Dill Pickles, a recipe

This recipe is a tip of the hat to those who’ve been paying attention to my Tumblr blog. You may have seen my recent bit of humor concerning my Decade Dills, called “Decadills” by one reader, and I like the name well. In truth, it’s not wise for humans to eat a decade-old pickle, and I seldom leave them that long. You can certainly try, if the seals are all still good, the acid levels right, the canning lid still intact, but that is a very rare occurrence, indeed. I make them for me — which is why I hide them, but…it seems wrong to tease and never give the humans a chance to experience my pickles for themselves. So here you have my recipe.

Tools:

  • medium sauce pan
  • 1 qt. mason jar with ring and lid
  • pot large enough to submerge the jar, up to the ring
  • mortar and pestle

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 c water
  • 4 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 c. white vinegar or apple cider vinegar (if you add more chilis, you may prefer the white, if you want more tang, add the apple cider.)
  • 1 lb cucumbers (I know many people use a specific type of cucumber, but I just use whatever I have handy. I usually have quite a variety, because I like to add them to all sorts of things. I believe the brand most often used is called Kirby)
  • half a dozen garlic cloves (I’m sassy, but you can get away with 2-3)
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flake (you can substitute whole tiny chili if you like, simply omit the red pepper flake from the dry spices and pack five or six peppers into the jar as you do the garlic cloves)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. mustard seed
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander seed
  • pinch of turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp.allspice
  • 5 sprigs of a dill plant, cleaned, or 2 tsp dill seed
  • 5-10 dried bay leaves
  • 1 large grape leaf

Instructions:

  1. Sterilize the jars by boiling them and their lids. If setting them aside for a time, set the lids on to keep them covered.
  2. In the medium saucepan, heat the water, vinegar, sugar and salt until boiling. Stir until the salt dissolves completely then set aside to cool
  3. Peel and smash each garlic clove
  4. In the mortar, combine the pepper flake, pepper, coriander, allspice, mustard, turmeric, and bay and grind together until you have at least a coarse powder
  5. Wash the cucumbers thoroughly and snip off the very ends, not just the stems. This can keep them crispy longer. You can also cut the pickles into spears, if you prefer. It’s up to you.
  6. Pack the cucumbers into the jar, adding in dashes of the spice mix (aim to use half to all, but this is what makes the recipe unique to you, so do a few test batches to see what your tastes are), sprigs of dill (or pinches od dill seed), garlic cloves, and pieces of the grape leaf evenly distributed. Pack tightly, but be sure to leave s bit of space at the mouth of the jar, so that it can vacuum seal.
  7. When the liquid is completely cool, pour this over the cucumbers. Shake the jar gently to get out any air bubbles, and continue to fill, leaving the space in the neck of the jar.
  8. Place the lid and ring on tightly.
  9. Submerge the jar into the large pot and fill up to the neck with water. Boil this for about 20 minutes to seal the jar and perform low grade pasteurization. If you want a crispier pickle, then try to measure and keep the temperature between 180-185 for 30 minutes without going under or over.
  10. Remove this carefully from the pot and allow it to cool completely before you store it away. Be sure to test the lid to make certain the seal has firmly depressed.

These must cure for at least a month to become pickles. After that, they can sit on a shelf for a few years in a cool, dry place. If opened, you should refrigerate them to keep fresh.  You can try leaving them for a decade, as I always do, but you’re not a monster, so I wouldn’t recommend it. However, so long as the seal is unbroken and the food smells fine, it is usually fine to eat. Just remember, the longer they sit, the more rubbery they become, so I’d recommend that you eat them within a few years, and that you serve them chilled.

Frozen Dessert Tutorial

In discussion with some of my gentle readers, it became clear to me that many of them would like a way to experiment with various frozen treats like ice cream, gelato, Italian Ice, and sorbet. So here, in this tutorial, I will give you hints on how to produce all of the above, in your home, without the aid of an ice cream making machine.

Each recipe will indicate materials and give general information.

Floral Ice Cream, a recipe

Ice cream is, as the name implies, frozen cream. By using condensed milk, we are cutting out a step, but it is the step that requires the equipment, so I don’t think you’ll mind.

This recipe can be used for any edible flower species. There are many! Roses, lavender, fuchsia, orange blossom, hyacinth and so forth. floral ice creams are a lovely addition to tea time, or as a compliment to a fruit tart.

Tools:

  • Hand held or standing mixer (standing mixer is easiest, but not required)
  • large mixing bowls
  • plastic wrap
  • shallow steel pan that fits into the freezer (if using a standing mixer, merely use the metal mixing bowl and freeze it in advance of all use)
  • fine mesh strainer
  • pot

Ingredients:

  • flowers/petals  (about six cups will do to make the syrup, which will last beyond this one application)
  • several cups of sugar
  • 3 1/2 c. water
  • 2 c. Heavy whipping cream
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (one of the few cans i can abide)
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. In the pot, place the flowers and the water. Boil for 15 minutes
  2. Strain the liquid into a bowl and measure
  3. Add an equal amount of sugar to the liquid and return to the pot
  4. Stir until everything is dissolved, and until it comes to a boil.
  5. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool
  6. Whip the cream until it comes to peaks and then set aside
  7. Combine your condensed milk, salt, and floral syrup and mix well
  8. Fold the mixture into the whipped cream until well incorporated
  9. Scoop into a container and cover. Place this in the freezer. It will be solid within a few hours.

 

Nutella Gelato, a recipe

Gelato is a custard-based frozen milk. Custard means eggs.

Yet again, the flavor was chosen as a type of universal element (and also, my readers wanted something nutella flavored) But you can do this with almost any topping.

Tools:

  • Much the same as the above

Ingredients:

  • 2 c milk
  • 3/4 cup nutella
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 c. sugar

Instructions:

  1. Separate the egg yolks and beat them with the sugar. Set aside.
  2. Using low heat, bring the milk slowly to a boil, but remove just before.
  3. A little at a time, spoon the milk into the yolks while mixing furiously. When you’ve incorporated half the milk, reverse the process and put the egg mixture into the milk a little at a time until it is all thoroughly mixed.
  4. Put this back over heat and stirring occasionally, allow to come to the boil.
  5. Remove from heat as soon as the boil is reached.
  6. Incorporate the nutella
  7. Spoon into the metal freezing container and allow to sit in freezer for two hours
  8. Every 45 minutes to an hour, stir to break up any ice crystals. When you’ve done this a few times, You no longer need to but do allow it to fully freeze, about 8 hours.
  9. When it is finished, I recommend you give it an incredible stirring. Smash the hell out of it. Don’t serve until you have.

 

Lemon Lavender Italian Ice, a recipe

Both “Ice” and “Sorbet” are made up of syrups and fruit juices, the primary difference being that sorbet tends to use more starchy purees, while ice is merely a frozen liquid.

This dessert is ideal for those who cannot enjoy dairy, and works well with acidic ingredients that don’t lend themselves to dairy.

Tools:

  • See above
  • Blender or food processor

Ingredients:

  • 1 c water
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. lemon juice
  • Several Tbsp Lavender syrup (see the first recipe to learn to make this yourself)
  • The zest of two lemons

instructions:

  1. Chill your shallow metal pan by storing in the freezer.
  2. Combine the water and sugar in a pot and simmer for about 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.
  3. Add the zest, syrup, and juice and mix thoroughly
  4. Pour this into the metal dish (If using a standing mixer, use the mixing bowl)
  5. Put into freezer
  6. Ever 30 minutes, remove and stir thoroughly (the standing mixer breaks up the crystals until they are much smaller, increasing the smoothness and decreasing the coarse texture)
  7. Do this at least 5 times
  8. After several hours, it should be completely frozen

 

Blueberry Beet Sorbet, a recipe

This is another recipe perfect for your lactose intolerant friends. It is essentially identical to the above recipe, but the Italians prefer to have their “ice” actually a bit course, while sorbet can be creamier. Sorbet is also mostly a puree. It is excellent with banana, avocado, and so forth. When crafting flavors for this type of treat, try combining one “creamy” or denser fruit with a more juicy fruit. For example, banana and orange, or avocado and lime.

Tools:

  • See above
  • Blender or food processor
  • wax paper

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. lemon juice
  • 2 c. blueberries
  • 2 c. beet (peeled and chopped)

Instructions:

  1. Combine water and sugar in the pot and bring to the boil
  2. Remove from heat
  3. Add the blueberries, and juice and run through the blender or food processor.
  4. Run this through the fine mesh strainer
  5. Line the shallow metal dish with wax paper (So you can get the solid block out)
  6. Pour in the juice and allow to freeze
  7. Remove and run through blender, and allow to freeze once again.
  8. Repeat as many times as it takes for you to be happy with the consistency, But it likely won’t take more than two times (We use this technique because we are working with absolutely no fats of any kind, just syrup and ice. We are relying on the starches and sugars in the fruits to bind together. and it is just far easier with a high powered means of breaking up the crystals as they form)

 

All of these recipes are easily altered. The measurements aren’t necessarily precise, and everything is essentially to taste. If you want more toppings, then add more. If you want plain vanilla ice cream, just add vanilla. Or if you want a key lime pie with the crust in, add lime and graham crackers. You want a sweet potato and ginger ice cream? Have at it. The possibilities are actually endless.

 

 

 

Bad Recipe Challenge

The time has come once again, for you to confound and confuse me, to subject me to fits of revulsion and make me make that face…you know the one. 
This is a call for all your terrible family traditions- from the disgusting tuna casserole your auntie hauls to the reunion in a wheelbarrow, to the terrifying jello concoction your Nana protests is “vegan”, we want them all! No terrible recipe is too great nor small! If you submitted last time, you may submit again – who knows, it may turn out to be the most disgusting thing this time! Multiple submissions are also welcome, because if you have had to endure that much trauma, it ought to count for something.

Reply to this post with your worst, most baffling, nauseating family recipe, and you will be entered to win. Or share it with a friend you know has endured the horrors of the family potluck one too many times, and deserves some recognition for their sacrifices. If they reply with a recipe, they too are entered to win.

The victor shall receive an autographed physical copy of one of my books (they may choose), a $25 Kitchen Collection gift card, and – in an effort to alleviate your misery – I and my crack team of culinary experts (a drunken Chef and the staff at the Bistro) will attempt to repair the travesty visited upon you by “fixing” your recipe.

The deadline is January 31. Please get the word out to all your charming friends!

Egg Nog, a history in several recipes

Eggnog is far older than most suspect.  It wasn’t invented recently. It has many forms, and many, many names. Historians and Etymologists bandy back and forth about the name, wondering if it originates from one of about ten different sources from Germany to Scotland, to the colonies. The simple truth is, that it is all and none. “Noggin” or “nugge” is a very old word, and it refers to the glass in which hot drinks were served, a “mug”. You may listen to men of science, debating when the exact word “eggnog” must have come about, but that would be silly, in my opinion, because it came about through constant reintroduction of old memories, old ways, and old languages, then was jumbled up again and again in the slang culture of the early Americas.

Warm eggs and alcohol have been a standard since antiquity. They were drunk in the colder months for obvious reasons. Their types range from drinks made with wine, to biersuppe, a German warm soup made from beer, to very loose custards, to curled concoctions that are strange to the modern eye. Here, I will give you a long history of my favorites. You will see the spices shift as the spice trade with he east died and then was reforged with sea power, you will see the introduction of fine white sugar and rum from the Americas. You may wish to make them all, and watch the progress of time through one single food.

Please assume that for all the following recipes, you will need the following:

  • a mixer (hand held works fine in this case)
  • a saucepan
  • egg separator
  • fine grater
  • a whisk

Caudell, a recipe

Very few cook books have survived the eras to mark the existence of the great variety of dishes and their countless preparations, and so no source exists for this recipe. You will have to take my word that it was a drink of choice, particularly for the ill. Saffron was seen to have mystical qualities to the Medieval mind, and it was used in almost everything. Keep in mind that this saffron was not the sort you see today in your grocer’s spice aisle. This was the saffron that now costs hundreds of dollar per ounce — true saffron— and we worked it by the handful.

I recommend eating this with the notion that it is a semi-savory soup. It might assist the modern palette to adjust.

Ingredients:

  • 12 egg yolks
  • 2 cups of ale or sack (white wine) I recommend ale for authenticity. The poor could
  • often not afford sack
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • i leaf of mace
  • several tablespoons of sugar to taste

Instructions

  1. Beat the yolks into the ale, and then put the pot over medium heat, whisking constantly. The mixture will thicken and become frothy.
  2. Once this comes to a boil immediately drop the heat to low and beat in the other ingredients, adjusting to taste

Serve in an open, bowl-like mug

Posset, a recipe

Possets were a kind of custard, sometimes loose enough to be drunk in a mug. In my day they were used primarily as medicine for the sick, or as fortifying drinks for travelers or for the clergy.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • cinnamon
  • several blades of mace
  • Fresh nutmeg
  • 18 egg yolks, plus 8 egg whites
  • 1 pint of sack (white wine)
  • 1 1/2 c sugar

Instructions

  1. Put the milk into a pot and add some cinnamon and mace, and bring to a simmer
  2. While the milk is heating through, in another pot beat the eggs thoroughly. add the wine, a grated nutmeg, more fresh cinnamon, and the sugar
  3. Heat the eggs through and then incorporate the cream once that comes to a boil
  4. Cover and allow to simmer for a time on the lowest heat, stirring occasionally

Serve in a mug with a little sugar on top

Eierpunsch, a recipe

This was a holiday favorite all through the Holy Roman Empire, when I was living in Strasburg

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of white wine (keep in mind that Germany has an excellent tradition of sweet white wines like reisling)
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 5 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 c strongly brewed tea
  • 1 lemon

Instructions

  1. Brew the tea and let it cool
  2. Whisk the eggs and add in the sugar and some of the white wine until it begins to get frothy
  3. Add the rest of the wine, cinnamon, cloves, and lemon juice
  4. Put in a pot and allow to heat through, but remove immediately before boiling
  5. Fish out the cloves

Serve in a mug with a little fresh whipped cream

Milk Punch, a recipe

From the early 1700’s the British and French had forged a somewhat calm trade relationship, despite all their bickering, making sherry and brandy fairly common and accessible. This recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 8 oz. brandy
  • 4 tsp cream
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Ground clove

Instructions

  1. Whisk the ingredients together until foamy
  2. Spice to taste, while whisking

Serve at room temperature, or turn it into something of a cocktail in these modern times by shaking over ice.

American Nog, a recipe

Trade between the colonies was largely one way for a very long time, that is to say, it was largely a circular endeavor. The British shipped goods to the entire western world, stole slaves from Africa, brought them to the Americas, and then took products from us for sale in Britain and the rest of Europe. This system was entirely focused on the wealth and excesses of England, and cared very little about the colonists. As such, it was tedious getting any items directly from Europe, which meant there was hardly ever brandy to be had. And so, the egg beverages commenced to be cut with rum from the Caribbean.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. brandy
  • 1/2 c. dark spiced rum
  • 1/2 c. sherry
  • 1/2 c. whiskey
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 qt heavy cream
  • 1 qt milk
  • a dozen eggs
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Mix the alcohols. Separate your eggs, setting the whites aside
  2. Put the yolks into your mixer and beat until the the yolks are foamy. Slowly incorporate the sugar and spices.
  3. Add the alcohol slowly
  4. Add the milk and cream
  5. Pour this mixture into a separate bowl. With a clean bowl and whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the alcohol mixture

You may serve immediately at room temperature, or warm it through as needed and top with a little whipped cream. If storing it in the refrigerator, be sure to mix it regularly so that it doesn’t separate.

Modern Eggnog, a recipe

Modern humans are terrified of raw eggs, even when pasteurized. Now they buy rubbish in a carton and microwave it, throw in a shot of bourbon and call it finished, but to me this is a crime. So, allow me to help you out a bit. Here is a modern eggnog cocktail.

Ingredients:

  • 12 egg yolks
  • 4 c. whole milk
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. baker’s sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c. Amaretto or Grand Marnier (I prefer Grand Marnier, as it gives a nice sweetness)
  • 1 1/2 c. brandy (I use Remy Martin VSOP as it is inexpensive, but meshes well)

Instructions

  1. Whip the egg yolks in the standing mixer, then incorporate the sugar. Then the milk and cream until the mixture is frothy and pale.
  2. Slowly incorporate the alcohol

Serve warm or shaken over ice. I would top the warm version with whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg, and the cold version with a twist of candied lemon rind.

I very much hope this brief history of eggnog has pleased you. I hope you can track the similarities, and admire the variety. Perhaps you even have ideas of how to craft a new recipe that borrows from history.

If you do try any of them, please do send me a picture. I post all images of my recipes sent in by readers, as a general rule.

Simon’s Hot Toddy, a recipe

This is a medicinal drink. You can have it just as a cocktail, but since so many of my readers are ill, I thought it might be nice to publish the recipe I use, so that I can refer them to it. This is a hot, alcoholic beverage. It has Vitamin C, antioxidents, natural expectorants, antiseptics, anti-allergens, relaxants, and so is good for cough, sore throats, and help with sleeping. It is an excellent alternative to NyQuil.

Tools:

  • Pot
  • Tea pot
  • Microplane or cheese grater with a fine mesh

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 shots of Whiskey or Brandy
  • 1 lemon
  • Rooibos Tea (You can purchase bagged tea, but personally I purchase the highest quality I can, as it tends to be stronger
  • Honey (Preferably locally sourced, as it will be made with pollens from your area. This helps your immune system cultivate a resistance to local allergens.)

Instructions:

  1. Brew a pot of Rooibos tea, triply strong. Pour this into the saucepan and reduce. And brew a second pot at regular strength.
  2. When half the liquid has evaporated out of the saucepan, thicken with honey into a syrup and heat through.
  3. Zest and juice the lemon
  4. Take out your teacup. Put in your shot or two of alcohol. Add as much lemon as you can take. Sweeten with as much syrup as you can handle, Top up with fresh tea. Put the zest atop the cup. Inhale as much of the steam as you can while drinking.

And, if you (are sassy) wish to stave off a secondary infection, pop a clove of raw garlic into your mouth and swallow whole (DO NOT CHEW – This means you, Molly Anne). I also recommend pairing this with zinc. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and zinc binds to the receptor sites of the virus and effectively prevents it from attaching to the cells. In essence, it cannot reproduce.

Stay well, my gentle readers. And while I realize it is a bit odd, for a people eating monster to give advice about health…well, it’s not really so odd, is it?

Tortilla Soup, a recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 frozen chicken breasts (or six tenderloins, whatever is available)
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with chiles
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with cilanto and lime
  • 2 4 oz. cans chopped green chile peppers (mild or spicy)
  • 1 can red enchilada sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 14.5 oz. can chicken broth (we use the big boxes of broth because it makes more soup)
  • 1 tsp each cumin, chili powder and salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper (or less if you like)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pkg frozen corn

*the recipe also calls for one bunch of chopped cilantro but my mom hates cilantro so that’s why we have the tomatoes with cilantro and lime
*we also use red gold tomato products because they’re quality, yummy, and readily available bc local woo!

Optional topping: 

  • lime wedges
  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream (it cuts the spice)
  • avocado (i don’t like avocado personally)
  • tortilla chips

Instructions:

1) place chopped onion in the bottom of slow cooker

2) layer the frozen chicken (or human) breast on top.

3) add diced tomatoes and juice, green chiles, enchilada sauce, garlic, broth, spices and bay leaf.

4) cook on low 6-8 h. 

5) remove bay leaf. 

6) remove chicken (or human) to plate, shred with 2 forks return to crock pot. 

7) stir in corn (here’s where i turn the crock to high). 

8) continue to heat til corn is hot.

9) add a handful of chopped cilantro. 

Usually serves 6-8 but use the entire box of broth and you have leftovers for days my main

This recipe is courtesy of my Tumblr acquaintance Katy @katofthekitvariety