Shrub

Shrubs are a beverage that go back to colonial times as a way of saving the season to enjoy throughout the year. Shrub refers to a sweet and sour syrup that can be enjoyed as a sipping vinegar or diluted with club soda. Historically, these beverages were related to the medicinal cordials of medieval England. Today, they are used as aperitifs or ingredients in cocktails. They involve fruit and herbs or spices that steep in vinegar and are later sweetened with honey or sugar. Throughout the year, I make several batches to enjoy diluted as a carbonated treat. Here are a couple of recipes to try out. Feel free to play with the amount of sugar you add or the type of fruit. In summer I make batches with different types of berries, but fall and winter are great with apples, pears, quince, or persimmons. I recommend using Bragg’s apple cider vinegar as it is unfiltered and not too acidic to be enjoyable. There are also some sources that claim apple cider vinegar may aid digestion, adding to its allure as an aperitif.

Apple-Cinnamon Shrub

Ingredients:
2 apples, cored and cut into small pieces
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup or 2/3 sugar

Method:
Combine all ingredients in a quart sized mason jar or other comparable container. Give it a good shake and stick it in the fridge. After a week or two, strain the mixture, pressing on the apples to extract as much juice as possible. Give it a taste and add sugar if you’d like. Keep in mind it should be pretty tangy. Enjoy about 2 oz of shrub diluted with 6-8 oz of club soda according to your own tastes.

 

Pear-Allspice Shrub

Ingredients:
3 pears, cored and cut into small pieces
6-8 allspice berries, whole
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup or 2/3 cup sugar

Method:
Same as above.

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Sunchoke Soup

sunchoke soupSunchokes are like the secret agents of the vegetable world. They go by many names (Jerusalem artichokes – though they are not from Jerusalem nor are they artichokes, sunroots, earth apples, and topinambour) and easily blend in with many vegetables thanks to their mild nature. These tubers are a close relative to the sunflower though they visually resemble the ginger root. Sunchokes are a New World food that was cultivated long before Columbus arrived. It makes sense that they were a staple food in the Native American diet, considering they are an excellent source of potassium, iron, and fiber. While they have a similar consistency to potatoes, sunchokes’ flavor is sweeter with a certain “je ne sais quoi.” They are delicious when roasted or made into chips, but for a weeknight meal, I like to enjoy them as a hearty soup with a fresh salad and some crusty bread.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large carrot, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 large shallot, diced
1 pound sunchokes, peeled and cut into smaller pieces
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into smaller pieces
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 sage leaves
water, as needed
salt, to taste
creme fraiche (optional to garnish)

Method:

  1. In a dutch oven or soup pot, heat olive oil. Lower the heat and add the carrot, celery, and shallot. Sweat until the onions are translucent.
  2. Stir in the fennel seeds, sage, and nutmeg. Allow flavors to meld for a minute or so.
  3. Add sunchokes, potatoes, and vegetable stock. Bring everything to a low simmer. Continue to cook until sunchokes can easily be pierced with a fork.
  4. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup (or use a regular blender and work in small batches). When it has been blended, add any water as needed to thin the soup to a desirable consistency. I like mine fairly thick, so I only added about 3/4 cup of water.
  5. Taste and add salt as needed.
  6. Spoon into serving bowls (this recipe should serve four for dinner) and garnish with creme fraiche or sour cream.

Kale Smoothies

Purple kale smoothieGood Morning Kale! We got the mother load of kale in our CSA boxes this week! I’ve covered the basics of massaging kale for a salad here, but this versatile veggie is also a great way to start the day. Here’s a simple recipe to jumpstart your morning with a kale smoothie. Feel free to switch things up depending on what you have available- I fashioned mine around the CSA box and the last bits of frozen fruit lurking in the freezer from last year’s harvests.

Smoothie

Ingredients:

3-4 purple kale leaves, de-stemmed
1 small apple or pear, cored and cut into smaller pieces
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup frozen mango (pineapple or strawberry would be great too)
1/2 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
Almond milk or water to thin as needed

Method:

Place everything in the blender and puree until smooth! This recipe makes enough for two!

Parsnip-Pecan Spread

hello friends! Apologies for the radio silence last week. I’m afraid I was under the weather with a stomach bug. No fun for a cook (or anyone else, I suppose)! Here’s a quick little snack to hold you over until Wednesday’s delivery! I’ll be tucking some of this tasty spread in my lunch with crackers and crudités all week.

Parsnip spread

Parsnips are in the same family as parsley and carrots. They have an inherent sweetness like their carrot cousins and were actually used as a sweetener in Europe before the arrival of cane sugar. Roasting this vegetable emphasizes its sweetness and allows for great caramelization. Apparently this humble root vegetable was held in high esteem by the ancient Romans- Emperor Tiberius accepted tribute from Germany in the form of parsnips!

Ingredients:

2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon canola or sunflower oil
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon thyme
1/4 cup pecans, lightly toasted (walnuts would be good too!)
1 can white beans or garbanzo beans, drained
1 cup water
2 cloves of garlic
juice from 1/2 lemon or 1 tablespoon Apple cider vinegar
salt, to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*. On a sheet tray, lightly coat parsnips with oil and sprinkle with salt and thyme. Roast until they begin to get slightly golden brown (about 30 minutes).
  2. When parsnips have cooled, combine them with the drained beans, garlic, pecans, and lemon juice/vinegar in a food processor and blend until combined. Slowly add water until the spread reaches a desirable consistency similar to hummus.
  3. Give it a taste and add salt if you’d like. Serve with fresh vegetables, crackers, pita, or toast!

Fennel Refrigerator Pickles

pickled fennel

To cut through the hearty flavors of winter, I turn to my pantry. In the summer I put up all kinds of preserves and pickles, which I am so grateful for in the winter. On a chilly, sunny winter day it’s nice to add some brightness to a simple snack or supper of cheese, bread, and cured meat with some simple pickles. If you don’t have some waiting for you in the larder, these are a quick fix! And they’re quite versatile. Feel free to use this technique with carrots or beets, too. You can always adjust the spices to what you like. Here, I used fennel seeds to give the bright, fresh fennel another, earthy dimension. But you could also use allspice, chili flakes, or juniper berries. Play around with the flavors and enjoy this winter pick-me-up!

Ingredients:

1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 cup white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon honey or sugar
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black pepper corns

Method:

  1. In a small saucepan combine vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and spices and bring to a low boil.
  2. Place fennel in a quart sized mason jar.
  3. Turn off heat and pour mixture over fennel.
  4. Place in refrigerator and allow to cool overnight.
  5. Enjoy! These should last in the fridge for several weeks… if you don’t eat them all in one sitting 🙂