Archive for March, 2010

Red Wine & Cherry Sauce for Lamb or Venison

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Since I seem to be on a sauces kick lately, I thought I’d stay on the same theme and recount a fantastic red wine and cherry sauce I recently made.  I served it with roast lamb, but it would go just as well with venison

  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 red pepper, cut to small dice
  • 6-8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup oil or butter
  • approximately 2 tablespoons flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups 100% cherry juice

Add the oil or butter to a hot, large saute pan with a healthy pinch of pepper.  Saute the garlic and red pepper in the seasoned oil with a small pinch (~1/4 tsp) salt.  As the pepper softens and the garlic starts to brown, add the mushrooms with another, similarly sized pinch of salt.  Stirring constantly, saute until the mushrooms have cooked down and released the oil that they absorbed when they began cooking.  If necessary, cook the mushrooms in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.

Returning all vegetables to the pan, stir flour into the cooked vegetables.  Once the flour has formed a roux with the cooking oil, stir in red wine, gradually.  Once the red wine has been fully absorbed into the roux, stir the cherry juice in, again gradually.  Let simmer approximately 20 minutes, stirring regularly and adjusting the consistency of the sauce, if necessary, by adding a small amount of cherry juice as the sauce gets too thick.

Serve atop grilled or roasted lamb or venison.

Homemade Hot Sauce, Take 1

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

This is my first stab at creating a hot sauce, and I will be tweaking the formula in subsequent batches, but the results were good enough to merit sharing.  This sauce takes a long time to simmer, and its yield is low because of the intense reduction—but as a result, it is packed with flavor!  The first taste is sweet and the heat kicks in quickly thereafter.

  • 3 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 habanero peppers
  • 1 serrano pepper
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • small drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • 3 cups vegetable sauce
  • 1/2 cup vinegar

Cut the vegetables into rough chunks.  Saute lightly with salt and paprika (which mainly serves as a coloring agent) in a trace amount of olive oil, about 2 minutes or until vegetables just start to soften.  Add white wine, bring to a boil and reduce by 2/3.

Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and let the liquid reduce until the pan is almost dry.  How long this will take will depend on many factors, including what size pan you are using and exactly how high your heat is.  Keep a loose eye on it, stirring occasionally, and reduce the heat as the pan approaches dryness; keeping a closer eye on the situation the less liquid remains.

Add the vinegar to the reduction, bring to a boil and let boil for about 30 seconds to a minute.  Strain through cheesecloth, squeezing the cheesecloth to extract as much juice as you can.

Yield: just over 1/2 cup highly flavorful sauce.

Mac and Cheese and More!

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

You can use the same basic technique employed to create the garlic sauce for the Coliflor al Ajillo to create a fantastic mac and cheese with sauteed vegetables from scratch.

* 1 pound pasta (elbow macaroni for a classic look–but consider rotini: its spirals really cling to the sauce!)
* approx. 1/4 cup cooking oil
* 1 small onion, diced
* 6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
* 1-2 cups broccoli, chopped finely
* 1 red bell pepper, diced
* 1 jalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed, cut to very fine dice
* approx 1/4 cup flour
* 2 cups milk
* 1/2 pound cheese, shredded (cheddar is great. So is cahill porter. For a blue cheese sauce, try 1/3 of weight in gorgonzola and the remainder in cheddar)
* salt and pepper to taste
* about 1/4 teaspoon allspice
* 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary (optional–but great if you’ve got it!)

Put cooking oil in large, hot sauté pan. Add pepper and rosemary to the cooking oil to infuse it (and the final product) with their flavor.

Add onion and garlic to the pan with about 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until they start to brown at the edges. Add broccoli with a tiny pinch of salt, cook for !out 2-3 minutes; then add peppers (bell and jalapeño) with another tiny salt infusion.

Stir flour into vegetables so that it combines with oil to make a roux (add just a tiny bit more oil if necessary) and once a roux has formed, stir the milk in gradually so that all roux is incorporated.

Let simmer forabout 15-20 minutes. When sauce is approaching doneness, cook pasta (about 5-6 min. For elbow mac, closer to 9-11 for rotini).

Just prior to draining pasta, stir the cheese into the sauce gradually so that all cheese melts and is incorporated. Thin the sauce with a tiny bit of pasta cooking water if necessary.

Drain pasta and combine with completed sauce. Serves 4-6.

Coliflor y Pimientos Al Ajillo

Friday, March 19th, 2010

This Spanish-style dish is a great variation on roasted cauliflower!

  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florettes
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into a small dice
  • 12 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 - 1.5 tablespoons flour
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • water or vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

Toss the cauliflower with olive oil; put on a baking sheet with a lip and roast at 375 F for 17-20 minutes, depending on how large you cut the florettes.

Meanwhile, saute the garlic and red pepper in about 3 tablespoons of oil with a touch of salt and pepper.  As the garlic starts to soften and show the slightest hint of brown, stir in the flour.  The result should be a roux with the consistency of wet sand.  Add more oil if necessary.  After the roux has a chance to cook for a minute or two–or whenever you fear that the garlic may be getting too dark, whichever comes first–Whisk in the lime juice, and then the water or vegetable stock to form the sauce.  You’ll likely need about 1.5 - 2 cups total liquid.  Let simmer for about 15 minutes.  The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  You can always thin the sauce out if it starts getting too thick by adding more liquid, but the only way to thicken it up if you add too much liquid is to let it simmer longer (do not add more flour once the sauce has started to simmer!).

To serve, toss the roasted cauliflower with the completed sauce and put on a platter for family-style service.

Fantastic Coffee Bitters

Friday, March 12th, 2010

I’ve read how Angostura and other bitters are in short supply.  Should bitters be an indispensable part of your bar stock, it’s quite easy to make your own.  The process is simple: put spices and herbs in neutral spirit.  Let marinate until done.  Strain.

The coffee bitters I’m providing a recipe for are pretty good–especially in an old-fashioned.  They bring a lot of flavor to the table.

Coffee Bitters:

In 2 cups of neutral spirit (vodka or grain alcohol), marinate (in a clean jelly jar with a tight-fitting lid) 1 1/2 tablespoons whole coffee beans and 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns.  Let sit 8 days.  Add 1 cinnamon stick and 2 whole allspice berries.  Let sit another 2 weeks.  Strain, and store in same glass jar with tight-fitting lid.

Sugar Overload!

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

So, I just noticed someone (enjoying?) a 24-ounce Pepsi for their breakfast beverage. I wonder how many of them someone who drinks one for breakfast has over the course of a day, but I’m going to go ahead and assume if someone is willing to crack one open at 8 in the am, it’s likely a daily occurance. My curiosity piqued, I looked at the nutritional information and calculated sugar consumption over the course of a year.

A 24-ounce Pepsi has 83 grams of sugar in it. Converting at 28.35 grams per ounce, that’s 2.93 ounces of sugar in the bottle. Assuming just 1 bottle per day, that’s going to multiply out to a whopping 66.78 pounds of sugar over the course of a year, just with breakfast alone!

To put that in perspective for those of us who could never imagine drinking a soft drink in the morning, to match that sugar consumption would require stirring 6.7 tablespoons of granulated sugar into your coffee every day.

On a completely unrelated topic, I wonder why both obesity and diabetes are on the rise?