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Homemade Pickled Jalapenos

28 Jan

I make a batch of these every couple of weeks. They’re so awesome you’ll never go back to the store-bought stuff again. These are pickled in the refrigerator, so they are NOT shelf-stable. Keep them in the fridge and they’ll last as long as you’ll need them to. While they’re awesome right away, I recommend that you let them hang out in the fridge for a week or two before eating. They just get better with time.

Ingredients:
– 16 medium-to-large fresh jalapenos
– 1 1/4 cups white vinegar
– 1 1/4 cups filtered or distilled water
– 4 large garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
– 4 TBSP granulated sugar
– 2 TBSP kosher salt

Yield: Two pint jars

Wash the jalapenos and cut into “bottle caps”, or rings. Discard stems.

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Fill a large bowl with very warm water. Remove the lids from two pint jars (mine are purple!), and submerge them in the water. This will bring the jars up to temperature prior to filling them with hot jalapenos and liquid.

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Combine water, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt in a large saucepan. Stir until salt and sugar are dissolved, and bring to a boil. Add the jalapenos, pushing them down to submerge them in the liquid. Remove them from the heat and allow to sit, uncovered, for fifteen minutes. You’ll notice that the color will go from bright green to a duller green color.

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Remove the jars from the warm water. Using tongs, transfer the jalapenos from the saucepan into the jars, evenly distributing them between the two. I usually start by digging out the four cloves of garlic and making sure each jar gets two apiece.

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Next, ladle the liquid into each jar until the liquid reaches near the top of the jar. Attach the lids and bands and allow to sit on the counter until completely cooled. Store in the refrigerator – the jalapenos can be eaten right away but we’ve found that they taste best after sitting in the refrigerator for a week.

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We use these in and on everything. Omelettes, cheeseburgers, salads, crackers and cheese, marinades, deviled eggs, tuna salad, sandwiches, soups and stews, baked salmon, pretty much anything going in the crock pot… we’re a little obsessed.

Enjoy!

A Cheese Sauce for Everything

17 May

This is a great, flexible recipe for cheese sauce that goes with, well, just about anything. Pour it over vegetables, mix it with refried beans for a great dip, pour it over pasta. It’s very cheesy without being too thick or overpowering. And, as you can tell by how everything is “two”, it’s WICKED easy to double or halve.

Makes about four cups.

– Two cups shredded cheese – a cheddar or cheddar/colby/jack mix is good. Basically, you want a hard cheese, not a soft cheese
– Two cups milk – whole or 2% is fine. Heck, you could even use half-and-half if you’re feeling especially decadent. I usually use 2%. I wouldn’t recommend skim.
– Two tablespoons salted butter
– Two tablespoons flour
– Two egg yolks, lightly beaten (discard the whites or use them for another purpose)
– Two tablespoons Worcestershire
– A dash or two of paprika
– Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, add the flour a little bit at a time, whisking constantly until the flour and butter are completely mixed, creating a roux.

Very slowly add the milk, a little bit at a time, whisking constantly until the flour/butter mixture is completely dissolved into the milk. Allow the mixture to warm and thicken for about one minute, then gradually whisk in the egg yolks (you don’t want the milk to be too hot or the egg will cook upon contacting the hot liquid, which is, well, gross). Keep whisking and allow the mixture to get hot, about two minutes.

Gradually add in the cheese a little at a time, whisking constantly, until it’s all incorporated and melted. Add the Worcestershire, paprika, salt and pepper, whisk and allow the mixture to become hot, but not simmering or boiling, which will curdle the milk.

If the mixture is too thin, add another handful of cheese. If it’s too thick, add a little bit of milk. You can also add other spices – cayenne pepper works well, for instance.

Pour over whatever needs some extra cheesy goodness, and enjoy!

Zucchini Relish

25 Jan

This is a VERY prominent fixture in my childhood memories. This stuff is FANTASTIC. My grandmother would make it once a year, jarring enough to last us until the next fall. She’s spend hours in the basement (where it was cool), grinding away at her hand grinder, going through huge amounts of zucchini. There was always plenty – the garden usually exploded with them. That’s what I like about Maine – you cast down the seeds, and barely need to tend to anything before you have an explosion of veggies.

I’d put this on my hamburgers and hot dogs, and on my “nice” ham and cheese sandwiches. My grandmother would mix it into her potato salad. Aw, man, this stuff is SO GOOD, I’ll have to make it sometime. But I’ll have to get a grinder.

12 cups ground zucchini
4 cups ground onions
1 red pepper, ground
1 green pepper, ground
5 tbsp salt

2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
6 cups sugar

3/4 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp dry mustard
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp. ground tumeric
1 1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Mix ground veggies with salt and sit over night in an enamel kettle (big ol’ pot with a lid). In a.m., rinse with cold water. Mix the cider vinegar with the water, add to sugar and stir until dissolved. Pour over veggies. Make a paste of the corn starch, dry mustard, ground nutmeg, ground tumeric, celery seed, and black pepper – adding just enough water for a paste consistency. Add to the veggies. Stir well.

Bring the pot to a boil, cook and stir over moderate heat for 30 minutes. Can in jars at once.

Here is some information on canning jars, the hot packing method used here, and the boiling water bath canning procedure. Also, About.com has a whole section dedicated to canning.