Fermented Peach Chutney

Since we’ve been consuming fermented foods on a regular basis, I decided to purchase some Pickl-It jars.

I simply can’t say enough good things about these jars; they are absolutely perfect for the small batches of ferments I make.  They also require no whey to help the fermentation process – in fact, the instructions specifically state NOT to use any whey.  Which, considering my problems with dairy, is just fine by me.  And they are so simple to use.

At any rate, I’ve been waiting all year to make this again – I made a batch of it last summer when peaches were in season and we just gobbled it up.  It is just that good…and so good for you.

It goes with just about anything, too – I’ve eaten it with eggs, pork, chicken, fish and even beef (it’s actually a great condiment for bunless grass-fed beef burgers, along with lacto-fermented bread and butter pickles – but more on that another day).  It is sweet, tangy, and spicy – just delicious.  It is my favorite summertime ferment.

A note about the sugar in the recipe and Whole30:  I look at it this way – kombucha, which contains sugar, is allowed during a Whole30 as long as there is no sugar added after the fermentation process.  Since the small amount of sugar (2 tablespoons for 1 quart of chutney) is added before fermenting and is supposedly used to feed the beneficial bacteria, I don’t see any problem eating it during a Whole30.  And, you know, if The Powers That Be told me “nope, you just derailed your Whole30 with this chutney,” that’s okay.  We’ll talk a little more about that at the end of the month.

For now, this is going in the Whole30 category, for the reasons stated above.

Note:  the recipe gives directions for a simple mason jar ferment; if you have Pickl-It jars, use the instructions provided with the jars.

Fermented Peach Chutney. A delicious tangy, sweet and spicy condiment that pairs well with just about any main dish.Click the image to enlarge

Fermented Peach Chutney
Serves: 16
[i]makes about 1 quart[/i]
  • 3 cups peaches, peeled, pitted and diced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or evaporated cane juice
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 chopped walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • filtered water, as needed
  1. Mix all of the ingredients except the water in a large bowl until well blended. Transfer to a wide-mouth mason jar; press down lightly with a wide wooden spoon. Add filtered water as needed to cover the chutney – the mixture should be at least 1 inch below the rim of the jar.
  2. Cap the jar, not too tightly, and keep at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 2 to 3 days or until the chutney beings to bubble. Transfer to the refrigerator.
  3. The chutney should be eaten within two months.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 58 calories, 2.6g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 236.1mg sodium, 125.4mg potassium, 9g carbohydrates, 1.1g fiber, 6.8g sugar, 1.1g protein

Creamy Strawberry Chicken Salad

We are awash in lettuces and strawberries right now.  I wish we’d thought to plant strawberries sooner; it’s just so great to go out in the back yard every day and pick anywhere from a pint to a quart of them (and that’s after the robins who live in our pussywillow tree raid the patch and feed them to their babies).  All of our lettuce is ready to begin to be harvested, as well, and we’re getting it every week from our CSA.

I hope everyone like salads, because that’s very likely all we’ll be eating over the next few weeks.

(I welcome any and all suggestions for creative uses of lettuce.)

And on that note, here is the first one – the result of the need to use lettuce, strawberries, and leftover grilled chicken.  Beloved’s a little persnickety about main course-type salads, claiming they don’t fill him up, so I was hesitant to just throw the chicken on a bed of greens and vegetables.  Besides, I’m a huge chicken salad fan, of the mayonnaise-based variety, so that seemed like the answer to our lunch-time predicament.

Since I intended to put strawberries and walnuts in the salad, I decided to use a slightly less sweet, slightly more tart version of my Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing to dress it, and it was really, really good, especially with the addition of the raw Vidalia onion to the mix.  The mint was a little too subtle; if you want to increase it to two tablespoons, I think it would work quite well.

All in all, this was really quite delicious.

Creamy Strawberry Chicken Salad. Chicken, walnuts and strawberries tossed in a creamy, slightly sweet and tangy dressing.

Click image to enlarge

Creamy Strawberry Chicken Salad
Serves: 3
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked chicken, diced
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion, such as Vidalia, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon mint, finely chopped
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 6 cups loosely packed young, mild salad greens
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing until well-blended.
  2. In a larger bowl, toss together the chicken, onion, walnuts, mint and strawberries. Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture, and toss again, until the chicken mixture is well coated. Taste; season as needed with salt and pepper.
  3. Divide the salad greens between 3 chilled plates. Top each with 1/3 of the chicken salad and serve.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 385 calories, 27.8g total fat, 75mg cholesterol, 115.4mg sodium, 477.9mg potassium, 14.5g carbohydrates, 3.4g fiber, 9.4g sugar, 20.9g protein


Kale and Walnut Pesto

I’m back.

It was a great, if very busy, week between the graduation and birthday celebrations.  I did a great deal of cooking, but little of it documented – I simply didn’t have the time.  That’s over, however, and this week I’m back on schedule.

The farmers markets are in full swing, we’ve begun to receive our CSA shares and our vegetable gardens are going like gangbusters, which can only mean one thing:  we are drowning in vegetables.  Right now, I have 3 different kinds of kale in my refrigerator, spinach, garlic scapes, several different kinds of lettuce, broccoli rabe and at least a quart of strawberries – most of which will make appearances in my recipes this week.

Here’s the first of those recipes, which makes really nice use of kale.  I’m not much of a pesto person; in fact, I’d never made it before.  I’m not sure why, because it is ridiculously easy and this recipe, while kind of unusual, is just delicious – bright and lively and extremely flavorful.  So much so that a little bit goes a very long way – a serving is about 2 tablespoons.

I wouldn’t recommend this with fish; it will simply overwhelm it.  It was great on grilled chicken, though, and if you’re so inclined, it would be marvelous on a good, hearty pasta.

If you’re not a fan of garlic, I’d reduce it to one smallish-sized clove.  Also, don’t leave out the lemon juice; it really complements the heartiness of the kale and walnuts, and gives the dish some much-needed brightness.

Kale and Walnut Pesto.  Put a seasonal spin on a classic condiment!

Click photo to enlarge

Kale and Walnut Pesto
Serves: 16
  • [i]makes about 2 cups[/i]
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 8 ounces kale, stems removed and torn into pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Place the walnuts, lemon juice, kale, garlic and Parmesan cheese in the bowl of a food processor; pulse until well combined. With the food processor running, add the olive oil, pouring in a thin, steady stream.
  2. When the ingredients are thoroughly combined, transfer the pesto to a bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Nutrition (per serving): 93 calories, 8.9g total fat, 2.8mg cholesterol, 54.1mg sodium, 78.9mg potassium, 2.1g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, 2g protein

Chocolate Strawberry Crumb Cake

I sort of mentioned this in passing in a recent post, and got quite a few requests for the recipe.

Then I promptly forgot all about it.

When I realized I’d only posted two recipes this week (three is my norm) and that I hadn’t really done much cooking this week since Beloved is out of town on business, I decided I’d drag it out and post it.

You’re welcome.

This was one of those Sunday morning indulgences – I woke up and thought that a coffee cake-ish sort of thing sounded good and was in the mood to bake.  I had some fresh strawberries on hand and almost made a fruit buckle, but then decided to just put them on top of the cake and drizzle them with some melted dark chocolate.

It. Was. Wonderful.  Fruity and rich, but not too sweet; a great addition to our Sunday brunch.  It would make a nice dessert, too.

A couple of notes –  the coconut milk in the chocolate serves two purposes; it helps prevent the chocolate seizing up when it’s being melted (the double boiler also assists with this) and it helps keep the chocolate from re-hardening after it’s been drizzled over the strawberries.  You can use heavy cream if you prefer.

Also, the servings are not huge, but they don’t really need to be – it’s pretty filling due to the nuts, both the almond flour and the almonds in the topping.  Just keep in mind this is not diet food; it’s neither low in carbs nor calories, but most treats/desserts aren’t.

Chocolate Strawberry Crumb Cake. Fruity and rich, but not too sweet - a great addition to your Sunday brunch.

Click to enlarge

Chocolate Strawberry Crumb Cake
Serves: 8 to 12
  • Cake:
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons potato flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup ghee or clarified butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Crumble:
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons potato flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter, melted
  • Topping:
  • 1 quart fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 3 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Stir together the dry ingredients – the flours, salt, baking soda and coconut sugar – in a large mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients – eggs, ghee, and vanilla – and mix on medium speed until the ingredients are combined. Increase the speed to high and mix until the batter is very smooth, about 2 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine all the ingredients for the crumble except the ghee. Stir in the ghee, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is moist and crumbly, but not wet.
  4. Pour the batter into a well-greased 8″ x 8″ baking dish, then top with the crumble (there will be a lot). Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  6. While the cake is cooling, combine the chocolate and coconut milk in the top of a double boiler over simmering, not boiling, water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted and combined with the coconut milk.
  7. Layer the sliced strawberries on top of the cooled cake and drizzle with the melted chocolate. Cut into squares and serve.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 373 calories, 24.9g total fat, 64.5mg cholesterol, 91.2mg sodium, 483.6mg potassium, 32.1g carbohydrates, 6.9g fiber, 16.8g sugar, 6.1g protein

Ramp Salad with Lemon-Ramp Vinaigrette

Spring is finally here in full force.  I think we’ve seen our last hard frost of the season, and Beloved has our gardens all planted (that’s a whole ‘nother post).  While our CSA pickups don’t begin until the first weekend of June (I’m so jealous of my California friends, who get CSA boxes even in winter), the first outdoor farmers market of the season was last Saturday, and we came home with some with some seriously good stuff – mixed baby lettuces, asparagus, radishes, an absolutely beautiful goat milk Camembert cheese, a few “starter” plants and best of all – two bunches of ramps.

Ramps are a variety of wild onion with a distinct garlic flavor.  I’d never seen them before I’d moved to Ohio because they only grow in the eastern United States and Canada, and while they can be cultivated, the ones we purchased were foraged.  They have a very short growing season, so I was quite pleased to find them.  I’m tempted to throw caution to the wind and make a risotto with one of the bunches and some of the Camembert, but one bunch went into this incredibly delicious salad.

I mean, I had all this fresh lettuce and radishes and while ramps are delicious cooked (and pickled), they are mild enough to eat raw – the greens are also edible, and they went into the salad as well.  I had some organic red seedless grapes and pecans that needed to be used, so they were tossed in, too.

But the best thing about this dish is the vinaigrette.  The season for citrus fruit is winding down, but I can still get really nice lemons at our local natural foods market so I used one that I had on my counter, along with some finely chopped ramps, a touch of raw honey and some lovely, unadulterated extra virgin olive oil from California – oh, my gawd, it was just delicious.  Light and tangy with a nice, mild garlic flavor from the ramps, it complemented the salad mix perfectly.

I made this for lunch and served it with some leftover chicken (that I must make again and post the recipe), and between the two of us, there wasn’t a scrap of salad or a drop of the vinaigrette left.  I was just that good.

You can, of course, use any combination of greens and ingredients you like; this is simply what I had on hand (although it did go together beautifully). If you don’t have access to ramps, use scallions in the salad and fresh, minced garlic in the vinaigrette; it will still be delicious.

Ramp Salad with Lemon-Ramp Vinaigrette. One of spring's first vegetables, ramps are a fleeting delight.  Showcase them in this beautiful salad!

Ramp Salad with Lemon-Ramp Vinaigrette
Serves: 3
  • 4 cups mixed baby greens
  • 2 cups ramp greens, julienned
  • 1/2 cup young ramps
  • 1 small tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup red seedless grapes, halved
  • 2 small radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 ounce pecans, roughly chopped
  • Vinaigrette
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped young ramps
  • 1/2 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Whisk all of the vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl; taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Set aside.
  2. Toss the salad ingredients together in a large salad bowl; divide between three plates. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and serve.
  3. Nutrition (per serving): 282 calories, 25.1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 69.1mg sodium, 530.2mg potassium, 15.1g carbohydrates, 3.9g fiber, 9.1g sugar, 2.9g protein