Saturday, October 18, 2014

Savory Spaghetti Squash Cakes with Poached Eggs and Harissa {Gluten-Free} + a Cookbook Giveaway

A savory, gluten-free griddle cake recipe made with garlic-infused spaghetti squash laced with chives and coriander and topped with spinach, harissa, and poached eggs for a simple one-dish meal. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Smitten with Squash by Amanda Paa. Details below.

Lately, I've noticed something odd: my tastes are changing. I suppose this is a sign of my getting older growing up, but I find myself preferring a cheese plate over a slice of chocolate cake, and struggling to find wines that are dry enough for my liking. I was the kid who squirreled candy away in her room, lived for ice cream, and dreamed of one day becoming a pastry chef. I'm the cookbook junkie who flips to the back of prospective purchases to make sure the dessert section is ample enough, the person who secretly believes that people who claim to lack a sweet tooth are actually aliens from another planet devoid of chocolate.

I still like the regular post-prandial nibble of good chocolate (and am currently obsessed with this milk chocolate caramelized crisp rice bar from Charles Chocolate), and there is still plenty of baking happening in my kitchen, but I find myself cutting back on sugar more and more; not because I feel I should, but because too much is a turn off. 

It's all very odd.

When my friend Amanda, creator of HeartBeet Kitchen and author of Smitten with Squash, asked me to share a recipe from her new book, I was surprised to find myself pulled toward not only a savory recipe, but one made with the least sugary of the winter squash varieties: spaghetti squash. (Though to be fair, the recipe still contained the word "cake.") These oblong, yellow vegetables contain fibrous strings reminiscent of pasta, and they have more water and less sugar than their starchy brethren. For this reason, I've always passed them by.

But Amanda's tantalizing recipe promised a better way with spaghetti squash. The squash is halved and roasted with garlic, squeezed of liquid, and mixed with a rice flour and egg batter laced with toasted coriander and chives. The batter is pan-fried into cakes, then topped with spinach, cilantro, harissa, and a poached egg.

I roasted the squash, but had a hard time not devouring it all before it could make it into the cakes. Seasoned simply with salt, pepper and olive oil and infused with roasted garlic, I would have gladly eaten all three pounds in one sitting. I exercised restraint, however, and soldiered ahead. I'm very glad I did.

Amanda is one of the kindest souls I know, and her generosity of spirit comes through in her writing. Reading through this book, you can tell you're in the hands of a capable chef and teacher, one who takes the time to explain things thoroughly, and adds little touches to her recipes to make each one shine. Here, toasted coriander, chives, and parmesan combine in the batter to build flavor. Spinach and cilantro lend freshness along with their myriad nutrients. Store-bought harissa adds a bit of kick, and a poached egg turns it into a one-dish meal that works as well for brunch as it does for dinner.

I'm happy to say that through this recipe, spaghetti squash and I have reconciled our differences. I no longer resent it for lacking the sweetness of kabocha, the rich texture of butternut, or the cute rotundity of pumpkin. Spaghetti squash, you're alright. 

Another thing that's alright? This book, whether or not you have a sweet tooth. Each recipe features winter or summer squash used in an innovative way, from refreshing salads to decadent desserts. All recipes are gluten-free, and many are vegetarian or vegan. 

Other sweet and savory recipes I have my eye on are:
Stuffed Squash Blossoms with Burrata and Capers
Decadent Zucchini Brownies with Chocolate Buttercream
Maple Cardamom Zucchini Snack Cake
Vanilla Bean Butternut Apple Crisp
Delicata, Spinach, and Chickpea Red Curry

Here are some beautiful squash recipes from Smitten with Squash via the blogosphere:
Autumn Harvest Breakfast Bread from The Vanilla Bean Blog
Delicata Squash Donuts from Will Frolic for Food

Amanda and the folks over at Minnesota Historical Society Press are giving away a copy of Smitten with Squash to one lucky reader. Leave a comment below telling me your favorite variety of winter squash (and optionally how you like to use it in the kitchen) and I'll pick a winner on Saturday, October 25th.

Thanks for reading! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Bloglovin', or Twitter, subscribe to receive new posts via email, make a donation, or become a sponsor.

Savoring squash:

Savory Spaghetti Squash Cakes with Poached Eggs and Harissa + a Cookbook Giveaway

Adapted from Smitten with Squash by Amanda Paa

Amanda's recipe originally calls for a gluten-free flour blend that contains xanthan gum. I played fast and loose with the flours and nixed the gum, as written here. Feel free to make this with Cup 4 Cup flour, which Amanda used to test her recipes. If gluten isn't an issue for you, trade the flours here for 3/4 cup all-purpose.

Makes 4 servings

For the cakes:
1 medium spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds), halved and seeded
olive oil, as needed
fine sea or kosher salt
black pepper
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 large egg
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown rice flour
1/4 cup sweet white rice flour (mochiko)
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
ghee or sunflower oil, for frying the cakes (as needed)

For the poached eggs and garnish:
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or another neutral vinegar)
4 large eggs
1 cup lightly packed spinach leaves, washed and spun dry
a few handfuls cilantro leaves, washed and dried
a few tablespoons of store-bought harissa

Roast the squash:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375ºF. Sprinkle the squash lightly with salt and pepper. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet and place the squash cut-side down. Tuck a garlic clove under each squash. Roast the squash until strands pull away from the skin and are al dente, 25-30 minutes. Let cool, reserving the garlic. Use a fork to gently scrape up the strands. Measure out 3 cups and set aside the rest for another use (such as putting in your face). 

Place the squash strands in the center of a clean towel, roll it up, and wring out the liquid. 

Make the batter:
In a small skillet set over a medium flame, toast the coriander, shaking the pan occasionally, until it smells toasty, 1-2 minutes. Cool, then grind with a mortar and pestle or a clean spice or coffee grinder. 
In a large bowl, mash the roasted garlic cloves, then whisk in the egg. Add the squash strands, chives, coriander, flours, Parmesan, and 3/4 teaspoon salt, and stir to combine. The mixture should hold together, but still be a little wet and sticky. If it's too wet, add 1 tablespoon brown rice flour at a time until it holds together. (I added an additional 4 tablespoons.)

Cook the cakes:
In a large skillet set over a medium flame, add enough ghee or oil to the pan to form a thin film, a couple tablespoons or so. When it shimmers, drop 1/4 cup portions of batter in the pan, spacing well apart, and flatten each into a disk. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, until golden and cooked through. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter. 

Poach the eggs:
Fill a skillet with 2 inches of lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Crack the eggs into 4 separate small cups or bowls. Add the vinegar to the water, reduce the heat to hold the water at a bare simmer. Holding a cup close to the surface of the water, slip in an egg. Repeat with the remaining eggs, placing them well apart. Cook for 4 minutes for a medium poach. Slip a slotted spoon under each egg to make sure they aren't sticking to the pan, and remove to drain on paper towels.

Serve the cakes:
Top one or two cakes with a smear of harissa, a bit of spinach and cilantro, and a poached egg. Drizzle with olive oil, chives, pepper, and a pinch of flaky salt if you like, and repeat with the remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Huckleberry Lemon Verbena Tea Cake {Gluten-Free}

A moist and tender gluten-free pound cake recipe that bursts with tiny huckleberries and fresh lemon verbena, all drizzled with a vanilla bean glaze. Whole grain and gum-free, this cake gets its pillowy texture and sturdy crumb from cream cheese and a happy blend of flours.

It seems like fall is finally hitting San Francisco. Nights are chilly enough to cover up with a light comforter (but not enough to close the window or deter the mosquitos that like to sneak in and probe us at odd hours of the night). The stack of heirloom tomatoes at the co-op grows smaller every week (though not enough to stop us from buying them up and eating thick slabs on dark mountain rye bread spread with goat cheese, avocado, and red onion every morning for breakfast.) The chill in the air makes me want to drop everything and run to the oven (though I still eschew heavy spices in favor of lighter, brighter flavorings). Hence, this cake, which is packed with the last vestiges of summer: earthy huckleberries, a scrape of lemon zest, and a handful of flowery lemon verbena leaves.

Were you to take a fat blueberry, squish it up with a wild blackberry, and condense the resulting mash into a fruit the size of a peppercorn, you would have the essence of a huckleberry. Their tiny size belies their big berry flavor. They like to grow under redwoods and tan oaks, a habitat that their woodsy flavor embodies, whispering of damp earth and dew-kissed leaves.

Huckleberries come into season in September and last through November. When we don't have time to forage for them, we sometimes find them for sale at our fabulous co-op, double bagged and dripping with indigo juice. 

With strong flavor and a low water content, huckleberries are perfectly suited to baking. They pair equally well with fall spices like ginger and cardamom as they do with bright lemon. I especially like them in this teacake which gets an extra, herbaceous dimension from chopped lemon verbena. 

Lemon verbena has been an obsession of mine since I tried it in an ice cream in France when I was in college. The fragrance is incredibly floral, with fresh citrus notes, and the leaves are commonly used to perfume soaps. In the kitchen, I like to capture its unique flavor in creamy desserts and butter-based pastries. In spite of my brown thumb, the small lemon verbena that I planted in our window box has flourished, and I managed to part with some of it in a couple of loaves of this cake.

I adapted the recipe from my favorite berry pound cake and my favorite gluten-free butter cake to make a thick batter that supports the berries. Cream cheese is the magic ingredient that keeps the cake moist, giving it a dense, pound cake-like crumb. The milk proteins work with sweet rice flour to lend a sturdy, smooth texture that no one will ever believe is devoid of gluten. The cake itself is sweet enough to feel like a treat, though you could leave the glaze off for a pastry more appropriate to breakfast than afternoon tea.

Once you develop a taste for lemon verbena, you may begin to spot it growing in backyards. Its leaves are long and slim, like those of a nectarine or peach tree, and they also make a delectable tisane steeped with hot water and a touch of honey. This makes an ideal accompaniment to a slice of this cake. 

If you can't find lemon verbena or huckleberries, try this cake with another summer berry or with frozen wild blueberries, and trade the verbena for basil, mint, or lemon balm, or a smaller amount of thyme or lavender.

Thanks for reading! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Bloglovin', or Twitter, subscribe to receive new posts via email, make a donation, or become a sponsor.

Huckleberry friends:

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Two years ago:
Three years ago:
Four years ago:
Five years ago:

Huckleberry Lemon Verbena Tea Cake with Vanilla Bean Glaze {Gluten-Free}

Don't fret if you don't have huckleberries; this cake should work equally well with fresh or frozen blueberries (especially wild ones), raspberries, or blackberries. If you don't have fresh lemon verbena on hand, try using an equal amount of basil, mint, or lemon balm, or 1 tablespoon fresh lemon thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon lavender buds, ground finely, in its place. If you or your cake-eaters are highly sensitive to gluten, make this with flours that are certified gluten-free, particularly the oat flour. If gluten isn't an issue for you or your cake-eaters, feel free to try this with 1 3/4 cups all-purpose wheat flour instead of the rice, oat, millet, and tapioca flours. (Or use this recipe and add lemon verbena to it.)

Makes one 8x4, 9x5, or 10x5" loaf

For the cake:
1 stick (4 ounces / 115 grams) unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces (85 grams) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces / 100 grams) organic blonde cane sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup (4 ounces / 115 grams) sweet white rice flour (mochiko)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (1.5 ounces / 45 grams) GF oat flour
1/4 cup (1.25 ounces / 35 grams) millet flour
2 tablespoons (.5 ounces / 15 grams) tapioca flour/starch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup fresh or frozen huckleberries, plus 1/4 cup for topping the cake (7.75 ounces total / 220 grams)
3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh lemon verbena

For the glaze:
1/2 cup (2 ounces / 60 grams) powdered sugar
seeds from 1/2 a small vanilla bean (or a splash of vanilla extract)
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (enough to make a drizzle-able glaze)
tiny lemon verbena leaves for garnish, optional

Make the cake:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Line a loaf pan (I used a 10x5" pan but a 9x5 or 8x4 will work, too) on the bottom and sides with parchment paper (or grease with softened butter, dust with flour, and tap out the excess).

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl fitted with your arms and a wooden spoon), cream together the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and lemon zest on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing to combine after each, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. The mixture may look broken; this is ok, it will come together in the next step. 

Meanwhile, sift together the sweet rice, oat, millet, and tapioca flours with the baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. With the mixer on low, stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Remove the bowl from the mixer, add the 1 cup of huckleberries and all of the chopped lemon verbena, and fold gently to combine, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure the batter is homogeneous.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup huckleberries and press them gently into the batter. 

Bake the cake until the top is lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, 45-55 minutes in a 10x5" pan (longer for smaller pans). Lift out of the pan and let cool until barely warm, an hour or so. 

Make the glaze:
In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla bean, and enough lemon juice to make a drizzle-able glaze. Whisk well to eradicate lumps. Peel the parchment away from the sides of the cake. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake and let cool completely. 

Serve the cake at room temperature, scattered with tiny lemon verbena leaves, if you like. Extras keep well, airtight at room temperature, for a day or two, or refrigerated for up to a few days (let come to room temperature for best results).

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Roasted Poblano Chiles Stuffed with Cheesy Butternut Squash Quinoa + Pepita Crema

A lightened up chile relleno, this recipe begins with roasted poblano peppers stuffed with cheesy quinoa, caramelized onions and butternut squash, and ends with a creamy pumpkin seed sauce kissed with lime and cumin. Vegetarian and gluten-free.


Winter squash tumble into season in early fall just as peppers are soaking up the last rays of summer sun. Lately we've been slightly obsessed with poblanos, especially in conjunction with sweet, mild winter squash. I used to be a wimp about spicy peppers, but after years of being tortured by Jay at Mexican and Pakistani restaurants, forcing down food that tasted like pure capsicum rather than face hunger, I've toughened up a bit. (Thanks, hon!)

Thus my newfound love of poblano chiles, which I've been enjoying not only in Mexican cuisine, but also in the Indian dish Simla Mirch from Kasa, in a curry I've been making that I hope to share before pepper season ends, and especially in these chiles rellenos. Poblanos can vary in heat from mild to pretty darn hot. If you luck out and get some tame ones, you'll get to appreciate their deep, earthy flavor, which is less sweet than their bell and gypsy counterparts. Like those other peppers, poblanos have thick, meaty walls, which make them ideal for stuffing.

Chiles rellenos are one of my and Jay's favorite foods, but the ones we find at restaurants are usually stuffed with cheese, battered, deep fried, and served up in a pool of grease. It's hard to eat one without worrying about the health of one's heart (not to mention one's thighs). 

This is one reason that we love Marinita's in San Anselmo, which makes some of the tastiest Mexican food around and is well worth the trip across the Golden Gate. (Plus my sister lives right around the corner and is always up for a margarita or two. [I guess that runs in the family.]) We're particularly fond of Marinita's chile relleno, which is appetizer-sized and stuffed with vegetables. Rather than frying the peppers, they serve them roasted, and a puddle of creamy pepita sauce replaces the usual pool of fryer grease. 

Since driving to Marin for dinner every night isn't feasible, I made my own homage to their chile relleno. I stuff them with quinoa tossed with caramelized onion, butternut squash, goat cheese and dry jack. If you can find Vella's dry jack, made in California, I highly recommend using it here. A fairly firm grating cheese, it tastes like a sweeter version of parmesan with a nutty, almost caramelized flavor. It really makes this filling pop, though another flavorful melting cheese, such as goat gouda or sharp cheddar, would work well, too.

Previous attempts at stuffing poblano chiles resulted in falling apart pepper bits that wound up unstuffable and became stuffing themselves in these enchiladas. I've since learned that the key is charring them just enough so that their skins can be peeled away but the walls of the pepper still hold their shape. And rather than try to get all the skin off, I leave the stubborn bits attached so as to maintain the integrity of the walls.

With that small detail out of the way, the stuffing itself is stupid easy to make, but its full flavor and creamy texture belie its simplicity. Quinoa is steamed, onions are caramelized, squash is cooked. They all get folded together with two cheeses, and that's it. Stuffing the peppers takes a bit of finessing to keep their shape, but a bit of patience results in pretty peppers.

To top these, I channeled my inner Marinita and made a simple sauce from soaked pumpkin seeds and seasoned with toasted cumin, garlic, and lime. It not only makes a creamy foil for the peppers, but extras are fabulous atop salads, tostadas, or steamed vegetables.

And if you do happen to get a batch of über-spicy poblanos and your dinner tastes like burning, never fear: copious amounts of pumpkin seed crema, avocado, cheese, grains, and squash will all help to quell the fire in your mouth. 

And if all else fails, wash it down with a tall cerveza. Or a margarita.

Thanks for reading! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Bloglovin', or Twitter, subscribe to receive new posts via email, make a donation, or become a sponsor.

A peck of peppers:

One year ago:
Two years ago:
Three years ago:
Four years ago:
Four years ago:

Roasted Poblano Chiles Stuffed with Cheesy Butternut Squash Quinoa + Pepita Crema

Inspired by Marinita's chile relleno

Be sure to soak the pepitas for at least 4 hours (and up to 12) to ensure a creamy sauce. I like to soak my quinoa for an hour, ousting bitterness and shortening the cooking time; alternatively, soak it for 5 minutes, rinse it well, and add a little more water when you cook it. 

Poblanos can vary greatly in spiciness depending on their growing conditions. If you're sensitive to spice like me, cross your fingers for mild ones, or make this with sweet bell peppers. Anaheim / Hatch / New Mexican green chiles are similar to poblanos in that they can range from mild to fairly hot, and can also stand in here. For the squash, I like to use the neck of a large butternut as its straight shape makes it easy to peel with a T-shaped vegetable peeler. Save the base to roast separately for another use. These chiles can be made and stuffed ahead of time, then popped in the oven when ready to heat and serve. I think you could make these vegan by simply omitting the cheese and doubling the other filling ingredients.

Makes 6 medium-sized servings

For the quinoa:
1/2 cup quinoa (white or multi), soaked 1 hour in cool water, rinsed well, and drained
3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the peppers and stuffing:
6 medium-sized, meaty poblano chiles (or other sweet or mildly spicy peppers, such as bell or Anaheim/Hatch)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, halved, and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash
1/4 cup water
1 cup (4 ounces / 115 grams) crumbled fresh goat cheese
1 cup (3 ounces / 85 grams) grated dry jack cheese (or other tasty melting cheese such as sharp cheddar)
cilantro leaves, extra goat cheese and pepitas, lime wedges, and avocado slices for garnish (optional)

For the pepita crema:
1 cup pepitas, raw or lightly toasted, soaked 4-12 hours in cool water and drained
1 1/4 teaspoons cumin seeds
juice of 1-2 limes
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large garlic clove
1 1/4 cups water

Cook the quinoa:
In a medium saucepan, combine the soaked and drained quinoa, water, and salt. Bring to a boil, then immediately decrease the heat to very low, cover, and let steam until all the water is absorbed, 10-15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. The quinoa should be cooked through but still a little bit firm. If it is too crunchy, sprinkle in a few more tablespoons of water and continue cooking. 

Prepare the peppers:
Preheat the broiler. Place the whole peppers on a baking sheet and broil on each side until the skin is blackened and blistered in places, a few minutes per side. Ideally, the pepper is softened, but firm enough to hold its shape. The roasting process will take about 10 minutes in total. 

Remove the peppers from the broiler and let them cool completely. When cool, gently peel away as much skin as will come off easily. Cut a slit down the center of each pepper, leaving them connected at the top and bottom. Working carefully in order to keep the pepper in one piece, remove the seeds and ribs; I found my fingers worked best, but do wash your hands and under your nails thoroughly with soap afterwards to remove the oils which can burn your skin (or wear gloves as you work).

Make the filling:
Heat the oil in a wide skillet over a medium flame until it shimmers. Add the onions and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender and beginning to color. Add the squash and water, cover, and simmer until the squash is tender but still holding its shape, about 10 minutes. 

Let the squash mixture cool slightly, then place it in a large bowl with the quinoa. Add the cheeses and fold gently to combine. 

Stuff and bake the peppers:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. 

Carefully stuff the filling into the peppers, filling them all the way and pressing them back into shape if need be. Place the peppers in a baking dish and bake until heated through, 20 minutes.

Make the pepita crema:
Toast the cumin seeds in a small, dry skillet over a medium flame, shaking frequently, until they smell nutty, 1-2 minutes. In the bowl of a blender, combine the soaked and drained pepitas, toasted cumin seeds, juice of 1 lime, salt, garlic, and half of the water. Blend to a paste, slowly adding the rest of the water to make a thick sauce. Blend on high until very smooth, 3-5 minutes. Taste, adding more salt or lime if you feel it needs it. The crema will keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Serve the peppers:
Place each pepper on a plate in a puddle of crema. Drizzle a little extra crema over the peppers and garnish with goat cheese, cilantro, and pepitas if you like, adding avocado slices and lime wedges to the plates. Extra peppers can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve for up to a few days.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Huckleberry Fig Shrub

A simple shrub recipe made from huckleberries, figs, sugar, and two types of vinegar. Mixed with ice, fizzy water, and lime, this drinking vinegar tastes like soda for grown-ups.

The best thing about meeting other food bloggers is learning that you are not the only person obsessed with obscure produce. Though many people I know dislike their sweet, seedy flesh and sharp taste, fresh figs are a favorite fruit of mine. I can never resist buying up every variety I can find, then leaving them on the counter where I gaze upon them lovingly every time I walk by. (Unfortunately, the fruit flies that descend on us every summer like them this way too...)

The stars aligned last week when, at a tomato-themed dinner hosted by Princess Tofu via Feastly, Phi mentioned planning her next dinner around figs. And she wanted me to make desserts. (Plural.) Coincidentally, my dear friend and photojournalist Shelley knew of an under-appreciated stand of fig trees in Santa Rosa that were ripe for the picking. Shelley's friend Angela's late mother loved figs and planted a dozen trees on their property, but no one else in the family likes them, so they go to waste year after year. We loaded up the car with sunscreen, hats, and baskets, and headed north. 

We picked a lot of figs. 

We roped Nik into collaborating with us, and met him in the city to powwow and test recipes. 

Craving refreshment after a day in the sun, I muddled the ripest figs into a shrub along with some huckleberries that Jay had picked up from our co-op. I added sugar, and red wine and apple cider vinegars, and strained the mixture to make a thick, crimson syrup. The huckleberries add earthy notes which tamp down the sweetness of the figs, and the vinegars work to provide balance and acidity.

Mixed with fizzy water, lime juice, and plenty of ice, this shrub has been a lifesaver during our California Indian Summer.

Things seem to be cooling down this week, which is fortunate since we've got a lot of cooking to do before Wednesday! If you love figs, please join us for our figgy feast. We hope to see you there. *Thanks to everyone who joined us for our feast! Stay tuned for more produce-themed meals.*

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Gettin' figgy with it:

Huckleberry Fig Shrub {Drinking Vinegar}

If you can't find huckleberries, blackberries or wild blueberries make good substitutes. I like the clean taste of sugar here, but feel free to try this with 1/2 cup honey or 2/3 cup grade A maple syrup in its place.

Makes 1 generous cup, enough for 8-12 drinks

1 cup chopped fresh figs
1/2 cup fresh or frozen huckleberries
3/4 cup organic blonde cane sugar
6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (preferably unpasteurized)
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
ice, fizzy water, and lime wedges, for serving

In a large glass jar or bowl, combine the figs, huckleberries, and sugar. Mash lightly, cover tightly, and let sit for 24 hours, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. After 24 hours, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on the solids to extract the liquid syrup. (The solids are good stirred into plain yogurt, or tossed with more fresh fruit and baked into a crisp.) Stir the vinegar into the syrup, pour the syrup into a jar, and store in the refrigerator. The shrub will keep for up to at least a month, and probably longer. To serve, mix a tablespoon or two of syrup into a glass of ice and fizzy water, squeeze in a lime wedge, stir, and serve.