Appetizers, Sauces & Other Extras


So we’re deep into Lent now, and this is the time that I am most likely to break. Not even necessarily that I consciously decide to go against the grain, but that I forget that I’ve made a decision to eat closer to the ground and that bowl of salted caramel truffles is calling my name and it’s like seven on a Thursday and what am I still doing at work… I know that you’re busy reshaping the world powered by other people’s humble prayers and good deeds, but God, please take a minute to forgive this human’s seemingly inability to not stop off at the grocery store for a bag of popcorn. I’m weak. I’m human. This dip is a good thing to eat to remind yourself that real food tastes better than fake food. This takes no time at all, and serves as both a great accompaniment to vegetables as it does a conversation starter. No one will believe that you just put things in the blender. Blend away, sinners.



16 ounces roasted red peppers, drained

2-ish cups walnuts

6 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon molasses

1 cup virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt.

Blend until you’ve achieved a smooth texture.

***Note to the follower of this recipe. This dip is very forgiving – this is actually what I consider the cheater / I have to make something for book club and I have nothing in the house version of this dip. Today I forgot to buy a lemon – or did I buy a lemon and just can’t find it? – so apple cider vinegar went in instead. Feel free to sub in different nuts, I have found that cashews are a decent and creamier substitute for walnuts.

Sauces & Other Extras

Lemony Tomato Jam

My mother’s tomatoes outdid themselves this fall, and I was the happy recipient of a large colander of them two weeks ago. I do love tomatoes, but after several dinners of them with cottage cheese, and tomato soup and sandwiches, even I cave and find a way to can them. You probably already have your own go-to tomato sauce and salsa. If you have a bumper crop of juicy garnet-red orbs this fall, make tomato jam. You can spread it on sandwiches, serve it on a cheese plate or top meatloaf with it. This is your year for tomato jam. Just don’t do what I did and splash boiling hot water on your chest, and then have to walk around with an ice pack for a few hours – avoid that part. Do however, make this on a rainy day that begs you to curl into a blanket that your grandmother made and sink into another reading of All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Towes. Have some goat cheese handy, with a little piece of bread – to check that the jam is, you know, just as good as you thought it might be.


Lemony Tomato Jam

(makes twelve cups of jam)

6 pounds tomatoes, washed and quartered

6 lemons

6 cups sugar

4 tablespoons butter

3 jalapenos, seeded and diced

3 cups apple cider vinegar

3 limes, juiced

1/4 cup molasses

3 thumb-sized pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into coins

2 tablespoons cumin

2 tablespoons cardamom

1 tablespoon cracked black pepper

8 cinnamon sticks

60 juniper berries

30 whole cloves

12 allspice berries

First things first, slice your lemons in half length-wise, then slice into thin half moons. Remove the seeds. Set these aside in a bowl while you move on to the next step.

Arrange all of your whole spices into a neat pile on a large-ish sheet of cheese cloth and tie shut with a long piece of twine.

In a vary large pot, combine the tomatoes, sugar and butter and bring to a gentle simmer. When the fruit has given up the ghost, so to speak, and has relinquished its juices to the sugar, you can crank that baby up higher to a boil. Boil for about eight minutes or so, stirring so as not to burn the bottom. Add the lemons and the jalapenos. You washed your produce, right? Please say you did that. Cook the tomatoes with the lemons for about five minutes.

Now added the vinegar, the juice from those limes, the molasses and the ginger. Add the cheese cloth with the spices, but tie the twine to the edge of the pot so that you can easily retrieve it later. Simmer this until the mixture has reduced by half. This is going to take at least two hours. Stir occasionally.

When reduced by half, ladle into clean jars and process.

Salad, Sides

Dilly Bean Salad

When I was in the seventh grade my mother had a ginormous dill plant growing in the backyard, and the monarch butterflies knew it. That spring the whole plant was covered in monarch caterpillar, their yellow, black and white bodies inching up and down the stalks. My brother and I absconded with one into the house and kept it in a mesh tent for a few days before releasing it into the wild of our backyard again. If you walked past that caterpillar you were enveloped in a cloud of slightly-sweet and spicy dill aroma. That little guy really likes to chew on dill. If you like dill as much as that little caterpillar, this is the salad for you.


Dilly bean salad

2 15oz cans northern white beans, drained and rinsed.

12 oz grape tomatoes, halved

One half of a large red onion (this will be about 3/4 cup red onion), diced

1/4 cup dill

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice (You can get this amount from one juicy lemon)

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 garlic cloves

Mix the beans, the tomatoes and the red onion in a large bowl.

Blitz the dill, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar in a blender until combined. Mix the dressing with the bean mixture.

You can eat this right away, of course, but it is really much better after spending a day in the refrigerator.

Main Courses, Salad

Quail Skewers and Lemon-Fennel Arugula Salad

We are working on cleaning out our freezer for hunting season. If you aren’t familiar with upland birds, you should know that they don’t come with a lot of inter-muscular fat. In other words, pheasant and quail are lean. If you want to enjoy the food that you are eating, you need to work fat into the food, or you need to cook it for a long time, like our pheasant tikka recipe.

This combination works nicely together. The lemon, fennel and arugula are bright and fresh flavors that offset the fatty bacon and rich quail. And, as a side note  if you don’t have a freezer full of quail, pheasant or chicken would both work as nice substitutes. And if you have leftovers? Quail skewers are great at breakfast!

bacon wrapped quail skewer and lemon fennel arugula salad

Quail Skewers and Salad

quail skewers with lemon-fennel arugula salad

for the quail

4 quail

1/3 c soy sauce (light soy sauce is fine)

2 tbsp brown sugar


11 slices bacon, cut in half

bamboo skewers

for the salad

2 handfuls arugula, washed and dried

1 fennel bulb, cleaned and sliced thinly

1/8 red onion, sliced thinly

sprinkle Parmesan cheese curls

lemon vinaigrette

for the lemon vinaigrette

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp good olive oil



1. Prepare the quail – remove the meat from the bones.

2. Mix marinade: whisk soy sauce, sugar and pepper together.

3. Arrange quail in a non-reactive contained and pour marinade over the quail. Marinate for at least 30 mins.

4. Soak skewers in water.

5. Wrap quail in bacon slices, and skewer three to a skewer.

6. Bake at 350 for 20 mins, or grill over medium heat for 20 mins.

7. Prepare the salad – arrange greens, fennel, onion and Parmesan on plates.

8. Mix dressing, pour lemon juice, olive oil salt and pepper in a sealed container. Shake vigorously.

9. Pour dressing over veggies and arrange one or two skewers over salad.