Monthly Archives: July 2010

zucchini marmalade

so the main reason i wanted to participate in this year-long canning challenge was to learn a few things not only about canning, jamming, pickling, etc. but also about the personality and behavior of the actors (aka produce) going into the jars. i have gardened for about fifteen years and some of these plant genera are still foreign to me. for instance, i had never heard the term ‘cucurbits’ in my life, although most in this family of plants are very familiar to me and i’m sure to you as well: summer and winter squash, cucumbers, gourds, and a whole mess of melons. this month’s challenge was to get one of these preserved in jars.

i knew immediately what i needed to do when this category was announced: correct that bad feeling i had when i made cucumber pickles last year. they were disgusting. i swore that i would remedy that when the opportunity arose the following summer. but when i went to the market looking for pickling cucumbers, wouldn’t you know it, there were none to be found. so in the meantime, my dearest friend, kathy, gifted me with what she referred to as a ‘steroidal zucchini’ from a garden she had been caring for earlier in the day (along with almost 10 pounds of figs–i know i choose my company well). she wasn’t kidding–look at this thing! it’s not the type of zucchini that tastes good in just a simple saute. this motha needed to be baked in a bread or….made into zucchini marmalade! ever since i came across the idea of making marmalade out of zucchini, i have been intrigued. the resulting concoction is a bright, sunny citrus spread with, yes the color of zucchini flecks but also the nutritional whallop of the squash. i used a full two-thirds of this in the double-batch i prepared using the recipe below. i feel healthier already.

zucchini marmalade (4 half pints)

adapted from dinner with julie and ball complete book of home preserving

2 lemons

1 large orange

1 medium-large zucchini (about 2 cups grated on large holes of a box grater)

2 cups water

4 cups sugar

wash lemons and orange well and grate using the largest holes on a box grater. place in a large pot or preserving pan with the water. peel some of the white pith from the lemons into large pieces and place in in the same pan (you will be removing these later, so size matters as you will have to fish them out).  simmer for about 30 minutes.

meanwhile, finely chop the flesh of the lemons and oranges (after removing any remaining pith and all seeds). remove the pith from the pot and add in the lemon and orange flesh and the grated zucchini. bring back up to a simmer and allow to slowly cook for about 20 more minutes. add in sugar and bring to a boil, taking care to monitor that the mixture doesn’t foam up and boil over. boil gently, stirring often so it doesn’t stick to the pan, about 30 minutes. check temp with a candy thermometer or, my preferred method is the wrinkle test to test for gel set.

ladle into prepared jars and  process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

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Filed under condiment, fruit

chicken fennel kebobs with tzatziki

to say that it is grilling season in texas would be somewhat incorrect–it is always grilling season in texas. we like our meat, we sometimes like to fetch it ourselves (aka hunting), and we like to cook it outdoors because it’s usually too hot to turn on the stove and, let’s face it, it’s the right thing to do. regardless of where you stand on charcoal or wood vs. propane, direct or indirect heat, or barbequeing vs. grilling, most everyone agrees that cooking outside kinda rocks.

this is a fairly light preparation and works well when you are feeling overwhelmed by the summer heat but have a hankerin’ for more than just another salad. the cool creaminess of the tzatziki compliments nicely the char and warmth of the kebobs. and, if you’ve never grilled fennel, oh boy. it becomes sweet and caramelized, all while still retaining it’s crisp nature. add in some sweet red onion with singed edges, moist and lemony chicken, wrap it up in a seared pita and top the whole thing off with a cool sauce and let the magic happen.

chicken and fennel kebobs with tzatziki (4 servings)

adapted from bitchin’ camero

kebobs:

2 lb boneles, skinless chicken breats, cut into large cubes

2 fennel bulbs, remove frond and stem ends, clean and cut bulb into 2″ pieces (reserve a few fronds for the sauce)

1 large red onion, cut into 2″ pieces

1 tbsp dried oregano

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

salt & pepper

tzatziki:

7 oz plain yogurt *

1 cucumber, seedless variety, or seed a regular one

1 tbsp chopped fennel fronds

1 large clove garlic

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp salt

*greek yogurt will make a particularly thick sauce or you can just drain regular full or lowfat plain yogurt for a similar effect.

prepare tzaziki first so the flavors have some time to develop–sometimes i’ll make this a few hours ahead. grate cucumber with a box grater onto a paper towel or cheesecloth. make a small package of the papertowel and twist the ends up, squeezing out any liquid from the cucumber. you may or may not be alarmed at how much liquid you can get out doing this–DO NOT skip this step. chop garlic and make into a paste on the cutting board with the salt, by smashing it with the side of the knife. place garlic/salt mixture in a bowl with the yogurt, cucumber, fennel fronds, and lemon juice. adjust seasoning to your preferences. in other words, taste it. if you like more garlic go for it, but remember the flavor will be more pronounced as it sits.

alternate placing chicken, fennel and onion pieces onto 8 separate skewers. sprinkle with oregano, salt & pepper, then drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice. place on a (preheated-very important) medium-high grill and cook for a total of about 20 minutes, rotating skewers every 5 minutes or so. you want a nice char on all sides and the chicken to be cooked through. allow to rest for a few minutes before serving with tzatziki and grilled pita.

this goes really well with a glass of nice, dry french rose. but everything, including another glass of rose goes really well with a nice, dry french rose this time of year, doesn’t it?

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Filed under chicken, main dish, meat