Raising the Bar

Bar Snacks That Go Beyond the Basics

By Mary Reilly, Food Styling by Joy Howard, Photos by Dominic Perri

Who said bar food needs to be basic? Not us! With just a little effort, you can easily add flair (and vegetables!) to make old favorites new. Transform classic bar-top and couch-side snacks into even tastier treats and pair them with a local beer, a homemade soda, or a good game.

Mini Potato Skins

Cracker Jill

Inside-Out Shishito Poppers

Sriracha Cauliflower

Chickpea "Fries"

Honeydew and cucumber gazpacho from Chef Dino

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Here's the last demo recipe from last weekend's Wachusett Farm Fresh Fest.

This recipe comes from Chef Dino Giordano of 30 Boltwood at the The Lord Jeffrey Inn in Amherst, MA. It’s exactly what we want during the dog days of summer: cooling, refreshing and it comes together in about 5 minutes! Delicious on its own, this soup also makes a great accompaniment to seafood, try it alongside grilled shrimp, salmon or lobster.

The gazpacho is at its best when very cold, so chill your melon before making it, or leave yourself enough time to let it get cold in the fridge. Add a splash of vodka to any leftovers and enjoy a cooling cocktail.

Honeydew and Cucumber Gazpacho

  • 1 dead-ripe medium-sized honeydew melon, seeded, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
  • ⅓ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 cup of water, a little more if needed
  • A few basil leaves
  • Pinch of Aleppo pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Put everything but the lemon juice in the blender (you may have to do this in batches, depending on the size of your blender). Blend well, until everything is silky smooth. Use more water, if needed, if the soup is too thick. Combine the batches, if needed, and taste, add a squeeze of lemon juice and salt to taste. The soup should be sweet, a little tangy and well-seasoned. Add more Aleppo pepper if you desire more of a kick.

Last Bite: Zucchini

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Zucchini and other summer squashes are ubiquitous at the supermarket year-round, but in summer these often-unappreciated vegetables really do shine. Any summer squash or zucchini will work interchangeably in these recipes. A medium (about 6 inches long) zucchini usually weighs about 6 to 8 ounces. Each of these recipes, except the Herbed Zucchini Jam, makes approximately 4 side dish-sized servings.

Zucchini Fritters 

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 Herbed Zucchini Jam

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 Zucchini Ribbons with Sesame

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 Crispy Zucchini Rounds (Online Exclusive!)

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Edible Radio: Put' Em Up! With Sherri Brooks Vinton

112612_SherriL-034rtOn the Kitchen Workshop, host Mary Reilly from Edible Pioneer Valley, speaks with Sherri Brooks Vinton about boiling-water canning and getting your kitchen "canning ready" so you can take advantage of the market when the mood strikes! Sherri is the author of the Put 'Em Up series of preserving and canning cookbooks. 

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Read on for recipes for Lemon-Ginger Marmalade and Pickled Mushrooms. Learn more about Sherri and get more recipes at www.sherribrooksvinton.com.

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LEMON GINGER MARMALADE

153_cJenniferMayPhotography_LemonGingerMarmalade_PutEmUpFruitMakes 5 cups

Lemon and ginger, a classic combo of sunny and warm together in one great spread. The rind from the lemon give this marmalade some bite so it’s not all frills. This is a great topper for some hearty rustic bread that can stand up to a jam with attitude.

  • 2 pounds lemons (8–10)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 (4-inch) knob fresh ginger, minced

Prepare

1. Using a vegetable brush, scrub the fruit with a nontoxic, odorless dish soap and hot water.

2. Cut off the tops and bottoms of the lemons deeply enough to remove the solid disks of pith and reveal the flesh of the fruit. Quarter the fruits and cut away the center rib. Flick out the seeds with the tip of your knife. Thinly slice the quartered lemons crosswise. Combine the lemon slices with the water in a large nonreactive pot and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside overnight to soften the rinds.

3. The next day, measure the volume of the lemon mixture (you should have about 4 cups). Return the lemon mixture to the pot and add an equal amount of sugar, along with the ginger. Slowly bring to a hard boil, stirring frequently to avoid burning the sugar. Continue cooking until gel stage is reached (see page 28), about 15 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat. Allow the marmalade to rest for 5 minutes, giving it an occasional gentle stir to release trapped air; it will thicken slightly. Skim off any foam.

Preserve.

Can

Use the boiling-water method as described on page 20. Ladle the marmalade into clean, hot 4-ounce or half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace between the top of the marmalade and the lid. Run a bubble tool along the inside of the glass to release trapped air. Wipe the rims clean; center lids on the jars and screw on jar bands until they are just fingertip-tight. Process the jars by submerging them in boiling water to cover by 2 inches for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the canner lid, and let the jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove the jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check the seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

 

PICKLED BUTTON MUSHROOMS

216_cJenniferMayPhotographyInc_PickledMushrooms_PutEmUpMakes about 2 pints

A number of cultures lay claim to mushroom pickles: Italy, Germany, and Poland all have their style with these tasty bites. I’ve taken the United Nations’ approach — this is a mash-up recipe that takes a little bit from each tradition.

  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 pound white button mushrooms, stemmed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

PREPARE

Combine the vinegar, brown sugar, bay leaves, salt, peppercorns, and fennel seed in a large nonreactive saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add the mushrooms, onion, and bell pepper and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

PRESERVE

Refrigerate: Transfer to bowls or jars. Cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Can: Use the boiling-water method. Ladle into clean, hot pint canning jars, covering the solids by 1/4 inch with liquid. Leave 1/4 inch of headspace between the top of the liquid and the lid. Release trapped air. Wipe the rims clean; center lids on the jars and screw on jar bands. Process for 20 minutes. Turn off heat, remove canner lid, and let jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

EDIBLE RADIO: Tomatomania!

TomatomaniaKitchen Workshop host Mary Reilly, editor and publisher of Edible Pioneer Valley, speaks to Scott Daigre about his book Tomatomania. Written with Jenn Garbee, Tomatomania tell us all we need to know about selecting, planting and growing gorgeous juicy tomatoes!

We talked about planting the perfect tomato plot and his favorite tomato recipe. Learn more about becoming a tomatomaniac at www.tomatomania.com.

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Favorite Tomato recipeMy Favorite Tomato Recipe

Rigorously tested countless times. Foolproof. Pick a ripe, beautifully colored, and slightly soft tomato off the vine. The only thing better than trying this with one perfectly ripe, juicy tomato? Trying it with ten perfectly ripe tomatoes of different colors and types. You’re welcome!

WASH IT. (Or not.)

CUT IT. (Or not.)

SALT IT. (Or not.)

EAT IT. (Best done outdoors.)

Sure, many of you will eliminate the salt-it step and that’s fine with me. You’ve worked really hard to get to this step and final product. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor the basic essence of this crop you’ve grown in your own backyard. Dive right in!

Pineapple (Tomato) Upside-Down Cake

Makes 1 cake; 8 to 10 servings

image001Super sweet and citrusy tomatoes alike are pretty near perfect in this rustic cornmeal cake. Use bicolor yellow varieties splashed with streaks of red, such as sweet Pineapple tomatoes (you bet there is a Pineapple variety!) if you have them. Citrusy green tomatoes mellow a bit color-wise when baked, but are also fantastic.

1 pound (1 very large or two medium) very ripe, sweet tomatoes

8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided, plus more to butter the cake pan

½ cup dark brown sugar, packed

2 teaspoons orange zest, packed (about 1 medium orange), fruit reserved for juicing

1 teaspoon lemon zest, packed (about 1 medium lemon)

½ cup honey

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

1½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Crème fraîche and honey, to serve (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and butter the paper. Slice the tomatoes 1⁄3 inch thick and spread them out on paper towels to drain.
  1. Melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat in a small saucepan. Add the brown sugar and cook just until the sugar is melted, about 1 minute. Pour the brown sugar paste into the prepared cake pan and immediately spread it out as evenly as possible using a heat-proof spatula. Combine the orange and lemon zests and sprinkle 1 teaspoon over the top of the brown sugar.
  1. Combine the remaining 8 tablespoons butter, honey, eggs, sour cream, orange juice, and remaining 2 teaspoons of orange-lemon zest in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix well. (Alternatively, use a hand mixer.) In a small bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, add the butter mixture, and mix until just combined.
  1. Blot any moisture off the tomatoes and arrange them decoratively in the bottom of the pan. (I like to leave a little space between the slices to see the patterns in each). Pour the batter over the tomatoes. Bake until the cake is lightly brown, starts to pull away from the sides, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan, place a serving plate on top, and (wearing oven mitts!), flip the cake onto the plate. Allow the cake to cool completely. To gild the lily, serve the cake with a dollop of creme fraiche and a drizzle of honey.

Prime picks: Sweet bicolors like Pineapple, Gold Medal, or Grandma Viney’s Yellow Pink, or citrusy green varieties such as Ananas Noire (Black Pineapple) or Aunt Ruby’s German Green.

School Celebrations: Maintaining Tradition Far From Home

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By Ryan Cashman | Photographs by Dominic Perri

Over the river and through the wood, to Grandfather’s house we go …”

Over 170 years ago Lydia Maria Child perfectly expressed the excitement of an impending family celebration (in her case, Thanksgiving at her grandfather’s home in Medford). The spirit of this poem continues to resonate with many of us and going home for the holidays is a key part of many family traditions.

Each year, thousands of international students call the Pioneer Valley’s colleges and universities home. Ryan Cashman, a student at Westfield State University, visited with members of the international community at three different schools and shares their stories with us.

For Max Saito food is more than just sustenance.

“Food is important to relationships and friendships and being together, and is important to your health,” he says. “It’s essential.”

Max was born and raised in Japan, in the Yamagata Prefecture. He came to America in 1989 and is now an associate professor in the communications department at Westfield State University. Max and his family embrace the traditions and foods associated with the New Year celebration. He explains that “It’s really about celebrating good luck, good health, good fortune, safety.”

The foods on the table play a role larger than simple nourishment. Beans and mochi (glutinous rice), for instance: “Beans bring good health and good luck. Mochi gives you strength and longevity,” Max explains while miming stretching out the rice with his hands. “Mochi also gives you a lot of energy.”

Soba noodles are another dish that represents long life and are also a very important dish in the Japanese New Year tradition.

New Year Soba (Toshikoshi Soba

Dashi is a seasoned stock made with kombu (dried kelp) and bonito flakes (shaved skipjack tuna). It’s the base of many Japanese noodle dishes and miso soup. Yields 4 servings.

6 cups dashi (Recipe here)

⅔ cup soy sauce

⅓ cup mirin

1 tablespoon sugar

8 ounces soba noodles (buckwheat noodles)

Garnishes: 1 bunch scallions, green parts sliced very thin, fish cakes, tempura flakes, nori (seaweed)

Simmer together the dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. Keep warm for serving.

Cook soba noodles in a large pot of boiling water, according to package directions. Drain the noodles and rinse in cool water, gently rubbing them to remove any excess starch on the surface of the noodle.

Pour the hot dashi broth into soup bowls. Distribute the soba noodles equally. Add garnishes of your choice.

Nay Paing is a sophomore majoring in political economy and third world development at Hampshire College. When the winter winds start to blow he thinks fondly of the warm weather in his home country. Burma, officially known as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is a country in Southeastern Asia and is bordered by Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, and Thailand. The country sits between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer, giving it a tropical climate with yearly monsoons and humid summers.

The Burmese celebrate the full moon on Tabodwe (which usually occurs in February). Paing says the traditional celebration dish is htamanè. Tradition requires that this snack be prepared in large quantities by several people (usually men) working together.

“I don’t know how to make any of this stuff,” Paing confesses. But, he said, it tastes good.

Htamanè

Our version of htamanè is nontraditional in that it’s made in a fairly small quantity. If you’re feeding a crowd, it doubles easily. The traditional dish is also kneaded together by several cooks to form a rice dough or paste. A simple way to knead the rice is in a stand mixer with paddle attachment. (Htamanè is pictured on page 1.) Yields about 4 cups.

¼ cup oil

1½ cups glutinous rice (also called sweet rice), soaked overnight in water and drained well

2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into fine slivers

¾ cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 banana leaf, cut to fit the top of your cooking vessel, optional (you can find banana leaves in the freezer section of Asian markets)

½ cup roasted peanuts, chopped

½ cup sesame seeds

½ cup shredded coconut

In a wok or wide skillet (12-inch) heat oil until very hot and nearly smoking.

Add soaked rice (be careful: The liquid in the rice may cause a fair amount of spattering) and ginger and sauté for 5 minutes. Add water, salt, bring to boil.

Lay the banana leaf over the top of the rice, if using. Cover the pan and cook over very low heat for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let rice steam for another 10 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients and stir into the rice. Drain off any excess oil. Serve.

Sidonio “Sid” Ferreira, director of enrollment services and instructional support, is the founder of the Cape Verdean Student Alliance at UMass Amherst. Christmas is the biggest celebration of the year in the culture of Cape Verde, an island nation off the west coast of Africa.

“It was never hard for me or any of us to bring our traditions over to America,” he says. “When we immigrated we went to New Bedford … everything we needed in terms of food was available and everyone was celebrating. It was pretty easy to bring our traditions and keep them alive.

“On Christmas Eve we all have a boiled codfish dinner.” Salted cod, or bacalhau, is a traditional Portuguese ingredient and it was introduced to Cape Verde when the islands were still a Portuguese colony. In Sid’s home, bacalhau is soaked in a tub of water to draw out all of the salt and is then boiled with potatoes, carrots, yams, and kale.

“We serve it with lots of oil and vinegar,” says Sid.

And of course, “desserts are very important!” Sid exclaims. The most important dessert is the pudim de queijo (milk pudding), a baked goat’s cheese dessert similar to flan.

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Pudim de Queijo (Milk Pudding) 

You may also bake this in individual custard cups or ramekins if you prefer. They will take less time, about 15–20 minutes.

1 cup (240 grams) sugar

1 cup water

8 ounces soft goat cheese (chevre), crumbled

2 eggs

4 egg yolks

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease an 8-inch glass pie pan with butter or pan spray.

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until the liquid is the consistency of a thick syrup. Add the cheese and mix well. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Beat in eggs and yolks.

Pour in the cheese mixture. Place the pie into a roasting pan large enough to hold it and pour boiling water into the roasting pan to about halfway up the pie pan’s sides.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pudim jiggles just slightly when you jostle the pie pan. Cool before unmolding and serving.

Ryan Cashman is a junior communications major at Westfield State University. He writes for the campus newspaper.