Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Carrot Top Pesto

The carrots out of my garden are coming of age. They are beautiful and have the brightest green tops. I often feel slightly wasteful throwing the tops aside. They are very nutritious, and I keep thinking that there has to be something great that those carrot tops can aspire to.  Not one to leave random thoughts about carrots tops alone, I decided to make a pesto. The flavor of the leaves are earthy, with a slight parsley flavor. It's not a knock your socks off flavor, like fresh basil would lend to pesto, so I decided to make the pesto a little lighter on the green side, and with a bit more of everything else.

Carrot Top Pesto

1/2 cup toasted pecans

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese ( I actually didn't have Parmesan on hand, so I used this really awesome cheese from Carr Valley called Caso Bolo Manage. It's a blend of sheep, goat, and cow's milk and it has a really fabulous flavor!)

1 large clove of garlic

1 large bunch of carrot tops, leaves only, discard the stems

1/2 cup olive oil

salt and black pepper to taste

Blend all of the ingredients together in a food processor. Blend it thoroughly to make sure you've really pulverized the carrot top leaves. Add more olive oil if needed to help it blend really well. I served a dollop over roasted root veggies for dinner the other night, and it was great! Use as you would regular pesto. Belly up!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Crabapple Butter with Whiskey & GInger

There is this small and ugly tree in my front yard. For the last two years, I have been thinking about cutting it down. It has been an unidentifiable tree- who knows what it could be. This year, this silly little tree is showcasing branches full of crimson crabapples. Who knew? My daughter and I tasted the crabapples, and sure enough, they delivered that tart flavor that makes your mouth want to instantly reject it. Now that the temps have been low and frost is sneaking in, the tartness has lessened. Perfect time for picking and making some crabapple butter!

I wanted to make a recipe that involved a slow cooker or some may call it a crock pot. I think I have now spent more of my adult life in rural living than urban living, and so with rural life in the mid-west, you must utilize a crock pot. I am still learning to embrace this phenomenon, but I know that good things come with cooking low and slow.

What you'll need to start is a peck of crabapples. This loosely translates into about 13 pounds. You could substitute other tart apples if you can't get your hands on any crabapples.  I use whiskey and ginger and a bit of vanilla and cinnamon to spice up this butter. Rosemary or sage would be good if you wanted to create a more savory butter to slather on say a grilled cheese sandwich or a pork chop. Serve your crab apple butter on a cheese plate, on waffles, on a P.B.&J.! Unlimited possibilities....

Crabapple Butter with Whiskey and Ginger

A peck of crabapples (about 13 pounds)
2 Tbls ground cinnamon
2 Tbls vanilla extract
1/2 cup whiskey- I used Jameson
1/4 cup fresh grated ginger
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
1/2 cup brown sugar (more or less depending on the tartness of the apples)

Core and halve the crabapples. I leave the skin on- it adds to the color and the flavor.

Place the crabapples in a stock pot with enough water to cover the bottom of the pot- about 2 cups. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the apples are softened through.

Using an immersion blender or a food processor, process the apples until you can now longer see chunks of skin and you have a fairly even consistency of pureed crabapples. Place the pureed crabapples into your crock pot on low. Add the remaining ingredients.

At this point, you are just looking to reduce the crabapple mixture into a lovely, thick butter which could take about 6 hours in a crock pot on low. It's okay, your house will smell fantastic! The color will turn a dark reddish brown, and you should be able to taste all of those flavors like the ginger and the cinnamon and whiskey. Keep tasting your butter as the hours pass by. Some crabapples may require more sweetener, so just adjust it as you seem fit. Feel free to adjust the spices as well.

At this point you could can your crabapple butter. I like to can half, and refrigerate half for immediate use. Share with your friends and enjoy! Belly up!!