Friday, February 19, 2010

The Heavy Heavy Carrot Apple Chutney Sound

I am on the chutney train, people. I really didn't think this was going to be good while I was cooking it. I thought, damn, I put too much in. Made it too complicated. But lordy, is this good. I don't often eat chutney out of the jar but I am now a convert. And yes, this would be stellar on some good creamy yogurt. Or with some cheese and bread. Sadly, I didn't process these guys in a water bath because I am out of lids. Lidless. Just did a major overhaul of my canning workshop in the basement and lo, things are, well, low. But whatever, this will store in the fridge just fine, and srsly, I did mix it up a bit with a few different recipes, so maybe it's all for the best. I based the measurements on the Ball book's Golden Gossip Chutney, and got some inspiration from all the chutney-tarians out there. A lunch of cookies and chutney is balanced, right?

1 1/2 cups of grated carrot
1 cup of grated apple
1 cup of grated pear
1 finely diced onion
1 finely diced red pepper
1 or 2 minced cloves of garlic
3/4 cup golden sultana raisins
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 of a cup of lemon juice, bottled not fresh
1 T grated ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1 T mustard seed
1 t whole cloves
1 t curry powder

Throw it all into your heavy-bottomed pot (heavy-bottomed pots rule the world!) and cook until thick and juices evaporate and you feel like it looks like a good chutney. To water bath, I would process these for 10 minutes if using 8 ounce jars. I truly think it's fine, but don't go blaming me if it's not, cause I never told you it was safe. (But I really think it is: apples, pears, lemon juice, vinegar. Feel free to take issue in the comments.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Vietnamese Carrot and Daikon Pickle

For this month's Tigress' Can Jam the focus, as many of you know, was carrots. A perfect pick, I thought, especially for me because while I've always been curious about carrot recipes my preserving fancy gets overwhelmed by more immediately enticing items. The sturdy dependable carrot is always there and sadly gets overlooked. I always have carrots around. I use them in so many recipes. And thanks to clever root cellars and great winter markets, I got to purchase some beautiful, local carrots from Four Winds Farm in Gardiner (check out their seedling sale in May, if you're local).

I went the straight and narrow for this post, but who can ever can just one recipe for the month's pick? There are too many interesting and delicious recipes to try. I think my next endeavor will be a chutney. But for now, we have a most satisfying and simple recipe. I have made this as a fresh pickle from The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich. I didn't know it could be canned, and didn't find out until I was flipping through the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. It's key to bahn mi or perfect aside some nice Vietnamese pork chops.

The tweaking I did to this recipe was to halve it, add coriander instead of star anise, and add a sprinkling of turmeric because I thought it would impart a nice color. I also grated the vegetables instead of them being julienned, using a hand grater that makes a nice, long strand. The adapted version follows.

1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 lb. carrots, peeled and grated
1 lb. daikon, peeled and grated
1 tsp. coriander seed
A sprinkling of turmeric- maybe an 1/8 of a teaspoon?

In a heavy-bottomed pan, combine vinegar, water, sugar and ginger. Bring to a boil over medium heat to dissolve sugar. Add carrot and daikon and stir for one minute. Add turmeric. Remove from heat.

Place 1/2 tsp. of coriander seed in the bottom of each hot jar. Pack hot vegetables in the jars within a generous 1/2 inch of top of jar. Ladle hot pickling liquid to cover vegetables, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Process in boiling water for ten minutes. This yielded two pint jars, firmly packed.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Jelly Toddy

When you have more jelly than a human should reasonably lay claim to, you start finding that jelly can be used in myriad applications. Yesterday's discovery was a brilliant scientific breakthrough: the jelly toddy. Aha!

People have been using jelly to sweeten tea for ages, I'm sure, and this is probably not new to the world, but it's new to me and a delightful way to have a civilized bit of libation after a walk in powdery, sparkly snow.

What was particularly lovely about this toddy, was the mixture. I used two ounces of the coffee liqueur I made, and a spoonful of the lemon vanilla jelly from the other day, topped with hot water. The coffee liqueur is made with coffee beans, natch, and star anise. With the lemon added it tasted just like espresso with anisette and a lemon peel, which is the way it was served in our house growing up. (We were an anisette house, not sambuca.) I love how the lemon pulp and vanilla released from the jelly.

I'm thinking about a bunch of other toddy ideas, especially with a rose geranium jelly I have. I'm also going to have to try this Breakfast Martini, of which there are a few iterations basically involving booze and marmalade. Perfect! Steve thinks it sounds disgusting ("I don't want chunks in my martini, particularly if I am having it for breakfast." Point taken.) But I think it sounds delicious. Just not too many rinds. Maybe strain the chunks and garnish with a candied peel? Though, I won't be having it for breakfast anytime soon, as that is usually around 5 a.m. Maybe when the baby starts waking up at a godly hour, instead of the ungodly one of 4:30 a.m.

Winter, I think I love you again. The toddy helped. So did the toddler.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Being Nothingness

I've been feeling rather lackluster lately, and I'm sure it has a lot to do with it being February and all. I gather I'm not the only one who isn't feeling so sparkly. I'm trying to do things that make it better, like baking bread. I think baking bread doesn't just create the illusion of fulfillment, it actually fulfills. And with a loaf of bread this easy and this good, come on, you can't say you don't know how to bake. Do you know how to measure a few ingredients and toss them in a bowl and then wait and hour and a half to bake it for thirty minutes? Of course you do.

Don't you love that old CorningWare? I used to think it was dismal, back when it was ubiquitous. But now I see it and feel its weight, and I think, that's a nice piece of cookware.

Another good thing to do is to bake a nice stack of cookies with some weird chocolate chips.

You could start thinking about spring and the things that grow when all the snow is gone. You could get caught up looking at an onion thinking about the very same thing as you.

You could start thinking: if only I had some soil for you, I would put you right in a little pot. And you could stay with me and grow.

And you could read about Ann's adventures with winter sowing on A Chicken In Every Granny Cart and wonder when you could get that started. Maybe tomorrow? I'm going to use all the seeds I didn't get to last summer...

Some other things I did to cheer me on through the snowy day: made baked beans in the slow cooker and ate them with bread and butter, made a fire and tended it all day, called a friend, stared out the window at the snow with my little boy snuggled against me, and finished a great short story by T.C. Boyle, who I've always liked, and who made me think: that guy isn't afraid of getting better. My new mantra: don't be afraid to get better. It was sort of a sad, quiet story, which most of my favorite stories are, and there was a great line at the end: "She knows it will all be lost, everything we make, everything we love, everything we are." It's out of context, of course, but it felt particularly painful and fitting in the dead of winter when we're quick to forget how easily things grow again. Like a little onion sitting on a cold window sill.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Beef Empanadas with Pique Sauce

I really can't stand football. But I know a few people who like it, and I don't hold it against them. I like to see them get all riled up and play strange games, hoot and holler and paint their faces (to an extent). So, I went to a party and watched all this animated tribal-ness (to be clear, it was a mixed-gender event) with beer in hand, while trying to console a baby who was up past his bed time. We left a pretty jazzed up party after half-time. The people were great. Football? Snore. What was nice is there was lots of food, of which I didn't get nearly enough. I brought empanadas which I have never made before. What a shame!


3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup water
1 egg
1 teaspoon of white vinegar
3 tablespoons of olive oil

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and form a well. Beat up all the wet ingredients and pour into the well, and mix slowly. Knead until ball is formed. Let sit an hour. Roll out and using a cookie cutter, or a can, cut circles. Roll each circle a little thinner and add filling to the center. Fold the circle and crimp the edges. (There are tons of step by step videos and stuff online if this isn't enough detail.) I baked these for ten minutes or so in a 425 degree oven.

What's great is that you can fill empanadas with just about anything. A typical filling is ground beef with lots of goodies. Mine were based on what was in the fridge. It ended up like this:

2 onions, diced, sauteed in olive oil
3 or 4 chopped cloves of garlic
2 lbs. of beef added to onions, cooked until done
add one cup of broth
add 2 boiled, peeled and diced potatoes

Then, the goodies:

3 pickled eggs, chopped
1/2 cup of candied lemon peels and fennel (!) [many recipe call for raisins, and I was out. I thought these lemon peels added bite, sweetness and a chewy texture.]
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper

I served them with Pique sauce I made earlier in the day. Mix these ingredients well and let sit for a few hours.

6 green onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1/8 cup of sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 cup of chopped parsley (cilantro is better, but parsley is what I had.)

N.B. I should mention that the filling yielded enough for about 26 small empanadas, and there was so much of it left (almost half) that I used it for dinner the next day--Shepard's Pie--with corn and mashed potatoes on top.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Lemon Orange Fennel Ginger Jelly

Hello. My name is Julia, and I, uh, I make jelly. Yeah, it's sad but on a Friday what am I doing? Making jelly. The baby went to sleep and Steve went to play poker, so I grabbed my hot water tongs and fired up the citrus. Again. I was obsessed with citrus before the can jam, but Tigress' Can Jam put me over the edge into problem territory. It's just so much fun playing with something that is so high in natural pectin. And there are so many fringe benefits: syrup, candied peels, etc.

So. I had a bag of mixed citrus: navel oranges, juice oranges, tangerines. I juiced them all and saved the peels for candied citrus peel. (I have a bag in the freezer and once it's big enough, a' candying I will go.) They yielded two cups of juice. Then I had six lemons, of which I juiced four yielding one cup of juice. Rinds in the freezer. The last two were well chilled and I sliced them in the food processor using the fine slice disc. Adding the juice and pulp together yielded four cups. I chose not to macerate and put it all in my pan with one tablespoon of fennel and a chunk of peeled ginger, sliced in thick rounds. Bringing it to 220 degrees was quick. When I knew it was close, I skimmed all of the fruit peels, seeds, and ginger, and a good deal of the fennel. Canned and processed ten minutes.

The jelly tastes outrageously good. I love fennel and lemon together. The ginger wasn't so evident—next time I might grate it. The set was not very firm; a tender set, but thicker than a glaze. The two lemons weren't enough, and it probably would have been good to bring it all to a boil and let it sit overnight. But, I'm impatient. This recipe gave me two full half pints, and one half pint just a hair too low to process. I'd like to point out that the jar pictured above was the fridge jar and was not processed!

Bonus: I saved the skimmed fruit. It's candied! I will chop it, fennel and all, and add it to a scone recipe. Maybe with some golden raisins.

What do you do with all this jam? Why, make thumbprint cookies, of course. Mine are a low-rent version, using my basic cookie dough that I keep on hand for emergencies. A classier and tasty looking version can be found here. I had been meaning to make these for a while!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Savoy Cabbage and Beet Salad

I've been eating my vegetables, really! But sometimes it gets hard to be inspired. After about a week of a bare cupboard (due to a bit of interstate traveling) I finally went shopping and felt re-invigorated. I was thinking some kind of winter salad. I bought this huge beet, which was a challenge to grate. My food processor wouldn't really budge on it. So, I did what I knew I should have done in the first place: use my old school Mouli grater. I love this thing.

Then, after lightly toasting them, I went old school on the walnuts.

While doing so, I imbibed: kitchen gin with grapefruit syrup and seltzer.

And then I sat down to this:

After slicing the cabbage, I blanched it and put it aside. After grating the beet, I tossed it with olive oil and pomegranate balsamic, salt and pepper. Put the beets on the cabbage (I kept them separate because you know how beets are) and topped with feta and walnuts. There were other things I was envisioning, but I just didn't have the time. Between teething and a looming bedtime, having a cocktail while making this was all I could do. But you know what? That's pretty good, all in all.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pickled Eggs

You know when you're depressed and uninspired how everything is dull, and you just let things go? And then, when that mood passes, it's like you woke up with a desk full of work to do. Right now, I'm in front of a big huge desk full of work to do. Which is actually a great thing because when I start not wanting to cook or eat anything it's a sign that things are really going south. Cooking up a storm of sweets? There's a problem, but it's being channeled. Not wanting to cook anything? Houston, there's a big problem, and we're not sure if the landing is going to go well. Well, so far, landing in February has been a good thing. January has been long and arduous. But the days, they pass, and all the while get longer, and already there is chatter of sowing seeds, and well, how can you be in a funk when that's going on?

There was some brine left in the fridge from my turnip and radish pickles and damned if I was going to throw that gorgeous pink stuff out. I tried to make this last week, but the eggs I boiled turned to shreds when I tried to peel them. They were turned into egg salad. I was so irritated that I waited a whole week to try again. Today's batch came out perfect. I boiled them with salt and a splash of pickle juice.

This recipe is from Linda Ziedrich's The Joy of Pickling. It's incredibly easy, if you have some beet pickle juice, or something similar to it, lying around. I have yet to taste these, but just seeing them in the fridge cheers me up a little.

1 cup of beet pickling juice (beet pickle juice?)
1 cup of white vinegar
1 tsp. of pickling salt
1/2 tsp. peppercorn, crushed
1/2 tsp. allspice, crushed
1 bay leaf
12 hard boiled eggs

Bring brine to a boil. Put peeled eggs into a jar (one quart, or two pints). Pour cooled liquid over eggs, seal and refrigerate. Let sit for 6-24 hours.