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Archive for the ‘Condiments and Sauces’ Category

Okay, so if this photo is looking familiar to you…congratulations!  You don’t have short-term memory loss!  The end.

I kid (well, not really about the memory loss thing, so if you got a little self-esteem boost from that, I’m letting you keep it).  If this photo looks familiar to you, it’s because I posted it last Friday, for Friday Food Porn.

The Boy eats this stuff with a spoon in front of the TV…you know, ’cause he’s hardcore.  I’m almost as hardcore…as I mentioned last week, I occasionally put out a jar of this stuff with a bag of tortilla chips and a blender of margaritas and call it dinner.

Which is totally acceptable, by the way, because Kate said so.  See?:

“Well, ummmm, sometimes you just need a Tortilla Chip and Margarita dinner. Here is an enabling moment – make some lacto fermented salsa and then you can feel downright righteous about them!

Kate just gets me, people.  Virtual pair of projectile fishnets slingshotted in Kate’s direction.  Which is what I do for people I like.  I throw my intimate apparel at them.  Naturally.

But there was another interesting comment in the mix.  Misfit jamaica-momma said:

“looks DIVINE!!!
recipe please??? & is there a way to veganize it?”

You know you cute lil’ misfits get anything you want out of me.  I CAN’T say no.

Truth is, you don’t need starter culture (whey) at all to make lacto-fermented pickles.  You can just add a little extra salt to speed things along, and then let lactic acid fermentation and healthy bacteria take their natural course.  It will take longer to pickle your food without the head start, but it works just the same.  A second option is using a vegetable starter culture instead of whey.  You can buy that here.

So what have we learned here today?  The BMG likes to put some spice in your life.  Also, I throw my underthings at people.  Oh, AS IF you’re surprised.

Lacto-Fermented Escabeche
Makes 3 quarts

Go Get:

6 jalapeno peppers, cut into thick slices (dial this number down if you don’t like spicy–as is, the recipe makes a medium-to-hot escabeche)
6 Tablespoons whey from drained yogurt (if you’re vegan or prefer not to use a dairy culture, try this vegetable starter culture. If you omit starter cultures entirely, up the salt and fermentation time.)
5 1/3 cups bite-size cauliflower florets
1 1/2 Tablespoons salt (if you’re not using whey or starter culture, increase this to 2 1/2 Tablespoons)
1 1/2 Tablespoons black peppercorns
2 heaping teaspoons dried oregano
1 large white onion, sliced thinly
5 cloves garlic, minced
6 large carrots, sliced into wheels

Go Do:

Toss all ingredients (except whey) together in a large bowl.  Allow everything to sit and “sweat” for a few minutes.  Now pack the veggies tightly into the jars and pour in 2 Tablespoons of whey per jar.  Top up the mixture with filtered water to cover.  Now place open Ziploc bags over the jars (open side up), and fill them with enough water to weigh the veggies down and keep them submerged.  When you have that right, seal the bags, cover the jars loosely with a towel, and let sit in a dark, room-temperature location.  Check the escabeche for sourness and texture daily–the carrots should still be snappy.  My escabeche is usually perfect after about 1 week, but your results will differ based on temperature and environment–if you’re not using any whey or starter culture at all, it will take longer.  Once it’s perfect, refrigerate the batch to slow fermentation and enjoy!  It’ll keep for about a year, and usually longer.

Note: If a little mold develops on top, don’t worry–this is normal.  Just skim it off, rinse and replace the bag, and keep fermenting.

Another note: When I want the flexibility of varying heat levels, I put varying amounts of jalapeno slices in each jar.  Then I label them accordingly: “Mild,” “Medium,” and “Oh Dear GOD.”

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**Psst!  I’ve since posted the recipe for this here.**

Spicy pickled escabeche, just like the kind you’d find on the tables at authentic taquerias.  Only this one is lacto-fermented, so it packs a sour, probiotic punch.

Shockingly addictive, and it also makes BMG feel pretty a-okay about tortilla chip and margarita dinners.

As if a sense of propriety were standing in my way?

PLEASE.

Happy weekend, misfits!

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Some misfits think they need a super-productive garden to make canning possible or worthwhile.  Not so, my spicy little dumplings, not so!  At least, not with pepper jelly.  Just a few cups of chopped peppers is enough to make a baker’s dozen of pepper jelly half-pints.

Now these half-pints are different from the half-pints that your Bad Mama Genny normally enjoys around here because they will not get you drunk and they do not possess bubbles.  If you’re doing it right, that is.  (Pepper jelly that gets you drunk is probably dangerous.  And a lot of fun.  But dangerous.  But, you know, still fun.)  But in any case, pepper jelly half-pints are still joyful half-pints indeed.

In fact, they got me so excited that I had to go play with those little fake baby bottles for dolls that you turn upside down and the orange juice and milk disappear and make it look like Baby drank it.

They’re very soothing.

So how would a misfit use pepper jelly?

I’m glad you asked!

Eat it with cream cheese or goat cheese and crackers, stir it into a sweet and spicy stir fry, baste grilled meats and sausages with it, make a totally different kind of PB & J or grilled cheese with it, melt it down and use it as the base for a KAH-razy cocktail, put it on a cheese plate alongside these pickled grapes, stir some into deviled egg filling, put it in tuna or chicken salad, load it into your kids’ water guns for playtime with higher stakes, bring it to parties, give it as gifts, mail it to other misfits…

BUT NO SEX PLAY.

Y’all hear me?  Pepper jelly is not for sex pla–

NO!  Bad misfits!  BAD!

No sex play.

A public service announcement from Bad Mama Genny.

Movin’ on.

(No sex play.)

Sweet and Hot Pepper Jelly (No sex play)
Makes 13 half-pints (if it’s too annoying to buy an extra 12-pack for a thirteenth jar you may not need, just plan on putting the extra in a cup or bowl for eating right away)

Go Get:
2 1/2 total cups minced sweet and hot peppers (for medium heat, I used 6 large jalapenos, no seeds or membranes, and the rest sweet peppers) (The mincing is best done in a food processor, once you’ve done the bare minimum at chopping and de-seeding them while wearing gloves or little plastic baggies on your hands)
12 cups sugar
3 cups white vinegar
1 cup liquid pectin, somewhere around 2 and a half pouches
6 drops green food coloring, optional

Go Do:
Get your jars heating and sterilizing–the dishwasher is ideal for this.  And start your boiling hot water bath in a large canning pot on the stove.

Okay, now:

Mix the peppers, sugar, and vinegar in a large pot (Dutch Oven size is just right).

Turn the heat to high and stir occasionally until the mixture comes to a full boil and sugar is dissolved.  Don’t breathe in the vinegar/pepper vapors if you can help it.  They are a perfect storm of pain and suffering.
Remove it from the heat, give it another stir, and add the pectin.  Now is when you’ll add the food coloring, if you’re using it.  You totally don’t have to.  I considered not, but the jam was a sickly yellowish color that, frankly, made me think of plasma in a jar.  In went the food coloring.

Now ladle it into those hot and ready jars (what?) and leave about half an inch of headspace.  Tap the jars onto the table to bring any air bubbles to the surface, where you can pop them with a wooden chopstick or something.

Put on the lids, screw the rings on just a wittle tight, and process them in the canner for 10 minutes (you may have to do this in two batches, depending on the size of your canner).  Let ’em sit for a day before putting them in your pantry, and I’d say give ’em two weeks before eating to let the pepper flavor really permeate.  But NO SEX PLAY!

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So do y’all remember the BMG’s cabbage patch?

Oh, come on, sure you do!

Precious!

Anyway, well, most of those got harvested, and while a few made their way into dinner, the vast majority were turned into homemade, naturally vegan, lacto-fermented kraut.

<Homer Simpson drooling sound>

Yes, that’s right–we’re up to no good with live cultures yet again in a new series I’m calling “FERMENTING IS FUN!”

Not really.  That makes it sound like one of those puberty videos you have to watch in your fifth grade science classes.

“Getting Down with Gonads!”

“Engorgin’ Sex Organs!”

“Chillaxin’ With Childbirth!”

“Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Menses.”

“A Peculiar Thunder Down Under.”

“Congratulations! As if Your Status as a Female Didn’t Already Disadvantage You Enough, You’re Now Both Fertile and Alluring and That Is About As Good for Your Future as Mixing Valium With Everclear Okay Have Fun Bye Bye!”

Right.  Back to fermentation.

This requires no vinegar, injects you with sexy, sexy probiotics, and tastes phenomenal.  The Boy and I like it as an appetizer with a little sharp cheddar, homemade sourdough, and homebrew.  But really, now, you misfits are creative.  You could do a whole host of things with it!

Said Whole Host of Things, if A Metric Whole Host Equals Ten

1. Grilled Cheese and Kraut

2. Pork Chops, Kraut, and Pink Applesauce

3. Hot Dogs and Kraut

4. Put it on your cat.

5. Make sauerkraut pierogi!

6. Best. Corned Beef Sandwich. Ever.

7. Put it on your mom.

7. Serve an unconventional pickle plate: pumpernickel, fermented kraut, smoked salmon, yogurt cheese, briny olives, pickled mushrooms

8. Bring a jar of it to a high school reunion.  Insist on introducing it to people and following up with vaguely German slurs and raucous laughter.  Bonus points if you never even went to that high school.

9. Kraut plus Shredded Swiss Cheese plus Potato Chips = Nommiful Nachos

10. Put it on your archenemy.

So really, you get the idea–eat it, enjoy it, or just put it on the stuff and/or people in your life.  Mmm…tangy!

Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut
Makes 1 half-gallon crock/jar of tightly-packed kraut

Go Get:
2 small to medium cabbages
1 large white onion (optional: carrots and beets are fun additions, too)
1/4 cup whole Dutch caraway seeds (optional)
1/2 cup whey extracted from yogurt (instructions here) (wanna do this the vegan/dairy-free way?  See this post.)
2 Tablespoons sea salt

Go Do:
Shred the cabbage, either with a food processor or a sharp knife and cutting board.  Put it into a large bowl, then finely chop the onion and add it to the bowl.  Add in the caraway seeds, salt, and whey, and toss everything to combine.

Let mixture sit for 20 minutes, then start pounding it with a potato masher.  Pound until you get tired, then set it aside to rest for a few minutes.  Alternately pound and rest until the mixture is much reduced in volume and is yielding a lot of water.

It’s ready when you can pack the kraut down with the masher or a wooden spoon and liquid comes up to cover it, usually an hour.  When it’s ready, pile it into a half-gallon crock or jar, packing tightly as you go.

Press the top down.  If there’s enough liquid to submerge the vegetables, you’re golden.  If not, add some filtered water until they’re covered.  Now place an open Ziploc bag over the jar (open side up), and fill with enough water to weight the kraut down and keep it submerged.  When you have that right, seal the bag, cover the whole thing loosely with a towel, and let sit in a dark, room-temperature location.  Check the kraut for sourness each day.  Mine is usually at optimal sourness in 1-2 weeks, but your results will differ based on temperature and environment.  Once it’s perfect, refrigerate the batch to slow fermentation.  It’ll keep for about a year, and usually longer.

Note: If a little mold develops on top, you misfits shouldn’t worry about it–this is normal.  Just skim it off, rinse and replace the bag, and keep fermenting.

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Every time your BMG (BNG?  Bad Nonna Genny for today’s recipe?) walks up to the front door, she’s bombarded with a cloud of basil ambrosia.  But she knows it won’t last forever.  Soon she’ll be wailing and gnashing her teeth and rending The Boy’s garments (what?  They’re not as cute as hers) because she can’t get fresh basil anymore.  But she will be encouraged to know that, despite the lack of basil ambrosia in her life, despite the fact that she seems to have reverted to speaking of herself in the third person, there is basilage to be had, and it’s as close as the freezer.

Pesto, peeps!  During the summer I make a fresh batch every week, which is about as long as it takes for the monster plants at the front door to become unwieldy again.  Then I drop it by tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper sheets, roll up the paper, bag it, and stick it in the freezer.  By the end of September, I’ve got rolls and rolls of pesto like herbaceous green button candy, and it sees me through until the next year’s plants kick into SEARCH AND FUCKING DESTROY mode.

I keep the pesto on the thick side–easy to spoon, and it stays concentrated so I can use it however which way I like.

SOME EXAMPLES OF HOWEVER WHICH WAY I LIKE:

*Folded full-strength into some softened butter for rolls
*Dropped into soup or stew for quick seasoning
*Thinned with a little pasta cooking water and tossed with your favorite noodles
*Under my arms–all-natural deodorant! (“Is she joking? I hope she’s joking.”)
*Creamed into mayonnaise and adorning a BLT
*Thinned out with some vinegar and drizzled over a salad
*As a cool hipster-y lip gloss (“Where is she going with all these body product jokes?”)
*Spread thinly onto a pizza crust in place of red sauce
*Whisked into scrambled eggs
*Layered in a tomato and mozzarella pie, topped with a biscuit crust
*As an all-natural, scented lube! (“Oh dear God.”)

Okay, so would you like to know how to execute this most marvelous and simple yet impressive feat of domesticity, or would you like your Bad Nonna Genny to give you increasingly more suggestive uses for pes–

–Oh, you’d like the recipe?  Okay, then.

5 Minute Pesto Buttons
Makes about 8 buttons, each button equal to approx. 1 1/2 tablespoons pesto

Go Get:
2 cups packed basil leaves
1/4 cup nuts (pine nuts are traditional, but I’ve used walnuts, almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, etc. with great results–today I started with slivered almonds)
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano Cheese (BNG is never without it, parmesan is a good substitute)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt ‘n Pepa (the hip-hop duo from the ’90’s, not the seasonings.  Okay, fine, I meant the seasonings.)
olive oil (this isn’t exact, but it’s usually around 1/4 cup)

Go Do:
Okay, now toss those basil leaves into the bowl of your food processor.

Now add in the garlic cloves, a few shakes of salt and pepper, and cheese.

Now toss those nuts into a dry skillet, turn the heat to medium, and agitate things around until it’s all toasty–shouldn’t take more than a minute, and they’re usually done when you start to smell them.  Observe!

Now drop in those nuts and give the food processor a few good pulses until everything’s all macerated.  Now start the motor running and slowly drizzle in olive oil through the feed tube in the top.  You should see things start to form a paste.  You can add a little more if need be, but I’d just take off the top and check before you do that, just to make sure the oil’s being incorporated.  When things form a loose paste, you’re done!  Check it for Salt ‘n Pepa (the seasonings, not the ’90’s hip-hop duo), and adjust accordingly.

Now put out a sheet of wax paper and drop the pesto by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the sheet, about 2 inches apart.  Lay another sheet of wax paper on top, lightly flatten the pesto mounds into thick, flat buttons for easier storage, and gently roll it up.  Pop the roll into a bag, stick it into the freezer, and rest easy, misfits.

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Whoah, look at you.  You are WAY sophisticated.  Who pickles grapes?  YOU DO.

First mushrooms and now this.  I must say, you’re quite the enterprising misfits.

Impressing guests at your next kegger wine and cheese party can be as simple as popping open a jar of these babies.  No wine and cheese party?

You’re screwed!

Wait…I meant, No wine and cheese party?

No problem!  Simply turn off your phone, lock yourself in the pantry, and party down with your three best friends: cheese, a spoon, and your elastic jammy tutu pants.  Friendship has never been so simple.

Cinnamon Spice Pickled Grapes
Makes 6 half-pints

Go Get:
2 1/2 lbs. black, seedless grapes
3 cups dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon Saigon Cassia Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Jamaican Allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
A few pinches salt
1 teaspoon peppercorns

Go Do:
Start with sterilized canning jars and lids and get a boiling water bath canner going. Now wash the grapes and pull them from their stems.

Stab each one with a fork.

What can I say?  Grapes just make me feel violent.

Now put all ingredients except the grapes in a pot and bring it to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally.  When the sugar and salt are dissolved, stir in the grapes.

When the mixture returns to a boil, shut it off and use a slotted spoon to transfer the grapes into the jars.

Pour brine over them up to a half inch before the top.  Wipe the rims (may wanna dampen your cloth…sugar gets sticky and all), and apply the lids.  Screw on the rings just a wittle bit tight and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.   Line a cookie sheet with a towel and use a canning jar lifter to transfer the jars from the bath onto the cookie sheet.  Let them sit for a day, at which point you can check the seals.

Note: Jars didn’t seal?  Don’t feel like canning?  No problem–just move unsealed jars into the fridge, where they’ll last for several months.

Another Note: For a totally herbaceous variation, put a sprig of rosemary in each jar before adding the grapes.  You fancy minx, you!

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I know what you’re thinking–mushrooms can be neither fine nor sexy.  But oh.

Oh!

OH!

They can.  And they are.  In this recipe in particular.  Now, these are pretty boss straight out the jar or with a sandwich or on a hamburger, but your Bad Mama Genny likes to push the envelope.  Put a few in a martini and watch people gasp at your fearlessness in the face of fungi!  Better yet, offer a whole bottle as a gift alongside a bottle of nice gin or vodka. (Or perhaps some cheap vodka that you’ve turned into gin, using my instructions.  Or hell, you could just buy a bottle of gin named after me.)

Because nothing says “Happy Birthday” like good old-fashioned enabling.

Now, the other nice thing about this recipe is that you trim the mushrooms before pickling, so you end up with lots of little mushroom bits and bobs.  And what a coincidence, I LOVE little mushroom bits and bobs!

Aww, look at all those misfit mushroom pieces just waiting to make you feel like the lady you aren’t.

They’re perfect for frying up in pan drippings with a little wine for a burger topping.  Or throw them into a veggie burger mix.  How about soup?  A vegetable stir fry?  See, I just KNEW you’d come around to little mushroom bits and bobs!

(Psst, remember when we talked about growing your own mushrooms?  Oh, right, here.  And here.  And here.  And here, too.  Surely it’s never too early to start thinking about how you’ll pass those chilly winter nights without a homesteading project!  What’s that?…you’re planning on drinking?  Well, gosh…that’s a solid plan.  Carry on!)

Fine and Sexy Pickled Mushrooms
Makes 6 pints

Go Get:
5 1/2 lbs.small, white button mushrooms
1 head garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed with the side of a chef’s knife
6 bay leaves
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 Tablespoons pickling/canning salt
4 cups white wine vinegar
6 sprigs thyme
6 sprigs rosemary
3 teaspoons black peppercorns

Go Do:
Start with sterilized canning jars and lids and get a boiling water bath canner going.  Now divide the peppercorns, herb sprigs, bay leaves, and smashed garlic cloves evenly amongst the jars.

Thoroughly wash the mushrooms and trim the stems super short.  Save the trimmings for another use.

Slice large mushrooms in halves or quarters to maintain some kind of size uniformity.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, stir in the lemon juice, and add the mushrooms.  Cook until they’re tender, about 8-10 minutes.  Now.  Embrace the slotted spoon.  The slotted spoon is your friend.  Transfer the mushrooms from the pot to two tea towel-lined cookie sheets to drain.  Take care not to ignite your favorite new tea towel while doing this.

Not that I’d know.

Or anything.

Then divide the mushrooms evenly among the jars.

In a pot, combine the vinegar with 1 cup water and the salt, and bring it to a boil over high heat.  Cook until salt is dissolved, then use a canning funnel to pour the brine in each jar to within 1/2 inch of the top.  Wipe the jar rims, position the lids and rings, screw them on only a wittle bit tight, and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.  Line a cookie sheet with a towel and use a canning jar lifter to transfer the jars from the bath onto the cookie sheet.  Let them sit by themselves (aww, poor mushrooms) for a day, at which point you can check the seals.

Note: Jars didn’t seal?  Don’t feel like canning?  No problem–just move unsealed jars into the fridge, where they’ll last for several months.

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