Retro Recipes and Traditional Fare

skilletjam2.jpgOkay, It is true, I admit it!  I make skillet jam, no really, I DO...No fanfare, no canning jars or water bath cauldrons just a non-stick skillet, some ripe, fragrant fruit, sugar and a lemon. That's it! This may not sound like a shortcut, but once you put this on the table some Sunday morning you'll forget that it took you half an hour or so to make. Well maybe 45 minutes until you get less nervous about making jam...

I prepare the fruit by peeling and cutting it into inch-size pieces or in the case of berries mash lightly with a potato masher.  My formula is 3 cups of fruit, 1/2  to 3/4 cup of sugar to taste and all the juice of half a lemon. Start on medium heat, stirring to combine the sugar into the cut fruit with your best wooden spoon. If it seems like there isn't enough liquid add water or wine or fruit juice-be creative, there are NO rules and this is suppose to be fun and it is all YOUR creation, no one else's!  I let the fruit cook down (simmer happily) but if the there are some fruit pieces that are too large for your liking use your wooden spoon to "gently" breakdown the fruit into the size you prefer. Taste it, does it need more lemon juice? Perhaps more sugar, a touch of vanilla extract?

 

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fetadipWow, I was exhausted yesterday.  Somehow the kid's first day at school wore me out.  I'm not sure how that happened since all I did was sit around and wait for them to come home while I talked a bunch of jibber-jabber on Facebook

By mid-afternoon I was tired.  Doing nothing can suck the life out of you.  I decided I only had enough energy to make dip for dinner.  So I whipped up this Feta Pepper Dip.

However, as the dinner hour quickly approached, the responsibility of being a mother and a wife extinguished my extreme lack of motivation.  I am happy to report chicken and salad made it to the table along with this awesome dip.

Here's whatI love about it...the salty feta, with the slight heat of the pepperoncini and the tang of the lemon zest make a tasty little treat. The end all is to it up with barbecue chips.  The barbecue chips are really a must here, the sweetness of them adding another layer of flavor.

But I'm also thinking this would be some kind of heaven slathered on a grilled lamb burger.  That just might be lunch for us today.

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salad.tuna_.chips_.jpgIt took me a long time to appreciate tuna salad.  I have mentioned before my disdain for mayo so eating tuna salad was not something I craved or ate much. For me, it was always a lot of lemon, some chopped red onion, a bit of olive oil, and fresh, ground pepper.  I was perfectly happy with it.

One of my college friends was from Laguna Beach.  One weekend, I went down to spend the weekend at her parents beach front property.  For lunch, she suggested tuna.  I got a little nervous.  Tuna equates to mayo.  I wanted to be a gracious guest, but come on – tuna?  Then she started chopping cornichons, kalamata olives, and red onion.  She added some olive oil and a whole lemon.  I was relieved.

I loved the idea of adding all of my favorites; olives, pickles, onion, and added a few of my own; celery, capers, and my favorite classic Dijon vinaigrette. Not only is this salad dressing great on a simple salad with boston lettuce and some chopped egg whites, but it’s perfect with tuna and great on a grain salad. 

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garlichummus.jpgHummus and I go way back. I couldn't imagine my college years without the chickpea dip. It was always there for me when I needed an impromptu dorm room dinner or when I had friends over. I love to dip into hummus with soft pita or even tortilla chips, never those awfully hard pita chips, which have the texture of wood chips. Hummus is now so popular that you can find it around the world, but this dish has Arabic origins.

It's not completely clear which peoples invented hummus, but you can find it throughout the Levantine region: Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, and Turkey. But you don't have to travel throughout the Middle East to find hummus for yourself. Every market sells it, but making your own is so much more satisfying, because you can flavor it to your personal taste. Plus, with a food processor, it only takes a few minutes to prepare. Start a party with an appetizer platter including hummus.

 

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bucklerhubarb.jpgIt’s rhubarb season. I took me a while but I have discovered rhubarb. And what I have discovered is that I like them. I like them in a crisp, in a buckle, in a muffin, stewed with other fruit, and in a pie. The word rhubarb was a turn off for me. I don’t know why. I just had a visceral aversion to it.

Then one evening, while out with some of my best friends, at one of my favorite restaurants – Gjelina – we ordered the strawberry rhubarb crisp for dessert. There were several other sweet treats on the table that night, but it was this particular dessert that blew our taste buds away. And it is forever etched in my memory. Cannot wait to go back. I’ll order a few of my favorite small bites and this crisp.

I picked up some rhubarb at the farmers market last weekend. Came home with it and the rest of my loot, and sat down in my comfy, oversized, vintage leather chair. I opened up one of my favorite books; rustic fruit desserts and searched for something to make. I earmarked the rhubarb buckle with ginger crumb as well as the rhubarb oat and pecan crumble.

In celebration of mother’s day, I made the buckle. What could be more satisfying than a piece of this cake, along with a cup of tea for a Sunday afternoon snack? I really can’t think of anything more satisfying...

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