Monday, June 24, 2013


We've been meaning to try this and finally got around to it.  Didn't turn out to be too much cheaper than store bought gravlax, but it was super easy and fun to do on our own.  We used the Minimalist recipe from Mark Bittman.

Basically you start with a slice of salmon- ours was about a pound.  You coat it in sugar (2 cups), salt (1 cup), and dill, and leave it wrapped and weighted down in the refrigerator for 36 hours.  Rinse, slice, and that's it- it comes out bright orange and cured!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mint ice cream

Summertime, more time for projects!  We made a batch of ice cream with fresh mint from the garden.  Inspired us to keep this going- lavender is next, maybe rhubarb, rosemary, bourbon...?  I followed this basic recipe, used milk and 1/2 and 1/2 instead of cream.  It came out a bit fluffy though, so cream is probably the way to go:

1 1/4 cup half and half
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
dash of salt

Heat the half and half until hot but not boiling, add the mint and steep (about 1-2 cups of chopped leaves).  Steep for 30 minutes, strain, reheat.

Mix egg yolks and sugar, gradually mix in heated half-and-half.  Return this all to heat and warm until bubbles appear (still don't boil).  Transfer this to another bowl, add cream, vanilla, salt and chill overnight.  Process in an ice cream maker.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Smoked Meats Part 1: Kielbasa

Someone recently left a smoker in our community garden, so our meat projects have taken a new turn.  It takes a couple hours, but is a pretty easy set up, and everything has turned out great.

The trial run was kielbasa, Polish smoked sausage.  We've done sausages before, but this was our first try at an emulsified sausage (extra mixing and crushed ice to make a smoother textured sausage).  It was much trickier to stuff, but turned out great.  Recipe (again) from Ruhlman/Polcyn's Charcuterie.

Not very pretty when they're uncooked.

The smoking takes a couple hours.  The basic set up is in layers: hot charcoal, wet wood chips, water, and the sausage on top like a regular barbecue.  The internal temperature stays below 200F so the meat cooks slowly and takes in the smoke.

The finished product!

The sauerkraut is store bought, but we'll try that again soon.

Pickling Spice

You can buy pickling spice from the store, but making it is easy if you have all the spices.  It's good to have around and is an ingredient in other projects such as corned beef and pastrami (and pickles).

From Ruhlman/Polcyn's Charcuterie:

2 tablespoons each peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, hot red pepper flakes, allspice berries
1 tablespoon ground mace
2 cinnamon sticks, crushed
24 bay leaves, crushed
2 tablespoons whole cloves
1 tablespoon ground ginger

Toast the peppercorns, mustard seeds, and coriander and crack lightly.  Combine with other spices and store in a jar.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Tamales

This year we got to participate in my mom's new tradition of the annual tamale party.  Tamales are fairly easy, but require enough steps and set up that they're usually made for holidays or parties when there are lots of people around to help and eat.

The basic parts of a tamale are the corn husk wrapper, the masa dough and the filling (we usually do a turkey and a black bean).

Corn husks
Ancho chilies
Garlic, cumin, oregano
Turkey (or other meat)
Masa flour
Vegetable stock

Step 1: Soaking the corn husks

You can buy packages of corn husks in most grocery stores now- they come dried and need to be soaked in hot tap water for at least 5 hours before they can be used.

Step 2: The filling

Soak one package of dried ancho chilies in boiling water until soft (about 1/2 hour).  Pull out stem and seeds, keeping only skins and some liquid.  Blend with garlic, cumin, oregano and mix with turkey meat.  Cook on low until liquid boils down.

Step 3: The Masa dough
The dough is typically made with lard.  To be healthier and vegetarian friendly, we usually make it with Crisco.  We found that one batch makes about 35 small tamales. I think we ended up with four batches...

First beat 2/3 cup shortening in a mixer for about 30 seconds.  In a separate bowl, combine 4 cups  masa flour and 2 teaspoons salt.  Take 3 cups of broth (we use vegetable), and gradually add to the shortening, alternating with the masa mixture, until well combined.  Finally, melt 1/3 cup shortening and beat into the dough.  The result should be soft, like cookie dough. 


Thursday, October 27, 2011