Seasonal Recipes

Baked Pecorino Cheese with Almond Honey

Serves 3-4 as an Appetizer                        Preparation Time:  20 minutes

In California, most bee aficionados and honey lovers know about the importance of honeybees for agricultural crop pollination.  One of these “bee-pendent” crops that has drawn media attention of late?  Almonds.  According to an interview with Gene Brandi on NPR’s All Things Considered, between 80 and 90 percent of the nation’s total commercial bee population is required for almond pollination just in California.  
Almond honey is not a varietal one would find on the supermarket shelves and there are a couple reasons why this is.  First, while almond blossoms are loaded with pollen, they don’t provide much nectar, which the bees need in order to make honey.  Bees have two sources of nourishment: flower pollen (their protein) and nectar (their carbohydrate); without both of these, their diet is incomplete.  This fact brings up yet again why it is so important for beekeepers concerned about the health of their hives to rotate their bees and provide them access to diverse forage.
The second reason why almond honey is not something you’d see at the market is because of its unique taste.  Almond honey could be considered a type of what the Italians call miele amaro, or bitter honey.  On the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, Italian beekeepers harvest miele amaromade from the nectar of wild strawberry trees.  These trees produce little nectar, like the blossoms of the almond tree, and this miele amaro requires the bees to make more than twice the number of trips to produce the same amount of honey.  Sardinians traditionally serve this bitter honey with roasted cheese – pecorino cheese, as the region is famous for it.  This recipe is inspired by this classic dish, which presents the flavor of the honey beautifully, and is a breeze to put together.

Ingredients

  • ½ pound Pecorino cheese
  • 3 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons Love a Bee Almond Honey
  • Fresh thyme for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  While the oven heats, toast the sliced almonds in a frying pan over medium low heat – stirring frequently - until the nuts are fragrant, about 6 minutes.
  2. Cut the cheese into ¼ inch slices and arrange in an oven-safe pan or dish.  Place in the oven and bake until cheese is melted and begins to turn golden, about ten minutes.
  3. Remove the cheese from the oven and sprinkle with the toasted almonds and fresh thyme.  Drizzle the honey over the cheese.  Serve immediately with flatbread crackers and fresh fruit.

Rocket Rum

Inspired by classic Hot Buttered Rum, this cool weather cocktail marries the sweetness of honey with the caramel notes of light rum, and is further accented by the warmth of fresh vanilla.  This recipe can be made dairy-free, and is sure to be a favorite among every one this winter.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Combine rum, honey simple syrup, apple cider and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. 
  2. Add a dash of ground cinnamon to taste and a small scoop of ice. 
  3. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds. 
  4. To make a sugared rim:  mix 3 tablespoons fine white sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon on a shallow plate. 
  5. Wipe the juiced lime along the rim of a glass or mason jar and swirl (rim-down) on the plate. 
  6. Strain and pour using the cocktail shaker. 
  7. Serve immediately.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream 
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. powdered gelatin
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar
  • 1⁄2 split vanilla bean
 

Apple Honey Rumtini - Serves 2

This quick and easy cocktail is inspired by a winter drink a friend in Oakland used to make for me when I was sick. It combines the classic flavors of a Hot Toddy and spiced apple cider - and is made with a healthy helping of honey. In anticipation of Autumn, this Apple Honey Rumtini provides just enough warmth to transition from naked ladies to Gravenstein Golds.

Ingredients:

  • 3oz (about 100 ml) White Rum
  • 1 oz (about 2 Tablespoons) Honey Simple Syrup*
  • 8 oz (1/2 cup) Cold Pressed Apple Cider
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Ice
  • Sugar (optional)

 

*Scroll down for recipe

Instructions:

  1. Combine rum, honey simple syrup, apple cider and lime juice in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add a dash of ground cinnamon to taste and a small scoop of ice. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
  3. To make a sugared rim: mix 3 tablespoons fine white sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon on a shallow plate.
  4. Wipe the juiced lime along the rim of a glass or mason jar and swirl (rim-down) on the plate.
  5. Strain and pour using the cocktail shaker.
  6. Serve immediately.

Panna e Miele Cotta

An amazingly simple Italian dessert: panna meaning cream and cotta meaning cooked, that's almost all there is to it. The minimal time spent over the stove makes it a perfect summer choice, although it requires some forethought - 12 hours of chilling time in the fridge. The richness of this lightly-sweetened cream dish pairs wonderfully with another Italian delicacy, miele cotta - cooked honey sauce. Any high quality honey makes a beautiful miele cotta, and it is a great recipe for reviving crystallized honey.

*Panna cotta recipe inspired by Saveur's Italian Comfort Food cookbook.

Serves 4    Total Preparation Time: 15 minutes [Total Time 12+ hours]

Panna Cotta

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. powdered gelatin
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar
  • 1⁄2 split vanilla bean

Instructions:

  1. Place 3 tablespoons of the chilled heavy cream in a small bowl.
  2. Sprinkle with powdered gelatin, and let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, combine the remaining heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla bean. Bring just to a boil, whisking frequently, over medium-high heat.
  3. Vigorously stir the gelatin mixture before adding it to the saucepan. Remove from heat, and whisk for 1 minute.
  4. Strain mixture through a fine sieve. Evenly divide between four 1-cup custard molds (or old jam and honey jars), cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
  5. If you prefer to serve without molds: gently pull panna cotta away from the sides, using a paring knife or your fingers. Invert onto a small plate and shake to loosen.

Miele Cotta

Although the panna cotta must be prepared in advance, the miele cotta is better made just before serving. Make the sauce one to two hours before so that it may cool before drizzling it over the dessert.

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup honey, any varietal

Instructions:

  1. Place honey in a small saucepan and heat over low flame.
  2. Allow the honey to come to a boil - be careful not to burn it - then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for another minute.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  4. Serve spooned over panna cotta with fresh fruit or berries.

Grilled Lamb with Sweet & Sour Honey Glaze

This recipe looks more involved than it is in actuality.  Cooking lamb racks on the grill is especially easy, and the glaze requires more patience than preparation.  The acidity of the vinegars cut through the fattiness of the lamb, and a dark flavorful honey marries all the flavors together.  Serve with grilled brussels sprout and leeks.

Serves 2-3                        Total Preparation Time:  Approximately 1 hour

Ingredients:

For the glaze

  • ¾ cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Dark Honey, such as Love a Bee San Joaquin Flame

For the lamb

  • 1 full rack of lamb, frenched (removing the meat, fat and membranes that connect the individual rib bones
    ) and halved between bones 4 and 5
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons of Fresh Thyme, plus more for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons Coarse Sea Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Honey
  • 3 tablespoons Pine nuts

Directions

  1.  Combine honey and vinegars in a small saucepan and stir with a wire whisk.  Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes, or until the mixture has more of a syrup-like consistency.

  2. Light grill and cover.  Allow to heat to approximately 375-400 degrees Fahrenheit.

  3. While the grill is heating and the sauce is reducing, prepare the lamb marinade and toast the pine nuts.  Combine and mix olive oil, thyme, salt, black pepper and honey in a large shallow bowl.  Add the lamb to the bowl – half a rack at a time – and massage the marinade into the meat.  

    To toast the pine nuts, place in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir frequently to avoid burning.  When the nuts have received a light golden brown color, remove from heat and transfer to a plate.

  4. Place the lamb, meat side down, on the hottest part of the grill.  Replace grill cover and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Turn and cook covered for another 8 minutes, being careful not to burn the glaze on the fat cap.  Move lamb to the cooler area of the grill and cook covered for another 7 minutes, or until the meat at the thickest point reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit (for medium rare).  Remove from heat.

  5. Allow the racks to cool for 5 minutes.  Carve between each bone and arrange on serving dishes.  Generously spoon and drizzle honey vinegar glaze over the meat, and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and fresh thyme.  Serve immediately.