Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Easy Blood Orange Recipes ~ Jam, Sorbet, and Smoothies

Is it Summer yet?
I had thought I missed out on blood orange season, when a little ramble through the Hermosa Beach Farmer's Market a couple weeks ago brought me to bags and bags of blood oranges at one of the stands.  Have I ever mentioned how lucky I feel to be in California where we can get almost every type of fruit or veggie we want year-round?  A place where farmer's markets stay open year-round?  I feel very blessed!  Granted, some of the blood oranges were not so pretty (and some were even a bit sour, unfortunately) but that didn't stop me from buying 2 bags of them.

Blood oranges are beauties, orange with a reddish-purple blush on the outside and deep purple flesh on this inside.  The best ones have a hint of blackberry, and are the sweetest type of orange I've ever tasted.

They are in-season in the Winter months, and as you'll see they are wonderful to use in all types of dishes and desserts, but I think they are best eaten in their simplest form.

For a simple, tasty jam, all you need is 4 cups of blood oranges (peeled), 4 cups of cane sugar, and 1 box-or 3 TBSP.-pectin.  Segment the oranges and coarsely chop.  Place in large, non-reactive pan with sugar, bring to a boil, stirring constantly for 5 minutes.

Let it reach a rolling boil, add the pectin, stir it thoroughly and continue to boil for 1-2 minutes.  Check the set (this can be done by dropping some of your mixture on a frozen plate - if it films or hardens then it's done) and when it's done, you can place in sterilized jars.  Place jars on the rack in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. This made 6 half-pints of gorgeous jam!
The color is so beautiful, this jam is perfect to use in showy desserts.
For the sorbet (pictured above), you will need:  4 lbs. blood oranges, 1-1/4 c. water, 3/4 c. sugar, and an ice cream maker.  Note:  Use your most beautiful and sweetest oranges for this recipe, that I found on  This will result in the best taste for your sorbet. 

Zest the peels of several of the oranges; enough for 1-1/2 Tbsp. of zest.  Peel the oranges, making an attempt to get as much of the pith off as you can.  Pick out the seeds.  Combine water, sugar, and zest in pan and bring to a boil.  This will create a syrup.  Add the syrup and orange segments to a food processor (I used an old-fashioned blender) and puree.  Measure out 2-1/3 cups of the puree, cover and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.  Next day, pour puree in your icecream maker and follow the instructions from the manufacturer.  In about 5 minutes, you will have about 4 half pints (equivalent to about 10 scoops) of sorbet!  I stored them in Ball plastic containers in my freezer.
I used remaining puree for a smoothie - added 3 red chard leaves, fresh rosemary (crushed), and an apple...for added sweetness you could add apple juice but I wanted it to be healthier than that.  This made 24 oz. of smoothie.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pickled Brussels Sprouts with Peppers

Jones knows what's good...
I used to feel sorry for Brussels sprouts, until I realized that in this new world of "artisan restaurants," American gastropubs," and  "local ingredients," that somehow Brussels sprouts have become one of the new sexy foods.  Hipsters have helped to convince us all that Brussels sprouts taste good! 

Personally, I do like Brussels sprouts, even though I never had them until a few years ago.  In fact, I never knew what they were.  Grandma Irma told me that my Little Daddy hates them, so we never had to eat them.  More recently, I've had Brussels sprouts in different iterations at local restaurants and in the Bay area, and I happen to really like them!  A few shipments ago, I also received some in my CSA box and steamed them with bacon.  Yum. 

I found this fun recipe on, my adaptation is below.  Minor changes based off of what I had in my kitchen.
For Brine:
8 c. water
1 c. white vinegar
1 c. red cider vinegar
1/4 c. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. pickling spice
1/2 c. sea salt, ground
1 c. sugar
1 head fresh dill
2 cloves garlic

For Jars:
6 half pint jars
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, large ones cut in half
6 heads dill
3 red jalapenos, sliced in half
4 Tbsp. pickling spice
3 heads garlic, sliced in half

Bring all brine ingredients to a boil.  In sterilized jars, stuff sprouts in jars, and one each of dill heads, jalapeno halves, and garlic halves in each jar.  Separate pickling spice in 6 equal portions and place in each jar.  Pour brine in each jar, leaving 1/4" head space.  Place jars in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.  Since peppers are sliced open, these sprouts will be extra spicy.  Fun ways to eat these spicy sprouts:  sautee in their own juices for a side dish, roast until blackened on the edges and serve as an appetizer, chop in 1/2" pieces and toss in a salad - you can use the brine with high-end olive oil as the dressing, or use as a garnish in a martini or Bloody Mary.  How would you eat them?  xo, AB

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fava Bean Dip - Bessara

Hermoa Beach's farmer's market is every Friday from 12-4, behind the Fire Station
"...I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."  Okay, ick, ick, ick, but don't pretend like you didn't think of that unforgettable quote from Silence of the Lambs as soon as you read the title of this post.  Now, I gift to you another way of thinking of fava beans since it seems to me that most Americans don't eat them.

Last week, I was in need of some inspiration, sort of feeling lazy, and uninterested in making yet more jelly, jam, or marmalade--enough with the citrus!  I'm dying for more produce to be in-season.  I know that in Southern California we can get many fruits year-round, but sometimes I wonder if that's a good citrus it's been for the last month or two.

A little ramble through my local farmer's market in Hermosa Beach cured my doldrums.  I found these gems and had to buy them. **Teaser:  I also found a booth with bags of blood oranges and bought 2 bags...made jam and can't wait to share the recipe with you.**  I've never bought fava beans before, and thought I could find something fun to do with them after a quick internet search.

I decided to make fava bean dip, called bessara, similar to hummus but very tangy and perhaps even tastier than hummus.  It's great with pita bread or as a dip for freshly-cut carrots or bell peppers.  I based this recipe on this recipe here:  Moroccan Fava Bean Dip , but I made some changes (the main one being less olive oil because it didn't seem necessary...thought it could make it greasy without adding flavor) so I hope you enjoy it!

Before you begin making this, know that working with fava beans is very time-consuming, and 2 pounds of the bean pods resulted in about 2 cups of bessara.  At the farmer's market, I only asked for 1 lb, but I think something was lost in translation and I was given 2 lbs.  It's a good thing because I wouldn't have had enough to make anything with just 1 lb.  A lot of work, but it's worth it.

2 lbs. fava beans, hulled, steamed, and peeled, approx. 1-1/2 c.
1/4 c. lime juice
1 large shallot clove
1/4 c. + 1 Tbsp. olive oil
1-2 Tbsp. cooking water (read below for description of what I used)
1-1/2 tsp. ground sea salt
1 tsp. cumin (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1.  Steam the fava beans in a steaming pot, about 25 minutes.  I used water that remained from pickling Brussels sprouts and ran them over the fava beans to give them more of a kick.  The beans will look wrinkly and the skin on some of them will split open.
2.  Peel the skin off, revealing the pea-green beans inside.  This step takes a long time...I lost track.  This is what they will look like, unpeeled on left, peeled on the right:
3.  Chop shallot in smaller chunks, place in blender and chop.
4.  Add beans, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and peppers in the blender.  Puree.
5.  Add Tablespoons of water one at a time until you get a smooth, thin consistency, thinner than hummus but good for dipping.  Makes about 2 cups.
6.  Serve with pita bread and/or fresh veggies.
7.  Put in containers, refrigerate or freeze.  This is not a recipe for canning, so I put the bessara in airtight containers.  This is my first time using a Ball plastic container - going to freeze for future dipping and sharing!  xo, AB

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pomelo - Minneola - Lemon Marmalade...Yummy!

Pleased as punch with my pomelo!
Pomelos are everywhere right now, and I'm a big fan, so I went searching for some fun recipes to get ideas.  I was inspired by this recipe I found on  I couldn't find blood oranges, so instead I used minneolas which are very sweet.  When you choose your fruit, pick pieces that you can smell before you even pick it up and you will be certain to have delicious jam and marmalade.  I originally wanted to try this as a jam, not being a 100% marmalade fan...but I felt that the combination of these three fruits was so beautiful and I had read a bunch of recipes which recommended removing the pith, and I thought I could love it with much less I've said before, the enjoyment in creating, making, and eating some of these fun concoctions is all in the techniques, right?  In this case, yes!  So, I got smart and decided to use a vegetable peeler to get skin with no pith.

Why didn't I think of using a vegetable peeler before?  I guess because Grandma Irma always used a paring knife I never thought of any other way.  All you gotta do is cut off the nubby end of your fruit, then use the peeler to cut through the most colorful part of the peel and sort of saw the peeler up and down and work your way around the fruit (pictured above).  Since I wanted more delicate pieces in my marmalade, I sliced in julienne.  This took a bit longer than chopping chunks of peel would have (at least with my knife skills, or lack thereof), but I think it ended up much more elegant than large chunks of peel, and it also cooked faster.  Repeat this peeling and julienne process with the pomelo, 4 minneolas, and 1 lemon.  Then, you will loosely chop the flesh into approximately 1-inch pieces.  When you are done, your fruit will look like the picture below....
Cook the fruit and water for about 20 minutes.  Allow the fruit to cool, move to a bowl and cover.  Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.  Next day, move the fruit from the bowl back into your nonreactive pan, add sugar to the fruit, and bring to a rolling boil.  Check the set, and ladle into your sterilized jars (I made 9 half pints).  This marmalade is so good; the minneolas were such a great complement to the pomelo, the right amount of sour and sweet.  I added a large spoonful to a cup of lemon yogurt - and it was absolutely delicious.  xo, AB

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tomatillo-Lime Jelly Hors d' Oeurves

By far the most popular use for tomatillos is salsa verde, a savory topping for enchiladas, nachos, and other Mexican dishes.  They look like green tomatoes covered in husks, and are very sticky, so make sure you wash them prior to working with them.

I was turned on to this recipe by my cousin, and I couldn't wait to make it.  Being in Southern California, I have access to tomatillos year-round, and limes are currently in abundance - giant barrels sit in the produce section of my local grocery store; so I thought it would be a good time as any to try this unique jelly.  For this recipe, all you need is one 12-oz. jar, 1-2 limes, 1 lb. tomatillos, sugar, and salt.  Click HERE for Pati's Mexican Table's Tomatillo-Lime Jam recipe. 

  Peel and squeeze 1 lime, chop the tomatillos, mix all ingredients in a non-reactive pan, slowly simmer for approximately 45 minutes or until the consistency is slightly gelled, and - tada!  It's that easy.  Note:  this is not a tested recipe safe for canning and storing, to my knowledge.  I placed the jar in my fridge and plan to use quickly.
For this colorful and tasty little appetizer, get the dinner crackers of your choice, Havarti cheese, and julienned sun-dried tomatoes.   Stack cheese, tomatoes, and jelly on the crackers and serve.  xo, AB

Monday, February 6, 2012

Homeroom Mac and Cheese Restaurant - Oakland, CA

You gotta love a place that serves its drinks in Mason jars and has a menu that is almost entirely made up of macaroni and cheese.  I could end this post right there, but I'll give you a few details.  Homeroom delivers, having taken comfort food to the nth degree in a casual space in Oakland, California.  The menu provides wine and beer pairings with each mac n cheese dish, and for my Mexican Mac (chipotle-seasoned), the tempranillo suggestion was perfect.
I can't fail to mention their wonderful appetizers - we tried two of them, Brussels sprouts flecked with bacon (you can order a vegetarian option), and minty, buttery peas.  Both were tasty and perfect complements to the very hearty macaroni and cheese main dishes.
Also on the menu are large salads, gluten-free options, and a careful selection of sodas, beers, and wines - there's nothing more to want!  Here is their web site:  And if you're wondering what this has to do with jam, nothing.  Except maybe the jars. :)  xo, AB