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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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

Chai Spice Shortbread Cookies

We had planned to go to a housewarming party yesterday, and I thought I would like to bring over a snack for everyone. I was short on time, though, so it had to be something easy. Thankfully, few cookies are easier than shortbread and you can put whatever you want in them! I love warm spices this time of year (even though it’s not all that cold here in Florida), so decided I would make some spice cookies. I always have all the whole spices for making my own chai (I base it on this recipe), so I decided I would make a chai glaze and add some spices to the cookies themselves. They are delicious! When I made the glaze, I steeped the spices in milk, and made enough extra to have a glass of warm, spiced milk (normal people would add tea to have a chai tea, but I was feeling lazy). I’ve included that extra amount here, since it’s hard to get the spices really good and steeped if you’re only using the couple tablespoons needed for the glaze. If you’re adamantly opposed to drinking spiced milk or tea, you can try just using the small amount of milk, although be prepared to play around a little bit with the amount as some will evaporate.

Chai Spice Shortbread
For the cookies
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 c granulated sugar
about 2 1/2 c flour

-Preheat oven to 350.
-In a bowl, cream together the sugar, salt, spices, and butter.
-Add half the flour and mix. Begin drizzling in remaining flour until it’s the consistency of a stiff dough (the exact amount will depend on humidity and a host of other factors). If your dough gets crumbly, add the tiniest splash (about a tsp) of milk.
-To shape the cookies, you have two options:
-Option 1: Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll it out until it’s 1/2 inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the cookies.
-Option 2: Lay 2 pieces plastic wrap down on the counter. You want it to be long and wide enough to roll your dough up. Put half the dough on each piece of plastic (2-3 inches from the top), and shape into a ‘snake’ by gently rolling or pressing the dough. Take the top edge of the plastic and fold it over the dough. Press the dough firmly in the plastic until it’s a uniform round shape. Wrap tightly, refrigerate for half an hour, then unwrap and slice into 1/2 inch thick circles.
-Bake the cookies for about 15-18 minutes or until set and slightly golden.

For the glaze
 8 green cardamom pods, halved
10 cloves
15 peppercorns
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp anise seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
pinch salt
1 1/2 c milk
powdered sugar (about 1 cup)

-In a skillet, toast the spices over medium heat until they are fragrant.
-Add milk and bring just to a simmer. Add salt.
-Turn off the heat and allow the  spices to steep for at least 15 minutes (the longer you let it steep, of course, the more flavorful your milk is).
-Strain the spices out of the milk, and pour the milk into a glass. Reserve 2 tbsp for your glaze.
-Add powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time.  Stir in with a fork after each addition. Keep adding sugar until it’s the consistency you want.
-Drizzle the glaze over cooled cookies.

Pumpkincello

Inspired by this recipe, I have been infusing pumpkin in vodka for about a week. I thought about using it as-is, but I’ve been on a big limoncello kick lately so I wondered if I could make a pumpkin-y beverage for fall. Indeed, you can! If you remember my previous post on limoncello, I made a creamy version which was delicious (it’s mostly gone now). This pumpkincello is pretty incredible too: I toasted the spices and added them to the creamy simple syrup, but you can also put them in with the pumpkin to infuse if you want your spice flavor to be much stronger. As an added bonus, roast your pumpkin seeds with maple sugar and salt for a tasty snack.

Update: A very good question was raised that I neglected to mention: refrigeration! Definitely store the finished product in the fridge. I let mine steep outside of the fridge and it came out fine, but if you are worried about it you can definitely store it in the fridge for every step. I feel like it will keep longer if you do it this way. I’m starting on another batch and planning to store it in the fridge as it steeps just to be extra cautious!

Pumpkincello infusing. I had two tiny pumpkins, hence the color variation.

1 pie pumpkin
1 liter vodka (depending on the size of your container and your pumpkin, you may have some left over)
12 allspice berries
1 green cardamom pod
1 cinnamon stick
grating of fresh nutmeg
2 c whole milk or soymilk (can replace with water for non-creamy drinks)
1 c sugar

-Cut up the pumpkin. Remove the seeds (I rinse them and toast them, but you do what you want). Reserve the flesh and strings.
-Put the flesh and strings into a non-reactive container, and pour vodka over them to cover.
-Let sit for at least a week (the longer it sits, the stronger it gets).
-After your vodka is infused, pour it through a strainer to remove the pumpkin. You can strain it again through cheesecloth if tiny pumpkin bits in your drinks bother you.
-Toast the spices in a cast iron skillet until fragrant, and put in a saucepan.
-Add the sugar and milk and heat over medium-low to medium (stir occasionally) until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.
-Strain the spices from the milk, then add to the vodka. Pour into pint jars for holiday gifts or be selfish like me and hoard it all in a larger bottle in your fridge!

This recipe is on Punk Domestics!

Creamy Pumpkincello

Spiced Cranberry-Orange Vodka

I am on an infusing kick, meaning that we have tons of flavored vodkas around our house. This one is the result of cranberries being on sale for the holidays, and it tastes just like cranberry sauce in a glass. I mix it unsweetened with soda water, but you can add simply syrup to it if it’s too tart for you. It would also make a great holiday gift!

1 bag fresh cranberries
1 tangerine
1 navel orange
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cloves
8 allspice berries
vodka

-Heat a small pan on the stove and add your spices. Toast lightly until they are fragrant and add them to a non-reactive container.
-Halve the cranberries and add with the spices.
-Peel the zest from the citrus using a vegetable peeler and add to the container.
-Pour vodka over the ingredients to cover (I’ve had success with Rain Organics vodka, but most any vodka that’s pretty good quality will work–you want the flavor to be neutral so it doesn’t interfere with the flavor of the additives).
-Cover and set aside for at least a week: the flavor will get stronger the longer it sits.
-Strain it into a jar or other container.
-Enjoy!

This recipe is on Punk Domestics!

Pickled Sweet Onions on Punk Domestics

Fluffy Apple Cider Doughnuts

Like just about everyone else, I *love* doughnuts. BUT, I like fluffy, soft yeast doughnuts. I don’t hate cake doughnuts, I just don’t feel as strongly about them. With the onset of Autumn, I’ve been craving tasty apple cider-y foods, so I thought I would try my hand at apple cider doughnuts. I am used to making yeast doughnuts, but to my chagrin all I could find were recipes for cake doughnuts (and they did look tasty, just not, well, fluffy). I decided that a get-together with the other first-year students in my program would be the perfect excuse to experiment with doughnuts, and I have to say I was very pleased with the results. The cider flavor is somewhat subtle, but definitely there, and makes these doughnuts perfect for Autumn. This recipe makes a good lot of doughnuts (just shy of 2 dozen plus doughnut holes) so is great for get-togethers!

For the dough

3 tbsp active dry yeast (or 2 envelopes)
1 ¼ c apple cider
½ c almond milk
2 tbsp real maple syrup
½ c sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/3 c shortening
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 quart vegetable oil, for frying

For the glaze

2 c confectioners sugar
4 tbsp cider, heated
pinch cinnamon
pinch salt
pinch nutmeg
½ tsp real maple syrup

-Toast cinnamon stick, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg just slightly in a large saucepan.
-Add the cider and heat until warm (about 110 degrees)
-Pour into large bowl
-In same pan, slightly heat almond milk, add to bowl
-Sprinkle yeast over liquid and whisk to combine.
-Add remaining ingredients, except 4 cups of the flour, and mix for 2-3 minutes by hand or in a mixer on medium-low speed.
-Gradually add flour until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
-Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about five minutes or until dough springs back when pressed.
-Place dough in a greased bowl, cover, and set in a warm place to rise until doubled (about an hour and a half.)
-Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and roll out to ½ inch thickness. Cut with a floured doughnut cutter (or a biscuit cutter and a shot glass.)
-Let dough rise again until double.
-Whisk glaze ingredients together to make an icing that is thin but not runny. Set aside.
-Heat oil in a large pan to 350 degrees. Add doughnuts a few at a time to the oil, turning once to cook evenly. Set to drain on a wire rack.
-Dip doughnuts in glaze while still warm, or drip glaze over the top.

The only picture I have is the one I took on my phone en route to the party.

Pickled Muscadine Grapes


Scuppernongs and Muscadines
are native to the Southeastern US, meaning that around here you can buy them at the farmer’s market on any given weekend. I’ve heard people say that you can forage for them, but haven’t seen any growing wild myself. Since I’m new to the area and don’t know where to go pick them (yet!) I bought this batch from the farmer’s market. Scuppernongs are slightly sweet and tart, while muscadines have a very rich, deep sweeter grape flavor. Both are big and juicy and burst in your mouth when you bite into them, and their delicious flavor lingers after you’ve finished eating. I couldn’t resist them when I saw them at my first Florida farmer’s market, although I quickly learned that they have big seeds and bitter skins, which can make them challenging to eat by the handful. Inspired by a recipe I found on Auburn Meadow Farm’s site, I decided to get to work pickling my grapes!
This trip to the market, they had muscadines (the red grapes, as opposed to scuppernongs, which are green) so this recipe worked perfectly. Thanks to my busy schedule this week, I didn’t have time to go to the store to pick up mustard seeds and white wine vinegar (which are in the original recipe) but that gave me the chance to experiment with other ingredients I did have. It definitely changed the flavor from the original recipe, but I think it turned out very well–the grapes have a perfect pickle-y bite and the warm spices help deepen their flavor. Next time I have all the ingredients I plan on making this as per the original recipe to compare–these grapes are so tasty it’s definitely worth making time and again!

1 pound muscadine grapes
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick (2 1/2 inches)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp sea salt

-Rinse and dry grapes, halve them, and remove the seeds. Place grapes in a bowl.
-Place coriander, peppercorns, and cinnamon in a saucepan and toast them until they are fragrant.
-Add vinegar, sugar, bay leaf, and salt and bring to a boil.
-Immediately pour the mixture over the grapes, and set aside to cool.
-Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (you can also pour the grapes and brine into jars before popping them in the fridge).

You can also find this recipe on Punk Domestics!

Pickled Muscadine Grapes on Punk Domestics