Happily, this spring brought a slew of bees to my early-flowering trees and bushes: honey bees, bumblebees, carpenter bees, as well as other nectar-focused insects.
I say “happily” because there is always the worry the loss of wild and domesticated bee hives that has plagued bee keepers and entomologists world-wide will happen locally. So far, if my yard is a barometer, South Jersey is doing fine, bee/pollinators-wise.
So let’s celebrate with these recipes, proving honey can be used from soup to dessert in tasty summertime fare straight from the hive. Honey is, foremost, sweet, but many recipes make use of that depth of sweetness to counterpoint other ingredients, such as the spiciness in the cauliflower soup or the garlic in the barbecue sauce.
But honey truly fulfills its sweet nature in a dessert, like the honey almond cake below, perfect for afternoon tea or a pool-party treat. An added bonus is the cake is gluten-free, should a guest or family member need that consideration.
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 6 C)
3 Tbls olive oil
1 tsp salt
1⁄2 tsp ground black pepper
2 onions, sliced thick
21⁄2 tsp curry powder
2 C chicken broth
2 C water
1⁄2 tsp cayenne pepper
1-11/2 Tbls honey
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread cauliflower florets on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast until florets are browned, about 25 – 30 minutes.
In a medium stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until they turn brown. Stir in the curry powder and cook until fragrant, 1 – 2 minutes. Add chicken stock, water and cauliflower. Cover and bring to boil and then simmer until cauliflower is soft, about 5 minutes.
Remove from stove and puree the soup with a stand or immersion blender until smooth. Return to pot if using a stand blender and reheat if necessary. Add cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into individual bowls and top with a generous drizzle of honey. Serves 4.
HONEY GARLIC BBQ WITH MEAT OR VEGGIES
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 C ketchup
3 Tbls honey
2 Tbls soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce, if soy not available.
6 serving portions (about 4 oz each) of vegetables (try large broccoli or cauliflower florets, portobello mushrooms, large onion halves) OR meat, such as chicken breast or thighs, beef steak or ribs, pork chops, fish fillet
If cooking outside, preheat grill on medium heat and lightly oil the grate. Cut vegetables or meat to have flat grilling surfaces. If cooking inside, preheat large frying pan, spray with cooking oil and also coat the bottom with vegetable oil, preferably olive oil.
Whisk the ketchup, honey, soy sauce, and crushed garlic in a bowl, blending well to make a glaze. Sear meat or veggies on both sides on the preheated grill or in the frying pan. Lightly brush glaze onto each side of the food as it cooks, turning at least twice. Grill or fry meat until no longer pink in the center, about 7 to 10 minutes per side. Vegetables should be crisp outside but tender inside. Makes about 6 portions.
1 1/2 C whole almonds, toasted (see Tip)
4 large eggs, at room temperature (see Tip), separated
1/2 C honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbls honey
1/4 C sliced almonds, toasted (see Tip)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the paper.
Process whole almonds in a food processor or blender until finely ground (you will have about 1 3/4 cups ground). Beat the 4 egg yolks, 1/2 cup honey, vanilla, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer (or the paddle attachment on a stand mixer) on medium speed until well combined. Add the ground almonds and beat on low until combined.
Beat the 4 egg whites in another large bowl with the electric mixer (use clean beaters on a hand-held mixer or the whisk attachment on a stand mixer) on medium speed until very foamy, white and doubled in volume, but not stiff enough to hold peaks, about 1 to 2 minutes. (Do not overbeat or cake may sink in the middle during baking.) Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the nut mixture until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake the cake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and gently remove the side ring. Let cool completely. If desired, remove the cake from the pan bottom by gently sliding a large, wide spatula between the cake and the parchment paper. Carefully move the cake to a serving platter. To serve, drizzle the top of the cake with honey and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Makes about 10 slices.
Tip: To toast whole almonds, spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F, stirring once, until fragrant, 7 to 9 minutes. To toast sliced almonds, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.
By Jean Redstone