I’ll gladly admit that when I first made onion flakes it was mostly because I wanted to play with our new dehydrator and I didn’t really think there was much of a reason to dry them out other than having fun. It seems odd to preserve something that cellars so well to begin with.
When I tasted the results, I realized I was wrong. Dehydrated onion flakes contain a small portion of the bite that their original flesh contained while keeping the essence of their sweetness. I can eat these like candy.
Other than eating them whole, dehydrated onions are very useful for bread, soups, salads, pizzas and sandwiches. If you’re planning to eat them without rehydrating them you may want to consider cubing your onions as the long pieces can be a little stringy/ chewy. It’s also a heck of a base for a dry rub for ribs, roasts or a savory to add to your stuffing in a turkey.
It’s also an added bonus that we NEVER run out of onions. The few occasions that I have found myself reaching into a bare cupboard have left me cackling like a mad scientist when I realize I have a secret jar of onions that will last FOREVER (well, a really, really long time).
As with all of our dehydration, we’ve learned that using a mandolin to cut your product will save you hours in the end. When all of the onion is the exact same width, the drying process is uniform and you don’t have to check your entire inventory piece by piece and selectively pull items out of the gentle heat. The mandolin also speeds things up if efficiency is one of your goals.
Sliced onions are laid flat on a preserving tray (you could technically use a cookie sheet) and placed under a low and slow heat – we use 125 degrees Fahrenheit (52 Celsius).
Be prepared that a lot of onion does not go a long way. Our last batch was 7-8 pounds and the finished product filled a 1-liter (4 cup) Mason jar.
This is an amazing recipe that’s super easy to make and lovely for the Spring:
Before we share the recipe, a quick discussion on the three ways scallops arrive on your plate:
They are farmed.
They are dredged.
They are harvested by hand (i.e. diver)
Although the technology has changed over the years, a dredge is essentially a snowplow that is dragged across the floor of the ocean. It occasionally has teeth that dig further into the bottom; It disturbs and arguably destroys much of what it contacts. According to OceanWise and many of the fishermen I’ve known in my life, this method is extremely destructive.
The most sustainable method is diver-harvested although some farming methods are sound as well.
If your fish monger doesn’t know where your scallops were caught or how they were harvested, stay away. Before buying dredged scallops, imagine what would happen if we disturbed only the top 6-12 inches of soil across an entire farm or city.
Scallops are a treat in our house so we like to keep them simple. The keys to this dish are fresh (even if frozen) scallops and fresh asparagus (this salad would be awful with asparagus that was less than fresh) as neither are cooked traditionally. The flavors are simple and beautiful. While either recipe is good independently, they are even better together.
Olive Oil (a few tablespoons)
Lemons (we used 2.5)
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Asparagus (we used 8 large spears)
Scallops (we used 1 pound)
Chile flakes (to taste)
Rinse scallops, drain and pat dry.
Slice scallops into small pieces, place in a small bowl.
Cover scallops with juice of two lemons and about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Add chile flakes to your heart’s content.
Cover and place bowl in fridge for 30-60 minutes (no longer); stir every 10 minutes or so. The longer you wait, the more cured/firm they will become. These do not make great leftovers.
Drain before plating.
Garnish with coarse salt right before serving.
Asparagus Salad (I make this after the scallops go in fridge)
Break the stalks off where they naturally snap.
Use a sharp potato peeler to peel slices (start just under the tip – you can cook the tips separately). You may have to cut the last 2-3 pieces manually.
Rest the strips in a small bowl.
Add the juice of a half lemon and 2 teaspoons (you can judge by eye) to the asparagus.
Season with pepper (I like lots though you may prefer to be subtle), stir.
Place in fridge, stirring every 10 minutes or so; it’s ready in 15-60 minutes (or ny time in between).
Drain before serving and season with coarse salt on the plate.
I like to serve this with potato chips or thin crackers but even lettuce will do (I take a bite of all 3 things at the same time for maximum impact). Although I’m happy with my potato chips, I’m not thrilled with them yet so that recipe will have to wait for another day!
Yesterday showed part one of this exercise – A lot of people asked us what we were going to do with them.
Let`s begin at the end. Our 5 pounds of beets now look like this:
we ate some yesterday with out turnip soup and they looked like this in my bowl:
And they looked like this in Dana`s:
Of course our celery isn`t the salt of the earth but perhaps it can find a friend:
By now I am assuming you have uncoded the nefarious plans. Both of our dehydrated heroes met a bitter demise (and rebirth) as they were crushed by the spinning blades of the evil Doctor flavor Maker, erm, coffee grinder.
I am a little giddy with the results.
Dehydrated beet powder is concentrated beet flavor. It can be used to dye food but also as an accent color. Here`s a few ideas:
Added to highlight an earthy soup like our rutabaga one above. You could definitely taste the flavor.
I grew up eating pickled herring. Adding a bit of this to the fish and vinegar combo would create a micro instant pickle
My Grandfather used to soak onions for a short time in vinegar (often while he cooked) to eat with dinner. A little of this on top would bring a further earthy flavor to things.
On top of sandwiches, like pulled pork.
In the place of time in any recipe that you don`t mind the color changing
Rolled in a pork tenderloin
Our friend Kerry suggested marinating or scattering this on Feta for a feta and beet salad.
Kerry also suggested to play whimsically with other dishes and alter their color dramatically. The vibrant colors of Indian Cuisine could be inverted for fun to see what would happen.
A small amount wrapped on chevre
Used to change the color of a soup or broth
Added to a salad dressing
That small jar (about a half cup) will last a long, long, time. The flavor is intense. The next time you eat beets think about how much water you are consuming compared to `beet essence!`
The celery root has some similar uses from above as well as others:
Added to a dry rub for bbq
Add to a stock (almost like our own veggie bouillon cubes)
Mixed with salt to rim a caesar or bloody mary glass. Unsalted powder could be added to the drink
Added on top of dinner at the last-minute to bring the taste of celery in
I also have dehydrated carrot and onion. Thinking of making some powder of each to make a concentrated mirepoix (French combination or `Holy Trinity`). This could be applied as a last-minute accent to any dish that started with the 3.
This is an amazingly wholesome feeling kind of preserving to me. We`re not adding sweeteners or sours and the final ingredient, in some ways, is an elevated version of the original – yet it contains nothing but the original.
What esle would you use these for or what else would you turn to powder?
This condiment offers spring in a mouthful and is awesome – but there’s a price to be paid. But that should be fairly obvious – after all, you’re making relish with a knife.
Are there ways to avoid the finicky work? You could use a food processor (use small amounts cut to the same size before processing) or a vitamix (but they’re a lot of moolah). Some careful knife work will yield quick results but if I really had to cheat, I’d use a mandoline to cut small discs of asparagus and feed them into my blender.
To chop asparagus by hand (it’s really not THAT bad), start by using caution, then:
Cut (or break) off the woody end of the plant.
Hold by the tip (you don’t need to cut it and can reserve the tips for separate cooking) and cut the base lengthwise.
A quick cut at the base of the tip should result in two long pieces of asparagus – both with a flat bottom.
Lie each piece on its flat side and carefully cut into thin strips (as tiny as possible). I generally get 3-4 strips out of each average sized half.
Continue to process all the strips until complete.
Line up the strips and mince into fine pieces.
That’s the basis of processing asparagus. You can use the same technique for green onions, celery and even carrots (but be careful as they are harder and easier to slip on).
Asparagus relish has all sorts of uses – the flavors are bright and acidic and there’s a lot of crunch (you’re using raw asparagus after all) and it can be used anywhere you use ‘regular’ relish or for mild dishes needing an accent, like scallop ceviche (strain it and dump it in at the last minute).
0.25-0.5 pounds uncooked asparagus; cleaned and diced into relish bits (per above)
1 stalk clean celery diced into relish bits (per above)
3 bulbs of green onions
As much fresh dill as you can take
Pinch of salt
White vinegar (amount described below – but it’s 0.25-0.75 cups)
Combine all ingredients and cover with enough vinegar to submerge most of your vegetables.
Cover and let sit in the fridge for 15-45 minutes
Slightly strain (or serve with a slotted spoon) before serving.
This will keep in the fridge for some time but will become more and more acidic (which you may like) the longer it sits.
It’s almost the end of asparagus season; we’re trying to get as much as we can before it goes away for another year. Having said that, we’ve had so much that we also don’t want to overdue it – so asparagus has transitioned from being the featured ingredient of our dinner to an accent.
This salad is eaten hot or cold and stores well in the fridge (I think it actually improves with time as the olive oil and acids have a chance to work their magic). The acid also helps brown or green lentils stay crisp so this salad shouldn’t go to much on you!
Spring Lentil Salad Recipe – Ingredients
1 Cup green or brown lentils
2 cups stock (or 2 cups water, 1 onion cut in half, 1 whole carrot and 3 cloves of garlic)
1 cup stewed tomatoes (with juice).
6-12 asparagus stalks, cut into discs (I save the tips for another dish)
1 tablespoon lemon (optional)
1-4 green onions (you may skip the bulbs if you prefer)
Melt the 1 tablespoon of fat on medium-high heat (use a pot for which you have a lid). Once it’s melted, cook the lentils for 4 minutes (they shouldn’t change color).
Cover lentils with stock (or water, onion, carrot and garlic which you will discard once cooking is complete). and bring to a slow simmer. Cooking is complete when lentils are no longer crunchy (though green and brown lentils will generally remain a little firm).
Using a butter knife, dice the tomatoes in the jar. Pour the remaining liquid into the lentil pot.
Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil to blanch the asparagus in. Cook for 12 seconds and place in ice bath or super cold water to stop them from cooking. Toss asparagus in a small bit of lemon if desired.
When lentils complete cooking, strain completely. Allow them to cool (although you can eat this warm if you’d rather).
Combine all remaining ingredients and taste for seasoning and acidity. Add more vinegar, salt and/or pepper as needed.
I’m not sure if a sandwich can have a recipe but let’s pretend!
The start of asparagus season is exciting for us. We will eat 3-5 pounds a week of it when it’s in season and are good and tired of it by the time the season is over. It’s great grilled, turned into soup, steamed, lightly boiled or raw.
This sandwich was for breakfast on the weekend. It was meant to be served with a fried egg until I realized that we were out of eggs. We opted for halumi instead. If you haven’t heard of halumi, it’s a salty cheese that you can cook. Slices of halumi can be put directly on a BBQ or fried in a pan with a bit of oil or butter. The outer layers become crispy and the inner is gooey and cheesy. It’s a remarkably good substitute for an egg if you’re in a pinch.
We cooked the asparagus for our sandwiches after slicing them. You could serve them whole if you wish but I enjoyed slicing them with the mandoline. You’ll notice they are cut on the bias (an angle) which makes the pieces a but larger than they would be if they were cut straight across but they are still bite-sized.
Asparagus Sandwich Ingredients
Mix and match ingredients as you will! 🙂 Do the prep work in advance (i.e. cubing the cheese)
As much asparagus as you can eat. Cut on the bias (or not)
2 pieces of toasted rye bread (sliced thin is you have the option)
Fried egg or fried halumi
Small cubes of mozzarella or parmesan. As much as you’d like.
Oil (like olive)
Agave or honey
Asparagus Sandwich Instructions
Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
Add asparagus to boiling water. Cook for 20 seconds, drain well and toss with cheese (tossing actively will help it cool and melt the cheese to meld flavors).
Season with salt and pepper.
Add a splash of cider vinegar, taste the asparagus.
Add a splash of agave/ honey, taste the asparagus.
Add a splash of oil, taste the asparagus.
Taste the asparagus again and concentrate on the flavours of the honey, vinegar and oil – is it balanced? Do you need more of one of them?
Assemble the sandwich by compiling the remaining ingredients.
Have you ever seen asparagus grow in a field? I hadn’t either…
Here’s a few things I didn’t know about growing asparagus until recently:
Once it’s planted it takes 2-3 years before it grows large and dependably enough to harvest.
It is harvested by hand. Spears practically grow in several days and you have to walk the entire field to pick it each day – there’s generally a very short window when it is the ‘right size’ to harvest (if you look carefully at the picture above you’ll see how sparsely it grows in the field above)
Younger asparagus won’t thicken as thick as the older stalks.
You could technically harvest asparagus longer than it appears in markets – but if you harvest a plant too often it won’t grow back the following year.
A single plant can continue to grow year-after-year for up to 20 years!
The ‘secret’ to this salad is lightly roasting the vegetables; they are cooked just long enough to increase their natural sweetness yet not long enough to soften to mush. The veg is still firm (especially when chilled) but has a near-noodle quality when served.
This salad is fairly acidic (it uses balsamic and lemon) and you may wish to lower the amount of acid that you use; but I wouldn’t! Vinegar and beets are a natural combination (i.e. pickled beets) and this salad exploits their relationship. The addition of lemon makes it light and spring-like yet the amount of root vegetables also makes this a salad you could eat as a meal.
ROASTED VEGETABLE SPRING SALAD – INGREDIENTS
3-4 medium beets
3 medium carrots
a handful (8-12) of asparagus
10-12 large mushrooms
salt and pepper
Sprouted greens (we used broccoli sprouts)
Juice of half lemon
2-3 tablespoons mustard (I used grainy mustard)
3-4 cloves roast garlic
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
9 tablespoons olive oil
ROASTED VEGETABLE SPRING SALAD – INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Trim mushrooms, cut beets in half and cut trip one side of the garlic (the sire without the root) so that you can seethe ends of each clove of garlic.
Scatter veg (garlic, mushrooms, asparagus, and beets) on a cookie sheet, toss in olive oil salt and pepper. Place cut site of beets and garlic facing upwards.
Set a timer for 15 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and asparagus and set in a bowl to cool. Feel the carrots, mushrooms and garlic (using care as they may be hot). They are done when the outer layer gives slightly but the overall texture is firm. The carrots will likely be done with an extra 5 minutes (20 minutes total), the beets will likely take 5 minutes longer than them (25 minutes total) and the garlic will take another 5 minutes (30 minutes total). Remove each when done and place in bowl to cool.
Assemble the salad dressing by chopping and crushing the garlic into a paste and mixing it with salt, mustard and vinegar. Stir until you have a consistent texture; add the oil and stir with a spoon until you have a consistent dressing (the mustard will bring the oil and vinegar together).
Once the veg is cool enough to touch, cut each fine. We used a matchstick mandoline to cut the carrots and the beets; the asparagus and mushrooms were cut with a kitchen knife.
Mix the dressing and the veg together. Cover and place in fridge for 30 minutes. Add sprouts and lemon just before serving.
It’s asparagus season and that means we’re officially into Spring eating – the most exciting tome of the year for us! Here’s a simple recipe that can be assembled in minutes and features the simple flavors of Spring.
A frittata i very similar to quiche (we used the terms as synonyms when I grew up) except that it has no crust and has a higher percentage of eggs involved (a quiche often includes the addition of cream or milk to the eggs).
There are two tricks that I use when making a frittata that I insist make a difference.
The first trick is to add vinegar – white wine vinegar is my favorite for this. I add it after I’ve added everything but the eggs and then I taste the mixture. There should be enough to taste a tang though not quite enough to pick out that it’s vinegar. This means I may add a tablespoon or more. The exact amount is more art than science but trust your senses and you’ll do just fine. The addition of acid just takes a Frittata from an omelet to something entirely different.
The second trick I insist on is that I beat the egg whites separate from the yolks and add them to the mixture at the final moment. This ensures your frittata is airy and light and doesn’t become an egg log. If you look at the very top picture in this post you’ll see air bubbles in the photo of the end product.
You can prepare this dish in 10 minutes and then it’s just a waiting game for it to cook.
6 Eggs (room temperature is best
2 Cups of cheese (cheddar or mozzarella will do but I love to mix a combination and will even include things like feta or ricotta)
Asparagus, as much as you’d like (I used a small bunch), chopped into small discs.
Mushrooms, as many as you like, I used about 10. Chop however you’d like.
1 large onion
A half tablespoon of Herbes Salees (or 2-3 teaspoons of any dried herbs)
White Wine Vinegar (+/- a tablespoon)
Butter to grease pan
Salt and pepper to taste
Dried chili flakes to taste
Turn oven to 350.
Mix everything but the eggs and vinegar in a large bowl.
Add some vinegar, toss the mixture and taste. Repeat until you can detect a tang in the flavor (this will get milder as we add the quantity of egg)
Grease your cooking pan (I use a small cast iron frying pan for this purpose; it has enough room for the fritatta to raise as needed)
Crack and separate your eggs.
Lightly beat the yolks, add them to your other ingredients and stir to incorporate.
Using a whisk or hand mixer, beat the whites until they are filled with little bubbles. The more bubbles the better. Once you’re happy with the amount of bubbles proceed with haste – but be safe.
Gently pour the whites into the other ingredients and lightly fold the ingredients into the mixture (i.e. distribute the whites gently).
Add the mixture to your pan and place in the oven.
Cook for 45 minutes before testing (stick a knife into the center and when it comes out clean, you’re done). It should finish cooking in 45-60 minutes.
Allow the frittata to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Time to take a break from the New York posts for something seasonal – the fields are really starting to pop with fiddleheads, dandelions, leeks and more.
I was working yesterday when a call from my parents came in; “we’re driving through town (coming back from our cabin) and have some wild leeks that we harvested yesterday – do you want any?” Life has come to this – a surprise ambush of 10 pounds of ramps.
I risk sounding redundant by emphasizing that wild leeks need to be harvested ethically. They do not seed; once you pick a leek it will not grow back. Over-picking can easily decimate our ramp population. Picking wild leeks in Quebec is now banned as there are so few remaining (they had a quota of 5 or less for a while as well as an outright ban and I’m not certain where that stands today). It is generally accepted that picking 5-10% of a patch is a responsible amount – assuming you are in a place that 20 people are not likely to follow suit.
We are spoiled in this regard. Our family harvest was 15-20 pounds and was less than 1% of a field that is 15 kilometers into the forest on private land. It’s an ideal location – its remoteness and limited access are keys to how ideal it is.
My 10 pounds of leeks also included some dirt, leaves, moss and the like. This will produce 3 different types of preserves and should yield 4-6 cups of pickled leeks. The yield is small.
Cleaning them is very easy and not nearly as time-consuming as garlic or even onions. I snap the roots off, peel the outer layer of skin off the bulb and separate the bulb from the green. The roots are the strongest part of the plant, the bulb is the most fragile and the leaves are somewhere between (and you can treat them roughly if you’re planning to squish them into pesto like we did).
Our bulbs are currently sitting in the fridge in a salt brine (24 hours in a 12% bath; 1/2 cup salt to 4 cups water). We’ll pickle them like we detailed here.
It was also time to make our pesto. I’ve decided to go a different direction this year than we did last year. There are two significant differences then we’ve done in the past:
Rather than a traditional pesto with cheese, nuts and more, this is more of an “idea” of pesto. It’s the green leaves and oil only. Oil is there is to help bind the mixture and used minimally. This will allow the essence of leeks to come through anything and is more versatile (I’m not a big fan of nuts in tomato sauce for example). I can always add those other items later which also makes this easier to store.
I have decided against olive oil and went for canola. This was a struggle and a long decision process and one I just believe I’ll be happier with. I simply choose Canola because of its terroir – canola and leeks grow in the same area.
My newest preserve this year is something I am dearly excited about:
Dehydrated wild leek roots!
The roots of a single plant are attached to a “stem” so that they resemble an octopus – a small “body” branches outwards with multiple legs. I kept the entire unit together to make them easier to handle and less likely to blow around in our dehydrator. It was a bit of work ensuring that each was fully cleaned but well worth the effort:
The dehydrated roots are great for salads and gentle foods that you wish to add a crispy accent which tastes between garlic and onion. Sashimi would be an ideal application for some of these. They are outstanding (if you don’t have a dehydrator and have fresh ramps you can clean the roots, chop and use them in your own cooking; they would also fry well as long as not burned).
Once again, the harvest is small – 2 cups of dried roots is our entire supply for the year.
Preserving the roots is new to us. It is extra work but was well worth the effort. Considering these little dudes will never grow back from where we took them I figure we owe it to them to use as much of the plant as we can. I adore how different the pickle is from the leek and it from the roots.