Emily’s Home Cooking

Immune-Boosting Elderberry Syrup

The most popular and accessible way to enjoy the health benefits of elderberries is to brew a deep purple immune-boosting syrup out of just a few ingredients. In late August the sprays of white flowers on backyard bushes will be replaced by clusters of small black berries, and if you can get your hands on some and stick them in the freezer they will keep beautifully until cold season rolls around. If you end up without, never fear: Dried elderberries are widely available and will make beautiful syrup.


2 cups elderberries (no stems)
1/4 cup water
1 cup honey
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, sliced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves

Combine elderberries and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Crush berries with the back of a spoon and allow to simmer for several minutes. Remove from the heat, and drain thoroughly. Discard the berries, saving aside the beautiful purple juice.
Return to your saucepan and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil before turning down the heat to medium, stirring often as the mixture simmers until thickened. Keep an eye on the bubbles: when the syrup thickens it will quickly become much hotter and the bubbles, which had been popping sedately, will suddenly become huge and fill up the pot. That means it’s time to turn off the heat. Allow your syrup to cool, strain out the sliced ginger, and store refrigerated for up to three months.

Basil & Pickled Plum Vinaigrette

A good vinaigrette can forge a path from highly perishable ingredients (black plums and basil leaves, for instance) to a versatile condiment that can last weeks in the fridge or months in the freezer. There are endless possibilities: Any vegetable, starch, or protein can be tossed in this lovely goo. You can (obviously) dress salads and dip warm bread in it, but you can also marinate meats, finish roasted veggies or caramelized onions, or substitute it for pizza sauce. You will have enough to try everything, and remember you can freeze small portions (plastic sauce cups or ice cube trays are ideal) to enjoy these warm-weather flavors all winter long.
The first step outlined below is to pickle the plums (which really does create a uniquely sparkling flavor and cold-hardy texture) but if you are working on a less glacial timeline feel free to substitute fresh plums and cider vinegar for the pickled plums and pickling liquid. If you take this shortcut, however, be doubly sure to taste your final product for correct seasoning and follow your instincts. Is the vinegar too strong? Add oil and honey. Is it hard to taste the plums and basil? You probably need more salt. Above all, trust your own palate: be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid!

Black Plum Refrigerator Pickles

2 Black Plums
1/2 Cup Cider Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Water
3 Tablespoons Honey
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

Wash, dry, and slice plums, and fit them into a clean dry jelly jar.
Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan, let cool slightly and pour over the plums.
Will keep refrigerated for up to a month.

Basil & Pickled Plum Vinaigrette

1 1/2 Cups Basil Leaves
1/4 Cup Pickled Plums
1/4 Cup Plum Pickle Liquid
1/4 Cup Honey
2/3 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and purée until smooth. Season to taste, adding more honey if necessary.

Peach Coffee Cake

Peach Coffee Cake

‘Waste not, want not’ is the sentiment upon which all cuisines are built, and all of the most celebrated, soulful food adventures have been based on the ingredients staring back at some cook as they peer into their pantry.

This recipe takes the last bits of some quick-breakfast staples (in this case, whole fat yogurt and fruit canned in juice) that were crowding my refrigerator and uses them to make a simple coffee cake extraordinarily golden on the outside and custardy within.

I created this cake recipe on a whim, and wouldn’t have changed anything about it. Enjoy!

~Peach Coffee Cake Recipe ~


1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs
2/3 cup yogurt (plain, whole fat)

Sift in:
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flour

Chop & Add:
2/3 cup peaches (canned, with juice)

Pour Batter Into Buttered Loaf Pan

Topping, Combine & Sprinkle Over:
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup melted coconut oil

Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees

Drizzle: Combine & Brush Top & Bottom
1/4 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 cup powdered sugar

First Swim Blue-Barb Barbecue Recipes

First Swim Blue-Barb Barbecue Sauce

I’ve made a beautiful fruit barbecue sauce to celebrate seasonal rhubarb, as well as local deep purple vinegar made from the blueberry bounty of previous seasons. First order of business is pork ribs – after all, I made the barbecue sauce at the Fat Cow Farm Store with their pasture-raised meats in mind. However, there are more ways than meat to incorporate this sauce into your first lakeside picnic of June, and I’ve included a few below along with directions for using the crock pot if you want to come home to a nice cool kitchen as well as the enticing aromas of summer.


First Swim Blue-Barb BBQ Pastured Pork Ribs (Serves 4)


Pork Ribs (3 Pounds)
Blueberry Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce (1/2 Cup)
Salt & Pepper (Generous Pinch)


Season ribs with salt and pepper and sear on both sides in a hot skillet, then brush on 1/4 cup of your sauce. If you are cooking the ribs in your oven place them in a tightly covered baking dish and bake for three hours at 300. Alternatively, place them in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

First Swim Blue-Barb BBQ Navy Beans (Serves 4)


Navy Beans (1 Cup Dried)
Blueberry Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce (1/2 Cup)
Honey (1/4 Cup)
Red Onion (1 Diced)
Salt & Pepper (1 Teaspoon Each)


Soak beans for twelve hours in cold water with a teaspoon of baking soda to ensure even cooking, then drain. Add to four cups of cold unsalted water, bring to a boil and simmer for up to an hour or until tender. Drain all but one cup of cooking liquid and add remaining ingredients. If you are cooking the beans in your oven place them in a tightly covered baking dish and bake for two hours at 325. Alternatively, place them in a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

First Swim Blue-Barb BBQ Red Cabbage Slaw (Serves 4)


Blueberry Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce (3 Tablespoons)
Mayonnaise (3 Tablespoons)
Cider Vinegar (1 Tablespoon)
Salt & Pepper (To Taste)

Red Cabbage (1 Medium Head Thin Sliced)
Carrots (2 Grated)
Red Pepper (1 Thin Sliced)
Scallions (4 Thin Sliced)


Combine the first four ingredients well in a large bowl, then add cabbage, carrots, red pepper & scallions and toss to combine. Serve at once.

Crispy Red Snapper with Baby Bok Choy & Thai Coconut Broth

Crispy Red Snapper, Baby Bok Choy & Thai Coconut Broth

Galangal and kaffir lime leaves can be found frozen at your local Asian specialty market, and are worth procuring. Everything else can be found at the grocery store, and if you don’t see snapper be sure to ask for it. Most of the time this catch will come to the store after having been frozen on the boat, and if it can be thawed immediately before preparation and not left languishing at the fish counter, so much the better. This is a light and delicious dinner, and you can serve it over rice if you wish.


Red Snapper & Bok Choy:

Red Snapper Filets (2)
Baby Bok Choy (6)
Flour (1/4 cup)
Olive Oil (3 Tablespoons)
Salt & Pepper 

Thai Coconut Broth:

Ginger (2 inch piece)
Garlic (4 cloves)
Galangal (2 inch piece)
Kaffir Lime Leaves (2)
Lime Juice & Zest (1/2 lime)
Mint (1/2 cup)
Basil (1/2 cup)
Chives (1/2 cup)
Coconut Milk (1 can)
Vegetable Broth Base (1 teaspoon)
Heavy Cream (1 tablespoon, optional)
Onion (1 small) chopped & caramelized)


Thai Coconut Broth:

Wash and peel ginger, set aside the smaller knobs and peels and slice the rest. 
Sear ginger peelings in a hot saucepan with a little oil along with sliced galangal, two kaffir lime leaves, two cloves of garlic (smashed), along with the stems and bruised leaves from the mint and basil, and the trimmed ends of the chives.

Once these are getting browned and aromatic, add three cups of water and your vegetable broth base, bring to a simmer, and allow to reduce down to two cups. (This may take over an hour). Add coconut milk and reduce again until slightly thickened. Strain into a clean bowl, add caramelized onion and allow to cool to room temperature. 

Finely chop or combine in a food processor your remaining two cloves of garlic, sliced ginger, chopped basil, chives, mint, lime juice and zest. Add this mixture to cooled broth, along with heavy cream, if desired. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Red Snapper & Bok Choy:

Trim and discard the cut ends of bok choy, allow the outer leaves to separate and halve the heart lengthwise. Then wash thoroughly in two changes of cold water to remove any sand and grit, and dry thoroughly on a clean kitchen towel.

Slice snapper into one-inch thick slices on the bias (always cut into filet side, not the skin side). Dust the skin sides only in flour seasoned with salt and pepper and sear in olive oil over medium-high heat, skin side only just until crispy. Carefully set aside (skin side up). The filet side of the fish will still be raw at this point.

In the same hot pan, add bok choy and cook until the leaves are wilted and stems are slightly softened. Spread bok choy in a baking dish, pour broth over, and place snapper (skin side up) over the top. At this point the dish can be tightly covered and refrigerated or frozen.

To serve, bake uncovered for at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until fish is just cooked through, and enjoy!