Creating seasonal recipes that are inspired by my passion for local, organic foods

Monday, December 20, 2010

Eat Your Christmas Tree

A few years back, when my 8-year-old son was an infant, my husband and I visited the (now-defunct) restaurant Cascadia in Seattle, which focused on regional and seasonal ingredients - hence the name. It was before most of my eco-nuttiness, so I wasn't nearly as in tune to the local ingredients thing, but when we went back the second time - whoa doggie - did I ever grill the waiter. Unfortunately, he didn't have many answers to my litany of questions. But I digress.

On that first visit we tried a Douglas Fir Sorbet, mostly because of the uniqueness of it. It was fantastic - one of those flavors that, although you may not want to snack on it daily - has stuck in my mind all these years. And, that's saying something given my ADD.

Anyway, last year my husband purchased a little book called Sips & Apps: Classic and Contemporary Recipes for Cocktails and Appetizers, written by a local author, and one of the cocktails included in this fabulous little gem is a Douglas Fir drink that reminded me of that sorbet from yesteryear.

So, now that you have that fresh Douglas (or Noble) Fir Christmas tree hanging around the house (and I know that you bought an unsprayed one, didn't you?), go ahead and clip a six inch section from the tree where no one will notice it missing and make yourself some Douglas Fir infused gin or vodka and get your holiday spirits on! And, don't forget, little sprigs of Douglas Fir also make for a fantastic drink garnish.

I think a fir or spruce infused gin, vodka or brandy would also make for a nice present, particularly if you hang a drink recipe around the bottleneck.

Douglas Fir Sparkletini
1 1/2 ounce Douglas Fir infused gin (see below)
3/4 ounce white cranberry juice
1 1/2 ounce fresh Lemon Sour (see below)
Splash of dry sparkling wine (preferably local)

For garnishing:
Tiny sprig of Douglas Fir
Fresh or frozen cranberry

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Measure in the infused gin, cranberry juice and lemon sour mixture. Strain into a martini glass and top with a splash of dry sparkling wine. Garnish with a fir sprig and float a cranberry in the drink.

Douglas Fir Infused Gin
1 (5-6 inch) sprig of Douglas Fir branch, rinsed
1 750ml bottle gin

Put the fir branch into the gin bottle and cap and let sit for 24 hours (do not leave it in for longer). Remove the branch and discard. The infused gin can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 year.

Fresh Lemon Sour
Makes 1 cup:
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

In a small container with a lid, combine the ingredients. Cover and keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Another drink idea is the Pine Needle Daiquiri. If drinking trees ain't your thang, then, by all means go ahead and eat it. Here's a tasty looking recipe: Douglas Fir & Orange Blossom Butter Cookies. And, for the serious tree snacker, check out this post: Douglas fir tips bring the flavor of the forest into the kitchen.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pickled radishes

We came back from our long vacation with a veritable crapton of radishes ready to jump out of the ground. Not too surprising, since the kids planted them a week before we left. Okay, maybe crapton of radishes is a bit of an exaggeration, but 35 radishes I cannot eat in one week.

Henry loves radishes, Emma thinks they are "too spicy", I can only eat a few as they irritate my stomach and my husband, who can plough through them, had the stomach flu last week. So, what's a gardener with a big bowl of radishes to do?

Well, during one of my many hours spent in the garden last week, I remembered an article I read in my new Hobby Farms Home magazine, Oh Yes You Can!, which is all about canning, go figure. Anyway, one of the recipes is for pickling radishes, which didn't strike me at the time as useful, but am glad I remembered it.

So, the radishes, coupled with the garlic I just pulled out of the ground (those little guys that didn't exactly make it to a full head), and some thyme from the garden went into the canning jars (after blanching said radishes and garlic). I poured the hot vinegar/salt/sugar/peppercorn solution in and let them cool before refrigerating.*

I love the combination of the garlic, radishes, pepper and thyme. Adding in the herbs really gives it an extra flavor that makes it taste more complex than just pickled radishes. Another combination that I read online was to use rice vinegar, ginger root and dill.

Since I have a bunch of beets growing for our fall garden, I'm anxious to try something similar with making pickled beets, in addition to roasting them as usual. Anyway, here's an adaptation of the recipe from the magazine. I'm not using exact measurements for stuff being pickled, just for the brine. The brine will be enough for 2 quart jars:

Quick Pickled Radishes

Garlic cloves (about 5 per quart jar, depending on how you like it)
3 thyme sprigs per quart jar

3 cups white vinegar
1 1/8 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1/4 cup water

Wash and stem the radishes, cutting the larger ones so they are all uniformly the same size. In a medium sized pot, boil water. Boil garlic until soft, remove and chill in an ice water bath. Boil radishes for 30 seconds, remove and chill in an ice water bath. While the garlic and radishes are cooling, heat the brine until boiling. Put the drained radishes, garlic and thyme sprigs in quart jars, filling about 2/3 full. Pour boiling brine mixture into the jars and seal, leaving them until they are cool.

Place jars in the refrigerator and consume within 2 - 3 weeks. The pickled radishes can be eaten as soon as they are cold, but you may want to wait a day or so for the flavors to meld.

*These would be considered refrigerator pickles (rather than canned ones) and will only last a few weeks in the refrigerator since there's no hot water bathing going on.