Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Remember when I made my own Worcestershire sauce? If not, the post is right here. In it, I said that I would take a picture each week and let you determine whether or not it changed. Pictures will follow, but I want to preemptively alert you to the fact that they are B-O-R-I-N-G. They all look the same from the outside of the jar. However, what I did not fully appreciate after some forgotten time in the refrigerator, was how all of the solids broke down in the concoction. Obviously it did not take very long for the anchovies to disintegrate, but the shallots were a but of a surprise, though I am no scientist.

the original components

day 1, picture 1 - all in a jar

Here you can see the spices fell to the bottom, while the shallots floated to the top.  The whereabouts of the anchovies is undetermined.  Dun dun dun…

two weeks from the start...

Everything has basically sunk to the bottom, thus stressing the importance of a good shake of the jar – daily.


This is a week…two..or three past the due date for straining the sauce.  It could be my poor lighting, or photography skills, perhaps even a mixture of both, but the sauce is far murkier than even I expected.  It does have a delightful (if you’re into this sort of thing, which I am) vinegar smell, despite the disgusting visual…


I wrapped a double layer of cheesecloth over a small canning jar and emptied the contents of the Worcestershire over it.  This is the gloppy mess of what came out, hough expected, I was rather surprised.

Then I squeezed all of the liquid out of the glob, and was left with this dry sack of nastiness: spices, whatever may remain of the anchovies, and shallot remnants.  It also looked like coffee grounds actually…

clean Worcestershire Sauce

Some spices surely escaped the confines of the cheesecloth, but it is certainly nothing t be worried about – simply more flavor!

According to Cook’s Illustrated (of which, I am finally a proud subscriber), they have a recipe for beef stew in which the author tester and chef J. Kenji Lopez-Alt works to achieve a meatier flavor.  To do so, she adds 4 minced anchovy fillets (~2oz, the same amount used in my recipe for this sauce).  She writes that people will usually add ingredients high in glutamate (hello MSG!!!) such as cheese and tomatoes, fish also being one such glutamate rich ingredients.  In making her stew, she added tomato paste and salted pork, but noted that the addition of the anchovies exponentially increased the beefy flavor of her stew!  Based on a bunch of sciency stuff that the good people at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences they found that anchovies may increase meat flavor by 15 fold!!! I think it is clear why fish sauce and or anchovies are a vital inclusion in this homemade Worcestershire Sauce, and something I certainly had never considered before.

Because this sauce needs to be used in meat products and BECAUSE it is freezing in Minneapolis for at least another three months, I have found it difficult to decide on the best way to use my new fancy schmancy New York Timesy Worcestershire Sauce.  I refuse to cannot make burgers in the house, despite owning at least two George Foreman grills.  I decided to move on to the next best ground meat thing…lasagna.  (OK really, I know I need to make a nuclear holocaust supply of meatballs, but lasagna was my first and thus far, only opportunity.)  I had the privilege of using some fantastic ground meat that Nick left over from house sitting, so I am unsure if it was the quality, of the meat, or the fantastic-ness of this sauce, but the pan cooked lasagna meat was so so so good.  It was like…What About Bob good.

Seriously, if the intrigue of making your own condiment, the science, or the What About Bob movie clip doesn’t convince you to make this…well, it’s safer if I just leave you intrigued about the ramifications…


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Applesauce, sans porkchops

A few weeks ago, some friends and I went apple picking.  I picked THE HELL out of some of the fruit heavy trees.  Like, I picked 13 pounds of apples.  More apples than anyone else picked.  At home, we ate a lot of them; I made a pie, I made some pork chop dish  and we ate them with with cheese as dessert one night.  You may think all of these things would take care of 13 pounds of apples.  It does not.  So I came to a near final resort: applesauce (but not pork chops and applesauce).  It was nearly the easiest thing to make, and I understand I make this claim often.  But seriously, applesauce is the easiest thing you can make.  It’s even made easier because it virtually requires no ingredients, save some cinnamon..if that’s what you are in to, like me.  This time when I say easy, I mean EASY.

Step 1:  Slice apples and remove any innerds.

Step 2:  In a pot/Dutch oven/heavy bottomed sauce pan add water (apple cider if you’re so fancy, which I am) until it’s about an inch high (thick?) in the pan of coice.

Step 3:  Turn on burner.

Step 4:  Place your apples in the pot (Harrelson and Goldencrisps or some Honeycrisp rip-off as seen here).


Step 5:  Cover pot and wait about 20 minutes until apples are really soft.


Step 6:  Run softened apples through a food grinder.  If you do not have a food grinder use a potato masher and do it by hand (The only drawback to this will be the skins, which obviously cannot be mashed.  Instead, think ahead!  Do you have a food grinder?  NO.  Cut off skins before boiling.  OR. Do you have a food grinder?  YES.  Keep skins on.)!

Step 7:  Put mashed apples back into pot.  Add cinnamon.  For the 8 or so apples I used, I added about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.  It was lovely.



See?  Easy breezy!  The best part of this entire process was when David came home and taste tested it.  Wearily he asked how much sugar was in it.  I was proud to say that there was no added sugar.  Homemade applesauce is pretty much the easiest and healthiest dessert.

Nature – 1, Factory Processed Foods – 0.

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The New York Times Magazine is my favorite part of the Sunday Paper.  It is all mine and I can take all week to read it.  No one else is dying to grab it from my (always) cold hands and I can wrinkle and crinkle it all I want with no care.  After The Ethicist, the Food and Recipe Redux page is the best (that is, if the cover story blows).

Two weeks ago, the article featured not so much a food, but a condiment: Worcestershire sauce – the most complicated tongue twister featured in the spice cabinet.  Because I enjoy making things more difficult than need be, I opted to try out the 1876 Worcestershire sauce (or click here if you don’t/can’t want to sign in) recipe sent in to the Times by an unnamed source.

It is not so much difficult, nor is it time-consuming.  Rather, it just needs to ferment for a long time.

DSCN1738Because I did not have enough apple cider vinegar, I was forced to half the recipe.  I also did not have any mace or cayenne.  I proceeded without the mace, but in place of the cayenne I added one part paprika and one part pepper.  Then for the hell of it I added a teaspoon of chili powder.

DSCN1739Everything went in the jar, I gave it a good shake then I put the date on the lid.  Every couple days (or sometimes everyday…) I give it a good shake.  I’ll take a picture each week and post it so you can see if it looks any different or not.

Then, in one month’s time I will have spent more money and time making my own Worcestershire sauce than it would have cost to buy the $1.25 bottle of the same product.

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Butter to make you go mmmm mmmm

I finished my practicals at school for my last class this semester and the last class for my baking certificate program (yay!); Advanced Baking and Pastry.  In a two day period, I made the following: two loaves of honey challah, two baguettes, 18 croissants, pate choux with pastry cream, and a nasty semifreddo with a strawberry coulis.  Then at home I made two 14 inch cakes, a dozen chocolate-chocolate cookies, and a loaf of banana-chocolate bread.  Suffice to say, carb overload.  Thankfully I was unable to unload much of it at the office of my previous employer.

In doing so, it was reached with much praise and gratitude.  However, someone made the point that some butter would have been appreciated.  A fine point.  At any given time I will have 4 pounds of butter in the refrigerator ready to roll, do as I want.  Most of the time it is not nearly enough and thus I stock  up on it when it is on sale at the big box grocer. It’s cheap, and not that great, but it serves it’s purpose.  That purpose however would not suffice on my baked products. After that co-worker made the butter comment, I immediately thought of this homemade butter clip.

After watching the clip a few times, I took my heavy whipping cream out of the refrigerator to let it come to room temperature.


I poured the cream into a plastic takeout container and started shaking.  Shaking.  SHAKING AWAY!  I shook it for a good ~20 minutes or so with some breaks in between (not because I was tired – I have Michelle Obama arms!).


THIS is what came out from that first 20 minutes of shaking.  I strained in a semi-meshed strainer.  What was extracted with the strainer was buttermilk.  Not only did I make butter, but I also made buttermilk!  You can also see the butter that is sticking to the sides of the container.  What remains in the strainer though, is the start of some delicious butter!  Per Karen’s instructions, I added some water and shook just a bit more.  In fact not too long at all.  Minutes that were in fact not counted by tens!



How pretty is that?  It’s creamy, light smooth – wonderful!  Don’t you just want to put that on your challah, or baguette, or toast?  It will be glorious!

Now I will have devise plans to make something with my buttermilk…

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Making Ricotta Cheese

I’m serious.  I MADE cheese.  At home.  By myself.  AND it did not require ANY special tools or supplies.  In fact, YOU can make ricotta cheese at home.

I got the idea/recipe/directions from The Heavy Table.  That in combination with having a guest over for dinner propelled me (in my vast amounts of free time) to do it up right and make ricotta for the Mexican lasagna I was serving.  Granted, in the future when I make cheese, I will likely serve something where my cheese will stand out, but it fit with the menu I had planned.  Don’t judge.

I halved the recipe from the Heavy Table, and made some other adjustments (I used 1/4C heavy cream and 1/4C 1% milk…mostly because I needed to use my heavy cream for something else).  Also I could not find cheesecloth, despite looking for it at both the grocery store and an emergency run to Walgreens.  Instead I taped a coffee filter to a yogurt container – no worse for wear.

After ten minutes or so on medium heat, the goat milk, heavy cream and milk began a rolling boiling.  I added the acid – lemon juice.  Within seconds it began to curdle.  The yellowish liquid is the whey.


After two minutes of curdling and stirring I took the curds out with a fork and let them drain on the coffee filter for an hour.


Making ricotta was super cool and whey (hahah!  i’m hilarious) cool.


After the liquid has been mostly drained, it is ready to eat, serve and enjoy – all things you should do within 2-3 days.  The goat milk gave it a lovely tang and was oh so good!

See how easy this was?  It took 20 minutes of active work and required virtually no effort.  I think you should make some and let me know what you think!  Try sheep’s milk or even regular milk!

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Blueberry Sorbet

With an ice cream maker, making ice cream or sorbet is a snap!

Blueberries were on sale so I bought 3 pints and ran them through our food processor with 3/4 cup of sugar and about two tablespoons of lime juice.  After cooling this concoction in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, I ran it through my NEW ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid mixer.

And then about 20 minutes later you can see that the the blueberry mixture is coming together with the icy crystals. It has turned from a liquidy mass to a solid piece of sorbet.

It was pretty good.  Pretty pretty good.  Because it was fruit, it obviously was very refreshing.  However I am not too keen on the mouth feel of it and when it melts it looks like jam.  Perhaps this is the fault of the berries or the user (me).  It was a good first try though and I think my next ice creamy exploration will actually be ice cream (basil!?).


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Our CSA box has been full of potatoes recently.  Not the Russet ones that made Idaho so popular in industrial farming.  Instead, I have reached into the box to pull out oblong, and pebble sized Peruvian Purple potatoes.  If anything, they are beautiful to look at as soon as one washes off all of the dirt and slice them open.

According to Cook’s Thesaurus, “These purple-fleshed potatoes have a medium starch content, so they’re good all-purpose potatoes.  They lend an interesting color to mashed potatoes or potato salads, but they’re not as flavorful as other varieties.  They tend to get mushy if they’re over-cooked.”

But starch content smarch content.  I don’t care.  They could mesmerize me all day if I let them.  But i didn’t and instead pulled together the few ingredients I had to make potato soup.

I used 4 cups of milk (skim, since that’s all I had), 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, frozen broccoli stalks, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and left over steak kebobs which I cut into smaller pieces.  I was not specific on how many potatoes to use, so i merely eye balled it and cut more as i thought was necessary.    But I just tossed everything into my crock-pot for a couple hours and let it work it’s magic.

I thought for sure the potatoes would give me a purplish potato soup hue, instead it turned out depressingly grey which only made it more sad under the fluorescent lights of the office.

It may remind you of poor Oliver in London, or perhaps a bleak, repressive Communist society’s soup kitchen soup accompanied by a loaf of white bread.  Yes, it looks like all of those things, but it is quite good and I have some fresh sourdough that goes with it.

Beat THAT Lenin!

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