new obsession: purslane

purslane

If it looks like a succulent to you, that’s ’cause it is! Purslane, native to India & the Middle East originally, is an edible succulent that is often viewed as a weed. It can grow in most any soil, will spread like wildfire, and is drought and “black thumb” tolerant. The benefits keep on coming: Purslane, in addition to being delicious (kinda tart and juicy) is naturally high in vitamin C and other minerals along with omega-3 fatty acids.

I’m planting quite a bit this year, so I’ll be doing my usual Summer salad bonanza with a healthy dose of Purslane for sure. It’s popular in Greek cuisine, so pairing it with feta, kalamatas and olive oil is an option — but you can cook it down too, and it will actually thicken soups. Crazy! Have you tried it? Any recipes to share? — Megan B.

in five: frozen banana ice cream

Faith Durand Banana Ice Cream Kitchn

Ever since first laying eyes on the Yonanas banana ice cream maker in the June issue of In Style magazine, the simple idea of churning a frozen banana into a quick dish of creamy, soft ice cream has been cropping up everywhere. The recipe is beautifully self-explanatory: Peel a banana. Cut it into sections and freeze. Drop frozen pieces into a food processor, blend and enjoy! A little trick with a big fan base, the recipe met with rave reviews when featured a couple summers ago over at The Kitchn, and has been a trick of the trade for vegan, raw and gluten-free dieters for years. Add a spoonful of peanut butter, honey, cocoa powder or simply enjoy alone for a sweet, healthy and easy summer treat! — Sarah C.

Image: Faith Durand for The Kitchn

real life test kitchen: make your own whole-grain mustard!

mustard

I have a serious condiment addiction, and my latest can’t-get-enough craving is for mustards. Sweet, yellow, brown, honey … and most recently, grainy. I love to make dressings and marinades with it, top a Chicago dog, and mix into mac n’ cheese. Surprised at the lack of options in my local grocery, this past weekend I decided to make my own. After doing a little internet research I found out the process is actually ridiculously easy! There are lots of variations, but I tried a very basic recipe and am really excited about the results. Here’s my recipe:
Grainy Mustard
• 1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
• 3 tablespoons brown mustard seeds
• 3/4 cup cider vinegar
• 1/3 cup water
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
In a glass or plastic (not metal) bowl I soaked mustard seeds in vinegar and water at room temperature for 1 1/2 days (if you try this and the seeds aren’t fully submerged, add enough additional water to cover). After soaking, I puréed the mixture with a hand blender with honey and salt until the texture was medium-coarse (which took about 2 minutes). Then, I then thinned it with a little additional water and adjusted the salt to my taste. That’s it! It turned out awesomely grainy with a nice tang, and should mellow out in a week. Next time I might try a variation like:
• Using beer, ale, or wine instead of vinegar
• Adding dried fruit such as apricots, cherries or raisins to the soaking
• Adjusting the ratio of seeds (brown seeds make for a spicier spread)
• Using smoked or flavored salts, sugar, or maple syrup to season
• Adding herbs and spices such as tarragon, thyme, paprika, or Chinese 5-spice powder.
Have you ever made your own condiments? — Rebecca F.

Photo: Rebecca Firlik

watermelon: summer’s secret ingredient

watermelonfeta

Last Monday we took the day off to observe Memorial Day and celebrate the kickoff of another summer season. Today we tip our hats to the ambassador fruit of the season by taking pause to recognize the little corner of the internet dedicated expressly to it: Watermelon.org . Whether enjoyed alone or receiving top billing in a popsicle combo, watermelon is one of my all-time favorite fruits and the surest sign (besides the firing of the “check filter” light on my air conditioner) that summer has indeed arrived. This year I’m interested in incorporating the fruit in different ways. For starters, I’m looking to Megan B.’s much-loved recipe for watermelon with feta and mint and Nigella Lawson’s watermelon, feta and black olive salad, which comes highly-recommended by our readers. In the beverage department, 21st Amendment brews a seasonal “Hell or High Watermelon” wheat beer that I’d love to track down and introduce to my taste buds, and for more recipes, both cocktail and otherwise, I’ll be looking to the experts at the National Watermelon Promotion Board, but I’d love to put the call out to our readers as well. Have any watermelon-pairing epiphanies to share? Sound off in comments, I’m all ears and the summer has just begun! Here’s to you, watermelon. 92% water, 100% delicious. – Sarah C.

real life test kitchen: chris kimball’s rhubarb fool

rhubarb2

One of my must have cookbooks? The Classic Cookbook by Christopher Kimball (of Cooks Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen fame). I scored my copy years ago at the bargain book table, and I’m so glad I did. This book is like a giant hard-bound issue of C.I., with product reviews, ingredient suggestions and tons of well-tested recipes for everything from roast chicken to lemon curd creme brulee. It seems like every time I thumb through it I discover a new recipe to try.

This time, I bookmarked a recipe for a rhubarb fool — simply whipped cream folded with a quickly composed rhubarb compote. Since rhubarb is just about the only thing we’ve got that even resembles fresh local fruit for a few more weeks here in the Northwest, I thought it would be the *perfect* seasonal dessert for an impromptu lunch with an old friend. And it was — simultaneously light and creamy, with the perfect balance of sweet and tart. And the leftovers were pretty amazing as breakfast the next day topped with some lavender granola. Best part? This recipe will work with any summer fruit, so this refreshing no-bake winner will be on my menus all summer long! — Megan B.
Click for the recipe, after the jump!