Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pickled Hot Peppers

Toward the end of summer, the farmer's market was overflowing with peppers.  I picked up a variety of jalapenos, banana peppers, and wax peppers and decided to pickle them all together.  While banana and wax peppers are not as spicy as the jalapenos, when they are combined together they take on some of that heat and become pretty spicy in my opinion.  They are great to add a little kick to a pizza or sandwich, and we also fried some of them in tempura batter which was delicious.  You could even blend them up for a spicy relish or spread to go on a hot dog or burger.
1 lb hot or mild peppers - any variety (should be about 4 cups when sliced)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Slice the peppers in thin rings- removing seeds to decrease the level of spiciness.  I left a few in but removed most of them.  In a bowl, toss the peppers with the sugar and salt and let them sit for 20 minutes, mixing occasionally.  This will start to soften them and bring out some of the flavor.  Drain any liquid that has gathered at the bottom of the bowl, and then add the vinegar and oil.  

MIx to combine and refrigerate.  Stir the peppers every 30 minutes or so for the next couple hours, and then store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.   We had them on a pizza as pictured below, but there are many other uses for these spicy pickles!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Bourbon Cider Milkshake

This delicious fall combination of flavors is a perfect dessert to welcome in the cooler weather.  I love all things pumpkin, and this is a new way to enjoy it.  The fresh maple whipped cream adds the perfect touch and it's so easy to make.  You can leave out the bourbon in this recipe for an equally tasty non-alcoholic treat. Thank you Serious Eats for this recipe!
Ingredients: (makes two decent-sized milkshakes)
1 cup unfiltered apple cider
1/4 cup bourbon
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/3 cup pumpkin puree 
4 cups vanilla ice cream
For the whipped cream
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup
To start, reduce the apple cider in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Reduce it by a little more than half, stirring occasionally.  I chilled it in an ice bath because I didn't do this step in advance, but it could be done up to several days ahead of time and kept in the fridge.  This makes the cider flavor stronger without having to water down the milkshake.  

To make the whipped cream, chill a bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes.  Pour the cream into the bowl and beat with an electronic mixer or whisk until soft peaks form.  Add the maple syrup and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks.   
For the milkshake, combine the condensed cider, bourbon, ice cream, cinnamon, ginger, syrup, and pumpkin in a blender.  

Blend until smooth, and serve with the maple whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon.  Enjoy this fall treat!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash is always a sign that fall is officially here, and one of the best ways to enjoy it is roasted and pureed into a creamy soup.  Roasting the squash really brings out the sweetness and gives it a much richer flavor.  The potatoes and carrots add some extra body to the soup, and a little condensed apple cider brings in some additional flavor and sweetness.  I also added a bottle of beer  The soup is rounded out with a spoonful of sour cream.  This goes great with a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, and would also be delicious with some crumbled bacon on top. 
  • 1 medium butternut squash, halved vertically
  • 2 potatoes, cut into a 1/2 inch dice
  • 2 carrots, cut to same size as potatoes
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced thinly
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 apples, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons peeled minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bottle of beer (lager or octoberfest)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • sour cream
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Cover a baking sheet with foil and place the squash, open-side up on the tray.  Scoop out the seeds if you haven't done so already.  Brush or drizzle the squash with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  
When the oven is heated, roast the squash for about 40-50 minutes or until you can easily pierce through it with a fork. Remove and let cool until it is no longer too hot to handle.
While the squash is roasting, start to prepare the other vegetables.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot.  Add the potato, carrot, onion, and celery.  Sprinkle in 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic, ginger, and apple and cook for 5 minutes longer.
Pour in the beer and cook until liquid is reduced by half, then add the chicken broth and cider.
When you can handle the squash, slice the meat into cubes without piercing through the skin, and then scoop out the flesh and add to the pot. 
 Stir to incorporate the squash, and then add the nutmeg.  Taste for salt and pepper.
Simmer the soup, covered, until the vegetables are tender.  In two or three batches, puree the soup in your blender until smooth.  

Return to the pot and keep hot until ready to serve.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Coconut Mango Rice Pudding

Sean recently picked up the last few mangoes of the summer season which had been ripening and waiting to be eaten.  Inspired by Katie's rice pudding recipe from USA Rice Federation, I decided to make up a rice pudding recipe of my own.  I love coconut milk, and it paired perfectly with the fresh mango and ginger.  With a little brown sugar, cinnamon, and cream, combined it was the perfect light comfort dessert. 
  • 2 fresh mangoes, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (I used full fat)
  • 1/2 cup half and half or heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, plus a few tablespoons extra to sprinkle on top
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 3 cups cooked white rice (about one cup of dry rice cooked)
In a medium sauce pan, bring the coconut milk, half and half, and cinnamon just to a boil, over medium heat.   
Add 1/3 cup brown sugar and whisk until melted.  Turn the  heat down to medium low.  Add the ginger.  Stir the mixture frequently for about 10 minutes or until thickened.  
Remove from heat.  Mix in the rice, mango, and salt, and taste for more seasoning. 

Preheat your oven to a broil, and spray 6-8 ramekins (or a 10 inch square pan) with non-stick cooking spray.   Spoon even amounts of pudding into each ramekin and then sprinkle rest of the brown sugar on top of each cup.  
Place in the oven until the sugar starts to bubble on top.  Remove from the oven, and serve warm.  This dessert is rich but still feels light and creamy from the coconut milk flavor, and the mango adds some bright acidity to the dish.  It definitely reminds you of the flavors of summer!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Coconut Curry Chicken with Basil

The spice blend in this recipe really packs in the flavor, and is complemented by the light and creamy coconut milk and fresh basil.  You can make it as spicy as you like by altering the amount of jalapeno pepper that goes in the recipe.  Served over rice, this is a delicious and satisfying meal!  I found this recipe on Simply Recipes and only made a couple slight changes with the amount of spices used.  This was also a great way to use up some of the fresh basil from our garden before the cold sets in!

  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thigh or breast, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapeƱo peppers, seeded and minced (we left the seeds in but it was pretty spicy)
  • olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1 14-oz can coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • salt and pepper
Mix all of the spices (first 8 ingredients) together in a bowl.  Add the chicken and stir until all of the pieces are evenly coated.  Let it sit for at least 30 minutes at room temp, or in the fridge for an hour or two.   
In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat and add the onion and jalapeno peppers.  Sprinkle some salt and pepper and let them cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes more.  Remove this mixture and place it into a medium bowl so you can use the same pan for the chicken. 
You will likely have to do the chicken in two batches to make sure it doesn't get over-crowded in the pan.  Heat another tablespoon of oil over medium-high and place the chicken into the skillet.  Brown for a few minutes on each side, and until the chicken is fully cooked through.  Remove to the bowl with onions, and then continue with the remaining chicken.

Meanwhile, open the coconut milk and mix a couple tablespoons with the corn starch in a small bowl until it has dissolved.  Once all of the chicken is cooked and removed from the pan, add the coconut milk along with the corn starch mixture.  Cook over medium heat and stir until thick and bubbly.  Add the Worcestershire, basil, and ginger. 

Stir to combine and then add the chicken and onion mixture.  Mix well so all of the chicken is coated in the sauce. 

Serve over hot rice, and enjoy!