Maple Mustard Salmon

Spring has official rolled in. The garden is growing, the hens are laying, and the hay fields are growing tall and green. At the same time our annual food stores are running on low in anticipation of the coming year’s bounty. There are still plenty of items that we tend to use in lower numbers. The carbohydrate rich corn and field peas are still available in plenty, but the favorites are becoming few. We are all out of the Italian seasoned tomato sauce. The frozen broccoli is gone. All that is left of the dehydrated peppers are tiny bits of broken vegetables at the bottom of plastic baggies.

I’ve been very late in assessing what we have available as well as what needs to be pitched after a year or maybe even two years of preservation. The chickens have been eating well as I clean out the freezer a little bit at a time. Sunday it was freezer burnt corn on the cob and today it was a two year old catering pan of stuffing. I think there is a fairly large stash of frozen field peas at the bottom that I’ll be digging out next. There is a thick layer of ice at the bottom of the freezer back from when Hurricane Matthew partially thawed it during the power outage that will have to be cleaned out as well.

All this comes to mind because I paired yesterday’s dinner entree with one of the final jars of garden green beans. They are a favorite in our house and so we planted a few extra rows this spring knowing that our supply is nearly out. I don’t look forward to the weeks of picking, snapping, and canning, but I do look forward to fresh beans throughout the summer and personally canned beans throughout the coming year. They’ll go great with anything just like they went great with this salmon.

MAPLE MUSTARD SALMON

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1 lb salmon
1/4 cup real maple syrup – splurge for the real stuff, it is worth it
1/4 cup stock  – seafood, chicken or vegetable will work
2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven 425 F. In a small bowl mix together all syrup, stock, mustard, and soy sauce. Pour small amount into a small baking pan. Place salmon in pan and pour remaining sauce over fish. Bake for 20-30 minutes until cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool five minutes. During cooling time spoon sauce over surface of fish. Plate, garnish with parsley, and serve immediately. Enjoy.

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Shrimp and Beetroot Salad

Picky eaters. I don’t understand them. How can anyone possibly not want to explore all the amazing varieties of food out there at every chance they get? I love food. I love cooking food. I love growing food. I love trying new foods. Isn’t everyone like this?

No. And I somehow happened to marry one of those other people. Neal is one of the pickiest eaters I have ever encountered. I don’t think I realized this when we were dating or even engaged. Maybe that was because I was enamored with the amazing man that would become my husband or because I tried harder in the kitchen to impress. For whatever reason, I see clearly now that I’ve married a man who likes consistency and reliability. In other words he eats the same foods over and over again. He’s culinarily boring.

He use to keep quiet and tolerate my cooking adventures well. Not to brag, but it is pretty rare that I steer too far off course and create anything that isn’t pleasing to the palette. As our marriage has aged I’ve noticed he’s more prone to point out to me when he doesn’t care for something and these times are become numerous. Numerous enough that I have come to the realization I am yoked to a picky eater.

I explain this because the recipe I share with you here was one of the ones that was on the “Jenn Only” list because Neal hates beats. I love beats. They have been my favorite vegetable as a kid. Just don’t pickle them. Bless it, I hate a pickled beat, but I digress.

Neal was working late in the machine shop of a friend, working to rebuild two large wagons that had recently been added to our arsenal of hay baling equipment. When he told me he wouldn’t be home until late I knew it was my night to bust out the beats and make this delicious salad. It was fantastic. I even used the left over ingredients (minus the beats) to make two sandwich wraps to take to Neal for dinner while we worked. Maybe I can work with this picky eater I love after all.

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SHRIMP AND BEETROOT SALAD – one serving

8oz uncooked, easy peel shrimp
1T minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
2.5 cups of chopped greens of your choice
1T feta cheese
1T slivered almonds
0.5 cups of sliced beets – cooked fresh and then sliced or canned sliced
2t olive oil
2t balsamic vinegar
2t dijon mustard

Thaw if necessary and peel shrimp. Place in bowl and toss with the garlic as well as the salt and pepper. Sauté over medium heat until thoroughly cooked. Set aside.

Plate the salad by layering the greens, feta, almonds, beets, and the shrimp. In a small bowel mix the oil, vinegar and mustard. Serve on the side.

 

 

Upside Down Peach Cake

Peaches! My favorite fruit on this entire earth. I have yet to have any luck planting peach trees here on the farm. No luck, as in I killed two of them. Probably because I brought them home and then failed to put them in the ground for several months. Not my best plant parenting. Luckily, we are a stone’s throw away from the great peach producing state of South Carolina which actually out produces Georgia in peaches. This year I received a text from a friend that one of her other friends would be making a trip to a nearby peach farm and was willing to take orders. Between myself, my mother, and my mother-in-law we ordered two and a half, twenty-five pound boxes. I was in peach heaven!

We enjoyed a few fresh ones and froze the majority for future use, but one recipe that I absolutely had to make before the summer was over was this fantastic variation on Pineapple Upside Down Cake. I love it so much and will likely never make the traditional tropical version again if I have the option. Give it a try and see if you agree.

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 Upside Down Peach Cake

11 tbps unsalted butter, divided
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3-4 large peaches, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tbps baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk

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Preheat the oven to 350 F. Using a 10” cast iron skillet, melt 3 tbps of butter over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and let melt until it melts and bubbles to make a sticky, thick syrup.

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Remove from heat and allow to cool five minutes. Place the peaches in the pan in a circular pattern.

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In a large mixing bowl, beat 8 tbps of butter with the sugar until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla then the eggs.

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In a separate bowl, mix the flower, baking powder, and salt. Stir half of the dry mixture into the wet mixture. Stir in the milk. Stir in the remaining dry mixture and stir just until mixed. Pour the batter of the peaches spreading it to the edges of the pan.

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Place in the preheated oven for 60 minutes or until the edges of the cake pull from the sides and a knife poked into the center of the cake comes out clean (pushed only through the cake portion, not the fruit).

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Allow the skillet to cool for 20 minutes before flipping it over onto the cake plate. Allow to cool slightly and then serve while still slightly warm (with vanilla ice cream as a bonus treat).

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Pimento Cheese

It took me a good couple of years to create the perfect pimento cheese recipe to fit my tastes. I searched and searched cook books and blogs for that tasty blend of smooth cheesy goodness and sharp pimento flavor. Alas, I was unsuccessful. Instead what I present to you here is a recipe that I built piece by piece during my search. For me what makes this recipe perfect is as much the technique as it is the ingredients. I want pimento cheese to have a smooth texture and consistent flavor in each bite. I loathe tasting chunks of sharp cheddar or bland cream cheese in a spread. I believe that use of the electric mixer for this recipe is key.

PIMENTO CHEESE

8 oz cream cheese at room temperature (Not the end of the world if you forget to set it out and it is still firm from the fridge. You will just have to blend with the mixer longer.)
1 cup finely grated mild cheddar cheese (MUST be fine grated and MUST be mild)
1 cup finely grated  monterey jack cheese  (again, MUST be fine grated)
(Note: Two cups of a mild colby jack blend works well here, just make sure it is finely grated)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 fresh pimento
1-2 fresh jalapeno peppers (option)
(Note: For this particular batch I used dehydrated pimentos and jalapenos from our Spring 2015 garden. Dehydration removes many of the oils from hot peppers giving them a much milder flavor when re-hydrated. I am not a fan of super hot heat in this recipe, but using the dehydrated peppers gives the perfect balance of jalapeno flavor and just a hint of heat. Below are photos of the dehydrated peppers when they first hit the water and then about two hours later.)

 

Dice the pimentos (and optional jalapenos if using – removing the seeds to reduce the heat if desired) in a food processor and pulse until the peppers are very finely minced and blended well.

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Place the pepper mixture along with all other ingredients in an upright stand mixer with the paddle attachment (a hand held mixer would work just as well). Blend on low to medium speed until all ingredients are well incorporated and you can no longer distinguish the individual ingredients except for the bits of pepper.

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Serve immediately with crackers, fresh veggies, or on sandwich bread. Place left overs in a resealable container and place in the fridge.

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Happy Homesteading and God Bless!

Jennifer