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Alaska Flour Company has the best dessert recipes for their Barley Flour, so we borrowed one and made it, 2 WAYS.

Because Halloween fell in the middle of the week, we decided to make these seasonal delights two ways to show how versatile a treat the bars can be. And now that pumpkin carving is over, pumpkin eating is in full swing!! We wanted to use fresh pumpkin puree in our bars, and the BRK Pressure Cooker was just the tool to help us make our own in a hurry. It's so easy, and fast, and depending upon the size of your pumpkin, makes enough puree to freeze for future entertaining opportunities!

Just cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the 'guts'

place the steaming basket in the bottom of the pressure cooker, add water and seal the top. Bring the cooker up to pressure as directed and cook for 5 minutes. Release the steam, and tahdah! The flesh of the pumpkin should just fall out of the shell! 2 cups is all you need for each recipe, so we sealed up the rest in 2 cup portioned ziplocs.

Depending upon how you wish to top your bars, plan ahead enough to be able to make either your chocolate spiders of pinecones prior to serving.

Ingredients:
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
3/4 cup melted butter
2 cups Alaska Flour Company barley flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Glaze:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. milk
Preheat oven to 325. Cream  eggs and sugar.  Add the rest of the ingredients in the order given. Beat until well mixed. Pour into greased & floured 9x13 pan. Bake 35-40 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick.
Courtesy of Alaska Flour Company


For spiders: Melt chocolate & fill piping bag fit with a small round tip. Pipe four sets of legs onto a silpat or parchment, pipe large circle for body and small circle for head. Optional: use white chocolate to pipe eyes onto front of head, or designs into abdomen. Chill in freezer until ready to use.


Alternate topping: Melt 1 C butterscotch chips & 1 C milk chocolate callets, smooth over top. Melt white chocolate callets and fill piping bag fitted with a small round tip.

Pipe concentric circles on still melted top layer forming several ‘webs’. Using a toothpick or tip of a sharp knife, drag tip from center to last ring, radiating out, repeat 5-6 times around circles, spacing evenly to create web. Place spiders randomely amongs webs. Allow top to cool, use a sharp knife to cut and serve.


For Chocolate Pinecones: Use left over cake, brownies or ganache truffle center, formed into a ball about the size of a marble. Press sliced almonds into the ball, starting with small pieces at the center top and fan out to bottom. Place in fridge to firm.

Melt dark chocolate, using a dipping tool, dip ‘cones’- submerging completely. Gently tap excess chocolate from the cone and lay to cool on a silpat mat. The dipping tools proved to be essential here, as circular one craddles the cones and allows excess chocolate to drip off, and the two and three prong dipping forks are perfect for scooting the cone onto the parchment and positioning it upright so that it can cool with out smashing one side.

To garnish: lay thin mini pretzel sticks on top of frosted bars, or curl chocolate into ‘bark’. Pipe green pine needles onto stems, top with a pine cone.


Tools needed:
Decorating tips and bags            Pressure Cooker
Rose Double Boiler                       Silpat Mat or Parchment
Dipping Tool Set                           Electric Mixer

The purpose of the first few weeks of the Dessert Shop Demos is to present ideas, methods and recipes for treats and desserts that could be shared at a holiday party or served at home for entertaining- so, this week's theme in particular is CAKE!!

And since it's fall, we chose a blend of delicious flavors- and cooked them up in a seasonally relevant shape- hence the Cocoa Apple Jack-o-lantern Mini Bundts! This can also be done full size if you prefer to make just one- but be sure to chill your cakes enough to have a sturdy base before you frost.

The recipe is a family favorite from our own staff, and legend has it- even earned it's share of blue ribbons at the Alaska State Fair!

Ingredients:
3 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter

1/2 cup water

2 1/2 cups flour

2 Tbs cocoa

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp allspice

1 cup nuts (optional)

1/2 cup Callebaut Chocolate Callets

1 tsp vanilla

2 or 3 peeled grated apples

large pretzel rods

Core apples and slice into quarters. Process in a food processor, using the grater blade, set aside. In a large glass bowl, beat eggs, sugar, butter, and water until fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix well. Slowly add dry mix to creamed mixture, stirring with wooden spoon until well blended. Add apple, nuts, chocolate callets and vanilla. Stir until all is combined.
Scoop batter into Nordic Ware mini bundt pan, prepared with a coat of Vegalene spray in each cavity. Fill only 3/4 full, smoothing top with an offset spatula. Bake 325 degrees for 60-70 minutes- use a bundt cake tester to assure middle is cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a baking rack, 5 minutes. Place rack on top of pan, grasp handles against rack firmly, flip and gently shake until cakes release from pan. Allow to cool completely, trim bottom edge with a serrated knife for flat, stackable surface. Store in fridge up to 24 hours before assembly.

Frosting:
8 ounce cream cheese
4 Tbs butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Cream softened cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth. Add sugar one cup at a time, beat on high to combine. Flip one cake on its top, coat with frosting and top with a second cake.

Frost outside of cake, smoothing from bottom to top to create 'ridges' with an offset spatula.

Press a pretzel rod through the center, and pipe green vines and leaves at the base.

If desired, pipe chocolate faces on to parchment and allow to cool and press onto frosting, or pipe directly onto pumpkin surface.

Spooktacular!

Courtesy of Midge Blake & Vicky Barbachano

Tools needed:                                

Food Processor                    Electric Beaters
Large Glass Bowl                 Vegalene Spray
Mini Bundt Pan                   Offset Spatula
Wooden Spoon                    Bundt Cake Tester

Other great seasonal cake and treat ideas:

Buche De Thanksgiving: AKA the delicious Cream Cheese Pumpkin Roll

Spice Cake Pops with White Chocolate and Graham Cracker, Pistachio, Toffee, Granola, and or Sprinkle toppings.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Centered Frogs

Left Over Trick-or-Treat Candy Bars ( Have you tried a handful of candy corn mixed with a handful of salty peanuts? It's devine!!)

So what are your plans for "Sweetest Day" this year? What- you didn't know it existed? Well, neither did I until recently, but now that I know that the third Saturday of October is a day meant to 'celebrate all the people who make your life special, an occasion to make someone happy, a chance to celebrate and give [sweet] gifts to relatives, friends, and associates'- it shall be not only recognized, but celebrated annually as the brilliant holiday it is. So, this year, we're ringing in the holidays by kicking off our official Dessert Shop Demos on October 20th! Nothing could be sweeter- it's a series of demonstrations that highlight delicious treats to make and share both at the season's gatherings and as gifts- made by you- in your own kitchen! Don't worry, we have all the tools, tips and resources you'll need to pull off the most delightful desserts that any of your friends and acquaintances have ever seen! From fondue to chocolates- and all kinds of yumminess in between, we've gathered the best recipes, tried and tested them, and then licked our plate in delight. So stay tuned, and if you happen to live in Alaska- be sure to stop by for the big show- every Saturday from here until Christmas! At 3 PM at our Anchorage Store and 2 PM at our Wasilla location.

Smooth and creamy, warm and melty, sweet and sloppy- what could be better? Working off the traditional Caramel Apple of Halloween fame, we're making Caramel Apple Fondue Bites. We do grow lovely mini apples on our Alaskan apple tree,

but for these mini treats, we use a melon baller to cut apple balls from crisp large apples which can be chomped in one bite, avoiding the core and seeds. There are many options for caramel recipes out there- some involve melting and mixing prepared caramels, but I never could get those clear cube wrappers off, so we adapted a recipe from the Comfort of Cooking blog that cooks up in no time. You will need a candy thermometer to make sure you reach the right temperature- and watch close so you don't go over and burn the batch. You can start as early as one day ahead, prepping the apple balls and toppings.

Caramel Fondue:

¾ C corn syrup

1 C sugar

½ C butter

1 ¼ C heavy whipping cream

2 large apples

about 20 sticks of your choice

Choose toppings to compliment your caramel apple bites including nuts, candies and cookies & pulse in a food processor until bits are at your preferred size. Other options include shaved chocolate, toasted coconut & sprinkles or dusting sugars.

Using a melon baller, cut apples into balls. We also tried a portion scoop for larger bites, but the extra parts on the scoop caused friction and resulted in jagged ball. FYI- if using a larger scoop, choose larger apples so that you can maximize the number of scoops per apple. Start the next ball about half an inch further over than you think you can, so there is no overlapping in your scoop and you get a full ball shape.

Drop apple balls into a bowl of soda (lemon lime or gingerale) to keep from browning until ready to use. Soak 3-4 minutes, remove from liquid and lay out to dry on a paper towel. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 24 hours.

Heat corn syrup, sugar, butter and ¾ C plus 2 tbsp cream in a 3 qt sauce pan over medium high heat until mixture reaches 275〬 on a candy thermometer, about 15 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon once it starts to brown.

While caramel boils, place prepared toppings in the cups of a muffin tin or small glass bowls.

Line a baking sheet with a silpat mat and set aside.  Push stick into each apple ball through skin side to center. We tried several different stick options from literal sticks- gathered, trimmed and washed- to knotted bamboo skewers, but you can also use tall toothpicks, or for soft food items- like cake or brownie balls- you can cut paper straws in half, or just use the reusable fondue forks provided with your fondue set.

Set skewered apple balls on a paper towel to absorb excess moisture to minimize caramel runoff.

Remove caramel from heat and pour in remaining ¼ C cream, stirring until smooth.

Pour into fondue pot.

Dip apple balls into caramel, making sure caramel covers the edges of the skin and allowing excess to drip off. We found it works best to submerse the apple ball so that the caramel adheres to the stick and covers the apple completely- as in the second picture.
Dip bottom of each coated ball into topping of choice then set on the baking sheet to cool, or into mini candy cup.

It's best to consume right away since the moisture from the apple ball starts to juice up the caramel- that's why we chose to serve these bites as fondue- in which case the cup is more of a courtesy to catch drips as you step away from the fondue pot. Remember that melted caramel can be hot, so adjust your fondue pot temperature accordingly and allow dipped bites to cool a moment before popping them in your mouth.

Just a little taste of fall!

OTHER FONDUE IDEAS:

There are loads of great ideas out there for fun fondue for the holidays- try giant marshmallows with chocolate fondue and crunched up peppermints as topping- and for the stick? A mini candy cane!! How clever. Also melted starlite mints make great little 'plates' for cake ball fondue. Check out our pinterest boards for more great ideas! http://pinterest.com/allenpetersen/fondue/

Though there is a nip in the air, the trees are donning shades of gold, and shelves of picnic supplies are being replaced by Thanksgiving necessities, it's not too late to do some outdoor cooking.

For example, we recently made the most of the giant outdoor tent that was still up at the store

and created a mini lunch-time slider grilling station to celebrate a coworkers birthday.

Sure the burgers were bite-size, but the flavors were spectacular!

We prepared herbed mayonnaise, spiced ketchup, sliced veggies, grilled onions, pickles, & gourmet cheese and then let the guests design their own flavor combinations.

The results were dazzling to look at, and delicious to bite, even if it was just once or twice!

AS for your own outdoor cooking adventures, here's our list of must-have tools for late season grilling:

The iGrill Wireless Thermometer: Don't let the weather stop you- this new smart thermometer uses an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch- just like everyone else- to keep you up to date on the progress of whatever you've got grilling- which kicks it up to 'Smarty Pants' Thermometer in our opinion. With the free app you can stay cozy and warm inside (up to 200 feet) and your device will alert you when your food has reached it's target temperature.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEFntbudC6k?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

The Emile Henry Grilling/Baking Stone: Turns your grill grate into a flat surface perfect for grilling vegetables or pizzas. Check out this amazing video to see just how versatile it really is...

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDwdQDfC4eA?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

The Nordic Ware Cheese Dome: Pair this with the Grilling Stone and expect more of your dairy products while not compromising the doneness of your food items.

Viking BBQ Sauce: Trust us- it has all the right stuff to amp up your grilled flavors. Great on just about anything... Ribs, pulled pork, BBQ pizza, roasted chicken, hamburgers, turkey burgers, veggie burgers, moose burgers- hey, it is Alaska hunting season after all.

And the best part about all these tools is that they can be used indoors as well, so there's no need to pack up and store them away for the winter- so get grillin' while the grillin's good!

Maybe you have heard of Broasted Chicken, though after a quick google, that's clearly not what we've done here- nor did we 'Beer Roast' a chicken, rather we B*Roasted one! Not just because it's more fun to say, but on account of our using a perfectly innocent can of zero calorie-creamy-natural root beer in our roasting process.

The key to a successfully B*Roasted Chicken is the hardware. We used a stainless steel roasting pedestal from Cameron Products (who's motto is 'Never a dry chicken again - with the Moister Beeroaster!') set into a round cake pan- Nordicware also makes a stand that comes with a removable pan, both to catch juices and roast vegetables. For this size pedestal, we used a small 2lbish chicken, a deliciously sweet and smokey rub, and of course, half a can of root beer. The liquid helps moisten the bird from the inside, and the pedestal allows fat to drip away and the outer skin to brown evenly on all sides. Weather permitting, it can be used on your BBQ grill or in the oven with all but one lower rack removed.

First order of business is to create the dry rub.

Because of the sweetness of the Root Beer, we started with a brown sugar base

and stirred in some dry mustard, garlic powder, smoked paprika, smoked rock salt-  ground with a mortar & pestle- and a little cayenne for heat,

finished with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

There's no recipe here, just a little of this- a little of that until you reach a satisfactory flavor blend. Our completed rub came to a less than 1 dry cup.

Next we rub. Having rinsed, dried and lightly oiled-up our chicken, we massaged the entire bowl of rub on- and in- to the skin, evenly coating the surface and cavity.

Then we crack open the soda, fill the pedestal cavity, wait for foam to subside, refill, blow on the bubbles, wait, pour to tippie top, and sip from what's still in the can. Ahhh- on to the next.

Now slide the bird right over the stand until it's standing up straight and resting lightly on the base for support.

And it's into the oven for a good roasting, until the skin is golden brown and internal temperature has been reached. Cameron's suggests 1.5 hours at 375 degrees, plus we ran the convection for the last few minutes to crisp up the skin.

It's as easy as that!  Nice tan little chicken.

And the flavor combinations are endless- imagine sparkling cider with garlic, rosemary and thyme, or a lovely ginger ale with Cameron's curry coconut rub- YUM!

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It's as easy as 1-2-3-ding!- and it's my new favorite way to make a sandwich.

All you need is two pieces of bread, some cheese and a toastabag from Boska.

Slip it in the toaster and you've got a hot and crispy comfort meal in minutes!

I love grilled cheese. It takes me straight back to my childhood dinner table where the S.S. Grilled Cheese sank off the coast of the Cream of Tomato Sea every rainy day until I moved out. Then the thought of pulling out a pan, buttering the bread (if I was lucky enough to afford butter that week), waiting for the cheese to melt, getting out a spatula, waiting for the second side to brown, then cleaning up after all of that- forced me to endure soggy microwaved cheese sandwiches for far too many years. Until, that is, the genius of this little brown bag made it's way to the A&P kitchen.

As long as it will fit in the slot, the possibilities are endless. We've added tomatoes and spicy mayo, avocado and fresh herbs, grilled onions and spinach leaves- all with rave reviews.

Imagine thin strips of scrambled egg in the morning- maybe some bacon nestled into a melted cheddar. Or what about a melty crisp PB&J? Sliced meats and fresh veggies in the afternoon would make for a great snack that any hands could prepare after school- or if you have break room toaster- a quick hot lunch with out leaving the office!

Each package comes with three easy to clean bags- just rinse and dry- and each bag promises fifty 3-minute toastings.

Life just got a whole lot cheesier and easier- now that's comforting!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8kb_Mcwabc&w=560&h=315]

Admission. When a friend of mine recently suggested that I could benefit from watching a documentary she had seen, the title made me wonder whether she was pulling my leg - or putting me down. It's called 'Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead'- and if you haven't seen it, you should (don't take it personal).  All programs, products and people aside, it will- at very least- open your eyes to the world of juicing...

Let's just say that the scene where the Micro-nutrients save the day by busting up the evil Toxins and shining up the Cells until they sparkled and smiled with little *blings* and tiny shouts of joy, was enough to propel me out of bed the following morning so that I too could be a juicer!

Now this isn't just any plop-from-the-concentrate-can kind of juice; no, Sir, we're talking straight from the veg-home-squeezed-nutrient-rich, frothingly fresh JUICE. (WHAAAAAAAAH)

But something that potent can't just be coaxed from a carrot with a reamer. It takes muscle to get to all that goodness. Enter the OMEGA VRT330!

A literal juicing powerhouse masticating machine that gobbles up your fresh produce and spits it out; pulp goes one way, juice, vitamins and micro-nutrients go the other.

Sure, I've had fresh juice before. My first juicer was actually a ten ton (not really, just very sturdy, with reason) - big mouthed - centrifugal juice extractor.

Basically it has a huge plate with sharp teeth which revs up with jet engine spinning speed and flings the chomped up fruit and veggies against a screen that forces the juices to shoot out down a tube to your glass- phew!

It works great for small batches, but once the cavity is full, you have to stop the machine, empty it out and carry on. Plus, a lot of juice is left in the shreds of the fruits and vegetables, and the softer the fruit, the more moosh and mess.

A masticating juicer, on the other hand, has an auger that presses the fruits and veggies against a fine screen, squeezing the maximum amount of juice from the food at a slow rate, allowing the good stuff to stay together in a thick yummy liquid.

You will notice the label on the first picture with two juice glasses, one frothy and thick, the other separated- that's the difference slow juicing makes.

While this looks like separation, it's actually the layers of flavors. This recipe combines fruit and vegetables, adding nutrients from the greens, and blending them with the sweetness of carrot and apple juice. Yum!

Now remember, I'm no expert. My experience is more like 'experimence' and as far as the nutritional value, well all I know is that it just feels good and somewhere deep inside I can hear my tiny cells cheering little hoooorahs. So here are some tips and random learned bits, just in case your just embarking on your own juice journey...

SUGGESTIONS:

Consider flavor combinations before you start- just randomly adding any and all produce from the fridge can be disastrous: onion-kale-tomato-beet-cabbage juice is not as savory and delicious as I had expected, but did add a nice flavor to a noodley soup dish....

Set up your juicing station before you start. Having a cutting board, knife, juice catcher, spill wiper and all the parts to your juicer ready to go will allow you to continuously feed the fruits in to the juicer with out stops and starts. Don't underestimate the Pusher, he's the MVP of this process and the only one- besides the food- that should be going down that feeder chute- so keep him on your side if you want to keep all your fingers.

Juice in order of hardness: soft foods first, with more dense or crisp to follow so that the the second can press the first through. Same goes for greens. Since they tend to be thin and light, they sometimes get caught up in the feeder chute and mouth of the juicer, so a good solid carrot or apple can help them down into the auger. Also, if you are doing a stringy fruit or vegetable (like celery, pineapple or ginger) save it for the second to last. The fibers tend to back up the ejector, so if you send it through with a nice dense item chasing it, you shouldn't get backed up.

Fruits with higher water content can be sent through more than once to maximize juice extraction. This would include things like melon, citrus, etc. Just catch the pulp as it comes out the ejector and drop it back in the top feeder. You can feel in the pulp when it gets to the 'dry', juice-less stage.

If you are adding citrus, remove the peel first. It will come out of the machine fine, but can add bitterness to the juice. Small wedges of lemon, lime or grapefruit can add just enough zing to any combination and ginger brings a good kick to just about everything!

Don't try juicing bananas... nor avocados. If you need the flavor or texture, juice the other items and blend them together in a blender. Or, if you have an immersion blender, use its beeker to catch your juice, then blend in soft items with the stick to avoid the extra heat a blender may create.

Ponder the usefulness of all that beautiful pulp. Depending on your flavor combo- you can save it to add texture to muffins, heartiness to soups or color to your compost pile!

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Chef Amanda took her flavors on the road to make a live-in-person appearance at the Saturday Farmer's Market , serving up delicious bites made with 'just picked' ingredients from the surrounding vendors. This weekend you can see her for yourself at the 15th and Cordova market where she'll be sampling her tasty omelets, grilled pizzas (featuring Alaska Flour Company's barley), and irresistibly fresh salads. Or, if you can't make it out, try her recipes for yourself at home! Thanks Amanda!

Barley Pizza Dough

Adapted from the Viking Cooking School Pizza Workshop

1 (¼-ounce) envelope active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

¼ cup warm water 105 to 110 degrees

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

2 ¼  cups all purpose flour (plus extra, as needed)

¾  cup Alaska Flour Company barley flour

1 cup room temperature water

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling the dough

1.  To make the dough: stir together the yeast, sugar, and warm water.  Let stand until the mixture becomes creamy, about 5 to 10 minutes.

2.  Combine the salt with the flours in the work bowl of a food processor.  Pulse to evenly mix the dry ingredients.

3.  Combine the yeast mixture, room temperature water and olive oil in a measuring cup with a pouring spout.  With the food processor running, slowly add the liquid through the feed tube; continue to process until the dough forms a satiny ball that clears the sides of the work bowl, about 1 ½ to 2 minutes. (Note: If after 1 minute the dough is sticky and clings to the blade, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water and process until the dough forms a ball.

4.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand with a few strokes to form a smooth, round ball.  Place the ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl; cover with plastic wrap or a slightly damp towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.  (Note: This recipe may also be made in an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.)

5.  Punch the dough down and transfer to a lightly floured board or silicone mat, then knead briefly by hand.  Divide the dough in to 2 equal portions for 12 to 16-inch pizzas or 4 equal portions for 8-inch pieces.  Shape each portion into a tight ball/  Brush each very lightly with oil, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or up to overnight. (Important Note: Bring the dough to room temperature before shaping, topping, and baking the crust.)

6.  To grill pizza, allow gravity to stretch the dough into a round shape (hold in front of you and let it gently stretch, switching directions until done).  Coat both sides with olive oil and place on a hot grill.  After about 3 minutes, the dough will appear to be cooking and bubbly.  Flip it over and add toppings, taking care to not add too many.  All toppings need to be pre-cooked and grated.

Toppings included sautéed oyster and shitake mushrooms, caramelized onions and bacon, basil oil, and beet greens.

Asian Green Salad with Tofu and Sprouted Adzukis

Dressing:

1          Tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2          limes, zested and juiced

1          Tablespoon rice vinegar

¼         teaspoon red pepper flakes

1          teaspoon birch syrup

Mix all together, taste, adjust seasoning as needed.

Tofu:

1 ½     teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1          12-ounce package Alaska Sprouts firm tofu

Heat a pan  up over medium-high heat.  Cut the tofu into ½-inch cubes and blot with paper towels.  When the pan is hot, add the oil and heat through quickly.  Add the tofu cubes and sauté, coating all sides with the oil and getting even browning.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Salad:

1          bunch green onions, sliced thinly on the bias

1          bunch radishes, thinly sliced

2          carrots, julienned

Mustard greens, washed and crisped and torn into bite-size pieces

1          container sprouted beans from Alaska Sprouts

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss. Serve on chilled plates and garnish with edible flowers.

Magpie Sue’s Potato Salad

This is very unconventionally prepared, so feel free to adjust the preparation to fit your lifestyle.

Vegetables

3          pounds Yukon Gold or similar potato, medium dice

1          bunch golden beets, medium dice

2          white onions, small dice

1          bunch Swiss chard, stripped from stalk and roughly chopped

Assorted other vegetables

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

In a Dutch oven or in foil packets on a grill, cook potatoes and beets with oil, salt, and pepper until tender.  Remove and spread out on a baking sheet to cool.  Wilt the Swiss chard in a pan over medium heat.

Spring Pesto

I use a Vitamix for this, but a blender or food processor will also work

Green parts of the onions

½ bunch fresh dill

½ bunch fresh cilantro

½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 small container of plain yogurt (Greek or otherwise) I use homemade

½ bunch of cress

3 cloves garlic, peeled, or garlic scapes

salt and pepper

Water as needed

Combine all in the smoothie setting of the Vitamix and add water if needed.

NOW, you are ready to toss the vegetables with the pesto dressing.  I enjoy serving this salad on a toasted baguette slice like a bruschetta topping.

Kyle D has been at it again. He's got the bug- the thrill of seeing your own recipe glistening behind glass- knowing that you've made something today to enjoy later. That someday in the not too distant future you will hear that pop and rushing hiss of a well sealed jar. Not at all like a leftover, rather a flavor captured in time. Not something reluctantly tolerated, even dreaded until it's gone, but looked forward to, put away for a special occasion.

This time it's pickles. And not just one flavor. You can't imagine the excitement a shipment of pickling spices from Fire and Flavor caused. We had the photos promptly the very next day.

Some SWEET.

Some DILL.

So we decided to make some for ourselves, but we wanted all the glory NOW, so fridge pickles were the logical choice.

Using a food processor, simply slice the cucumber, as well as any other pickle-ie add-ins you may wish. We chose onions and green bell peppers.

To boiling vinegar, add your desired spice blend. Sweet tends to have sugar and spices like turmeric, cloves and celery seed-

while dill typically includes garlic, peppercorns or red pepper flakes, salt and of course dill seed and sprigs of dill weed. Either benefit from a spoonful of mustard seed.

The best part about the prepackaged spice bundles is that there is no need for a recipe, no combo guess work. The package tells you everything you will need, and provides the dry ingredients all in one place. We mixed up a nice bread and butter blend.

Fill your jar about 3/4 with cucumber mix and pour hot liquid over. Just clamp down the lid, chill overnight, et voilá! you have pickles!

The food processor slice is thinner than your typical pickle, but makes for a nice spread once the pickles are ready to eat. These lovely delicate pickles are delicious by themselves on a cracker, but would be just as nice as a flavor companion to your favorite sandwich.