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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Recap: Earth Day Food Swap


Did everyone have an exciting Earth Day? Though the weather was dreary, we had an awesome turnout at our April food swap. Nearly 40 of you came out to celebrate real food and home cooking, so thank you!

Sweet & savory was how the swappables divided this month, with an almost equal number of each taste represented. We had fresh eggs, pancetta, pickled ramps, foccacia, pickled ginger, greek dressing, marinated mozzarella balancing the date brownies, citrus marmalades, grasshopper squares, chutneys, muffins, simple syrups, and lemon curd. Some people brought both, like Lena's dueling nut mixes, beer bread & chocolate bread, chocolate dipped pretzels, and spicy caramel corn. It was a delicious month!


I mean, look at all those happy faces! If you weren't there, what are you waiting for? Sign up for our May and June swaps on the left. See ya soon!

Want to see more photos from the event? Check out our Facebook page.

Boston Food Swap is a community organization funded entirely by donation. Support us through Paypal or BFS merchandise, and by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook. If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it! Our 1st Birthday is coming up! Celebrate with us on June 21st.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Swappable Spotlight - Olive Oil Crackers

It's here.  That dreadful week when there hasn't been a swap for a few weeks and your supply of home cooked food is running low and the next swap is still a few days away.  As you start plotting your recipes for Sunday's Swap and Mozzarella Potluck Party, let's take a trip down memory lane to March's Swap when Sarah (@Liftsarah) those insanely delicious Olive Oil Crackers.  Remember when we collectively pledged to never eat another store bought cracker again?  Keep that promise by making her recipe!

Olive Oil Crackers 

(adapted from 101cookbooks.com)

  • 1 ½ c. semolina flour
  • 1 ½ c. all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil 
  • Extra sea salt to top 
  • Red pepper flakes  
  • You could top the crackers with grated cheese, seeds, herbs, spices, or just leave them plain.
  1. Whisk together the flours and salt. 
  2. Add the water and olive oil. 
  3. Using a mixer with a dough hook attachment mix the dough at medium speed for about 5 - 7 minutes. Alternately, feel free to mix and then knead by hand on a floured counter-top. The dough should be just a bit tacky - not too dry, not too sticky to work with. If you need to add a bit more water (or flour) do so.
  4. When you are done mixing, shape the dough into a large ball. 
  5. Cut the ball into twelve equal-sized pieces  if using  a pasta roller
  6. Gently rub each piece with a bit of olive oil, shape into a ball and place on a plate. 
  7. Cover with a clean dishtowel or plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 - 60 minutes.
  8. While the dough is resting, preheat your oven to 450F degrees. Insert a pizza stone if you have one.
  9. When the dough is done resting, flatten one dough ball. 
  10. Using a rolling pin or a pasta machine, shape into a flat strip of dough.
  11. Pull the dough out a bit thinner by hand.
  12. Set dough on a floured , or cornmeal dusted, or parchment lined baking sheet 
  13. Poke each cracker with the tines of a fork to prevent puffing 
  14. Add any extra toppings to the crackers 
  15. Cut the crackers with a pizza cutter into shapes if desired.  
  16. Sprinkle crackers with additional sea salt and red pepper flakes.
  17. Slide into the oven onto the pizza stone, if using one, or just put the whole cookie sheet in the oven if not.
  18. Repeat the process for the remaining dough balls. 
  19. Bake 8-12 minutes until golden 
  20. Cool and enjoy!
Boston Food Swap is a community organization funded entirely by donation. Support us through Paypal or BFS merchandise, and by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook. If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it!
Celebrate our 1st Birthday with us on June 21st.
 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Happy Fingers and an OXO Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer Giveaway!


Note: OXO has graciously offered me one of their hand-held mandoline slicers to try and another for me to give away to one lucky reader!  Details on how to enter to win are at the bottom of this post.  Happy Slicing!

For those of you who haven’t heard the story, I had a little accident with a knife a few years ago.  I won’t go in to the gory details here, but the incident was traumatic enough to make me a bit sharp-phobic.  My recent caution while slicing hasn’t curbed the flavor of my cooking but it has certainly diminished some of its visual appeal and, as any cook knows, making food look good is half the battle.  Since then, I have been on the lookout for ways to slice my food well while retaining all of the fingers to which I’ve grown accustomed.


Enter OXO’s hand-held mandoline slicer.  I didn’t have a lot of faith in slicers because I bought a cheap one about 10 years ago and it languished in a kitchen drawer because it was never sharp or effective enough and the design didn’t give me any confidence that my fingers would stay safe.  Despite my skepticism, the OXO hand-held was a welcome surprise.  It was sharp enough to do the job well, it allowed for adjustable food thickness and had an attachable (read: harder to lose in the kitchen gadget drawer abyss) food holder to protect your fingers while slicing or looking for something in your kitchen gadget drawer!  

With a new found confidence, I couldn’t contain my excitement for caramelizing onions.  As you can see, I used a variety of members of the onion family, including leeks (shown) and shallots. 


After a few short minutes, I had a giant bowl of thin slices ready for my frying pan! 



For a job like caramelizing onions where you need enough slices to cook down significantly, the OXO hand-held made short work of a tall project.


As I enjoyed my many caramelized onion containing recipes in the following week, I gave the slicer two thumbs (OK, all 10 fingertips) up for an enjoyable kitchen gadget experience.

Here is some inspiration if you win one of your own:


I know what’s on your plate now could use some caramelized onions too.  Here’s how you can win an OXO Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer to make your life a little easier!

Here's how to enter (one chance for each of these activities for a total of four possible chances):
  • Leave a comment here on the Boston Food Swap blog with what in your kitchen needs slicing.
  • Sign up for our newsletter and leave a comment on this post letting us know you want to be entered in the giveaway.
  • Like us on Facebook and leave a comment on this post letting us know you want to be entered in the giveaway.
  • Tweet about the giveaway, including the hashtag #oxobfsgiveaway and this link: http://bit.ly/HUnwJ0. Example: Win a free hand-held mandoline slicer from @oxo and @BOSswappers http://bit.ly/HUnwJ0 #oxobfsgiveaway
And a few rules:
  • Only those in the United States and Canada are eligible to win.
  • When commenting, please include a way to contact you for your mailing address. For instance, link your comment a website that contains your email address or include your email in your comment.  If you include an e-mail, spell everything out and use spaces – we don’t want the spam bots harassing you!
  • All tweets, likes, newsletter subscriptions, and comments must be received by Thursday April 26th at 11:59 EST. After that, we will use Random.org to choose the winner.
  • If the winner does not respond to email requests for their address within one week, we reserve the right to choose another winner.
Boston Food Swap is a community organization funded entirely by donation. Support us through Paypal or BFS merchandise, and by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook. If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it!
Celebrate our 1st Birthday with us on June 21st.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Recipe: Bacon Bourbon Jam


Despite its prevalence, I am still of the theory that bacon makes anything taste better. Just thinking about that smoky meatiness is enough to get my mouth watering. I'm also of the mindset that the right condiment can elevate an ordinary meal to something memorable. Bacon bourbon jam is both those things, with a little booze for added decadence.

The recipe comes from Create A Cook, a cooking school for kids and adults in Newton, MA. They offer several different Date Night classes, where chefs teach you and a date (or buddy) how to make a delicious multi-course menu and then you bring all the tasty stuff home to enjoy. When I was reading the menu for the recently launched Burger Bistro class, this recipe called to me and I knew I had to make it and share.

Besides bacon & bourbon, the flavor comes from the cornucopia of spices. If you keep an overflowing cabinet like I do (and found a bottle of bourbon in your liquor cabinet like I did), this recipe costs next to nothing, so you can spend a bit on some good-quality bacon. Because this recipe is all about the bacon. Lame bacon will result in sad, tasteless jam.

I'll be whipping up another batch for the next time I make roasted hamburgers, but it doesn't just have to be for beef. Swapper Laura topped turkey burgers with it, and it would make a great substitute on a club sandwich. It would be pretty delicious on a pizza, too.




Create A Cook Bacon Bourbon Jam
about 2 cups

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 lb smoked thick cut bacon
  • 1 yellow onion (approx. 1/2 lb in weight)
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4t allspice
  • 1/4t cinnamon
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground clove
  • 4T brown sugar (dark preferred)
  • 1/2t chipotle powder
  • 1/4t paprika
  • 1/8t baking soda
  • 3T cider vinegar*
  • 4T bourbon
  • 5T prepared espresso or strong coffee
  • 2T maple syrup
Place the bacon on a rack on a sheet pan and roast at 350F in the oven until rendered and soft with the edges JUST beginning to crisp up. Do not cook the bacon to crisp. Cool and chop into small pieces. Set aside.

Place the onion, garlic, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, sugar, chipotle, paprika and baking soda in the food processor and pulse until fine.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the cider vinegar, the espresso and the bourbon.

Take 1 T of the bacon fat from the rendered bacon and place in a saut̩ pan. Scrape in all of the pureed ingredients from the food processor and place over medium heat. Now, you can walk away but be vigilant and check it every 5 minutes or so for a stir. Keep the ingredients spread out in the pan for maximum contact with the heat. If it begins to get too dry add 1 or 2 T of water. Stir again and spread it out in the pan. Continue cooking and stirring adding the water when needed for 20 Р25 minutes. The smell will change from strong onion and garlic to a mellower sweet smell as the sugars begin to caramelize.

Add the bacon and the vinegar/espresso/bourbon mixture to the pan and scrape up the stuck particles. Add the maple syrup.

Turn the heat down and continue to cook, stirring occasionally and adding water if needed to stop it from sticking, for another 20-25 minutes until the mixture is thick and the bacon is softer.

Let it cool for a few minutes and then place in the mixture in the food processor. PULSE once or twice.

Taste for seasoning. Depending on how salty your bacon is you may want a pinch of salt to offset the sweetness. Pulse once more to mix in the salt. Scrape into a jar. Keeps for 1 week – 10 days in the fridge.

*If you like a sharper condiment you can add a bit more cider vinegar towards the end of the cooking time tasting as you go.

Full disclosure: Although I work for Create A Cook, they did not ask me to make this recipe, swap it, or write about it, nor did they compensate me for it. Opinions are my own.


Boston Food Swap is a community organization funded entirely by donation. Support us through Paypal or BFS merchandise, and by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook. If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Recipe: Bubbly Blood Orange Sorbet


When it's citrus season, I just can't help myself. I buy Meyer lemons, ruby red grapefruit, and blood oranges whenever I see them, and in large quantities. For the most part, they get put to good use, but there's usually a few stragglers. So I grabbed my bag of blood oranges, and headed over to Cody's.

I spend a lot of time at my friend Cody's place. He is the talented illustrator behind our Swap sign, but he's also quite the amateur ice cream maker. So it doesn't hurt that there are always 2-3 of his various creations in the freezer. I knew he was jonesin' for a sorbet, so we put my citrus to good use.

Well, our little blood oranges didn't give off quite as much juice as we wanted, so thank goodness for leftover champagne. The wine adds a lightness to a recipe that could be very sweet otherwise. The addition of coriander is really the key. It's not overtly noticeable, but it adds a complexity and completes the flavor profile, somewhat like adding nutmeg to savory sauces.



Cody learned the ways of the scoop from the amazing Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home cookbook, so although this recipe was made up mostly on the fly, there's definitely some Jeni in there.

Remember, if you ever want to swap sorbet or other frozen items, we have freezer access at Space with a Soul to keep everything perfectly chilled!


Bubbly Blood Orange Sorbet
Inspired by Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

Ingredients:
2 cups blood orange juice (from about 12-18 blood oranges)
1 cup sparkling wine
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 tsp coriander

Add blood orange juice, sugar, corn syrup, and coriander to a medium sized sauce pan. Heat on medium and whisk until sugar and corn syrup have dissolved. Remove from stove and stir in sparkling wine. transfer to a bowl or resealable bag and chill for at 1-2 hours. Once base is chilled, add to ice cream machine and churn for 20-30 minutes, or follow manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a reusable container and freeze overnight, or until it has reached your desired consistency.


(Photos: Tara Bellucci)

Boston Food Swap is a community organization funded entirely by donation. Support us through Paypal or BFS merchandise, and by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook. If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Recap: March Food Swap


Our March food swap happened to coincide with a very big celebration in Boston: Saint Patrick's Day. We thought we'd be safe from the Southie Parade at our location in Fort Point, but the throngs of green revelers made for tricky commutes and delays. So we were more than thrilled when a dozen of our dear swap community braved the scene to attend!



The results were delicious, of course. Some of the swapped items include: hummus, sea salt & pepper crackers, dried rosemary, pretzel rolls, peanut butter popcorn, granola, Indian pudding, raw honey biscuits, jam muffins, preserved lemons, grape jelly, pear hazelnut jam, blood orange bread, ginger syrup, sesame dressing, tomato jam, and more! If you haven't been to a swap yet, what are you waiting for?

Thanks to those who trekked out to join us in March! Want to see more? Check out all of the photos on our Facebook page. Sign up for the April Food Swap, which falls on Earth Day! 

Boston Food Swap is a community organization funded entirely by donation. Support us through Paypal or BFS merchandise, and by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook. If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it!