Cherry Mostarda

Cherry mostarda

Cherries are the It fruit right now, and I know you could easily just kick back on a hammock and eat a bowlful of them on a summer’s day, but why not jazz up your life a little and make a mostarda?

Making condiment sauces with seasonal, ripe fruit can a creative way to use up what doesn’t get eaten straight out of the fridge. Fresh fruit mustards taste so much better than the usual mustard or ketchup you can buy and squeeze out of a plastic bottle.

This recipe is a riff on a traditional Italian condiment, mostarda di frutta, a sweet-hot-tangy preserve. Most versions of a mostarda, like Mostarda di Cremona, tend to consist of whole pieces of fruit in a mustard and vinegar-laced sugar syrup, served with meats in northern regions of Italy like Tuscany and Piedmont.

cherry mostarda

My recipe is very much inspired by Madeleine Kamman, the amazing French cooking teacher and food scholar. Her book In Madeleine’s Kitchen includes some recipes for “Italian-style fruit puree mustards”.

Here are some ideas for what to do with your Cherry Mostarda (because believe me, after pitting a few pounds of cherries you will not want to waste a bit!) :

  • Use cherry mostarda in place of Dijon mustard in a salad dressing to make a cherry vinaigrette.
  • Spread a charcoal-grilled burger with mostarda – I seasoned chicken burgers with fennel and fresh rosemary and topped them with goat cheese and mostarda. Yum.
  • Glaze a pork tenderloin or some chicken wings with mostarda.
  • Put some on a ham sandwich.

** Thanks to Ruthie from The Twice Bitten for her idea of another way to enjoy this mostarda – on a cheese board. Yes!

Cherry Mostarda

Ingredients

1 pound Bing cherries, pitted

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup full-bodied red wine, such as zinfandel or malbec

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Instructions

  1. Combine everything except the Dijon in a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer then lower heat and cook until reduced to a thick puree with the consistency of ketchup, about 1 hour over low heat. Stir in the Dijon off the heat and season if needed.
  2. Crush the cherries with a potato masher or pulse in a blender or food processor if you prefer a smoother texture.
  3. Keep in a covered jar in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/06/cherry-mostarda/

Italian greyhound with rosemary sugar

Gin and Grapefruit with Rosemary

It’s pretty close to a new season, when there’s not much better than lingering with a cocktail at the end of the day, celebrating the return of warm sun and longer days.

It also means that dinner gets cooked and eaten later than usual, but that’s all part of getting into summer mode. I stock up on chilled rosé for summer drinking, but every once in a while I like to start the night (or afternoon. Ahem) off with something a little lighter in alcohol.

A few weeks ago, Molly of Orangette wrote about a pretty salmon-colored drink she liked that included the liqueur Aperol, a brand of Italian bitters very much like Campari.

That drink, a Pamplemousse, is mixed with fresh grapefruit juice and white wine. But it reminded me how refreshing grapefruit juice can be in a cocktail, especially with gin in a warm weather drink, blended into Salty Dogs or Greyhounds.

After a short search around my local liquor stores, I rounded up a bottle of Aperol. As much as I love a simple Campari and soda with lime, Aperol might be even better to my taste. It’s not quite as bitter and has a tiny bit more sweetness and more complex hints of herbal-citrus flavors.

Rosemary Sugar

I made my Italian Greyhound and embellished it a little by rimming the glass with rosemary sugar – easily made in a mini food processor or spice grinder: 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary and 1/4 cup sugar.

Italian Greyhound Cocktail with Rosemary Sugar

I love, love, love this drink! It makes me appreciate gin – a spirit I don’t usually drink- all those herbs, roots and botanicals get along so nicely together and it’s dangerously thirst-quenching.

Italian Greyhound with Rosemary Sugar

Yield: makes one drink

Ingredients

Rosemary Sugar

1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary

1/4 cup sugar

1 -2 ounces gin (depending on the time of day)

4 ounces freshly squeezed pink or red grapefruit juice

Splash Aperol

Instructions

  1. Combine the rosemary and sugar.
  2. Rub the edge of a glass on a wedge of fresh citrus - grapefruit would be perfect. Put some of the rosemary sugar on a plate and rim the glass.
  3. Fill the glass with crushed ice. Add the gin and juice, and top with a splash or two of Aperol.
  4. Swirl or stir gently - enjoy.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/04/italian-greyhound-with-rosemary-sugar/

Toasted Walnut Taralli

Last spring I attended the 32nd annual IACP conference that took place in Portland, Oregon – whew, was it really that long ago already?

I knew that my life has been busy, but it really hits home when I think of these taralli. During the conference, I came across a booth set up by the California Walnut Board, where Portland chef Greg Higgins was generously handing out tastes of these crunchy little snacks. He was also generous about sharing the recipe, but I haven’t gotten around to making them until now.

I saw their appeal right away – they were an updated version of a savory Southern Italian biscuit I grew up eating, only these were made with walnuts and had a definite West coast sophistication.

Greg had them arranged on a tray, adorned with a rosette of roasted garlic chevre and tiny little basil leaves; seeing them made me rethink what I always saw as a humble snack that you took home in an olive-oil stained brown paper bag straight from the corner bakery.

But instead of being piled casually on a plate at my grandma’s house, these taralli looked like they were ready for a cocktail party in San Francisco.

Greg’s original recipe, including the delicious Roasted Garlic Chevre spread is on the California Walnut website, but my tweaked version is below. I substituted some whole wheat flour for half the amount of all-purpose and added fennel seeds, which gives the taralli a flavor that reminds me of home.

Toasted Walnut Taralli

Yield: about 5 dozen

Ingredients

4 teaspoons instant yeast

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups stoneground whole wheat flour

1 cup finely ground toasted walnuts* (grind in food processor)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons whole fennel seeds

2 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing on taralli

Instructions

  1. Using the kneading attachment, stir together the yeast, flours, walnuts, salt and fennel seeds.
  2. Add 1 cup of the water and mix at medium-high speed until the dough starts to come together. Slowly add more water as necessary (turning down the mixer speed as you do so) until you have a smooth, moist dough. It shouldn't be too wet or sticky, so keep your eyes peeled. Depending on the humidity and your flour, you might need a bit less water.
  3. Put the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover and let stand until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 3 or 4 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Punch the dough to deflate and turn it out onto a sparingly floured surface. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces.
  5. Working with one piece at a time, cut each into balls about the size of a walnut. Roll and stretch each ball using your palms into ropes about 6 " long. Bring the ends of the rope together to make a ring, tucking one end inside the other and pinching together.
  6. Arrange the rings on the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between. Brush the rings with oil and bake until golden and firm, about 30 minutes.
  7. Remove to a rack and cool. The taralli will crisp up more as they cool. Store at room temperature in covered container.

Notes

You could mix this up in large bowl and knead by hand, but I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer.

http://familystylefood.com/2011/01/toasted-walnut-taralli/