Easy Lemon Sriracha Aioli

Normally, I don’t keep mayonnaise around the house because nobody in my family likes it — but this flavor-packed lemon sriracha aioli might just change that. It couldn’t be easier to whip up, and it makes an amazing spread or dipping sauce for so many things: think salmon burgers, steamed veggies like artichoke or asparagus, sweet potato fries — anything that can do with a zing of lemon and a little spice.

Ingredients

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp sriracha (or Cherry Bomb Pepper Sauce)
zest of 1 lemon, finely grated (about 1 tsp)
salt

Whisk together the mayonnaise, sriracha and lemon zest. Add salt to taste. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Pictured: Pyrex Spring Blossom 441 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Glasbake French Casserole, Corning Ware Snack-It Plate

Cherry Bomb Pepper Sauce

Hot sauce has become a staple in our household. I’ve always loved spicy food, but particularly now that we have to tone down our cooking to make it kid-friendly, I crave the heat that much more. And hot sauce is a great solution for adding spice individually rather than to the entire dish.

Cherry bombs are a medium-heat pepper about equivalent to a mild jalapeño. I used Kraut Source’s Fermented Sriracha as a guide for my pepper sauce, substituting cherry bombs for the peppers in the original recipe. The result was so good I decided I needed to document my version for repeat use!

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tbsp sea salt
1 lb cherry bomb peppers
4 green Thai chiles, stems removed
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp demerara sugar
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

In a small pot over medium heat, stir the salt into the water until it dissolves. Allow to cool completely. This is your brine, the base for fermentation.

Trim the stems from the cherry bomb peppers and remove the seeds. Cut into quarters. Pack into a clean glass jar (quart size) along with the Thai chilis, garlic and bay leaf. Pour in the brine, filling to the shoulder of the jar (the point near the top where the sides of the jar slope inward).

Top the jar with your fermentation device of choice. I’ve used Kraut Source and Easy Fermenter lids. For the latter you need a fermentation weight; I’m currently using Easy Weights. Ferment at room temperature for 10-12 days.

Drain the jar, reserving the brine in a separate bowl. Remove the bay leaf, then place the rest of the fermented ingredients in a blender. Add the sugar, vinegar and 1/2 cup of the reserved brine and puree until smooth.

Check the sauce for consistency — if it’s too thick, add more brine. When you’re satisfied, taste for flavor. Add more salt, sugar and/or vinegar to taste. Pour back into your jar and store in the refrigerator.

Pictured: Pyrex Terra 472 Cinderella Round Casserole, Pyrex Spring Blossom 442 Cinderella 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

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.

img_3725

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

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

Rainbow Black-Eyed Pea Salad

I can’t think of a better way to ring in the new year than with a colorful, bright and tangy salad that doubles as a good-luck charm. Black-eyed peas are a symbol of luck and prosperity in the South and a traditional New Year’s Day dish (usually simmered with greens and served over rice).

Here I incorporated them in a chilled salad that can be made up to one day in advance, serves a crowd and is vegetarian-friendly — perfect for a New Year’s potluck. If you’re not a fan of black-eyed peas, you can substitute pretty much any kind of canned bean — navy beans or garbanzos (or both) would be good too. The vinaigrette is also great on its own as an all-purpose dressing.

Adapted from Bay Area Bites’ Healthy Black-Eyed Pea Salad.

Serves 12

Ingredients

4 15 1/2-oz cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 red onion, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
1 orange bell pepper, chopped fine
4 stalks celery, chopped fine
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp rice vinegar (unseasoned)
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp coarse-ground Dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar
salt
pepper

In a large bowl, stir together beans, red onion, bell peppers, celery, green onions, parsley and lemon zest.

In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon juice, rice vinegar, olive oil, mustard, sugar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour over the bean mixture.

Stir until combined, then cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Pictured: Pyrex Yellow 404 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 401 Round Mixing Bowl