Food Preservation: Pickling

Pickling is one of the oldest forms of food preservation. With many different techniques suiting a wide range of fruits and veggies, you can pickle just about anything. Some common crops for pickling in Michigan include asparagus, beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, corn (relish), cucumbers, fiddlehead ferns, garlic, nasturtiums, okra, onions, peaches, pears, peppers, radishes, and tomatoes. As many of us know, pickling can be a fantastic way to preserve the summer harvest but we can also pickle to preserve late fall crops that are currently bountiful at the farmers market including turnips and radishes. If you’ve never pickled before and want to start, an easy place to begin is with the Pink Pickled Turnips recipe below. 

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Pickling Basics

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Pickling Salt: 

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This is fine, pure granulated salt. You can usually buy four-pound boxes labeled “Canning and Pickling Salt” at most supermarkets. Kosher salt is okay to use, but you need to use one and a half to two times as much to compensate for the larger salt crystals.

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Vinegar: 

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Cider vinegar is considered the supreme pickling vinegar (beware of fake apple cider-flavored vinegar) but distilled white vinegar works great too. Just make sure that the vinegar you use is at least 5 percent acidity which is necessary to maintain a pH level at which harmful bacteria cannot survive.

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Pickling Spices: 

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You can buy packages of pickling spices at the grocery store, but it is also easy to make your own.

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Pink Pickled Turnips

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Ingredients

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  • 1 small red beet, trimmed, peeled, quartered
  • 1 red chile (such as Fresno), halved lengthwise (optional)
  • 1 pound small turnips, trimmed, peeled, quartered
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
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Preparation

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Combine beet, chile (if using), and turnips in a 1-quart heatproof jar or container. Bring vinegar, salt, sugar, and 1-½ cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Pour pickling liquid over turnip mixture and let cool. Cover and chill at least 1 week before using.

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Recipe courtesy of Epicurious

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Additional Resources:

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To learn how to pickle “just about anything” click here

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To learn how to avoid common pickling faux pas click here

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Information adapted from Our Food, Our Right

Onions

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There are 300 species of onion within the allium genus that vary in size, shape, taste, and smell.

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Bulb onions are available summer through fall, and throughout the winter with proper storage. In spring and early summer we rely on chives, scallions, and bunching onions to satisfy our onion needs. Baby bulb onions and the first of the leeks follow soon thereafter. 

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How to Prepare:

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First slice off the top of the onion, then remove the papery skin and any brown outer layers. To chop the onion, cut in half from top to bottom making a number of horizontal cuts towards the root. Next make vertical cuts towards the root. Finally, holding the onion very firmly and with the knife blade at right angles to the first set of cuts that you made, slice down vertically and the onion will fall away in small pieces as you go. 

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How to Store:

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Bulb onions will store for several months in a cool, dry, ventilated place. Warmth and moisture will cause sprouting. Store cut onion in the refrigerator in an airtight container to avoid transference of flavors to other foods. Use as soon as possible. Store chives or scallions wrapped in a damp towel or plastic bag in hydrator drawer of refrigerator for 2-3 days.

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How to Cook:

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You can enjoy onions steamed, boiled, sauteed, stir-fried, braised, baked, grilled, or roasted.

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Information adapted from From Asparagus to Zucchini

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Recipes

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Caramelized Onion Tart with Gorgonzola and Brie

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Ingredients

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  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups of sliced onions, sliced root-to-top into ¼-inch thick slices
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 8 oz frozen puff pastry (defrosted a couple hours in the fridge)
  • 2 oz chilled Brie cheese, rind removed and diced
  • 2 oz Gorgonzola or other blue cheese, diced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
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Preparation

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Heat oil in a large deep pan on medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for about 10 minutes or until wilted and starting to brown. Add sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and cook gently, uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until richly caramelized. Add a little water if the onions look like they are starting to dry out. Cool. Roll pastry into a 10-to-14-inch rectangle (or whatever shape you want). Place pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

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Prick with a fork at a couple inch increments to prevent the pastry from forming big bubbles while baking. Spread onions over pastry, all the way to the edges of the pastry. Dot with cheese. Sprinkle with tarragon. Refrigerate if not baking immediately. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until cheese has melted and pastry is crispy. Cool for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges or squares and enjoy!

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Recipe courtesy of Simply Recipes

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Onion and Poppy Seed Bialys

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Ingredients

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  • 1 tbsp. barley malt syrup
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 small yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. poppy seeds
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
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Instructions

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Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a hook, stir together syrup, yeast, and 1-½ cups water heated to 115 degrees; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add flour and salt, and mix on low speed until dough forms; increase speed to medium, and knead dough until smooth, about 8 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and let sit until doubled in size, about 1-½ hours. Meanwhile, make the filling: Heat oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat; add garlic and onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until deeply caramelized, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in poppy seeds and salt and pepper; set aside to cool.

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Uncover and punch down dough; cover again and let sit until doubled in size again, about 1 hour. Uncover dough and transfer to a clean work surface; portion and shape into about eighteen 2-oz. balls. Place 6 balls each on 3 parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spaced evenly apart; cover with plastic wrap and let sit until puffed, about 30 minutes. Uncover balls, and using the palm of your hand, gently flatten each into a disk; cover again and let sit until puffed, about 30 minutes. Heat oven to 450 degrees.

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Uncover balls, and, using your fingers, press the center of each to indent; continue pressing and stretching center of each dough ball until you're left with a thin center membrane surrounded by a thick ring of dough on the outer edge. Fill centers of each dough round with about 1 tsp. onion-poppy seed filling. Working with one baking sheet at a time, place in oven, and spray bialys with water until completely coated. Bake until lightly browned and still soft, about 16 minutes.

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Recipe courtesy of Saveur

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Tomato, Onion, and Cucumber Salad

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Ingredients

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  • 5 medium plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • ¼ red onion, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • A generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
  • 2 splashes red wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
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Preparation

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Dress the tomatoes, onions, and cucumber with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Let stand while you prepare dinner, about 20 minutes. Re-toss and serve salad with crusty bread for mopping up juices and oil.

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Recipe courtesy of Food Network

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Herb & Onion Frittata

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Ingredients

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  • 1 cup diced onion
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon water, divided
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup liquid egg substitute
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs, or ½ teaspoon dried
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons farmer's cheese, or reduced-fat ricotta
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Preparation

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Bring onion and ¼ cup water to a boil in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cover and cook until the onion is slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the water has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Drizzle in oil and stir until coated. Continue cooking, stirring often, until the onion is beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes more.

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Pour in egg substitute, reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, until the egg is starting to set, about 20 seconds. Continue cooking, lifting the edges so the uncooked egg will flow underneath, until mostly set, about 30 seconds more.

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Reduce heat to low. Sprinkle herbs, salt and pepper over the frittata. Spoon cheese on top. Lift up an edge of the frittata and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of water under it. Cover and cook until the egg is completely set and the cheese is hot, about 2 minutes. Slide the frittata out of the pan using the spatula and serve.

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Recipe courtesy of Eating Well

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Creamed Onion Gratin

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Ingredients

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  • 2 medium yellow onions, cored and quartered lengthwise
  • ¼ olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • ½ cup finely grated parmesan
  • 3 oz. Gorgonzola, crumbled
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
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Preparation

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Heat oven to 350 degrees. Toss onions with oil in a 9 inch by 11 inch baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Bake, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 1 hour; set aside. Heat oven to broil. Heat butter in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; add flour, and cook, stirring, until smooth, about 1 minute. Add cream and wine, and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Pour sauce evenly over onions. Sprinkle with parmesan, dot with Gorgonzola, and sprinkle with paprika; broil until cheese is melted and golden brown on top, about 2 minutes.

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Recipe courtesy of Saveur

The 6th Annual Meeting & LocalMotion Awards are next week!

An evening of celebration paired with fine wine, beer, and food await you at the 6th Annual Meeting & LocalMotion Awards. Taking place at the Goei Center with musical accompaniment provided by Triumph Music Academy, this year’s event is going to be better than ever.

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The accomplishments of the Local First community and business partners will be recognized. Six awards will be presented to businesses and individuals in our area that strive to make our community better. The LocalMotion Award recipients use local supply chains, lead sustainable lifestyles, revitalize neighborhoods, and are dedicated to the triple bottom line.

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Look forward to hearing from Executive Director, Elissa Hillary during the “State of Local First” address, wherein she will announce some exciting things happening in 2016. The celebration will continue with presentations by Gluten Free Bar and Gazelle Sports, two of our B Corporations. Board Members Anissa Eddie and Mike Chase will conclude the celebration with the presention of the LocalMotion Awards.

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Join us for an evening of celebrations, drinks and cuisine provided by Local First members such as Black Heron Kitchen & Bar, Terra, MadCap Coffee and many more (full list of vendors available below). There will be a cash bar at this year's event featuring margaritas from Lindo Mexico.

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Wondering who you'll run into at the Annual Meeting? All Local First members, as well as community organizers, politicians, and stakeholders are welcome to attend the event. This year we expect over 300 members of the community to be in attendance so don’t hesitate – tickets are $40 in advance, $45 at the door.

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Food & Drinks Provided By:

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Thank you to our generous sponsors!

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Cooking in the New Year

As we welcome the turning of a new year, many of us have spent ample time reflecting on how we can improve our health. We envision ourselves eating healthier, exercising more, and having more energy. Simultaneously, we are being inundated with information on new diets and cleanses touting that we can improve our overall health with a short stint of clean eating before happily returning to our old eating habits. Although these programs can be beneficial in jumpstarting a healthy year, they generally lack staying power and are not conducive to promoting sustainable lifestyle changes. 

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Healthy eating has become so confusing that it can be difficult to know where to begin. Our culture has become so far removed from promoting wholesome food that the thought of crafting a meal from scratch can be daunting for some. With our food system being predicated on consumers being ignorant and lazy, we are constantly being exposed to processed foods fraught with salt, sugar, and fat. In this system, it can seem extremely difficult to champion our health through our diet.

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The answer to a healthier diet is simple: we need to roll up our sleeves and get cooking. While prioritizing cooking in a society that constantly tells us that we are (or that we should be) “too busy” to cook certainly elicits a shift in mindset. At the end of the day if we want to know exactly what we are putting into our bodies, we must start in our kitchens.

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When we cook, we give ourselves the opportunity to choose what kinds of ingredients we use and we get the opportunity to know where those ingredients come from. In a world where prepackaged food has become the norm, knowing where our food comes from can be incredibly liberating. Here in West Michigan, we have several local businesses that strive to be transparent about where our food comes from making it easier to promote our health through cooking. Some of these businesses include the Fulton Street Farmers Market, Downtown Market, Kingma’s Market, Nourish Organic Market, Harvest Health, Horrocks Market, and G.B Russo & Son International Grocery.

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With access to local meat, dairy, produce, and the like, cooking can become an act of solidarity with our community. When we cook and choose to support our local food economy, we are supporting families in our region who work hard to provide us with the opportunity to eat real food. Cooking not only makes us healthier and connects us to our local economy, but it also connects us to one another in an intimate way. Taking the time to craft a nutritious meal for someone else, whether they be a friend, family member, or neighbor, is a beautiful act of love that promotes dialogue, creativity, and fosters connection. Choosing whole foods over convenience foods ultimately gives us the ability to take accountability for our health while celebrating our right to know what we are consuming. This year as we strive to nourish our bodies and our communities, let us keep in mind the power of cooking.

Garlic

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Garlic is a highly esteemed vegetable, herb, and medicine in many cultures around the world. Its rich history speaks to its culinary and medicinal importance, beginning with the first recorded writings on garlic in Sanskrit in 5000 B.C. Garlic can be stored through the winter and can be used to enhance the flavor of almost any hearty winter dish.

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How to Prepare:

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Press, mince, or slice garlic cloves. A sharp knife yields best results when chopping. To mellow garlic’s strong flavor, opt for longer cooking. To enjoy its more pungent flavors and increased medicinal benefit, use it raw or with minimal cooking. As for garlic greens in the spring, you may chop or dice them raw into green or pasta salads, saute them in place of bulb garlic, sprinkle them over pizza, eat them raw, or use them anywhere garlic flavor is desired.

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How to Store:

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Garlic stores well in a cool, dark, and well ventilated place for several months. Warm temperatures will encourage garlic to sprout. Do not refrigerate, unless storing peeled cloves for a short time. Keep in airtight container to avoid garlic odor spreading to other foods. For very long-term storage, garlic can be minced and covered or blended with olive oil and placed in small airtight containers and frozen. After removing from the freezer, keep it in refrigerator.

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How to Cook:

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You can enjoy garlic raw, cooked, roasted, or sauteed.

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Information adapted from From Asparagus to Zucchini, Image courtesy of Green Wagon Farm

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Recipes

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Creamy Roasted Garlic Hummus

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Ingredients

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  • 2 cups canned chickpeas or 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 large head of garlic
  • 1 lemon, juice of
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
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Preparation

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut off the very top of the garlic clove (about ¼ inch) so that the tops of most of the cloves are exposed slightly. Coat with a little olive oil and wrap securely in tin foil. Roast garlic in oven for 1 hour. Remove and allow to cool. Using your fingers, squeeze the soft, roasted garlic out of each clove into food processor. Rinse and drain cooked or canned chickpeas. Add them, and all other ingredients, to the food processor and blend until completely smooth.

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Scrape ingredients offsides of food processor to make sure it blends evenly. If you find that the hummus is too thick, you can add additional olive oil at this time. Add it very slowly, allowing the mixture to combine fully before adding more liquid. Serve at room temperature with crudites, warm pita or crackers. Optional: Sprinkle with chopped parsley or paprika before serving.

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Recipe courtesy of Food Magazine

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Borlotti Beans with Garlic and Olive Oil

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Ingredients

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  • 4 pounds fresh borlotti beans (cranberry beans), shelled, or 2 lb. frozen or dried (soaked overnight if dried)
  • 3 plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 10 large unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 8 large (or 16 small) fresh sage leaves
  • ¾ cup (or more) extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
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Preparation

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Combine beans, tomatoes, garlic, sage, and ¾ cup oil in a medium pot. Add cold water to cover by 1 inch (about 2-½ cups). Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered and adding water by ¼-cupfuls as needed to keep beans submerged, until tender, 35–45 minutes for fresh or frozen and up to 1-½ hours for dried. Skim any foam from the surface. Season with salt, pepper, and more oil, if desired. Let cool in cooking liquid; cover and chill. Return to room temperature before serving.

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Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit

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Potato and Garlic Pierogi

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Ingredients

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  • 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • Coarse salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 12 egg roll wrappers, cut into 4-½-inch rounds
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
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Preparation

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Simmer potatoes and garlic in salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, and pass hot potatoes and garlic through a ricer or a food mill. Stir in cheese and 4 tablespoons butter, then the cream. Season with salt and pepper.

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Place 1 heaping tablespoon potato mixture onto center of bottom half of each round. Brush edges with water. Fold top half over filling, and press to force out air and seal. Repeat. Bring remaining tablespoon butter and the water to a simmer in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add pierogi, cover, and steam for 4 minutes. Uncover, and brown until golden, about 3 minutes per side. Top with chives.

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Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart

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Roasted Garlic Soup with Parmesan Cheese

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Ingredients

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  • 26 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (¼ stick) butter
  • 2-¼ cups sliced onions
  • 1-½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 18 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3-½ cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 4 lemon wedges
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Preparation

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 26 garlic cloves in small glass baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake until garlic is golden brown and tender, about 45 minutes. Cool. Squeeze garlic between fingertips to release cloves. Transfer cloves to small bowl. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and thyme and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes.

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Add roasted garlic and 18 raw garlic cloves and cook 3 minutes. Add chicken stock; cover and simmer until garlic is very tender, about 20 minutes. Working in batches, purée soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to saucepan; add cream and bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Divide grated cheese among 4 bowls and ladle soup over. Squeeze juice of 1 lemon wedge into each bowl and serve.

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Recipe courtesy of Epicurious

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Garlic-Cilantro Naan

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Ingredients

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  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ⅓ cup warm water, about 110 degrees
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup ghee or vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
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Preparation

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In a glass measuring cup, combine the yeast and sugar. Add the water and stir well. Let rest until foamy, about 5 minutes. Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture, eggs, yogurt, and ¼ cup ghee or oil. Mix together with your fingers until a smooth dough forms, working in a small amount of additional flour if needed. Knead for 3 minutes. 

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Oil a small bowl with the remaining 1 teaspoon ghee or oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat; cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Place a baking stone in the bottom of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and gently roll into balls. Gently roll each ball into a 6-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. 

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Brush each circle with ghee or vegetable oil (about 2 teaspoons total) and top evenly with ¼  cup finely chopped fresh cilantro and 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped. Gently press the cilantro and garlic into the dough so they adhere. Bake dough on the baking stone in batches until just golden brown and puffed, 8 to 10 minutes. You should be able to bake two naan at a time on an average size baking stone. Serve immediately.

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Recipe courtesy of Food Republic