Thursday, July 28, 2016

Spiced Plum Ice Pops

The idea for these came to me shortly after plum season last year (of course), so I've been sitting on this for the better part of a year. I fully expected to have to run through several iterations of this before I hit on the right ratios in the syrup and the right amount of plums, but I was pleasantly surprised by how happy I was with my first batch! (Can you imagine if I'd had to plow my way through countless ice pop "failures"? The horror.) In these pops, the spices serve to support the plum flavor, rather than overpowering it, exactly as I'd hoped. Plus, if you use pink- or red-fleshed plums, the ice pops take on a lovely deep pink hue. If you have a different combination of dried/ground and fresh/whole spices, feel free to mix and match - just adjust the amounts accordingly.

I do hope you make these - they're a snap to make and taste like summer. The taste of summer, incidentally, is why I haven't been posting much - I've been spending my time buried in summer produce! My CSA is keeping me busy, as are my weekly visits to the farmers market. And very soon, I will have my first tomato haul to add to the mix! In the meantime, I have plenty of herbs from my garden.

Oh, by the way, these have fruit in them, which means they are 100% fair game for breakfast.

Spiced Plum Ice Pops
Yield: 5-6 3-oz popsicles

Ice pops:
1 lb plums (I used a mix of black plums and teeny tiny sugar plums)
1-2 pinches ground nutmeg
1-2 pinches ground allspice
1/2 c spiced simple syrup (recipe below)

  1. Slice plums, peeling only if you (gasp) really don't like the skins (to be honest, peeling plums sounds like a nightmare, so good luck with that). Place in blender, add nutmeg, allspice, and syrup (feel free to adjust amount to taste), and blend until smooth. Pour into ice pop molds and freeze until solid, about 6 hours longer than you feel it should take.
Spiced simple syrup:
1/2 c water
1/2 c sugar
0.5-1 oz fresh ginger (to taste), peeled and sliced into thin coins
2 whole cloves
1/2 cinnamon stick
  1. Place water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until sugar is dissolved and small bubbles appear on the bottom of the pan.
  2. Remove pan from heat, add remaining ingredients, and cover. Steep until syrup is spiced to desired strength (this took about 10 minutes for me).
  3. Strain out solids and set aside 1/2 cup for the ice pops. You will have leftover syrup (it's tough to make simple syrup in smaller quantities than this), which can be used for cocktails or fancy homemade soda (or more ice pops, duh).
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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Crispy, Cheesy Black Bean Tacos

I feel that I've spent far too much time this summer doing very responsible, adult things, such as paying bills and scheduling/attending an unholy amount of appointments. Thus, this is the perfect time to post this delicious and spectacularly unsophisticated recipe, which, quite honestly, is not even a real recipe. This is more what the New York Times calls a "No-Recipe Recipe", with loose measurements and easily scaled portions. You should feel free to add and swap ingredients to your heart's content.

There's no time to take good pictures when crunchy delicious things await! Not pictured: the taco I had already shoved down my throat before I realized these would be good for the blog.

These tacos were cobbled together from a few things I'd seen online over the years, plus some vague ideas floating around in my head and the need to use up awkward amounts of various Mexican-ish ingredients (see what I mean about this not being a real recipe?). As with most dishes that come together in a half hour (max - and I include the time it takes to chop vegetables, because people who don't are evil), this was totally delicious and a whole lot of fun. Crunchy corn tortilla + crunchy cheese on the outside + melty cheese on the could it not be?

Hopefully there should be some fun seasonal recipes inspired by my garden (which is growing at a rate that would be alarming if I was remotely responsible) soon. My balcony is bursting with green, fragrant goodness and I have some teeny baby tomatoes at last! As soon as they're ripe, I have plans for a 100% homegrown/baked panzanella. But in the meantime, tacos!

Crispy, Cheesy Black Bean Tacos
Yield: 3 tacos (which I found to be a light lunch serving - this is very easily scaled up)

1 scant cup black beans
2 T finely diced red onion
2 T finely diced poblano (or jalapeƱo, etc.) pepper
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
3 corn tortillas
2-3 T chicken broth (or water or vegetable broth)
A few palmsful of shredded cheddar cheese (Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack would be delightful as well, I suspect)
Cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt, black pepper, etc. for seasoning
Sour cream, for serving (optional)

  1. Cook the onion, pepper, and garlic over medium heat in a bit of olive oil until softened. Add the black beans and chicken broth and cook, mashing beans slightly so they stick together a bit but still have some texture.
  2. Once the broth has largely evaporated and the beans are soft and cohesive, remove to a bowl or plate and wipe out the skillet (no need to clean it).
  3. Return the skillet to the stove over medium to medium-high heat with 1-2 T oil (I used olive oil). Working somewhat quickly once the oil is hot, drop a pile of cheese about the size and rough shape (no need to be exact here) of half a tortilla into the pan. Place a corn tortilla on top so that it half covers the cheese and add a few tbsp of filling and some more shredded cheese on the side that's covering the cheese.
  4. Fold the un-cheesed side of the tortilla over and hold it in place with a spatula or tongs until the cheese on the bottom is crisped and starting to brown (it will also smell amazing, so you can use your nose here). Flip carefully and cook until the tortilla is golden and crisp. Repeat with remaining tacos and serve warm with sour cream dolloped on top.
Happy summer!

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