Super Simple Sunday

I’m in the middle of labeling more batches of my herbal products for my Etsy shop, sipping on a tall glass of ginger honey lemonade and thought I should share this awesome recipe. I can get back to labeling later.

Making it by the gallon will make sense after you’ve had a glass. It doesn’t last long. This lemonade is super simple to make and is so good for you.

Here’s why:

Ginger is in the same family as turmeric and cardamom, making it very warming and stimulating to the circulatory system. Ginger is soothing to the digestive tract, is anti-inflammatory, and some resources show that it inhibits the growth of rhinovirus, the common cold.

Lemon juice is loaded with vitamins and minerals, stimulates the production of bile to help move toxins out of your body, is antiseptic and anti-bacterial, aids digestion, and as an added bonus makes your skin radiate. If you want to really boost your immunity zest some of the lemons into the lemonade!  The zest has five times more antioxidant power than the juice.

Raw honey is a miracle food created by the wondrous, hard-working humble honey bee. There is some truth to honey helping with allergies so it is best to get honey that’s been created from your local flora. Honey is antibacterial, anti-microbial, and reduces inflammation. And honey is lower on the glycemic index making it a much better natural alternative to white sugar.

Where do I get my raw honey? I am lucky enough to have my own apiary and access to raw honey, but if you’re looking for good honey you must seek out a local beekeeper. Google search for a local beekeepers club and give them a call. Better yet, go to your local farmer’s market. There’s bound to be a beekeeper or two selling their own honey and beeswax products. Make sure it’s raw, though. It may be crystalized or it may not. It’s not bad if it has crystalized; it’s a normal process that occurs after the honey is removed from the hive. We like the crystalized honey – it’s easy to spread on toast, melt into tea, and blend into smoothies and measure for recipes.

NOTE: Avoid pasteurized honey! It is no better than sugar. And don’t even bother with commercial brands of honey since many are imported and we are now finding out are not even real honey but high fructose corn syrup and other fillers. Yuck. Who needs it?

Cheers!

FullSizeRender-1

Ginger Honey Lemonade

Makes 1 gallon

Ingredients: 

  • 1C peeled and freshly grated ginger (or more to taste)
  • 1 ½C of freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 7-8 juicy lemons, depending on size)
  • 1C local, raw honey (or more to taste)
  • 4 quarts of water
  • extra lemons for garnish

Directions:

In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the grated ginger and simmer for 45 minutes. Turn heat off and let sit for 2 hours. Strain the ginger out of the water, using a fine mesh sieve, into a serving pitcher or large container. Add the lemon juice and honey while the ginger water is still warm. Stir until combined. Taste and adjust sweetness. Serve warm or chilled on ice. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Lemonade jar

Wildflower Honey Liqueur

HoneyLiqueurBottle

This honey liqueur is simply delicious. It is an adaptation I made from Jane Lawson’s Snowflakes and Schnapps cookbook. It’s a beautifully done cookbook, rich with food photos and simple, wholesome (and gourmet) recipes. I highly recommend getting yourself a copy, not just for the visual feast, but the way she takes you on a culinary tour of Europe with her recipes.

There’s something about this liqueur that says sweet comfort. It’s full of flavor, and if you’re sipping it neat you can really taste the subtle flavors. Before you make this decide on what kind of honey to use. If you want a more robust, earthy flavor (my favorite) use the darker fall harvest honey. If you would prefer a lighter, more delicate flavor that will highlight the infusion, choose the lighter, spring harvest honey.

HoneyLiqueurInPan

Honey and Saffron Liqueur, adapted from Jane Lawson

Makes 1 Litre

Ingredients:

  • 750ml bottle of good vodka
  • ½C water
  • 1C dark, fall honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ of a vanilla bean, split lengthwise, and finely chopped
  • 10 white peppercorns
  • ¼t freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 pinches of saffron threads
  • 3 strips of lemon zest, white pith removed

Directions:

Put the honey, water, cinnamon stick, chopped vanilla bean, peppercorns, nutmeg, and saffron in a saucepan and bring just to boil. Quickly reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the lemon zest and set aside to infuse for 20 minutes.

Reheat until simmering, then remove from the heat and cool completely. Once cooled, strain through a fine mesh sieve, and add the vodka. Carefully pour into a sterilized airtight bottle and allow to the flavors to infuse at room temperature for a week before drinking.

Serving Suggestions:

  1. Neat (my favorite way) or On The Rocks.
  2. Martini: 2 parts vodka or gin, 1 part honey liqueur. Add a lemon twist.
  3. Whiskey/Scotch/Bourbon: equal parts honey liqueur and spirits, iced or neat.

Honey Crêpes

Crepe

Cooking breakfast is my least favorite meal to prepare. I love going out for breakfast. There’s something just so perfect about waking up and having someone else make the first meal of the day for you. We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not make it special and start your day off great? A sit-down-at-the-table breakfast is the best way to start the day. Weekends are when I really look forward to a nice breakfast. Here is my recipe for crêpes filled with honey-walnut cream cheese. They are light, loaded with flavor and a bit of crunch, then finished with a sweet drizzle of raw honey. Serve with sliced fresh fruit. Add some jazz music, a pot of French press coffee, a newspaper, and your weekend has begun.

Honey Crêpes

Makes about 16 medium or 8 large crêpes

Batter ingredients:

  • ⅔C unbleached pastry flour or Cup4Cup gluten-free flour
  • ½C whole milk
  • 2 farm fresh eggs, room temperature
  • 2T liquid raw honey
  • butter

eggbatter

Filling ingredients:

  • 8oz. cream cheese (one brick), room temperature
  • ½C chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 3T liquid raw honey

Creamcheese filling

Directions:

In a small bowl, using a fork, mash together the cream cheese, honey, and walnuts. Keep stirring until all ingredients are combined. Set aside. In a larger bowl, whisk the flour, milk, eggs, and honey until you have a smooth batter.

Heat a non-stick skillet on medium-high heat, then dot with butter. Drop a dollop of batter onto the pan, rotating it to slide the batter around the pan. You will have to decide how large you want your crêpe and adjust the amount your pour into your pan accordingly. Cook on one side for about 1 minute, then carefully flip over and cook the other side an addition 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat until your batter is gone.

Fill the crepe with 1 large tablespoon of the cream cheese filling, spread it on the crêpe to even it out, then fold or roll your crêpe.

Drizzle with honey before serving.

 

 

Honey-Glazed Salmon with Tzatziki Over Dressed Greens

Salmon with TzazikiWild caught Atlantic salmon is a tasty, healthy fish to include in your diet. It’s loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, has a mild flavor, and can carry a glaze or sauce. I originally developed this recipe using maple syrup, but my honey gives a tender sweetness to the glaze. Try it with both and decide what you like. In our house, honey got the vote.

Fresh SalmonHoney-Glazed Salmon with Tzatziki

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2# skin-on salmon, 1” thick, cut into four pieces
  • ⅓C honey
  • 3T Bragg’s cider vinegar
  • 1T dijon mustard
  • 1T soy sauce
  • 1T EVOO
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½t black pepper

Directions: In a small bowl, combine the honey, vinegar, mustard, soy sauce, EVOO, garlic and pepper. Place the fish in shallow bowl (or ziploc baggie). Pour the glaze over the fish and marinate for at least an hour, or overnight in the refrigerator. Turn the fish from time to time to make sure it gets covered evenly with the marinade. Remove the salmon from the marinade onto a plate, then pour the marinade into a small saucepan. Heat the marinade on medium-high heat, bring it to a low boil, and reduce by half. This may take about 10 minutes. The marinade with darken a bit, then get thick as it reduces. Take reduction off the heat. Grill the salmon, basting with the reduced marinade. Fish cooks rather quickly, roughly 10 minutes an inch.

I served the salmon with a dollop of my tzatziki (see below for recipe) over a bed of field greens with arugula dressed with a honey herb vinaigrette (see below for recipe). Tzatziki is a great party dip or sauce for fish. It’s so simple to make, but full of fresh flavor.

Tzaziki

Tzatziki

Makes 2½ Cups

Ingredients:

  • 2C full fat, plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 mini English cucumbers, chopped in small dice (about ½-¾C)
  • 2T minced, fresh dill
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or grated on a microplane
  • ½t sea salt

Directions: In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients. Let sit for half an hour for the flavors to marry. Enjoy with fish, as a dip for vegetables, or with corn chips. Will keep one week in the refrigerator.

Honey Herb Vinaigrette

Makes 2¼ Cups

Ingredients:

  • ⅔C EVOO
  • ½C Champagne Vinegar
  • ¼C local honey
  • ¼C Dijon mustard
  • 2T fresh tarragon, minced
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions: In a large bowl combine the Champagne vinegar, honey, and mustard. Slowly whisk in the EVOO to form an emulsion. Add in the tarragon, sea salt and pepper to taste. Will keep for 2 months in the refrigerator.

Honeyed Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

ChocolateChip Banana Bread

I’m fascinated by the life of honey bees and the hardworking, selfless social community they create. Honey bees sometimes get a bad reputation because they get lumped together with all bees, including the nasty and aggressive wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets. However, honey bees are NOT aggressive and will only sting out of an instinct to protect the hive or themselves (like when you step on one). Sadly, if a honey bee does use its stinger, the honey bee dies. However, wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets can sting repeatedly because they don’t have barbs on their stingers! OUCH! We need honeybees. One-third of our food is pollinated by honeybees. Imagine a world without honeybees. It’s not so unbelievable given the trajectory of Monsanto and it’s control of the food supply.

Whole Foods Market photo
Whole Foods Market photo

Bees are an excellent indicator of environmental health. The build up of toxins in the environment affect our entire ecosystem and more importantly, us. There’s plenty of research on what pesticides do to people. Do a google search on pesticide build-up in humans and you’ll find liver failure, infertility, brain disorders, and endocrine disruption to name a few. What affects one organism affects another. Spray pesticides and you kill off another being’s food supply. Bats eat mosquitoes. Dragonflies eat mosquitoes. Spray for mosquitoes in your town and you have other dead or sick beneficial animals: honey bees, bats, fish, crickets, fireflies, dragonflies, and other various small insects. By now you should have heard of Colony Collapse Disorder. CCD occurs in areas where there is heavy pesticide use (think factory farms). Nearly all research points to the bee die off being as a catastrophic consequence of pesticide use.  Bill Moyers article is HERE. No honeybees?  No pollination.  No pollination?  No almonds. Few fruits. Few veggies.

My family is obsessed with honey. We take scoops and eat it right from the spoon. We put it in our tea. I use it as a sweetener in salad dressings, drizzle it on grilled fish, and mix in my barbecue sauce.  My husband uses our honey in his granola recipe, and we both love a large helping of honey swirled on a bowl of Greek yogurt. If you need another reason to love honey: a spoonful of honey DOES help the medicine go down…and may keep the doctor away, too!  Read more about honey’s health properties HERE. If you’ve ever done taste-testing with honey, you know that each honey tastes a little different depending on the honey’s terroir. Terroir is what makes the honey take on the characteristics, and flavor, of the environment the honey bees traveled. Terroir is often used to describe wine, but it works for honey, too.  Our Queen Bee Works honey is truly the best honey we’ve ever had – and we’ve had a lot. Our honey is classified as “wildflower” honey because the bees took nectar and pollen from all around the area, not just one variety of flower.

This honey banana bread recipe has been in my recipe notebook for more years than I care to admit. I probably inherited it from my mum. She used to make banana bread (a lot) when I was growing up. She probably made so much banana bread because I wouldn’t eat a banana that had even the hint of a brown spot on it and she didn’t want to waste them. Even now, I will only eat a barely ripe banana! This recipe has evolved a bit over the years, and my most recent addition has been dark chocolate chunks. Bananas and chocolate go together like peas and carrots. Have you ever had a banana dipped in melted chocolate and then rolled in toasted, chopped walnuts? Divine. This banana bread is better.

Walnuts and Chocolate

Honey Walnut Chocolate-Chip Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

  • 2¼C unbleached cake flour or Cup 4 Cup Gluten Free Flour
  • ¾C walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1C dark chocolate chunks (Valhrona)
  • 3 large, ripe bananas
  • 6oz. container of plain, full fat Greek yogurt
  • ¾C honey
  • 6T unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2t honey liqueur (Barenjager) or 2t vanilla extract
  • ¾t baking soda
  • ½t salt

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. In a medium bowl, mash the bananas with a fork or a potato masher, but be careful not to make them too soupy – keep some lumps in there. Add the yogurt, honey, melted butter, vanilla, and eggs to the bananas and stir gently to combine. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and gently stir until just combined. If you over-mix you risk creating gluten in the flour, and that makes for a tough (not light and airy) bread.

Pour the batter into a buttered and floured loaf pan. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes.  Test for doneness around 35-40 minutes with a toothpick or cake tester. To test a cake or bread for doneness, insert the toothpick into the center of the bread. If it comes out clean, without batter stuck to it, it’s done. If not, check in another 5 minutes.

A little note on using honey: I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen with honey.  What I’m reading (and learning first-hand) about cooking with honey is that the moisture in some baked good recipes needs to be inversely adjusted, simply because you are adding moisture with the honey.  When you substitute honey for sugar, you are essentially adding a little liquid as well as sweetener.  If you want to substitute honey for sugar, start off substituting half of the sugar for honey.

Moochie’s Macarons!

Look what I picked up at Tendercrop Farms today!

Moochie’s French macarons are hand-crafted in MA by Nina DiBona Pauk using few ingredients and a little Francophile love added. I’ve had French macarons from Paris and from a French café in Québec – Moochie’s are just as authentic, tender, light, and delicious as any of the ones made in France or Québec. Of course I picked up three packages on my way by the refrigerator section of the farmstand: lavender honey, coconut, and creamed honey cinnamon (made with local Epping, NH honey). It was hard not to buy all of the packages. I mean, there are ONLY four in a package. They ring in at $7.99. Worth Stocking up since I’ve been known to stop by Tendercrop just for the macarons and my favorites aren’t in stock. The macarons freeze well and can last 3 months. And, the macaroons can be stored in the refrigerator for a week, but let them come to room temp before eating. In the heat, that’s about 20 minutes until you can eat one. or two. or four.

I’m feeling very French this evening. I think tonight is a bread, cheese, and chilled Sancerre night. Oh, and a few macarons.

Here’s where you can find them now:

  • VOLTAGE COFFEE & ART, 295 3RD ST CAMBRIDGE, MA 02142
  • HERON POND FARM, INTERSECTION OF RT 107 & RT 150 KENSINGTON, NH 03833
  • TOWN WHARF GENERAL STORE, 10 WATER STREET MATTAPOISETT, MA
  • THE HARVARD GENERAL STORE, 1 STILL RIVER ROAD HARVARD, MA
  • OLIVES & GRACE, 81 PEMBROKE STREET BOSTON, MA
  • D SQUARED JAVA, 155 WATER STREET EXETER, NH
  • GEORGE HOWELL COFFEE, 311 WALNUT ST NEWTON, MA
  • RENDER COFFEE, 563 COLUMBUS AVE BOSTON, MA
  • RIDE STUDIO CAFE, 1720 MASS AVE LEXINGTON, MA
  • TENDERCROP FARMS, 108 STATE HIGHWAY 1 A NEWBURYPORT, MA

lavender honey macaron

Shell Ingredients: almond flour, sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar.

Filling Ingredients: butter, eggs, honey, sugar, lavender extract.

Macarons contain tree nuts, dairy, and eggs.