Sunday, August 26, 2012

Black Sauce Experiments

We made some Black Sauce in a medieval food class I took this weekend. I used it up last night.

So I made some more this evening to have with some meat and cheese. This batch I made with almond meal, red wine vinegar, my pepper spice blend, ginger, and galangal.

I want to do some experiments to determine My Favorite Black Sauce mix
  • bread crumbs | almond meal | hazlenut meal
    • Toasted | untoasted
  • round pepper | long pepper | tail pepper | grains of paradise | a blend
  • red wine vinegar | white wine vinegar | cider vinegar | balsamic | verjus
  • ginger | galangal | both
  • whole thing cooked | fresh 
I don't think I will try all 900 combinations. 
I suppose I'll do two passes of varying individual variables and just keep my best choices to date. 
I still need to decide which order to test the variables. 

Update (7/21/2013):

I tried making black sauce at a recent camping event using gluten free bread crumbs and did not like the result. Eulalia speculated that in the process of toasting the GF bread crumbs the xanthan gum  became bitter. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vanilla Extract

Ran out of vanilla the other day, so I thought it would be a good time to make some vanilla extract.

Unfortunately it won't be ready for 2 months.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

No knead bread

Sharon found a recipe for No Knead Bread that I thought I would try. Here is the first attempt ...

It was very tasty with jam and butter. Has also made good sandwich bread.

Mac 'n' Cheese

Here is today's take on Mac 'n' Cheese:

Start with some chard, kale, basil, italian parsley, thyme, ham, aged white cheddar cheese, a zucchini, a bunch of tomatoes, butter, milk, and a box of mac 'n' cheese (in this case white cheddar from Trader Joe's).

Sunday, August 12, 2012

What to do with a CSA basket

Here is what I did with my latest CSA basket from Pumpkin Ridge.
Each week we get a basket and a page of recipes that relate to the week's contents. 
A while ago I developed a pretty routine way of processing my veggies by default. This helps when I am not inspired to do something specific, nor feeling adventurous on the day the basket arrives. One of the keys is to get everything into a state where it will last until it is to be used, and processed to the point where it can be used as an ingredient. 

Some things just need to get bagged and put in the fridge (zucchini, cucumbers, fresh onions, peppers). 

Potatoes can get put in a basket or roasted. 

This week I didn't get much that needed blanching (broccoli, chard, spinach, ...). If I did, I'd blanch or steam, drain, chop, and freeze. 

Lettuce gets washed, spun dry and put into a vacuum canister, and a couple of storage containers for use in the next day or two. 

Many veggies get my basic roasting treatment: cut into similar thickness pieces, toss with olive oil, and roasting salt. Roast in a 425 degree oven, turning every 10 minutes until done. 

Beets in olive oil and spices ready for heat
Beets roasted

Carrots ready to go

Carrots roasted

Then freeze or use. Think about how you put them in your freezer container so you get get out enough for one recipe without having to defrost the whole container.
Use in salads, sauces, stews, soups, .... Actually I go about it the other way around. I ask myself, is there any reason not to add some roasted veggies?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sweet and Sour Pork redux

I made a second try at sweet and sour pork. This time I managed to take some pix and a few liberties. 

You can read a little about my previous try here

I gathered up a bunch of things that looked good. 
Zucchini, roasted carrots, roasted red peppers, chard, kale, onion, peaches, pineapple

I had marinated the port the night before, and kept it in the fridge. 

 They got a quick dip in seasoned flour and almond meal then into 350 degree oil in batches.

Lots of veggies, peaches, pineapple, and prepared pork.

Serve it up.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Peach Salsa

In my not-as-yet-yet-hopefully-not-never-ending quest for a peach salsa recipe that will supplant my addiction to Trader Joe's Smokey Peach Salsa, I tried a recipe for smokey peach salsa from someone who sounds similarly afflicted.

Next time: I'll probably try to get closer to the recommended ingredient list. I didn't get my hands on chipotles or a habanero chili, but used jalapeños.  I also opted for herbs from my garden (parsley and basil) rather than cilantro. I also wasn't so good at getting the peach chunks small enough (because I first read it as 1" chunks rather than 1/4" chunks).

Scallions and onions from the garden

Process the peaches: peel, pit, partition

Blend half the peaches, tomato paste, herbs, hot pepper

Much chopping required.

Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Add chunky bits: peaches, tomato, lime juice

Good thing I didn't use a smaller pan.

Salsa all jarred up.
Update: next batch was much more mild, and quite tasty.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Kookoolan Farms

Just a quick note that someone recommended I check out Kookoolan Farms. Seems like a great source for pork.

Millions of peaches

Peaches are here! Maybe not millions of peaches, but that was the song we kept singing.

We picked up two 26-pound boxes of peaches at Justy's Produce. They were not quite ripe when we picked them up last Tuesday (6 days ago). But today they seemed just about perfect. So we let the canning begin. We used the same basic approach we did a couple years ago, except this time we tried to fill the jars a little fully of peach slices.

Sharon blanched the peaches for 1 minute then dunked them in ice water to loosen the skins. I'd then peel the skin off and slice the peach. If it was ripe, and produced a nice slice it would go into one bowl. Otherwise it would go in the "jam bowl". Sharon would usually process three peaches into the ice water then attend to other canning stuff while I caught up.

Once I got enough for a jar full of peach slices, Sharon would pull a jar from the hot water bath and fill it with peach slices, then pour in a light sugar syrup (4 cups water, 2 cups sugar). The reusable canning lid and rubber ring would then come out of the little pot of simmering water and top the jar. Once ringed, back in the hot water bath it would go. 

Once I got 4 cups of "jam peaches" they would go into the food processor with 2 cups of sugar an a little lemon juice. 

We wanted a stove with at least five burners specifically for canning.

 The water bath with jars of peach slices.

Here is two batches of jam just starting to simmer.

It requires pretty constant attention until it cooks down to a happy consistency.
Then into little jars and another hot water bath.

And the fruit of a day's canning.

For lunch, peach slices and chocolate ice cream!

Friday, August 3, 2012


I enjoy sekanjabin on warm summer days. And when else do you get a chance to drink a cucumber?!

Dissolve 4 cups sugar in 2 1/2 cups of water; when it comes to a boil add 1 cup wine vinegar.
Simmer 1/2 hour. Add a handful of mint, remove from fire, let cool.
The syrup stores without refrigeration.
Dilute the resulting syrup to taste with ice water (5 to 10 parts water to 1 part syrup).
Add a goodly amount of grated cucumber.


Zucchini experiments

I have been trying to cook at least one zucchini a day since it is that-time-of-year. I also seem to have rather a lot of onions on hand, so I have been delighted to discover how well zucchini and onion play together. And in a fit of madness I added some BBQ sauce because that seemed like a good idea at the time -- and I love the way it worked out.
Saute with eggs, topped with gouda, sungold tomatoes, red pepper

Saute in progress with browned sausage, roasted red pepper

Sweet and Sour Pork

While trying to figure out something to do with a cut of shoulder blade steak I came across a nice looking recipe from Alton Brown for Sweet and Sour Pork. I served it over sautéed snap peas. Turned out ok.

Zucchata Frittini

The Master Gardeners had zucchini themed snacks at a recent tour of Zenger Farms and I decided to make a zucchini frittata. I followed my basic formula for a greens frittata but without the leafy greens. I also though they would make better finger food if I made them in a rectangular pyrex pan rather than the round pie pan I usually use. I liked how that worked out.