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.



Kumquat Marmalade, Part 2

A little while back I shared my recipe for maple kumquat marmalade. We Floridians are rolling in fresh citrus this time of year, so my friends who gifted me the kumquats for that marmalade gifted me another gallon bag of them in exchange for using my canning pot. These kumquats were perfectly ripe and so tasty, and when you get citrus like that the best thing to do is make sure you are bringing out all those great flavors (instead of masking them behind other ingredients). Making this was such a fun experience: few things in the world beat taking the time to slow down and experience a perfectly fresh ingredient while it’s being prepared (my whole house smelled like fresh citrus, it was delightful). Adding fresh bay leaves to my citrus preserves is my new favorite way to bring in some exciting flavor elements that are subtle enough to let the main ingredient(s) shine. I canned 3 jars of this stuff this morning, so I’ll have plenty to last me once our citrus trees are done fruiting.

Simple Kumquat Marmalade
1 gallon (I’m guessing it was ~2-3 lbs worth) fresh kumquats
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 – 1 c sugar (depending on your tastes)
2 fresh bay leaves
1 c water

-Slice the kumquats in to little rounds, taking care to remove the seeds as you go.
-Place the sliced fruit in a nonreactive bowl and add half the sugar. Toss to coat the kumquats evenly.
-Let sit overnight to remove some of the bitterness from the fruit and start the preserving process.
-The next day, add the kumquats, the rest of the sugar, bay leaves, salt, and water to a pot and simmer until the water is absorbed (it will still be chunky, you just don’t want it to be soupy).
-Place in to canning jars and process in a hot water bath (or just keep it in the fridge).

Perfect Winter Treat: Maple Kumquat Marmalade

I’ve been fortunate enough to find friends who like to share food as much as I do. So when one friend gave me some incredible maple syrup for Christmas, and some other friends gave me a bag of kumquats from their tree, I knew what had to be done. I love Florida to little bits, but occasionally I miss living up North, so making something that brings together the delicious citrus from my new home with the maple-y goodness of my old home seemed perfect. Normally when I make marmalades I cut out the pith and soak the rinds to help with the bitterness. These kumquats, however, were the sweetest kumquats I’ve ever consumed, meaning that I didn’t have to mess with any of that and could just get away with slicing, seeding, and sprinkling them with a little sugar. No peeling or removing membranes or anything, just thinly sliced kumquats. As a result, the recipe I have here is based on those incredible kumquats. If you don’t have access to freshly-picked citrus and are relying on the supermarket, or if your citrus is a little bitter, you may have to use more sugar or remove the piths (some alternate recipes for you to try can be found here and here).

The steps were simple: thinly slice a few kumquats, toss in a (nonreactive) bowl, sprinkle with a spoonful of sugar, repeat. Top with a little pinch of salt (might as well add this important flavor-boosting step now), and wait. Because my kumquats are so very, very sweet, they didn’t require much sweetening to be edible, but they *do* need sugar to be preserved properly. I also didn’t have to rely on cups and cups of granulated sugar here since I was using maple syrup later on. (An important note here: in these early stages, many other marmalade recipes will require you to extract the pectin from the bits you discard. If you like your marmalades really thick or are making a giant batch, do it. If you don’t, then you’ll probably be alright, just expect your marmalade to be a little loose).


Kumquats in a bowl!

Once the waiting is over (~12 hours), throw everything into a pot, add the maple syrup, and voila. I didn’t boil it for long, just long enough to get everything to the consistency I wanted. Let it cool a little, then eat it up. They say these things keep in the fridge for a month or two, but this will probably be gone by next week.

Kumquat and Maple Marmalade
1 quart fresh kumquats
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 c water
3/4 c dark amber maple syrup (in most stores, this really rich syrup is sold as Grade B–the stuff I had purported to be Grade A but was the richest and most decadent Grade A syrup I’ve ever encountered).

-Thinly slice your kumquats into little rounds, removing the seeds as you go.
-After you’ve sliced 4 or 5, throw them in the bottom in a non-reactive bowl and sprinkle with a little sugar.
-Continue layering fruit and sugar until you’ve sliced all the kumquats.
-Top with the salt.
-Let sit (covered) for about 12 hours.
-Pour the whole thing into a non-reactive pot and add the maple syrup and water.
-Heat over medium until it comes to a strong boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
-Let it cook to the desired consistency (for me this was about 15 minutes), then remove from the heat and let cool.
-Pour into jars and store in the fridge.

This recipe is on Punk Domestics!

Kumquat Maple Marmalade on Punk Domestics

Solstice Jam

I love to make foods that celebrate the seasons, and with the coming of longer days, I thought I would celebrate the sun with two brightly-flavored and floral foods: Meyer lemon and strawberry. Lemons are in season right now (and so are strawberries) so I was able to track down both from local growers. Delicious!

Solstice Jam (Yield: 2 pints)

1 large Meyer lemon
1 cup water
4 c strawberries
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c sugar

-Bring the water to a boil in a large pot.
-Meanwhile, cut the tops off the strawberries and cut them into quarters. Add to the pot.
-Add the zest and juice of the lemon.
-Add the salt and sugar, and stir to combine.
-Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches the desired thickness (it took me about 35 minutes).
-Cool and spoon into jars. You can then process it in a hot water bath or, if you’ll be eating it right away, just stick it in the fridge.

Pickled Sweet Onions

When I was a kid, my mom used to make this delicious cucumber salad with dill, sugar, and vinegar. It’s always been a favorite of mine, and I decided to play around with it one homesick evening recently. I didn’t feel like going to the store, so I used what I had on hand: a big bag of onions from our local market. The onions I usually have around are sweeter: yellow onions, shallots, Vidalia onions, and candy onions. Any of those would work great with this recipe, although if you prefer more of an onion-y bite you could play around with other onion varieties. You could also substitute other herbs in here (fennel would be delicious). These onions are deceptively easy and packed with flavor: they taste wonderful on pitas and burgers! This recipe makes two pints, but can easily be increased.

1 yellow onion
1 1/2 c white vinegar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp dill weed (you can substitute fresh here, just add a bit more)
2 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar

-Peel and thinly slice the onion.
-Place the slices in two pint jars.
-Add the remaining ingredients to a large glass or jar, and stir until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved.
-Pour the mixture over the onions until they are completely covered (you can top it off with extra vinegar if you don’t have quite enough).
-Screw the lids onto the jars tightly and place in the fridge.
-Wait 24 hours and enjoy!

This recipe is on Punk Domestics!

Pickled Sweet Onions on Punk Domestics

Mapple Butter

Maple and apple butter is delicious. I adapted this from Tigress in a Jam’s recipe that uses maple sugar–which sounds incredibly delicious but which I didn’t have around. I am one of those people who decides to make something, and that something must be made NOW. So I looked at her tasty recipe and scratched my head and wondered if I could substitute maple syrup. The results are probably a bit different, but I like how it turned out. It’s subtly maple-y, but the apples I used were also sweet and not overpowering so it all balanced out nicely. The bay leaf and cloves bring everything together, giving the apple butter a bright flavor while making your whole house smell like comforting, delicious food. If you want a more intense maple flavor, use a darker syrup (grade B rather than grade A). And make sure to give Tigress’ page a look, there are many tasty things to inspire you!

5 lbs sweet apples (I used 3 lbs Gala and 2 lbs Fiji)
2 bay leaves
1 lemon
½ tsp sea salt
¼ c sugar
1 ¼ c real maple syrup (please don’t use the caramel colored corn syrup stuff or I will cry)
3 whole cloves, crushed with a mortar and pestle

-Core and chop apples and add to a large, non-reactive pot, tossing with fresh lemon juice as you go.
-Turn heat on medium low, add bay leaves, salt, sugar, syrup, and cloves to pot.
-Turn heat up to medium and cook for about an hour, stirring frequently, until apples are very soft. You can add a little water or cider if needed.
-Using an immersion blender and/or a food mill (I use both) blend the apples until very smooth.
-Can the apple butter in jars using hot water bath processing. Process for 15 minutes to seal the jars.

Blueberry Lavender Jam

Anyone who’s known me for more than 6 months knows that I have an unhealthy obsession with lavender. I put it in just about every food I can, in part because it’s so very versatile and goes with so many things (as long as you don’t overdo it–then everything tastes like perfume!) I like it with fruits in particular because it helps brighten the floral undertones I find in most fruits. My blueberry bush is done for the season (I just picked up a friend for it at my new favorite place, Just Fruits and Exotics) so I had to buy blueberries to make this batch, which will probably be my last one of the year. If you’re in a pinch, you can make it with frozen blueberries, but it will taste *so* much better if you can hold off until they’re in season. The jam tastes amazing with some goat cheese and melba toast, or even just spread on a warm slice of bread. Yum.

2 pints blueberries
1 c sugar
2 c water
1 tbsp lavender
pinch sea salt

One of my blueberry bushes

-Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan.
-Heat over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil.
-Simmer, stirring occasionally, until it’s the consistency you want (20-30 minutes is usually good for me).
-Allow to cool and spoon into jars. At this point you can either process it in a hot water bath to seal it or you can just keep it in the fridge.

This recipe is on Punk Domestics!

Blueberry Lavender Jam on Punk Domestics