Monthly Archives: April 2011

Pickled Watermelon Rinds

Pickled Watermelon Rinds is an extremely old Southern mountain recipe. There used to be a time when people could not spare to waste anything so they would make more out of what they had. After all Southerners sure loved their pickles. The watermelon would be ate, the seeds would be saved for growing watermelons next year and the rinds well they would be pickled. But most definitely its an old recipe that everyone should try at least once. I am not much of a pickler that being said I have yet to pickle anything so if your comfortable then please do so the right way and you will not have to refrigerate like I have. Let your pickles sit for awhile before you eat them.

6 cups cubed watermelon rind
3/4 cup salt
12 cups water plus more for brine
2 cups sugar
1 cup white vinegar
20 whole cloves
3 large cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon Allspice
1 lemon, thinly sliced, with seeds removed

1. Remove pink flesh from rind. In a large bowl add rind, add salt and cover with water. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place into refrigerator over night.

2. Drain; rinse. In a large saucepan on high heat add watermelon with 12 cups water and bring to a full boil; continue cooking until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain.

3. In the same large saucepan on high heat add sugar, vinegar, water cinnamon and allspice. Boil 5 minutes. In a large bowl add watermelon and pour hot liquid on top with lemon slices. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

4. In a large sauce pan on high heat add watermelon with syrup. Bring to a full boil; reduce heat to medium-high for one hour. Pack the hot watermelon pickles loosely into clean, hot pint jars.Cover with boiling syrup, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles and adjust head space if needed. Tightly add lids. Leave jars out over night not moving.

5. Place pickles into refrigerator and allow to sit for awhile.

Yields: 2 jars

Basil Salmon

I have most defiantly realized that basil is the perfect match for salmon. If you are unable to find fresh basil please by all means use it but it not dried works just as well. This beautiful golden fish pairs perfect alongside pasta, salad and asparagus. Please forgive me for my last few pictures they were taken when we were having sandstorms for a few weeks and nothing looks as great as natural light.

1 pound salmon fillet
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried basil
black pepper to taste

1. In a small bowl add 4 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, honey, salt, pepper and basil. Pour on salmon, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

2. In a 9-inch skillet on medium heat saute garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil for 2 minutes. Add salmon skin side down. Cook until half way cooked about 10 minutes, carefully flip and cook until thoroughly cooked, about 10 minutes.

Yields: 2 servings

Okra with Olive Oil

This has been a family favorite in my home for as long as I can remember. The one thing I have always adored about Lebanese cuisine is the way they make beautiful and delicious dishes using all things fresh. Lebanon is a beautiful country filled with greenery. Most dishes do not even use many spices, they do not have to as the freshness speaks for itself.

1/2 kg (1 pound) okra, cleaned and heads removed
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, diced
1/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon all-spice
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 cup water

1. In a 9-inch skillet on medium heat add oil. Add onion, garlic and fresh coriander. Cook until tender.

2. Add okra cooking for 5 minutes, stirring at times. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, all-spice, salt, pepper, ground coriander, vinegar and water, cover pan.

3. Cook until okra is soft about 10 minutes.

Yields: 4 servings

Chocolate Carrot Cake Muffins

A few weeks ago I bought one of the few Small Batch Baking cookbooks that is currently out. I have been wanting one for awhile because large amounts of baked good really do not go over well with my small family. We just can not eat a large amount of sweets in a few days. This book is absolutely perfect for those of us who love to bake and have small families. The first recipe I chose from the book was this delightful little recipe. I tweaked it a bit adding dates instead of raisins. I guess you could say this is not your everyday carrot cake and that’s a good thing considering the chocolate added to it.

9 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped dates
2 tablespoons beaten egg
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup grated carrots
3 tablespoons crushed pineapple (reserve 2 tablespoons of pineapple juice)
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese Glaze:
1 ounce cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons reserved pineapple juice

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. In a food processor separately pulse walnuts, chocolate and carrots. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl add flour, oil, baking powder, baking soda and sugar. Mix with a spoon.

2. Add cinnamon, vanilla, oil, egg, dates, carrots, pineapple and walnuts. Mix well with a spoon until combined.

3. Line 3 large jumbo muffin cups or 6 regular cups. Making sure to fill empty cups with water so pan does not scorch. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl add cream cheese, powdered sugar and pineapple juice. Whisk together until glaze is smooth.

 5. Allow muffins to cool then glaze.

Yields: 3 jumbo or 6 regular muffins

Adapted from Small Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers