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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Preserved Tangerines Three Ways

From left to right: Peppery tangerines, chai spiced, and herbed.

Here in Florida, you stumble across tasty winter citrus every time you go shopping. The last time I went to get produce at Tomatoland (kind of like a permanent farm stand/small grocery store), there were big stacks of tangerines calling my name. I bought dozens of them, thinking I would make some marmalade, but I’m still eating up my last batch of marmalade and wanted to do something a bit different. I always have preserved lemons in my fridge: when I’m almost out I just toss some more together and wait a few weeks. Usually I just add salt and sliced lemons to a jar, but I’ve been wanting to add spices. These tangerines provided the perfect opportunity to experiment! I had grand plans for waiting to post this until the tangerines are done preserving (it does take several weeks), but I felt eager to share the fruits of my labor while there’s still plenty of time to use in-season citrus. Given how easy it is to make these things, they’re pretty much guaranteed to turn out well, so that makes it a little easier to share now too. A couple notes here: you don’t have to be a slave to the measuring spoon with these. I usually just add a layer of citrus and sprinkle on salt (and herbs and spices, if I’m using them) between each layer. As I add a new layer of citrus, I press them down before sprinkling with salt. Basically the process looks like this:
Slice citrus into wedges, salt bottom of jar. Add a layer of wedges, press, sprinkle with salt. Add another layer, press, salt, and repeat until your jar is full. Honestly, I have never measured the salt and they turn out fine. Just make sure you are  salting and packing them tightly so that your citrus releases its juices. Then, leave the jars somewhere cool and dark for a month, shaking them when you think about it. Keep an eye on them the first few days, though: if they haven’t released enough juice to cover the fruit, add some more freshly squeezed juice to the jars and re-cover. After 3-4 weeks, you’ll have soft, yummy citrus you can add to just about anything, plus delicious brine that makes great dressings and sauces!

Chai Spiced Tangerines
I always have this spice mixture around, too. If you go to the link, you’ll find the proprotions of the spices to use (make sure to toast them first!), and you can use them in chai syrup or blend the dry spices with tea. I use them to flavor sauces and desserts too. These tangerines would be good in sweet and savory applications: I could see them going well in a rice dish with lots of raisins and toasted nuts, or sliced and put on top of a chocolate cake.
For this recipe, makes sure your spices cool completely after toasting. You can leave the toasted spices whole or you can grind them in a spice grinder. I made mine a couple days ago and ground them, so I went with the ground spices. I used about 2 1/2 tbsp of the ground spices for a pint of preserved tangerines. I also used sea salt in this and the other recipes because I like it’s clear, briny flavor best. You can also use kosher salt if you feel so inclined, but you may have to adjust the amount.

1/4 c sea salt
2 1/2 tbsp ground chai spices
2-3 tangerines, cut into wedges

-Sprinkle some salt and spices in the bottom of a pint jar.
-Add a layer of tangerine wedges and press.
-Top with another layer of salt and spices.
-Add another layer of tangerine wedges, press, and top with salt and spices.
-Continue this process until your jar is full.
-Screw the lid on tightly and shake the jar.
-Store in a cool, dark place for 3-4 weeks, shaking every few days.

Peppery Tangerines
These tangerines use spices that I see in a lot of recipes for preserved lemons, which means I’ll be substituting them in recipes where spiced, preserved lemons are used (Moroccan cooking, for example). There are plenty of examples over at Punk Domestics to provide inspiration!

1/4 c sea salt
2 small bay leaves
1 dried cayenne pepper, halved (you could substitute other peppers here: guajillo peppers, for example, would make for a nice smoky addition)
1 tsp peppercorns (I had tricolored peppercorns, but you can use black peppercorns or whatever ones you have around)

-Sprinkle some salt in the bottom of a pint jar and add the cayenne pepper.
-Add a layer of tangerine wedges and press.
-Add bay leaves.
-Top with another layer of salt.
-Add peppercorns.
-Add another layer of tangerine wedges, press, and top with salt.
-Continue this process until your jar is full.
-Screw the lid on tightly and shake the jar.
-Store in a cool, dark place for 3-4 weeks, shaking every few days.

Herbed Tangerines
The flavors I used here remind me of the flavors found in foods from Provence. I’m planning on using these tangerines to spice up French dishes and to flavor roasted chicken.

1/4 c sea salt
1/2 whole nutmeg nut (I had one that I had partially used for grating, if you only have a whole nut you can just use that and rough up the surface so it releases its flavor).
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 tsp lavender flowers

-Sprinkle some salt in the bottom of a pint jar and add the nutmeg.
-Add a layer of tangerine wedges and press.
-Add rosemary sprig.
-Top with another layer of salt.
-Add lavender.
-Add another layer of tangerine wedges, press, and top with salt.
-Continue this process until your jar is full.
-Screw the lid on tightly and shake the jar.
-Store in a cool, dark place for 3-4 weeks, shaking every few days.

This recipe is on Punk Domestics!

Preserved Tangerines Three Ways on Punk Domestics

Chocolate and Herb Pots de Creme

I’ve recently purchased a bunch of really delicious eggs from a local farmer, and am trying to figure out creative ways to use them up. Custards always spring to mind, but when I went to the fridge I found that the things that would make a normal pot de creme were not all present. Instead, I improvised for the dairy using some of my homemade yogurt and it turned out really well! Slightly less sweet and slightly more tangy than your average chocolate custard. And of course, because I’m obsessed with putting herbs in everything, I had to put some in my dessert too. I decided to try a little experiment with this recipe after they were in the oven, and thought I would turn them into creme brulee. I’ve made creme brulee before plenty of times before, but I wondered how it would work with some more flavoring crushed in with the sugar. The verdict? As long as the pieces of herbs/zest/whatever you’re using are small, it should work (I have only tried this once, bear in mind, so while it worked super well with this recipe, I can’t attest to every variation!) I used some lavender buds and some rosemary and ground them up with a mortar and pestle. I added some vanilla sugar (obviously regular ol’ sugar works here), ground a bit more, sprinkled it on my pots de creme, torched it*, and voila!
*I have a propane torch specifically for these kinds of tasks. You can get them at the hardware store and they are much sturdier than the flimsy ‘culinary torches.’ If you don’t have one, I hear that putting the cremes under the broiler works well too.

Chocolate and herb pots de creme
3 eggs
1/2 c plain yogurt
pinch salt
4-5 oz semi-sweet chocolate (either chips or a bar that’s been broken up)
1 tsp lavender flowers
1 small sprig fresh rosemary

-Heat oven to 350.
-Beat eggs and add to a pot with the other ingredients.
-Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it simmers and thickens considerably.
-Strain out the rosemary sprig and lavender, and pour the mixture in to small ramekins (it filled 4 of my ramekins, but I have some extra tiny ramekins for some reason so it might just fill 2 of yours).
-Place ramekins in a cake pan or roasting pan with high sides.
-Make a bain marie by pouring hot water into the pan (NOT the ramekins!) until it is about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. For this, I usually just fill my kettle before I cook and turn it on a minute or two before the custard is done so it has time to heat up.
-Place in the oven, and cook for about 10-15 minutes, depending on how thick you’d like your custard to be.
-Cool slightly or all the way, and serve.

Herbed sugar (optional)
If you want to turn this into an herbed creme brulee, here is what you do!

1 pinch lavender flowers
1 pinch rosemary leaves
3-4 tbsp vanilla (or regular) sugar
tiny pinch salt

-Place the herbs in a mortar and gently grind with a pestle. Add sugar and salt and continue grinding to mingle everything together.
-Sprinkle on top of your pots de creme when they have cooled slightly.
-Caramelize the sugar using either a torch or broiler (do this immediately before serving).

Easy Fig and Shitake Pizza

Normally, when I make any bread-y item, I make the dough from scratch. But sometimes, when Chris and I are buying groceries, we look at the pizza dough in the refrigerated case and decide to snag some for a meal. Today, I was at the grocery store and decided I would take shortcut for lunch and get some pre-made dough. You can use your own favorite dough recipe here, or get some from a pizza place or the store. If you go the pre-made route, this whole thing takes about 30 minutes, so is definitely something I’ll be cooking on a weeknight once the semester starts back up! You can adjust the amount of toppings depending on your tastes, or substitute other wild mushrooms in the sauce. I serve this alongside a simple green salad with a glass of wine!

Fig and Shitake Pizza
6 figs, thinly sliced
8 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
16 oz pizza dough (I used 5 grain)

For the sauce:
1/2 c whole milk
1 tbsp unsalted butter
8 0z shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
fresh cracked pepper
salt
1 1/2 tbsp AP flour

-Preheat the oven to 350. Put an upside down baking sheet in the oven to heat up (you can also use a baking stone or tile, which is ideal).
-Roll or toss the dough into a circle or rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick (you can adjust this depending on how thin you like your crust).
-Spread a thin layer of cornmeal on the warmed baking sheet.
-Coat a baking peel (or another upside down baking sheet) with a thin layer of cornmeal.
-Set the dough on the peel, open your oven, and slide it onto the warmed baking sheet.
-As the dough begins to cook, prepare your sauce. Melt the butter and oil together in a skillet.
-Add the mushrooms and rosemary and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the mushrooms just begin to soften. Add the salt and pepper.
-Cook for another minute, then sprinkle in the flour.
-Stir to coat and to ensure that all the flour has combined with the fat. Allow to cook for about 2 minutes to remove the raw flour flavor.
-Add the milk slowly, stirring vigorously to avoid lumps. Cook the sauce until it’s the thickness you want.
-Pull your crust out of the oven and top with the slices of mozzarella.
-Pour the sauce over in an even layer.
-Finally, arrange the figs on top and return to the oven.
-Bake for about 20 minutes or until the crust is golden and the figs are soft and slightly wrinkled.

Rosemary Lemonade and Meyer Limoncello

I have been hoping to make limoncello for a while, but between moving and starting school, it got forgotten. I was inspired by two of my good buddies back in Iowa, Liz and Jacob, who make incredible infused vodkas and liqueurs. Finally I remembered it the other day when I saw some delicious Meyer lemons in the store. For those who haven’t used Meyer lemons before, they still have a lemony tang, but are less bitey and more sweet. You can tell them apart from other lemons because their skin is more orange. I love using them in baked goods, and they’re one of my favorites for beverages.
I have been looking at limocello recipes for a while, and most involve infusing the vodka and then adding a simple syrup (sugar melted in water). Since that’s what I’m most familiar with, that’s what I’ve gone with. BUT, this time around I’m thinking of trying rosemarried’s Crema di Limoncello: the steps are the same, except the simple syrup is replaced by a sweetened milk that’s flavored with vanilla. I made the lemonade alongside the limoncello so that all those tasty lemons wouldn’t go to waste!

6 large Meyer lemons
1 large yellow lemon
1-2 sprigs rosemary
2 cups vodka
2 cups filtered water
1 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 1/4 c sugar

For the Limoncello

-peel the zest from all the lemons using a vegetable peeler.
-Place zest from 5 Meyer lemons and a few strands of zest from the yellow lemon in a container with a sealing lid (i.e. Ball jar).
-Add vodka to container until it covers .
-Seal the lid and label the container with the date—it will be ready to drink after a week or two, but the longer you let it sit the more lemony and delicious it will be! (If you want to follow rosemarried’s recipe along with me, you would omit the last step here and instead look at her recipe.)
-In a saucepan, combine sugar and a pinch of salt with 1-2 cups water (depending on how strong you want your limoncello to be). Heat until just dissolved and add to the infused vodka.

For the Lemonade

-Add remaining zest from 1 Meyer lemon and the rest of the yello lemon to a pitcher.
-Squeeze juice from all 7 lemons into the pitcher.
-Using the back of a knife, tap the rosemary along the stem to release oils.
-Add rosemary, water, salt, and sugar, to a pan and slowly bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
-Heat for 5-10 minutes.
-Pour over lemon zest and juice and let sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours (longer for a more lemon-y flavor).
-Fill a glass halfway with lemonade mixture, and add sparkling or still water to taste.

You can also find this recipe on Punk Domestics!

Rosemary Lemonade and Meyer Limoncello on Punk Domestics