Recipes of the Week: Yummy Fall Finds

blueberry-cranberry-jamAutumn Fruit Jam

Blueberry-Cranberry Cider Jam

It’s cranberry time! Although fresh cranberries are ultra-tart, they pair beautifully with sweeter fruits in desserts, jams, and ice cream. (Note: 100% cranberry juice is also incredibly tart. It’s a safe bet that any cranberry drink you order at a bar or restaurant is mostly high-fructose corn syrup with a hint of cranberry juice. If you want to benefit from actual cranberry juice, seek out one of those small bottles of 100% cranberry juice — yes, the real stuff is expensive as well as tart — and mix it with unflavored sparkling water and a shot of orange juice or cider. Likewise, most dried cranberries are drenched in sugar and cheap oil. Seek out unsweetened cranberries if you’d like to include them in your muffins and trail mixes.)

Aside from their gorgeous hue and refreshingly tart flavor, cranberries also contain a fair amount of pectin, a type of fiber that has amazing gelling power. That means that cranberries make a satisfyingly thick jam when simmered with some water and a drizzle of maple syrup. Apples contain pectin, too, which means your jam will be all the thicker if you simmer your cranberries in cider. But if you don’t have cider on hand, water works nearly as well, especially when you add a dash of cinnamon for flavor.

Blueberry-Cranberry Cider Jam

Makes a generous cup of jam.

4 oz. frozen wild blueberries

4 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries

2 T. maple syrup

1/2 cup cider OR water*

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Place all ingredients in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low and let simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Mash berries with a potato masher to break them up and continue to simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Let stand off heat until completely cooled before storing in a glass jar. Jam can be refrigerated for a week. My favorite way to enjoy jam is served on toast or a muffin with a pat of butter!

Enjoy!

* Cider contains sweetness as well as pectin, so if you use water instead of cider, increase the maple syrup to 1/4 cup. Or go ahead and use 1/4 cup if you’d simply prefer sweeter jam.

tuna-saladMaking the Classic Tuna Salad Even Classier

Savory Tuna Salad with Capers, Olives & Parmesan

Move aside, saggy tuna salad! Try swapping that store-bought mayo for a simple drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil combined with a shake of dried basil and a sprinkling of Parmesan. Not only will your lunch taste better, it’ll be better for you since most store-bought mayonnaise is made with soybean and/or corn oil that has been rendered rancid through the refinement process. (Soy and corn are commodity crops, which means that big growers receive subsidies and that soy and corn are consequently cheap and popular ingredients in processed foods.)

In this upgraded tuna salad, I’ve also included savory elements like capers and olives. Feel free to leave those out if you’re not a fan, of course, but even folks who don’t think they like olives usually enjoy green Niçoise olives and Castelvetrano olives — both are buttery and smooth and are equally tasty in a dish or on their own. But do include the hard-boiled eggs since they add a rich creaminess that’s far superior to the diluted, tiny amount of egg yolk that would have been in commercial mayo. (Or whip up your own batch of on-the-spot homemade mayo. That’s delicious, too!)

Savory Tuna Salad with Capers, Olives & Parmesan

This recipe can be made for any number of diners. Just plan on 1 egg, 2 ounces of dry pasta, and 2 or 3 ounces of tuna per person.

Eggs, preferably from pastured hens

Whole-grain penne/pasta of your choice (I used corn penne, which is gluten-free as well as whole-grain)

Tuna canned in water

Cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Spoonful of capers (optional, but adds a flavorful and briny punch)

Olives, either pitted and chopped or served whole alongside the salad

Grated or shaved Parmesan, preferably made with milk from grass-fed cows

Dried basil

Extra-virgin olive oil

Place eggs in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil. As soon as the water boils, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer eggs for 10 minutes. Spill out hot water while filling pot with cold water from the tap. Allow eggs to sit in cold water to cool before you peel them. Note: the fresher the egg, the harder it will be to peel, so instead of being upset with a hard-to-peel egg, rejoice in its freshness!

While the eggs simmer, cook penne according to package directions. Drain well and toss with tuna, tomatoes, capers, olives, Parmesan, basil, and a drizzle of the oil. Peel and coarsely chop hard-boiled eggs and add them to the salad. Toss well. Salad can be enjoyed immediately or refrigerated for up to 4 days. This is a fantastic take-with-you lunch, so you might want to make extra salad so that you can enjoy your upgraded tuna salad at work the next day.

Enjoy!

lotus-root-with-sesame-chardImpress Your Friends with Asian-Inspired Homemade Chips

Lotus Root Chips with Sesame-Scented Chard

If there were a culinary awards category for The Coolest-Looking Vegetable When Sliced, lotus roots would wind hands-down. If there were a category called The Vegetable That Looks Most Like Victorian Lace, the multi-holed lotus root would win that, too. All you need to do to make show-stopping chips with this humble root is to remove the skin with a vegetable peeler, slice the root into thin rounds, and then fry the chips in good-quality oil.

Lotus roots taste a little like a potato, but they’re sweeter and earthier at the same time. I like to fry my lotus chips in unrefined peanut oil if I’m going to salt them and enjoy them in a savory setting, but when I would rather do something sweet with them, I fry them in unrefined coconut oil. The only hard part is letting them cook for a full 5 minutes to get crispy brown — as soon as they start to sizzle, I want to pluck them from the fire and start munching away!

These crunchy chips are as addictive as they are beautiful. Once you’ve found a store that stocks them regularly — such as an Asian specialty shop or a well-stocked produce store like Nino Salvaggio’s or Melissa’s that offers a wide variety of exotic produce — you’ll be coming back often for more. You can eat your lotus chips just as they are, or you can pair them with an Asian-themed side like this steamed chard that I’ve tossed with unrefined sesame oil and black sesame seeds.

Lotus Root Chips with Sesame-Scented Chard

To prepare your lotus chips, slice off the ends of the lotus root and discard. Peel away the skin with a vegetable peeler and cut into thin slices. (If you’re not overly speedy in the kitchen, drop the slices in a bowl of cold water to keep them from turning brown. Just be sure to pat them dry before frying them.) Heat unrefined peanut oil OR ghee (clarified butter) OR unrefined coconut oil over medium heat, using a shallow, small sauce pan and adding enough oil to just cover the bottom of the pan. Slip in as many chips as the pan will allow — you don’t want them to overlap — and cook undisturbed for 3 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Use tongs or a slotted spatula to flip over each chip. Continue cooking for another 2 minutes or until both sides are brown. Repeat with remaining chips, adding more oil if necessary and/or reducing heat to medium-low if the oil is sputtering. Place cooked chips on folded clean paper towels to drain. Sprinkle on a dash of sea salt if you wish.

While you make the chips, rinse chard and remove tough stems. I like to cut out mine by making a triangular cut up into the leaves — that way I don’t lose any leaves. Chop chard and place in a large skillet or pot with 1/4 cup water. Cover and steam for 5 minutes or until chard is wilted and water has evaporated. Toss with a drizzle of unrefined sesame oil, a shake or two of black (or golden) sesame seeds, a dash of Aleppo or cayenne pepper if desired, and a few shakes of sea salt or a dash of tamari/soy sauce (be sure to use wheat-free tamari if you’re making a gluten-free dish).

Serve chips on top of or alongside the steamed chard. If you have leftover chips (doubtful), you can fold them up in their paper towels and clip them shut. Leave them on the counter and enjoy the next day. Leftover chard can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Enjoy!

All Courtesy of The Cultured Cook.

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