Posted on

Make a Merry Margarita

‘Tis the season to start thinking about holiday entertaining. Our new recipe for a Merry Margarita features fabulous seasonal flavors – tangerine, ginger, pomegranate – in a gorgeous and festive cocktail. We’re handing out the recipe this Sunday, November 22, at the North Shore Emporium. Tickets are free to this celebration of the best locally crafted food, but if you reserve online you will not have to wait at the gate. Continue reading Make a Merry Margarita

Posted on

How to tell when peaches are ripe

August is National Peach Month, and I’ve got some good news and some bad news.

The bad news: the squirrels ate all the peaches from our backyard tree. The good news: Glenn Cook from Cider Hill Farm explained how to tell when peaches are ripe. (Wish I had known this sooner, because I might have gotten to my peaches before the varmints did.) Here’s what he said:

Peaches are harvested by ground color and swell. Ground color is the color under the red blush, which goes from green to light green to yellow when the fruit is mature. The swell is the filling out of the cheeks in the last day or two before it is ready to pick. Peaches put on a lot of size in the last few days before harvest. Peaches picked for long haul shipping and storage are generally picked a few days sooner than we would, to make them more firm and durable, but they often will not develop their full flavor and juiciness. If picked correctly, they will be firm with just a little give when pressure is put on them, but will ripen to a juicy softness in just a day or two. In our area, mid season peaches tend to have the best flavor, which we harvest from early August to the end of that month. Peaches can be kept in the refrigerator for about two weeks.

And here’s another tip, straight from the Spiker’s kitchen: Fruit flies just love peaches. We usually have three or four different fruits in our home test kitchen at any given time, but when peaches are on the counter they are also on the fruit-fly menu. So as soon as we bring peaches home (from Cider Hill or any other local orchard), we bag ’em in gallon-size zip bags. And as soon as they are just-right ripe, they go into the fridge.

Posted on

Spiker’s Shrubs at the new Boston Public Market

Heading into Boston to check out the fabulous new Public Market? Be sure to stop by Corner Stalk Farm’s booth and pick up a box of gourmet greens hand-grown in their pesticide-free hydroponic East Boston compound. You can also pick up Spiker’s Shrubs to splash on your greens (or in your favorite spirits, seltzer, or tea). Our Pineapple Basil Shrub features basil fresh from Corner Stalk.

Check out our Master Recipe for vinaigrette here. Spiker’s Pineapple Basil Shrub makes greens sing! (You can use any of our shrubs for a delicious vinaigrette.)

Posted on

Dad deserves a cheese plate with a Spiker’s Shrub drizzle

Spiker’s Shrubs in cocktails and mocktails are like salt and pepper. What many people don’t know is that shrubs are a powerful secret weapon in your kitchen pantry when it comes to sauces, dressings, and gravies.

For Father’s Day, we’ll be at Shubie’s on Saturday, June 20 from 1-5pm to show you how you can turn Spiker’s Shrubs into an incredible fruity-tart drizzle for cheese plates and appetizers.

Shubie’s has one of the most impressive cheese selections on the North Shore. To showcase this selection, we created a variety of plating suggestions to pair with our master “cheese drizzle” recipe. Just 3 minutes in the microwave transforms our cocktail mixers into a floral, fruity-tart glaze.

For example, the gorgeous Jasper Hill Harbison shown here is a creamy, gooey, luscious cheese wrapped in a ribbon of spruce bark. The woodsy, citrus, and floral notes are intoxicating. Just bring the cheese to room temp, scoop it onto a cracker or slice of baguette, and drizzle with one of our Spiker’s Shrub drizzles. Or try a drizzle with these other cheeses from Shubie’s:

Cloumage, a fresh cream cheese style which is like a cross between ricotta and cottage cheese. Made in Westport, MA.
Brebirousse d’Argnetal, an addicting, creamy sheep’s milk brie from France.
Colston Bassett Stilton, by far the best Stilton in the world. A much cleaner, purer taste than other blues. Great minerality and and not overly pungent.

Curious? Come to Shubie’s on Saturday, June 20, from 1-5pm. Pick up some shrubs, cheese, artisan crackers and other condiments to create a fantastic gift basket for your favorite dad, neighbor, or friend.

 

Posted on

Set up a Shrubbuffet for New Year’s Eve cocktails and mocktails

ChampagneShrubCocktail

Looking for a fun and festive addition to your New Year’s Eve menu? While everyone is waiting to ring in the new, you can treat your guests to the new and refreshing combination of Spiker’s Shrubs paired with the Champagne or Prosecco of your choice (or Perrier for a designated driver special). Just set up a bar with the bubbly on ice, and an array of Spiker’s Shrubs. Tie a ribbon around a few tablespoons (use one-half to one tablespoon per glass), and your Shrubbuffet is ready for sipping, sampling, and toasting.

For a true Bellini, choose Spiker’s Peach Rosemary Shrub. Or spin out onto new territory by trying Tuscan Tangerine. We use the entire fruit — peel and all — in our Tangerine Shrub, so the concentrate carries with it not only the delightful citrus taste of tangerine but also a sophisticated bitter nuance from the oils in the peel.

Pineapple Basil, Apple Crisp, Pear Cardamom, and Cranberry Orange Shrub are also great options. Each of these shrub flavors changes your Bellini profile, and gives your guests additional reasons to raise a glass.

[box size=”large”]Make merry with mocktails! Don’t forget the non-drinkers (including designated drivers) at your party. Include chilled bottles of Perrier (our preference) and ginger ale and plenty of festive glasses, and let them enjoy the shrubbuffet too![/box]

Shop locally at these retail destinations.

[gmc_recipe 1641]

Posted on

Cranberry Chocolate Soufflé Pie

Cranberries are almost always relegated to the relish bowl during the holidays. But in this light and airy treat — a chocolate soufflé shell filled with delicately perfumed cranberry filling simmered with Spiker’s shrubs (Crangerine, Sour Cherry Plum, or Berry Amour), and a drizzle of white chocolate — it gets to sit on the dessert table with all the other goodies. It’s gorgeous to look at, easy to make, delicious to eat, can be prepared in advance, and gluten-free.

The shell of this elegant dessert is assembled like a soufflé. But don’t worry: this is one soufflé that’s supposed to collapse. In fact, that’s what creates the well in the center where you add your cranberries. (What a nice change from rolled pastry or press-in-the-pan cookie crumb crusts!)

Give it a try. We think you’ll agree that the marriage of cranberries and chocolate is absolutely heavenly.

[gmc_recipe 685]

Posted on

Cuban Picadillo with Cranberry Shrub

picadillo, traditional dish in many latin american countriesPicadillo is a super-fast comfort food that can be whipped up on the stove top in under 30 minutes. (Or prepare in a slow cooker for walk-away convenience). The aromatic spices and the tangy sweetness contributed by the apple and cranberry are a welcome change from standard taco filling or Sloppy Joes. Serve this over rice, like a stew, or wrapped up in tortillas or lettuce leaves. Tastes great the next day, so feel free to make ahead. If you double the recipe, you can freeze the leftovers and thaw as needed for a yummy last-minute meal.

A finishing sprinkle of chopped pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and almonds provides a welcome crunch and an extra New World accent.

[gmc_recipe 739]

Posted on

Spiker’s Cranberry Blog is back!

Spikers_cranberries-in-boxLet the Thanksgiving countdown begin! If you aren’t yet in the mood for cranberries, you will be by the time turkey day rolls around! We’re doing our part to keep tradition alive by bringing back our annual “Cranberry Blog” and by introducing a brand new shrub flavor using this beautiful fruit which is one of three which can trace its roots to North American soil. (Grapes and blueberries are the other two.)

It’s not hard to find cranberries lovable. So round, so bouncy, so tart and tangy! And talk about versatile: Cranberries lend themselves to use in almost any kind of recipe (well, maybe not scrambled eggs), and they get along famously with other fruits (as we learned when we paired a shipment of the Bay State’s finest with fresh Valencia oranges, ginger, and clove to create our new Cranberry Orange Shrub.

Cranberry Orange Shrub retains the tannic bite of fresh, raw cranberries but is softened with enough sub-notes of fresh orange to turn that bite into more of a gentle nip. There’s still plenty of acidic balance thanks to the addition of apple cider vinegar, and the touch of ginger and clove add a welcome finish. Enjoy it by itself in an ice-filled glass of seltzer, or add a splash your favorite vodka, gin, or Pisco cocktail. At mealtime, sprinkle a bit of Cranberry Orange Shrub over raw or cooked greens, glaze a pork tenderloin during the final minutes of roasting, or add a few tablespoons to our favorite Cranberry Blackbottom Pie (recipe to come next week).

Cranberry Orange Shrub will be ready by November 15 — just in time for Amesbury’s annual Open Studio Tour. Stop by to see us at Kitchen Local, 14 Cedar Street. Or be sure to look for all of our shrub flavors at retailers near you.

Posted on

How to help your outdoor herbs thrive indoors

RosemaryPlantSo far, our area has dodged the bullets Jack Frost has been shooting elsewhere in the United States. The average first-frost date in our region of Massachusetts typically occurs anywhere from October 1 through 10. But we’re still waiting, and the balmy temperatures throughout this month have created a false sense of security.

Today, we decided to stop tempting fate and brought in the last of our plants: a 3-year-old rosemary pot and a small heap of thyme which seemed very happy in its terraced spot on the herb spiral. Both of these plants have inspired many wonderful meals as well as two our our shrub flavors: Peach Rosemary and Tomato Thyme. Although our home-grown herbs can’t be used in commercial products, we’re always happy to have a robust crop growing indoors to provide inspiration.

Thanks to the wise advice provided by The Herb Farmacy in Salisbury MA, we’ve been fairly successful wintering-over our outdoor herbs over the years. Here are some of the things we have learned.

ROSEMARY PLANTS

There are three key things to know about keeping potted rosemary alive and thriving:

Keep it cool: Don’t bring the outdoor plant into a warm part of your home right off the bat. It needs to be transitioned to prevent shock. The first transition spot can been anything from a garage to an unheated sun porch to a drafty attic. Even after letting the plant spend a week or so in its temporary quarters, look around for a room where the plant won’t freeze or be subjected to cozy heat. We keep our pot in the sun porch, right next to the back door. The room temperature never gets above 60 degrees, and the plant doesn’t even seem to mind getting a cold blast of outdoor air whenever the back door is open.

Keep it moist: Herbs that have delicate leaves can dry out quickly. Keep the pot elevated above a bed of pebbles to ensure drainage and also to create a moist microclimate. Also, mist the leaves every couple of days with spring water.

Keep it trimmed: A rosemary plant can turn dry and woody quickly. Frequent trimming stimulates new growth.

ThymePlantTHYME PLANTS

Due to their tiny leaves, thyme plants are notorious for drying out quickly in an indoor setting. However, they are also pretty fussy when it comes to being too wet. If you over-water a thyme plant, the base can quickly get soggy and rot. The solution:

When digging up a thyme plant, put it in a pot that’s at least twice the diameter of the plant. The extra soil will retain moisture better than if you were to put the plant in a container that’s more proportional to the size.

Surround the base with pea stone to help encourage drainage and to keep the lower branches from coming in contact with the soil.

Keep a plastic spray bottle handy and mist the plant regularly so that the tiny leaves will remain hydrated.

As with rosemary, keep the plant in a cool spot and trim often to encourage new growth. Even if you aren’t in the mood for the fresh herbs, you can dry them and store in a bag, or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and toss in the freezer.

PARTING SUGGESTIONS

If all else fails and you find yourself with a crispy crunchy herb plant, don’t throw it out. Instead:

Snip the branches and store them for use in soups. Or put them in a small saucepan, cover with water, and simmer on the back burner of your wood stove or stove top to keep a wonderful green scent wafting through your house. Throw in some chunks of lemon or any other aromatics you have left over from your latest culinary endeavor. Replenish the water level and keep heating until you no longer can smell the herbs.