Wednesday, January 30, 2019

RECIPE: Moroccan One Pot Beef and Pasta with Harissa

You can make this entirely with farm products!  I made this almost exactly as written and it was delicious.  I used celeriac instead of celery, and cut the harissa down to 2 T. because I would be serving it to a friend who can't eat super hot food.  We served extra harissa on the side for whoever wanted it.

Original Recipe:  One pot pasta with spicy harissa beef

Moroccan One Pot Beef and Pasta with Harissa
Serves 4

1/4 c. finely chopped celeriac or celeriac pulp
1/2 c. finely chopped carrot or carrot pulp
1 c. finely chopped onion
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. EVOO plus additional for serving
1 pound ground beef
18oz jar diced tomatoes (or 1 quart home canned)
12oz jar organic roasted red peppers (or 1/2 pint frozen)
2 T. harissa plus additional for serving
3 t. ground cumin
2 t. ground coriander
2 t. paprika
Opt (the original recipe didn't call for these but since I cut back on the harissa I added them to ramp up the Moroccan flavor):
  • 1/2 t. ground fennel
  • 1/4 t. ground caraway
  • 1/4 t. dried moroccan mint
  • 1/8 t. ground anise
  • 1/8 t. ground allspice
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
4 c. meat broth or water (I used veal broth)
12 oz elbows or other short pasta (I used Tresomega Quinoa-Rice-Amaranth elbows)
3 scallions, chopped
1 T. minced mint leaves (I used frozen)

Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add the EVOO and ground beef and saute until it's well browned and sticking to the bottom of the pan, 10-12 minutes.  Season with salt.

Add the celeriac, carrot, onion and garlic.  Cook until softened, about 8-10 minutes.  Season with salt.

As the vegetables cook, drain the roasted red peppers. Puree them and the diced tomatoes in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Set aside.

Add the harissa and spices to the skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add the tomato-roasted red pepper puree, the broth, and the dry pasta.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, make sure the pasta is submerged, cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes.   Stir to prevent sticking, replace the lid, and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the pasta is cooked.

Serve drizzled with additional EVOO, and topped with the scallions and mint.  Offer additional harissa for those who like super spicy!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

RECIPE: GF Baked Veal & Celeriac Meatballs

You can make these start-to-finish in 30 minutes!

Our farm has the BEST veal so it's my meat of choice whenever I make meatballs.  Here's another recipe I developed, using celeriac as the 'binder'.  I use our farm's veal sausage but you can use unseasoned veal, too.

The recipe is written for one pound of meat but can be scaled up.  I usually make 3 pounds at a time but I find it's easier to mix them in 1 pound batches which fit perfectly on one jelly roll pan.  They cook so quickly I can mix up the second batch while the first is cooking and then reuse the pan.

When I gave my husband  his first taste of these, his face lit up!

GlutenFree Baked Veal & Celeriac Meatballs
Makes 40 1.5" meatballs (walnut size)

1 pound veal or veal sausage
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c. celeriac mash OR 1/2 c. cooked celeriac, pureed + 2 T. melted ghee or butter
2 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane
1/4 c. minced onions or scallions
1/4 t. paprika
1/8 t. cayenne

For Italian sausage
  • 1/2 t. fennel seed, roasted and ground in a mortar and pestle
  • 1/8 t. dry oregano
  • 1/8 t. dry savory
For breakfast sausage
  • 1/2 t. sage
For unseasoned veal
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. fennel seed, roasted and ground in a mortar and pestle
  • 1/8 t. dry oregano
  • 1/8 t. dry savory
Preheat oven to 375F.

Gently but thoroughly mix everything together.  Form into 1.5" meatballs (I use a size 60, 1.5" disher).  Place on a parchment or Silpat lined jelly roll pan.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Serve with toothpicks, dipping sauce (we like pesto aioli), marinara sauce, or cream sauce.

Friday, January 18, 2019

RECIPE: Vegetable Broth

Many people make veggie broth with the peels and ends of vegetables that they save in the freezer.  I prefer to use whole vegetables.

There are some vegetables I DO save in the freezer, during the summer when they're plentiful:  I  slice leeks, then freeze in reclosable bags;  I chop and freeze celery, including the leaves; I freeze parsley; and, whenever I use onion or garlic I save the outer layers of skin which are high in quercetin.
Fresh veggies on the left, frozen on the right
This webpage lists 10 reasons why you should make your own broth.

Here is an EXCELLENT RESOURCE for all broth related questions, Please do read it!

Vegetable Broth
Makes 4 quarts

I use a 6 quart stock pot which yields about 4 quarts of stock.  I will often reduce it further and then freeze in ice cube trays so it takes up less room in the freezer.

4 quarts spring, filtered, or distilled water
1 t. himalayan pink salt
4 large scrubbed but unpeeled carrots, cut into chunks
1 large unpeeled onion, cut into chunks*
1 leeks, white and green parts, cut into chunks**
4 ribs celery, including the heart, or 1 small celeriac, cut into chunks***
1 head garlic, unpeeled, halved through the center
1 oz dried wild porcini mushrooms
6 sprigs flat leaf parsley
1 small garnet yam or japanese sweet potato cut into chunks
2 allspice or juniper berries
1 bay leaf
OPT: 1 sheet kombu

Combine everything in a 6 quart stock pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.  (If you cook for longer than 24 hours, it can get bitter.)

Strain.  I use a nut milk bag because it gets all but the tiniest bit of sediment.

Transfer to a smaller pot and reduce by half.  Cool.  Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.

Reconstitute by adding an equal amount of water. 

Veggies in the water on left, after 24 hours on right
Strained veggies in nut-milk bag on left, strained broth on the right

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

RECIPE: Easy Chicken Broth, Stovetop

I'm making chicken broth/stock today and decided to post my method even though there are hundreds of recipes online.   According to this recipe from The New York Times:
The difference between bone broth and regular broth, or stock, comes down to the length of the cooking time and the addition of acid to the cooking liquid. They taste very similar, though the bone broth has a slightly more intense flavor and a thicker, silkier texture. They can be used interchangeably in recipes. Really, the main difference is that many people consider bone broth to be therapeutic: the longer cooking time of a bone broth allows the collagen and minerals from the bones and connective tissue to dissolve into the liquid.

This website explains that a stock is based on bones, and a broth (bouillon in French) is based on meat.  While a broth can be very flavorful, a stock delivers a rich mouthfeel courtesy of the gelatin that is slowly extracted from the bones.

This webpage lists 10 reasons why you should make your own broth.

Here is an EXCELLENT RESOURCE for all broth related questions, Please do read it!

I've been making bone broth for a looooong time - this is the consolidation of all the recipes and advice I've followed over the years with the important parts highlighted in bold.  I apologize in advance for the length of this post but there was a lot of information I wanted to share.

The tastiest broth is made with the whole chicken, including the meat, but the bones, especially the feet, are the healthy bits so if you don't have meaty parts, don't worry about it.

If you want the stock to have that unctuous gelatinous quality, you must add chicken feet.  The gelatin and collagen in the feet are what create the luscious mouthfeel.

For a darker richer-looking stock, roast the bones first in a 400F oven for about 30 minutes until they're nicely browned.  I have found that this darker stock changes the color of what I add it to which is sometimes a good thing and sometimes not.  Often, I need a lighter stock that will just add flavor and not color, in risotto for instance.

Taste Considerations

My friend and I just compared three different broths: one made with whole chickens, feet, and vegetables, simmered for 3 days and then concentrated; one made with whole chicken, no feet and no vegetables, simmered for 24 hours; and one made with only feet and no vegetables, simmered for 12 hours.  Comparing these enabled us to make informed decisions regarding what was important when making broth:

The one made with all three components and then concentrated was the best tasting and required the least amount of storage space.  The one made with only feet and no vegetables had the best mouthfeel and an acceptable taste.  The one made with only chicken rated the lowest with respect to taste and mouthfeel.

We felt that the best broth would be a combination - long simmered whole chickens and vegetables combined with chicken feet simmered for a shorter period of time.  If you're consuming broth purely for health, the version made with only feet was the fastest, cheapest and healthiest version.

Today I am making a light stock.

Easy Chicken Broth, Stovetop
Makes 1.5 gallons

When I make stock,  I normally use a 12 quart stock pot which yields about 2 gallons of stock.  This pot easily holds two whole chickens and plenty of veggies.  If I'm only using one chicken (2-3 lbs)  or only feet, I will use a 6-quart pot.  If I luck into large amounts of chicken (like when the farm is processing them, or if I find them on sale), I will make an even bigger batch in a 16-quart or 24-quart pot.

In other words, the recipe can be scaled up or down.

Do NOT use an aluminum pot!   The aluminum will leach into the broth.  I use stainless, you can use enamel ( water bath canner would make a perfect stock pot!) or enameled cast iron.  Some people use uncoated cast iron but I worry that the acid will leach too much iron into the stock.


  • 2 small (3 pound) pasture raised chickens or 4 pounds of bones including the feet (animals store heavy metals in their bones, so please use clean chickens!)
  • 10 quarts (2.5 gallons) spring, filtered, or distilled water (you will be concentrating whatever contaminants are in your water)
  • 1 T. mild acid, helps extract minerals and collagen from the bones (I use fresh lemon juice, you can use apple cider vinegar, wine vinegar, or wine; regular vinegar will impart a strong flavor)

OPT - all the ingredients listed below are optional!  They add flavor, but I will often make broth with just bones/meat so that the flavor of the broth doesn't interfere with what I'm using it in.

  • 1 t. himalayan pink salt
  • 6 large scrubbed but unpeeled carrots, cut into chunks
  • 2 large unpeeled onions, cut into chunks*
  • 2 leeks, white and green parts, cut into chunks**
  • 1 bunch celery, including the heart, or 2 medium celeriac, cut into chunks***
  • 3 heads garlic, unpeeled, halved through the center
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 small garnet yam or japanese sweet potato cut into chunks
  • 6 allspice or juniper berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 strips kelp or kombu
  • 1 c. medicinal mushrooms (turkey tail, chaga, reishi, etc...)

Do NOT rinse the chicken!  Do remove the bag of giblets from the cavity, if there is one, and use elsewhere; you won't be using the giblets for the stock.

Put the whole chickens into your stock pot and cover with 2" of water.  If you're using them, do not add the feet or the vegetables yet!  Add acid and salt and let the bones sit in the acidic water for one hour.  NOTE: I've JUST read that if you don't soak the bones in COLD water before turning on the heat, you need to cook them for much longer to extract the minerals!  She claims that, "If the bones are hot, the pores are closed, and the vinegar can’t get in to work its magic."  (This woman recommends 2 T. ACV for every quart of water but I have NEVER used that much and no other recipe I've seen recommends that much so take her advice with a grain of salt.)

After one hour, turn heat to high.  Do not cover!

Cover with clean water
Monitor the pot until the water starts to steam and small bubbles make their way up from the bottom.  DO NOT LET IT BOIL!  When you see small bubbles, turn the heat to low, cover the pot and let it simmer for at least 1 day, preferably 2.  Yes, 2 days.  (Most recipes instruct you to let it cook for at least 4 hours but I find the flavor is richer after a longer infusion.)
After 12 hours on the left (the liquid is simmering, NOT boiling)  After 24 hours on the right (looks and smells good!)

Check periodically to insure the water is not boiling - you want a gentle simmer.  The water should never boil.  Overheating the broth can cause the protein to break down and the broth to become cloudy. If your burner does not have an ultra-low setting and you need to keep the lid ajar to prevent boiling, if the water level drops below the chicken, add more water.

Some recipes advise you to skim but I don't.  Using pastured birds there is very little 'scum' so I just strain very well at the end.

CAUTION: Chicken broth STINKS - and not in a good way - when it first starts cooking!
That's one reason why I make bigger batches: I don't have to smell it as often. 
Once the chicken is cooked, about 2 hours in, it will smell better.

Fresh veggies on the left, frozen veggies on the right.
All veggies in the pot - almost overflowing!  I should have used a 16 quart pot.
After at least 24 hours, add the vegetables and the chicken feet and enough water to insure they're covered.  Some people add vegetables willy-nilly but if you add too much of any one thing, the flavor will be unbalanced.

The reason you add these AFTER the bones have finished cooking is that (1) the vegetables can become bitter if they're cooked too long, and (2) the gelatin in the feet will break down if it's cooked too long.

Bring back to a simmer, cover, and leave overnight or up to 24 hours.  After you add the vegetables. it will smell delicious!

As you can see, my pot was way too full!  So, I left the cover off overnight, and the entire next day.  At the end of that 24 hour period the water level had dropped considerably and the stock was very concentrated.  Since I always reduce my stock anyway, I was fine with this. 

You can see some of the chicken feet in the photo below.

After 3 days, without adding water 

Turn off the heat.  Place a colander over a large bowl.  Using tongs, remove as many of the chicken bones as possible, placing them in the colander.  They will have disintegrated so don't worry if you don't get them all.  Discard the bones.  (These bones are now soft enough that you can give them to your dog, if you're inclined to do so.)  If you cooked your stock longer than 24 hours, don't try and salvage the meat - it's given everything it had to the broth. 

If you cook your broth for 24 hours, and you've been careful not to let it boil, you can use the meat to make chicken salad or some other preparation with added moisture.

Colander over a large bowl on left, large nutmilk bag over colander on right

Using a large skimmer or ladle remove as many of the vegetables as possible, placing them in the colander.  Ladle over as much broth as will fit in the bowl underneath.  Let the vegetables drain and then discard them. (Some people put these in their compost pile but they're covered with chicken fat so I don't.)

Place another colander or strainer over a second large bowl and place a large nut-milk bag, a piece of muslin, or 2 pieces of cheesecloth over the colander.  Slowly pour or ladle the remaining vegetables and broth over the cheesecloth/muslin/nut-milk bag.  If your bowl gets full, transfer it to another bowl or a clean stockpot and continue.  (NOTE: if you're making a small batch and you're tempted to put the bones in the nut-milk bag - don't!  The sharp edges will tear the bag.)

All veggies out of broth on left, strained broth on right (gorgeous color!)

Once you've emptied your stock pot, pour the broth collected in the first bowl through the nut-milk bag/muslin/cheesecloth.  Gather up the ends and encourage the last of the broth to pass through.   You will have difficulty with this since all the tiny holes will now be clogged with sediment.  You don't want this sediment in your broth, so don't force the liquid through.

If you wait too long to strain the stock, and the fat starts to congeal, it will be impossible to strain!  You must strain it while it's hot!
You should now have at least 8 quarts of clean broth! (Because I removed the cover for the last 24 hours, I ended up with 5 quarts.)

There are several things you can do with it at this point:

1. Transfer it to glass jars and either freeze or pressure can it.

2. Remove the fat and then proceed with option 1.  To remove the fat you will need to let the stock cool in the fridge overnight and then scrape off the fat, which will have risen to the top and solidified.  Save the fat and use it to fry potatoes.

3. Reduce the volume, which will intensify the flavor and require less room to store.  When you use it, you can reconstitute it, if necessary, or use it as is.

I generally go with option 3 as follows:

Transfer all the broth to a clean stock pot, bring to a simmer and, leaving the lid OFF, let the liquid reduce by half.  You can now proceed with option 1 or 2 above, or you can reduce it further and make your own demiglace or 'bouillon cubes'.  If you're going to make demiglace, you must first remove the fat.
Removing fat from reduced stock on left,  defatted stock on right
(it's easier to remove the fat from a tall narrow container, than a wide bowl....)

For demiglace, transfer the de-fatted broth to a smaller pot, bring to a simmer and, leaving the lid OFF, let the liquid reduce by half again.  Transfer to a smaller pot and let it reduce by half a third time.  You should now have 8 cups of a very concentrated chicken broth - demiglace.

At this point, you can transfer the demiglace to ice cube trays and freeze - each cube will reconstitute to approximately 1 cup of broth - or you can pressure can it.

I pressure can it in 1/2 c jars.

Two layers of jars in my canner: pint jars on bottom, 1/2 cup jars on top

To reconstitute:  1 demiglace cube, or 1 tablespoon, in a mug with hot water and salt to taste.  

* Whenever I peel an onion, I save the outer layers (which are rich in quercetin) and the root end in a bag in the freezer.
** Whenever I use leeks, I save the dark green leaves in a bag in the freezer.  In summer, when they're abundant, I will also cut up whole leeks and store them in the freezer.
*** Whenever I use celery, I save the outer stalks and the leaves in the freezer.
During the summer, I freeze bags of clean parsley to use in stock.

Using the above mentioned * tricks, I always have vegetables prepped and ready to use in the freezer whenever I decide to make stock.

A Note on Pressure Cooking Stock

Using a pressure cooker will greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to make stock.  HOWEVER, a study done by a SeriouseEats contributor rated the stovetop stock better than either pressure cooker or slow cooker:
"It’s been pretty consistent with every test I’ve done on this in the past: pressure cooker will get you to good results *faster*, but not necessarily absolutely better results. To my palate, the broths did taste slightly different: the pressure cooker version was a little sweeter, maybe due to more maillard reactions taking place in the higher heat, but I don’t necessarily think that’s a good or a bad thing, it’s just different."
If you're interested in this method, you should read the comments because they are enlightening.  One commenter recommended cutting everything as small as possible, including the bones, to get better extraction.   Another commenter referenced a study that claimed a modern pressure cooker made better broth than a jiggle-top pressure cooker.  A third claims that only a pressure cooker can extract gelatin from BEEF bones, but it doesn't do much better than stovetop for chicken.

The main reason why I don't use a pressure cooker is that I haven't found a stainless one that's big enough.  I prefer to make a large amount of broth, concentrate it, and then pressure can it.   I will be researching pressure cooked beef bone broth, though, to see whether it improves gelatin extraction.

Monday, January 14, 2019

RECIPE: Curried Chicken Salad

This is one of our favorite ways to prepare chicken salad.

Curried Chicken Salad
serves 4

2 c. cooked chicken, shredded
(if you're salvaging chicken from broth, add 2 T. fat skimmed from the broth)
1/2 c. curry mayonnaise sauce
1/4 c. minced red onion
1 t. himalayan salt
Opt: 2 T. minced green apple*

Mix everything together.

My husband makes this into a traditional sandwich, I prefer to use it as a 'dip' with vegetable dippers.

*A small amount of green apple adds moisture.  If your chicken is dry (if you salvaged it from making broth) this addition improves the texture.

RECIPE: Cauliflower and Red Pepper Puree

This recipe is from the September 1990 issue of Food and Wine Magazine.  I've been making it for years and it gets rave reviews every time I serve it.  I don't have the original recipe any more so this is my hacked version.

Cauliflower and Roasted Red Pepper 
Serves 6

4 large shallots or 1 head garlic, unpeeled
2 T. roasted red bell pepper
6 c. cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
2 T. butter
1/4 t. cayenne (or to taste)
1 t. himalayan pink salt

Cut 1/4 inch off the tops of the shallots, drizzle with the EVOO, wrap in parchment and then foil, and bake at 400 for 45 minutes.  (If you don't want to bother with this, peel the garlic, cut it in half, and toss it into the steamer with the cauliflower.)

Steam the cauliflower until tender and then drain well.  If it's very wet, you can drain the water from the pan and toss the cauliflower over med-low heat to evaporate some of the moisture.

Puree everything in a food processor or blender, adjust seasoning, and transfer to a heated dish.  Serve immediately.

Friday, January 11, 2019

RECIPE: China Moon Chili Orange Oil, Healthy

Barbara Tropp's The China Moon Cookbook is my go-to book for Chinese-inspired cuisine.  It's not traditional Chinese, it's her take on it as it was served in her restaurant, China Moon Cafe.  Every recipe I've made from this book has been spot-on and delicious!

My favorite recipes are the seasoning oils and vinegars which are useful for all cuisines, not only Chinese, and this one is the best of that bunch!  We adore this on steamed veggies and pasta.  And now, winter, is the best time to make it because oranges are in season!

Original Recipe: China Moon Chili Orange Oil

The original recipe uses corn or peanut oil, which we now know are toxic, so I make it with EVOO or unrefined organic safflower oil .  The recipe can be halved but I've found that it's very hard to monitor the temperature of the oil with smaller amounts.

I've also replaced the Chinese black beans since I could not find any I trusted to be contaminant-free.

China Moon Chili Orange Oil, Upgraded
Makes 3 cups

3 large or 4 small organic* oranges with unblemished skin (I used blood oranges)
1/2 c. organic** red chili flakes (I used 35k from Starwest-Botanical)
3 T. organic Miso (I used South River Azuki Bean Miso)
1 T. organic Tamari  (I use South River Azuki Bean Tamari)
6 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 cups EVOO or  unrefined organic safflower oil
1/4 c. toasted sesame oil (in a glass bottle.  I use Eden Foods, or Spectrum)

Wash the oranges with liquid detergent and and warm water, then scrub them with an abrasive sponge.  Don't skip this step - it releases the oils in the skin.  Remove the zest with a sharp vegetable peeler.  Make sure you remove only the zest (the orange part) and not the white pith underneath it.  Mince the zest.  I ended up with about 2 T.

Combine the zest with the remaining ingredients in a small (1 quart) saucepan and, using a deep-fry thermometer to measure the temperature, heat to 220F over med heat.  Reduce the heat to maintain the temperature at no more than 225F for 15 minutes.  (I use a Thermoworks instant read Thermapen, visible in the photo below.)
Gently bubbling, not boiling.

Remove from heat and let stand until cool.

It was hard to capture the beautiful color of the oil - it's not quite as red as it appears here.

Transfer the oil AND THE SOLIDS to a glass container, cover and store at cool room temperature.  I store mine in Miron glass.  The best part of this oil is the solids, known as GOOP, so choose a container that enables you to retrieve them with a spoon.  Use this oil (and the solids) over steamed broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, or green beans.  Stir it into meatloaf or meatballs, or use it to sauce noodles, rice (including risotto), or white beans. 

Green Beans (on the left) and Broccoli (on the right)
Chicken and Asparagus Risotto (without lovage) and Chile Orange Oil

*Please use organic oranges, since you'll be using the peel which is the most contaminated part.
**Please use organic peppers, they're on the Dirty Dozen list.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

RECIPE: Cabbage and Kielbasa Soup

Our CSA will occasionally have kielbasa sausage for sale.  If not, then I buy ours from Charcut Nuvo in Colorado or Grassland Beef, where they use pasture raised meat and no nitrates.

When I was organizing my fridge last week I found two cabbages and, because they were grown and harvested biodynamically, they were still good!  I also knew I had some kielbasa in the freezer and decided to combine the two ingredients in a soup.  I couldn't find a recipe for what I had in mind so I kluged one up from the three or four that were close.

Cabbage and Kielbasa Soup
Serves 6

2 T. ghee
1 ring(about 1 pound) kielbasa sausage, sliced 1/4" thick
1 large celeriac, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 carrots, sliced 1/4" thick
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium or 1 large cabbage, chopped
2 T. paprika
1.5 t. ground coriander seed
1/2 t. allspice
1/2 t. ground caraway
1/4 t. cayenne
1.5 t. dried dill (or 3 T. fresh)
2 c. tomato passata
5 c. broth (I used veal)
3 t. himalayan pink salt

For serving:
Sour cream
Fresh lemon juice
Minced fresh parsley or dill

In a large dutch oven on med-high, saute the kielbasa in the ghee and transfer to a bowl.  Reserve.

Add the celeriac to the pot and spread out into the fat.  Top with the onions, carrots, garlic, and cabbage, in that order. Partially cover the pot and let them steam for about 5 minutes, until the celeriac is lightly brown.

Deglaze the pan with 1 c. of the broth.  Add the spices and toss to combine.  Stir until the broth has been absorbed.

Add the tomato passata, the veal broth,and the salt and bring to a simmer.  Stir in the reserved kielbasa, reduce the heat and simmer until the cabbage is cooked and the flavors have melded, about 20 minutes.  (At this point, I turned the heat to low and kept it warm for 2 hours.)

Serve with sour cream, a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkle of fresh parsley (or dill).  My husband prefers it with just sour cream....

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

RECIPE: Preserving Citrus Fruit

Every winter, I place an order with La Vigne Fruits for lemons, limes, and oranges which I preserve so they'll last the year.  I prefer to get these from La Vigne Fruits because they're grown biodynamically without any chemicals.

I process the limes first because they're the most perishable.

The lemons and oranges keep for a long time in the fridge but I prefer to keep them in our basement, in the box they arrived in.  If there's only one layer of fruit in the box, covered with the straw it was shipped with, they'll keep for 2 months!

I freeze the zest and the juice, I make some of the juice into curd (which I freeze), and I've made marmalade from the oranges. 

Here's how I do it:

First I remove the zest (using a vegetable peeler).

I vacuum seal the zest and then freeze it.

I cut each fruit in half and juice them using an electric reamer.  My first shipment I juiced by peeling them and running them through my Omega juicer but the result was quite bitter so now I do it 'by hand'.  This particular juicer removes most of the pips.

The juice I pour into ice cube trays, freeze, and then remove from the trays and freeze in reclosable plastic bags.  2.25 cups of juice will fill a silicone jumbo cube tray.

I set the cube tray on the tray from our convection oven to facilitate carrying it downstairs where our freezer is.  I don't fill the cubes all the way to the top, then wiggle the cubes into a reclosable bag to protect them until they're frozen.

Once they're frozen, I remove them from the cube trays and store the cubes in the reclosable bags where they are easy to retrieve when needed.

Some of the limes I cut into eights and then freeze to use in cocktails - they can be used as either 'ice' or as a garnish.  This year, I cut one into slices to see whether I would use that format.

While I freeze most of the juice, I do keep some in the fridge for immediate use.  I store the juice in miron glass jars where it keeps (refrigerated) for months!  I buy my jars on Amazon.  When I run out of fresh juice, I defrost a cube or two and pour it into these jars.

I have also bought guavas and cherimoyas from La Vigne Fruits.  The guavas I make into jam, syrup, and puree which I then pressure can; the cherymoya flesh I freeze.

In summer, I buy kaffir limes and lemongrass which I use to make Thai curry paste.  Both of these go directly into the freezer with no processing, where they stay until I need them.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

RECIPE: Pork tenderloin with Fennel and Garlic Cream

Many years ago, I would buy a Sicilian fennel pate and use it to season pork tenderloin.  I no longer buy this because it's not organic so I make my own.

Pork Tenderloin with Fennel and Garlic Cream
Serves 4-6

2 pounds pork tenderloin from pasture raised pigs (1 large or two small )
2 t. fennel seeds, roasted (do NOT USE RAW fennel seeds!)
1 t. himalayan pink salt
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 
1 t. raisins, minced
1 t. balsamic vinegar
Opt: 1/4 t. cayenne
1/2 c heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 425F.

If necessary, clean the tenderloin(s) (remove the silver skin and excess fat.)  I don't understand why butchers never do this!  Set in a small baking pan with shallow sides - I make this in our small toaster oven.

In a mortar and pestle, pound the fennel seeds until most of them are reduced to powder.  

Add the salt and garlic and pound into puree.  

Add the raisins and incorporate them into the puree.  

Add the EVOO 1 T. at a time and emulsify.  Add the balsamic to complete the emulsion.

Roasted fennel on the left, paste on the right
Spread this paste over the pork as evenly as you can.

Roast for 10 minutes.  Pour in the cream and scrape up any brown bits.  

Roast for another 5 minutes.  

Before roasting on left, after roasting on right

The pork should now be slightly pink.  Because we buy pork that we KNOW has been pasture raised and is unlikely to be contaminated we are comfortable eating it at this temperature.  If you're using conventional pork you should probably cook it until all pink is gone, another 3-5 minutes (or whatever is necessary given the size of the tenderloin).

Remove from heat and let it rest for 5 minutes, tented with parchment.  

Slice the pork 1/2" thick and serve with the seasoned cream sauce.  

Thursday, January 3, 2019

RECIPE: Mexican Pot Roast (Pressure Cooker)

I've been making this recipe for years!  It's from one of my favorite cookbooks, From the Earth to the Table by John Ash.  The original recipe calls for the dish to be cooked in a 350 degree oven for 4 hours.  I have occasionally cooked it overnight at 250 degrees (with added water to prevent burning).  But, there are times when I don't have even 4 hours so I tried cooking it in a pressure cooker.

It was better in the pressure cooker than in the oven!  The meat was tender and moist, and ready in under 2 hours!

If you do this,YOU MUST USE A STAINLESS PRESSURE COOKER!  Mine is made by Fissler,  but many other manufacturers now make them, including Presto, which used to be aluminum.  PLEASE don't use aluminum!  Kuhn-Ricon, Magefesa, Viking, and Instant Pot are other reputable brands.  Do NOT use All-American which is all aluminum.

The original recipe was for a 3-pound brisket but I've found that the 2-pound point sold by USWM is the perfect size for my pressure cooker,and I prefer a higher onion-to-meat ratio so that's what I use.

Mexican Pot Roast (Pressure Cooker)
Serves 6-8

  1. 1/4 c. organic ancho chile powder* OR organic new mexico red chile powder*
  2. 1.25 c. dry red wine (I used syrah)
  3. 1/2 c. fresh orange juice (I used 2 blood oranges, peeled and seeded)
  4. 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar (I used 1/4 c. ACV plus 2 T. sugar)
  5. 4 T. chopped garlic (I used 2 T. dried garlic (homemade))
  6. 2 t. ground cumin
  7. 3/4 t. ground cinnamon (I used Vietnamese)
  8. 1 T. fresh oregano or 1.5 t. dried 
  9. 3 t. himalayan pink salt
  10. 2 pounds of yellow onions, thinly sliced.
  11. 1/3 golden raisins or currants
  12. 2 pounds center cut beef brisket, fat removed (original recipe used 3pounds)
For serving:
Tortillas, sliced avocados, cilantro sprigs, queso fresca or fresh feta cheese

Combine first 9 ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree.
* Peppers should always be organic as they are high in pesticides.  New Mexico chiles are very mild, use them if your tolerance for heat is low.  We find the ancho chile heat is perfect for our palate.  If you prefer a hotter dish, add a few fresh hot chiles to the blender, seeds and all.

Pour 1/2 c. of water into the bottom of the pressure cooker and add the rack or steamer pan.  Add half the sliced onions.  Top with half the raisins and then the beef*.  Add the rest of the onions and raisins.  Pour the spice mixture overall spreading with a spatula to cover the meat.  * If you can't fit the meat in one layer, put some onions and sauce between the two layers.

Cover and lock the lid.  Follow the directions for your unit to bring it up to pressure, lower the heat to maintain that pressure, and cook for 1.5 hours.

Release pressure and remove the meat to a serving dish.  Shred using two forks.  While you're doing this, raise the heat under the sauce in the pressure cooker and evaporate some of the liquid to thicken the sauce.

Mix the onions and the sauce into the shredded meat,

Serve on tortillas garnished with cilantro sprigs, avocado slices, and queso fresco or fresh feta cheese.

John Ash recommends serving this with Merlot but I usually serve the wine I  used to make the sauce.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 - The Perfect New Years Eve

I really wanted to ring in the new year with a clean and tidy house, an organized basement, and all my chores done; but, that didn't happen.  There are still piles of 'basement debris' everywhere, the dog prevents the house from ever being clean for more than a day, and the chores are never ending.

Nonetheless, this was one of the best New Year's Eve I can remember, because we were home alone, in the warmth and safety of the house we love, doing whatever we each felt like doing - we were NOT worrying about the weather and if we'd make it home safely, nor whether our guests would make home safely.

Don't get me wrong - we love to entertain, and we love visiting our friends, but not on New Year's Eve!

We got a lot accomplished during the day, and we had low-stress leftovers for dinner (endive saladraclette, and chocolate roulade).

After dinner, we waited for midnight while reading in front of the fire with the dog at our feet.  I don't remember ever being happier!  At midnight, we toasted our good fortune with our favorite Champagne (mine with the blood orange juice left over from the endive salad).  Half an hour later, we were in bed!

The following day, New Year's Day, we again slept in!  We had a productive day because we weren't hung over, having had only one glass of champagne.

As a result, some of the piles of 'basement debris' have been dispatched, a month's worth of laundry has been washed and put away, all the water jars are full, walnuts have been soaked and dehydrated, there are 6 jars of guava-habanero jam cooling in the kitchen (another 6 jars of guava jelly waiting to be processed), and my 2018 email has been filed which is a HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENT!

I am ready to face 2019!