Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Beer Bread

Beer bread is a heavy, tasty quick bread that uses yeast in the beer as a levener.  I love beer breads for their versatility as the bread will take on whatever flavor of the beer that you use.  When I make a beer marinade for steaks, I will serve this bread with the steaks as my carbohydrate.  They also make a great snack.  Warm a slice up in the oven or microwave and add a pad of butter, mmm mmm mmmmmmmm...
Who doesn't like beer?  Mmmmmmm

Monday, April 29, 2013

Sauerkraut

 I hate sauerkraut.

The sauerkraut I always knew was the sauerkraut that came out of the can from the grocery store.  The way it smelled, the way it looked, the way it cooked.  I just never understood what everyone loved about it.  I also didn't understand what it was.  What the heck was it?  I mean, I knew it was cabbage but what the heck made it so limp and awful?

Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage.  You massage cabbage with salt so that the cabbage leaches out it's own water.  Then you let the cabbage sit in the brine and work it's magic.  When I started preserving my own food, I kept turning to the sauerkraut recipes.  They looked so easy...but, I hated sauerkraut so I wasn't sure I wanted to try it.

Finally, I decided to jump in feet first and I'm glad I did.  Turns out I don't really hate sauerkraut at all.  In fact, I love it!  The stuff I hated was the grocery store canned garbage.  Homemade sauerkraut is completely different.  It's tangy and crispy with layers of sweet and salty.  It's wonderful!

Now I can say that I *used* to hate sauerkraut.  Now I can say I love it!  I really do.  I'm a sauerkraut eating machine!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Seared Lemon & Garlic Salmon

The best damn way to cook salmon.  Hands. Down.

Go preheat your oven to 400.

Once I learned how to make salmon this way, I have never gone back.  It's my go to method and absolutely flawless.  It doesn't mater what you put on the fish, really, this method will get you perfect salmon every. damn. time.

Grab an oven proof skillet


Preserved lemon rind, garlic, & a chili pepper


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Salt & Pepper Preserved Kumquats

Since salt preserved lemons and oranges do so well in my kitchen, I decided to make salt preserved kumquats with the 5 pounds I had recieved.  I like kumquats as a snack but I can only eat 4 or 5 at a time before I can't eat anymore and I still had a whole bowl to go.

Since kumquats are so sour, I wanted to mellow them out a bit and make them more savory.  I made about a 1:3 ratio of pepper:kosher salt and used this to salt preserve the kumquats.

First you want to slice off the blossom end of the kumquat and then slice down from the blossom end to the bottom but not all the way through...you want to keep the kumquat intact.  If it's a big kumquat you want to then make another slice perpendicular to the first slice, all the way but again keeping the kumquat in tact.  Stuff the salt and pepper mixture into the kumquat and place the kumquat in a sterile quart jar.

Make sure you have no cuts on your fingers.  OUCH!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Don't Waste That: Whey (French Bread)

Remember when we made yogurt and after draining the yogurt we ended up with about a pint of whey.  I told you to save it and you'll be glad that you did.  We are going to use the whey to make french bread.  You can substitute whey for water in any bread recipe.  Whey adds a wonderful understated, deeper flavor to bread.  Once you make bread with whey you will never go back to making bread with just water again.  French bread is the most simple yeast breads to make - it's just flour, salt, water (in this case whey), and yeast - and it's a great bread to teach yourself how to bake.  It's not too terribly finicky and it doesn't take a lot of time nor a lot of ingredients so if it doesn't turn out, then you can't really be disappointed.

If you have never made bread before I suggest you start by using All Purpose flour.  All Purpose Flour is so forgiving.  I have made french bread with whole wheat and a blend of whole wheat and all purpose flour, but you need an extra ingredient called Vital Wheat Gluten.  Wheat flour does not have the same amount of gluten as white flour so if you are not skilled, the bread will not rise.

Start with All Purpose Flour to get your confidence up and once you can churn out consistent french bread loaves, you can start playing around with the wheat flour ratio!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Empty Jars

I have my blog posts written, generally, two weeks in advance.  I have them planned out much further.  Today I was going to post my general planned blog post but in light of the recent attacks on the Boston Marathon, I have pushed this post earlier.


It just so happened that I was thinking about the lifecycle of jars this weekend and how we come across our jars.  Some jars are bought.  Some jars are given.  Some jars are found while scouring thrift stores, antique stores, and yard sales.  When you become a canner, jars become a sacred place in your kitchen; they hold life!  They hold something that sustains you and your family. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things: 32nd St Farmer's Market

There's a farmer's market I go to in Baltimore that I love that is popular enough to have many different varities of stands but not hipster enough where it's overcrowded and you can't navigate:  The 32nd Street Farmer's Market. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Yogurt

 
It sounds silly but yogurt holds a special place in my heart.  Yogurt was the very first food I started making homemade in my kitchen. 
 
I eat a lot of yogurt.  About 1/4 to a 1/2 cup everyday so it was taking a big chunk out of my food budget.  I had done some research on yogurt and thought that it wouldn't be that hard to make on my own.  Then I hit the jackpot!  That very weekend I was thrift store shopping and I found a yogurt maker for $2!  I have never looked back!  Homemade yogurt is soooooooooo much better than the yogurt you find in the grocery store and it is soooooooo much cheaper to make it at home.

 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Let's Talk About: Dairy

There's a lot to say about the state of corporate dairy in America.

A lot of it bad.

I've been thinking about this post since I started this blog.  I wasn't sure how I was going to state my feelings about dairy - or if I even was going to state my feelings at all.  I'm still not sure.  I want to write this post to inform you of the state of corporate dairy and from there you can make the best decision for your family.  Some people don't have a choice but to feed their family corporate dairy.  A gallon of grocery store brand milk is a quarter of the price (even less) than a gallon of milk from a dairy that strives for grass fed cows - especially a family with teenagers.  I know when my brother and I were teenagers, we were going through a gallon of milk a day.  My poor mother, we just about drank her out of house and home!  I just hope to inform you of the different qualities of milk so that you can consciously make a decision.  That being said, I'd rather you feed your family milk, even corporate milk, than sugar laden soda and juice.

Mooo.  I like grass!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Preserved Lemon Paste

Have you ever come across an idea so simple, so easy, and so ingenious that you automatically went, "DOH!  WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT?!"  That happened to me.  It was there, right in front of my face the whole time and I didn't even think to do it!


I use Preserved Lemons in a *lot* of recipes but sometimes I'm just too lazy to chop *another* ingredient...but I still want that lemon flavor.  What's a girl to do?  Sadly I would forgo the lemon....

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bar Top: Marmalade Whiskey Sour


Here's a whiskey sour with a more feminine flare.  It uses marmalade as the sugar base instead of simple syrup and an egg white to make it frothy.  I love to serve it in my retro coop glasses to up the sophistication level.  Your significant other might look at you crazy when you hand them this whiskey sour but they will forgive you once they taste it because, although it looks feminine, the taste is pure whiskey.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Orange Pepper Pork and Kale

There are many food blogs out there that center on the romance of cooking and that's great but the typical, average family (even single person) doesn't have time for meals that take a lot of energy and time to cook.  Let's face it, between all the things we are "supposed" to do, exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, read to your kids, help them with homework, walk the dog twice a day, wash your face before you go to bed, get 8 hours of sleep, drink 2 liters of water, etc, etc, etc, now here I am telling you that we can't trust our corporate food sources and we should make most everything from scratch?!  IS YOU CRAZY, WOMAN?!  WHO HAS TIME FOR THAT?! 

It can be done.  During the week I rarely spend more than 25 minutes putting dinner together and most of them are one pot meals.

Who doesn't love one pot meals?  There's nothing like being able to throw together a quick, nutritious meal with minimal dishes.  I think if more people knew how to cook one pot meals, more people would be eating from scratch.

dried orange zest strips, a shake of pepper corn, and a pinch of sea salt

Remember the dried orange zest strips we made?  We are going to use them to make an Orange Pepper rub for thin cut pork chops.  That orange vinegar we made, we are going to use that to steam the kale.  Now go grab you your biggest pan with a lid. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Soda Scones

What is Soda Bread?  When I first heard of it, I thought it was bread made with actual Soda Pop!  It is not!  Soda bread is a quick, heavy bread made with baking soda as the levening agent. The earliest references of using "baking soda" as a levener are through the American Indians who began using potash in their breads centuries ago.
 
So, how did soda bread became so completely Irish?
 
Soft wheat is the only wheat that is really able to grow in Ireland's harsh climates and soft wheat does not do well with yeast.  Yeast needs gluten to rise and soft wheat just does  not provide the gluten.  Bicarbonate of soda was introduced to Ireland around the 1840s.  The Irish had discovered that using baking soda instead of yeast and adding an acid, like sour milk, would give them a quick bread. By 1845, the Great Potato Famish was in full swing and it is believed that it spurred soda breads popularity, giving rise to many different types of soda bread.  Soda bread is an easy, quick, and cheap bread to make; all you need is flour, salt, baking soda, and sour milk (modern recipes call for buttermilk), so one can see how it would become popular during the Potato Famine.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Riesling Kumquat Syrup

One of the first things that popped into my mind after I received the kumquats  was syrup.  I wanted to make a fruity, citrusy syrup to add to my bar.  Not only that, I wanted to be able to pour it over pancakes, ice cream, yogurt, basically anything that would benefit from a pop of citrus.  Having tasted the kumquats, aside from their great burst of citrus flavor, I thought of Riesling.  Hence, Riesling Kumquat Syrup was born.
 
 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Marmalade Basted Chicken

I love to make a good baste with marmalade and 3 Citrus Marmalade is just the right one!  The sugars in the marmalade creates a lovely crust over cooked meat because it caramelizes under the heat.  The best way to cook this is to cook in the broiler (in the winter) or over the grill (in the summer).

 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Preserved Kumquats

In "Canning for a New Generation", Liana Krissoff has a recipe for a drink called the Kumquat Knickerbocker.  I have been pining for this drink since I bought the book and I finally bit the bullet.  Being a fan of kumquats, I decided to go all in and order 5 pounds from Beck Grove.  This recipe is a sweet preserve, preserving the kumquats in sugar.  the method is fairly easy as you keep the kumquats whole, only cutting two small slits in each.  This is my first year preserving kumquats, so it shall be interesting to see how the preserved kumquats come out. and how I decide to incorporate them into my recipes.  My mind is already churning on how to use these little guys and not just for my liquor cabinet!  I'm thinking pork, duck, lamb, chicken, and even venison! 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Kitchen Tactics: Eating a Fresh Kumquat


I know what you're thinking, "Does this woman think we are idiots?  How hard is it to eat a kumquat?!"  Trust me on this, there is a technique.  If you just pop a kumquat into your mouth like a grape, chances are you are going to make a face like this:


GIFSoup