turkey burger patty. Top off with a few avocado slices and a good pinch of alfalfa sprouts. 

Recharging | Kitchen Notes

 

I’ve been silent in the blogosphere for longer than intended. Last week, I took a trip for work suburban Philadelphia. The work part of the trip was great, but my favorite part is seeing the vastly different landscape, vibrant and green from summer rain. I’ve taken leisure trips to PA in the past, as my dearest friend has called the city home for almost 10 years. Overall, the food was delicious, and the company was better. Not only did I get to meet up with friend in the city, but I spend time with good friends who I work with as well. My “favorite Pennsylvania foodies” as they dub themselves showed me around Phoenixville and explained the blobfest to me (behind the times, I am!). We also ate some pretty fantastic food, of which I have no pictures (for shame, I know!).  Sometimes, it’s better to focus on the company and the conversation than try to capture the right shot in dimly lit restaurant lighting! Life’s about people, you know. Food is the icing on the cake. And food shared with favorite people is like the sprinkles on top!

So back to reality. And back to cooking, which I did in fury this weekend. But to fully recharge, it’s great to take a night off, throw together a lovely combination of assorted goodies, and kick back with Casey. This dinner was low effort before and after, and allowed us to just be…you know, like the sprinkles on top.

To make something similar at home, bring together your favorite cold appetizers into a tapas or mezze platter. Serve with a cold drink – maybe some lime and mint infused sparkling water – and enjoy. Take a break from cooking. You deserve it.

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Maple and Whole Wheat Cookies | Kitchen Notes

A good chocolate chip cookie…you know you want one when offered to you. So why would I try to improve a recipe that’s tried and true and most importantly delicious? Mostly because updating the recipe gave an opportunity to make chocolate chip cookies even more delicious. And you, healthy. That’s what we really want…healthy chocolate chip cookies!

I wouldn’t replace these cookies for your salad. Unless you’re just sick of salad, for which I guess cookies are an adequate substitute (I’m kidding, nutritionists of the world. Cookies are not an adequate substitute for salad).

These cookies are on the chewy side. The whole wheat flour adds a deep nuttiness and the maple just a hint of sweetness. Enjoy these with milk or with an afternoon coffee or tee. Note that they aren’t as sweet as a traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe — don’t be surprised by that!

Whole Wheat and Maple Cookies | Kitchen NotesWhole Wheat Cookies, with Maple and Almond Butter adapted from Cookie and Kate 

  • 2/3 cup natural almond butter (unsalted variety)
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ssalt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, add the almond butter and the maple syrup. Add in the melted butter and whisk until combined. Beat in the egg, then the vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the whole wheat flour, oats, and chocolate chips until combined.

Use a tablespoon to drop the dough on the prepped baking sheets. Bake for about 10 minutes, checking to see if the cookies turn golden in color. If the cookies need more time, bake them for no more than 12 minutes total.

Allow the cookies to cool completely on the pans.

Whole Wheat and Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies | Kitchen notes

French Onion Tart | Kitchen Notes

 

What parts of French Onion soup do you love the most? If you’re like me, you probably enjoy the caramelized onions – a pungent mix of sweet and savory in a way you didn’t realize onions could be. Then there’s the melty, bubbly cheese, nutty and salty in perfect balance. If you’re also like me, the broth isn’t necessarily your thing; often over salted and flat. That’s not to say I’ve never had bombastic, knock your socks off soup. I do think, however, that this tart solves my dilemma. Plenty of onions, a kick from some great Parmesan cheese, and no broth.

Knowing the week looked to be busy, I caramelized a big batch of onions over the weekend. Over the weekend, I can let onions slowly cook into perfection for 30 or 40 minutes and not be too concerned. On a weeknight, that luxury is gone. When it came to the crust, I took a leap of faith — my house is out of plain all purpose flour. My house has been out of plain all purpose flour for a few weeks. I’m apparently bad a remembering the basics at the grocery store.

I tested out using a 100% whole wheat crust, using whole wheat pastry flour. To help with some of that too-healthy taste the often comes with whole wheat flour, I added an extra tablespoon of butter. (That might have been weeknight laziness, I’m not scientifically sure). The end result: move over white flour crust, whole wheat is giving you a run for it’s money.

Serve this tart with a green salad and balsamic vinaigrette. For an extra kick, so fresh rosemary in the crust might be nice.

French Onion Tart | Kitchen Notes

Caramelized Onion Tart

Onion Tart Filling, adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 4-7 medium or small onions, sliced into half moons
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

In a saute pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and onions. Allow the onions to cook down and caramelize, adding the sugar and then the salt to taste. My preferred method of caramelizing onions is to leave them at medium low heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally while I go about other chores around the house. To do this, make sure your heat is truly at medium low.

Once caramelize, allow the onions to cool by setting aside and storing in the fridge. The onions can be made ahead of time and use day of.

Prep the tart shell (see directions below)

Once the tart pan has been par baked, combine the egg and milk. Whisk together. Mix in the onions, then the cheese. Add the onion custard mixture to the tart shell and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Use the broiler at the very end if the top hasn’t gotten crisp enough to your liking.

Enjoy with a green salad.

Whole Wheat Tart Shell:

  • 1 and 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 8 tablespoons of cold butter, cut into squares
  • pinch of salt

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine all the ingredients until a homogenous dough forms. Press the dough into a 9 inch tart shell. Freeze for at least one hour or at most one month. When ready to bake, prick the shell about 10 times with the prongs of a fork. Bake the shell in a 350 degree oven for 7 minutes. Use a spatula to press down any dough that is puffy. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.

 

French Onion Tart | Kitchen Notes

 

Zucchini Patties

What do I have to say about zucchini? Not much, really. It’s a staple of summer and a vehicle for whatever flavorings you want. It comes together quickly when grilled or sautéed. It makes a pretty mean soup; as does it’s friend, yellow summer squash. But really, I don’t have much to say about zucchini, which is why it’s taken my a decent 6 months to get to trying this recipe I’m sharing below.

That’s a shame, because once the patties came together, we snacked on them all week; once or twice for dinner and also in between larger meals. And they were tasty. Crispy crunchy from the time spent browning in a sauté pan; heartier than they look thanks to the addition of chickpeas.

Over dinner, Casey and I brainstormed the ways in which we could use this base for improvisation. Maybe adding some carrot, corn, or other shredded veggie or fresh herbs? Adding warm Indian spices? Whipping up harissa yogurt for the sauce? I know it can be daunting when there are endless possibilities, but these patties really are a blank slate.

Cook up a big batch over the weekend and have them around the house all week for snacks! We stored ours in an air tight container, separated by wax paper.

Zucchini Patties | Kitchen Notes

Zucchini Patties, adapted from Whole Living

  • 1 15.5 ounce can of drained and rinsed chickpeas
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1 egg, whisked lightly
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Generous sprinkling of freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil, for sautéing

Using a food processor’s shredding feature, whirl the zucchini and onion through the machine. I know, I know — food processors aren’t always the most fun to clean, but here they get the job done! Set aside the grated veggies; wipe out the food processor. With the chopping blade, whirl the chickpeas until smooth.

In a separate bowl, combine together the smashed chickpeas, zucchini, onion, egg, and salt. Form into patties, about 4 inches by 1/2 inches.

Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a nonstick sauté pan. Add the patties in batches — try not to over crowd the pan — and sauté until crisp and golden, roughly 2-3 min per side. I like mine a little burnt, so feel free to leave them in a bit longer until more brown than golden.

As the patties finish, allow them to rest on a wire rack that has been sprayed with cooking spray or brushed with olive oil.

Serve patties in halved pitas, with lettuce and plain Greek yogurt spiked with lime zest.

Zucchini Patties | Kitchen Notes

 

Friday Night Salad | Kitchen Notes

It’s the end of the week, and maybe your Friday dinner routine is ordering in or eating out to reward yourself for a week well accomplished! This week, ours will be eating through a bevy of leftovers – a unique occurrence since we generally come home to an empty fridge by Friday evening.

I’m actually looking forward to it – despite one recurring favorite (black bean tacos of some sort) – this week included three new recipes for us. Aggressive for a short week, but I’m blaming my Monday off for giving me the confidence to do it.

Monday: Zucchini Fritter Pitas. Crispy, salty, but still filling thanks the addition of mash chickpeas. Refreshing kick for a lime-zest yogurt sauce. A more in depth post is forthcoming.

Tuesday: Carrot and Chickpea Cumin Spiced Salad. No pictures of this one (sadly). A quick salad of sautéed onion, thinly sliced discs of carrots, and chickpeas – all warmed up in a large fry pan with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a hefty dose of cumin. Sprinkle with Parsley and a dollop of yogurt for a vegetarian main. Add shredded chicken for non-vegetarina option.

Wednesday: Black bean and shredded chicken tacos with fresh tomato salsa and guacamole. A regular in our household.

Thursday: Broccoli and Beef over rice noodles. This was Casey’s new recipe and contribution to the week; quick, tasty, and filling.

Friday: well, it’s not dinner time yet, and I’m not sure which left over I’ll be in the mood for.

If you’re unsure about your dinner tonight, I hope this quick week night salad can persuade you. (Forgive the pictures — the joy of later night eating = lack of quality natural light.)

Think soy citrus and honey marinated pork chops, grilled to perfection. Spicy arugula, sweet nectarines, crunchy walnuts, and a lemon and honey dressing. Light, bright, and just enough tart and pepper to keep it interesting.

Friday Night Salad | Kitchen Notes

 

For the marinade:

  • 1-2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Juice from 1-2 limes (1 if larger, 2 if smaller)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (like Siracha)
  • Heft handful of cilantro, finely torn or chopped

This marinade works equally well with chicken, but here I used three Nieman Ranch boneless pork chops, which Casey then went and grilled. I then cut the pork into bite sized pieces before tossing with the salad.

For the salad:

  • Two big handfuls of arugula (remember, this is an end of the week recipe, precision is not key)
  • One ripe white nectarine or peach
  • About 1/4 cup of walnuts, chopped

Toss the lettuce, stone fruit, walnuts, and pork together. Cover with lemon-honey dressing (recipe below):

Lemon Honey Dressing:

  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 dash (teaspoon) of oil

I like to make dressings like this in a mason jar and the shake them all together. Alternatively, you can also whisk the ingredients together in a bowl. Serve over the prepared salad.

 

 

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