Rosemary Cocktail Onions

I’m kind of addicted to tiny vegetables–baby carrots, mini eggplants, and of course, tiny onions. Not to mention that I love savory cocktails, so cocktail onions are kind of a necessity around here. Unfortunately, some of the commercial ones have either a really flat and bland flavor profile or a ton of preservatives that you don’t really need. So, I made my own. It’s slightly herbal, but the brine itself is still simple enough that it doesn’t have a ton of strong flavors that would compete with the onions.

Some notes: If you grow your own rosemary and bay leaves, they’ll make this recipe even better. Otherwise, if you don’t have access to the fresh stuff a dried bay leaf and a couple pinches of dried rosemary will work too. Also, you’ll make more brine than you need when you prepare this recipe. I prefer having too much brine to not enough so I don’t have to stop the whole preparation process to make another batch. This recipe yields one pint, but you can multiply it very easily.

Rosemary Cocktail Onions

10 oz white pearl onions
6 peppercorns
2 cups water
2 cups vinegar
2 tbsp salt
1 bay leaf
2 small sprigs rosemary

-Prepare your canning jars (I used two half pint jars) by placing in boiling water to sterilize (if you haven’t canned before, this is a pretty good tutorial)
-Combine all ingredients besides onions and rosemary in a pan and simmer for ten minutes.
-Meanwhile, drop the onions (peels and all) into boiling water and boil for three minutes.
-Remove the onions to a bowl of ice water.
-Cut off the root end of the onion, and gently squeeze the top to push the onion out of its skin.
-Remove sterilized jars from water and add a rosemary sprig to the bottom of each.
-Divide the onions between the jars, and ladle hot brine over them to cover, leaving 1/2 inch of space in the jar.
-Top with lids and rings, place in hot water bath and process for 15 minutes.

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Spiced Carrot Hummus

About a week ago, I purchased the largest and most terrifying carrot I’ve ever laid eyes on at Tomatoland, my favorite place in town to buy produce. Here is the carrot in question:

525326_10101375808765149_631152879_nTerrifying, right?

I had absolutely no idea what to with the carrot. I shaved bits off here and there to add to salads, but it wasn’t even making a dent in the overall amount of carrot in my life. After a few days, I decided to cut it up and roast it off. That one carrot took up the entirety of my largest roasting pan. Once the carrot was roasted, I still didn’t know what to with it.
That is, until this morning, when I said ‘I want hummus, but I’m too lazy to rinse off a can of garbanzo beans.’ And thus, I give you this recipe.

Roasted Carrot Hummus

4 whole carrots
Extra virgin olive oil (about 1-2 tbsp)
salt and pepper
2 1/2 tbsp tahini
1 tsp Garam Masala powder (I make my own from this book, but if anyone knows of a good recipe online, let me know!)

-Preheat oven to 350. Cut carrots into 1 inch cubes, toss in oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until tender (this step can be done ahead).
-Combine carrots, tahini, Garam Masala, and salt to taste in a blender or food processor. If using a blender, you may have to add a little water to loosen everything enough to blend.
-Process until the hummus is the texture you would like. I left mine a little chunky.
-Enjoy!

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Easy Peasy Candied Rosehips

In my home town, we have a very special place called the Dushanbe Teahouse. The tea house was a gift from our sister city, which is located in Tajikistan (a country I’d love to visit someday), and is a stunning building that is carved by hand. When I was in high school, the tea house opened as a restaurant and (of course) a purveyor of wonderful teas. The tea house is a place that has gifted me with many great food memories, and served as the venue for meals and conversation with some of my favorite Coloradans. One of these was the candied rosehips that were brought out as a nibbler for guests while they looked over the menu. I remember gobbling down the entire serving before the waiter even returned with my water during my first visit!

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one, because the teahouse stopped serving the rosehips not long after (when I asked, they said that the starter was so popular that it was costing them a lot of money to provide them to patrons). That experience is what got me interested in rosehips though, and is the reason I always leap at the chance to eat anything with rosehips in it. Today, I was pondering on what to make for New Year’s treats, and glanced over at a box of dried rosehips I bought before the holiday mayhem and set aside. This is my last New Year’s in Tallahassee (I’m moving to Brooklyn in May), and I’ve made some truly incredible friends during my time here. A few of them are coming over to have champagne and snacks on New Year’s Eve, and I thought the best way to celebrate them and all the wonderful things they’ve brought to my life would be to share a dish with them that takes me back to my home.

If you have a special event coming up (New Year’s Eve party, perhaps?) or are looking for a way to use up rosehips, this is a great last-minute treat. Candying dried rosehips is super easy (I promise!) and you’ll be rewarded with a pretty and tasty snack that is incredibly addictive. If you don’t have dried rosehips on hand, don’t fret: you can usually find them in specialty markets and Middle Eastern markets. I used the vanilla sugar to add a bit of warmth, but regular ol’ granulated sugar works just fine here, and you can play around with adding your own flavors. This amount serves 4-6 people.

Candied Rosehips

-2/3 c vanilla sugar
-pinch of sea salt
-1/4 cup water
-1 cup dried rosehips

1. Add sugar, water, and salt to a flat-bottomed pan (I used a medium skillet)
2. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it forms a hard ball when dropped in ice water (Read more about candy-making stages here.)
3. Toss the rosehips in the pan, and toss to evenly coat. Work quickly, since the sugar will start to harden once you remove it from the heat.
4. As quickly as possible, transfer the rosehips to a baking sheet that has been coated with butter and sprinkled with sugar. Make sure they are in one layer (rather than piled up on top of each other) for cooling
5. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes, then serve!

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Sweet and Savory Melon Balls

I love melon balls wrapped in prosciutto. However, since I have many vegetarian friends, I’ve adapted them to an equally delicious (and cheaper!) appetizer that is always a huge hit! Using arugula and some good cheese makes for a tasty snack. If you have vegan friends, you could try just doing arugula and maybe strands of another veggie (carrot?) and sprinkling with some salt. I imagine there are many ways to adapt this, so if anyone has ideas, please share!

Sweet and savory melon balls

1/2 a cantaloupe
16 oz arugula
One (small) block Parmeggiano Reggiano
One small box toothpicks

-Using a melon baller, carve out as much of the cantaloupe as you can.

-Shave off a thin slice of parmesan with a cheese shaver or a knife.

-Take one melon ball and set the cheese on it.

-Wrap with one or two arugula leaves so cheese is tightly wrapped, and secure with a toothpick.

-Repeat steps for all melon balls.