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Posts Tagged ‘capers’

My mother-in-law had a copy of this book in hardcover. I was immediately drawn to the illustrations in black and white of each herb and spice you can imagine, all in alphabetical order for ease of reference. This book gives anywhere from one to a dozen recipes for a specific spice or herb.

I wouldn’t call this “American” or “French” per se, it’s just simple recipes to give you ideas on the versatility of those little plants and jars in your kitchen. I also like the descriptions, they give times-past associations of spices with prosperity, luck, love, and hate!

I tried the Cabbage with Capers last night and my husband said it was one of the best things I’ve made in a while!  (Why doesn’t he like the rest of it? Or is he too nice to tell me so? Well I have to admit that I’ve been heavy handed with the salt as of late…)

Adapted from Cabbage with Capers from Cooking With Herbs And Spices by Craig Claiborne

  • 1/2 head of green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup cooked ham, small dice
  • 1 Tbsp bacon fat
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp capers with brine
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup water

Start with the bacon fat, ham, and onion.  Add the garlic after the onion is soft and fragrant, cook for a minute.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine then quickly cover and reduce to medium-low for 10 minutes.  It’s ready when the cabbage is soft, stir to scrape up any bits stuck to the pan if needed.

This dish resembled a very mild sauerkraut only the caraway was replaced with capers.  Big Brother is not a fan of caraway seeds, so this is a good swap for him.

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In other news… I’m hosting a bake sale on Mother’s Day!  I’ve opened a cottage bakery in my house, Cardamom Finnish Cottage Bakery, and I thought this would be a good way to let neighbors know about me.  And for all of you Austin readers, this is a chance to actually taste some of the sweet things you’ve been drooling over while reading my blog.  Locals can pre-order via the bakery website to pick up on Sunday, or just come on by between 9 and 11 am and shop at the sale (2800 Adelen Ln, Round Rock).

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Looking for a super simple appetizer that will impress your guests?  This one answers the call.

All you will need are four ingredients:

  • smoked salmon
  • cream cheese (light or whipped can be used)
  • capers
  • bread

The bread can be any type, grain, or size you like.  Pictured above is my home-made focaccia split open and cut to size.  You can do the same with a loaf of dark multigrain bread, slice then divide each slice into thirds or quarters.  Go fancy and trim the crusts.  Toast the bread briefly under the broiler to give it structure.

The rest is a breeze.  Put the cream cheese on the toasted bread, lay a piece of salmon or two on top, then garnish with capers.  Done.

These smoked salmon bites are great for afternoon entertaining or as part of a tapas table with cocktails in the evening.

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If you like cheese on your mouthful of joy, go forth and cheese it up…

Here’s how to make it…

  • tomato
  • Poblano or Jalapeño pepper
  • fresh basil
  • capers
  • onion
  • lime juice
  • sea salt

Dice the tomato, pepper and onion very fine.  You can drain the seeds and juice out of the tomato if you like, I happen to like a wet bruschetta to soften the hard toast.  Add about 5 large basil leaves that have been sliced into thin strips.  Add a good tablespoon of caper berries plus a bit of the brine.  Mix everything in a bowl and taste for acid and salt.  If the tomatoes are mild, add some lime juice.  Add sea salt to taste, but if you are going to top the whole thing with cheese hold back on the salt a little.

Bruschetta can be served on Melba toasts, toasted baguette, grilled flat bread or even fish as an entrée!

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I had no idea what a caper was until about four years ago.  We were visiting my parents for the holidays in Canada and my step mom rustled me into preparing an appetizer for guests to graze upon.  It was a smoked salmon and caper berry toast.  I tasted one caper to satisfy my curiosity.  I previously had never touched, or smelled these little guys, at least for what my memory serves me.  Surprised, these were not like olives as I expected, they were much more graceful than olives.  (Can you tell that I’m not exactly on olive fan? Which is weird because olive oil is tha bomb!)

Since that inaugural meeting of capers, they have continued to intrigue me.  I recreated the smoked salmon appetizer at home a few times (and it was just as delicious as mom’s) but fell short of experimenting with it further.  Capers faded out of the forefront of my cravings du jour, eventually they were totally out of my life.

Then we traveled to Canyon Lake and I chose the Italian restaurant in town for dinner.  Little did I know that I was about to reunited with my BFF from years ago.  She looked different, slightly plumper than last time we chatted in my kitchen, how old friends tend to change.  Caper now had long golden locks of angel hair, glistening in the fading sunlight.  White wine butter suited her well.  Over a glass of wine we caught up, how old friends do.

I invited Caper over for dinner.  I dressed up chicken and pasta just for her, since I know she likes it.  Laughing and crying, just being silly, really, it was a blast.  The happiness of finally finding Caper again was great.  Caper left and we were all pleased to have entertained her, hoping there would be another chance to dine together again.

ring ring… ring ring… “Of course, you’re always welcome, Caper!”  I grab the calendar off the kitchen wall.  “Yes, that’s perfect.  See you then!” I hung up, giddy that Caper was coming to dinner again and she loved my pasta dish.  This time, I thought a twist on the original picatta would work.

Here is what I prepared for my BFF, Caper:

 

  • angel hair pasta, or other thin pasta
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 of a large onion (I used yellow for sweetness), diced
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • good olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 slices of bacon, crisped and crumbled
  • leftover roatiserie chicken, diced (about 1 cup)

Start the water for the pasta.  When it boils, add salt (don’t worry most of it ends up down the drain) and pasta.  Cook according to the package, if you are using fresh I envy you and it will take no time at all to cook.

In a large sauté pan, crisp the bacon then remove it from the pan.  Sauté the onion, pepper and tomatoes with a little added olive oil.  When the onion starts to turn color, add the remaining ingredients.  Toss in the drained pasta and add another splash of oil for flavour and to keep the pasta loose.

Serve with pecorino cheese to taste.

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Chicken Picatta

Chicken poached in lemon butter sauce loaded with capers.  How inviting this dish was on my family’s table.  Someone had thirds, and could not stop enjoying the pasta smothered in the silky tangy sauce.  I can see why the French love butter so much!

This dish was a spin-off of the one I enjoyed while on a road trip with the family.  The dish prepared for me included sliced mushrooms, most of which were donated to hubby’s plate as I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms (even though my mother will tell you stories of me wolfing down every last button out of the fridge).  Needless to say they didn’t make it in my shopping cart.  Although, I’m sure hubby would have taken good care of any mushrooms lucky enough to join the butter jacuzzi.  This dish does need a supportive player though, it was really good with the capers but it could have been fantastic with… greens?  Green beans?  Hmmm….

Chicken Picatta à la Midnitechef

  • one boneless, skinless chicken breast per person
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter (I know, shocker eh?)
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of 2 lemons (or one large lemon, mine were pretty small)
  • 1.5 Tbsp capers with juice from the jar
  • 1 cup chicken stock (homemade preferably, see one of my versions in this post)
  • sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper

In a large pan over medium-low heat, start warming the stock, butter, zest and lemon juice.  

Pound the chicken breasts with a meat mallet, small pan, empty wine bottle, or rolling-pin.  Keep the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment.  Get the breast to an even thickness so that they will cook evenly. 

Poach the chicken in the lemon butter, about 7 or 8 minutes per side, covered.  Season each side with salt and pepper.  Add the capers after the flip to the second side.  I ended up adding more capers at the end too.  The sauce should be bubbling while the chicken cooks, so I guess that’s actually a simmer.  The sauce will reduce.

Serve over pasta.

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