MDF’s Icy Melon Granita

Cantaloupe Granita by Modern Day Forager

ICY MELON GRANITA

Our version of a childhood summer revival with a twist, a little bit more sophisticated and all grown up.  Chill out, cool down and make the most of your long hot days.  Using white and orange cantaloupe makes for a very fragrant and well-balanced combination.   The addition of basil and the spicy, salty, sweet sugars really liven up this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cantaloupe chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups white cantaloupe chunks
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • curry sugar, didi’s sugars for the spicy component and for the salty and sweet component we used “martini” from go lb. salt rim-licks.
  • chiffonade of basil

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, stir the water and sugar over low heat just until the sugar melts.  Let cool completely.
  2. In a blender, puree the cantaloupe with the syrup and lime juice.
  3. Strain puree into a bowl through a fine mesh sieve, pressing through with a wooden spoon.
  4. Transfer the puree to a shallow container and place in freezer until frozen around the edges and slushy, about 30 minutes.
  5. Using a fork, stir the granita every 20 until it is completely frozen, about 1 1/2 hours.  Just before serving, fluff granita with fork.
  6. Scoop into bowls, sprinkle with curry sugar and garnish with chiffonade of basil.

Cantaloupe Granita by Modern Day Forager

Our good friends Liz and Aaron Ecburg own a great company, go lb salt which is a local salt bar here in Arizona and boy, do they know their stuff.  We highly recommend their website, there is a wealth of information, along with a user friendly online store,  filled with everything you could possibly need, and if that wasn’t enough they offer classes as well.   Check them out at golbsalt.  We also used another favorite resource of ours for this recipe, Didi Davis’s Food Sugar Blends.  This is a great source for all things spicy, salty and sugary, and they focus on small-batch handmade productions.  Check them out at salttraders.  So many new ways to play with your food.

Cantaloupe Granita by Modern Day Forager

Modern Day Forager

Selecting, Storing and Preparing

Melon Week on Modern Day Forager

Every Saturday during melon season, I was asked the same question over and over;  “Could you select a melon for me?”  “How can I tell if a melon is ripe?”  “How do I store this at home?”  So let me try to arm you with the information you need.  First of all, one of the great things about shopping at your local farmers market is that most, not all, of the farmer’s at the market grew what they are selling, that being said, the melon was picked ripe, there are degrees of ripeness to be sure, but the melon is certainly eatable.  The problem comes in when the farmer or a grocery store purchases melons that have to be trucked to their final destination.

Melon Week on Modern Day Forager

 Selecting Melons:

Cantaloupe – Good quality cantaloupes will have a lot of  webbing on the skin, it will have a yellow/orange color and be slightly soft on the stem end.  If the cantaloupe is not ripe enough to your liking, store at room temperature on your kitchen counter or in a loosely closed paper bag for one to two days.

Honeydew – High-quality honeydew melons should be a creamy color and the skin will almost feel waxy when ripe.  They will be somewhat firm with a bit of softness at the stem.

Watermelon – Great tasting watermelons will be firm, even-shaped and heavy for its size.  The easiest method to judge ripeness is to look at the spot where it laid on the ground, that should be a darker yellow, and the rind overall should have a healthy sheen.  Watermelons do not ripen any further once they are cut from the vine.  Most popular watermelons are round dark green or dark green striped.  The light green oval shaped are usually not as sweet and red on the inside.

Seedless Watermelon– Like seeded watermelons, seedless watermelons will be firm, evenly shaped and heavy for their size.  Remember seedless watermelons are not seedless, instead of the large black seeds; they have the small white seeds that some people consider edible.  (I do not)

Storing Your Melons:

Uncut melons can be kept at room temperature for two to four days.  Ripe melons can be refrigerated for an additional 5 days.  Cut melons should be placed in a covered container and refrigerated for no more than three to four days.

Preparing Melon:

Melons taste wonderful just as they are.  Although, we are going to play around with them this week (that’s what we do.)  We like cantaloupe sprinkled with salt and a little black pepper, the combination is amazing, wrap them in prosciutto or any cured meats, blend the flesh and add the juice to anything, perfect addition to any fruit salad. Watermelon is wonderful with salt as well, we also like honey and lime or balsamic vinegar.  Let us know your favorite way to enjoy melons and we will pass them on to our readers.

Melon Week on Modern Day Forager

I hope that I was able to shed some light on the picking a melon question, please comment here or on facebook if you have any other questions on choosing a melon or any other farm fresh fair for that matter.

Melon Week on Modern Day Forager

Modern Day Forager

Celebrating Our Grandmothers

Granny, grandma, grandmother, nana, nona. Whatever you called her we are celebrating her and time honored traditions this week.  For us at MDF, our grandmas centered around cooking, eating and family.   Their recipes were always lovingly prepared and harken back to a simpler time.  Everything depended on what was at hand, available and fresh in the garden and nothing was ever wasted.  No shortcuts were ever taken and many of the meals we have all grown so fond of, came out of the kitchen because of necessity to stretch a meal or a dollar.

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Our grandmothers stories, recipes and wonderful anecdotes enriched our lives and awakened our love for food and feeding people.

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Over the coming days we will share with you some charming stories, treasured family recipes, steeped in tradition and what we like to call “grandma-isms or  our version of grandma sayings.”   We would love to hear about your grandmother.  What do you remember about her?  Do you make recipes that she made for you as a child?  Please connect with us in the comments section or on our Facebook page.

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vintage place mat photo by Bob’s Your Uncle

Modern Day Forager

Stone Fruit Week Wrap up…

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Stone Fruit Week Wrap up…

I want to start this week’s wrap up off by giving you a glimpse behind the curtain at MDF and no I am not the wizard, that job falls squarely on the shoulders of Traci and Heather. There is a whole lotta love,  I mean thought, at least one meeting, (yes there’s food) several days of planning, recipe writing, recipe testing and then at least one, usually two days of food styling and photography.

When it came to the planning meeting for this week, stone fruit as our subject matter was a no brainer. Summer and stone fruit go hand in hand, for that matter stone fruit is summer in your hand.  If you never make a single one of these recipes, please at the very least take a bite out of as many of these drupes as you can get your hands/mouth on.

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We started the week off with an intro to stone fruit and then on Tuesday we featured Nectarine Salsa, I am incredibly proud of this recipe, not only does it taste great, it highlights the nectarine and is a wonderful representation of how I like to cook. (Let the ingredients shine, equal balance of sweet and savory, presence of heat and several textures.)

Next we took a journey down south with a totally different take on the crumble… Our Peach and Cardamom Crumble takes advantage of a white peaches less acidic and sweeter taste paired with the herbal and citrus characteristics of cardamom to create a truly memorable dessert.

On Thursday we brought you Roasted Chicken with Pickled Cherries and Radish Sprouts… a sample of what happens when Traci and I start freethinking about a flavors.

“What does it pair with, what can we do to enhance its core qualities, what sounds wrong but tastes so right?”

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Friday brings another dessert inspired by the south but with our MDF name all over it. The Caramelized Plum Tartlets are a great example of how to incorporate several textures into a dish thats featured ingredient is high on flavor but low on crunch.

For those of you wondering where the cocktail is, let me refer you back to cocktail week for the Crazy Jane … ok, ok I can’t help myself. A classic is begging to make an appearance here:

Apricot Bellini

Add 2 tablespoons of *apricot puree to a glass of chilled sparkling wine (Those of you that follow us, know we prefer Prosecco)

*Apricot Puree

4 apricots, pitted

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

1 teaspoon sugar

Place all the ingredients into your food processor and process until smooth. Force mixture through a sieve with a spoon then store in an air tight container in your refrigerator.

Caramelized Plum Tartlets

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Recipes by Rj of Urban Table

Photo Styling & Art Direction by Traci of Urban Table

Photography & Art Direction by Heather of Heather Gill Photography

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What better way to celebrate the summer and the end of our week than with an old fashion caramelized plum tartlet!

These deep purple and burgundy drupes are filled with a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamins A and C.  A real summer time treat.

Here is our take on how to use them.

Caramelized Plum Tartlets

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

½ lb. unsalted butter, room temp

2 large egg yolks

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon hibiscus extract (we love lc finn’s extract)

1 teaspoon lemon zest

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 plums pitted and sliced

½ cup turbinado sugar (you may substitute light brown sugar)

Powdered sugar as garnish

Directions:

  • Six 4 inch ramekins
  • Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Butter ramekins and place on baking sheet.
  • In medium sized mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt.
  • In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter on medium high for 2 min.  Add yolks, sugar, hibiscus extract, lemon zest and cinnamon then beat until incorporated.  Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour mixture, do not over mix.
  • Divide dough evenly between ramekins.  Fan plum slices over top of dough pressing them in lightly.  Sprinkle tops with turbinado sugar.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 min until tartlets look set and the tops are bubbly and caramelized to a golden brown.
  • Dust with powdered sugar.

***Serving suggestion lots of ice cream (MDF favorite, homemade black peppered goat cheese)***

We are just over the moon to share with you one of our knock out recipes.  The buttery crust is what makes this…something truly special and the graham cracker crumb like texture…is my favorite part of this rustic tart.  Out of this world!!!

Then when the sweet juicy plums are added, bubble to the top, the sugar caramelizes, turns golden brown, and the hibiscus extracts comes into play, the tart becomes so flavorful and intensifies everything in sight.   Once you make this tried and true recipe you will be sure to add it to your recipe collection.

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Wrap Up for Tomato Week

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Make your own Bloody Mary Mix

Just in case you missed anything this week, here is a wrap up of the week for you.  We sure enjoyed bringing you a start to summer with all of our tomato recipes.  Summer means so many different things to each of us.  For Heather its all about the bounty of what the season’s gardens have to offer.  She remembers all the time spent at her grandparents, picking vegetables from their garden.  Tomatoes were always a favorite treat.  There is nothing better then the smell and taste of a fresh picked tomato.

Traci and Rj spent summers in the Midwest and have wonderful memories of homemade ice cream and great times by the lake.  Grandmothers gardens and all the wonder that it has to bring.

We thank you once again for joining us.  We loved bringing you the start to summer for us.  Have a wonderful weekend.  Please stop our Facebook page and share with us some of your favorite eats and treats from your weekend.

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Tomato Lardon Jam

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Golden & Red Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette

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Fried Green Tomatoes and Classic Remoulade Sauce

Modern Day Forager

Grilled Parmesan Zucchini

zucchini-18Recipes by: Rj of Urban Table

Photo Styling & Art Direction by: Traci of Urban Table

Photography & Art Direction by: Heather of Heather Gill Photography

We figured since you were already grilling you might as well make another side dish.  This just jazz’s up regular grilled zucchini.

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Here is what you need for this recipe.

Grilled Parmesan Zucchini

3 medium zucchini cut lengthwise

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons oregano

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon rosemary, fine dice

salt & pepper

freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat grill brush zucchini with olive oil.
  2. Sprinkle both sides of zucchini with oregano, garlic, rosemary, salt & pepper.
  3. Grill until zucchini is tender, about 4 minutes each side.
  4. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.

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Thank you for joining us at the grill today!  We hope you enjoyed it.  We would love to hear from you.  You can connect with us in the comments section or on our Facebook page.

Modern Day Forager

Zucchini Hummus

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Recipes by: Rj of Urban Table

Photo styling & Art Direction by: Traci of Urban Table

Photography & Art Direction by: Heather of Heather Gill Photography

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Did you know you can make hummus out of almost anything?  Well here is our take on zucchini hummus and its delightful!  With a little prep you can have this ready to go for a party days ahead of time.  For the zucchini, choose medium to small ones.  If once you slice them open, you see the seeds are large and watery, use a melon baller or spoon to scrape out.  Don’t dig too deep, you don’t have to get them all.  If they appear firm and the seeds are small you don’t need this step. Enjoy!

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Grilled Zucchini Hummus

Makes approximately 2 cups

1 large zucchini (about 1 pound total)

1/4 cup tahini

3 to 4 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Heat grill to high.  Use an oil-soaked paper towel held with tongs to lightly oil the grill grates. We also tried with a grill pan and it worked very well.
  2. Remove the ends of zucchini, then slice in half, lengthwise.
  3. If you find the seeds are large and watery, use a melon baller or spoon to scrape out.  Don’t dig too deep, you don’t have to get them all.  If they appear firm and the seeds are small you don’t need this step.
  4. Place the zucchini on the grill, cut side up, then reduce heat to low.  Cook for 10 minutes, just until browned and starting to get tender.  Set aside to cool.
  5. When zucchini has cooled enough to handle, place in a food processor.  Add tahini, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, smoked paprika and salt.  Process for 1 minute or until smooth.

The hummus can be served immediately or you can chill it for up to a week.  The hummus will thicken slightly as it chills.

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We enjoyed this with red and white radishes.  You can also serve with fresh pita, carrots or other vegetables for a new summer favorite side dish.

We would love to hear if you tried this recipe.  You can connect with us in the comments or on our Facebook page.

Modern Day Forager

Chilled Zucchini Soup

chilled zucchini soup

Recipes by: Rj of Urban Table

Photo styling & Art Direction by: Traci of Urban Table

Photography & Art Direction by: Heather of Heather Gill Photography

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I love soup but really who wants to eat hot soup on a 100+ degree day?  Not me!  This is a chilled soup and it is so refreshing and not heavy at all.  Perfect for the summer.

Chilled Zucchini Soup

5 medium zucchini, coarsely chopped

2 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped

4 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 quart organic chicken broth

1 cup cream (light, medium or heavy – your choice)

salt & pepper

1 medium zucchini, julienned and blanched for 1 minute (for garnish)

  1. Over low heat, in a large sauce pan, melt the butter and add the chopped onions and chopped zucchini.  Stir, then cover and sweat for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove lid, add 1 tablespoon curry powder and cook for about 2 minutes while stirring to avoid scorching the curry powder.  Then slowly pour in the chicken broth, stirring as you go.  Bring to a boil then back down to a gentle simmer.  Simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until the zucchini and onions are very soft.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  4. Pour the cooled mixture into a blender and puree until smooth.  Add the cream and blend to combine.  Wait to do the final seasoning until serving.  Curry intensifies when cold so let the soup rest a bit before adding more.
  5. Chill further before serving.  Have chilled serving bowls ready.  Add julienned and blanched zucchini for garnish on top.

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Happy Wednesday!  Thank you for joining us.  We would love to connect with you and hear if you made the recipe.  Please connect with us in the comments or on our Facebook page.

Modern Day Forager

Lemon Zucchini Cookies

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Recipes by: Rj of Urban Table

Photo styling & Art Direction by: Traci of Urban Table

Photography  & Art Direction by: Heather of Heather Gill Photography

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Welcome to the week of zucchini!  If you are anything like us we have zucchini in abundance and are running out of ways to use them.  We start our week with this very versatile vegetable.  There is plenty of lemon in these to give it a bit of a zing and keep you coming back for more!  Also, these are kid approved, of all ages!

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Lemon Zucchini Cookies

Makes 30 medium size cookies

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cups sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest

1 cup shredded zucchini (1 medium sized zucchini)

1/3 cup pecans, chopped (0ptional)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. In a bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  3. Combine butter and sugar in a mixer and cream together until light and fluffy. (about 3 minutes)
  4. Add egg and mix until incorporated.  Scrape down sides.  Add lemon zest and zucchini, mix until fully combined.
  5. With the mixer on low slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients until completely mixed in. (Do not over mix.)
  6. Using a small ice cream scoop or a spoon add measured  dough to a lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 14-16 minutes, until edges of cookies are golden.  Let cool on pan for 1 minute then transfer to wire racks to finishing cooling.

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These would be so lovely served with vanilla ice cream or a cup of tea.  We would love to hear if you try this recipe.  You can also connect with us on Facebook.  See you tomorrow for another zucchini recipe!

Modern Day Forager