Summer Cheese Board

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I know, I know, it’s September, but it is technically still summer. I’ve been wanting to do a summer cheese board for some time and also show the grapes we grew! We were so excited to see them grow this year since we only planted them two years ago. It’s a pretty productive vine and I have no idea what to do with so many green grapes other than cheese boards and snacks. They were a challenge to photograph, mostly hiding behind the leaves, and being on the northern fence, it was almost always bad lighting. When light did reach the grapes, it was like a giant spotlight, and when it didn’t, it was all so dark. And green. But hey, here they are. After 6+ years creating on this blog, this is the first blog post without a recipe! I’ll post a list of what I have here for fruit and cheese because the Humbolt Fog with peach on a slice of baguette is amazing! I had fun arranging the cheese board with the end of summer fruits. I know strawberries don’t produce much into the summer in some areas, but in my backyard they just keep going and going, it’s one of those every-bearing varieties. The plums and peaches are truly reaching the end of the season here, when I was buying them the clerk said get them while you can because this is it. So this is it. End of summer folks, Autumn begins September 23rd. Soups are on the horizon!

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Summer Cheese Board

Panzanella

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Hello tomatoes! Wow it’s been such a cool summer that it has taken a bit longer for them to ripen in the garden, but last week all four plants decided it was time. The yellow Taxi tomatoes along with the Sungold cherry tomatoes were the first on the scene, followed by Black Krim, and lastly the Brandywine. I’ve been wanting to make this Panzanella for a while, and since I had made a loaf of No-Knead bread a couple days prior it worked out great. Most recipes say to put the bread cubes in the oven, but I opted for the skillet which went pretty quick and ya know, fried bread? So good. You could serve this as a side dish or appetizer, or it makes a great vegetarian meal when you want something light. 

And speaking of serving, I received sample dishes from Carthage.co Stoneware which you see here and they are just beautiful! The large white plate is the Dadasi Dinner plate in chalk and the dark bowl is the Zaghwan Soup Bowl in Old Silver. I think they both look great but especially love the Zaghwan bowl with these bright colored tomatoes. And the prices are quite reasonable for high-end ceramic dishes. You can read more about these hand-crafted ceramics here. They have a nice weight to them and they’re a pleasure to photograph. I’ll be back with more tomato and/or zucchini dishes this month. Until then I recommend this Panzanella, enjoy!

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Panzanella

  • 3 cups baguette or rustic bread, preferably stale, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt, more to taste

  • 2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, preferably a mix of varieties and colors

  • 6 ounces small fresh mozzarella balls (or shredded chunks of fresh mozzarella)

  • 1/2 cup torn basil leaves

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar (or white balsamic vinegar)

  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil

  • Salt and Pepper

In a large bowl mix together the bread cubes with olive oil and salt. Add a bit of olive oil to a  large cast iron skillet and heat on medium, when warm place the cubes in a single layer, tossing as needed until crisp on all sides. When done place the bread cubes on a plate and allow to cool a bit. 

To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the Dijon and vinegar, then whisk in the olive oil.

Cut the tomatoes into chunks and then add them to a large bowl, add the mozzarella, bread cubes and the basil leaves (but leave a few to top the dish), add some salt and pepper and stir gently. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. Top with remaining basil leaves. Serve at room temp.

Pickled Kirby Cucumbers

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This is my favorite time of the year, the garden is in full swing and in addition to tomatoes ripening this week, I have a bunch of these cute Kirby cucumbers. I wanted to pickle them whole but they’re so fat I couldn’t even fit two of them in the mason jar, so I quartered them for this recipe. This version of pickling is the quick refrigerator pickle. There is no cooking involved and you simply let it sit in the refrigerator for a few days until it’s ready to eat. What I like most about this style is that the pickles stay crisp. I pickled some zucchini a couple weeks ago, which involved cooking the zucchini a bit, and while it tasted really good I think they were too soft. But hey, it’s all good.

The best pickle I ever had was Guss’ Pickles on the Lower East Side in NYC. It’s no longer there but it looks like they kept the business going in Brooklyn. And they sell them at Whole Foods? I’ll have to keep my eye out for them, but until then I have a good supply of pickles in the fridge. Hope you’re having a great summer, I’ll be back with some tomato recipes soon!

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Pickled Kirby Cucumbers

  • 2-3 Kirby Cucumbers, quartered

  • 1 cups white vinegar

  • 1 cups water

  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns

  • 1 garlic clove

  • Fresh dill, a few sprigs

Place the quartered pickles in a quart mason jar. Add all the spices, garlic and dill to the jar. Pour in the water and vinegar, top off with more if needed. Place the cap on and give it a good shake. Pickles will be ready in a week or so. Store in the refrigerator. They should last a couple months. But you will have eaten them by then  ;)


CBD Infused Coconut Oil

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CBD Infused Coconut Oil is surprisingly easy to make thanks to Jeff Danzer’s recipe. I’ve seen CBD Hemp infused oil for sale online and it’s very expensive. Not only is making your own more economical, you have more control over the type of oil you want to use and the strength. Why CBD Infused Coconut Oil? I’ve been meaning to cook with Cannabis for some time now. I’ve been reluctant because it’s hard to know the exact potency unless it’s been tested in a lab, or you try your recipe yourself and take the whole day off as a precautionary. That can be a bit much. But CBD is derived from Hemp and it’s a whole different experience.

I’m working with a farm in Southern Oregon, Cascadia Blooms, to develop some recipes with the Hemp they grow. If you’re not familiar with CBD, Cascadia Blooms has a great FAQ section here, basically CBD Hemp will relax your body without the psychoactive high you would experience with THC in Cannabis. Adding it to your food or drink is a great way to consume it. 

You can use the CBD Infused Coconut Oil the same way you would use any Coconut Oil. I wanted to try it without making a whole batch of cookies, so I first tried about a teaspoon in coffee (people are doing that? yes) but I didn’t like it, I drink my coffee black but if you use cream and sugar you might like it, in any case the 1 teaspoon did nothing for me, so then I smeared a heaping tablespoon on toast, and that was the right amount. (Keep in mind it takes at least an hour to feel the effects, so best to take your time and see how you feel after 1-2 hours.)

The effects? Within about an hour I felt relaxed, it definitely reduces anxiety. As a result I felt more focused on whatever I might be doing, it’s kind of incredible how many distractions there are, never mind social media and email, sometimes I have a hard time focusing because of my mile-long list of things to do. I can’t seem to walk through any room in the house or the yard without seeing something to do, fix, clean, update, really around every corner (and our house isn’t even messy!). I think that creates a kind of low level anxiety for me. But with CBD it felt different, I know those things to do are there, but I’m not anxious about it. That’s the most profound effect that I experienced. It lasts for about 4 hours and tapers off.

I’ve included the cleaning process below but it is optional as Cascadia Blooms takes care to keep their Hemp flower clean, organic and ready for food consumption. The cleaning process also produces a lighter tasting oil which helps to control flavor. The coconut oil I infused had very little smell or flavor of the Hemp, however you might want to skip that process if you want that flavor depth, it will be determined by the flower you use, but it generally has an herb-like flavor, a little peppery that would be suitable for savory dishes. The entire process is done in a French Press, which I think is rather brilliant, it worked out great for steeping and straining. This is first of a series of CBD Recipes as you will need the infused ingredients to work with (butter, coconut oil, olive oil, etc). I look forward to sharing more with you!

You can order online everywhere in the U.S. (except Idaho and South Dakota, sorry!) and the Hemp is shipped in double-lined sealed bags so that there is no odor at all in your mailbox. You can read more about their packaging and shipping info here.

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Cascadia Blooms, all thoughts and opinions are my own, the recipe below provided by Jeff Danzer.

So let’s get started!

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Break the large hemp flower into popcorn size pieces

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Soak the hemp flower in French Press with distilled water, submerged, for 2-3 days until water is clean, changing water twice a day

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Run through salad spinner to remove excess water. Dry and decarb on baking sheet, bake 60-90 minutes until dry (foil should be loosely covering the pan, not too tight or it will steam!)

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Add the oil and dried Hemp flower to French Press

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Steep in boiling water for 2 hours

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Strain oil through French Press into sterile jar or container

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As I mentioned above, I recommend a tablespoon per serving for optimal effect, but use your own discretion as to what works for you best

Hemp CBD Infused Cooking Oil

  • 4g Hemp Flower

  • 8 ounces Olive or Coconut Oil

  • Distilled water

  • French Press

  • Pot of boiling water

Hemp CBD Infused Cooking Oil - Cleaning and Drying

Soak

Pick the buds off the stem. In a French Press Completely immerse the buds and stems in distilled water and soak for 2 to 3 days, changing the water twice a day until the water in the French press is clear.

Rinse

Remove the herb from the French Press and place in a salad spinner. Spin for about 30 seconds to remove excess water.

Dry and Decarb

Preheat oven to 240º F.

Spread the hemp evenly over a large baking sheet and place a large piece of light aluminum foil loosely over the top of it. Crimp the edges to keep in any odor (but don’t seal it too tight or it will steam.) Bake for 60 to 90 minutes until completely dry. Your Hemp is now clean and ready for infusion into your butter, oil, alcohol or vegetable glycerin.

Hemp CBD Infused Cooking Oil - Simple Steeping Method

Place Hemp flower buds in French Press along with the oil. Fill a pot halfway or so with water and bring to a boil. Your water line should not be much higher than the oil level in the French Press. 

Stand the French Press in the pot of boiling water and let steep for 2 hours. Adding more water as needed if it boils down.

Strain the oil through the French Press into a sterile jar or container. It is now ready to use. 

The 7-Minute Egg

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When it comes to boiling eggs, minutes really matter. I only recently discovered this. My whole life I’ve been starting them in cold water, bring to a boil, cook for an unknown amount of time, which resulted in a hard-boiled egg that was sometimes ok. But then I was watching Salt Fat Acid Heat recently and Samin mentioned the 7-minute egg, and it looked really good, not as runny as soft boiled but not hard boiled either. You start the eggs in boiling water. This makes an enormous difference. Not only the quality of the yolk, but the texture of the white, it’s fully cooked and kinda velvety, not rubbery which I thought all boiled eggs were just like that. And after 7 minutes you put them in an ice bath for a few minutes. Since I’ve been using this method the shell comes off the egg perfectly, no more moon craters of the past. The cooking times range from 6-12 minutes, with 12 minutes being hard boiled, everyone finds their favorite somewhere in-between, but I’m sold on 7-minutes. And, I made another video! If you like you can follow my Youtube channel here and Vimeo here

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Currant Almond Rosemary Crackers

Currant Almond Rosemary Crackers

I’ve been wanting to make these gourmet type crackers for a long time now, and I’m glad I did! They came out really good. I used currants and almonds since that’s what I had on hand, but you can add any kind of fruit or nut to this recipe.

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Endive Salad with Blue Cheese + Dijon Vinaigrette

Endive Salad with Blue Cheese + Dijon Vinaigrette

This recipe is so easy it seems hardly worth a blog post, but deserves it still. It goes way back for me. When I was in college in New York City (a million years ago!) I waited tables at a french restaurant called Les Tournebroches.

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Olive Tapenade

I heard a song the other day in the car, it was so cute, if a song can be cute, that I had to pull over and Shazam it. The song was We’re Going to Be Friends by The White Stripes, a band I’ve never heard of, but it’s what I’m listening to now while I’m trying to write about olives. We had a few neighbors over for a wine and cheese get together recently, we had some olives and a neighbor brought more, and so here I am making my first olive tapenade. It turned out really delicious. So much flavor! I excluded capers and anchovies from the original recipe because, yuck. I think what really makes the flavors work here are the Oven-Dried Tomatoes that I made last year, they held up remarkably well in the freezer. I would recommend adding those to this Tapenade. We make them every summer when the tomato plants are overflowing with tomatoes.

Olive Tapenade

  • 1 cup black olives, pitted
  • 1 cup green olives, pitted
  • 1/3 cup Dried Tomatoes with Herbs
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a food processor, combine all the ingredients except the olive oil. Using the pulse button, process until coarsely chopped and well blended. Continue to process, slowly adding the olive oil. Refrigerate in a covered container. Use as needed. Tapenade will keep up to 1 week, refrigerated, in a covered container.

Adapted from Epicurious - Wolfgang Puck