December – Hot and Sweet Mustard

December – Hot and Sweet Mustard

Are you looking for an easy homemade gift idea for someone who likes spicy and hot foods? Look no further. This recipe originally came from my mother and was labeled fondue mustard. Do you remember those days in the 60’s and 70’s when beef fondue was all the rage. Yep, that was the source. But, I find this mustard is wonderful at any time. It’s great as a horseradish replacement with roast beef, fantastic with pot roast or beef brisket or beef stew. Sometimes you just need a little bit of a flavor boost. And believe me, you will want to use this in judiciously.

I like to give these in pretty jars as gifts, the jars themselves are part of it. I happened across these lovely handmade jars by a friend of a friend, Patricia Lorenz. Each one is a work of art, never the same.

In themselves they make a unique gift.

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz container of Colemans mustard powder
  • 1 cup of wine vinegar (I used my own home brewed but commercial red or white is fine)
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 3 eggs well beaten

Method:

  1. Combine the mustard powder and vinegar in a large jar, mix well. Let stand overnight.
  2. The next day combine the brown sugar, eggs and mustard mixture in a double boiler.
  3. Cook over simmering water until the mixture thickens.

 

  1. Thickened Hot and Sweet Mustard

The mustard will keep several months in the fridge.

Hot and Sweet Mustard – this one is for me

Patricia also made larger jars, I just need to figure out what to put in them to give as gifts.

Any suggestions?

December – Preserved Kumquats

December – Preserved Kumquats

Just in time for the holidays, a gift which is not only delicious but also easy to make and beautiful. The jewel tones of the kumquats are perfect for the holidays.

Kumquats

Kumquats are a variety of citrus, the rind is the sweet part and the bitter the middle. The reverse of other citrus fruits. The kumquats are small, only about an inch or less in length. My mother would preserve them each year (she lived in Florida where they were common) but I haven’t seen them in the markets very often. So I jumped at the chance to recreate her recipe. They were delicious served beside smoked chicken or turkey, a sweet counter to the smokiness. But I think they would be equally delicious served for dessert with a square of chocolate.

I couldn’t find her recipe in my files but know it was very simple. A search on the web came up with on published in the New York Times some time ago…Evelyn Patout’s Preserved Kumquats. It sounded exactly like my memory of my mother’s recipe, plus it was simple and quick. It only requires about 20 minutes of your time, plus 4 days sitting in the simple syrup.

Preserved Kumquats

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart of kumquats
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of light corn syrup

Method:

  1. Wash and scrub the kumquats thoroughly. Prick each one several times with a large needle or poultry pin (I used a crab picker). Put them in a large saucepan, add water to cover, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Drain.
  2. Combine the sugar with 3 cups of water in the saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Add the kumquots and bring back to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover the saucepan, and set aside till the next day.
  3. The next morning add 1/2 cup of corn syrup to the saucepan, bring back to the boil, then remove from the heat, cover, and let stand overnight again.
  4. Repeat the process in number 3 twice more.
  5. On the fourth day, after the kumquats have  brought to the boil, spoon them into hot, sterilized, Mason-type jars. Pour the hot syrup to within 1/4 inch of the top and seal. Refrigerate until ready to give, or you can seal in a canner (I would boil 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your jars).
December – Spiced Chickpea and Chicken Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

December – Spiced Chickpea and Chicken Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

This recipe originally appeared in the NY Times without the chicken. I wanted something heartier for a visiting friend who had driven 3.5 hours to visit us up on the coast. This was the perfect dinner after a long drive on a cold and rainy autumn evening. The coconut sauce is amazing, you really need something to soak it up. Serve it with lavash or other flatbread for dunking if you have some. Not having those in the cupboard, I served it over brown rice. I consider this comfort food as well as (somewhat) health food. It is a soupy stew and could also be considered a thick soup/

Without the chicken, this recipe is vegetarian and vegan. A delicious option if you have a dinner party with mixed eating preferences. Add the chicken to only a portion of the soup, a deli chicken would be easy and perfect. I had some sous vide chicken thighs in the fridge and added them at the end. The recipe also called for adding greens (kale or spinach), which I forgot to purchase at the market. So the picture doesn’t have greens. I am definitely making this again and will add them next time and take a picture. With the addition of a half-can of chickpeas, the leftovers were delicious the next day.

I consider this a pantry meal, most of the ingredients are already in my pantry and available for a quick meal. If you have greens and mint in your garden you are already perfectly positioned. No chicken, no problem. The original recipe didn’t include chicken. But check your freezer for a lone chicken breast that might be hanging around. Defrost it in the microwave, cut into cubes, and add it once the coconut milk and stock come to the simmer. If you have any salad greens in your fridge, use them as greens. Maybe some baby spinach? Arugula would be fine as well, shredded romaine…why not. If it is a cold and wet night, who wants to go to the store?

Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

Spiced Chickpea Chicken Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 (2-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15-ounce) full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard, kale, or spinach – stems removed, torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup mint leaves, chopped for serving
  • Lime slice for serving
  • Optional whole fat plain yogurt for serving
  • Steamed rice, toasted pita, lavash or other flatbread for serving

Method:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and ginger. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent and starts to brown a bit. That will take about 3-5 minutes. Be careful the garlic doesn’t brown.
  2. Add turmeric, red pepper flakes and chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper again. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chickpeas start to sizzle and brown and fry a bit in the spices and oil. I had to add a tiny bit more oil at this point. They will start to soften and break down, becoming brown and crisp. It will take about 5 to 8 minutes.
  3.  Remove about a cup of chickpeas and set aside.
  4. Add the coconut milk and stock to the remaining chickpeas in the pot. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any crusty bits that have formed at the bottom of the pot.
  5. Add your chicken if using.
  6. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the stew has thickened slightly and the flavors have come together., about 30-35 minutes. Taste and see if you need to add salt and pepper.
  7. Add greens and stir, making sure they are submerged in the liquid. Cook long enough for them to soften, which will depend on the type of greens you are using, about 3-7 minutes. Spinach and chard will soften much faster than kale.
  8. Divide among bowls and add the reserved chickpeas and mint, a wedge of lime, and a sprinkle of red-pepper flakes if desired. A dollop of whole fat yogurt with a dusting of turmeric would be nice as well.

 

Sous vide boneless chicken thighs

Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

The recipe was adapted from the NY Times article, A Creamy Stew That’s Hearty and Virtuous.

I am bringing it to Fiesta Friday #253 to share with Angie and the gang. Click on the link to see all the wonderful ideas for holiday food, crafts and decorating. I am excited to be a co-host for the virtual party this week with Mila @ Milkandbun

I think the folks at Souper Sunday at Kahakai Kitchen will enjoy it as well. Follow the link for other soup, salad or sandwich ideas. Perfect for a casual Sunday dinner.  .Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.

In My Kitchen – December 2018

In My Kitchen – December 2018

It’s December, oh my! Last year we decided to be grinches and completely ignore the holiday. No tree or ornaments, minimal gifts, no Christmas puddings or special desserts, no turkey (although I did make roast beef), no stuffing (to my families great regret), no decorating at all. We were in the middle of getting the Oakland house ready to sell and downsizing. So, to keep our stress level at a bearable level, we decided to skip Christmas. It was empowering. I recommend an occasional miss to the craziness of the holiday. I give you permission.

This year it feels totally new and fun. After a year’s respite, we are deciding what traditions to keep, what is important to us. We have a tree, although it is somewhat smaller than the ones we used to have at the Oakland house. There is only room for the most beloved of ornaments. And I have decorated the house, but more on a minimal scale.

This year I am busy making gifts in the kitchen to share with friends and family. So, what is new in my kitchen? This post is part of a regular theme, bloggers from around the world share what is new in their kitchens each month. It’s a fascinating glimpse and I am so happy that Sherry has taken on the responsibility of hosting us each month. You can read those other posts by following the links on Sherrys Pickings.

In My Kitchen
Sherry’s Pickings

In my kitchen I have kumquats. I so rarely see them in the market that I had to snatch up a quart of them. My mother use to make wonderful preserved kumquats that she served with smoked chicken or turkey.

Fresh Kumquats

Preserved Kumquats

It’s a four-day process but very easy. I will be posting the recipe.

In my kitchen, I have Meyer lemons. I decided to harvest most of the lemons from the tree in a half wine barrel on the deck. There were dozens of small ones and I hope to encourage larger ones by the selective pruning.

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Meyer Lemons

In my kitchen I have Meyer lemon confit (a big hit), sugared Meyer lemon slices, and an Indian Meyer lemon pickle.

Follow the link to see the recipes if you find yourself in a similar position. Of course you could use regular lemons as well. Since you are using the skins, organic is better without that wax coating.

Lemon tree with blossoms and tiny new lemons

The tree already has many blossoms and tiny green lemons.

In my kitchen I have turkey stock, simmering from the turkey carcass that was in the freezer after Thanksgiving. It will be the base for wonderful soups this winter.

Simmering Turkey Stock

In my kitchen I also have turkey confit made from thighs. These I cooked for 24 hours sous vide at 149 degrees F. They come out meltingly tender and delicious. That’s some of the lemon confit and lemon olive oil in the bag flavoring them.

Turkey Thigh Confit

If you are cooking sous vide for many hours, I recommend purchasing a protective sleeve (made from wet suit material) and a cover. It will save electricity and keep condensation away, as well as saving plastic wrap.

Sous vide

You can purchase the hinged covers on Amazon, you will want to find the one that is specific for your sous vide machine.

In my kitchen I have homemade red wine vinegar. This crock has been going for several years now and the vinegar is wonderful. I pour in all the leftover dregs of red wine.

I am using the vinegar to make mustard as gifts. This is one of my mother’s favorite recipes for holiday giving. You need to be partial to the heat, it is hot. Again, another post in the making.

Beginnings of homemade mustard

Lastly in my kitchen is Fennel Spice. This is a recipe from Michael Chiarello. I use it to flavor roast chicken and lentil soups. If you have never had it, I highly recommend his recipe. It is positively addictive and is a favorite of mine for holiday giving.

Toasted Fennel spice before grinding

Lastly in my kitchen I have these wonderful tulips, definitely a splurge but they are so beautiful. I try to avoid purchasing commercial flowers (that industry is not at all environmentally sound) but couldn’t resist.

Tulips

I can enjoy them just on the other side of my kitchen sink. They are a splash of color on a grey cloudy day.

What are you up to in your kitchen this month?

 

 

November – Dried Porcini, Fresh Mushroom and Whole Tomato Ragout

November – Dried Porcini, Fresh Mushroom and Whole Tomato Ragout

Dried Porcini, Fresh Mushroom, and Whole Tomato Ragout

Doesn’t that look delicious? Dried porcini mushrooms (or any other variety you have in your pantry), fresh mushrooms, roma-type tomatoes (canned are fine), with fresh herbs. Serve this as a main course for a vegan or vegetarian meal with crusty bread, sweet butter, and a chunk of flavorful cheese. Toma is my personal favorite right now. Or, as the recipe suggests, on top of cheesy polenta. Or as a low carb/low calorie side dish to some thinly sliced grilled steak (steak and mushrooms are a combination made in heaven). Be sure to include a few slices of crusty rustic bread to soak up the juices. It’s the perfect antidote to all the rich foods of last week.

The recipe came from the cookbook In My Kitchen by Deborah Madison.

In My Kitchen by Deborah Madison

Deborah calls for a tablespoon of fresh herbs in addition to parsley. Use whatever you have on hand, the season my dictate it. In my case it was some fresh marjoram but adding additional fresh parsley at the end would work as well. If you have access to wild mushrooms, use them as the fresh ones. But plain old grocery store varieties work just fine. Porcini mushrooms can be pricy, but you can substitute another variety. I have seen large bags of dried shiitake mushrooms at Asian grocery stores, at good prices. Recipes are only a starting point to your imagination. Make the substitution and let me know how you like it.

I was lucky to have stumbled upon a large bag of dried porcini while in Italy this past September. It was a tiny store on a back alley. I now wish I had brought back 2 bags. But that’s a long way to go for a bag of dried porcini.

Dried Porcini Mushrooms

It’s mushroom season up here on the coast but tomato season is over. I used good quality Italian canned roma tomatoes. One 28-oz can was just the right size. If you make this in summer, use fresh tomatoes. Slip them into boiling water for 30 seconds and they are easy to peel.

 

Dried Porcini and Tomato Ragout

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried porcini (or other) mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white or red wine
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound of fresh mushrooms, gills still closed if possible, cleaned and thickly sliced at odd angles
  • 8-12 peeled whole roma-type tomatoes
  • optional: 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, any seasonal will do
  • For finishing – optional: Parmigiano-Reggisno cheese, grated and more fresh chopped herbs

Method:

  1. Cover the dried mushrooms with 1 1/2 cups of hot water and set aside while you assemble the rest of the ingredients, for at least 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid. If there is any soil or small grit in the water, pour it through a fine mesh strainer.
  2. Heat a wide skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When warm, add the onion and the drained porcini. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is golden (about 5 minutes). Then add half the parsley, all the other fresh herbs and the garlic. Work in the  tomato paste. Pour in the wine and cook until it is reduced to a syrupy consistency. Season with a pinch of salt and fresh pepper. Remove to a bowl.
  3. Return the skillet to the heat and add the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil, when it is hot, add the fresh mushrooms. Increase the heat to high and saute until they start to color, add a few pinches of salt and cook until they release and reabsorb their juices (about 6-8 minutes).
  4. Add the contents of the bowl to the skillet and pour in the mushroom soaking liquid. Nestle the tomatoes among the mushrooms. Reduce the heat and simmer until the mushrooms are cooked and the tomatoes are hot, at least 15 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining herbs and optional butter for more richness.
  6. Serve with a grating of Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.

Simmering Mushrooms and TomatoesI am taking this recipe to Fiesta Friday #252 to share with Angie and the gang. This weeks co-hosts are Alex @ Turks Who Eat and Zeba @ Food For The Soul

Be sure to click on the link to read all the interesting posts for holiday food, gifts and crafts. And, add your own link to the party. If you want to be considered for “post of the week” be sure to credit Fiesta Friday, Alex, Zeba and Angie in your post.

I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving.