Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Spicy Tomato Jam

As summer comes to a close, I’ve been trying to make sure that we get to keep a little of it to get us through the winter. We get amazing peaches here, and the ones we didn’t eat are stored away as vanilla bean peach jam. Tomatoes are coming to the end of their season too, and so I’ve been working on preserving those too. Along with some pantry-staple diced tomatoes and plain tomato sauce, I also wanted to have a little fun. Thinking of the quick tomato chutney I like so much, I went with a spicy tomato jam that gets me similar flavors when tomato season is long gone.

When I took crostini layered with this jam, caramelized onions and prosciutto to a party recently, one friend called it ketchup for grownups. It does have that sweet and sour profile, but with some heat and spice that dresses it up a bit. It’s great on grilled cheese sandwiches or BLTs in place of the fresh tomato, and makes an excellent dipping sauce for sweet potato fries. It really is quite spicy, so cut back on the red pepper flakes if you’d prefer a little less heat.

Spicy Tomato Jam

What’s in it:
3 lbs best quality tomatoes, cored and chopped
2 c granulated sugar
1/4 c bottled lemon juice (I use bottled when canning, as it has a more consistent pH level)
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin

How to make it:

If you are going to preserve the jam, prepare the jars and lids- this recipe made three half-pint jars for me.  (The Ball website and the National Center for Home Food Preservation are two great sources for information on canning and preserving.)

Combine tomatoes, sugar, lemon juice, ginger, red pepper flakes, salt, cinnamon, and cumin in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer until the mixture reaches a thick, jam like consistency, about two and a half hours. Stir regularly during the simmering time, as the mixture will get thicker at the bottom and may burn.

Ladle the hot jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims of the jars, cover with lids, and screw bands on until just barely tight. Process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes, and allow them to rest undisturbed on countertop for six hours or overnight.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Loaded Potato Soup

As fall has set in here we've been getting a lot more cool, rainy grey days and I've been craving warm, comforting soups.  The evening this potato soup came together was no exception, and it was wonderful to watch the drizzle outside from a warm kitchen with a big pot of soup simmering on the stove.

This soup actually comes together quickly enough for a weeknight while still being flavorful and hearty.  I used a potato masher because I like my soup a little on the chunky side, but a regular or immersion blender would give you a smoother texture.  Anything you would put on a baked potato would be a nice topping- I'm looking forward to a ladle of chili stirred in the next time we're using up the odds and ends from the freezer.

Loaded Potato Soup

What's in it:

6 slices of bacon, chopped*
1 medium onion, diced
3 medium carrots, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" dice
1 tsp dried thyme
4 c chicken stock or broth*
2 oz cream or neufchatel cheese
1/4 c heavy cream or half & half
1 c shredded cheddar, jack or colby cheese, divided
2 c steamed broccoli
3 scallions, thinly sliced

How to make it:

Heat a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat.  Add the bacon and cook until crispy.  Remove bacon from pan to paper towels to drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of bacon fat in the pot.

Add olive oil if necessary for 2 tablespoons total, and add the onions and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until soft, then add carrots and garlic.  Allow the vegetables to cook until they start to develop some color.

Add the potatoes and thyme, stirring to combine, and season with salt and pepper again.  Add the chicken broth and bring the soup to a simmer.  Cook until potatoes begin to fall apart, about 10-15 minutes.  Break up potatoes with a potato masher to desired texture.  Over low heat, add the cream cheese and cream, if using, and stir until cream cheese melts.  Stir in 3/4 cup of the cheese.

Serve topped with the reserved bacon, remaining cheese, steamed broccoli and scallions.

*This is just as good as a meatless meal.  Skip the bacon, use all olive oil, and sub vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Crispy Baked Thai Chicken Wings

I was pretty excited to get my recipe for this round of A Taste of Home Cooking's recipe swap.  Sunday afternoon means football in our house during the fall and into winter, and I love to have "football foods" for lunch while we catch the one o'clock game.  For this season's inaugural Sunday afternoon, I had already been planning on classic buffalo wings, so Jill's recipe for baked wings with Thai curry-lime sauce fit right into my plan.

I LOVED these wings.  The spicy-sour-sweet combo is one of my favorites, and the sauce here hits all those notes for me.  It's probably even going to make another appearance in my kitchen this week, as part of a shrimp stir fry.  I added a little more honey because I like my wings to be a little on the sticky side, and skipped the cilantro in favor of some toasted sesame seeds and scallions because as much as I want to like it, cilantro just never tastes good to me.  I also popped the wings back in the oven for a few minutes after their initial dip in the sauce for some caramelization, and thickened the sauce up while they were there for another thick coat of the good stuff when they came out.

Crispy Baked Thai Chicken Wings

What's in them:

4 pounds chicken wings
extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ c (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 generous Tbsp of Thai red curry paste
2 Tbsp honey
2 tsp soy sauce
zest and juice of 1 lime

1 tsp cornstarch
thinly sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

How to make them:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the chicken wings from the package and pat them really dry.  Place them in a large bowl, drizzle generously with olive oil, season well with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Spread the wings onto a baking sheet and roast them in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the skin gets crisp and brown, and the meat is tender. Flip the wings about half-way through cooking to ensure that both sides get golden brown.

While the chicken wings are cooking, place the butter, red curry paste, honey, zest of the lime and soy sauce into a medium saucepan. Warm the mixture over low heat, whisking frequently to incorporate all of the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm until the wings are cooked.

When the chicken wings are ready, toss them, in batches if necessary, in the curry lime sauce, returning them to the baking sheet when coated.  Place the wings back in the oven, baking for another 5-7 minutes until the sauce begins to lightly caramelize.

Meanwhile, stir the lime juice into the remaining curry lime sauce, whisk in the cornstarch, and bring to a gentle boil, letting it cook and bubble until the sauce has thickened.  Plate wings, drizzle with thickened sauce, and garnish with scallion and sesame seeds if desired.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cinnamon Spice Sugar Cookies

Last week's rain and cooler temperatures had me thinking about fall, and the warm, comforting flavors that go with it in my mind.  In the mood to bake, I wanted something sweet and spiced, but gingerbread seemed too heavy- it wasn't that cool out.  These spiced sugar cookies were a great compromise, light and crisp but with enough warmth from the cinnamon, ginger and allspice to make the transition to fall.

These are slice and bake sugar cookies, but I'm looking forward to incorporating the spices into a roll-out sugar cookie recipe for some pretty autumn leaf cut out cookies!

Cinnamon Spice Sugar Cookies
adapted from Food & Wine

What's in them:

1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
Large pinch of salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 c (lightly packed) light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 tsp cinnamon extract
1/4 c turbinado sugar
How to make them:

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices.  Using an electric mixer, in a large bowl, beat the butter with the granulated sugar and the brown sugar at medium speed until fluffy.  Add the egg and extracts and beat until pale.  Stir in the dry ingredients just until combined.  Shape the dough into an 8" log and refrigerate or freeze until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Unwrap the log and slice 1/4" thick.  Arrange the slices 1 inch apart on 2 large cookie sheets, sprinkle with turbinado sugar and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until golden.  Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool and bake the remaining cookies. Serve the cookies when they have cooled.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hot Crab Dip

When I first clicked on the link for my recipe in this week's swap, I was a little scared.  The title was Dip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, but I was seeing photos of a full-out low-country boil.  While I love the food, I was not prepared to plan and host a crab boil within the two weeks I had to make my recipe and share it here!  The crab dip that was actually my assignment was delicious, and what I also loved about it was how it reminded me how small the world can be.  Nicole's inspiration for this came from right in my back yard, when she was in Annapolis for her brother-in-law's introduction to the U.S. Naval Academy.  Living in the DC area and working for the Navy, this is certainly something I can connect with!

I made this mostly how Nicole did, adding the horseradish and Tabasco she omitted from the original recipe because we do love spicy here.  I also increased the Old Bay because nothing goes better with crab, and increased the Tabasco as well because nothing is ever really spicy enough.  And if you have leftovers, the dip makes an awesome omelet filling, with a few avocado slices on the side.

Hot Crab Dip
What's in it:

2 packages (8-oz) cream cheese, at room temp
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
4 whole green onions, sliced
2 Tbsp milk, half & half or cream
2 Tbsp horseradish
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
10 dashes Tabasco
16 oz crabmeat
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

How to make it:

Combine all ingredients except crab and parmesan cheese.  Add crab and gently stir until just combined.

Spread into a heatproof baking dish. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and bubbly on top, broiling if necessary.  Serve hot with crackers, baguette slices, or crostini.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lamb Kebabs with Potato Moutabel

What originally caught my attention in this recipe was the potatoes.  I love Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food, but I had never really thought about mashed potatoes as being part of that cuisine.  I was also intrigued by the vegetables and cheese in the lamb, which is pretty different from how I've generally seen and eaten it. 

But basically, the moutabel is like the love child of hummus and buttermilk mashed potatoes.  The nutty tahini and tangy yogurt go so well together here.  I also really liked how the peppers and mushrooms kept the lamb from being too rich.  With cumin-roasted carrots on the side, this was a great dinner that combined some more exotic flavors with familiar foods.  In the future, I think I may prepare the lamb as a meatloaf instead, for a fun twist on the classic meatloaf and mashed potato dinner.

Lamb Kebabs with Potato Moutabel
adapted from Serious Eats

What's in it:

 For the kebabs:
16 oz ground lamb
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 c finely chopped mushrooms
1 c (4 oz) finely chopped mozzarella
1/2 c coarsely chopped walnuts
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper

For the moutabel:
2 large baking potatoes, scrubbed but unpeeled, cut into rough chunks
3 Tbsp lemon juice

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp yogurt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper

How to make it:

For the kebabs: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix gently.  Shape the kebabs onto flat metal skewers if grilling, using about 3 tablespoons for each, shaping the meat around the top end of the skewer; alternatively, if pan-frying, form oblong patties.  Grill or pan-fry for 6–8 minutes, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through.

To make the moutabel: Cook the potatoes in a large saucepan of lightly salted water over medium heat until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Coarsely mash the potatoes with their skins. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, yogurt and cumin. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the lamb kebabs with the potato moutabel.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream

During the summer, I love iced coffee.  And as an occasional treat, I like to add a little sweetened condensed milk to it.  The rich caramelly flavor is great with strong coffee  without overpowering it the way cream or half & half usually does.  When I saw this recipe for Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream on Ezra Pound Cake pop up in my reader, I didn't even read past the title, and just starred it right then and there.

I pretty much left the recipe alone, just adding a little vanilla extract because, well, I felt like it.  For the coffee, I just used some of the cold-brewed coffee I keep stocked in the fridge all summer, and added about a tablespoon of the instant espresso I keep around for baking.  This makes a great summer treat- iIf I thought I could sneak ice cream past my daughter in the morning, I'd be putting a scoop of this in my coffee instead of ice!

Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream

What's in it:

1 1/2 c sweetened condensed milk (almost 2 cans)
1 1/2 c brewed espresso or very strongly brewed coffee, or your regular coffee with some help from instant espresso
1/2 c half-and-half or milk (using milk will result in a slightly less creamy ice cream)
2-3 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
Big pinch of finely ground dark roast coffee (optional)

How to make it:

The day before you plan to make your ice cream, freeze your ice cream maker's bowl as appropriate (if you're using a KitchenAid mixer ice cream bowl, try freezing it upside down for more even ice cream churning!).

In a large bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients.  Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions.  I churned for about 20 minutes on medium-low speed.