Everything Rub

Years ago, my husband and I came across Szeged brand steak rub in a restaurant supply store. We tried it and were quickly hooked — it’s a great basic flavoring not just for steak, but for chicken, pork, even fish or vegetables. So while we still refer to it as steak rub, we should really call it an everything rub. We probably use it most often for roast chicken.

Over time, we’ve developed our own copycat version of the rub — a mix of spices we actually like better than the original. After all, when you blend your own spices you have a chance to use fresh, high-quality ingredients, and tweak the flavors to your taste.

Ingredients

1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp paprika (sweet)
1 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp celery seeds

Using a mortar and pestle, grind the rosemary and thyme into small pieces. Combine with the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Store in a cool, dry place.

Pictured: Pyrex Town and Country 501 Refrigerator Dish, Hazel Atlas Mixing Bowl

Honey Lemon Dressing with Preserved Kumquats

We have a huge crop of kumquats this year from our patio tree, so I’ve been trying out some new ways to use them. And since I’ve been into fermentation lately, I preserved a jarful of kumquats in brine with a few spices. The result: a little spiced jewel with the pleasant funkiness of a preserved lemon and a fruity taste somewhere between a sour orange and a sweet tangerine.

Now, what to do with these preserved kumquats? They have cocktail potential, or would be great on a cheese board, but to me salad dressing seemed like the easiest place to start. Here I’ve added them to a basic honey lemon dressing, and the result is so good I think I’ll be making it again and again.

Fermenting kumquats is easy and fun — I used this recipe from the Kraut Source website. But you can also make this dressing with fresh kumquats, leave the kumquats out altogether or use a teaspoon of grated zest from another citrus fruit.

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1 tsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp honey
2/3 cup olive oil
1 tbsp coarse Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 preserved kumquats, thinly sliced (seeds removed)

Whisk together all ingredients except the kumquats, until well combined. Stir in the kumquats, then cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, let sit at room temperature for a few minutes and then whisk before using.

Pictured: Pyrex Spring Blossom 441 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Fire King Gravy Boat, Hazel Atlas Egg Beater Cup

Broccoli, Cheese & Bacon Breakfast Bake

I love breakfast casseroles, but most recipes seem to be designed for 13×9 pans — great for feeding a crowd, but too much for those times I want to make something special just for my own little family. Here’s a scaled-down version that can be done in an 8×8 pan or 2-quart casserole dish. It uses ingredients we tend to have on hand, so I was able to whip it up this past weekend without a trip to the grocery store. Bonus: If you use Corning Ware, you can saute and bake in the same dish!

Adapted from Food Network’s Mix-and-Match Brunch Casserole.

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 oz bacon, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup broccoli florets
3 cups stale bread, torn into roughly 1-inch cubes (not too dense — I used leftover hamburger buns)
1 cup shredded cheese (any type — I used a Mexican blend)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
6 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Saute the bacon over medium heat until the fat has rendered and the edges start to brown. Then add the onion and broccoli, and saute until the broccoli starts to cook but is still crunchy. Transfer to a large bowl.

Stir in the bread and 3/4 cup of the cheese. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, salt and pepper (to taste), then add to the veggie/bread mixture and toss until the bread is well coated. Let stand for a few minutes.

Pour into a greased 8×8 pan or casserole and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, until the center is just set and the edges start to brown, about 40-50 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes, then serve.

Pictured: Corning Ware Floral Bouquet Third Edition A-2-B Casserole, Pyrex Salad Bowl 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex 532 Measuring Cup  

Bok Choy Carrot Kimchi

Recently when a neighbor brought us a giant head of bok choy from his garden, I decided to finally get around to making something I’ve been wanting to try: bok choy kimchi. Some Googling suggested that bok choy is often paired with carrots in kimchi, and spring onions were in season at our farmers market, so that’s what I went with — not necessarily authentic, but delicious. I love how colorful this kimchi turned out, with the bok choy’s dark green leafy bits, big chunks of spring onion, bright orange carrots and red spices.

You’ll need to make a trip to the Asian grocery store to find gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes) and gochujang (Korean fermented red chili paste). They really are the foundation of kimchi’s flavor — no substitutions will do, though in a pinch you can omit the gochujang.

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A few notes:

  • Chopping: If you’re wondering how thick or thin to slice your vegetables, think about how you will eat the finished product. Do you like to munch on big chunks, or do you prefer a slaw-like consistency? Chop accordingly.
  • Spice: Different brands of gochugaru will have different levels of spice, which obviously will impact the spiciness of your kimchi. You may need a couple rounds of experimentation to attain the heat you want.
  • Fermentation vessel: You can ferment kimchi in just about anything — a mason jar, a loosely covered (non-reactive) bowl, a ceramic crock. Mostly it’s important to keep the ingredients immersed in the brine. There are a variety of weights and mechanisms available to do so (e.g., I have used both Kraut Source and Pickle Pebbles), or you can use a zip-lock bag full of water to keep things submerged. I am the lucky owner of a fermentation crock hand made by my mother-in-law, complete with perfectly sized ceramic weights, so that’s my vessel of choice.

Recipe adapted from Kraut Source’s Traditional Kimchi.

Ingredients

3 lbs bok choy, chopped
6 carrots, peeled and sliced
6 stalks spring onion (or 8 green onion), chopped
1/2 cup sea salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp turbinado sugar (aka “sugar in the raw”)
1/3 cup gochugaru
2 tbsp gochujang

In a large bowl, combine the bok choy, carrots and spring onions. Sprinkle with the salt and toss, massaging the veggies to ensure they are thoroughly salted. The bok choy should start to soften.

Add enough water to cover the veggies, then weigh them down with a plate and something heavy (like a glass of water). Let them sit for 1 hour, then drain, reserving and setting aside some of the brine. Rinse the veggies in a colander, let them drain for 15 minutes, and then return them to the bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sugar, gochugaru and gochujang. Add to the veggies and mix, using gloved hands or a pair of tongs.

Pack the kimchi mixture into your fermentation vessel, pressing down firmly to eliminate air pockets. Top with some of the reserved brine — enough so that the veggies are just barely submerged. (The bok choy will release additional water during the fermentation process.) Cover with whatever weight and lid you’re using. Note: If you are not using an airlock mechanism, make sure your lid is loose enough to release the gas generated by fermentation.

Ferment at room temperature for at least 5 days, longer to taste. The kimchi should have a pleasant fermented odor — strong but not foul. Taste for doneness, then transfer to the refrigerator.

Pictured: Pyrex Gooseberry 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Yellow 404 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 442 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Glasbake J2663 Handled Bowl

Spring Onion, Barley and White Bean Soup

What do you do when you have spring onions from the farmers market and a big bag of arugula from your neighbor’s garden? Well, I start thinking about soup, the swirl of greens in a hearty mix of beans and barley, and bacon. It’s hard to go wrong with ingredients like that! The soup is a meal in itself but would also be good served with garlic bread or a grilled cheese sandwich.

Recipe very loosely adapted from The New York TimesBarley and Spring Onion Soup With Fava Beans.

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 oz bacon, diced
1/2 lb spring onions, sliced (bulbs and stems)
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup barley
5 oz arugula (or baby spinach)
salt
pepper

In a large pot over medium heat, saute the bacon until the fat renders and the edges start to brown. Add the spring onions and cook until they are slightly softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the chicken broth, bay leaf, thyme, beans and barley. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until barley is tender, about 1 hour.

Stir in the arugula and cook until wilted and the soup starts to simmer again, about 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Pictured: Corning Ware Spice O’ Life A-5-B Saucepot, Pyrex Butterfly Gold 402 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 401 Round Mixing Bowl

Whole Roasted Butternut Squash

Have you ever struggled to cut open a rock-hard butternut squash? It seems like every recipe calls for splitting the thing in half (somehow avoiding chopping off a finger in the process), scooping out the seeds and then roasting the halves in the oven. But there’s a much better way!

When you roast the squash whole, the skin becomes papery, the seeds and stringy bits can be scraped out with a spoon, and the flesh slices like butter. Couldn’t be easier!

After roasting you can cube it up, toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and throw it under the broiler until nice and golden brown. Or you can puree it for soup. Or you can slice it and turn it into a pizza topping (which is where this squash is headed).

The whole-roasted method is not my invention, but I don’t understand why it’s not more common. It works for pretty much any type of squash, too.

Ingredients

1 butternut squash

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Pierce the squash with a knife several times, as you would a baked potato. Place on an oven-safe dish or baking sheet (rack is optional). Roast until the squash is tender, about 1 hour.

Let rest until the squash is cool enough to handle. Cut off the stem and base, peel off the skin, scoop out the seeds and prep as desired.

Pictured: Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-10-B Square Skillet

7 Layer Chicken Chili and Cornbread Dip

A few years ago I came across a Food Network recipe for an eight-layer chicken chili dip and whipped it up for a Super Bowl party. It was fantastic, but so much work! It required a ton of chopping and prepping, and that got me thinking of ways to cut corners without sacrificing taste. For example, instead of dicing tomatoes, why not use pico de gallo salsa?

So for this year’s Super Bowl I’ve made the dip again, but with my own tweaks. I’ve swapped out ingredients for things that are easier to chop or don’t require chopping at all. And I’ve scaled up the recipe a bit to fit in a basic salad/mixing bowl. I’m pretty happy with the result! It’s still a little time consuming, but definitely easier than the original, and pretty tasty.

The dip is best served with a big spoon, so that you can scoop all the way through the layers, transfer to a plate and eat with tortilla chips.

Serves 16

Ingredients

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp chili powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (roughly 1 whole chicken)
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 bunch chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems (about 1 1/2 cups)
zest of 2 limes plus about 1/4 cup juice
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 bunch green onion, chopped
2 heaping cups crumbled cornbread (about half a batch of cornbread from the Jiffy boxed mix)
1 16 oz container pico de gallo salsa, drained
1 14-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

In a large skillet over medium high heat, saute the onions in the vegetable oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Stir in the tomato paste, chili powder, salt and cayenne, then add the chicken broth and simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the shredded chicken and stir until well mixed. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream, cilantro, and lime zest and juice. In a separate bowl, stir together the corn and green onions.

In a straight-sided salad or mixing bowl, layer the dip in the following order: cornbread (tamped down gently), pico de gallo (use a slotted spoon so that you leave behind as much liquid as possible), black beans, cheese, cilantro-lime sour cream, chicken chili, corn and green onion mixture.

Chill, covered, for at least 1 hour or overnight. Serve with tortilla chips.

Pictured: Fire King Sunbeam Mixing Bowl, Corning Ware Spice O’ Life P-322 Square Cake Dish, Pyrex Spring Blossom 442 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex 532 Measuring Cup, Assorted Pyrex Round and Cinderella Mixing Bowls