Savory Schmeres

This pair of recipes may be used as dips, schmeres, spreads, dollops, or any other way you can think of to serve them. I personally like them in small dollops on a cheese cracker or spread on biscuits hot out of the oven.

BACON JALAPENO JAM
Prep Time: 30 minuntes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Serves: 10

Ingredients
1¾ lb. thickly sliced bacon, cut into 1” pieces
2 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
? cup cider vinegar
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup strong brewed coffee
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 bags (large) Kettle Brand Original Chips

Directions
Cook bacon over medium-high heat in a large skillet, stirring occasionally, until bacon is lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Transfer bacon pieces to a large plate or tray to drain.

Saute jalapeño, onion and garlic in bacon fat until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes, then add the vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup and coffee.

Bring mixture to a boil, stirring and scraping up browned bits from skillet.

In a crockpot, combine the bacon and the vinegar mixture, stirring briefly to combine.
Cook on high, uncovered, for 1 hour.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and two tablespoons of the cooking liquid; stir into the bacon crockpot mixture.

Continue to cook on high, uncovered, for 3 hours. Carefully transfer mixture to a blender or food processor and pulse mixture until coarsely chopped.

Transfer to a serving bowl and allow to cool before serving with chips.

Mixture can easily be made and refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 weeks before using.
MEATY ONION RELISH
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Serves: 10

Ingredients 
2 cups drippings from pork loin, roast beef or other roasted meat
4 large sweet yellow onions
1tsp black pepper
1tsp garlic powder or minced garlic

Directions

Peel and dice onions.

In crock pot, combine all ingredients. Set on medium and allow to cook until all onions are soft and clear.

Turn heat to high for 10 minutes. Add arrowroot powder and allow to thicken, stirring often.

Allow to cool before placing in a bowl to serve.

Relish may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks before using. Also good for canning project.

This relish relies on the spices used for the roasted meat as a major part of the flavoring. It will be a little different with every batch, depending on the drippings. Bits of meat and fat may be included, adding to the savory flavors.

 

I apologize for the lack of photos, but these were oddities in my kitchen. Hopefully you will give them a spin and let us know what you think.

Enjoy!

–Ann Cathey

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Hoisin at Home

I got caught flat footed making a crock-pot stir fry the other night. I hadn’t picked up any
hoisin!

As it turns out, I could have made my own from ingredients I had on hand, and probably will next time I create this dish, rather than using a store-bought product. The recipe is so simple, even with a ton of possible variations, that I’m almost embarrassed to reveal it.

For those who are unfamiliar, hoisin sauce is a thick, aromatic sauce commonly used in Chinese cuisine as a glaze for meat, an addition to stir fries, or as dipping sauce. It has both sweetness and pepper heat, though the proportions vary regionally in the Orient, and by taste everywhere else.

There are a ton of variations possible in today’s kitchen and the recipe below reflects this.
Please be sure to read the notes below the recipe before making any final decisions on your own hoisin.

 
Basic Hoisin (with some variations)
Yield: approximately 1/4 cup
Prep time: 10-15 mintues

Ingredients:
4 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp black bean paste OR
1 tbsp peanut butter (natural is better, though commercial will do)

1 tbsp honey OR molasses OR brown sugar
(adjust accordingkly if using commercial peanut butter)

2 tsp rice vinegar OR apple cider vinegar

1 clove garlic, finely shopped or mashed OR
1/4 tsp garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)

1 tsp white onion, finely chopped or mashed OR
1/4 tsp onion powder

2 tsp sesame oil OR extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp black pepper, ground

20 drops Chinese hot sauce OR
appropriatly sized habanero, serrano or jalapeno pepper, mashed

Directions:
Place all ingredients into a bowl and whisk until emulsified. Alternately, place everything
into a Mason jar, seal it up, and shake. Either way, it will take only a few minutes to
properly combine.

Notes:
Soy sauce is your basis, obviously. I’ve been curious about what would happen tothe flavors if Worchestershire is substituted. It apparently gives a more savory and less salty basis to the sauce.

Black bean paste and peanut paste are both shown to be traditional in this sauce, depending on what part of the Orient you prefer to frequent. Chick peas, cashews, or almonds might also be used, though each will lend it’s own distinctive flavor to the sauce.

Rice vinegar is the original ingredient as far as my reasearch has indicated. Apple cider
vinegar will add a different sort of sweetness to the resulting flavor, though it handles the
emulsification quite well. White vinegar will definitely add a bite to the sauce, and may be
favored for the hotter variations.

Fresh garlic is preferable, of course, and less of it is needed. Garlic powder is an excellent
substitute, however. I do not recommend garlic salt as it will increase the saltiness of the
sauce overall and dampen the sweetness of a good hoisin.

Onion powder may be preferable as it takes so little for this serving size. Fresh onion will
lend the same flavor, though you are then left with the rest of the onion to deal with. If you are using fresh onion, however, you get a lot more variety – sweet, mild, hot, peppery, and slightly painful varieties are all available year-round in most areas.

Sesame oil is once again more of a traditional ingredient, thoguh if you have none on hand, an extra virgin olive oil will do. While garlic oil is also available in some areas, it will
cause garlic to become a predominant flavor and potentially drown out everything else.

Black pepper has it’s own special flavor to add to hoisin. I generally prefer white pepper
over black as it offers a milder heat without sacrificing any fo the flavor.

The real heat in this sauce comes from the Chinese hot sauce. Sriracha, Tobasco, or any other commercially available sauce may be used. Understand that using hot sauces stemming from anywhere other than the Orient will give your hoisin a wildly different spin on flavor. Crushing your own fresh peppers into a paste will allow you to use a pepper of your choice, without any extra ingedients. Adjust to your preferences and go wild.

 
Hoisin is such a delightful little sauce, and can be used nearly anywhere a BBQ sauce can be used. As mentioned before, it can be used to marinate meat, as a dipping sauce, as an ingredient for stir fry, or simply tossed with noodles for a side dish.

Try your hand at making a batch and let us know how it turns out. You may never buy hoisin at the market again!

–Ann Cathey

Food Porn – Episode 8

Writing about food can work up a great appetite, but looking at food can make your stomach complain that you are not paying it proper attention.

Being a photographer as well as I writer, I am often confronted with photos that I have taken that don’t quite make the grade as stock photography, but are too good to be wasted. They get lonely when they are simply  archived.

Rather than let these photos sit, allow me to share these tasty items with everyone. Enjoy!

DSC_0405 - Stew

Hearty Homemade Stew – looks like dog food, tastes amazing over fresh cornbread.

DSC_0022 - Apple Bacon Honey

Apple Bacon Honey appetizer.

DSC_0829 - Hot Layered Dip

Hot Layered Dip – this was a recipe form ALDI featured earlier on this blog.

DSC_0023 - Savory mince meat

Savory Mince Meat – scratch made mince meat from a Viking period recipe.

DSC_0024 - Salmon

Cured Salmon with Dill

DSC_0308

Half-pound Burgers

Burgers and home-made sausage links on the grill.

Burgers and home-made sausage links on the grill.

Cheesy Pinto Bean Dip courtesy of ALDI

Some of you are already aware of a little grocery chain called ALDI. They only take cash or debit, make you bag your own groceries, and get you to return your shopping carts properly by charging you a quarter to use one – which you get back when you return the cart.

They also maintain a website that offers recipes using products available in their store. Some items may only be temporary, so if you want to try it exactly the way it’s published, make haste with your ingredients. You can always figure out substitutions later. One such recipe that caught our eye while we were visiting the sore is the Cheesy Pinto Bean Dip, made available the week before the Superbowl. Good marketing on ALDI’s part.

Of course, we had to pick up all the ingredients we could find that we were interested in, and substitutions for what was not available. We did leave out the green chilies and onions, and bought Mexican Bland cheese rather than the Quesadilla Cheese, which we could not locate. Mild salsa was used in place of Medium to allow the flavors rather than the heat to be sampled. Black olives replaced the green chilies to good effect, both as a layer and sprinkled on top.

Their Test Kitchen Photo

Following the recipe was quite simple. We went step by step, building the dip in layers. By the time it went into the oven, we were more than ready to try it! The anticipation in the kitchen was not overwhelming, though definitely present. When the oven opened, the drooling began. The cheese on top had melted into a lovely golden layer. We knew what it was hiding beneath and couldn’t wait to try it. We let it cool a little so as not to burn ourselves too badly before digging in, chips first.

The chips we prefer are a thinner, crispier style that threatened to break in dense depths of cheese and beans. The flavors made us not worry about the chips. The two types and textures of cheeses, one very melty and gooey while hot and the other very creamy, made a lovely contrast while complimenting each other with cheesy goodness. The beans offered two different textures, one creamy re-fried style and the other whole beans, that again complimented one another and the cheeses. The seasoning in the beans was enough to enhance the flavors without overpowering them. The salsa was a little underplayed in the flavor, but lent the crunchy texture of peppers, onions, and tomatoes in the middle of the layers.

Our Test Kitchen Photo

Our compliments to Chef Alyssa from the ALDI Test Kitchen for this simple and tasty recipe. We will be checking out more recipes from ALDI in the future!

-Ann Cathey