Archive for the ‘Basics’ Category

Here’s to NOT giving myself Botulism!

This is an old recipe and an old adventure.

I just got back from a 5 week adventure in New England and started a masters program in Clinical Psychology, so what do I do with my first weekend? Get ahead on readings? Sleep in? Go hiking? Work on my thesis? Nope, I decide to can my own tomato sauce. I’ve learned this can be dangerous because tomatoes don’t have a high enough Ph to stop Botulism, and I don’t have a pressure canner.

It was a messy tiring process, but look at the results

Ready for the winter!

25 lbs of good quality tomatoes (I got mine at the farmers market) – the uglier heirloom varieties are amazing!

3 c chopped onions

7 medium cloves of garlic – chopped

3 bay leaves

8 stems of fresh oregano, chopped

1 rind of Parmesan cheese

1/4 c olive oil

A bit bottle of lemon juice

Canning jars & new lids – I used pint jars because it will mostly just be me and maybe the boyfriend eating the sauce. You could also use quarts.

Prepare the jars and lids just as I did in making the Strawberry Lemon Ginger Jam.

I split and roasted about half of the tomatoes in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt & pepper at 250 for 10-12 hrs. I realize this may seem like a long time, but it really intensifies the flavors and almost sweetens them a bit. You don’t have to do this, but I had time and indulged.

For the tomatoes you don’t roast, wash them and then score and blanch them. To score them just slice a small x on the bottom of the tomato. You only want to slice though the skin, not into the flesh of the tomato. Toss the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds then into an ice bath. This will allow the skins to slide off like water off a penguin.

You need to skin ALL the tomatoes, roasted ones too. The skin should slide pretty easily off the roasted tomatoes. Some people take the time to discard the seeds while chopping the tomatoes, but I didn’t worry about it. Also supposedly the seeds contain most of the flavor and some of the thickening agent for the sauce.

Start onions and garlic sauteing in the olive oil in the biggest pot you have. When the onions start to become translucent, add all the tomatoes.  Put in all the bay leaves, oregano, and the Parmesan rind. Simmer this for at least 20 min and up to 2 hours. Make sure you stir regularly because this can burn easily.

While the sauce is cooking you’ll prepare your jars that have been boiled and are air drying by adding 1 T of lemon juice. If you are making quarts use 2 T of lemon juice. Don’t skip this step! This is what helps you not get botulism.

When the sauce is as thick as you want, taste and finish with salt and pepper. I under seasoned mine a bit because I already had salted and peppered my roasted tomatoes and I wasn’t sure if/how the taste would change over time sitting in my pantry. If you can, fish out the Parmesan rind and the bay leaves.

Carefully ladle the sauce into the jars with lemon juice. Wipe the rims with a damp paper towel, giving each rim a clean side. Press on the new lids and screw down the rims, but make sure to leave them loose enough that you can open them. Return the full jars to the canner filled with boiling water. Boil the jars for about 20 min. Afterwards pull them out and make sure the jars sealed by checking the dimple in middle of the lid.

Keep the tomato sauce in a cool dark cupboard or pantry until you need it.

I love having mushrooms and all sorts of things in my tomato sauce, but you can’t add those to the canned version if don’t have a pressure canner. You have to keep the acidity high without the heat and pressure to kill the bacteria.

Until later

life is short, lick the spoon!


No Soup for You!

Awww... None left

I love mushrooms! I love all sorts of mushrooms cremini, white, shiitake, portobella, all mushrooms. I first had this soup years ago with my friends Joseph and Andrew while visiting Joseph’s family in Black Mountain. Full of mushrooms, slightly creamy, and spicy with dill.

This soup uses a roux. ( A roux is used to thicken many soups and sauces. Stripped down to the minimum it is equal parts flour and fat usually butter. It is cooked until it loses its floury taste and can be any color from white to so brown it’s almost black.  Anyways making a roux is one of the most basic skills for a chef.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup:

  • 4 T butter
  • 2 c chopped onions
  • 2 lb sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 c broth (vegetable or chicken)
  • 1/2 light sour cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp dried dill
  • 5 T paprika
  • 3 T flour
  • 1 c milk
  • 2 T tamari or soy sauce

Saute onions in 1 T of butter over medium heat. Add dill, tamari/soy sauce, paprika, lemon juice, salt, and broth. Stir until well mixed.

Meanwhile use the rest of the butter and flour to make a roux ( Add the solid butter and flour to a pot and heat over low to medium heat. Stir to avoid burning. The flour will brown and start to smell a bit nutty. Whisk in the milk and then whisk in the sour cream.

When the mushrooms start boiling add the milk roux. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve hot maybe garnish with parsley.

Life is short, lick the spoon!

Chicken Stock

Yum… stock.  Sorry all, I’m still having photo issues. It turns out I need software (from my folks’ house) transfer the photos from the camera to my computer. Until then, back to stock.

Stock, also known as broth, is one of the staples of a thoroughly stocked kitchen. Its amazing! It is used in every soup, cook rice or potatoes in it to up the flavor, or if you are sick in winter just add some ginger and drink it like tea. It is the basis of the home remedy, Chicken Noodle Soup. I always have some in my freezer.

On to the stock, I roasted a chicken (I promise this will be a future post). My boyfriend and I ate some for a meal and then the took the rest of the meat in sandwiches for his lunch. While I got the best part, the bones. This is a good project for a Saturday/Sunday when you are home most of the day and it helps take care of any of those left over veggies that might be a bit less than fresh in your fridge.

  • Chicken bones – Anything you have including wing tips and if you have the neck from a whole chicken throw that in. It doesn’t matter if it is raw or cooked.
  • 1 carrot
  • Celery leaves (or about 2 stalks)
  • 1 small yellow onion (add skins also for color)
  • 1 small head of garlic (or less if you don’t love garlic)
  • Mushroom stems or old mushrooms
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • 8-10 peppercorns
  • Please feel free to add anything else in the fridge like fresh herbs, parsley stems, or the rind of Parmesan cheese (no spinach, dark greens, squash, or anything with a strong bitter flavor)

Put everything, except fresh herbs in the biggest pot you have. Cover with cold water about an inch above the ingredients. Cook uncovered over the lowest heat for 8-10 hrs.  Stir occasionally. You want it to simmer (very small bubbles) not boil (very large bubbles). If the bones or vegetables peek out of the water add more water. To this point you haven’t added any salt. That’s just the way you want it. Now scoop out all the vegetables, bones, and herbs and throw them away. All the flavor has been absorbed by the broth, so they aren’t needed any more. Cool the broth in an ice bath or if it is cold outside (below 40 degrees) cover and set outside with something heavy on top.

Once cool you’ll notice a layer of fat on top. You can either leave it or scrape it off. I usually remove the fat. If you want to use it immediately, remember to salt, or if you won’t need it for a bit freeze it. Freeze in jars, old yogurt or sour cream containers, or my personal favorite freeze into ice cubes trays then bag them. Ice cubes are really easy to throw into whatever you are making and they don’t take very long to defrost.  Preferably use the stock within 4 months but it can last as long as 6 months to a year. Whenever you do use it remember you might have to up the amount of salt used in the recipe, but taste first.

You can make many different types of stock, other possible things to add or substitute:

  • ginger
  • more garlic
  • beef bones, fish bones or shrimp shells, or all sorts of vegetables
  • fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, or parsley

Until later, life is short lick the spoon!