January 27, 2012 § 4 Comments
I’ve been making something lately that I’ve been calling olive tapenade. I love it. I can’t get enough of it. I put it on everything. Obviously I thought I should share it here, because this is where I put things that I like, but in the process, I discovered that I haven’t been making tapenade at all. You see, by definition, “tapenade” is only “tapenade” when made with capers (you know, those tiny green berry-looking things that are usually right near the olives the grocery store). So what have I been making? Olive pesto, olive spread, olive stuff? I’m not sure, or sure that it even matters, because whatever its name is, it makes almost everything I cook taste better.
I’ll typically make a batch, put it in a jar in the refrigerator, and then wait to see what I can put it on throughout the week. Lately, it’s been going everywhere: pizzas, roasted chicken, stirred into warm bowls of bean or vegetable soup (my favorite), spooned on top of plain vegetables, on little toasts, and finally, when there is only a little left, I add more oil and some vinegar to make a dressing for salad. It’s versatile, uses 5 ingredients (counting olive oil and salt), and takes about 5-10 minutes to make, even if you chop everything by hand (which is what I’ve been doing b/c I can’t find the blade to my food processor). See why I love it? Also, this is one of those things that tastes so much better when you make it yourself, and to make it costs a fraction of what it costs to buy already made.
Find more ideas on how to use it here, and, if you make it, let me know your favorite ways to use it.
Quick Black Olive Pesto
Have a small jar or mixing bowl available. Pit and finely chop about 25 black olives (Niçoise are pricey, so I use Kalamata). Finely chop 1-2 teaspoons of fresh rosemary OR thyme. In a mortar and pestle (or on a cutting board with the side of a chef’s knife), smash 1-2 (depending on how you feel about garlic) small garlic cloves with a 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, until a paste forms. Mix olives, herbs and garlic paste together in small jar or bowl. Add 3-5 tablespoons of good olive oil and stir to combine. taste to see if it needs salt (mine never does, but you have to check).
Optional additions: lemon zest (really good), crushed red pepper flakes, a teaspoon or two of red wine vinegar.
Makes approximately one cup.
April 5, 2011 § 3 Comments
Things have been so crazy around my house lately that my cooking has slowed down a bit. I mean, I’ve still been feeding people, but haven’t had the energy to do the whole cook/photograph/write something about it routine. It’s been more like survival cooking. Think nachos, pizza, spaghetti with tomato sauce, and the like. Nothing too creative.
A couple of weeks ago, though (see, I told you I’ve been busy!), my sister-in-law and I went strawberry picking with some of our kids and brought home about 20 quarts of berries. It was perfect weather, the berries were incredibly cheap, the girls had a great time finding the “best” berries (and eating them right then and there), and I was excited about all the culinary potential coming home with us! What to do with them?
Well, we just ate a bunch of them. I froze a good portion, too (look for a strawberry basil ice cream recipe coming up sometime in the near future). But, Kristi and I decided since neither of us had ever made jam, that was what we were going to do with the rest of them. It would be a learning experience that would gain us some refrigerator space while making something nostalgic and tasty at the same time.
We researched and watched videos like this one, and ultimately used an Ina Garten recipe found here. Besides the fact that it took about three times as long to make as the recipe stated, it went pretty well for our first time. We borrowed her mom’s old canning supplies to help us sterilize everything, but we made such a small batch, I think that was pretty unnecessary. I’ll just consider it good practice.
Truthfully, I’d been wanting to make jam for a long time, so I was happy to get the experience under my belt. I really liked the final product, too. As is the case so many times in my house, it wasn’t exactly loved by everyone (“too tart!”), but what are you gonna do? In my mind: I made my first jam! We even got the jars to seal and everything, so even with some naysayers, I’m calling it an overwhelming success.
January 25, 2011 § 4 Comments
My husband decided sometime last year that he wanted to grow hot peppers in our garden. I think he was doing some comparing with Uncle Shebo’s (otherwise known as Kevin) garden down road. He picked Habaneros. Not being a huge fan of being in pain while I eat, I hadn’t cooked with Habanero peppers before, and I wasn’t excited to try. So, when 80 little orange fireballs came in from the garden, I knew my horizons were going to broaden.
The thing was, the recipes I found for salsa would call for, say, HALF a pepper in the whole recipe. I needed something that would make a bigger dent in our, um, bounty. I found a Rick Bayless (Mexican food expert) recipe for hot sauce that used 12 peppers in one recipe (the most of any I found) and I knew that was the one. I put them in a zip top bag in the freezer until I got around to making it.
I didn’t get around to it until Christmas, but Vince finally got to eat his peppers. Vince’s Smokin’ Hot Sauce (or Rick Bayless’) went over really well. It was really good in black beans and rice, but, surprisingly, it was great in Martha Stewart’s mac n cheese! He loves it on almost anything that isn’t ice cream (but he did say just yesterday that he thought Habanero ice cream would be awesome! yah.) so we ran out within the month. The freezer still held plenty of icy peppers, so I made hot sauce round #2 today. We’ll have to see about the ice cream…
Habanero Hot Sauce Adapted from Season 5 of “Mexico One Plate at a Time”
5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/2 cup peeled, chopped carrot (one medium)
1/2 cup roughly chopped yellow onion
12 medium orange Habanero chiles, stemmed
1 cup apple cider vinegar (or you can use white)
About 2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Roast the garlic in a skillet over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the skins brown in spots and the cloves are soft. Cool and peel.
Place carrot, onion, Habanero, vinegar and 1 cup water in a saucepan. Partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat until the carrots are tender. It should take about 10 minutes. Pour into a blender , add the garlic, salt and sugar. Blend. If you need to thin the sauce, add water.
Pour into jars or bottles and store in the refrigerator. Add a little for a lot of heat!