September 22, 2014
First let me say something........
I CAN'T BELIEVE SEPTEMBER IS ALMOST OVER!!!!!
OK, now that I got that off my chest.
I CAN"T BELIEVE SUMMER IS OVER, WAAAAH!!!
Sorry, it just came out.
Here in New Jersey we had the summer of my youth this year, the way summer's were in the Garden State growing up. Only two days over 90 degrees, sun and breezes. Perfect for growing vegetables and flowers. The don't call New Jersey the Garden State for nothing. I had a bumper crop of Sweet 100's and Big Boys, my miniature eggplants grew to about plum-sized, and my chard was bountiful.
I bought a dehydrator many years back and I finally got the chance to use it this year.
I mostly dehydrate aromatics, you know, carrots, peppers, tomatoes. Not for using during the cold winter months but to concentrate their flavors for use in sauces, all year round. Most of the dried goodies never reconstitute to what they were, certainly not like mushrooms, but the reward is in the juice that leaches out of these foods. For me it is all about the burst of flavor they can give to a sauce, adding nutrients as well as a huge burst of flavor. Just like you get when using anchovies and tomatoes in a tube.
My secret weapon to sweeten a sauce naturally without the addition of sugars, is to throw in a tablespoon or two of dehydrated carrots. See the color of the carrot soaking liquid? That goes into your sauce. One sip and you will be convinced to buy a few bunches of carrots, slice them as thin as possible on a mandolin and dry them overnight. You could use a dehydrator (Ron Popeil still sells them) or on a Silpat in an oven as low as the heat can go.
The flavor you will extract is a safe way to sweeten dishes and that's something a Diabetic can love.
But hey, I think with all the recent high fructose awareness, everyone could benefit from natural sweetening. Honey is wonderful, but sometimes you just want a light sweetness that is not pronounced, like in a wine sauce, a cream sauce, a pasta sauce, or a meat gravy. For those who don't like cooking with wine (for what ever personal reason), throwing a handful of dried carrot slices instead, will sweeten a sauce just enough to balance the acid.
Italians use the dried porcini soaking liquid in many sauces, so I took my inspiration from them.
September 21, 2014
You know that saying..."Inspiration comes in many forms."
Recently I was inspired to make use of 4 cups of sauce, leftover from an oxtail stew.
Not wanting to throw away a gift of a highly flavored sauce, I challenged myself to create four other recipes from that one sauce.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that other people might actually be interested in this concept.
I came up with a set of rules.
Rule #1: I must use at least 1 cup of the master sauce per recipe.
Rule #2: I must make create these recipes using 10 ingredients or less.
Rule #3: Each recipe must create a dish totally different from all the rest.
Rule #4: The recipe for the 1st dish (which will be referred to as "the master sauce") must yield at least 4 cups of leftover sauce.
Now that I have completely confused you, let me try to explain by example.
Since this recipe yielded 1.5 quarts of sauce, I had 1 quart of leftover sauce.
I then sat down at my computer and created four completely different dishes using 1 cup of the master sauce in each and froze the ones I did not need immediately.
A Sichuan Braised Cod, Spanish Meatballs, a Shrimp Etouffe and an Oven Braised Italian Spare Rib dinner.
I will post each of those recipes as the week progresses, so stay tuned to see how they all turn out.
I have made two additional dinners so far and today I will braise the ribs and on Monday, make the cod.
Let's get cooking.......
Insanely Good Oxtail Stew
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
* 5 pounds oxtails
* sea salt
* olive oil
* 2 medium leeks
* 2 stalks of celery
* 4 medium carrots
* a few sprigs of fresh thyme
* a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
* 4 fresh bay leaves or 3 dried
* 4 whole cloves
* 2 tablespoons AP flour
* 2 (28oz) can plum tomatoes
* 9 ounces porter (beer) or red wine
* 1 carton beef stock
* Worcestershire sauce
Preheat oven to 425°. Place a large roasting tray in the oven to preheat.
Carefully remove the hot tray from the oven; add the oxtail. Season with salt & pepper and drizzle over the oxtail. Toss to coat and place back into the hot oven for 20 minutes, or until golden and caramelized.
Meanwhile, trim and halve the leeks and celery lengthwise, then chop into rough 1-inch chunks. Peel and chop the carrots into 1-inch pieces, then place into a large Dutch oven over a medium-low heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Pick, roughly chop and add the thyme and rosemary leaves, then add the bay and cook for around 20 minutes, or until soft and sweet, stirring frequently.
Meanwhile, remove the oxtail from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 325ºF.
Add the cloves and flour to the veg, stirring well to combine, then pour in the tomatoes and porter (or wine, if using). Add the oxtail and any roasting juices, cover with the beef stock or 1 quart of cold water and stir well. Turn the heat up to high and bring to the boil, then pop the lid on and place in the hot oven for around 5 hours, or until the meat falls away from the bone, stirring every hour or so and adding a splash of water to loosen, if needed.
Remove the pot from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 minutes. Using rubber gloves, strip the meat from the bones and return to the pan, discarding the bones. Add a good splash of Worcestershire sauce.
I added fresh corn cut from the cob and a dusting of grated cheese and served over whole wheat egg noodles.
Nutritional Information (amount per serving):
Sat Fat 14.2
I pureed the vegetables with the stock and strained everything into a large container.
I created the label for this series - "One Sauce-Five Meals".
I hope that this series of recipes will make it easier for a homemade dinner to appear at your family dinner table for 4 week night meals in under 30 minutes.
September 19, 2014
I had very ripe bananas and blueberries in my freezer. I could make this, it looked really good and I was looking for something different than my usual old fashioned banana bread (not that there was anything wrong with it). I have also made a new favorite lemon pear breakfast bread a few times but I had bananas not pears (but ask me again in a few months).
The idea of a crumble on top intrigued me and if I added whole grain oats it would be a little more healthier. The last time I made a blueberry cornbread the blueberries overtook the bread and so the berries would not sink to the bottom (contrary to common belief, flouring them does not stop that), I made a line of crumble down the middle to act as a barrier. As you can see it did make a difference. Yay for me!!
I think next time I make this bread I will not only add oats but chopped nuts to the crumble mix.
If you are a fan of a dense banana bread, then you will love the addition of the blueberries and the crumble. We both had a slice for breakfast and it was gone before I knew it.
Time to make another.
Blueberry Banana Bread Crumble
Adapted from Right at Home
makes 1 loaf
* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1/2 cup light brown sugar
* 2 large eggs
* 2 ripe bananas, mashed
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 cup fresh blueberries (I used frozen ones, defrosted)
* 1/2 cup all purpose flour
* 1/3 cup whole grain oats
* 1/3 cup light brown sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 stick unsalted cold butter, cut into pieces
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.
2. In a bowl, stir to combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside until needed.
3. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, beat butter and sugars together on medium-high until fluffy, about 2 minutes. On medium-low speed add eggs, mashed bananas, and vanilla and mix until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until the flour is just incorporated. Add blueberries and fold in by hand with a spatula.
4. Pour half the batter evenly into the prepared loaf pan.
5. To make the crumble, combine all ingredients for the crumble in a bowl. With your hands or a fork work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles peas. Pour the crumble evenly on top of the banana bread batter. Pour the remaining batter over the crumble and spread evenly over the crumble.Spoon the remaining half of crumble on the top of the batter.
6. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Carefully remove the bread from the pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack. Slice and serve.
Nutrition Facts: 1 slice (129g)
Calories from Fat 150g
Total Fat 17g
Saturated Fat 10g
Total Carbohydrates 58g
Dietary Fiber 6g