Saturday, August 31, 2013

Scotch Bonnet Hot Pickle Relish

My end-of-summer scotch bonnet yield was a neat dozen. I made the third version of hot pepper relish of the season: a sweet hot pickle relish. I hope this one makes us holler.

Scotch Bonnet Pickle Relish

1 large white onion
1 large green bell pepper
4 kirbys
12 scotch bonnet peppers
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt

To prepare, put a pot of water up to boil and fill with your jars & lids. For this amount of veggies, I used four small jars. In another pot on the stove, place your vinegars, sugar, and salt. Turn the heat on the vinegar mixture once your veggies are almost finished with the chopping. Next, in a food processor, pulse the white onion a few times and then add the scotch bonnets.

After those are chopped finely, add the green bell pepper and three of the kirbys. It may take a bit of arranging to get stuff chopped uniformly. Because I like a chunkier relish, I diced the last kirby by hand. Once the vinegar mixture has heated, add the chopped veggies to the liquid and bring to a boil. Boil for about two minutes. Strain the relish, reserving the liquid.

Take the boiled jars out of the pot and place on a clean surface. Spoon very wet relish into each jar. If you like your relish a little more liquidy, you can add some of the strained pickle juice. Seal the jars quickly and set to rest until you hear a "pop." That means the jars are sealed and you can put them up. You can eat the relish right away, but it's best in about a week.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chermoula Eggplant

The Ottolenghi-Tamimi book Jerusalem is all the rage with my group of friends these days. I read the introduction when friends brought the book out to the country, and knew I had to have it when I found this recipe: Chermoula Eggplant with Bulghur & Yogurt. I adapted the recipe from the book just a bit. Here it is, with all credit to Otto & Tami:

Chermoula Eggplant with Herbed Bulghur & Yogurt

2 medium eggplants
1 cup coarse bulghur
2 crushed and chopped garlic cloves
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chile flakes
2 tsp sweet or smoked paprika
2 tbsp chopped preserved lemons
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup boiling water
1/2 cup golden raisins
4 tbsp warm water
1 oz chopped cilantro
1/2 oz chopped mint
1/2 cup pitted and chopped green olives
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
3 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup green yogurt
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp harissa

Wash and halve the eggplants, and then score diagonally one direction and then the next without reaching the outside skin and breaking it so that you've got nice diced shaped crosses that will soak up the chermoula. Mix together the chopped garlic, lemons, cumin, coriander, chile, paprika, and olive oil into a paste and spread over the eggplant halves, making sure that the paste gets between the cuts. Place the eggplant halves on a greased baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees F. 

About 10 minutes before the eggplant is finished roasting, place the cup of bulghur in a bowl and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you like your bulghur a little more spicy, season with some more paprika, chile, or whatever. Pour a speck of olive oil into the bulghur and stir so that the bulghur is coated with a little bit of oil so that the bulghur won't stick when you pour the boiling water over, which you should do next. Just cover the bulghur with boiling water, cover with a plate, and let sit until the water is absorbed. When ready, add the raisins, chopped cilantro (except the bit you'll use to garnish the top of the dish), mint, olives, almonds, green onions and lemon juice. 

When the eggplant is finished roasting, arrange halves on plates, generously pile on the herbed bulghur, artfully slap on some yogurt, drizzle the harissa (which is hot, so be carefully and arrange on top to taste), and then toss some cilantro on top and serve. Delicious.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

It's a cupcake, bitch

Two days before the season finale, I started to panic. I needed to find some way to mark the end of the series and I was terrified that the baking supply store would be all out of blue sugar crystals. Surely, everyone would be making Breaking Bad cupcakes, right?  "No worries," the store clerk said. "We won't be selling out of the crystals. We have plenty." I asked her to put one aside for me anyway, just in case. 

Breaking Bad Walter White Cupcakes


1 2/3 cup white flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup melted butter
2 egg whites
¼ cup greek yogurt
¾ cup milk (or almond milk)
2 tsp vanilla extract
seeds scraped from ½ split vanilla bean

1 jar of blue sugar crystals, coarse

1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups Caster Superfine Sugar
1 teaspoons Pure Maple Extract
1/4 cup milk
seeds scraped from ½ split vanilla bean

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and beat in the caster sugar and pure maple extract. Add milk until the frosting reaches the desired consistency. 

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. If your mother bought you a stuffed-cupcake pan like mine did, you're in luck. Take it out of storage and clean it up. Grease the cups. 

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Mix sugar with melted butter in a separate bowl. Stir in egg whites, yogurt, milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Scrape vanilla beans into batter. Mix dry ingredients into wet until there are no lumps. The batter will be thick. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Fill with blue crystals, and frost when cool, garnishing with more sprinkles. 

Serve with Breaking Bad Blue Margaritas!

Hot (Pepper) Mess

Porch peppers beckon, even when you're not feeling well. When they're ripe, they're ripe and you gotta use them or they'll rot. So this weekend was time to make hot pepper relish. Only the red hot peppers were ready; in a week or so, the scotch bonnets will be ready. Those are a whole nother level of hot. I didn't use gloves this time and my hands are burning right now. I can't neglect to use them for the scotch bonnets.

I scavenged all of the old jars that people returned to me after our wedding (jars of hot pepper relish were the wedding favors), washed them in steaming hot water and got started. I rarely write down my relish recipes, but this time I did.

Hot Pepper Relish

One dozen hot red peppers
2 green bell peppers
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 large white onion
6 tomatillos
1 tbsp kosher or canning salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup cider vinegar
large saucepan
hot boiling water

Carefully handle the red peppers to cut off the stems and de-seed them.

Chop the vegetables in manageable pieces and in thirds, distribute the veggies & peppers into the food processor. Process until finely chopped. Place in a large saucepot. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp kosher/canning salt and then pour boiling water on top. Let sit for about 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes is up, drain the water from the peppers and place back on the stove. Pour in cider vinegar and sugar, and bring to a boil again. Turn the heat off after the boil begins, then spoon the finished relish into jars and quickly secure the lids.

They should indicate that they're sealed if they pop within an hour or so. If they don't pop, you'll have to refrigerate them. They'll be ready to use in 2-3 weeks.

Foreign Eggs

We love eggs. I've written about our love of eggs in this blog before. So when I found scotch eggs in London last year--eggs surrounded by spicy pork, rolled in tasty breadcrumbs and baked--I knew it was only a matter of time before I started making them at home.

Actually, I was really impressed with food and drink in London. I don't know why it's the butt of anyone's joke. I regularly order hard cider (my favorite is pear) whenever it's available now. And the bodegas carry Jack Daniels and Coke in a can. Super.
It took about a year to turn my attention back to Scotch Eggs, but here's my first iteration. I made them for a picnic at a Prospect Park concert where hummous is the staple and graces almost every blanket. And I made it vegetarian with Gimme Lean sausage. My favorite part was getting my friends to try and guess what the ball of goodness sitting on the plate was before I cut it in half, revealing the egg. This recipe will make a tasty scotch egg, but I can only imagine what well-seasoned pork would do. I used large eggs, but I could see using medium, small, or even quail eggs to make these--depending on the occasion and whether they will be a meal or an appetizer.

Spicy Baked Scotch Eggs

4 medium hardboiled eggs, peeled
1 14 oz tube of gimme lean sausage
2 cups flour
2 cups bread crumbs
2 tsp harissa
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 raw egg, whisked
spray olive oil
baking dish
4 bowls

You'll need four bowls: (1) sausage mixed with 2 tsp harissa; (2) flour with one tsp each of cumin, coriander, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt & pepper; (3) bread crumbs with one tsp each of cumin, coriander, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt & pepper; (4) whisked egg.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. In clean and oiled hands, take 1/4 of the sausage mixture and flatten it evenly in your hand. Place a single hardboiled egg in the center and gently wrap the sausage evenly around the egg. Once all of the egg is covered with sausage, roll the ball in the seasoned flour. Dunk the flour-coated egg into the raw egg and coat. Then carefully roll the eggy-egg in breadcrumbs to coat evenly. Place the large round ball in an olive oil-coated baking dish. Repeat three more times, washing your hands in between each one. Place each round coated egg on an oiled baking dish and pop in the oven for 1/2 hour. Check for golden-brownness and rotate the dish if you need to for a few more minutes. Let cool and eat one on it's own, or serve with any number of condiments: salt & pepper, hot sauce, mayo, horseradish sauce, sriracha....

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Herby Leftover Eggs

 Some Saturday mornings, the havoc wrought by the week on the fridge is unbearable and I despair.  Tiny bits of leftover thiss and thats from home-cooked weekday meals scattered throughout the fridge, taking up space and messing up the order of things. On other Saturdays, I make lemons out of lemonade and make herby-leftover eggs.

This morning, I pruned the herbs on the porch and chopped them up with the leftovers I scrounged from the fridge: a few pieces of steak, ½ of a baked red potato, kimchee, a few errant olives,  some garlic, and 2 slices of swiss cheese. I’m more a scramble than an omelet person, so I sautéed the chopped up potato, garlic, and steak, then added the eggs. I carefully stirred them around to avoid browning them, and then folded in the herbs, kimchee, and swiss. Delicioso.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pick a Peck of Pickled Pattypans

Dilemma #314: Too many pattypans. 

When you are in the country for the weekend, and you buy too many pattypan squashes at the local farmer's market, and you've already made zucchini bread and you've already roasted a bunch for pasta primavera and you've already cut up a bunch of them for a big Sunday night salad, and you've already put some on your packed lunch for Monday morning, you can pickle the leftovers. Here's how:

Lemon-Pickled Pattypans

One large mason jar
8-10 tiny pattypans (or however many fit)
1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 heaping tablespoon pickling salt
1/2 lemon
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp white peppercorns
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp mustard seeds
dash of red pepper flakes
bay leaves or tarragon leaves

Pack sliced pattypans in a mason jar that's been washed out with soap and hot water. Alternate the pattypans with some round-sliced lemons. Boil the remaining ingredients and pour over the pattypans. Seal up the mason jar and let sit for 2-3 weeks. Serve on a summer table set for guests.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Impulse Baking

This morning we went to Barryville, PA's farmer's market. We didn't eat breakfast before we left the house, so the first stall I headed for was the stall with jam-tasting and tiny specks of baked goods to try out. Blueberry-jalapeno jam was on offer, as well as an orange marmalade which I tried on some zucchini bread. Pushing the idea of a blueberry-jalapeno jam experiment out of my mind for a moment, I knew I had to make zucchini bread. Today. 
So I tasked D with picking out a basket of zukes while I got some eggs, and no sooner were we in the house than I started making this zucchini bread. And after an hour when it was out of the oven, it was almost gone. If I had a jar big enough, I would pickle the tiny ones, but I guess that will have to wait until another day. Like the blueberry-jalapeno jam. 

I found a recipe that uses sourdough and of course had to try it. It's delicious.

Cardamom-Zucchini Sourdough Bread

1/2 cup good olive oil
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup zucchini, grated
2 cups wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 cup raisins

Mix oil, sugar, starter and milk. Stir and let sit for a few moments. Stir in your grated zucchini (if you like your bread more veggie, use more than a cup. If you like your bread puffy, use an egg in addition to the other wet ingredients, but then decrease your sourdough or milk by about 1/8-1/4 of a cup). In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, powder, soda, spices) well and then add to the wet mixture to blend just enough. Fold in the raisins. (You can use nuts unless someone you love doesn't like them. Walnuts, pecans, almonds...whatever you like). 

Grease a bread pan and pour the mixture in, leaving just a tiny bit in the bowl for you to scoop up with your finger and eat. Bake at 325° for about an hour (test by sticking a toothpick in the densest part and see if it comes out gooey. If it does, it's not done). 

Let it cool for a few minutes and try to restrain your people from attacking it while it sets. If you want to save some for the morning (zucchini french toast, anyone?), you should have made two loaves.