Pickled Green Peaches

I have a lone peach tree in my yard that produces lots of fruit that never ripen. We think it needs a cross-pollinator and are looking to add another variety of tree to my yard. After years of disappointment in not having fruit to harvest, this year I decided to see if there was something I could do with green peaches. Turns out that pickling them is pretty common, especially in the Middle East and the US South where the trees are extensively cultivated. Green almonds and green apricots can be used instead of green peaches. The green fruit is pruned from the trees in order to thin out the fruit to make more room and energy for the remaining fruit to mature. As is common in traditional cultures, a way to use the thinned fruit was found.

Once pickled, the fruit can be used in salads, as an accompaniment to main dishes, or eaten on their own as a snack. I found dozens of different recipes, so combined the ones I liked best and that I had ingredients on hand. I made two different types, one more salty and one more sweet. I won’t know how they turn out until next month, but the recipes are below.

Savory Pickled Green Peaches

20-24 green peaches
1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
2 Tbs salt
1 Tbs honey
6 cloves garlic
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp red chile flakes or 1 red jalapeño, sliced
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
2 sprigs of fennel

Wash green peaches and dry each one with a paper towel. Make a couple of small slices in each fruit with a paring knife so the brine can get into the peaches. In a medium saucepot, bring water, vinegar, salt, and honey to a boil. Disinfect a quart size canning jar. Tightly pack peaches into the jar, alternating with the rest of the ingredients. Leave about an inch of headroom at the top of the jar. Disinfect the lid and ring to the jar. Pour the boiling brine over the peaches, making sure peaches are covered and not floating. Seal with the lid and ring. Leave jar out on the counter for 4 days, shaking often. Refrigerate. Pickles should be ready to eat in 4 weeks. Makes 1 quart.

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Sweet & Spicy Pickled Green Peaches

20-24 green peaches
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp salt
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp whole allspice
1 tsp coriander seeds
4 slices ginger, fresh or dried
2 bay leaves

Wash green peaches and dry each one with a paper towel. Make a couple of small slices in each fruit with a paring knife so the brine can get into the peaches. In a medium saucepot, bring water, vinegar, honey, and salt to a boil. Disinfect a quart size canning jar. Tightly pack peaches into the jar, alternating with the rest of the ingredients. Leave about an inch of headroom at the top of the jar. Disinfect the lid and ring to the jar. Pour the boiling brine over the peaches, making sure peaches are covered and not floating. Seal with the lid and ring. Leave jar out on the counter for 4 days, shaking often. Refrigerate. Pickles should be ready to eat in 4 weeks. Makes 1 quart.

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Pineapple No Bake Cheesecake

For Father’s Day I combined some of my dad’s favorite flavors to make a dessert: pineapple, cheese, coconut, & almonds. I made 4 mini cheesecakes in 4.5 inch spring form pans. It should work in a regular 10 inch spring form pan. My mom suggested making a sauce from the leftover pineapple juice to pour over the top. I’ll have to try that next time I make this cheesecake.

Crust:
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup finely​ ground almond flour
3 Tbs salted butter, melted
1 tsp stevia-erythritol blend
1/4 tsp salt

Cheesecake:
2 8oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 20oz can unsweetened crushed pineapple, drained and liquid reserved
1 cup reserved pineapple juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 packet Knox gelatin
2 Tbs stevia-erythritol blend
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
coconut oil for pan(s)

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, mix together all the crust ingredients until evenly distributed. Spoon crust mixture into the bottom of spring form pan(s) and pat down with fingers until level and pressed together. Bake for 8-12 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool before making cheesecake. Prepare the insides of the spring form pan(s) with a light coating of coconut oil. In a large bowl, cream together cream cheese, heavy cream, stevia-erythritol blend, vanilla, and salt with an electric mixer or stand mixer until smooth. In a small saucepot or a microwave safe glass measuring cup, bring a half cup of pineapple juice to a boil. Put gelatin powder in a small bowl. Pour hot pineapple juice over the gelatin powder and whisk until the gelatin is dissolved. Add the other half cup of pineapple juice to the gelatin and juice, whisk to combine. Add crushed pineapple and gelatin mixture to the cream cheese mixture. Mix until well combined. Pour the cheesecake batter over the crust in the spring form pan(s). Tap sides to level the top. Cool in the refrigerator for an hour before covering with plastic wrap to prevent it from sticking to the top of the cake(s). Chill for at least 3 hours before serving.

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Raspberry-Blackberry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

Berry season is upon us once again. I recently decided to do something with the dozens of quart bags of previous years’ harvests in my freezer. I made several batches of low sugar jellies and then had the idea to make a new berry based barbecue sauce. I used raspberries, blackberries, homemade Three Tomato Sauce, homemade adobo sauce, and homemade chipotles. I tried it without the tomato sauce and without the adobo sauce, but both ingredients add a depth of flavor the sauce needed.

An immersion blender is the easiest way to blend the ingredients before straining out the seeds, but it can be done in batches in a regular blender.

8 cups frozen raspberries
4 cups frozen blackberries
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup adobo sauce
1 onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs molasses
1 Tbs smoked paprika
2 tsp sweet paprika
1-3 diced chipotles from adobo sauce (deseeded for less heat)
Salt to taste

In a large stockpot combine all ingredients except salt and simmer on low until the onions and garlic are cooked through. Remove from heat and purée with an immersion blender. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer or a chinois conical strainer to remove seeds. Return strained sauce to the stockpot and put back on the stove. Simmer, stirring often, until sauce reaches your preferred consistency. Salt to taste, approximately 2-3 teaspoons. Remove from heat. Ladle sauce into sterilized canning jars and seal lids in a water bath.

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Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce

I’m eating, and smoking, more pork this summer so I tried my hand at a tomato based barbecue sauce. This is the first one I’ve made, usually I use berries as a base. I used my three tomato sauce as a base instead of ketchup and used buckwheat honey instead of brown sugar. Buckwheat honey has a strong flavor that pairs well with meats. Wild flower honey or another strong flavored honey can be used instead, coriander honey would be a good choice. If you use commercial tomato sauce, sauté a diced sweet onion and two cloves garlic in a few tablespoons of butter before adding the rest of the ingredients and blend the sauce prior to bottling to make it smooth.

4 cups three tomato sauce
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup buckwheat honey
1/4 cup salted butter
1 Tbs molasses
1 Tbs mild chile powder
1 Tbs yellow mustard powder
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chipotle powder (optional)
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Combine all ingredients except butter in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook down the sauce until it thickens and reduces by about half, stirring often. Add butter and stir until it’s well combined. Remove from heat and store in glass jars or bottles. Refrigerate between uses.

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Easy Pozole Verde

This is my time saving version of a Mexican stew with pork or chicken and hominy that can take days to make. I use homemade salsa verde and canned or frozen green chiles made from homegrown produce instead of fresh tomatillos and chiles, but store bought works, too. More depth of flavor can be added by searing the salsa in the pot after the pork has been browned and before other ingredients are added. This recipe can also be made with chicken. I often use prepackaged cole slaw mix for the shredded cabbage. It’s not a traditional addition to pozole, but I like the added texture, fiber, and nutrients the cabbage provides. It can be added to the stew in the last 30 minutes of cooking if you prefer the cabbage to be cooked. White beans can be used instead of hominy, though hominy is traditional and has fewer carbohydrates. Plain, full fat Greek yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream and has a little more nutritional value. This can be made in a crock pot as long as the pork is browned first. I also make an easy pozole rojo with homemade adobo sauce instead of fresh or dried red chiles that I will post in the future.

1 1/2 lbs pork shoulder cut into small chunks
3 cups vegetable or pork stock
1 25oz can hominy, drained & rinsed
1 16oz jar (2 cups) salsa verde
1 4oz can green chiles (optional)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs lard or coconut oil
1 Tbs dried oregano, preferably Mexican oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
salt to taste
¼ cup cilantro leaves, rough chopped
½ head of cabbage, shredded (optional)
1 avocado, diced (optional)
3oz pepitas, toasted (optional)
4oz sour cream (optional)
lime wedges (optional)

In a stockpot, heat the lard or coconut oil until shimmering. Add the pork pieces in a single layer and brown on all sides. This may have to be done in several batches. Remove the browned pork from the stockpot and add the onions. Cook until translucent. Add the salsa verde, green chiles, garlic, and oregano. If desired, pan sear the salsa and chiles until most of the liquid has evaporated and it starts to brown. Return the pork to the stockpot and add the stock and hominy. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring periodically. Cook until the pork is tender and almost falling apart, 2-3 hours. Before serving, salt to taste and stir in the cilantro. Serving suggestion: ladle soup over shredded cabbage and top with avocado, pepitas, sour cream, and a wedge of lime.

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No Churn Sugar Free Ice Cream

I had a crazy idea for a complicated no churn sugar free ice cream the other day and last night I decided to I try it. I wouldn’t attempt this recipe without a stand mixer, preferably one with multiple bowls. The tricky thing with sugar free ice creams is the size of the ice crystals and the hardness of the freeze since there’s no sugar in it to modulate those things. I attempted to solve those problems by whipping lots of air into the ingredients with whipped cream and whipped egg whites with gelatin as a stabilizer. It turned out pretty well. The ice crystals are a little bigger than machine churned, but it’s not frozen any harder than other premium ice creams. I got 3 full pints out of the recipe. I knew I kept these containers from Talenti Gelato for a good reason.

There are lots of steps to the recipe and having everything set out and ready to add at the appropriate times helps a great deal. The lemon juice in the egg whites acts as another stabilizer to reduce deflating. I powdered the stevia erythritol blend in a spice/coffee grinder after measuring it so the sugar alcohol crystals would freeze smaller. The recipe actually took less time than making an ice cream base and churning it in a counter top ice cream machine, though freezing took longer. I flavored this batch with lemon zest & lemon extract, since good lemon ice cream is hard to find & it’s my favorite flavor. Other ingredients like frozen berries, mini chocolate chips, or syrup/caramel can be gently folded into the base before freezing.

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
4 large eggs, seperated
1/4 cup granulated stevia erythritol blend, powdered
3 Tbs water
2 tsp vanilla or other flavored extract
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp gelatin powder

Whip cream and vanilla extract to stiff peaks in a large bowl of a stand mixer. While that is whipping, bring a small pot or a double boiler pot with a few inches of water in it to a simmer on the stove. Seperate eggs into two different bowls, one safe for the double boiler and one to use with the stand mixer. Add lemon juice to the egg whites. Add powdered stevia erythritol blend to the egg yolks. Put three tablespoons of water in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over it to bloom. Whisk egg yolks and sweetener over the double boiler. Add gelatin mixture and whisk until egg yolks are lighter in color and the gelatin and erythritol are melted. Remove from heat. Once cream is whipped, set aside and whip egg whites to stiff peaks with the stand mixer. Once egg whites are whipped, carefully fold half the egg whites and half the egg yolk mixture into the whipped cream. Once well combined, fold in the rest of the two egg mixtures into it. Fold until the ice cream base is an even light yellow color. Ladle into proper containers for freezing. Freeze at least 12 hours before eating.

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Sugar Free Almond Pound Cake

I did a butter taste test yesterday on ten different varieties of butter (Kerrygold was the best by far), so since I had so much butter in my house and a couple of pints of strawberries I decided to make pound cake. It helps to bring the eggs and butter up to room temperature first.

I used a stevia-erythritol blend that measures 1:2 with sugar to sweeten this. Half a cup of granulated erythritol plus half a teaspoon of stevia extract (liquid or powder) can be used instead. A teaspoon each of lemon zest and lemon extract can be added.

2 cups super fine almond flour
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup stevia-erythritol blend
1 Tbs coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9″x 9″ square baking pan. Parchment paper can be placed on the bottom to make removing the cake easier. In a large mixing bowl cream butter and stevia-erythritol together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add one egg at a time, mixing until incorporated into the butter, sweetener, and vanilla extract before adding the next egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Once eggs are blended in, add coconut flour and baking soda. Mix for a minute before slowly adding the almond flour. Mix until well combined. Pour batter into the baking pan and smooth the top with the back of a spatula. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in it comes out clean. Allow to cool before cutting. Serve with strawberries and whipped cream, if desired.

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