Friday, June 24, 2022

How to Care for Berries 101

Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries…I love them all, especially when they are freshly picked and tasting like sunshine. However, few things are more discouraging than spending money on fresh berries only to have them go bad before you use them up. Thank goodness this method on how to care for berries I read in Cooks Illustrated magazine keeps them fresh as long as possible. It also works for other fruits and vegetables as well.

Wash the berries in a bowl with three parts water and one part white vinegar. Then drain and rinse. (For other fruits and vegetables, fill a spray bottle with the water-vinegar solution, give them a spritz, and then rinse.)

I typically let my berries air-dry, but you can also place the more sturdy ones like strawberries and blueberries into a salad spinner lined with three layers of paper towels. Then spin until dry. Delicate raspberries can be laid out onto a paper towel-lined counter or baking sheet and allowed to dry. (A fan blowing on the berries will speed up the process.)
Once cleaned, place the berries in a container lined with paper towels and keep them in the refrigerator. Leave the lid opened a bit to allow any excess moisture to escape.
The extra berries I purchase are headed straight for my freezer to enjoy the rest of the year. How to freeze your berries? After the berries are cleaned and dried, place them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Then pop the sheet into the freezer. Once they are completely frozen, remove the berries from the baking sheet and place them into a zippered freezer bag.
Both fresh and frozen berries work well in so many recipes, from smoothies to pancakes. When using the frozen ones, most recipes will tell you if they need to be thawed out first. When in doubt, thaw the berries.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Muffuletta Sandwich Recipe


I love a good sandwich in the summertime. Sure, salads are great too, but I find a sandwich to have much more staying power, especially if I’m busy doing yard work, sightseeing, or just playing in the sunshine. Plus, a sandwich is much easier to transport for a picnic at the park, beach, or backyard.

Photo from Central Grocery
Have you ever heard of a muffuletta sandwich? It is an iconic New Orleans favorite created at Central Grocery and Deli. A muffuletta is filled with Italian cold cuts and cheese. The difference-maker is the olive salad, which is somewhat like a tapenade but chunkier. It’s a combo of olives, garlic, herbs, olive oil, and vinegar and gives the sandwich a complex flavor beyond the typical Italian sub.  

For me, the key component of a good sandwich is the bread. The traditional muffuletta bread is round and topped with sesame seeds. I used a delicious slow-fermented olive oil ciabatta from my recent Wildgrain box order. It was perfect—soft on the inside, crusty on the outside, and just the right amount of sourdough tang. (FYI: I have a terrific deal to share with you from Wildgrain! See the below!) 

You will want to make the muffuletta olive salad a day or more ahead, so the flavors have a chance to mix and mingle. Otherwise, a muffuletta is a snap to put together. I think the sandwich is even better the next day, so feel free to make it the day before and store it in the fridge. 

Now, for the Wildgrain deal mentioned above. If you follow me on social media, you know I’ve enjoyed all the wonderful items I received in my first box. Wildgrain is the first membership box that delivers bake-from-frozen sourdough breads, fresh pastas, and artisan pastries to your home. Everything bakes within 25 minutes (no thawing!) and are made with clean ingredients.

My box contained three different sourdough loaves of bread (including the ciabatta I used for this Muffuletta recipe), sourdough rolls, croissants, and two kinds of pasta. 

Here’s the deal, and it’s a big one: Follow this link to order your first Wildgrain box and use the promo code SUNFLOWERLIFE, and you’ll get $30 off your first order! (And I’ll get a small commission as well.) Not only are the breads delicious, but I love having them delivered right to my door. Especially since the nearest artisanal bread bakery to my home is a 30-minute drive. Give them a try!