hot sauce

We had a bit of a hot sauce showdown around here last week.  I really wanted to make hot sauce after seeing the spicy pepper selections at the union square green market and the brooklyn kitchen.  I couldn’t decide if I wanted it roasted with onions and garlic (left) or thin and vinegary (right).  With the husband’s help, we made both.

If you have made hot sauce before you already know about the eye watering, cough inducing, curse evoking hot pepper fumes.  Work in a ventilated kitchen, utilizing any window, fan or gas mask you may have.  And consider wearing gloves.

Use any combination or peppers you like.  I added 1/2 an orange bell pepper to hot sauce 1 because I’m a wimp.  For a spicier taste, omit bell pepper.

Hot Sauce 1

1/2 lb hot peppers, stems removed, roughly chopped

1/2 of 1 bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, roughly chopped

3 tablespoons (or so) water

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup white vinegar

In a blender, puree peppers and salt, adding water as necessary.  Transfer to a jar, cover and let stand at room temperature over night.  Add vinegar and let stand at room temperature,  covered 48 hours.  Puree mixture in a blender and strain into clean jar or bottle.  (I like a little bottle outfitted with a speed pour top.)    Store in fridge up to 6 months.

Hot Sauce 2

3/4 lb hot peppers, halved, stems and seeds removed

2 cloves garlic

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

1 shallot, peeled and chopped

drizzle olive oil

6 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon salt

1/4 cup water, plus more if needed

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Arrange peppers and garlic on baking sheet.  Roast about 20 minutes.  Set aside.  In a pan with medium low heat, saute carrot and shallot in drizzle of olive oil until caramelized, about 10-15 minutes.   Transfer to blender and add garlic and peppers.  Add vinegar, salt and water.  Puree.  Add more water if needed to help with blending.  Strain into  clean jar or bottle.  Keep in fridge up to 6 months.

Eggplant Parm

I’ve been on the fence about eggplants for awhile but recently heard someone refer to it as a ‘poor persons meat’  and for some reason found this appealing.  This is a traditional, straight forward recipe that requires no frying in oil.  When the eggplant comes out of the oven it should have a surprisingly light and pillowy quality.

Use any tomato sauce of your liking.  The one feature here is bright tasting and very quick.  (it’s my new favorite for pizza as well.)

Eggplant Parmesan

1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced

salt and pepper

1 egg, beaten

3/4 cup bread crumbs, purchased or homemade

1/4 cup parmesan, grated

1/2 portion fresh mozzarella

few sprigs fresh basil

about 1 cup tomato sauce, purchased or homemade (see below)

Begin by salting the eggplant to release its water and tame its bitterness.  Do this by sprinkling/rubbing eggplant slices with salt, placing in a colander and weighing down.  (heavy pot with a bag of rice or cookbook in it always works well.)  Leave for 45 minutes.  Dry slices with a towel.

Heat oven to 475 degrees.  Set up an assembly line for yourself with the beaten egg in one shallow dish and the bread crumbs, grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper combined in another.  (easy on the salt as the eggplant slices are already salted.) Dip eggplant slices one by one into egg and then into bread crumb/parm mix coating well.  Place onto baking sheet.  Repeat with all slices and bake 15-20 minutes, until golden.

Remove from oven and turn on broiler, moving rack to highest position in oven.  On each slice, place a leaf or two of fresh basil, a spoonful of tomato sauce and a thin slice of fresh mozzarella cheese.  Return to oven and broil, until cheese is melted, about 4 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Quick  and Bright Tomato Sauce

1 tin whole peeled tomatoes

drizzle olive oil

2 cloves garlic, diced

salt and pepper

In a blender, puree tomatoes and all juices from can.  Set aside.  In a small pot, saute garlic in a small pan about 2 minutes.  Add tomato puree cook until warm.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Fire Cookies

I put hot sauce on just about everything so it was only a matter of time before I started craving my desserts with a little kick.  Serve these delightful little ones with milk.

Chocolate Cayenne Cookies

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch more for sprinkling

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup canola oil

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine dry ingredients.  Add oil, eggs and vanilla.  Stir until evenly mixed.  Chill dough for 2 hours.  Scoop into spheres of a size of your choice.  (I aimed for a generous tablespoon.)  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.  Arrange on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees about 12 minutes.

 

Peach Sangria

Still plenty of peaches at the farmer’s market.  (I tried to sparkle a bottle of white wine for this recipe with a Sodastream soda maker.  It worked okay but I think it’s just better to let still wine be still and just buy sparkling when wishing for bubbles.)  This recipe works with both still and sparkling wine.  I think vinho verde would be great.  Makes 4 servings.

Peach Sangria

1 bottle white wine, your pick

2 oz cointreau or triple sec

2 oz brandy

1 ripe peach, pitted and sliced

rosemary sprigs, 1 per glass

ice

Pour everything into a pitcher and stir.  Serve over ice, garnishing with a sprig of rosemary.

Stuffed Peppers

These are a childhood favorite.  They were always pretty and delicious.  This recipe makes 4 large servings but peppers could be cut in half and served like little bell pepper boats, serving 6.

StuffedBell Peppers

4 red bell peppers, washed, seeded with tops cut off

1 1lb ground lean turkey

1 1/2 cup cooked brown rice

1 small yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, diced

few springs fresh basil and parsley

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

salt and pepper

generous grating of parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce

tomato sauce 

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine turkey, rice, onion, garlic, herbs, pepper flakes, s&p, parmesan cheese and worcestershire sauce.  In each pepper, add a spoonful of tomato sauce.  Fill peppers with turkey mixture and bake uncovered until meat thermometer inserted into the middle of each pepper reads 165 degrees, about 1 hour.  Serve warm and with tomato sauce.

Spiced Peach Muffins

The peaches are the best part of these muffins with the baking spices bringing out their natural sweetness.

Spiced Peach Muffins

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup oat bran

1 1/2 cup flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cardamon

1/4 teaspoon all spice

1 cup milk

2 peaches, pitted, peeled and chopped

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix butter, egg, sugars, lemon zest and vanilla until combined.  Add dry ingredients and milk.  Stir in peaches. Spoon into papered or greased muffin pans about 2/3 full.  Bake about 18 minutes or until cake tester tests clean.  Remove from tins and cool.

Farro Summer Salad

Farro isn’t the quickest thing to make.  It often requires soaking and then takes about an hour to cook but it’s worth it.  The grain’s firm, chewy texture and nutty profile make it a lovely substitute for rice or quinoa.

Farro Summer Salad

5 ears corn, kernels cut from cob

1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced

drizzle of olive oil

1 tin pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 red onion, diced

1 cup dried farro, cooked  (will be about 2 cups once prepared)

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

handful fresh cilantro, chopped

smaller handful fresh chives and basil

1 avocado, peeled, cored and diced

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

fresh ground black pepper

2 dashed worcestershire sauce

Over medium high heat, saute corn and poblano pepper in a small drizzle of olive oil.  Cook about 5 minutes until corn is bright, sweet and no longer starchy.  Set aside to cool.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl mix farro, onion, tomato, pinto beans and fresh herbs.  Add corn, poblano peppers and avocado.  In a small bowl whisk olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, s&p and worcestershire.  Combine salad and dressing.

Vegetable Strudel

Phyllo dough consists of very thin sheets of pastry that are layers together to create a delicate flaky crust.  It is sold frozen and should be thawed in the fridge.  Once thawed and opened, it will need to be kept under a damp towel or plastic wrap so it won’t dry out.  I used Apollo brand #4 pastry sheets which are 12×17″ and cut them in half leaving me with 12×8.5″ pieces.  The package contains 28 full size sheets.   This recipe doesn’t use the entire package so securely wrap up remaining sheets in plastic wrap and return to fridge or freezer.   Serve with basalmic vinaigrette.

Vegetable Strudel

24 (or so) sheets thawed phyllo dough

1/2 stick butter, melted

1 red pepper, washed, seeded, sliced

1 yellow pepper, washed, seeded, sliced

1 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed

1 log chevre (goat’s milk cheese) , herbed or regular

black pepper

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Place 1 sheet of phyllo dough on work surface.  Lightly brush with butter.  Place another sheet on top of the previous and brush lightly with butter.  Repeat until there are 4 layers.  Line up chevre, asparagus and peppers and sprinkle with black pepper.  Roll up, fold edges under to seal.  Brush with butter and poke 4 small holes in top to vent.  Repeat until you have 6 strudels.  Place all on baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 30 minutes.

Old Fashioned at the ready

I love an old fashioned cocktail but don’t always have all the components in the house.  After this is made, I’ll have my favorite drink ready for when I’d like one.  Serve chilled and up or on the rocks with the optional splash of club soda.

Old Fashioned Bourbon

One bottle bourbon whiskey

16 dashes or so of anosturga bitters

10 cherries, pitted

peel of one lemon, pith removed

peel of one orange, pith removed

2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, optional

Combine all ingredients in a large glass container and cover.  Let infuse for five days.  Stir everyday or so.  Strain.  Bottle, label and distribute as gifts or keep if all for yourself.

Mixed Berry Crisp

I’m used to apple crisps like the favorite one my mom made when I was small.  It’s very simple and sweet (but not too sweet.)  We’re not quite at apple season so berries it is.  Serve with whipped cream or ice cream for dessert or on its own for breakfast.

Mixed Berry Crisp

1 package raspberries

1 package blackberries

1 package blueberries

1/2 stick butter, cut in pieces

3/4 cup oats

1/2 cup all purpose flour  (or whole wheat)

1/4 cup light brown sugar

pinch salt

dash cinnamon

zest of one lemon

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Wash and dry berries.  Place berries in baking dish (8×8″ square, pie or small single serving dishes ) and set aside.

In a bowl mix butter, oats, flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and lemon zest until it comes together.  It works best to mix by hand.

Cover berries with oat mixture and bake 30 minutes.