So good it should be illegal: shrub-glazed bacon

As if it wasn’t already delicious enough on its own, bacon can be elevated to an even higher plane of gustatory delight when given a light shellacking with Spiker’s Shrubs. Unlike many of the glazed bacon recipes you’ll find online, our instructions allow the wonderful smoky/salty flavor of the bacon to shine through, rather than burying it in a goo of brown sugar.

Spiker’s Shrubs impart a gentle fruity-tart note with just enough sweetness to transform the bacon in both taste and texture. The shrub glaze adds moisture to the bacon while it bakes, preventing it from curling into a twisted tangle. It also keeps the strips supple enough to serve hours after preparing.

What can you do with shrub-glazed bacon (other than devour it immediately)? Use it on sandwiches, soups, salads. Cut the bacon strips into squares and add shredded apple and a little cube of cheddar (or try melon and crumbled feta, blue, or chevre). Cut it into tiny dice and savor with a bite of extra-dark chocolate. Oh yeah…and a little bit sprinkled over vanilla ice cream won’t kill you, either.

Our master recipe below can be used with any flavor of Spiker’s Shrubs. You can use regular or thick-cut bacon. Cooking times will vary depending on the type of bacon you use, so be sure to keep your eye on the oven and the timer.

Carrot Slaw with Sweet-Tart Shrub Dressing

No fancy chef skills required here. Just grate or shred fresh carrots, then toss with a dressing featuring the delightful tang of our Ginger Bite Shrub paired with olive oil, cider vinegar, celery seeds, salt, pepper, and minced garlic. At serving time, add a generous sprinkle of chopped sunflower and sesame seeds to provide a delightful crunch.

NOTE: This slaw tastes even better the day after. Don’t limit it to a side dish, either. Slap this onto a bun with some pulled pork barbecue and you will be in heaven.

Asian-inspired Shrub Dipping Sauce No. 1

Although the use of vinegar in cooking is extensive throughout most Asian cultures, westerners tend to think of it only as something for pickles or salad dressing. In this recipe, we’re going to show how Spiker’s Shrubs can be used as a key ingredient in three different types of Asian-inspired dipping sauces, and perhaps you’ll be inspired to attempt some variations of your own.

For our first recipe, we’ve created a twist on the classic Ponzu sauce. Ponzu is distinguished by its bright citrus notes, balanced by the salty umame earthiness of the soy. In place of the traditional orange juice, mirin, rice vinegar and sugar, we’re using Spiker’s Pineapple Basil Shrub. (You could also use any other flavor and get interesting and savory results.)

Use this dipping sauce for egg rolls, spring rolls, or dumplings. Or brush over shrimp, salmon, or chicken prior to broiling or pan-searing to create a gorgeous and fragrant glaze.

PS – More sauce recipes coming soon, along with suggestions for what to serve them with.

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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.

Chocolate Cranberry Souffle Pie

Serves 8
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 1 hour
Allergy Egg
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Dessert
Fresh cranberries simmered with Spiker's Cranberry Orange or Tangerine Shrub and cinnamon make a sweet-tart filling for a fudgy bittersweet chocolate pie shell. Top with whipped cream or drizzles of white and dark chocolate flavored with Grand Marnier.

Ingredients

Shell

  • 4oz bittersweet chocolate ((or semi-sweet))
  • 2 tablespoons Spiker's Sour Cherry Plum Shrub ((or Crangerine, Raspberry Bergamot, Berry Amour))
  • 4 eggs (separated)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch salt

Filling

  • 3/4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 8oz whole cranberries ((2 heaping cups))
  • 1 cup white chocolate morsels

Directions

Prepare the shell
Step 1 Melt chocolate with your choice of Spiker's shrub in a small heavy saucepan or double boiler over low heat. Stir until smooth and let cool.
Step 2 Preheat oven to 350 and butter a 10-inch pie plate
Step 3 Beat egg yolks with sugar in a bowl until very thick and pale. Add cinnamon and melted chocolate, beating slowly until blended. Beat whites with salt in a separate bowl until stiff. Add whites one third at a time to chocolate mixture, folding gently with a rubber spatula.
Step 4 Pour the mixture into the pie plate, gently level with a spatula, and bake for about 25 minutes. As it bakes the shell will puff up. Don't prick it. Allow to cool. As the shell cools it will sink in the center, forming a well where you can add the filling. (You can make this early in the day or the night before. Allow to cool completely then cover lightly with plastic wrap. Store in a cool place or the fridge. Remove from fridge at least 30 minutes before serving to complete the assembly.)
Prepare the filling
Step 5 To make the filling, in a medium saucepan bring water to a boil with sugar, cinnamon, and orange zest. Add cranberries then lower the heat and let the cranberries simmer for about 15 minutes until thick, stirring occasionally. Let cool and refrigerate. (You can make this a day in advance.)
Assembly
Step 6 Spoon the cooled cranberry mixture into the cooled pie shell. Don't overfill the shell. In a double boiler or microwave, melt the white chocolate and drizzle over the pie in a lattice or free-form pattern. Enjoy with a sparkling shrub mocktail (2 tablespoons shrub to 6-8 ounces soda or seltzer) or mimosa (using Prosecco or Champagne in place of the soda).

Note

For a different twist on the pie presentation, make individual servings by dividing the shell batter evenly among 8 tart or creme brulee dishes. Bake for about 20 minutes instead of 25, but check after 15 minutes. The fudgy chocolate filling should be puffy and moist but not soggy when you take it out of the oven.

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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.

Cuban Picadillo with Sour Cherry Plum Shrub

Serves 4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable
A Cuban-Caribbean comfort food that's great served over rice or as a filling for tacos etc. Spikers has added a New World flourish with cranberries instead of raisins, and a finishing sprinkle of pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Ingredients

  • 5 teaspoons Olive oil
  • 1lb Ground Beef or Turkey ((not turkey breast))
  • 1/2 cup Onion (diced)
  • 1 cup Crushed canned tomatoes ((do not drain))
  • 2 Small tart apple (cored and chopped (e.g., Granny or Mac))
  • 2 Small jalapeno (seeded and thinly sliced)
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 cup Whole cranberries (or use 4Tbsp dried)
  • 4 Large pimiento-stuffed green olives (sliced crosswise)
  • 4 Large black olives (pitted and sliced crosswise)
  • 1/3 cup Dry red wine or beef broth
  • 3 tablespoons Spiker's Cranberry Orange Shrub
  • 1 teaspoon Ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt and black pepper
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds (each)

Directions

Step 1 In a 10-inch skillet, warm oil over medium heat. Add the beef or turkey and cook, breaking up large pieces with a wooden spoon until crumbly. Drain.
Step 2 Add onion and garlic and saute together with the meat until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
Step 3 Stir in remaining ingredients (except for nut garnish) and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the flavors are well blended, about 20 minutes. Do not overcook. This mixture should be moist and slightly saucy rather than dry and crumbly.
Step 4 Serve with a side of roasted sweet potatoes and/or rice.

Note

You can add all kinds of other items to picadillo  -- small diced potatoes, chopped hard-boiled egg, raisins, diced red or green pepper -- to extend and vary it.

Slow-cooker variation: If you wish, you can make this in a crock pot. Just follow steps 1 and 2. Then dump everything (except the pumpkin and sunflower seeds) into the slow cooker, stir well, and cover. Cook on slow for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4. At serving time, you might need to add a tad more broth or water. You don't want the mixture to be dry and crumbly; it should be moist and slightly saucy.

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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.

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Shrub-glazed nuts are sweet, tart, and fast

SpikersShrub-GlazedNutsHave you ever made spiced nuts: the kind you coat with sugar and/or egg white and heat in the oven or the stove top? In my opinion most of the recipes are a pain. If you aren’t careful or you get sidetracked for just a few minutes, the entire batch can burn. If you add too much sugar, it might melt into jaw-breaking nuggets instead of a silky sheet of sweetness.

And speaking of sugar, take a look at the quantities that are usually called for. If this doesn’t cause a glycemic shock I don’t know what does.

There’s a better way to create glossy, delicately sweet nuts without all this fuss: just use a splash of Spiker’s Shrubs. Any flavor will do, but right now we’re partial to Apple Crisp, Peach Rosemary, and Pineapple Basil. The fruity, tart notes in each of the shrubs adds an extra layer of flavor to whatever spice blend you choose. And it takes less than three minutes for the liquid to reduce and coat the nuts with a lump-free sheen which allows the flavor of the nuts to take center stage.

Our master recipe is veritably fool-proof. Once you’ve made a basic batch,  consider some of the variations suggested here. You might never go back to the old ways again!

Shrub-Glazed Nuts

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw nuts mixed or just one variety (we like a combination of almonds, walnuts, and pecans)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or half butter and half light olive oil)
  • 4 tablespoons Spiker's Shrub (any flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • pinch Atlantic Saltworks flake salt

Directions

PREPARATION
Step 1 Break or chop nuts into manageable sizes or leave whole if desired. Set aside. (See note at bottom re: soaking.)

In small bowl, mix spices together. Set aside.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat sheet.
Step 2 Heat a 10-inch cast iron frying pan or other heavy skillet over a medium flame for 3-5 minutes. Add the nuts and toss constantly with a spatula until the nuts have a golden roasted appearance. (This usually takes five to seven minutes depending on the type of pan you're using.) If you are using a variety of nuts, brown one type at a time because each has its own burning point. Almonds, for example, take longer than pecans. If you put them together, the pecans would burn before the almonds were ready.
Step 3 Add the butter and/or olive oil and stir constantly while the butter melts and the nuts are coated. Then sprinkle the spice mixture over the nuts and toss quickly to coat. Stir one more minute.
Step 4 Move the skillet to a separate burner that is not turned on. Leave the current burner on. Quickly drizzle the shrub over the nuts (be careful -- it will immediately steam and sizzle). Stir constantly to coat the nuts with shrub and dissolve the dry spice ingredients.

When the pan stops sizzling, return it to the heat source and turn the heat down. Keeping stirring until all of the shrub has evaporated.
Step 5 Empty the nut mixture onto a parchment- or Silpat-lined cookie sheet and spread to a single layer. Sprinkle with a dash of flake sea salt and allow to cool.

When nuts are completely cool, store in a glass jar (preferred) or a plastic bag.

Note

Other Tasty Ways to Spice Your Glazed Nuts

For each cup of nuts, we recommend you use approximately 1 teaspoon of spices. The mix shown above is just one possibility. Here are some other tasty suggestions.

Mexican-inspired: 1/2 teaspoon cumin + 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika + 1/8 teaspoon cayenne + 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander

Asian-inspired: 1/4 teaspoon ginger + 1/4 teaspoon ground star anise + 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder + 1/8 teaspoon clove + 1/8 teaspoon fennel seed + 2 teaspoons soy sauce. (Omit the sea salt.) If you happen to have it, you may use teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder instead of the individual spices listed here.

Indian-inspired: 1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry powder. (If desired, cut back to 3/4 teaspoon and add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne.)

More Flavorful Suggestions

Once you get the hang of this technique, you'll probably be itching to improvise even more. Our favorite technique is to infuse olive oil first with an herb (rosemary is our favorite) along with some fresh garlic cloves. We make large batches of this and keep it in the refrigerator. A good balance is one cup oil, 6 plump garlic cloves peeled and smashed, and 1-2 tablespoons fresh, minced rosemary. Simmer all the ingredients over low heat until the oil starts to make some noise in the pan. Turn off the heat and let the oil infuse with the garlic and rosemary for at least 30 minutes ... or all day if you wish. Strain and discard the solids. Cool and then refrigerate, tightly covered.

... and One Last Thing: A Note About Nuts

We have become firm believers in soaking nuts overnight before using in any recipe. The advantages are many. Even if you don't have a problem digesting nuts, soaked nuts are softer and more delicate. Walnuts in particular are cleansed of a tannic, acid bite which often conflicts with the flavors in any dish they accompany.

 

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A sprinkle of shrub gives this dessert zing

RF0305_Honey-Pear-Icebox-Trifle-with-Soft-and-Easy-Ginger-Snaps_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni18colWhat a great idea! Yesterday, Food Network personality Nancy Fuller did a segment which featured an ice-box trifle with homemade gingersnaps sprinkled with shrub.

Her recipe calls for a honey-pear flavor, but we tested this with Spiker’s Apple Crisp Shrub and Peach Rosemary Shrub and both were fabulous. Didn’t get a chance to test the Pineapple Basil, but it would also be amazing.

Give the recipe a try and let us know which shrub you used!

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Spiker’s Shrub Vinaigrette Master Recipe

1-IMG_1479The same fruity-tart-sweet balance which makes Spiker’s Shrubs so refreshing in a spritzer or cocktail also helps to create some delicious and quick vinaigrettes. Add a sprinkle of  local hand-harvested flake sea salt for a winning combination.

To help you expand your salad dressing repertoire, below is a master recipe which can be changed up instantly by simply using a different flavor of Spiker’s Shrubs. Some of our favorite fast pairings include:

  • Pineapple Basil Shrub vinaigrette with warm wilted spinach, diced apples, and shredded carrots. Make it an entree salad by adding diced tofu or grilled salmon.
  • Sour Cherry Plum Shrub vinaigrette with baby spinach, sliced mushrooms, and dried Mission figs. Make it an entree salad by adding sliced warm or cold flank steak.
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Shrub vinaigrette with romaine, plums, and pine nuts. Make it an entree salad by adding sliced cold grilled chicken breast.
  • Raspberry Bergamot Shrub vinaigrette with shredded raw kale, goat cheese, and sesame oil. (Make this in advance to give the kale time to break down and tenderize). Make it an entree salad by adding sliced warm or cold flank steak.
  • Peach Rosemary Shrub vinaigrette with arugula, toasted slivered almonds, warm brie, and blackberries. Make it an entree salad by adding sliced pork tenderloin.
  • Ruby Red Grapefruit Shrub vinaigrette with sliced avocado, watermelon chunks, feta cheese, and toasted walnuts. Make it an entree salad by adding chilled poached shrimp.

The basic ratio used here is one part shrub to three parts oil, but depending on the type of salad and the acidity of the ingredients, you might want to add an extra touch of tartness (e.g., a squeeze of lime or lemon, or a tablespoon whatever vinegar intrigues you).
One other note: Please use a flake-style sea salt at serving time rather than putting salt in your dressing in advance. Why? For one thing, if you are making an entree salad with leftover protein, you may very well have cooked this protein with a rub or other seasoning which contained salt. Also, not everyone cares for salt on a salad, since vinegar often enhances the saltiness of a dish. It’s better to let everyone at the table choose how much to add. And finally, the sparkle and extra crunch imparted by the sea salt flakes is just a wonderful touch. A teensy bit is all you need.

S.O.S. — Save our shrub bottles! Our bottles are made from a high grade of commercial glass which is extremely durable. Use the bottles to mix your salad dressing, or find new ways to recycle them. They will last a long time.

 

Spiker’s Shrub Vinaigrette Master Recipe

Serves 2
Prep time 5 minutes
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Salad, Side Dish
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
Website Spikers Shrubs
Need some new ideas for salad dressings? The fruity-tart-sweet zing of Spiker's Shrubs gives you a quick way to create gourmet vinaigrettes in seconds.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Spiker's Shrubs (any flavor)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch finely ground peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional -- preferably Maille or other premium brand)
  • 1 pinch Atlantic Saltworks Flake Finishing Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon your choice of any one fresh herb (minced tarragon, mint, rosemary, basil, etc)

Directions

Base Formula
Step 1 Pour the shrub, olive oil, Dijon mustard, and ground pepper into a small jar or cup and whisk together until the oil and shrub are emulsified. (Maille is my favorite brand of Dijon because it is the most delicately flavored. Many of the generic supermarket brands are too harsh.) Serve immediately if desired or set aside until serving time.
Step 2 If desired, add minced garlic to the base mix. If you add garlic, allow the vinaigrette to sit for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
Herbal Enhancements
Step 3 Depending on the flavor of shrub you are using, the addition of any one fresh herb described above adds a welcome but optional layer of flavor. If you choose to add herbs, bruise them in a mortar or use a muddler first to release some of their oils. Allow the vinaigrette to sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld.
Serving
Step 4 At serving time, toss the salad with the vinaigrette and garnish with a sprinkle of Atlantic Saltworks Flake Finishing Sea Salt. Or have a salt cellar at table-side for those who wish to add their own amount of salt to taste.
More Variations
Step 5 Have fun experimenting with different combinations of vinegar (red wine, white balsamic, rice wine) and oil (sesame, vegetable). Coconut oil needs to be warmed up first to get to a melting stage. This can be too heavy for a regular salad, but I love it on kale and protein-based fusion-style salads.