Category Archives: My Recipes

raw walnut nettle pesto

walnut nettle pesto by Salt Fat Whiskey

With a seemingly ferocious nature, Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) hasn’t quite caught on around the country as the gourmet wild wonder it truly is. Here in the Northwest, it’s a beloved harbinger of spring, arriving on market shelves and restaurant menus each April in many delicious incarnations.

My kitchen is no exception. As soon as the plants are ready, I carefully clip the tender tops (no more than 6 inches from the top or roughly the first 2 sets of leaves) into my basket to make infused vinegar, frittatas, biscuits, curries, pizza, smoothies, soups, and of course, nettle pesto with a twist. When harvested this way, the nettles will continue to leaf out and provide food for many months, so expect more nettle recipes to come!

nettlewoods

Such a vibrant glowing green. And look at those spiked trichomes. Delicate, yet absolutely effective. Go ahead…touch it!

Brave herbie people (aka crazies like me) will often pick a leaf bare-handed, fold it just so, and munch on it straight raw. The exquisite nutrient power hits immediately as I savor the mild flavor which is bright grassy and slightly nutty. But, really, it’s totally unnecessary to risk stung lips to enjoy nettles. The spines surrender their power quickly when exposed to either heat or pressure, making cooking or processing good options.

Most nettle pesto recipes out there call for blanching the fresh nettle leaves first. I like to make mine with raw leaves instead, since the food processor will take care of those stingers. This way, you get the maximum nutritive value of the raw greens.

I also like to use sweet and fatty local walnuts from Grateful Harvest Farm, mixed with some deep green organic pumpkin seeds instead of pine nuts from the store. Most pine nuts you buy these days are imported from China –  and that’s a long way to travel just to make some pesto. Most any oily nut will work well here.

I dream of collecting Piñon Pine nuts from the Southwest someday for this recipe. Oh, the decadence! My friend Heron gifted me a jar full of them last year and they were the most delicious, sweet, buttery treasures. Truly little nuggets of perfection. Until I can get my own, I’m sticking with these…

walnutpesto

nettlepestoblend

 

walnut nettle pesto

4 cups nettle leaves

1 cup basil leaves

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1 cup organic virgin olive oil

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated

5 cloves garlic

1.5 tsp pink salt

Wearing gloves, snip the tender nettle tops into a paper bag. Remove the leaves from the stems and rinse well in cool water. Blend the first four ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and process until well incorporated.

The consistency should look something like this…

nettlepesto2

Spread generously on toasted baguette, pizza, sandwiches, use to grill meat, whisk in scrambles, add to vinaigrette, garnish soups, mix in mashed potatoes, toss with roasted vegetables, eat by the spoonful, and definitely make some pesto pasta. Any leftover pesto will freeze nicely for an easy future meal.

This batch was used to make some super tasty pesto chicken and sun-dried tomato fettuccine…

pestopasta2

 

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butter roasted chicken & spring asparagus

roastchicken2

Eating perfectly skin-crisped oven roasted chicken always makes me feel strangely luxurious and nourished like a queen. There are few dishes as profoundly satisfying after a long day or easier to prepare.

While baking a whole chicken can be a demanding project for a weeknight, roasting a few breasts or thighs takes less than an hour. Choosing bone-in and skin-on happy chicken for this is key since the meat will be exceptionally tender, juicy, and flavorful.

Chicken skin creates a magical force field that protects the delicate moisture from drying out of the meat, and if you stuff butter underneath, it transforms deliciously into this…

chickenroast

The asparagus came on a bit early this year, and that’s pretty exciting if you’re into that kinda thing – and I am – especially when it’s roasted with fresh garlic, lemons, olive oil, white wine, salt, and pepper. I consulted the tomes to find a foolproof technique for these beauties and settled on the Joy of Cooking’s Roasted Asparagus as my guide.

asparagus

 

Butter Roasted Chicken

2 local/organic/free-range chicken breasts

1 – 2 tbsp butter, divided between breasts

1 tbsp organic olive oil

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/4 cup white wine

2 cloves garlic, sliced

salt + pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Evaluate the size of your chicken breasts and using your best judgement stuff an “appropriate” amount of butter under the skin. Whatever that means to you will be fine. Salt and pepper the top and underside of the breasts well. I like a good amount of pepper. In a small bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients together and pour into a glass baking pan. Place the chicken in the pan and drizzle a bit of the liquid over the top using a spoon. Bake for 15 minutes and then baste the chicken with the pan juices. Allow to roast for another 15 minutes and remove. Using a knife, cut into the thickest part to check the color. Pink means it is not ready. Check every 5 minutes after that until done. Total cooking time can vary from 30-45 minutes depending on size and thickness. You can also use a meat thermometer to make sure the temperature of the thickest part reaches a safe 165 degrees.

 

Lemon Garlic Asparagus

 1 lb young, tender asparagus spears

1 tbsp organic olive oil

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 tbsp white wine

4 cloves garlic, pressed

several lemon wheels

salt + pepper

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Mix all ingredients (except for asparagus and lemon wheels) together in a bowl and pour into a shallow pan. Toss the asparagus in the mixture to coat well. Spread out in the pan and lay lemon wheels on top. Roast for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring once while cooking.

 

Smoked Paprika Yogurt Sauce

1 cup Greek yogurt

1/2  lemon, juiced

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 cloves garlic, pressed

salt + pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and spoon lovingly over your roasted asparagus. This sauce recipe was inspired by Smitten Kitchen and turned out. so. so. good.

roastchicken3

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corpse reviver 2 on a sunday

corpserevivergroup

We woke late in the morning, moseying into the kitchen to fry smoked bacon slices picked up at Deck Family Farm during Saturday Market the day before, and scramble some locally laid eggs with fresh basil and white cheddar. After a night shared celebrating a friend’s visit from Florida, we needed a classic “hair of the dog” brunchy refresher. This seemed especially appropriate…

 

corpse reviver 2

3/4 ounce Gin

3/4 ounce fresh squeezed organic lemon juice

3/4 ounce Cointreau

3/4 ounce Cocchi Americano (an aperitif wine)

Absinthe rinse

fresh ice

Chill a coupe glass in the freezer. Remove and pour a dash of absinthe into the glass. Swirl the liquid around to coat the bowl of the coupe and then pour out (into your mouth). Mix all other ingredients together in a shaker with fresh ice and shake well. Double strain with a Boston strainer and a mesh strainer into the glass to catch any lemon pulp. I am a pulp fiend, but this is neither the time nor the place! Drink. Feel better.

corpsereviver2

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sweet + sour pickled dandelion buds

dandysbudjar

Pop, pop…pop, pop, pop…pop!

My garden is gradually turning sunny yellow with every blossom. Our winter was so mild and spring so unexpectedly warm that I have definitely…uh…kinda fallen behind on weeding. Just a little. The plants seem to be well aware of this fact and have taken advantage of my delayed gardening instinct. At least inspiration is creeping in!

I first heard about pickling dandelion buds from the wonderful Rosalee de la Foret. After playing with her recipe, I discovered something really special. Something you are going to want to make too. Like, right now.

dandelionpickle1

sweet + sour pickled dandelions

1.5 cups of tightly closed, freshly harvested dandelion buds

2 garlic cloves, pressed

1 tbsp fresh grated ginger root

1 tsp organic yellow mustard seed

1 organic bay leaf

1/3 cup local honey

organic tamari or shoyu sauce

organic apple cider vinegar

Gather dandelion buds emerging from the base of a basal rosette or that are shooting up further along the flowering stalk, but have not bloomed. You want to look closely and be sure that the flowers haven’t yet opened. They should be vibrant green and tightly closed, otherwise you will end up with a jar full of limp, floaty flowers trying to go to seed – and you can’t take that to a party! If you compare multiple plants, you will easily recognize the difference. Pluck each bud from its stem. Take a look at the first two pictures above and pull off the leafy whorl of bracts just below the bud. If you don’t feel like going through this step, it will be okay, but you won’t ever bare the cool mark of dandelion latex staining your fingertips. Just fyi.

Dump the dandelion buds into a pint jar. Add the garlic, ginger, mustard seed, and honey. Pour the shoyu or tamari until the jar is 1/3 full. Fill the remainder with apple cider vinegar and top with a bay leaf. Shake, shake, shake. Allow to pickle for one week in the refrigerator. Eat. Eat. Eat. Eat. Eat.

These are ridiculously delicious alone, on a cheese plate, in stir fry, salads, omelettes, sandwiches, on pizza, and in tacos too.

pickled-buds

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bitter greens grilled cheese & a cocktail

bittercress

Tiny beaded rosettes of weedy bittercress (Cardamine oligosperma) appear first thing each spring alongside mighty toothed dandelion greens. Within days, the untended garden pops alive with yellow and white flowers.

Bittercress quickly bolts with slender siliques reaching toward the sun, ready to shoot.

My fingertips gently tickle the tops and I hear the seeds burst forth and fly through the air like little rockets.

I pull them from the ground and think of lunch…

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 I cut the roots and wash the dirt from the greens.

Bitter weeds on grilled cheese?

Oh, yes.

A few dandelion flowerheads too?

Why not?

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I use the most sour sourdough, sharpest cheddar, and freshest butter possible.

Crack black peppercorns over the cheese and then layer on the greens.

Grill and flip over medium-high heat.

Grill and flip until crisped and golden.

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And…a little something bubbly to cleanse the palate between each buttery, cheesy, salty bite:

 

champcocktail

 

Champagne Cocktail

Drop 1 sugar cube in the bottom of a flute

Two drops of Angostura bitters

1/2 oz cognac

Top with bubbly

The sugar cube will slowly dissolve and dazzle with long-lasting effervescence.

Cheers to spring!

 

champcocktail2

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