Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Eggnog is a drink that benefits from aging. Don’t worry about the raw eggs – as long as the alcohol content is high enough (at least 20%), it will kill any bacteria. Scientists at Rockefeller University in New York tested this theory last year on their own spiked eggnog, for ScienceFriday.com. They aged it for six weeks and then tested it; they found no traces of salmonella or other bacteria.

It doesn’t need to age a long time – two or three weeks will do. Start it today and it will be ready in time for Christmas or New Year’s. Those few weeks make all the difference in flavor and texture.

Once you’ve made the eggnog and refrigerated it, give it a good shake each day. It will thicken and the flavors, each distinctive when initially combined, will come together into a creamy and smooth blend. The alcohol will mix and react with the sugars and proteins, allowing the flavors to combine. The proteins in the egg yolks will break down and act as a gelatin for the whole mixture, causing it to thicken.

• 12 large eggs, separated
• 2 cups granulated sugar
• 1 quart whole milk
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1 quart bourbon
• 1 cup Cognac or other high-quality brandy
• ½ cup dark rum
• pinch salt
• grated nutmeg for garnish
Separate egg yolks and whites. Combine egg yolks and sugar in large mixing bowl and whisk until well blended and creamy. Gradually add cream, milk, bourbon, rum, Cognac and salt, while continuously whisking.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the yolk mixture. Bottle eggnog immediately and refrigerate for three to four weeks, shaking well each day. Sprinkle with grated nutmeg before serving. Makes about three quarts of eggnog.


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Dilly beans are pickled green beans. They’re a great way to preserve an abundance of summer beans. Plus don’t they look wonderful and slightly mysterious in their can? If put up properly, they’ll last for months, maintaining their crisp texture.

Their tart flavor and crunchiness are a great addition to any salad. You can add them to sandwiches, or eat them on their own. Some people serve them in martinis and Bloody Marys. Can them with garlic and dill, and spice them up with pepper and/or Tabasco.

This recipe is from Blue Ribbon Preserves, one of my favorite canning books. It contains a great basic how-to section on canning. Also included are recipes for every kind of fruit and vegetable.


2 1/2 pounds of straight, young tender green beans
2 1/2 cups distilled water
1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
1 cup distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons kosher salt or pickling salt
4 garlic cloves, peeled
4 3-inch sprigs of fresh dill
12 whole black peppercorns

Gently rinse the beans 3 or 4 times in cool, clear water to remove any sand or dirt. Change the water between each rinsing. Drain well.

Cut off the stem end of the beans and trim the blossom end, cutting just below the base of the tail. Measure the beans to four inches in length and cut off the excess on the stem end.

Place the beans in an 8-quart pan and cover them with boiling water. Over medium-high heat, bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and drain. Immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl or pan of ice water for two minutes to stop the cooking process. Remove the beans from the ice water and drain well. Set aside.

Combine the distilled water, wine vinegar, white vinegar, and salt. Stir well to combine. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and keep hot until needed.

Lay hot pint jars on their sides. Place one garlic clove along the inside bottom edge of each jar. Arrange one sprig of dill, stem side down, against the inside of each jar next to the garlic clove. Add three peppercorns to each jar. Pack the beans snugly into the jars, with the stem ends at the bottom. Stand the jars upright.

Ladle the hot liquid into the jars, covering the beans and leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Using a bubble freer or plastic knife, remove any air bubbles. If necessary, add more liquid to maintain the headspace. Wipe the jar rims and threads with a clean, damp cloth. Cover with hot lids and apply screw rings. Process pint jars in a 180 to 185F water bath for 30 minutes.

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It’s that time of year when a productive garden can get overwhelming. But the thought of opening a jar of flavorful tomato sauce in the middle of winter can provide inspiration. Whether you can or freeze this sauce, it will be a delight in January when grocery store tomatoes taste like, well, not much at all.

Nearly every product in this sauce comes from my sister’s garden: tomatoes, green pepper, garlic, basil and jalapeno. The onions (OK, and salt and pepper) are the sole ingredients that came from the grocery store. We literally filled a laundry basket full of tomatoes and peppers from the garden in one morning’s harvest (see photo below).


12 tomatoes, blanched and peeled
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped fine
2 green peppers
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 medium onions, chopped
Several leaves basil

I’m rather finicky about tomatoes: I don’t like to see skin or seeds floating in my sauce. So I remove them. If you’re less picky you can skip this step. Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Have a bowl filled with iced water to one side. Cut a small cross in the bottom of each tomato, about 1/2-inch each way. Blanch each tomato for 30 seconds, then shock it in the cold water. Peel off the skin of each tomato.

In a large saucepan or stockpot, saute onions until translucent, approximately five minutes. Chop green peppers and jalapenos into small chunks. Chop garlic fine. Add garlic, peppers and jalapenos. Let cook for five minutes, then add tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

You can cook this sauce for a long amount of time, or just enough to heat the ingredients through and let the flavors combine a bit. It’s up to you. The sauce will be thicker if it’s cooked a long time, and the flavors will have blended together more. A shorter cooking time will really retain the fresh tomato taste.

Just before removing from heat, add basil. Remove from heat. Can or store in refrigerator/freezer containers. Makes 2 quarts.

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This jam has a wonderfully direct, elegant flavor. It’s a great way to preserve fresh blueberries as the season comes to an end, so you can enjoy them all winter long.

Blueberries are what’s known as a “superfruit,” because they are high in nutrients (Vitamin C, Vitamin K, manganese, Vitamin B6) and in antioxidents. There’s some evidence that eating blueberries can lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

I picked these blueberries at a pick-your-own organic farm called Owl’s Head Blueberry Farm in Richmond, Vermont. I added sugar and lemon juice, then cooked the berries with the lemon rind in the mixture to add more flavor and pectin. No commercial pectin is necessary; the jam will thicken enough with the natural pectin in the berries and lemon.


8 cups blueberries
2 cups sugar
Juice of one lemon

In a large saucepan, combine blueberries and sugar. Crush the blueberries with a potato masher. Add lemon juice and lemon rind. Bring to a boil. Skim any foam that forms from surface.

Cook at a boil until the jam thickens, approximately 30 minutes. Test by dropping some jam on a plate. Put the plate in the freezer for a few minutes. Remove the plate from the freezer. If the jam wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it is done. If not, continue cooking.

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Edamame is a bean that delights. The crunch of the texture, the chewiness of the bean and its cool, earthy flavor are hard to resist. A young soybean, edamame is Japanese for “twig bean,” referring to the stem at the end of the bean pod. It’s high in protein, iron, and Omega-3 fatty acids.

A few weeks ago I bought a few bags of Cascadian Farms frozen edamame, shelled. They’d been sitting in my freezer until today, when inspiration struck. I pan-fried a chicken breast that I had on hand. As it cooled I boiled the edamame for about five minutes in salted water. I chopped a quarter of a small white onion, and a few stalks of celery. Then I cut the chicken into small pieces, drained and shocked the beans to stop them cooking, and combined it all in a bowl with some mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Delicious.


1 chicken breast, pan-fried
3/4 cup edamame beans
1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 small onion, chopped fine (about 2 tablespoons)
2 stalks celery, chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste

Serves two.

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This is a wonderful pepper pesto, sweet, smoky and sharp. It’s a nice change from a basil-based pesto, and a bit more versatile. You can eat it as a dip, or use it as a sauce on pasta or chicken, or as a salad dressing. It’s delicious with goat cheese as well.

A side note: anytime you use pesto on pasta, it’s worth adding 3-4 tablespoons of the pasta water to the pesto. It helps distribute the thick pesto evenly throughout the pasta.


3 red peppers, roasted
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 cloves garlic, cut in half
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt & pepper, to taste

Roast red peppers, either by placing directly on gas burner or by broiling on a cookie sheet in the oven. Turn frequently, until skin has blackened. Place peppers in plastic bag, tied loosely. Let rest for several minutes. The steam captured in the bag will help loosen the skin. Remove from bag and peel off blackened skin. Remove core of pepper and seeds. Cut remainder into strips. (You can also buy peppers already roasted.)

Puree pepper strips in food processor. Add bread crumbs, olive oil, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, salt, pepper and garlic. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning for flavor.

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On my recent trip to Vermont, I was thrilled to discover that blackberries were just coming into season. I picked six quarts over two days, fighting thorns, bees and spiders who felt I was invading their territory. The berries are tart and delicious. When making pies and jams with them I always add a bit more sugar than I might with other fruits, to counterbalance the tartness.

Blackberries contain Vitamin C, Vitamin K and folic acid, and are among the highest-ranking fruits in levels of antioxidents. Fun fact: there’s a superstition in the UK that blackberries should not be picked after September 29 (Michaelmas) as after that date the devil has claimed them by urinating on them. This superstition has some basis in scientific fact, as the more wet and cool weather after this date often results in the fruit being contaminated by molds. The molds give the fruit a nasty look and can be toxic.

This jam is a soft-set jam, made without addition of any commercial pectin. The lemon juice enhances the fruit’s flavor. Add the lemon rind into the jam until it boils, which will add further pectin to the jam beyond that which is in the berries themselves.


20 oz. blackberries
1 3/4 cups sugar
Juice of one lemon
Rind of one lemon

Combine blackberries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan. Crush blackberries with potato masher. Add lemon rind. Heat to a boil, stirring periodically. Remove lemon rind. Continue boiling until mixture thickens and reaches about 101 degrees Celcius (about 214 degrees Fahrenheit). The jam will continue to thicken as it cools, so don’t worry if the set is still soft when you remove it from the heat.

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