Saturday, July 25, 2015

Uses for vinegar around the house

There are some interesting tips here...many I will try..just love vinegar for lots more also

Monday, June 22, 2015

You Can Pickle That: the Universal Pickle Recipe

6/19/2015 10:44:00 AM
 dill spears IMG_3543
The long history of the word “pickle” tells you all you need to know about making pickles at home.
The word first appeared in English during the obscure centuries before Chaucer, and it likely originated from an even older root word meaning “a thing that pricks or has piquancy.” By Shakespeare’s day—roughly 400 years ago—“pickle” had developed its modern usage. In Anthony and Cleopatra, the queen threatens to have a servant whipped with wires and thrown into a vat of pickling brine, which she promises will be a stinging punishment. The poor guy was about to find himself “in a pickle” as we would say today—thrown into an uncomfortable situation.
The takeaway is that a pickle’s tangy taste—its pleasant, mild sting—is caused byacidity. At the most basic level, a pickle is nothing more than a vegetable submerged in an acidic liquid. From a food preservation standpoint, acidity is what preserves the vegetable, and as mentioned in my last post, acidity is also the silver bullet against botulism and other food-borne disease.
This Universal Pickle Recipe uses vinegar for acidity, and it’s one of a class known as “vinegar pickles” or “quick pickles.” In addition to the familiar cucumber pickles, you can also use this recipe to pickle sturdy vegetables including green beans, zucchini, carrots, celery, onions, beets, and even some greens, as described below. 
The technique is safe, very easy, and flexible enough to adapt to almost any taste.

The Basic Brine

According to USDA guidelines, the key ratio for making pickle brine is one part vinegar to one part water. Note that the vinegar must have at least 5% acidity. (Most do, but check the label to verify.) Always use the best vinegar you can get, comparable to what you would use to make salad dressing, because the vinegar will be the most pronounced flavor in the jar. The quality of the pickle is in the brine.
My favorite vinegar for pickling is mild white wine vinegar, followed by lightly sweet apple cider vinegar. Red wine vinegar works well with beets. Malt vinegar is good with onions. (Balsamic vinegar can also work with onions.) The only vinegar I avoid is white vinegar with its harsh, tongue-stripping flavor and cleaning-product smell. Note that rice vinegar is usually 4 percent acidity.
Seasoning the Brine
So long as you stick to the basic ration of one part 5 percent vinegar to one part water, you can season your pickling brine to taste. Salt is always a key component, both for flavor and because the salt helps to crisp the vegetable. Almost all pickles also contain spices, and you can add any combination of black peppercorns, dill seed, coriander seed, cumin seed, mustard seed, allspice, mace, cinnamon, cloves, saffron, etc. (Ready-made pickling spice, available at the grocery store, pre-mixes some of the above.) I often use aromatic fresh herbs for flavor, such as dill weed, tarragon, basil, Thai basil, etc. Feel free to also add a clove of garlic, a slice of shallot, or a few cocktail onions to every jar. Dried red chilies or a slice of jalapeño pepper give heat. Finally, some pickles benefit from a touch of sweetness: for pickled ramps, I stir in a bit of honey or sugar.
Again, as long as you stick to the basic 1:1 ratio, you can flavor the brine with any of the above seasonings. Go wild with your creativity.
green beans IMG_5801

Vegetable Pro Tips

Wash and trim the vegetables as you would for making a salad or a vegetable side dish. Cut them into whatever bite-sized shapes you like—spears, sticks, chunks, rounds, or wavy-cut chips. I always spend a little extra time to cut the vegetables neatly: pretty counts. You can pack the vegetables into yours jar raw, blanched, or cooked.
Here are a few specific pro tips to get you started.
Cucumbers: The varieties sold as Kirby or pickling cucumbers will give you the best crunch, but other types work as well. Generally I don’t peel cucumbers. For the best texture: trim and cut the cucumbers. Sprinkle with two tablespoons of kosher salt, and toss to distribute the salt. Place the cucumbers in a colander, cover with two trays of ice, and set aside for two hours. Rinse quickly in cold water, then pack raw.
Green beans: Before packing, blanch the beans lightly in salted water for 90 seconds, then “shock” in an ice-water bath to arrest cooking.
Summer Squash, including zucchini: Zucchini make wonderful pickles. (My secret ingredient is a pinch of saffron in the brine.) Slice yellow crookneck squash into rounds. If you wish, salt and drain any summer squash, as for cucumbers.
Carrots: Before packing, blanch for two to three minutes in salted water. Shock in an ice-water bath.
Onions and garlic: All the allium, including ramps and garlic scapes, make delicious and useful pickles. Garlic cloves will sometimes turn bright blue or green from chemical reactions: don’t worry, they are still safe to eat.
Beets: Before packing, boil or roast whole beets until tender, 30-60 minutes depending on size. Slip them out of their skins and cut into manageable pieces.
Greens: Chard stems, trimmed into sticks and lightly blanched in salted water, make good pickles. Purslane, a succulent wild green, is one of my favorite pickles—flavor the brine with lots of whole coriander seed.
Herbs: If you have an abundance of tarragon or Thai basil, fill a jar with a several fronds of fresh herbs, and cover with straight, undiluted vinegar. The resulting aromatic vinegar will last indefinitely.


Vinegar pickles can be canned for long-term shelf storage, if you like. (More on that in an upcoming post.) But for the best flavor and crispest texture, I store the sealed jars in the refrigerator, where they will keep for weeks.
ramps IMG_7083

The Universal Pickling Recipe

Yields two quarts
Like a one-size-fits-all garment, this recipe may require minor adjustments to fit your needs. In testing the recipe yesterday, for instance, I found that I needed a touch over two pounds of cucumbers to fill two quart jars, but two pounds of small, tender green beans fit exactly.
• 2 pounds fresh, firm vegetables, such as cucumbers, squash, green beans, etc.
• 2 cups 5-percent vinegar
• 2 cups water
• 1 tbsp kosher salt (or half as much fine sea salt)
• optional: 1 teaspoon honey or sugar
• 2 whole garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
• 4-6 three-inch fronds of fresh herb, such as dill weed, tarragon, Thai basil, etc.
• 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
• 1/2 tsp whole-seed spices, such as coriander or mustard
• optional: a very few "woody" spices, such as four whole cloves
• optional: two small dried red chili or slices of hot pepper
• optional: two thick slices of shallot or a half-dozen pearl onions
1. Trim and slice the vegetables as if making a salad or vegetable side dish. (See above for suggestions.)
2. Combine the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar or honey, if using, in a small pot. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat.
3. Pack the vegetables snugly into two clean quart jars. As you work, add the garlic and fresh herbs. At the end, add the peppercorns and whole-seed spices. Add the optional woody spices, chilies, hot pepper, shallot, or onions, if using.
4. Bring the vinegar brine back to a boil, and ladle over the vegetables to fill the jar. Seal the jars. Allow to cool overnight, and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Next up in Home Canning 101: the Universal Fermenting Recipe.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fruit cobbler for Keegan and Tracy

Fruit Cobbler

4 1/2 Cups Flour (1 1/2)
1 1/2 Cups Sugar (1/2)
6 Tsp. Baking Powder (2)
3/4 Tsp. Salt (1/4)
1/2 Almond Extract (1/4)
1 1/2 Cups Unsalted Butter, cold, cut into cubes (1/2)
3 Eggs (1)
1 1/2 Cup Milk (1/2)

Use numbers in parentheses for 8" x 8" pan or 9" pie plate. Full recipe fills 9" x 13" or 12"x 16"  pan.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add almond extract.  In bowl of Cuisinart or with 2 knives, cut in butter until it is the size of peas.
Beat eggs and milk together.  Mix with dry ingredients until wet.

Fill 12" x 16" pan  or 9" pie plate with sliced fruit.  Add 3/4-cup sugar (1/4 cup), 3/4-cup flour (1/4 cup), mix all together and dot with 1/4 (2 Tbsp.) butter.

Pour topping over fruit mix.  Sprinkle with almond slices.
Bake at 350 degrees until crust is done.  It will take at least an hour, maybe 1 1/2 hours or 2 for the large pan. The smaller cobbler should take 50-55 minutes.
Serve with whipped cream or Vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mattar Panir (Paneer) Cheese and Peas from India

Cheese and Peas

Indian Mattar Panir

My Favorite Vegetarian Dish

Can be Vegan using Tofu, pressed, cubed and sautéed.  We called "Give Peas a Chance" on the specials board at the Café.

For the Cheese:
Heat to scalding:
2 quarts whole Milk
1/2 cup Yogurt
When bubbles form around the edge, add:
3 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
Turn off the heat.  The mixture should curdle.  Line a colander with cheesecloth and pour the curds and whey through. Reserve the whey. Bring up the ends of the cheesecloth around the curds and press into a ball.  Weigh down for 8 hours between two boards topped with a heavy cast iron skillet, or some item of equal heaviness.
Remove cheese from cloth and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

For the dish:
Sauté until golden brown on all sides:
3 Tbsp. Ghee
the Cheese cubes
Sauté for 1-2 minutes and remove from pan:
3 Tbsp. Ghee (clarified butter)
2 Tbsp. Ginger, grated
1 Tbsp. Garlic, minced
Sauté until translucent:
1 cup Onions, sliced thinly
Add and sauté for 2-3 minutes:
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Turmeric, ground
1/4 tsp. Cayenne
1 tsp. Coriander
1 Tbsp. Garam Masala
Add and cook for 3 minutes:
2 cup fresh Tomatoes, finely chopped
the reserved Ginger and Garlic
Add and cook for another 3 minutes:
1 1/2 cups Peas, shelled (frozen peas are fine!)
1 tsp. Sugar
3 Tbsp. Cilantro
the sautéed Cheese Cubes
1 cup of reserved Whey
Serve over steamed Basmati Rice with a garnish of fresh Cilantro Sprigs and crisp Pappadums.

Garam Masala

Garam Masala is a toasted blend of spices used frequently in Indian cooking instead of the ubiquitous Curry Powder.  It can now be purchased in the spice section of many Natural Foods stores, but it is easy and fun to make your own, and the results are astronomically better.  I often halve this and store it in a glass jar.  It keeps for quite awhile.

Roast together in one layer, at 200 degrees, for 30 minutes.  Cool and grind in a spice or coffee grinder.

5     3" Cinnamon sticks
10 Cardamom Pods, whole
1/2 Cup Cloves, whole
1/2-Cup Cumin Seeds, whole
1/4-Cup Coriander Seeds, whole
1/2 Cup Peppercorns, whole

Friday, March 30, 2012

Gluten-free Pumpkin Cornbread

Sometimes I just crave a good cornbread to go with some beans or, as last night, with some BBQ chicken and cole slaw.  I've been experimenting with Flaxseed meal flour and Coconut flour, so I decided to experiment by combining them with cornmeal to make a tasty cornbread.  Coconut flour and Flaxseed meal absorb quite a bit of liquid, so I played around until I got the right consisitency.  It's best to let the batter sit a few minutes to let the flours absorb what liquid they will.
I also have a passion for making things out of squash and pumpkin; I had a package of homegrown in the freezer, so I used that.  It may have been a little moister that canned, so adjust accordingly.
Bob's Red Mill makes Flaxseed Meal and Coconut Flour.  I also buy coconut products in bulk at Tropical Traditions
I wish I had added a bit of orange peel, as the leftover cornbread tasted quite a bit like Poppyseed Cake in the morning..

Pumpkin Cornbread
The Recipe:
Dry Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
Wet Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups pureed squash or pumpkin, use homemade or canned
4 eggs
4 Tbsp. Coconut Oil, melted (or butter or vegetable shortening)
4 Tbsp. Honey
A little almond milk if batter needs to be moistened

Grease an 8" x 8" pan with coconut oil or other shortening.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Bake for 35-45 minutes.  This recipe takes a little longer than regular cornbread as it is dense.  Test with a toothpick until it comes out clean.

Friday, March 2, 2012

PRESERVED LEMONS Organic Eureka and Meyer, Moroccan Style

I had these with fresh fried anchovies and fennel the other night. They are with Moroccan Food and grilled meats. I think they would do well with Vegetable Tagines and grains also. I have to wait until mine are cured until I try them.  You can top them with oil when they are ready.  Just take out a quarter of a lemon when you are ready to use them, scrape off the pulp, and dice the soft peel.  I had them in a Chicken Liver saute over Quinoa last night, and this AM, in a Chilaquiles Egg and Avocado dish.  You can also toss the peel in salads and use the oil in the dressing.
There are 2 colors of lemons, as i did not buy quite enough Meyers to fill up the jar, so I used some Organic Eureka lemons to fill.  Either one works, and it's always a good idea to have extras on hand to top off the juice.

If you wish to soften the peel first, soak the lemons in luke warm water for 3 days, changing the water daily.

I have been using these tangy salty tidbits in everything from guacamole, sauteed fish, pork chops, salads, tabbouleh and more.

Preserved Lemons, Moroccan Style
Makes one quart jar

* 6-8 organic meyer lemons, washed and dried plus a couple of extra for juice, if needed
* Salt (use either kosher salt or a coarse sea salt, do NOT use table salt)
* Sterilized quart jar with lid
1. Remove any stems and slice a deep X into each end of the lemon - you're basically cutting each lemon nearly into quarters but not going all the way through.

2. Working over a stainless bowl, pour  salt into both ends of the semi-open lemon to cover the exposed pulp.

3. Pour a layer of salt into the bottom of the quart jar and then press the salt-filled lemon into the bottom of jar and repeat with the remaining lemons.

4. Press the lemons down to release their juice - the liquid should cover them or nearly cover them if you're working with less juicy lemons. You can fill the jar right up to the top since the lemons will reduce as they pickle. Top with a couple tablespoons of salt.  If you don't have enough juice, use freshly squeezed to bring the level up and over the lemons.  Leave some air space before sealing the jar.

You can also add spices if you like - some of the more common options are bay leaf, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and whole cloves.

5. Seal the jar well and leave out for 2-3 days, turning the jar upside down each day to distribute the salt and juice; press the lemons down once a day to make sure they're sitting below the lemon juice to ensure preservation and to soften them.

6. Move the lemons to the fridge and wait three weeks before using to allow the rinds to pickle fully. To use, rinse the lemons, scrape off the pulp, discard any seeds and chop or mince the rind. They'll keep in the fridge for up to 6 months.  Top off with Olive Oil if necessary.

Alternatively, Paula Wolfert uses this method, although I used the above refrigeration method:

"Let the lemons ripen in a warm place, turning the jar upside down each day to distribute the salt and juice.  Let ripen for 30 days.
To use rinse the lemons, as needed, under running water, removing and discarding the pulp, if desired--there is no need to refrigerate after opening.  Preserved lemons will keep up to a year, and the pickling juice can be used two or three times over the course of a year.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Paleo Coconut Flour Berry Pancakes Gluten-free

Paleo Gluten Free Coconut Berry Pancakes

What cave people ate for breakfast? Probably not.  Even so........

This is a good low-carb way to start the day. The high protein content also helps keep one satisfied for many hours. The berries add antioxidants and just plain deliciousness. The recipe is adapted from a recipe by While I am not following a strict Paleo diet (I find it too strict for me), I find that the baking recipes which use coconut, flax, or almond flour and lots of eggs, are great and easy to make. I don't know how they hold up leftover; there weren't any.

4 eggs
1 cup almond milk
2 tsp agave syrup
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup frozen huckleberries (if you are so industrious and lucky) or blueberries, fresh or frozen
oil for frying

Beat eggs until fluffy (I used a stand mixer here). Whisk in milk and agave until well-incorporated.
Combine, in a separate bowl coconut flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt. Pour in liquid ingredients and stir just until combined, and then gently stir in the berries.
Heat a griddle or large non-stick frying pan. and heat enough oil to coat over medium heat.
Working in batches, pour batter in 1/8-cup increments into the hot oiled pan. Cook until pancakes are brown on the bottom and the edges begin to dry out, about 2-3 minutes. It's very important to give them enough time, longer than other wheat pancakes, or they will fall apart. You will get it after the first try or so. Gently flip and cook until the other side is golden brown (this doesn't take as long as the first side).
Serve hot with butter or pseudo-butter, syrup, honey, jam or on their own.
Makes about 16 dollar size pancakes.
Serves 2-3.