06 October 2009

Step Process Jalapeno Jelly - A Success.

I totally forgot ... I made hot pepper jelly in a step process (need better description) and it turned out great. It was totally from being tired. I was making BnB pickles one weekend and had started the peppers, but just couldn't get it done that day. So thinking through the recipe, I figured I could chop the peppers and simmer them in water and boil and then just keep that mush in the fridge until I had time to finish it off (strain, boil, add lemon and pectin, boil the hell out of it) later.
Well, a day turned into almost a week before I could do it, but because I don't leave the peppers in (and excuse me to those who do, but yuck), it wouldn't matter how yuck they looked or mushy they were. So I went ahead with the recipe and except for not gelling the first time (reboiled and it was okay), you never would have known there was almost a week between chopping and jelly - how cool is that?

05 October 2009

Excerpt from the Recipe Diary

I just read Michael Pollan's article "Out of the kitchen, Onto the Couch" about the supposed end of cooking as we know it. There are many (too many) parts I agree with, but as someone who makes pickles, puts up pear preserves, makes mac and cheese from scratch (having never subjected my child to any mac n cheese from a box), makes pies, cookies, and cakes from scratch and tries all sorts of new recipes that don't involve dumping anything. I take great umbrage at the sentence (section 5 graph 2, last sentence), "... yet all American women now allow corporations to cook for them when they can." In true and proud gen-x style, I'm throwing the bullshit flag on that one.  Why American women?   hmmmm....

Oh, and Harry Balzer can bite me too.


Another similar criticism of the article is here .

The Recipe Diary

I keep a recipe diary - initially I did it to help with pickle/preserves recipes because I never, well almost never, follow a recipe exactly except when baking and sometimes not even then. But now I'm using the recipe diary to follow almost everything I make, especially if it is new to me. I have not done a great job of keeping up with what I'm essentially stealing from other people, but I will try to get better at that -- credit and criticism should be given where due.

Recipe diaries help with pickles because often times it's weeks before you can should taste what you've made. So it can be a reminder or help decide what changes to make the next time, if there is a next time, you make a recipe. I make notes, changes, thoughts about changes, my valuable rating system all on the page for that recipe - it's also necessarily in date order which provides an idea of when seasons start and end for certain local foods -- which is becoming increasing important to me.  (Recipe diary needs a better name, but I'm too tired to be creative or cutesy*)

I expect editorial recipe diary comments will likely make it here too. We'll see.

* I'm rarely cutesy.

Food Terminology

Last night, on the 1st episode of Next Iron Chef, the participating chefs kept tossing around the word confit. Now, I know of duck confit, but I've never heard of someone making mango confit or salmon confit. Both sort of defy the definition of the word. If you look at Barron's Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst, which I have owned and used since 1999 at least, you would not that confit is defined as such, "...is derived from an ancient method of preserving meat (usually goose, duck or pork) whereby it is salted and slowly cooked in its own fat. The cooked meat is then packed into a crock or pot and covered with its cooking fat, which acts as a seal and preservative."

It certainly seemed like everyone had just learned the word so they were using it as much as possible - blame it on the foodie I suppose. groan.

So are they just tossing around words to impress people who don't own a copy of the Food Lover's Companion? If (and that's a big IF) Food Network is interested in getting people to cook - which I realize these cooking contest are not designed to do - you would think they would advocate for proper use of terminology. I would have expected, at a minimum, that Alton would throw the BS flag on the chefs... disappointing. 

Flavors ...

These blog posts are written long hand first. I'm not sure why except I can do it when I want - especially in boring meetings. Another thing I do in boring meetings, an aside: I spend too much time in meetings - is think of flavors combinations that I think would be interesting to try (read: nectarine and jalapeno jam). This is partly due to a fascination with canning. Oh, an due to my love of a new (for me) book The Flavor Bible. It is fascinating - the book has given me a  new way to think about flavor.

When I want to develop a new recipe, often times, I'll sit around eating something (cherries) while smelling or tasting other things. So when I wanted to pickle some cherries, I ate cherries and smelled herbs and spice to see what seemed to fit. I have yet to look at the cherry section of The Flavor Bible to see if I've made some dreadful mistake, but in a couple of weeks when I taste the cherries, then I'll go look at the book.

Recipe Note: Cherries pickled with white wine vinegar, cloves, black peppercorns, and bay.