Archive for the ‘recipe’ Category

Plethora of peppers

One pound of red jalapeno peppers.

One pound of red jalapeno peppers.

Are you perplexed and puzzled by the plethora of peppers that presented themselves in your prodigious CSA box a couple weeks ago? Ponder no more! Pickle them! I made two different pickles, or ferments, with the peppers. One ferment is with honey, and the other with salt and vinegar.

Three large chopped jalapenos in about a cup of raw wildflower honey. The ferment is about two weeks old.

Three large chopped jalapenos in about a cup of raw wildflower honey. The ferment is about two weeks old.

Hot peppers fermented in honey is simple and fairly quick. Honey is anti-biotic and anti-fungal, and and it makes sense to use it to preserve food. I chopped up three jalapeños, one with seeds and two without, put them in a small jar, and covered them with raw wildflower honey from Bee Heaven Farm. I filled the jar to the shoulder, screwed on the lid. Within a day, the honey grew liquid and syrupy, and by the second day, small bubbles appeared among the chunks of peppers. They were fermenting! I burped the lid every day for a week until the ferment settled.

I started tasting teaspoons of honey on the third day. It was sweet fire! I made a sweet-hot-sour vinaigrette with apple cider vinegar and it was delicious on a green salad. The dressing would be good on a fruit salad too. The hot honey could be used to make a sweet and sour sauce, or simply drizzled on BBQ ribs — or chocolate ice cream. Holy mole! And still-crunchy chunks of sweet pepper could be added to salsa or stir fry for a mellow kick.

Sriracha, day one of fermentation. On the right are seeds saved from five peppers.

Sriracha, day one of fermentation. On the right are seeds saved from five peppers.

That done, I still had three-quarters of a pound of peppers left. It’s too much to eat before they go bad. Time to make hot sauce! And not just any sauce, but sriracha. I found two versions online, one fermented, and one a quick pickle in vinegar. The fermented one caught my imagination.

Out of the 10 peppers left, I seeded half (saved the seeds to grow my own) and cut all of them into chunks. They went into the food processor along with two garlic cloves, some brown sugar and salt. The finely chopped mixture was spooned into a jar and pushed down so its juices would cover as much as possible. It will sit on the kitchen counter for 3 days to ferment. Then the recipe calls for heating the ferment with vinegar, and straining to make the finished sauce. (You could also add a dash of fish sauce for a bit of umami, and maybe a tablespoon of honey to mellow the fire.) Click on the link to get detailed instructions for both versions of sriracha, fermented and vinegar based.

Happy pickling, hot heads!

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Got mangoes? Photo by Serge Penton.

Got mangoes? Photo by Serge Penton.

This time of year mangoes are everywhere. There’s plenty to be had from Art’s tree, and the fruit is on sale right now at his Upper Eastside and Southwest Farmers Markets. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to chance upon a roadside stand with people selling off their backyard excess. And sometimes friends bring me mangoes. Last week, my co-worker Serge had his car stuffed with sacks and buckets of mangoes, picked from his tree. “Take as many as you like,” he told me. I scurried off with a bag full of Zills — then came to my senses — I can’t eat all these!

So every summer, the challenge remains, what to do with all those mangoes?

This summer (mostly because it’s been so hot) I decided to make mango ice cream. Non-dairy, vegan ice cream. Don’t worry, I’m still am omnivore, more or less, but lately dairy has dwindled from my diet. Coconut everything is all the rage, so how about… mango-coconut sherbet?

A quick search online came up with a very simple recipe: mango, coconut milk, sugar, lime juice. Serge suggested adding cinnamon, and I also added some ginger. The online recipe called for toasted flaked coconut, used as a topping, but I didn’t have any.

Mango-Coconut Sherbet


3 cups peeled, seeded, cut up mangoes
1 12 oz. can coconut milk
sugar, lime juice, ginger, cinnamon


In a blender, puree mangoes together with coconut milk. Add lime juice, cinnamon, ginger and sugar to taste. When you like the flavors, pour the mix into the ice cream maker, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Makes one quart.

Donvier ice cream maker, from the 1980s. Still works!

Donvier ice cream maker, from the 1980s. Still works!

My trusty, 20 year old Donvier ice cream maker was pulled out of the pantry and put into back into service. It is super simple to use. Freeze the large cylinder overnight, and chill all the ingredients. Then pour the mix into the cylinder, insert the paddle, put the lid on, and attach the turn handle. This is an all-manual operation.

Almost done.

Almost done.

The liquid will freeze in contact with the cold cylinder. Every three minutes, turn the handle, which turns the paddle, which scrapes the frozen mix off the inside wall of the cylinder. Make one turn, then wait three more minutes, then do it again. If you wander off and come back 10 minutes later, you’ll discover it’s impossible to turn the handle. That’s where a butter knife comes in handy, to break up the frozen mix. Don’t break the paddle! Keep turning every three minutes until everything is frozen. The ice cream (or sherbet) will be of soft serve consistency. Pack it into containers and freeze it for at least an hour to firm up.

If you can’t find a Donvier, take a look at the Cuisinart ice cream maker which goes for about $70-80 on sale. Like my all manual Donvier, it has a cylinder that needs to be frozen overnight. For the added price, you get a motor that turns the paddle for you. How easy can it get! Now, to mix up another batch of mango sherbet…

Mango-Coconut sherbet

Mango-Coconut sherbet

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Red velvet brownies

Yes, they are that red! Bet you can't eat just one.

Yes, they are that red! Bet you can’t eat just one.

Bee Heaven Farm CSA members have gotten beets a few times in their shares this season. There’s a pretty good chance those homely root vegetables are still hanging around somewhere in the back of your refrigerator. Now, don’t get me wrong! I love beets, and grew up eating them — boiled, roasted, pickled. But never in baked goods. Until now…

Beets were the original coloring agent used in some red velvet cake recipes back in the day. They are great for baking because they become sweet when roasted, and hold moisture. Plus, the earthy beet flavor combines beautifully with dark chocolate.

I found this recipe for beet brownies on a lovely food/farm blog, and tweaked it a bit (my changes are in italics). The original recipe calls for a topping of fresh blueberries, which sounds fabulous; but even plain and warm out of the oven, they are scrumptious. I’ve made this recipe several times, and each time the brownies get gobbled up in no time flat, and people beg me for more. Enjoy!

Red Velvet Brownies

•    1 cup of beet puree*
•    3.5 ounces (one bar) of good-quality chocolate (at least 70% dark)
•    3/4 cup all-purpose flour
•    2 teaspoons baking powder
•    pinch salt (about 1/8 tsp)
•    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
•    7 tablespoons butter, softened
•    1/3 cup brown sugar
•    2 eggs, room temperature
•    1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

* Note: Roast about 5 or 6 beets, then let them cool. Using gloves, remove skins, then puree in food processor. If you roast more than you need for the recipe, pureed beets are a delicious side dish dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.

1.    Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
2.    Melt chocolate over double-boiler. Set aside.
3.    Whisk together flour with baking powder and salt and set aside.
4.    Cream butter and sugar together. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, until the mixture is creamy. Add melted chocolate, beet puree, flour mixture, and walnuts. Mix well.
5.    Pour batter into 9 x 13 baking pan lined with baking parchment and bake for 25-30 minutes.
6.    Let cool and cut into triangles. Serve with fresh-picked blueberries and share with family.

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Mud pie

Black sapote pie getting gobbled up by the farm crew. Only crumbs were left.

Black sapote pie getting gobbled up by the farm crew. Only crumbs were left.

Black sapote is called chocolate pudding fruit because as the fruit ripens, its flesh changes from green to dark brown, like rich chocolate, and develops the consistency of pudding.

I suggest calling it mud pie fruit, because your hands get wonderfully messy as you prepare the fruit for eating. The soft pudding-like flesh smears on your fingers as you dig out brown shiny seeds and their membranes, and peel off papery skin before eating. Hands get messy fast! Fun for those who enjoyed making mud pies back in the day — only this “mud” is much tastier. Mmmmm lick those fingers, it’s too good to waste!

If you haven’t already gobbled up the fruit from last week’s CSA share, here’s a recipe for a pretty good mud pie made with black sapote. Or you can skip the crust and bake the filling in custard cups, then serve it chilled, with or without whipped cream.

The recipe is by Noris Ledesma, but I’ve made a few tweaks (in italics). Feel free to make your own changes to make this your own.

Black Sapote Pie

• ½ cup brown sugar
• 1 tsp. each ground cloves, cinnamon
• ½ tsp. salt
• 2 eggs
• 1½ cups mashed black sapote (about 5 fruit)
• 1½ cups coconut milk
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 1 unbaked 9″ deep-dish pie shell

Mix sugar, salt and cloves in small dish. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in black sapote and sugar/clove mixture. Gradually stir in milk and vanilla. Pour into pie shell. Bake 15 minutes in a preheated 425°F oven; turn temperature down to 350°F and bake about 30 minutes more or until firm. Serve with whipped cream.


Farmer Margie Pikarsky recommends Wholly Wholesome organic whole wheat pie shells. I found them at Whole Foods and Publix.

Recently I brought a Mud Pie to treat the hard working crew at Bee Heaven Farm. I managed to grab a picture of the pie before it disappeared. We didn’t have whipped cream, but that didn’t take anything away from the experience. One person suggested adding a pinch of allspice, which I’ll try the next time.

If you have more black sapote fruit than you need for pie, you can clean and freeze the fruit. It will keep for about 6 months.

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Sweet and Spicy B. S. Bliss

Ripe black sapote

Ripe black sapote

Funny how a recipe morphs and gets tweaked as it passes from one cook to the next.

Recently, Laura Lafata, the chef who blogs on La Diva Cucina, unearthed a recipe for black sapote bars on another local food blog, Tinkering With Dinner. Bill Jacobs had been a Bee Heaven Farm CSA member and would document his culinary adventures every week. In fact, over the years, he came up with two versions of black sapote bars.

Just in time for black sapote season, La Diva tinkered with version two, and posted the tweaks on her blog. I suggested to Margie that I make the bars to sell at farmer’s market. Margie said her tree was loaded with fruit, and sent me off with enough to make a batch.

La Diva had commented that the bars were tasty but very, very crumbly. I used her version for the fruit filling. But to improve the crust, I followed the recipe for strawberry oatmeal bars which I found on the Pioneer Woman’s blog.

I left out coconut and walnut, and the crust is still crumbly, but not intolerably so. The fruit filling tastes like prune or plum filling, so feel free to jazz it up. I added a bit of cayenne to give it a small kick.

Wait until the bars cool before you cut and eat them. Bet you can’t eat just one! If there’s any left, they freeze well.

Look for Black Sapote Bars at the Bee Heaven Farm tent, at Pinecrest Farmer’s Market this Sunday from 9 am to 2 pm. Or make your own with this fourth generation recipe. Enjoy!

Black sapote bars wrapped, boxed and ready for market.

Black sapote bars wrapped, boxed and ready for market.

Black Sapote Bars

1 ¾ stick cold butter, cut into pieces
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups oats
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups (5 fruit) black sapote, cleaned
1/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon fine ground coffee
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×13 baking pan.

2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter in with a pastry cutter until it looks like coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle half the mixture into the pan, and pat it lightly to pack it down.

3. In another bowl, mix together the cleaned black sapote (no skin, no seeds) with the other filling ingredients. Spoon the mixture on top of the bottom layer of crust, and spread evenly with a butter knife.

4. Sprinkle the other half of the oat mixture over the top, and gently pat down.

5. Bake until light golden brown on top, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in pan. When cool, cut into squares and serve.

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