I raise my own Thai chilies on my windowsill.
Having just bought a lovely bright apartment, I also raise tomatoes, purple potatoes, and salad now. Had zucchini but only got one zucchini from them before I had to cut them down due to mite infestation (damn bugs!).
I don't have much experience with Habaneros, the ones you get here are rather disappointingly mild. If you get hold of some seeds, send them to me!
A freak storm with heavy downdrafts flattened my pepper plants two nights ago, but thankfully, we had already gotten over 2" of rain before the heaviest rains and winds hit, so the soil was soft enough to "give" so the pepper plants were not broken off. Lost a few branches and a few peppers. I have straightened and staked the plants and they seem to be bouncing back.
Habanero relish is easy.
Get a couple of dozen habanero peppers and a whole bulb of garlic. Remove the stems from the peppers, leaving the seeds, placentas, etc intact (that's where the heat is!), separate and peel the cloves of garlic and chop the peppers and garlic thoroughly in a food processor. Cook the chopped stuff in about a cup of vinegar, until it's the consistency you want, and add about a tsp each of salt and sugar, and a couple of tbs of molasses. Spoon into sterilized jelly jars, top with sterilized lids and rings and process the sealed jars in boiling water for 20 minutes. You might get up to 4 little 1/2 cup jars of relish, depending on the size of the habaneros.
A neighbor of mine is an organic gardener, and he gave me lots of Russian garlic and German garlic (much larger, interesting flavor) from his garden. He told me that he liked really hot foods, so I used his garlic and my habanero peppers to make habanero relish (recipe above) and gave him a couple of jars. He doesn't eat meat, but the hab relish makes his soy-dogs palatable (he says...) and he took one of my jars of relish to work one night when the crew was ordering in sub sandwiches for lunch. He hauled out that little jar and a spoon and was judiciously spreading relish on his sandwich, when a guy who always acts macho about heat (puts wimpy Tobasco sauce on his sandwiches) asked what that was. Al told him it was a hot chili relish that his neighbor gave him and the guy said "give me some for my sandwich" and put on about as much as Al did on his. Al says that the guy took one bite and his eyes got real serious-looking, and that after the second bite, his face flushed and sweat beaded up on his face. The guy threw his sandwich in the trash and gave Al hell for letting him use the relish. Warning - do not demand that your co-worker share hot stuff after he's told you that it's hot.
A co-worker once brought in homemade pickles that her neighbour made.
They were pickled in garlic/hot pepper.
My, they were the best tasting pickles I had ever had - then or since - by far.
I asked for the recipe, but her neighbour wouldn't give it. Imagine that?
Why do people do that?
Use traditional recipes (usually the simplest and the best) and add lots of garlic, and peppers to taste. I grow my own dill (you can too if you have a deck or back yard and a window-box, though my dill grown down in the garden seems to do lots better) and I grow so much that I never have to use dill weed or seed heads in my sauces and relishes. I use the tiny florets from the flowering dill heads - they have a fantastic taste, and you will never find that in a store.
I've adapted recipes before.
I used an old chilli recipe - adding hot peppers and onions - voila, great homemade salsa!
...hmm, coincidentally, we do have dill growing out in the back yard.
I've been to a couple of European Grocery Stores lately. Man, you can find pickled everything! Picked up some pickled garlic and olives. Yumm. Also some 'forest' jam and really good light and dark rye bread.
Simple but different:
Cook up some corned beef. Take say...2 1/2 lbs of corned beef and
place it in a stainless steel kettle and cover with cold water. Cover.
Bring it to a boil and then simmer ....for 2 to 3 hours..as per package.
That's fairly standard. Now....
Take a couple of onions , chop them and saute in some olive oil and butter
with a little salt and pepper.
Take 2 1/2 pounds of potatoes ( red or new potatoes work well ) and simmer them untill not quite done... ( if they get mushy they turn to paste ...not good for hash
Cut up Corned beef for 1" by 2" chunks .
NOW....in a kitchen aid mixer with the grinder attatchment..coarse die ,
with the great bowl to recieve what you put through....
put a piece of corned beef, some onions, then some potatoes ....
repeat until all is ground through...and finish with a slice of bread...an endslice will work fine....pushes the good stuff through.
OK....now, put the dough hook on and let it stir the product.
Now the spices...:
This from James Beard ...
Fresh ground allspice berries....
and some fresh cracked pepper.
Sprinkle the spices evenly throughout the mixture so as to get it nice and even. It does no good to have a bunch here, and nothing there.
How much? welll, I use about a table spoon of allspice ,
and a table spoon of ginger...maybe more. I like these.
and pepper to taste.
You don't need any salt .
You can push these spices as you please....but there's a limit .
I even use fresh ginger root ....finely pulverized in a spice grinder,
but that's me. .
Now....take all this and put it up into a 2 lb. ricotta cheese container.
These are tapered so as to let it out when chilled. Refrigerate. If you have a second partial container, line the top of the level with saran wrap, keeping the air away from the product. Always protect your product with plastic wrap within the container. This works.
It will certainly keep for a week. Longer if frozen.
Early the next morning, invert the container and knock it out on your cutting board . The entire tapered cyclinder will come out.
With a good sharpe knife, cut a slice 3/4 inch thick and saute this in a nice ,
no-stick saute pan with a little butter . Medium high heat. Watch it.
It should not stick. Flip it at perhaps 3 minutes ( look for a little color ...
not dark! ) . This stuff goes well with most anything. Canned is but a poor pretender to the REAL Thing.
Perhaps a couple of poached eggs ...or french toast...or the odd waffle ?
May this recipie find you happy.
Best regards, Dan
Last edited by danscope; 2008-Jul-27 at 01:31 AM.
You asked about a nice gravy.
I use two large cans of tomatoes, one crushed , and one whole,peeled
italian plum tomatoes.....( crush them with your clean hands ..this works.)
I heat these up in a microwave oven . Gets them to temperature without
burning them. This is good. ( Cover them please )
I have a vegetable juicer. You see them in yard sales for $5 . They are superb for juicing carrots. I take about 5 carrots and run them through the juicer. Save the pulp! Save the juice!.
Saute the onions ( one large...or two medium...)
Fine chop some celery....( I run some through the juicer myself )
In a large stirfry wok...no-stick....I saute the onions in olive oil and butter
add the carrot pulp, and half a can of tomato paste , and some fine crushed garlic..(near the end..2 minutes is plenty of time for the garlic. Burned garlic is not a good thing at all)...salt and pepper....and oregano..and basil. Stir this with a silicon spatula....these do not scratch the pan and get all the product off the bottom as you cook. Keep stiring this mixture without fail. It developes many good flavours ...so long as it does not burn. 5 minutes...? When done, add the hot tomatoes.Add the carrot juice. Rinse the cans with a little hot water(1/2 cup and add. Be carefull. Gloves are good. Aprons are very good. In a BEEEG pot (SS ) stainless steel ...
put some olive oil in bottom...medium heat.
NOTE: My wok is large , so I can handle assembly in that. If it is easier for you, combine the ingredients ,once cooked, in the large (Beeg ) pot.
Comebine all ingedients in there . Reduce heat to simmer when it bubbles.
Cover. Set timer. Stir 5 minutes later. Keep watching and stirring .
Your nose will tell you when you are done. You can thin the gravy with a little chicken stock if you like. Yes,...you can stir and talk on the phone.
If children interrupt, turn down the heat to almost nothing and set timer for 5 minutes. THIS WORKS. Forgotten Gravy seldom saves. Scortched gravy is unsalvageable. Trust me. You never need a lot of heat to cook this. You need time and care. It is....quite simple, really.
A little celery salt, and fresh cracked pepper . FRESH BASIL? JOY!
When a gravy is up to temperature, it does not require a great deal of heat at all. Your pan makes a difference. A heavy bottom pan is golden.
NEVER USE ALLUMINUM !!!!!!! THE acid in the tomato attacks the metal .
This is not good. Really not good. Porcelin lined cast iron is good too.
Bring lots of money...$140 .
The secret here is that the fine grated carrots and celery give the gravy a nice, fine texture , is less watery, and welcomes items like pizza ,
fried eggplant, oven roasted meat balls, last night's left over porkchop,
well....take it your way.
You should have it pretty well done in an hour.
You can simmer a gravy in a double boiler for hours if you want to or covered in a slow cooker....BUT.....to tell the truth, the vitamins are going south. Once it is cooked, you can cool it off and refrigerate in glass or stainless steel. And it is always better tommorrow.
There is no need to add sugar. The carrots introduce enough of a sweetening agent. Besides...sugar can and often burns on the bottom.
There's a limit to how much salt you really need in a gravy.
A little garlic is a nice thing.
A little fresh cracked pepper is better than pre-ground 2 year old pepper.
TRY some fresh herbs . They are an illumination.
A little fresh snipped basil when served is often appreciated.
Perhaps some fresh basil foccacia on the table.....with a little onion in it..
Ah..... simmer some braciole in the gravy... or some meat balls...or grilled
sausage... and some shells or spaghetti .
Yea......take a large frying pan, crush some garlic , add olive oil and butter,
salt and pepper, saute for 45 seconds.....lift and spoon some fresh boiled pasta into the pan and toss . Put this on a large platter and ladle some gravy onto it...
grate some fresh pecorino or parmesan regiano or both....
Well, there must be 300,000 recipies for a good gravy. This isn't half bad.
Of course, you can play with the amounts of ingredients...more tomato etc.
But the technique remains , and will be rewarded.
Bon Appetit Mon amis!
Gosh!!! They must be eating again!!!
My wife had to do some shopping tonight, so she came home a bit late, and I made (the quick and easy) supper. Onions sauteed in butter, Applegate farm organic hot dogs, fried buttered rolls, etc. Condiments included my home-made habanero relish and Farmers brand hot beer mustard made with horseradish. Killer, as always.
Ah, that's what you meant by "foodie." I gues I'm a foodie. My cupboards are slim, but when I cook for others they usually want seconds. I guess that's a good sign.
Yep, That's it. Good food made better by yourself. Lots of compulsive
tradition and a dash of love......voila! This is real chemistry !!!
Best regards, Dan
This is more of a sauce, isn't it?
Well, I guess gravy is a sauce anyway.
Lately, I've been making sauces just by adding cream or milk.
e.g. onions, olive oil, garlic, salt, ground pepper, some herbs + MILK.
or onions, butter, garlic, salt, ground pepper, cheese + MILK
or Vegetable paste, shredded carrot, butter, onions, peppers + MILK
You get the idea.
Sometimes, with a homemade pasta sauce I use chunks of green peppers if I don't have any meat. The trick is not to overcook the peppers, you want them kind of crispy.
The color of my pizzas...
Homemade bottom made from half of my rising ciabatta dough, tomato gravy with lots of herbs, mozarella cheese, feta cubes, olives, sundried tomatoes and pickled bell peppers... then topped with fresh rucola and basil when it comes out of the oven. Need I say more?
I'm not very fond of cream- or milkbased sauces, I prefer tomato or olive oil. Except when it comes to seafood. Mmm... saffron cream and prawns... or mare e monti...
At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)
All moderation in purple - The rules
Hi, I have many friends, and my Italian friends educated me on the fact that it" Is a gravy". They are emphatic about this.
From the basic recipie I gave you, you can spring board many ways.
Layer a bunch of fried eggplant slices with a little grated parm, some mozzerella, more gravy ,fresh basil,etc. Kind of like an eggplant Lasagna.
Spread a little ricotta...doesn't hurt.
Take some pizza dough and spread gravy on part of it, some sauted
spinach, onion, olives, a few meat ball slices...with a little gravy..
some pecorino , a little black pepper, maybe some fresh basil;
fold it over and crimp the edge....fantastic calzone. Bake it at 400° for
ten minutes or so.
Make a soup. A little gravy falls into it...not bad.
Best regards, Dan
That pizza looks good!
If time is short I'll stop by Little Caesar's on the way home. They're a good buy for $5, just reheat on a stone in the oven to firm them up.
I do prefer homemade, because so much prepared food is so salty. I make pizza dough in the bread machine and freeze the dough. Thaws fast and works quite well (this weekend it'll be sourdough).
What we like best is crisp, so I put the rolled dough on the stone in the oven for about 3-5 min before adding toppings. Chopped drained Roma tomatoes with lots of oregano and garlic, coarse-sliced Crimini mushrooms, over thin slices of skim mozzarella.
I like it because the taste is more sweet than salty, and my fingers don't swell up later.
good stuff. why skim cheese?
My travel blog Currently about living in Europe with many older blog posts about riding a motorcycle across the US and Europe.
Why skim cheese? My wife hates the pools of fat from melted cheese. And the result is really light and fresh tasting.
I brought some dough and my pan and baked a pizza on site.
"The Winner " !! Later, we made some foccacia with the left over dough ...
which was greedily gobbled up . So.....what's the difference?
I start my dough in an insulated plastic or insulated Stainless steel coffee
cup, at least 12 oz. I pre-heat the cup with hot water. I grind up some garlic, add some oregano, dried basil,
some celery salt. I empty the cup, and run my thermometer (taylor quick read type probe ) untill the temperature reads 106° . Put enough water to make as much dough as you need . I usually use about 10 oz. of 106°temp
water. Add 1 tsp of sugar and 1 tsp of honey. The yeast love this!!!
The water has come down to aproximately 105° now. Stir in garlic,
olive oil, oregano, basil , celery salt. Get your long plastic spoon ready.
Stir in the yeast continuously for about 30 seconds.
I buy my yeast in a one lb. bag at BJ's. I put it into a plastic bag
which gets saved in a tupper ware container of that size, with a clothes pin on the bag. The air gets removed, bag twisted, and clothes pin attatched.
Cover goes on....sleeps in the back.
This gets refrigerated....always. My yeast keeps well for a year. I always have yeast. I don't leave it on the counter. I use it and return it now..to the refrigerator. This works.
Now, The yeast -water- herb mixture is covered by the coffee cup cover
which has a small hole in the top for sipping coffee. Inside of ten minutes or so, the yeast water will have " Proofed ". This is a simple process, but it yields a great dough which rises reliably.
In the meantime, I warm up the great mixing bowl. This is a kitchen-aid mixer, and it is 'the tool' for making dough. I put the dough hook in the warm water to warm up. When I start making the dough, it has a good chance of
staying warm (not hot...but a welcomed temperature for the yeast. )
Well,.....it's like welcoming the yeast to the Ritz Hotel !!!! They feed on the honey first....(it's already pre-digested by the bees and easilly does the job ....speeding the process as well.)
The yeast water already has "SOME FLAVOUR "...in a big way.
Once the foam starts to erupt from the sip-top, you are ready to make
some of the best, tasiest dough .
By the way: I oil the dough hook at the top, and the flange(underneath) so that the dough doesn't climb up the dough hook. This works.
Now, empty the great bowl, introduce the yeast water, put on the warm dough hook and put in about 2 cups of flour, set the mixer on medium, and watch the hook incorporate the flour/water. Add flour by the cup full. If you are mixing too fast, the mixer will show you by ejecting flour. This is not good. Slow down a little. As the dough starts to get sticky, add flour....1/2 cup or
gradually less at a time...waiting maybe 30 seconds at a time untill that flour is incorporated....untill the dough eventually cleans the side of the bowl.
Hae a bowl or two handy ....warm ceramic or glass bowls, for the dough to rise in. Spray some olive oil inside the bowl or wipe it with a napkin.
Now.......PAY ATTENTION! Dump out the dough onto a floured counter,
or a nice big wooden cutting board....a beeeeeg one. If the board has a strip screwed onto the bottom ( close to your counter edge ) it will stay put when you knead the dough. You might try some of that stay-put shelving material.
That stuff works well. So....take the flour and get some on your clean hands. Everything is clean....right? Clean is a good thing. You might even
wear a bandana to keep any stray hair from falling into what should be a good product. Say no more...nudge...nudge..!
Take the dough, and dust it with some flour. I have a flour shaker. I keep it in a clear plastic jar. It shakes flour and lives in the jar. This works.
Take the edge of the dough away from you and pul it over the dough, and take the heal of your hand and push the dough, Take the right side and fold it over and turn the dough and push again. Do this maybe ten to 15 time.
Now, take the dough ( divide it if you have that much ) and knead the smaller pieces. (Another 5 times). Now....take a ball of dough and make a ball
out of it. Then...imagine that it is a berret....a french hat ! You are looking at the top of the hat. Take the berret and turn the bottom edges underneath,
making the top of the hat bulge as you keep turning the edges in with your fingers. This stretches the top and seals the dough, and the gas generated by the yeast . Now, pinch and seal the bottom together, and rotate the hat on the board, sliding your fingers karate style under the edge of the dough.
You should have a nice dough ball ready to drop into the oiled bowl (which is warm...107° say....) . Spray some olive oil onto the dough and cover with a
plastic grocery bag ( a clean bag). Good, cheap and it works. Ideally,
this goes into a 100° oven...away from cold drafts . Dough likes this.
Wait for 1/2 hr to an hour. Remove from warm place. Turn out the dough
and form your pizza. You have seen people do the rest. It's not hard.
You want Chicago style, form your dough on a corn meal board, Place the dough into a 1 inch deep pan as big as you require.
You want a great, traditional piza, get an AIRBAKE pizza pan. These are great. I form the dough on my counter with corn meal on the counter.
Once the dough is the size I need, I lift it with my arms and place it onto the great pizza pan. It gets formed a little more. You can turn the edge under all the way around...( this yields a thicker edge...desired by some...) .
sprinkle some grated parmesan or pecorino...just some...lightly.
Then, some italian gravy...ah....yes!!! Hey... Prego works too! Spread it evenly...not too sloppy. Everything will slide off the pizza..not really a good idea. Maybe a little more pecorino on the gravy.
Maybe some mozzerella ...good stuff...not too much.
roasted red peppers, or
cooked chicken and a little gorgonzola or blue cheese , or.....
maybe some sliced meat ballls ,
some sauted onions,
sauted italian sweet sausage, lightly chopped,
or.....some nice anchovies ( freshly opened can ....you cannot save these... open them ...use them. This is a law.)
Bake at 425 ° or hotter if you pay attention ! I encourage you to
PAY ATTENTION!!!! You have done the work. Why not reap the rewards??
Three minutes before the pizza is finished, I put the delicate things on...
pepperoni. maybe some more grated parm or pecorino .
Pizza is usually done in 7 to 12 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is. Some pizzas are blasted at 600 ° . Wood fired ovens are a trip.
When the pizza comes out, a little fresh cracked pepper, maybe some fresh snipped basil . And a nice wine..or beer.. or perhaps some
Woodchuck pear cider on a hot summer's day.
How about a fine ginger beer? Even a great glass of cool water taste
good with this.
By now the aroma should be waking up your friends.
I hope this treatise works well for you.
This dough makes a nice loaf of bread.... or rolls.....or calzone...
or garlic bread.... get creative.
It is easier to make than it is to describe.
Best regards, and Bon Appetit !!