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How To: Make Mustard

25 Sep

It turns out that making mustard is very, very easy.

Who knew, right?

The basic components of mustard are mustard seeds and vinegar. There are endless variations of mustard you can make by building off of these two ingredients. Mine, for example, contains honey and beer. Other ingredients you can use include wine, sugar, herbs, garlic, and maple syrup. Here is a basic recipe:

3 TB yellow mustard seeds

3 TB brown mustard seeds

vinegar to cover seeds, such as cider vinegar

your favorite beer

2-3 tsp salt

1 TB honey

Whatever you add, all mustard starts the same. You must soak the mustard seeds in vinegar overnight. I use a half and half combination of yellow and brown mustard seeds. Then I cover the seeds with vinegar plus about 1/2-1″.

 

The next morning, blend the seeds and vinegar until they become a paste.

At this point you should add more liquid. I used beer. Add a little at a time until the mustard has a more liquid consistency. This is completely up to you and is very difficult to get “wrong”-so don’t worry about it too much. This is also when you should add salt and a sweetener if you would like. I used honey.

Pour the completed mustard into a jar.

Loosely tighten the cap and allow the mustard to sit on the counter for 1-2 days. This will allow the flavors to blend and mellow. After that tighten the lid and store in the fridge.

Eat. Nom nom.

You will never buy mustard again.

❤ stef

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Recipe: Strawberry Jam

18 Jan

It’s officially winter. Part of me loves winter-I grew up in California, in the uber-temperate Bay Area, and despite what many Bay Area natives will tell you, winter doesn’t really exist there. Yes, it gets colder. Sure, you have to wear a jacket. But until I moved to Boston I never had to buy a winter-specific jacket, never had to fully change my wardrobe (my CA winter wardrobe consisted of summer clothes with the addition of tights, boots, and jackets), and never had to deal with snow.

When I first moved I was wary. I had no idea what kind of jacket to buy. My classmates (most of whom were from the east coast) made fun of me. I didn’t mind. I probably would have made fun of me too. The truth is that I grew to love it. I like snow, and the freezing temperatures, and the excuse to drink warm alcoholic beverages on a cold winter night. I like wool and I like to knit warm hats for me and my friends. I like subsisting on stews and roasted meats, and I like watching the snow fall outside my bedroom window.

That being said, sometimes a respite from the freezing temperatures and the gray weather is necessary. Sometimes it’s nice to create a bit of summer, enjoyable even, even if it’s just you in your kitchen, making jam from frozen strawberries.

Strawberry Jam for Wintertime

1 16 oz bag of whole frozen strawberries

1 C sugar

Skin of 1 tart green apple

1 tsp lemon juice

Sprinkle of cinnamon

Sprinkle of ginger

First you have to let the strawberries defrost a bit, so leave the bag out on the counter for an hour or so. Or, if you’re in a hurry (like me), throw it in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until the berries aren’t as hard.

Put the strawberries and the sugar in your pot and just allow them to sit for about 15 minutes. Don’t turn the heat on yet, just coat the berries in the sugar and let them get all sugary.

Mash them with a potato masher. If you don’t have a potato masher, use a fork.

Bring the jam to a boil on a medium heat setting. Boil for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the lemon juice, the cinnamon and ginger, and the apple peel.

The apple peel is a natural source of pectin. The more you learn, right?

Return to a rolling boil and stir until you can’t stir down the boil anymore. It should be really bubbling away. Boil for another two minutes.

Turn off the heat source and check to see if the jam is set by using the back of a frozen spoon. If you look closely at the image above you can see a line drawn in the jam on the back of the spoon. That’s how you know it’s ready.

Ladle into jars.

At this point, you can choose to process it in a water bath if you like, or you can just stick it in the fridge. I chose to just keep it in the fridge. This recipe only make a little bit of jam and I was planning on using it right away. If you WANT to water process it, you need to have the correct canning jars. Finger tighten the rims and process in a water bath-a rolling boil-for about 10 minutes. Remove from the water bath and cool for 24 hours. Check the seals on the jars to make sure they are tight, then store.

And there you have it. Delicious jam for the wintertime; guaranteed to lift your spirits.

❤ stef

 

Recipe: Meatloaf&Roasted Potatoes, Dinner Club Edition!

29 Oct

Back in September I made my friends Elise and Kellie dinner as a thank-you for collecting my mail while I was in San Francisco. During dinner, they both mentioned how they wished they could cook because I made it look so easy. While I AM pretty awesome, and no doubt my brilliant culinary ballet stunned them senseless, I assured them that they were crazy because cooking was easy. I also said that if they wanted, I would teach them. And thus Dinner Club was born! They come over every week-ish (so far we’ve only managed to get together twice!) and we drink wine, and I teach them how to make something. The first time it was spaghetti with meat sauce, and last night it was meatloaf with roasted potatoes.

Honestly, it is so much fun. We goof around, drink wine, and I basically order them about and take pictures. At the end of it all we eat delicious food and I send them home with a recipe card of the meal we made.

And so I give you meatloaf with roasted potatoes, Dinner Club edition. Also, meet Kellie and Elise. They are fantastic.

Roasted Potatoes

1 lb red or yellow potatoes

2-3 TB olive oil

salt and pepper

dill or rosemary

Kellie was running late, so I made Elise chop the potatoes. Cut them into 1 inch pieces, which is usually fourths for little potatoes and eighths for medium sized. We cut these into eighths.

Toss the potatoes into a large glass or metal pan. Coat them with the olive oil and sprinkle liberally with the salt, pepper, and herbs. Pop them in the oven for 45 minutes at 350˚.

Then Kellie arrived!

They may think I'm a crazy.

And we started on the meatloaf.

Meatloaf (adapted from the venerable Alton Brown’s recipe)

1 LB ground beef

1 C breadcrumbs

1 egg

1 TB red wine vinegar

1 TB ketchup

1/2 TB Worcestershire sauce

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 C diced onion OR 1 TB onion powder

1/4 tsp paprika

1 TB dried herbs (basil, thyme, parsley, dill, take your pick)

salt and pepper

Go team!

Put all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix together with your hands.

Kellie's mixing, Elise is chopping garlic.

Cooking!

Using your hands, form the meat into a loaf shape and roast on a roasting pan or cookie sheet (NO loaf pans!) for 38 minutes at 350˚. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve with roasted potatoes and some kind of veggie. I like brussels sprouts, green beans, or a big green salad.

I don’t have any pictures of us eating because we were super-hungry by then. But I leave you with this.

And this.

Now go forth and cook in confidence! Just remember- if it tastes good, you did it right.

stef

Recipe: Eggplant Parmesan

29 Sep

Eggplant parmesan is a dish that is a little involved, but by no means difficult. You have to batter and fry the eggplant (I’ve tried skipping this step, and let me tell you from experience that it is there for a reason; you NEED it!) before you layer the dish (like lasagna) which is why it takes longer to make. If you have an extra hour for dinner, though, it is totally worth it. I made marinara from scratch (see my previous post about the Great Tomato Invasion of ’09) but you could just as easily use canned tomatoes, or a jar of pre-made sauce.

You’re basically getting two recipes for the price of one in this post, because I’m going to give you my recipe for marinara sauce. Marinara is a critical component-too little and the whole dish is too dry, but you don’t want too much either or you end up with more of an eggplant sauce than an eggplant parmesan.

In short, do not be afraid of multi-step dishes! They are easy, I swear it. Make this for your Mom the next time she comes over for dinner. She will be so impressed that not only can you cook, but that you eat your veggies. Mothers love that shit.

Eggplant Bit.

1 medium to large eggplant (see picture below)

1 C (ish) breadcrumbs

1 C flour

2-3 eggs

2-4 C of cheese, mozzarella, jack, provolone, one or all three. Whatever you have or prefer.

1-2 C Parmesan

This is an eggplant.

Cut your eggplant into 1/2″ (ish) slices.

Now you’ve got to drain the eggplant (annoying, but necessary) in a colander for 1-2 hours. Layer the eggplant in a strainer, putting a single layer of eggplant, salting the layer, topping it with more eggplant and salting again.

Put something heavy on it and leave it for at least an hour.

While you wait for the eggplant to catch up, make the sauce.

Sauce bit.

I forgot to take picture of the sauce bit, so I hope you will forgive me!

Marinara Sauce:

1.5 – 2 lbs fresh tomatoes

OR

1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes

OR

1 jar of pre-made pasta sauce

½ medium or 1 small onion, diced

3-5 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp salt

Splash of dry red wine (you can leave this out if you want)

Ground pepper to taste

¼ tsp sugar

1-1.5 TB fresh basil, sliced, or 2 tsp dry

Olive oil

If you are using fresh tomatoes:

Put a pot of water on the stove to boil. It has to be big enough to contain all of the tomatoes under the water. Take each tomato and cut a shallow X onto the bottom of each. When the water starts boiling, slowly put the tomatoes into the water and allow them to boil for 30 seconds. Allow the tomatoes to cool by plunging them into an ice bath. When they are cool, peel them and squeeze the seeds and juices out. Chop up the rest of the pulp and put aside for now.

Pour 2 TB of olive oil into a pan and heat. Add the onion and the garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the wine and allow it to boil for a minute before adding the tomatoes, salt, pepper, Worcestershire and sugar. If you are using dry basil, add it now. If you have a stick blender or a potato masher, blend the sauce up a bit to give it a thicker consistency. If you don’t have either of these things don’t worry about it.

Your sauce will be kind of thin, especially if you used fresh tomatoes.

Simmer it for at least 20 minutes. The sauce will thicken and should look more like this.

If you are using fresh basil, add it after the sauce has simmered.

Ta da! Marinara sauce.

Put the sauce aside, you are going to use it later when you assemble the parmesan.

Right now (if the time is up on the eggplant draining) you are going to batter and fry your eggplant.

Take out your eggplant slices and line them on paper towels, patting them dry as you go.

Get two wide, shallow bowls and put the eggs in one and the breadcrumbs and flour in the other. Mix up the flour and breadcrumbs and scramble the egg but don’t add anything.

Get a deep frying pan (cast iron is the best but just use what you have) and fill it with 1/2″ of canola (or veggie) oil. Heat the oil over medium-high until it shimmers. Another way to check is if you drop a bit of the breadcrumb mix into the oil it should start to fry immediately and then rise to the surface.

Once the oil is ready, you are going to take an eggplant slice. Dip both sides in the egg, then coat it with the breadcrumb mix and slowly put it in the oil. Fry on both sides for about 45 sec, until it is golden brown. Layer between paper towels to drain (layer of eggplant, layer of paper towels, repeat). You can fry about 2 slices at a time, but not too much more than that. If you over-crowd the pan the temperature of the oil will actually lower and you don’t want that.

Repeat for the rest of the slices.

Preheat the oven to 350˚, and you are going to layer some more! Get a glass baking dish, the one I used was rectangular, I think 10×15.

Put a layer of sauce, layer of eggplant, layer of cheese, layer of parmesan. Repeat until all the ingredients are gone, making sure that you end with a cheese layer.

Put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melty and slightly browned on the edges.

Let cool for 15 minutes, then cut and serve.

NOM NOM NOM!

❤ Stef

Recipe: Roasted Potatoes and Tomatoes with Pesto

18 Sep

Hello again! Did you miss me? I’ll bet you did. I’ve had a very hectic few weeks, starting my graduate program at Boston College and moving out of my old place and into the new. Although I am IN my new place I still don’t have any of my stuff, just the items I had the foresight to pack. (Like my Shun Santoku knife and hand-made wood cutting board.) (These are ESSENTIALS, people!)

This is a recipe I’ve had “on file” for awhile. It uses slightly overripe tomatoes, pesto and potatoes, and was my response to The Great Tomato Invasion of ’09.

This summer my kitchen was overrun with tomatoes. I typically try to eat summer tomatoes raw because they are so amazing, but this year I was getting tomatoes from my father’s garden as well as my CSA box and they were EVERYWHERE.

I should probably have prefaced this by saying that I do not put fresh tomatoes in the fridge because keeping them at such a low temperature can completely ruin their flavor.

So picture, if you may, a kitchen exploding with tomatoes. They rested in bowls on my kitchen table, cascaded onto the table itself, and occasionally hung out on my cutting board. I had red ones, yellow ones, purple ones. I couldn’t eat them fast enough, and a few unfortunate tomatoes began to. . .soften. In their new cushy state, they were unsuited for use in a salad. My dad likes to stick soft tomatoes in the freezer, for use later in pasta sauce, but my freezer space is limited.

I prefer to get creative.

Roasted Potato and Tomato with Pesto:

Use 1/2 C of pesto (my recipe is at https://dinnerlove.com/2009/07/17/recipe-basil-pesto-with-walnuts/)

1.5lbs (ish) of little creamer or red skin potatoes

2 medium to large tomatoes

olive oil

salt

pepper

balsamic

Cut the potatoes into quarters, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. During that time, make the pesto (for my recipe, with pictures and instructions, see https://dinnerlove.com/2009/07/17/recipe-basil-pesto-with-walnuts/) and cut the tomatoes into small sized wedges.

After the potatoes have baked for 30 minutes, add the tomato.

Then add the pesto and about 1 TB of balsamic and mix together.

Put back in the oven for another 30 minutes. Keep the heat at 400.

Serve!

I served this alongside a roast pork loin, and it they were AMAZING together. It also tastes fantastic fried with some eggs for breakfast!

❤ Stef

Recipe: Basil Pesto with Walnuts

17 Jul

Summer is in full swing, and as such basil is everywhere. Yes, you can grow herbs at any time of year, really, but right now is when they start propagating out of control. I bought a bunch of basil as big as my head for $2 at one of my local Farmer’s Markets, and aside from the fact that I couldn’t stop smelling it (smells amaaaazing) I was immediately seized with panic.

What the hell was I going to make with all of that basil? I only have so many tomatoes! When I thought, duh. I’ll make some pesto! I had never made homemade pesto, because I thought I wasn’t a huge fan. I’m normally a tomato sauce gal. I intended my very first batch for a potato-pesto pizza (just as amazing as it sounds) and when the pesto was done I was in shock. Who knew homemade pesto could be so amazing? It didn’t taste anything like the drab pestos I’d previously been accustomed to. This was fresh, garlicy-sweet, with a slight bite. Absolutely brilliant. I immediately slathered some on toast, and while I ate thought “I’m totally making this for my next blog”.

I know that nearly everyone knows how to make pesto, and that this recipe won’t really be a revelation to anyone. I just wanted to share my enthusiasm, and to let you know that if you have never made pesto from scratch, now is the perfect time to start.

Pesto, makes about 1 C. Recipe from Simply Recipes.com.

1 C basil leaves, packed

1/4 C parmesean cheese

1/4 C olive oil

2.5 TB walnuts (You can use pine nuts if you want).

1.5 garlic cloves, sliced.

salt and pepper to taste

You will need a food processor or a blender. I have an itsy-bitsy Toastmaster Chopster. It’s a mini food processor, not very powerful, but perfect for pesto because it doesn’t liquefy the ingredients.

Put the walnuts in the food processor and pulse a few times until they are crumbly.

Grab your basil and pack a cup full of basil leaves. No stems, and make sure you pack tightly!

Chop the garlic very coarsely, add it to the walnuts in the food processor and pulse them together.

Add the basil and pulse lightly until the leaves have broken up, scraping down the sides of the processor is necessary.

Add the olive oil a little at a time, pulsing between each addition. When you are done, the mixture should be cohesive but still granular.

Add the cheese and pulse to combine.

Now taste and add add salt and pepper as you like.

You can add the pesto to anything, use it for pastas or pizza, or just slather it on a slice of french bread like me.

Yum.

❤ Stef

Recipe: Garlic Aioli

3 Jul

One of my favorite cookbooks is called Fanny at Chez Panisse, by Alice Waters. It is actually the only Alice Waters cookbook that I own, and it was my introduction to her as a chef/food activist. The book was originally given to my little sister Jesslyn for Christmas a few years ago, but I ended up using it more than she did. The first roast chicken recipe I ever made was from this cookbook. I made it with roast potatoes and this aioli.

Last week I was at my mother’s house and I went through her bookshelves and grabbed back my childhood cookbooks. Fanny at Chez Panisse was one of them, and I thought I would share this recipe with you because it has so many good memories for me. Aside from that, it is totally delicious. I use it to dip roast potatoes and chicken into, but it would also make an awesome sandwich spread. In fact, tonight I made roast chicken and potatoes with this aioli on the side, and I plan on making sandwiches with the leftovers tommorrow. Mmmm.

Ingredients:

1 egg, yolk and white separated.

1 C olive oil

1 clove of garlic, or more if you prefer. I used around 3.

Salt and pepper

1/2 tsp lemon

First, smush up the garlic with the flat of a knife and chop it very finely. Add it to a bowl with just the egg yolk.

Get your cup of olive oil, and make sure you have it in a container with a spout.

Slowly whisk the olive oil into the yolk, about 1 TB at a time, making sure to fully incorporate the oil into the yolk each time.

Once you have added about half of the oil, add a splash of water, whisk to combine, and continue adding the oil. At this point you can add a little bit more oil each time because the mix will be generally cohesive.

Once you have added all of the oil, add the lemon and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with whatever you feel like! It is best eaten the same day, but it will keep in the fridge for a few days, too.

❤ Stef