By Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong
Assisted by Candace Brower
Rhubarb is no different than any other fruit and vegetable in season. It comes all at once and you don’t always know what to do with it. This puree is perfect for keeping in your freezer and mixing in a variety of desserts (like my Rhubarb Profiteroles or Ginger Rhubarb Pie). For now, just make a puree so you can raise a glass this weekend.
makes about 3 cups
3 cups fresh or frozen rhubarb pieces (leaves removed)
1 cup light brown sugar
Juice and zest of 1 large orange
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan add all the ingredients and cook over medium-high heat until the rhubarb is tender (about 15-20 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add cooled mixture to the bowl of a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
Rhubarb Puree will hold refrigerated for 10 days or frozen for 120 days.
2 ounces fresh Rhubarb Puree (recipe above)
3 ounces Prosecco or sparkling wine, chilled
Rhubarb stalks to stir (optional)
Add Rhubarb Puree to the bottom of a champagne flute or other small glass. Pour Prosecco or sparkling wine over. Stir and serve.
Grandma had a sunporch that was nearly falling off the southeast side of her old farmhouse. Each year, after the late-summer cucumber harvest, a rickety shelf running along the ceiling of the sunporch was lined with jars of the most unnaturally green sweet pickles a child could imagine. The same nuclear green pickles could be found in the refrigerator, for the grandkids to help themselves to. It was not unusual to be playing ball outside each summer and notice the players on both teams had green-stained fingertips. When I ate my first hot dog in Chicago, I finally came face to face with another relish as green as Grandma’s. I was relieved to know my grandma wasn’t the only crazy green pickle maker in the nation. Thank you, Vienna Beef. I’m forever grateful. Green Grass Refrigerator Pickles yields 2 quart jars
What You Need
4 large cucumbers, skin left on
2 banana peppers
1 medium white onion
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon celery seeds
4 drops green food coloring (optional)
Slice the cucumbers and peppers into thick slices, and the onion into thin slices.
Put the sliced vegetables in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Toss to coat and let rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, vinegar, celery seeds, and 1 cup water.
Add the green food coloring, if using, to the vinegar mixture. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
Transfer the cucumber mixture to 2 clean quart jars or other glass containers.
Pour the brine over the cucumber mixture, cover, and refrigerate for 2 days before eating.
Pickles are ready to eat. They are best when eaten within 2 weeks.
If you have ever stopped at a roadside market along a Southern highway, these pickles are no stranger to you. Pickles floating in jars of a brightly colored brine are normally lined up at the cash register. These Kool-Aid pickles may seem odd at first, but once you bite into one you’ll appreciate the sweet and sour flavors. Let me just warn you, because no one warned me, your fingers may just turn the color of the pickle you’re eating!
Red Kool-Aid Pickles yields 1 (90-ounce) jar
What you need:
1 (90-ounce) jar of whole dill pickles
4 packets Kool-Aid (I prefer cherry—it’s just how I roll)
2 cups sugar
What to do:
Drain the juice from the pickle jar and discard, leaving the pickles inside.
In a medium pitcher, combine the Kool-Aid, sugar, and 4 cups water. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour enough of the Kool-Aid mixture over the pickles in the jar to completely cover them. Put the lid on the jar and refrigerate for 1 to 2 weeks before eating.
If you have never made preserves, jams or jellies before, this is a great recipe to start with. The oranges make it tangy and beautiful and the Prosecco makes it fancy. Plus, if all else fails and it doesn’t set up for you the first time you can always spoon it over vanilla ice cream for and impressive dessert. No one will ever know.
Mandarin Orange Prosecco Preserves
yields: 1 pint
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Time: 20 minutes
Difficulty: You need to have a little skill
What you need: 4 Mandarin oranges, very thinly sliced into rounds
1/4 cup freshly squeezed Mandarin orange juice (from approximately 1-2 oranges)
1/2 cup Prosecco
What to do:
Sterilize a one pint canning jar, lid and band and set aside.
In a large non-reactive pot over high heat, add the orange slices and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow mixture to simmer for 10 minutes. Drain water and repeat the process.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, add cooled slices and pulse just a few times. I like my marmalade chunky, but you can continue to pulse if you like yours a bit finer.
Using a kitchen scale, weigh the orange pieces. In a large non-reactive pot, add the orange pieces and the same weight of sugar as the slices weighed. Stir in orange juice and Prosecco. Bring mixture to a boil and continue boiling until marmalade reaches the gel point of 220º F (approximately 10 to 15 minutes).
Remove from heat and skim off any foam. Ladle into prepared sterilized jar. Let cool 10 minutes and then refrigerate for immediate use. Process in a water bath for longer storage. Mandarin Orange Prosecco Preserves will keep refrigerated for 2 months.
Cook’s Note:If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test to see if the marmalade has set by placing a plate in the freezer when you start cutting the clementines. A few minutes into the final boiling with sugar, remove the plate from the freezer and put a small dot of marmalade onto the cold plate. Run your finger through the marmalade. If the mixture leaves a clean path where you ran your finger through and doesn’t come back together, your marmalade is done. If it does run back together, keep cooking and re-test again until it is set.
I could probably name 100’s, but I get bored after 5.
Find all the inspiration, recipes, and pro tips all week long on my blog!
1. A Food-inspired Centerpiece
For a chic centerpiece on the fly, always look to the beauty of seasonal foods! Here, grapefruit just picked from the tree (or bought at the store) lined up like soldiers down the table maked for a striking centerpiece to a dinner party. Don’t forget to include your inspiration in at least one course so to inform the meal.
When you want to impress and get a little nostalgic at the same time this is the cake for you. This Grapefruit Meringue Cake is a Baked Alaska via Brooklyn –old school meets something pretending to be old school. Make one for every two people at your table to promote a little table talk!