Fresh Yogurt

Homemade yogurt: 

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This was an easy cooking project and one I plan to make again. I didn’t allow my milk to “ferment” for a full 12 hours but definitely will next time as I prefer a tart and tangy yogurt. I also went for the Greek version so I strained my mixture overnight and wound up with a thick, rich and creamy yogurt. This version was almost akin to a velvety, mild fresh cheese so I think it would work well for desserts. Now I have an excuse to whip up some lemon curd and make parfaits!

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Clementine & Kalamata Compote

 

Easy, delicious and a spectacular way to liven up leftover roast chicken. I definitely made this less “candied” than the recipe called for by cutting way back on the sugar. The result? A bright and savory relish to adorn just about anything — spoon it into yogurt, sprinkle it over roast duck or just eat it right out of the jar. Enjoy!

Candied Clementine and Kalamata Compote 

1 cup sugar (I used about 1/4 cup)

10 to to 12 clementines, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

2 TBSP orange liqueur

24 pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped

Scatter half the amount of sugar you are using over the bottom of a slow cooker. Layer the clementine slices over the sugar, then scatter remaining sugar over the top. Cover the crock with a kitchen towel, cover with the lid and cook on high for 4 hours or until the clementines are soft and a syrup has formed at the bottom. Uncover and drizzle the liqueur over the top. Cool the compote and then gently mix in the chopped olives. Refrigerate and enjoy.

(recipe adapted from Art of the Slow Cooker by Andrew Schloss)

Kitchen Project: Applesauce

We had a blizzard. My office was closed for days. I am nursing a foot injury and was leery of venturing outside. So, I was scrounging through my rapidly depleting pantry and fridge for ingredients to embark on some sort of cooking project.

I had some ideas:

Beef broth. Yes! Great idea! Alas, no beef bones.

Chicken broth. Yes! Great idea! And I have roasted chicken parts in my freezer! But, I also have several enormous jugs of frozen chicken broth already taking up space.

Lemon curd. Yes! I love lemon curd. I already have a jar in my freezer.

Homemade fresh mozzarella. Yes! I made cheese curds a couple of months ago and they are waiting patiently in my freezer to be stretched into cheese. Of course, they are frozen. I cannot work with frozen curds. I have no patience.

Bread: Yes! No, no, no, no, no. I cannot live with fresh bread in the house. It will be devoured. I am enduring limited exercise right now and my psyche cannot handle a total bread binge. So, this also rules out cookies, quick breads, any sort of delightful carby baked good.

Applesauce: Ugh. Applesauce? Well, I had a huge bag of apples that would otherwise likely turn brown and rot. So why not? I decided to make a cross between a true applesauce and something more akin to apple pie filling. It worked! I now have several bowls of a mildly sweet, tart, highly spiced apple-pie-type filling. It’s delicious and I have been enjoying it dolloped over oatmeal or stirred into my Greek yogurt in the mornings for breakfast.

It’s so easy I urge you to try it. And, the best part, you can customize it anyway you wish. Make it chunky, make it smooth, make it crazy-sweet, whatever suits your fancy. I happen to like it tart with just a bit of sugar and plenty of spice — cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and a splash of vanilla.

applesauce

Applesauce: (made in a 6 quart slow-cooker)

  • 15 or so apples of any type (a mix is great), cored and cut into chunks. I left the peel on.
  • Toss apple chunks into slow-cooker. Sprinkle with sugar (a mix of brown and white) and any spices you wish. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours. Stir. Add more sugar and/or vanilla to taste.
  • Eat with a spoon.

Grape Paste?

Sigh. My grape jam is, in all actuality, more of a paste. I tried to stir some into my yogurt the next morning but alas, it never came off the spoon. I’ll have to use this batch on a cheese plate instead, much as you would a quince paste.

Kindergarten paste texture aside, the color is gorgeous and the taste is fantastic —  unlike any store-bought grape jam I’ve ever had. It’s bright, fresh and simply tastes of juicy, ripe concord grapes. Back into the kitchen I go.

Concord Grape Jam

Concord Grape Jam

Concord Grape Jam Recipe: I did skip the step that requires peeling all the grapes. I tossed them in whole and pulverized them with an immersion blender instead. This worked very well to breakdown the skins, but it did rain sugary grape juice all over my kitchen. BIG MESS. I’ll be peeling all the grapes next time.

Vietnamese Roasted Chile Paste

Roasted chile paste

Note: recipe adapted from “Vietnamese Home Cooking” by Charles Phan. 

1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns

1 tablespoon annatto seeds

1/2 cup finely chopped shallots

1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup finely minced garlic (about 8 cloves)

1/4 cup red pepper flakes

1/3 cup ground bean paste

2 tablespoons rice wine

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

1. Combine the peppercorns and annatto seeds in a spice grinder (or use a mortar and pestle) and grind coarsely. Set aside.

2. In a small saucepan, combine the shallots and oil over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, about 6 minutes, until the shallots are light gold. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes longer, until the garlic and shallots are lightly browned.

3. Stir in the red pepper flakes and the peppercorn-annatto mixture, mixing well. Add the ground bean paste, wine, sugar and soy sauce, and continue cooking, stirring, for 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. This makes about 1½ cups of paste. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container, up to 3 months.