Sunday, August 29, 2010

Quick Grape Jelly

Our gracious hosts were very generous not only of letting us stay at the lake house, but they also made a gift of 2.5 pounds of concord grapes that were grown on a trellis in their yard.

After running them through the food mill, I got 2.5 cups of juice. That is about enough for a half batch of grape jelly.

Add 3/4 cup of water and bring to simmer for 10 minutes.

Add 1/2 a package of pectin and bring to a boil, add 3 cups sugar.

Bring to boil again and let it roll for a minute stirring constantly.

Can in 1/2 pint glasses and process in water bath for 10 minutes.

I look forward to having some in the deep of winter.

Until later, Eat Well & Keep Digging!

The Gastronomic Gardener
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Monday, August 23, 2010

Seafood Diablo

It's been while since I've made my  Seafood Diablo, and since I had a bit of fresh tomato sauce from Saturday that didn't make it into a jar I decided to give it a go.

Seafood Diablo (serves 4 generously)

1 lb mixed seafood - thawed under running cold water in a colander
2 cups tomato sauce
1 Serrano pepper finely diced ( use any hot pepper you want)
2 small sweet peppers sliced
1 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic chopped
2 TBS olive oil
1/4 - 1/2 cup vinegar based hot sauce
1 lb dried pasta

Put large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Follow box instructions.

Add olive oil to large pan over med heat, add peppers, onions and garlic. Cook stirring occasionally until onions are soft.

Add the tomato sauce, and stir. This was a bit thin so I cooked it down a bit.

Add pasta to boiling water.

Add seafood mix to sauce. Reduce heat to medium.

While pasta boils, cook seafood gently.
When pasta is just about al dente, add it to the sauce.

Add hot sauce to taste.
Toss (or stir)to coat in the sauce until pasta is finished.


Eat Well and Keep Digging!

The Gastronomic Gardener
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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Canned Tomato Sauce - Summer in a Jar!

I have a good pile of tomatoes that I'm never going to be able to eat while fresh so I decided to can some up for the cold winter nights. I can already taste some delicious pasta made from the summer's harvest.

I started with a big bag (2 gallon) of tomatoes quartered.

Put them in a big pot with some garlic, dried oregano and basil, and a little bit of olive oil. The exact recipe in in the Balls  Blue book - guide to canning and preserving.

Cook them down until quite soft.- about 20-30 minutes.

I have a new gadget, a food mill. This will make it easy to remove the skins and seeds. It's wet because I just washed it prior to using it the first time.

Run the cooked tomatoes through the mill.
Cook down the tomato sauce until the volume is reduced by half.

Then can as normal - adding 1 TBS on lemon juice to each jar prior to filling with sauce.
I processed them for 35 minutes per the instructions for pint jars. And voila! Summer in a jar!

Until next time, Eat well and keep digging!

The Gastronomic Gardener
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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Curried Okra With Onions

Last weekend I was given a bunch - actually about a pound of  Okra.

I'm not very familiar with this vegetable having only had it in gumbo so I had to look up a recipe.

I thought this might be good.

Curried Okra with Onions

•1 pound okra, washed, trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
•2 tablespoons vegetable oil
•1 large onion, quartered and sliced
•dash cayenne pepper, or more to taste
•1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
•1/4 teaspoon mild curry powder, or to taste
•salt and pepper, to taste
Here we have the ingredients - simple - just the way I like it.

Clean up the Okra and cut into 1/2" pieces.

Heat the oil in a heavy pan - I used a wok. Add okra and fry for 10 minutes, stirring often until it is lightly browned.

Add the rest of the ingredients and cook until the onions are tender. The recipe says this serves six. More like three.

I served it over some leftover fried rice with a nice small just picked tomato.

If I were to make it again I'd add garlic and ginger to the heated oil before adding the okra.
Super fast, just a few ingredients, and tasty! My kind of meal.

Eat well and keep eating.

The Gastronomic Gardener
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Monday, August 16, 2010

Quick Roasted Vegetables

I found myself with an abundance of produce, but not time to can or blanch even for freezing. I hate for food to go to waste so I picked through and found the fruit that was closest to ending up in the compost bucket without actually having gotten there yet.

I came up with eggplant, peppers, tomatoes. I also threw in some  garlic, onion /celery from the pantry/fridge respectively.  You could do this with almost any vegetable you have on hand. Harder vegetables such as carrots should be sliced thin to quicken the roasting time. Quantities of any one vegetable are not very important.

Preheat oven to 350F. If you want dark carmelization turn oven to 400F

I chopped up the eggplant  (this was two Japanese eggplants)and salted it in a colander. Let it sit for up to an hour. Rinse and set aside.

Chop up everything else and put it on a sheetpan along with the eggplant. A roasting pan  with deeper sides would work fine as well.

Salt, fresh ground pepper, some basil and oregano from the garden and a generous glug of olive oil (up to 1/4 cup) to finish it off.

Put in the oven, for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until all vegetables are tender and starting to carmelize.

Serve hot over rice or pasta, or if cold add to salads, sandwiches, top eggs with it.  Makes a nice room temperature appetizer spread on  toasted bread rounds too!

Eat Well and Keep Digging!

The Gastronomic Gardener
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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Brats, and not the kind you want to send home to their parents

Today was a family party, six of the ten kids gathered at my brothers house. I said I'd make brats. The procedure and recipe was the same as  before:

 I made five lbs of brats. I'm getting better at making them. A lovely coil for the first bit.

 After poaching in beer for 20 minutes, then cooled there are twenty-two bratwurst ready to go meet my family (plus eight for the freezer).

A panful of porky goodness!

Anyone hungry? OK, so I got carried away with the mustard.

It has been a long and busy day. I hope you all had a great weekend.

Eat well and keep digging!

The Gastronomic Gardener
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Cleaning & re-seasoning a Cast Iron Pan

I was fortunate to have a friend give me a cast iron pan - a Griswold #9 pan. They had picked it off a curb after it had failed to sell at garage sale for $15.  It is worth at  least three times that! He wasn't using it and it was taking up space in storage so he made a gift of it. Thanks buddy!

Aside from a few pits, a little rust and caked on grease it was in great shape.

First I scrubbed it with a metal scouring pad, boiling water and soap. Then I put the gas grill outdoors on preheat, and turned the oven in the house to its lowest setting - 170F for mine.

I put the pan on the grill for 30 minutes at the same preheat. The idea is to carbonize any remaining crud. It worked like a charm.

This is what it looked like after it cooled for 30 minutes.

You can even read the stamp on the back now.

One more scrub with hot soapy water and we're ready to start the seasoning part of the process.

1. Crank the burner on high and heat the pan for 5 minutes.
2. Add high smoke point oil (I used peanut) and swirl around  the pan. I took some paper towels (Be careful, the oil is hot!) and spread the oil all over the pan, inside and out. Discard paper towel. I suppose you could use a rag too if you want to be "greener".
3. Next I put the pan upside down over a sheetpan with the handle resting on the lip of the sheetpan. This allows extra oil to flow off.

4. Let it sit in the warm oven for 30 minutes, remove and let cool. Wipe it out again.
5. Repeat steps 1 through 4 2 more times.

Looks pretty good. I"ll use it to cook the "test patty" from the bratwurst I'm making later today.

So there you have it, all it took was a little elbow grease and time. You may be able to skip the first soapy water scrub and go straight to the super hot grill. Seemed pretty effective.

Eat well & keep digging!

The Gastronomic Gardener
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Monday, August 9, 2010

Product Review - Flaming Joe's Caribbean Style Jerk Sauce

I've been waiting to do this review for a long time. Flaming Joe's Caribbean Style Jerk Sauce is a heady brew that is fantastic on pork, chicken and seafood.

This sauce has won many awards including:
2005 Scovie Awards 2nd place winner in the Amateur Division.
2006 Scovie Awards GRAND PRIZE winner in the Amateur Division.
2008 Scovie Awards First Place winner in the Professional Division. Cook-It-Up category, Jerk seasoning.
2009 Fiery Food Challenge Golden Chile Winner - Jerk Seasoning (Original Hot)
2009 Fiery Food Challenge Third Place winner Jerk Seasoning (Mild)
2010 Fiery Food Challenge - 2nd Place Jerk Seasoning -Caribbean Style Jerk Sauce – MILD
2010 Scovie Awards - 5 entries, 5 awards!
1st Place, Sweet Heat, Jams/Jellies Island Fire Tropical Fruit & Habanero Marmalade
2nd Place, Sweet Heat, Jams/Jellies Strawberry JalapeƱo Jam
1st Place, Barbeque Sauce, Unique Caribbean Style Jerk Sauce HOT
2nd Place, Barbeque Sauce, Unique Caribbean Style Jerk Sauce MILD
3rd Place, Meat Required, Jerk Seasoning Caribbean Style Jerk Sauce MILD
Professional Division. -Cook-It-Up category, Jerk seasoning.

With this pedigree, it certainly has a reputation to uphold.

Flaming Joe has a unique logo that can't be missed! Don't be scared, flavor is is the key, the heat secondary.

There are two flavors of the Caribbean Style Jerk Sauce. Original and Mild. Today I used the mild, the difference is the mild has 1/4 the habenero of the original. If you like the heat, by all means use the original!

Here are the ingredients:
key lime juice, soybean oil, soy sauce, green onion, Worcestershire sauce (vinegar, water, corn syrup, salt, molasses, carmel color, spices, garlic, natural flavorings, anchovies, tamarind, dextrin, and sulfating agents), ginger, habanero pepper, brown sugar, garlic, cilantro, chili powder, spices, xanthan gum, guar gum, sodium alginate.

Upon opening the bottle you smell spice and the worcesterchire sauce. It smells delicious!

I poured some in a plate to get a good look. While it looks a bit gritty, it isn't. It's just chock full of spices and herbs.

I decided to make jerked pork sandwiches with a pineapple cole slaw.

Trim a pork loin of most of the fat, and cut for butterflying. That is, every other cut goes all the way through and the others go almost through the meat.

Open up the butterflys.

Place the pork in a large zip bag and add some jerk - I used about 1/2 to 3/4 cup. Here it is with the mexican bread I got at the market.

Put the pork in the fridge and let marinate for a few hours or overnight. A day or two would only deepen the flavor.

While the pork marinates, I whipped up some slaw with crushed  pineapple. I wanted some sweet and crunch to  offset the jerk.

Prep the grill. - That is get it very hot, scrape and oil. Add the pork.

The pork is thin so it will cook pretty fast. Five minutes a side. Six if you don't like a little pink. These days, commercial pork need not be cooked to well done.  Holy cow does it smell good!

Toast the buns.

Pull them off the fire and let them rest a few minutes. Five minutes if need be.

Assemble Sandwich. Bread, Pork, Slaw. So simple. So good. The way good food should be. Add some just picked tomato and some spicy pickled green beans.

That thing is too big to handle all at once so slice it in half.

The toasted bread, the savory pork and the sweet and crunchy slaw was magic. My wife said between bites,"You know, this tastes like summer!"  I have to agree! It was tangy, sweet, a nice amount of heat.

Get yourself some today!
Flaming Joe's Website

I am a personal friend of Flaming Joe. I was there when he was developing his sauces. My wife and I  have traveled to Albuquerque to help him at the Fiery Foods show. We had a blast and sold a bunch of product as well as soaking up the party festival atmosphere!

That said, this was an uncompensated review, I’m just happy to be able bring his great product to you!

Eat well and keep digging!

The Gastronomic Gardener
My garden blog
My cooking blog
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