Warm greetings to this wonderful, vibrant, and beautiful community we call home! I love to witness the winter become the spring, when the air sweetens, the sun warms you a little quicker in the mornings and the days get longer. This time of year always brings you to a happy place. That said, another great thing about the coming spring and summer is, to put it lightly… FOOD!
When I think of spring, I naturally train my thoughts on Easter and all the great spiritual, cultural and culinary blessings that come with celebrating Resurrection Sunday! I have put forth on these pages my Easter Pie recipe in the past, if you never had a chance to see that recipe log onto the Juniper Berry website and check it out along with all my past recipes as well.
Today, I would like to focus on some very light-hearted fare, that is super easy to prepare and packed full of flavor and fun! To quote the infamous sage that warned Julius Caesar: “Beware the Ides of March!” In this instance, I reference the well being of your waistlines, not that which Brutus had in mind of course!
First up today I wanted to share with you a fun little secondary use for one of my favorite springtime foods. St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite days on the Church calendar. Along with doing many unsaintly things like taking a taste or two on this wonderful day, many of us also enjoy Corned Beef & Cabbage. Well, if you are like me, you make way too much and have tons of leftovers. Here is one of my favorite things to do with them:
St. Patrick’s Day recovery breakfast
• With two forks take your leftover corned beef and shred.
• Take all your boiled potatoes and put them through a ricer
or mince them as fine as you can.
• Take your cabbage and mince.
• In a bowl mix all the ingredients, add a dash of spicy
mustard or Dijon, and incorporate well.
• Make patties about 2-3” thick and make a hole in the middle.
In a cast iron pan, add a good amount of salted butter and smash your patty into the pan. Crack an egg in the middle hole and let it crust up on one side. Add more butter and flip the patty, cook both sides till slightly crispy and serve with hot sauce or any other condiment of your choosing.
Cynthia’s famous turkey chili
The next dish I had in mind for this spring edition of the Berry is my beautiful wife Cynthia’s famous turkey chili! This is a dish that is much lighter than traditional beef chili yet packs a great amount of richness and flavor at the same time. This chili is best enjoyed served on top of baked sweet potato for a healthy option. My favorite and not so healthy way to enjoy this treat is in an almost taco-like manner. Start by placing the chili in a bowl and topping with sour cream, chopped chives, pickled jalapenos, and shredded cheddar cheese. Simply dip your favorite tortilla chips or crackers into the bowl and enjoy!
• 2 Pounds Ground Turkey • 2 Chopped Onions
• 5 Stalks of Celery chopped • 1 Red Bell Pepper diced
• 2 TBS Olive Oil • 1 TBS Oregano
• 4 TBS Chili Power • 1/2 TBSP Cayenne Pepper
• 2 TBS Garlic Powder • 2 TBSP Ground Cumin
• 28 Ounces of Diced Tomatoes
(fresh is best, canned will do just fine)
• 1- 16oz can of Hunt’s Tomato Paste
• 2 Cans of Beans (1-Kidney 1-Chick Pea)
• 2 Bay Leaves • ½ – ¾ Cup of Heinz Tomato ketchup
First thing to do is cook in a stock pot the ground turkey using a good olive oil. Season the meat with the dry ingredients. In a separate pan, sauté the veggies until they begin to slightly caramelize. In the pot you cooked your turkey, add the meat, veggies, the rest of your ingredients. Stir regularly and add salt and pepper or more of the various spices liberally to taste. Cook on medium to low heat for about 90 minutes. At the last half hour, check your seasoning and adjust as needed. The last 25 minutes go ahead and add your tomato ketchup. Stir in well and let simmer until done. I do recommend that you dice up some additional fresh celery, onion, and pepper to add into the pot in the last 10 minutes of cooking to add some refreshing crunch, depth, and additional great flavor. This chili is versatile, travels well and can be frozen and enjoyed later without losing much of its splendor! Great for parties or just a fun tasty family meal, this dish will always be well received!
Spring lobster salad
The next culinary delight that I think of this time of year is a super refreshing lobster salad I like to make. I find lobster to be most delicious as the ocean waters off our coasts are frigid and nutrient packed making the lobster very sweet tasting. If you do not wish to go through the process of cooking live or whole lobsters, I like to use the already shelled frozen lobster meat. (I always get mine at Joe’s Fish Market on Metropolitan Ave.) This is a super simple yet very fun flavorful treat to enjoy as a light meal or as a side dish. Here is how is it made.
• 1 ½ – 2 pounds of boiled/steamed and shelled
• 2-3 Celery Stalks cleaned and diced.
• ¼ bulb of Fennel, cleaned and diced.
• ½ a Beefsteak Tomato, peeled and diced.
• 1 whole Scallion bulb and shoot sliced thinly.
• ¼ cup fresh squeezed Lemon Juice.
• ¼ cup Red Wine Vinegar.
• 1 cup Mayonnaise (add to the mayo: a few pinches of sea salt, cracked black pepper, celery salt, turmeric and old bay / Add crushed red pepper or any other chili peppers if you like heat). Mix the mayo into an aioli and let chill for 1 hour.
In a chilled bowl, mix the lobster meat, sea salt and pepper to taste. Add the veggies, next the lemon juice, and then the vinegar. Now incorporate your aioli, mix well, and let chill for 2-3 hours before serving.
Serving suggestions: Serve as either a side dish on its own, or on a bed of baby arugula, endive and radicchio tossed in a nice lemon vinaigrette. Plate the salad and add a nice 4 oz portion atop the salad greens.
Have a Blessed and Happy Easter and may your spring be filled with health, happiness, prosperity, and of course great food!