cucumber cocktail pops with honey and za'atar

Happy #popsicleweek, friends!! Yay! This week always makes me feel so confident that I am doing the correct summer thing. I am such a bad summer-er, with my fear of mosquitos and dreams of snowstorms and hotdish season, but this week I will stay in the climate controlled indoors and engage in the colorful frozen treats on sticks that are one of summer’s true gems. I am so excited to peruse all of my friends’ recipes this week and also look back on pops of years past, like pistachio pudding pops, coconut rainbow pops, and bloody mary pops.

This year’s popsicle week contribution is inspired in part by my new-ish daily green juice routine, which has made me feel all kinds of good and bright (and most importantly less guilty about my other new-ish daily routine of macaroni and cheese for lunch), and in part by the Gin Motek at Bar Bolonat, which features gin, honey, and za’atar. I like this cocktail because it’s the opposite of those cloyingly sweet cocktails that are the reason I avoid cocktails most of the time. It’s light, fresh, balanced, and zinged up with earthy savory za’atar. 

This is the the type of treat you want on a golden summer evening, after—or even alongside—a supper of fattoush and lemony smashed potatoes, or something like that. 

They have a crisp Persian cucumber base that I’ve enhanced with just a few great things: za’atar sent from my friend Inbal in Tel Aviv, just enough honey from Eggbro’s bees to prevent this pop from tasting like a salad, and gin distilled from local Minnesota grown single vintage organic yellow corn. Prairie Organic Gin is not the gin you sipped at dive bars in college, and avoiding it for post-college years of your life because it reminded you of such (like I did) relies on about as much logic as avoiding summer tomatoes because you’ve only ever had tomatoes in the winter. Which is to say that this gin is a good smooth gin, one where you can taste the sage, juniper, and spices. It’s great and it comes in a pretty bottle, which I will never complain about. I am fairly new to Prairie Organic but once I started mentioning it to people around here, it quickly became clear that all of my friends with extremely good taste are fans. So I now count myself fan and love that these pops get a lot of their specialness from this Minnesota gin. 

*Clinks two pops together* Cheers to #popsicleweek, friends! 

Cucumber Cocktail Pops with Honey and Za’atar

Makes 8

1 pound persian cucumbers, coarsely chopped

1/4 c Prairie Organic Gin

1/4 c honey

juice and zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp za’atar, plus more for topping

Combine cucumbers, gin, honey, lemon, and za’atar in a high speed blender and blend until very smooth. Pour into 8 dixie cups or pop molds and sprinkle each with a small pinch of za’atar. (I prefer dixie cups since it makes them easier to unmold, you just rip them off, and also I can literally never find my popsicle mold.) Freeze for 20 minutes and then insert popsicle sticks. Freeze for 6 hours or until frozen solid. Rip off dixie cups and enjoy.

-yeh!

Thank you so much to Prairie Organic Spirits for sponsoring this post! This recipe is only intended for those of legal drinking age (21+) and should not be shared or distributed to any underaged persons. Please enjoy responsibly! 

Photos by Chantell and Brett Quernemoen

rhubarb rose jam

Happy Sunday!!! It feels weird to have my computer open on a Sunday but Cousin Elaine and I made this rhubarb rose jam yesterday that I am first-day-of-summer-camp excited about. I wanted to write it down ASAP so I wouldn’t forget it and also so that we can all have time to make it over and over before rhubarb season ends. 

It is based on Claire Ptak’s rhubarb and angelica jam from The Violet Bakery Cookbook, only I’ve swapped out angelica and added vanilla bean and rosewater. Rosewater might be my favorite friend of rhubarb and because I was making this jam as party favors for Rob and Hansaem’s very elegant wedding in Paris later this month, I figured rosewater would be the perfect addition. And the vanilla bean just kind of gives the whole thing a luxurious hug. 

The measurements below are for a very big batch (triple of Claire’s), this made enough to fill 25 cute 2-oz Weck jars, and my 5.5 quart dutch oven was the perfect size to hold everything. If you don’t have a jungle of rhubarb in your yard that you need to use up or a zillion party favors to make, you can either get your calculator out and calculate a third of these ingredients (the timings stay the same), or come over and take some of my rhubarb. 

In a good container with a tight fitting lid, this will keep in the fridge for up to a month, but of course you can also can it with sterilized jars and seals and the whole bit. Yesterday was my first time doing the latter! Cousin Elaine is the canning expert of the family, so she and I spent the afternoon sterilizing jars and dipping things into boiling water to kill the cooties. Canning always seemed intimidating to me when I read about it on paper but when Elaine walked me through the process it all made complete sense. So if you’re considering canning for the first time, my biggest recommendation would be to get yourself a Cousin Elaine.

Happing Jamming!!


Rhubarb Rose Jam

Makes enough to fill 25 cute 2-oz jars

ingredients

1,500g (3 lb 6 oz) rhubarb, chopped into small pieces

1,125g (5 1/2 cups + 2 tb) sugar

juice of 3 lemons

1 tsp rosewater

1 tb vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla bean, scraped

clues

In a large heavy pot, combine the rhubarb and half of the sugar. Cover and macerate at room temp for 1 hour. 

Add the remaining sugar and lemon juice to the pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Once it comes to a boil, let it boil rapidly over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. It might get a little spitty, so be careful and wear an apron, and if it gets too wild you can reduce the heat a little bit. It’s ready when most of the rhubarb is translucent and the consistency has thickened (it will continue to thicken as it cools). Reduce the heat to low and stir in the rosewater and vanilla bean. Carefully give it a taste to see if the rosewater is where you want it. 

Spoon into sterilized jars and seal or transfer to containers and keep in the fridge for up to a month. 


-yeh!

tahini milkshakes

We have a dog chicken. You know, like a dog cat, a cat that behaves like a dog, but a chicken. It started last month when we noticed that one of our chickens was looking blue and had a little blood on her head from getting her feathers picked out by the other chickens, it was so sad! We separated her so she could heal in peace, and gave her special treatment, like extra cucumbers and apples. Eventually we let her roam around the yard, freely outside of the run, and she became so personable! Not like the other chickens who run away if you try to come near them. This chicken comes up to you when you’re in the yard and lets you pet her. Occasionally she visits Eggboy in the workshop. On Mother’s Day when we presented Eggmom with her gift (a wagon to hook on to her lawn mower), Eggboy had all of us stand in one part of the yard to watch the big reveal, and as all of the Eggs and I assembled in a little group as the audience, Chicken also gathered with us and stood attentively waiting for the show. It was the best. She’s the best. I love her. I know you’re not supposed to pick favorite chicken children, but she’s my fave. 

Anyway, over the weekend we had a scare. We heard a flopping noise, ran outside, and couldn’t find her anywhere. All we could see was white feathers scattered about in two different parts of the yard, and we searched everywhere but couldn’t find her. It was the worst. A fox, a hawk, or a coyote had come to eat her, we figured :( But then!! Two very sad long hours later, she reappeared!!!!! A little shaken but still her happy self. She must have been hiding from whatever monster tried to get her. We sliced up celebratory cucumber, danced around, and then put her to bed and then went inside and ate celebratory Chana Masala and watched celebratory Breaking Bad.

This morning as I left for the gym, I saw her keeping Eggboy company while he weedwacked and it made me so happy. I am a little bummed that we’re going to have to move her back into the coop with the other chickens soon but at least she’s safe.

This is a pic of her I took when I was using up the rest of my shots on my Paris cameras:

So that’s what’s happening around the farm.

In tahini news, it occurred to me last month that it has been over a year since I had the earth shatteringly amazing tahini shake at Goldie, in Philadelphia. I decided that it was time to start making my own. But did you know that if you do a Google for tahini shake recipe, the internet automatically assumes that you also want dates?? And, worst case scenario, bananas????? Like I realize that tahini is classified as a health food in some brains and fits snuggly in with this practice of sweetening shakes with dates and creamifying them with bananas, but I just really wanted… sugar. And no date flavor. And real ice cream. Bananas can gtfo forever and ever. ❌🚫🙅🏻‍♀️

I wanted an old school milkshake, like the chocolate peanut butter ones we got at Steak 'n Shake in high school to have with their crispy shoestring fries, only instead of peanut butter I wanted tahini.  And I wanted a smaller milkshake too because one problem I have with the world of milkshakes is that they are always too darn big. They tempt me into bellyache sugar crash territory and these days I just never order them because of this and resort to stealing sips of my dad’s or Eggboy’s during our annual In-N-Out trips. If there was a universally understood kiddie cone equivalent option, or like a shot of milkshake option, that would be ideal. That’s what my future imaginary restaurant will have, shots of milkshakes. And then the cute as a button juice glasses in these pics will be the jumbo size.

My last opinion about milkshakes is that I appreciate when they have something in them to chew on, like cookies or a whole piece of chocolate cake, a la Portillo’s or the Oreo Dairy Queen Blizzard. So I’ve thrown in handfuls of crushed chocolate cookies here. They get so good and soft as they soak up the shake. The rest of the shake is as perfect as you’d imagine: nutty and extra creamy, thanks to the tahini, and perfect with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. A pinch of cinnamon enhances the tahini flavor, and an optional drizzle of chocolate syrup will do no harm. And rainbow sprinkles, doyyy.

Tahini Milkshakes

Makes 6-8 mini shakes or 4 medium (pictured)

ingredients

2 c (400g) vanilla ice cream

3/4 c (180g) whole milk

1/2 c (100g) tahini

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

a pinch of cinnamon

a drizzle of chocolate syrup, optional

a handful of crushed chocolate cookies (homemade or store-bought), optional but highly recommended

fresh whipped cream

rainbow sprinkles

clues

In a blender, combine the ice cream, milk, tahini, vanilla, and cinnamon, and blend to combine. Pour into glasses and top with a drizzle of chocolate syrup and crushed cookies (if using), whipped cream, and sprinkles and enjoy.


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett! dress from gap!

grilled tahini chicken

We spent so much time outside this weekend, soaking up the sun before the bugs invade. We kayaked down the Red River, cooked weenies over a fire, biked all around town, and planted our garden! Finally! I’m so excited. Our method for choosing what to plant was that if anything had “rainbow” in the name, we got it. Rainbow carrots, rainbow radishes, I even OK’ed rainbow beets because they looked so pretty on the seed envelope. We listened to oldies and dug up the dirt and every so often Sven, Ole, Coco, and Macaroni came to say hello. It was the best. Now it’s supposed to rain for the next few days, so I won’t feel so bad staying inside and watching all of Riverdale season 2.

How was your Memorial day weekend??

I have to tell you about this new cookbook that I’m completely in love with! It’s Repertoire, by Jessica Battilana, and the subtitle is “All the recipes you need,” which sums it up perfectly and instantly drew me in. It spoils you with quality over quantity: one insane grilled lamb situation, some really amazing pasta recipes, a few salads I really want to eat, and—wait for it—hot dog fried rice. (Any book that contains a recipe for hot dog fried rice is an instant winner in my kitchen. Same goes for grilled scallion pancakes. Same goes for a whole page dedicated to Negronis and Potato chips.) I love this recipe selection for the same reason I love Grand Forks: when I have a specific craving, there is one reliable option and I don’t have to make a decision. Nothing in Repertoire is fussy and everything feels fresh. It’s the cookbook equivalent to this new Lululemon dress I just acquired that I plan on wearing every single day this summer: it can be dressed up or dressed down and looks good in any situation and feels like Lululemon pants all over my body. Which is to say that I could live in the world of this book. 

Sometimes I dream of having a little guest house on the farm for city friends to come and stay for a long time, like long enough to write an opera. And in this little guest house there would be only the bare bones basics, but like nice cute basics: one perfectly sized matte black dutch oven, one nice wooden spoon, two Marian mugs, and a small pink Smeg. Repertoire would be in this kitchen. 

This tahini chicken is the first recipe I cooked from this book, for obvious reasons. The tahini here is complemented by a fierce amount of lemon and a correct amount of paprika. It doesn’t require too much advanced planning and you don’t need any fancy ingredients. Jessica recommends serving it with the fattoush in Repertoire and, yes, it’s the perfect dill-packed addition. Here is the tahini chicken but you’ll have to buy the book to get the fattoush! Or you can head over to my Instagram where I am giving away a copy!


grilled tahini chicken

serves 4

from repertoire by jessica battilana

ingredients

1 (3- to 4-pound) chicken, cut into 10 pieces

kosher salt

6 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tsp whole cumin seeds, toasted (or 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin)

2 tsp paprika

1/4 c tahini

1/4 c lemon juice

2 tb olive oil

clues

season the chicken pieces on both sides with salt, transfer to a plate or small baking pan, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to overnight). 

in a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. add the cumin seeds and pound until ground, then transfer to a bowl and add the paprika, tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil and season to taste with salt; it will have the consistency of peanut butter. (if you're using ground cumin, smash  the garlic to a paste with the side of your knife, then transfer to a bowl and add the cumin and remaining ingredients.)

remove the chicken from the refrigerator and slather the tahini marinade all over each piece. cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand until the chicken is at room temperature (no more than an hour).

preheat a charcoal or gas grill for direct, medium-high-heat grilling. when the grill is hot, put the chicken pieces on the grill fate, skin-side down, and cook until the skin begins to brown and you can easily lift the pieces off the grate, then continue to cook, turning frequently and moving the chicken pieces from hotter to cooler parts of the grill as needed, until cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes. the chicken has a tendency to stick, so be vigilant about turning it frequently. if the chicken threatens to burn before it's cooked through, you can move the pieces to the cooler zone of the grill (leaving the cover vents open), and continue grilling until it's cooked through; use a meat thermometer or the tip of a sharp knife to check.

transfer to a platter and serve hot or at room temperature.


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett!