Posts Tagged ‘homemade’

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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When Honeycrisps were still fresh and not reaching the mealy apple season, I bought some of the most excellent cheese (St. Andrew someone cheese and Taleggio) from the Seward Co-Op to pair with them for dessert.  Apples and cheese make t met the same standards as the cheese and apples.  such a beautiful pairing, but what our household was missing were crackers that met the same standards.  We HAD crackers.  In fact we HAVE HAD crackers in the pantry.  As in for years.  Sitting there.  not being eaten.  Suffice to say, they were not up to par.  After this discovery, I made it my point to make my own crackers.

Using the Information Superhighway, I rediscovered the Daring Bakers Lavash Cracker challenge.  The recipe they used came from page 178 Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, which we luckily own (yeh!).  If you aren’t so lucky, you can find the recipe here.  The only thing I changed with this recipe was the inclusion of using my mixer rather than kneading and rolling by hand.  I used the dough hook to knead and I used our new pasta roller to roll the dough out super thin…


…which obviously doesn’t make for an interesting picture.  I started out on the first setting and went as thin as the fourth or fifth setting.  I ran the dough through each setting in between a few times to get a smooth texture as well as the right shape and length.


I also opted not to cut the dough.  After it was rolled thin, the shape it was in was the shape it baked at because I preferred the rustic appearance of the crackers after they were snapped in half and in other shape.  However, some Daring Bakers took Reinhart’s cutting suggestions and created very beautiful Lavash straws.


Despite the colorful picture in the book featuring a rainbow of spices and seeds, I instead stuck with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper as toppings for my crackers.  I may have over seasoned them though.


super artistic presentation

These crackers were too fabulous on their own that we completely forgot about the cheese and crackers.  Perhaps this is just a new excuse to make more though?

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Franky, whether you call it carmel or caramel I don’t really care.  However, if the internet taught me anything, it is to research my beliefs.  My beliefs rely soley on Wikipedia, which doesn’t seen to know of carmel in the candy form.  So, caramel it is.  Don’t worry though, I won’t judge you (much).

Making caramel is a lot like playing scientist.  Many view baking as a science, which it is, but it is only when I have to break out my candy thermometer when I feel truly scientific.  Although I now have a culinary love affair with David Lebovitz I did not use his caramel recipe nor follow his instructions.  This is probably what led me to fail two or three times until I was cranking out caramel nibs like a factory.

I wrote the recipe down and used it as a spoon/sugar rest while I was cooking and eventually threw it away.  Though I cannot remember exactly where I got the recipe, it looked very similar to this one.  However, the original recipe I used called for Heavy (whipping) cream, rather than a non-dairy alternative.  Other than that, the directions were very much the same and less complicated than some other recipes I found online.  Also, my recipe instructed to cook until ~248 rather than the 234-240F that the All Recipes recipe indicates.

cooking caramel

It is imperative to use a candy thermometer or a digital one that goes up to 400 (or higher)

It took a surprisingly long time to cook the sugar concoction up to ~240F.  Be patient but KEEP A CLOSE ON THE THERMOMETER (and of course ensure that your thermometer is carefully calibrated).

I waited until just about 245F, and pulled my sauce pan off the heat source before adding the vanilla.  The sugar will continue cooking to 248F.


The sugar should resemble what I imagine whale blubber to look like before adding the vanilla.  As soon as you add it, it will quickly bubble up.  If you did not heed my advice to take the pot off the heat source before, do so right now! Immediately pour your caramel into your prepared dish (foiled and buttered 9X9 pan) to harden. Do not scrape the sides or bottom of the pot, you will get burnt remnants and/or fatty butter and that’s gross.


Take your bench scraper and cut. this. up.


adorable, no?

Cut appropriately sized pieces of wax paper and roll in your caramels!


ZOMG! delicious and adorable.

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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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Upon arriving back in the States I craved nothing more than comfort food.  On the plane, all i could think of was homemade mac ‘n cheese.  Last time I made mac ‘n cheese, I used soy milk, which was nothing short of a experiment gone bad.  Soy milk lacked the necessary fats to make the concoction rich and creamy.

Nearly three hours after touching down, I was at home with pasta, pepperjack, cheddar and milk.  As the pasta became el dente, the cheese was shredded, I had a few table spoons of butter melting in a skillet with milk, at which time I tossed in both cheeses (about three cups) to melt away and become creamy.  I tossed the pasta in a 9X13 glass pan, and mixed mixed mixed the cheese with it until it was well coated.  Since I forgot to add salt and pepper, it was at this point I added it.  But after all of that, it still wasn’t Midwestern enough, so I proceeded to add some frozen, chopped broccoli and a can of tuna.   I mixed mixed mixed some more, topped with toasted bread crumbs and threw it in the oven for about 30 minutes.

When it came out, it was not crispy on top, but the cheese nicely melted through and through.  I certainly couldn’t finish that much mac ‘n cheese, no matter what sort of craving I was having, but it was nice to be back in the kitchen after depending on the kitchens of restaurants for the past week.

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