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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The Garlic Festival

The Texas Renaissance Festival is not only a lot of fun to visit, it is an incredible marketing venue for small businesses of a certain flavor. We were lucky enough to encounter an incredibly wonderful flavor during our first visit to TRF this year. Garlic.

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The Texas Garlic Festival has a booth offering all sorts of garlic based goods, from rubs to pickled cloves, and bread and popcorn seasonings in a variety of flavors. You get to taste them all as you circle the booth like a garlic shark. At least, I did.

The Pickled Garlic was my top pick among the offerings available. The pickling process maintained a definite crunch to the cloves, while bringing out the sweetness of the garlic usually only found when roasted. I tried all four varieties: Spicy Herb, Mustard Dill, Teriyaki, and Jalapeno. I wanted to run off with a case of the Mustard Dill! It’s like candy for me, and fits into my diabetic diet. The Teriyaki was extremely tasty, though the sugar content may put some folks off. The Spicy Herb and Jalapeno, while very flavorful, were a trifle hot for me personally.

The company maintains a blog that touts, “Our Garlic Festival Blog is a great resource for all things garlic.  Here you can learn about the health benefits of garlic, some great garlic recipes for healthy eating, how to grow your own garlic and updates of garlicky events in your area.” There is information about meats and veggies, recipes, product reviews and mroe.

They also offer a listing of events where they will be hawking their delicious garlic products. Select your state and find out where they will be. If all else fails, you check them out their online store, and even place orders on the website.

If you happen to be out to TRF this season, definitely stop by and give these folks a try. They are located in a kiosk style booth across from the Polish Pub, near the Falconry stage.

— Ann Cathey
(Who ate enough garlic that Christopher avoided kissing her for several hours)

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