January – Curried Carrot Soup in the Electric Pressure Cooker

January – Curried Carrot Soup in the Electric Pressure Cooker

I couldn’t believe how flavorful, creamy, healthy, quick and easy this soup was to make in the electric pressure cooker. Mine isn’t an Instant Pot, which I know is all the rage. But it is very similar and works exactly the same way. You could, of course, make it on top of the stove. It will still be delicious and I will include directions for that as well.

This soup is dairy free, gluten free and vegetarian; qualifying it  it as vegan. The creaminess comes from coconut milk with additional richness and flavor from peanut butter. Curry paste and ginger add a touch of spice.

Curried Carrot Soup

Ingredients:

(serves 4 generously, 6 not so much)

  • 8-10 large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 14-ounce can of coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of vegetarian broth or water
  • 1/4 cup of peanut butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Thai red curry paste
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped cilantro for serving

Method:

  1. For the electric pressure cooker – add everything to the pot and set the timer for 15 minutes. When done, let it cool down naturally for 10-15 minutes. Then carefully release the pressure. When cool, blend until smooth. Taste and season with salt to taste. Top with cilantro for serving
  2. For the stovetop – saute the onions and garlic in coconut or other oil until soft. Add the carrots, coconut milk, broth, ginger, and curry paste. Simmer gently until the carrots are very soft. Add the peanut butter and stir to melt it. Cool before blending smooth. Top with cilantro.

Curried Carrot Soup

I am going to take this soup to Fiesta Friday #260 hosted by Angie, the co-hosts this week are:

 Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens

January – Homemade Red Wine Vinegar

January – Homemade Red Wine Vinegar

Did you know you can easily make your own vinegar from any partial bottles of red wine sitting around? Amazing red wine vinegar at a fraction of the price of those imported ones at the gourmet store, and just as good.

In fact, I think homemade red wine vinegar is miles better than the best commercial brand, and only takes a little patience on your part. As well, it a a “live food”, fermented by you. If you have leftover bottles of red wine after pouring a glass or two from the bottle (the wine really isn’t much good after a couple of days whatever method you use to preserve it), this is the way to reduce your waste and get something delicious from your kitchen. Not to mention the cost savings.

My initial crock of vinegar started because of the win of an “instant wine cellar” at an auction and benefit about 4 years ago. I won 100 bottles of wine, some of them very expensive from small boutique vineyards, quite a wonderful windfall. Hooray! Most of them were leftover from auctions and benefits of past years, we were very excited. But…they had not been stored properly; and many of them were “over the hill” or “corked” once opened and sampled. It’s discouraging to open three bottles of expensive wine just to get one that is drinkable. We ended up with dozens of bottles of spoiled wine (that should have been wonderful), but were starting to turn to vinegar. So, what to do? I couldn’t stand the idea of chucking them down the drain.

Enter My Pantry by Alice Waters, plus information from the internet. I was inspired.

Making your own red wine vinegar is easy, white wine vinegar…not so much. I don’t recommend mixing red and white wine together (although Alice does) when making your own vinegar. Start with a simple red wine vinegar. I understand white wine vinegar is much more difficult to get right and haven’t tried it yet. We usually don’t have as much white wine left over since I often use the remainder of the bottle for cooking.

This recipe takes something that you were going to throw away, plus a touch of living vinegar, to make something that will give your food a ton of flavor. No leftover wine? No problem. You don’t need expensive wine, just something hearty and full bodied for the best vinegar.

What you do need a starter or “mother”. What’s that? Mother of vinegar (MOV or Mother for shorthand purposes) is a fermenting bacteria culture used to make vinegar — an acetobacter that develops in fermenting alcohol and converts the ethanol into acetic acid (what gives vinegar its sour taste) in the presence of oxygen. If you have a friend who makes vinegar ask them to share their mother; otherwise do as I first did and use Bragg Natural Vinegar as a starter.

Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

It was even on sale after the holidays.

Bragg vinegar

You can make a small batch but why not make a lot.

Vinegar Crock

I started with a large crock. But I had a lot of leftover, going bad, wine. You can scale up the following basic recipe.

For a smaller batch, say almost a bottle, go with:

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups wine (feel free to combine the dregs from several bottles)
  • 1/4 cup of starter vinegar with mother.

Method:

  1. Pour your leftover (not from people’s glasses) wine into a clean wide mouthed jar or crock.
  2. Add starter vinegar.
  3. Mix it all up
  4. Cover with a clean fine mesh towel (secured with a rubber band or string) and let it sit at room temperature, stirring vigorously when you think of it, until a thin, gelatinous film starts to form on the surface. That will form into the mother. You may see it 7-10 days after you begin the process, the time be will dependent on the temperature where it is stored. Start tasting after a month but it may take longer. Be patient. My larger batch took almost 5 months but it is worth the wait.
  5. Once it tastes more like a smooth vinegar and is to your liking, strain (I use a coffee filter) it into bottles and seal. You can then add more wine to the leftover mother in your crock or jar or start with more Bragg vinegar to start the process again.

Note: Do not use cheesecloth to cover your fermenting container. The holes are too big and you will end up (as I did) with vinegar flies about the size of gnats in your curing vinegar. I had to throw the entire first batch out. I now use a clean tea towel tied securely around the top.

Red Wine Vinegar

Your vinegar will be slightly cloudy, but that is because it is alive.

January – Lemon Chicken

January – Lemon Chicken

Remember that lemon cofit I made back in November of last year? It was really just sliced lemons slowly braised in olive oil. The oil is infused with lemon and makes marvelous salad dressings, or brush it on meat or potatoes before roasting. Anyway, to get on with things, it makes the most amazing and easy chicken breast recipe I have come across in a long time. I am not normally a big chicken breast fan, I much prefer the juiciness and taste of dark meat. But this one recipe has changed my mind. And it is easy (did I already say that?) and quick as well as delicious. There are really only 3 ingredients (4 if you count the salt). If you don’t have lemon confit on hand, not to worry. Just use freshly sliced lemons and olive oil, or lemon olive oil if you have a bottle stashed somewhere. Because you are going to eat the skin, it is best to get organic lemons if you can. Otherwise, scrub them well to remove any wax coating.

Confit Meyer Lemons in Olive Oil

For the best flavor, start this is the morning so it has time to marinate.

Without further ado, here goes…

Ingredients for 2 people, easily doubled:

  • 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts

and either

  • 1/4 cup oil from the lemon confit plus some lemon slices

or

  • 1 lemon, sliced about 1/4 inch thick (prefer organic if available)
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil

plus

  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt (less if you are using regular or sea salt)

Method:

  1. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels (don’t wash them) and place in a clean zip lock bag or bowl.
  2. Add the lemon slices, olive oil, and salt. Close and seal the bag if using one.
  3. Massage the chicken breasts, evenly coating them and the lemon slices with oil. You can use clean hands if the chicken is in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 4-8 hours.
  4. When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Heat an oven safe non-stick pan on the stove top using medium high heat. Add the chicken breasts and sliced lemons to the skillet, don’t wash off the oil. Cook on each side until brown (about 4-5 minutes).
  5. Place the pan it in the oven, cook for 10-15 minutes. This will depend on the thickness of the breasts and how well you like them cooked. My own were done in 10 minutes but my oven runs slightly hot.
  6. Carefully remove the pan from the oven, the handle will be very hot. Transfer the chicken breasts to a cutting board and let rest for at least 5 minutes.
  7. Serve with the caramelized lemon slices. They are amazingly sweet and delicious.

Lemon Chicken

Lemon Chicken

i roasted some asparagus in the oven at the same time and served them both with a fresh green salad from the garden. A perfect low carb and delicious meal.

You could make a sauce by adding a bit of butter and chicken broth to the pan, boil it down until thick. But the chicken really didn’t need it. If not watching what you eat this January, roast or boil some potatoes and coat them with any leftover lemon oil when they are finished.

Lemon Chicken, Roast Asparagus and Green Salad

Good for phase 2 of the Fast Metabolism Diet.

I am bringing this to Fiesta Friday #259. Come on over the Angie’s blog and take a look at all the fabulous food and crafts this week. The co-hosts this week are Ai @ Ai Made It For You and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook

 

December – Leftovers in a Toasted Bread Bowl

December – Leftovers in a Toasted Bread Bowl

Do you have a lot of leftovers from this week’s holiday? My contribution to the big dinner was roasted vegetables: carrots, onions, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. This was a large gathering and I made a lot, no one should go home hungry from the big dinner. Most of it was consumed but there are still some leftovers and I have been searching for ways to use them up. Their time had come, it was use or toss or compost day. My usual solution to leftover veggies is to make a stir-fried rice dish, or a soup, or just toss them all into a salad with an interesting salad dressing. But, then in my search, I happened upon this recipe from Nagi at recipetineats for Christmas Leftovers Toasted Bread Bowl. Can you say melty cheese? It’s my personal achilles heal. Leftover turkey (or rotisserie chicken), veggies, any antipasti you happen to have around, and cheese. The mix could be anything and you don’t need to wait for Christmas or Thanksgiving leftovers.

My mouth was watering.

This sandwich is based on a traditional Italian sandwich, Muffuletta, usually made in a round loaf and served cold. It’s a big favorite for picnics because it can be made ahead and the flavors only blend and become more delicious with made ahead. It is quite famous in New Orleans as well where an olive salad is a requirement and they use deli cold cuts.

Serve it hot with crispy bread and melty cheese, or room temperature. Weigh it down and let the flavors melt together for a couple of hours if serving at room temperature. If it is cold, let it warm up a bit before serving.

At Nagi says on her blog post, it’s the perfect food to take on an international flight.

Use whatever you have on hand but start with a good bread with a hearty crust, a sourdough or artisan type would be perfect. I used a ciabatta from a local bakery which I cut in half horizontally, removing most of the crumb in the middle of of the top and bottom, leaving about 1/2 inch of the crust. You want all that extra room for the filling.

I don’t have a real recipe for this, it is really about what you have lurking in your fridge. I can see it with stuffing, turkey, cranberry sauce, and mozzarella. One of my personal post holiday combinations..

There was a package of prosciutto that never made it onto the antipasto platter, some roasted garlic cloves, and the remainder of a jar of sweet relish I had served with cheese. I even found some deli chicken meat that needed to be used. Everything is a possibility. Add some slices of cheddar and gruyere cheese (also leftovers) and it looked like the beginnings of a feast.

Note: you will need something heavy to weigh down the sandwich. I used a cast iron skillet.

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Step 2: Slice the bread horizontally and tear out most of the bread from the middle, leave about 1/2 inch inside the crust. Lay the bread on a large sheet of foil on a baking dish.

Step 3: Brush the inside of each half with olive oil.

Step 4: Place a layer of baby spinach, baby kale, arugula, or other greens on the bottom half.

Step 5: Start layering, veggies, meat, antipasto, more deli meat, then top all with cheese.

Step 6: Place the top on the sandwich and brush the whole with more olive oil, wrap in the foil tightly.

Step 7: Place the sandwich in the oven with the weight on top. Bake for about 20 minutes, then remove the weight and the foil and bake for another 10 minutes to crisp the bread.

Step 8: Let it sit for about 5 minutes, then slice and serve. Or, rewrap in the foil for later.

Delicious!

 

 

The season of leftovers is here! Thanksgiving, Christmas, and now New Year. I bet the folks at Fiesta Friday have a lot of them judging from the delicious goings-on in their kitchens. Come visit with Angie at Fiesta Friday #256 and my co-host  Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau

Please add your own link but be sure to read the guidelines if you would like to be considered for the “Post of the Week”.

Happy New Year everyone!

 

 

 

December – Gifts From the Kitchen

December – Gifts From the Kitchen

This year I am having fun making many of the gifts I am giving during the holidays. As well, it is wonderful to have something ready for hostess gifts when invited to a party. Wrap any of these in a pretty tea towel for a personalized gift.

Here are some ideas, most have been posted on my blog over the past few years.

II didn’t realize I had so many recipes for lemons! Skip past this section if they are not available to you. But, if you are lucky enough to a backyard lemon tree (or don’t know what to do with ALL THOSE LEMONS), here are some options, make:

Meyer Lemon Confit

Confit Meyer Lemons in Olive Oil

Candied Meyer Lemon Slices (would work with regular organic lemons, wash and maybe add more sugar as Meyers are sweet):

Candied Meyer Lemon Slices

Meyer Lemon Indian Spiced Pickle

What about preserved lemons? Use some holiday spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and allspice in the preserving process.

Preserved Lemons 

Preserved lemons

There is Lemon Marmalade

Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Just the thing for Christmas tea.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade, Toast and Tea

There is Meyer Lemon Aigre-doux. This is an Italian sweet and sour preserved lemon recipe, wonderful blended with olive oil for a lemony salad or roasted vegetable dressing.

Meyer Lemon Aigre-Doux,
Preserved Lemons

And lastly Lemon-Lime Curd, amazing on any kind of holiday bread or toast. You could also make this all lemon curd or even all lime curd. Panettone anyone?

Lemon Curd

Lemon Lime Curd

What about homemade applesauce? Apples are readily available in many areas. Add a few cranberries to the simmering apples to color them pink or red. Homemade applesauce is so much better than any commercial one you can purchase.

Gala Applesauce

Consider a pretty crock of cheddar beer dip or spread. Use a sharp cheddar and one that is the darkest orange for the best color (I used a white sharp cheddar which wasn’t as pretty).

Cheddar-Beer Dip

Or a jar of homemade mustard, there are two recipes on my blog. Choose the one that fits your schedule. Here is the second for hot and sweet mustard, it’s quick and easy.

Hot and Sweet Mustard

Give it in a pretty container for a special treat.

What about spice mixes? Most of the commercial spices are full of sugar, preservatives and other ingredients you don’t want to put in your food.

A popular mix with my friends is the Fennel Spice from Michael Chiarello. Although it is easy, I find most folks would rather receive a jar than make it themselves. I have given it many times in the past and it is always a much appreciated gift. He also has an excellent toasted chili spice. I use it to coat port tenderloin (or a slow cooked shoulder of pork) before I cook it sous vide. It’s also great on grilled chicken. For a vegetarian or vegan option it is wonderful coating slices or wedges of sweet potatoes.

Fennel Spice Before Being Blended – Can’t you just smell those fennel and coriander?

Pork Tenderloin Coated with Vinegar Then Coated with Toasted Spice Rub

There are other bloggers who have amazing spice mixes, Mollie from the Frugal Housewife has a delicious “smokin’ Chipotle Taco Seasoning‘. Any Mexican food fan would love a jar. She has a number of other spice mixes and blends, all of which don’t contain any preservatives or additives you don’t want to feed your family. Plus, they taste better than commercial blends. The Foodbod is another source of various spice blends, focused on vegetarian cooking. She is also the queen of sourdough. She sells her own starter on her bread website, which is full of tips and instructions.

You’ll also find a number of spice mixes on my Pinterest page.

I am taking these last minute ideas to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #254. Join the party by adding your own link. The co-hosts this week are Antonia @ Zoale.com and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives