Chive Blossom Vinegar

Eight years ago, Gil and I were newlyweds enjoying our first summer together in this house. We started decorating and renovating — projects that continue to this day — and I tried my hand at gardening, not realizing in that rush of excitement over having a yard that we barely get enough sunlight for grass, let alone tomatoes. But I have managed to grow many pots of herbs on our second-floor bedroom deck over the years. They require almost no maintenance beyond a good dousing during dry spells, but the lowest maintenance herb of them all (and thus, the closest to my heart) is my chive plant, which still returns every Spring and still delights me when it does.

Chive Blossoms, Jar | Amy Roth Photo

That first summer, I learned that chive blossoms are edible, and sprinkled them liberally over green salads, potato salads and omelettes for a hint of onion flavor and a dash of color, but never thought to do anything more than garnish with them until just last month. I follow David Leite of Leite’s Culinaria on Facebook, where he posted a link to his chive blossom vinegar just as my blossoms were coming in, so that became my latest project.

Chive Blossoms in Jar | Amy Roth Photo

Though my single plant produces more chives than we can consume in a season, the amount of blossoms it yielded was only enough for a tiny jar of vinegar. Still, three weeks later, I can assure you that the volume is sufficient and should last a while. The vinegar is the pink of a deep rosé and has a pungent, savory-sweet aroma that can really get your juices flowing, culinarily-speaking.

Chive Blossom Vinegar | Minimally Invasive

I’ll try it in a vinaigrette the next time I make a salad, but today, I used it to perfume and season a kale and spinach pesto, which I tossed with zucchini noodles for a Paleo take on pasta.

Zucchini Noodles with Kale Pesto | Minimally Invasive

There’s no recipe for this dish since my pesto changes each time I make it; I just throw things into my food processor and adjust the seasonings before tossing it with my base of choice. Today, I broke out my spiral vegetable slicer on the first zucchini of the season (thanks, Bialas Farms!), simply salting the noodles lightly and letting them drain in a colander until it was time to dress them. For the pesto, I tossed a little of this and a bit of that into my food processor: a handful of spinach and two handfuls of dinosaur kale, some chopped, toasted almonds, grated Parmesan cheese, a few chives, a hit of basil-infused olive oil (a delicious indulgence from Olive That in Montclair), extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of sugar to balance the kale’s earthiness, a pinch of salt, lemon juice and a splash of the chive blossom vinegar. It sounds like a lot of cooking when the ingredients are listed that way, but it really wasn’t. It took all of 10 minutes to throw everything together and sit down to a really satisfying lunch.

Of course, you can make this without the chive blossom vinegar this summer because it’s probably too late for you to indulge, but please give it a try next year. This vinegar is a wonderful way to enjoy those spring blossoms for an extended season.

Day 21, Rosemary Syrup

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 21

My friend Kasha came over yesterday to hang out, do a little cooking, and help me with styling a few things, but it was one of those star-crossed days in the kitchen — my chicken was dry, the caramel sauce didn’t set before sundown, and the rosemary syrup didn’t make it entirely into the jar. No worries, though; I like a bit of imperfection in my pictures. Also? That dry chicken is nothing a little BBQ sauce won’t fix, and the caramel finally behaved itself long enough to proceed with the recipe. (More on that later.) It’s all about rolling with the punches in the kitchen, as Julia Child taught us so well with her enthusiastically-flipped potato pancake (not a chicken or duck as urban legend would have us believe).

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 21

Be sure to check out Kasha’s blog for a lot of great fresh-from-the-farm recipes and tips for using seasonal produce. She’s also an excellent baker.

recipe after the jump

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From the Market: Week 4

Veggies, veggies, and more veggies from the Ringwood Farmers’ Market … and I actually didn’t include everything in the picture above. Of everything I picked up, I was most excited to get my hands on some golden beets from Bialas Farms, as it’s been almost a year since I last had them.

Instead of torturing the beets in an over-the-top recipe (as I’ve been known to do), I treated them simply, roasting in a medium oven until cooked through, tossing with freshly shelled peas, and lovely lettuce and dill from Nina’s Red Barn Farm, then lightly dressing it all with a sherry-shallot vinaigrette. When food is this abundant and delicious, it makes sense to savor the flavors as nature intended.

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Another dish I’ve been looking forward to since this time last year was this light and tasty chilled soup, which gets its fresh color from an unlikely source — pea pods:

What a great way to recycle. Because if you’re going to go to all the trouble of shelling a bunch of peas, why throw away the pods until you’ve wrung every last bit of usefulness from them? I got the idea/recipe from the innovative Clotilde of Chocolate & Zucchini, making only one change to the recipe by deleting the nutmeg because I simply don’t care for it. The peas were shelled in two batches with the pods from last week spending some time in the freezer until I could make up the difference with this week’s haul. This soup is the very essence of a warm spring day and the most refreshing lunch you can imagine. Do give it a try the next time you’re up to your elbows in peas; you won’t regret it.

Jam on it

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There are very few things I fear in the kitchen. Complicated recipes or out-of-the-ordinary ingredients are usually cause for excitement, but canning just terrifies the bejeezus out of me. It isn’t a case of saving face, because let’s be honest, I can laugh at my mistakes after So Much Experience making them — incinerated fries, losing my place in a lengthy recipe, putting a Thanksgiving dish under the broiler then walking away … just to name a few. Ahem. But canning mistakes are a whole other thing — one slip-up, and you can really do some damage. And a hearty laugh just won’t cut it when you’re headed to the ER.

Problem is, I can’t help but dream of homemade jams when I see the heaping boxes of locally-grown fruit at the Orchards of Concklin booth every Saturday. (And the vendor adores Ru, so we spend a lot of time there chatting and browsing her selections.) But I reached a nice workaround this weekend. I’ve had a wonderful Martha Stewart recipe for peach-rosemary jam bookmarked for this very occasion, so I made a half batch and put it in the fridge. It’s thoroughly delicious and should keep for a month, which should be plenty of time to make the most of it.

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After all of the dishes I’ve made with rosemary over the past few weeks, I think the plant is finally under control, so maybe I’ll be able to do something about the sage bush next weekend. And perhaps I’ll take a stab at canning while I’m at it, but don’t hold your breath.

Herbal profusion

The past month’s deluge has been my basil plant’s mortal enemy, but a true friend to my rosemary, thyme and sage plants — they’ve gone into overdrive, growing lush and flavorful from the extended soak. With the herbs spilling from the pot, I’ve been working them into as many dishes as possible. They’ve been a great addition to marinades and add a lot to grilled dishes and salad dressings, but I also revisited an old favorite last weekend and ended up with a delicious jar of rosemary-thyme syrup.

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It’s been wonderful spooned over fresh blueberries (or as an old reliable topping for couche-couche), but I wanted to do a little more with it this time around. Drinks seemed like a natural pairing with the syrup, so I muddled some fresh cherries with it, added a lemon slice, and topped off the glass with cold club soda. (It was too early in the day for Prosecco, but I’ll give it a try for brunch sometime.)

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Inspired by this success, my thoughts turned toward dessert. We had a few bordering-on-overripe peaches in the fridge that, when cooked down with about 1/2 cup of the syrup and frozen in my ice cream machine, became my new go-to sorbet.

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If the sun we’ve had for the past few days holds (fingers crossed!), I may not need to experiment quite so much with my herbs next weekend, but I’m glad I was able to use the dreary weather to my advantage.

Rufus and recipes after the jump

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’08 Advent Calendar, Day 6

If you’ve found one of those cute rosemary bushes dressed up as a mini Christmas tree, don’t worry about rosemary overload. The plants keep going straight through the winter, if you have a sunny spot for them. And when you tire of lamb roast and using the woody stems as skewers, try simmering fresh sprigs in sugar and water to make a delicious rosemary syrup.

For the 2007 Advent Calendar, click here.

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