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Pressure Canning Chicken Stock

Pressure Canning Chicken Stock

Pressure Canning Chicken Stock

1 3- to 4-lb chicken, cut into pieces

16 C. water

2 stalks celery

2 medium onions, quartered

1 T. salt

10 peppercorns

2 bay leaves

4 Ball®  (32 oz) quart or 8 (16 oz) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

 

Half recipe

1/2  3- to 4-lb chicken, cut into pieces

8 C. water

1 stalks celery

1 medium onions, quartered

1-1/2 T. salt

5 peppercorns

1 bay leaves

2 Ball®  (32 oz) quart or 4 (16 oz) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

 

*You must process at least 2 quart jars or 4 pint jars in the pressure canner at one time to ensure safe processing.*

 

Prepare pressure canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil.  Wash lids in warm soapy water and set bands aside Combine chicken and water in a large sauce-pot. Bring to a boil. Add remaining ingredients. Return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2 hours or until chicken is tender. Remove from heat. Skim off foam. Remove chicken from stock, reserving chicken for another use. Strain stock through a sieve or several layers of cheesecloth. Allow stock to cool until fat solidifies. Skim off fat. Heat stock to a boil. Ladle hot chicken stock into hot jars leaving 1 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight. Process filled jars in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure 20 minutes for pints and 25 minutes for quarts, adjusting for altitude, according to your pressure canners directions. Turn off heat: cool canner to zero pressure. Let stand 5 more minutes before removing the lid. Cool jars in canner 10 minutes. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Sourdough Starter

Sourdough Starter

Sourdough Starter

Whether it conjures up a crusty, flavorful loaf of bread or a bubbling crock of flour/water starter, sourdough is a treasured part of many bakers’ kitchens. But where does the path to sourdough bread begin? Right in your own kitchen, with your own homemade sourdough starter.

Sourdough baking is as much art as science. The method you’ll read here for making sourdough starter isn’t an exact match for the one you read on another site, or in a cookbook, or in your great-grandma’s diary

Getting it started takes a lot of steps, but once its established, its easy to maintain and use.

1 cup (113g) whole rye (pumpernickel) or whole wheat flour

1/2 cup (113g) cool water

 

To feed your starter

 

scant 1 cup (113g) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

1/2 cup (113g) cool water (if your house is warm), or lukewarm water (if your house is cool)

 

Day 1: Combine the pumpernickel or whole wheat flour with the cool water in a non-reactive container. Glass, crockery, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic all work fine for this. Make sure the container is large enough to hold your starter as it grows; we recommend at least 1-quart capacity.

 

Sourdough Starter – Step 1

Stir everything together thoroughly; make sure there’s no dry flour anywhere. Cover the container loosely and let the mixture sit at warm room temperature (about 70°F) for 24 hours. See “tips,” below, for advice about growing starters in a cold house.

 

Day 2: You may see no activity at all in the first 24 hours, or you may see a bit of growth or bubbling. Either way, discard half the starter (113 grams, about 1/2 cup), and add to the remainder a scant 1 cup (113 grams) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, and 1/2 cup (113 grams) cool water (if your house is warm); or lukewarm water (if it’s cold).

 

Sourdough Starter – Step 3

Mix well, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature for 24 hours.

 

Perfect your technique

How to make sourdough starter-1

BLOG

How to make your own sourdough starter

BY PJ HAMEL

 

Day 3: By the third day, you’ll likely see some activity — bubbling; a fresh, fruity aroma, and some evidence of expansion. It’s now time to begin two feedings daily, as evenly spaced as your schedule allows. For each feeding, weigh out 113 grams starter; this will be a generous 1/2 cup, once it’s thoroughly stirred down. Discard any remaining starter.

 

Add a scant 1 cup (113 grams) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, and 1/2 cup (113 grams) water to the 113 grams starter. Mix the starter, flour, and water, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature for approximately 12 hours before repeating.

 

Day 4: Weigh out 113 grams starter, and discard any remaining starter. Repeat step #6.

 

Day 5: Weigh out 113 grams starter, and discard any remaining starter. Repeat step #6. By the end of day #5, the starter should have at least doubled in volume. You’ll see lots of bubbles; there may be some little “rivulets” on the surface, full of finer bubbles. Also, the starter should have a tangy aroma — pleasingly acidic, but not overpowering. If your starter hasn’t risen much and isn’t showing lots of bubbles, repeat discarding and feeding every 12 hours on day 6, and day 7, if necessary — as long as it takes to create a vigorous (risen, bubbly) starter. Note: see “tips,” below.

 

Sourdough Starter – Step 8

Once the starter is ready, give it one last feeding. Discard all but 113 grams (a generous 1/2 cup). Feed as usual. Let the starter rest at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours; it should be active, with bubbles breaking the surface. Hate discarding so much starter? See “tips,” below.

 

Remove however much starter you need for your recipe — typically no more than 227 grams, about 1 cup. If your recipe calls for more than 1 cup of starter, give it a couple of feedings without discarding, until you’ve made enough for your recipe plus 113 grams to keep and feed again.

 

Sourdough Starter – Step 10

Transfer the remaining 113 grams of starter to its permanent home: a crock, jar, or whatever you’d like to store it in long-term. Feed this reserved starter with 1 scant cup (113 grams) of flour and 1/2 cup (113 grams) water, and let it rest at room temperature for several hours, to get going, before covering it. If you’re storing starter in a screw-top jar, screw the top on loosely rather than airtight.

 

Store this starter in the refrigerator, and feed it regularly; we recommend feeding it with a scant 1 cup (113 grams) flour and 1/2 cup (113 grams) water once a week.

 

Tips from our Bakers

Why do you need to discard half the starter? It seems so wasteful… But unless you discard starter at some point, eventually you’ll end up with a very large container of starter. Also, keeping the volume down offers the yeast more food to eat each time you feed it; it’s not fighting with quite so many other little yeast cells to get enough to eat. You don’t have to actually discard it if you don’t want to, either; you can give it to a friend, or use it to bake. There are quite a few recipes on our site using “discard” starter, including pizza crust, pretzels, and waffles, and even chocolate cake. If you’re still uncomfortable dealing with discard, though, try maintaining a smaller starter: the smaller the starter, the smaller the amount of discard.

 

Why does this starter begin with whole-grain flour? Because the wild yeast that gives sourdough starter its life is more likely to be found in the flora- and fauna-rich environment of a whole-grain flour than in all-purpose flour. What if all you have is all-purpose flour, no whole wheat? Go ahead and use all-purpose; you may find the starter simply takes a little longer to get going. Also, if you feed your starter on a long-term basis with anything other than the all-purpose flour called for here, it will probably look different (thicker or thinner, a different color) and act differently as well. Not to say you can’t feed your starter with alternate flours; just that the results may not be what you expect.

Quick and Easy Gravy from Scratch

Quick and Easy Gravy from Scratch

Quick and Easy Gravy from Scratch

Homemade gravy is quick and easy. If you’ve roasted chicken, turkey or beef, use the drippings left in the roasting pan. They make the gravy extra flavorful and seasoned. You can make gravy without drippings and use stock or broth in its place. Store-bought stock is usually under seasoned. Take care when seasoning with salt and pepper towards the end of the recipe. Finally, for more flavor, whisk in mushroom powder. This is optional but adds a deep savory flavor.

 

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups warm stock (poultry, beef or vegetable stock) or use pan drippings, see note below

1/2 teaspoon mushroom powder, optional

1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs or 1/2 teaspoon dried herbs (try sage, thyme or rosemary)

2 to 3 tablespoons half and half or cream, optional

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

 

In a wide skillet with sides, melt butter over medium heat. When melted and sizzling, whisk in the flour. Whisk until the flour and butter turn into a smooth paste and look medium blonde in color; about 1 minute. It smells toasty, like browned butter.  Pour in stock and whisk until smooth. Bring the gravy to a low simmer. As it simmers, it thickens and becomes glossy.  Whisk in the herbs and mushroom powder then cook at a low simmer for a minute or two. Remove from the heat then stir in half and half or cream (optional).  Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and black pepper (we like a generous amount of pepper).  TIPS FOR USING PAN DRIPPINGS:  Substitute some or all the butter with fat left in the pan from roasting. If there are juices left in the pan, strain them then swap all or some of the stock for the pan juices. Pan drippings and juices will be well seasoned compared to the stock. When seasoning, taste the gravy first then adjust with more salt and/or pepper. If you used a stove-top safe pan such as a Dutch oven or stainless steel pan for roasting, there is no need for the skillet. Make the gravy directly in the roasting pan.

Thanksgiving Bone Broth

Thanksgiving Bone Broth

Thanksgiving Bone Broth

 

4 C. (1 quart) Turkey Bone Broth

2 ribs celery, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 small clove garlic, crushed

1/4-1/2 tsp. ground sage or Bell’s Seasoning (see Note)

1 clove

Celtic or pink Himalayan salt

Ground black pepper

 

Heat the broth in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, garlic, sage or Bell’s Seasoning, and clove. Reduce the heat to medium-low or low so the broth barely simmers for 5 to 10 minutes, or just until the carrots and celery are tender. Remove and discard the garlic and clove. Season with salt and pepper and serve.  NOTE:  Bell’s Seasoning is a salt-free blend of herbs and spices containing rosemary, oregano, sage, ginger, and marjoram.

Easy Red Enchilada Sauce

Easy Red Enchilada Sauce

Easy Red Enchilada Sauce

½ tsp. Garlic Powder

1 ½ T. Chili Powder

1 tsp. Cumin

1 tsp. Sugar

¼ tsp. Oregano

Salt, to taste

8oz. can Tomato Sauce

 

Place small saucepan over medium heat and add all ingredients except the tomato sauce. Stir until fragrant, toasting the dried herbs and spices. Add tomato sauce and 1 C. of water, stir well and simmer a few minutes to blend spices into the sauce.  Use for homemade enchiladas or enchilada tacos, or try spooned over poached eggs.

 

Yield: 8 ¼ C. Servings

Calories: 15

Fat: 0g

Fiber: 1g

Canning Chili Beans

Canning Chili Beans

Canning Chili Beans

Boiled Water, kept at a simmer

7 quart mason jars

 

Per Jar:

1 C. dried kidney beans

1/4 C. tomato sauce

1/2 tsp. canning salt

1 tsp. smoked paprika OR plain paprika

1 tsp. granulated garlic

1 tsp. granulated onion

1 tsp. dehydrated onion

1 tsp. chili powder’1/4 tsp. cumin

vinegar to wipe rims of jars

 

Using clean quart jars…. add 1 C. dried kidney beans.

Add tomato sauce.

Add spices.

Fill remaining jars with boiled, hot water.

 

Debubble/stir contents. Wipe rims of jars with vinegar, checking for any crack, nicks and making sure rim is clean of debris. Add lid and ring, which has been soaking in hot, simmered water. Place into pressure canner. Canning: 1″ headspace, processed for 90 minutes for quarts, 75 minutes for pints at 10lbs of pressure for Michigan. Check your pressure poundage in your state. When pulling them out of the canner, cover them with a towel and allow them to cool for 24 hours. Check for sealing, remove bands/rings and wash jars in hot soapy water with 1/2 C. vinegar added to the water. Rinse and dry. Label. Place into your pantry.

Why You Need to Save Bacon Grease Like Gram Did

Why You Need to Save Bacon Grease Like Gram Did

Pop popcorn in bacon fat.

Make Caesar salad dressing with bacon drippings in place of the olive oil.

Fry chicken using four parts peanut oil and one part bacon fat.

Add about 1 T. of bacon fat per pound to raw hamburger, ground turkey, or venison meat before frying or grilling the patties.

Fry liver and onions in bacon fat.

Use bacon fat to make gravies and roux.

Sauté onions, carrots, and/or garlic in bacon fat for vegetable soups.

Use bacon fat to cook refried beans and sunny-side-up eggs.

Stir l to 2 T. of bacon fat into pots of boiling white beans, polenta, grits, or rice.

Sauté sliced brussels sprouts in bacon fat.

Add bacon fat when boiling water to cook or blanch green beans.

When baking russet potatoes, coat the skin with bacon fat before putting the potatoes in the oven.

Cook hash browns in bacon fat.

Sauté chopped Swiss chard and other hearty winter greens in bacon fat.

Fry sliced tomatoes in bacon drippings (great on sandwiches).

Use bacon fat when making skillet corn bread; you’ll get a crunchier crust.

Substitute a T. of bacon fat for other fats in single- crust pies.

If you have dogs, add it to their dog food for better flavor and digestion. Not to mention is helps keep their coats shiny and healthy.

When baking cornbread (or any other bread) use it to grease the baking pan or skillet before you add the mixture.

Add it to those green things we like to call “veggies” while you’re cooking. This way you don’t really need to add much salt, and it gives the veggies a hint of delicious porky flavor.

Use bacon fat in place of margarine for certain recipes. Get crazy and experiment. You will only find your favorite recipe by having fun with it!

Use it while frying up potatoes, steaks, shrimp, onions, eggs… practically anything you can think of frying up. Except for zombies. Don’t use bacon grease to fry up a zombie.

Add bacon fat into cream cheese to make as a sauce for different dishes. It tastes delicious poured over squash, broccoli, steaks, and potatoes. Also works well in gravy recipes.

When making pancakes, instead of using oil, use bacon grease. So genius.

Add into soups when you’re cooking over the stove- it will give your soup that extra hint of delicious savory flavor.

For an even tastier turkey sandwich (or any other lunch meat), lay warm liquid bacon grease on a plate to form a very thin layer. Lay your turkey slices (or whatever meat you like for your sandwiches) on top of the grease to just lightly coat the lunch meat. Then simply add to your sandwich. You may do this with your cheese if you would like too. This method is so tasty you won’t need to use mayonnaise. You can also use the bacon grease to fry up that sandwich after you’re done putting it together!

Adobo Seasoning

Adobo Seasoning

Adobo Seasoning

Essential in Spanish, Caribbean and Latin American kitchens, adobo is a savory, all-purpose seasoning that imparts a garlic flavor and is normally used to season and/or marinate meat, chicken or fish. It is so fundamental in Latin  Cuisines that adobado means “marinated and cooked in adobo sauce.”

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon paprika

2 teaspoo

 

ns ground black pepper

1 1⁄2 teaspoons onion powder

1 1⁄2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

 

In a bowl, stir together the salt, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, and chili powder. Store in a sealed jar in a cool, dry place.

LTS Pantry Stable “Roux” Base

LTS Pantry Stable “Roux” Base

Pantry Stable “Roux” Base

2 C. Milk Powder (not instant nonfat dry milk)
1 C. Butter Powder
1 C. Flour

Whisk to combine, store in a mason jar in pantry. To make white sauce, mix ½ C. mix with 1 C. water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened.

Replace water with pan drippings or meat stock/broth for a gravy.

To replace a can of “Cream of X soup” in a recipe, mix a cup of the mix with 1 ¼ C. water. Add dehydrated celery, mushroom, onion, and/or chicken bouillon to match the type of Cream soup you need. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until thickened.

Uses for Soy Sauce

Uses for Soy Sauce

Uses for Soy Sauce

To give steamed rice a savory flavor, add 1 tsp. soy sauce to the cooking water.

For a delicious glaze on roasted pearl onions, mix together equal parts soy sauce and molasses and toss with the onions before roasting.

To make a quick Polynesian sauce, stir together 1/3 C. soy sauce, 1/2 C. pineapple juice, 1 can (5 oz.) crushed pineapple, and 1/2 tsp. hot-pepper sauce. Add to cooked vegetables or meat as a stir-fry sauce or serve over roasted pork, chicken, or fish.

For an Asian-style glaze, mix together 1/4 C. soy sauce or teriyaki sauce, 6 oz. Dr. Pepper, 1 tsp. hot-pepper sauce, 1/2 tsp. ground cloves, and 1/2 tsp. ground ginger. Boil over high heat until reduced in volume by about half and thickened to a syrup, about 10 minutes. Brush over baked ham during the last 20 minutes of cooking.

Liquid Gold: Brown Poultry Stock

Liquid Gold: Brown Poultry Stock

Stock Making: Hints and Tips

Poultry, meat, fish, and vegetable stocks all utilize the same techniques, differing only in small details.

The aim of stock making is to produce a rich, flavorful broth; therefore, use only enough water to cover the solid ingredients by 1½ inches.

To make a rich, flavorful stock, you must use a high percentage of meat, rather than bones only. Luckily, however, the cheaper cuts of meat and poultry are generally the most flavorful. You can make a light poultry stock with a carcass from a roasted bird, but it will not have the rich flavor of a stock made from uncooked meat and bones.

A non-corrosive stockpot should be used when acid is included in the list of stock ingredients, as with wine in fish stock.

When meat or poultry is heated in water, it releases albumin particles that will cloud the broth if not removed. The water must be heated very slowly to draw out the impurities, which will form a scum on the surface, where they can be skimmed off. This process usually takes 15-20 minutes.

When making meat, poultry, or fish white stock, the skimming process should be completed before adding aromatic vegetables. If vegetables are included at the beginning, they will interfere with skimming. With brown stocks, there is not much skimming required, so roasting the larger vegetables along with the meat is fine.

All stocks should be cooked at a bare simmer. Rapid boiling will cause solid ingredients to disintegrate and cloud the stock.

Meat stock requires 5-6 hours of cooking time; Poultry stock requires 3-4 hours of cooking time; Fish or vegetable stock requires only 45-60 minutes of cooking time.

Seasonings, particularly salt, should not be added until the stock has been concentrated and reduced; or seasonings can be left out altogether so that the future dish utilizing the stock can be individually flavor-balanced.

Stock can be produced more rapidly if finely chopped meat or poultry is used in place of bone-in carcass pieces. The finer the ingredients are chopped, the more surface area is exposed to the simmering water, and the more quickly the ingredients will give up their flavor to the liquid. In this way, acceptable stock can be produced in 1 ½ hours.

The flavor of a rapidly made stock will be good, but because no bones or trimmings are generally used, it will be short on gelatin, thus much lighter in body.

Rapid stock technique does not involve skimming because the many particles of meat “catch” the albumin particles and hold them until final straining.

Stock should be refrigerated after it is of acceptable strength. A flavor change (souring) may occur if hot stock is refrigerated with a cover, therefore, chill thoroughly first, then cover.
Refrigerated stock should be simmered for several minutes every 2-3 days to keep it from spoiling.

Stock may be frozen. Ladle clear, cool stock into heavy-duty, zip-lock freezer bags, seal carefully, and freeze. (Two C. batches are most convenient.) Still in the plastic bag, thaw in warm water; or remove from the bag and heat gently in a small saucepan; or place in a bowl and thaw in the microwave.

Brown Poultry Stock

According to The New Larousse Gastronomique, Brown Stock can be made from beef, veal, or poultry. It’s the method that’s important, and that involves thorough browning of the meat, bones, and vegetables in fat prior to the long, slow simmering generally associated with stock-making. The following formula is for poultry brown stock, probably the least commonly used of the three types. When I make a brown turkey stock, I buy a small turkey, remove the legs and whole breast to roast later and cut the rest of the bird unto pieces for the stock.

¼ C. vegetable oil
5-6 pounds turkey parts (necks, wings, backs, bones, gizzards)
6 stalks celery, leaves and all, roughly chopped
3 carrots, roughly chopped
2 onions, with skins, quartered
4 unpeeled garlic cloves
small handful of parsley, stems and all
1 bay leaf
2 whole cloves
1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried
cold water to cover

In a large roasting pan, put the oil, turkey parts, celery, carrots, onions, garlic, and parsley. (If you have a large Le Creuset casserole, use it. You will be able to take it straight from the oven and onto the burner for the simmering stage. No fuss, no muss.) Roast, at 450°, uncovered, on the middle rack in the oven, turning pieces occasionally until well browned, 1-1½ hours. Remove from the oven and transfer the browned ingredients to a large (10-14 quart) stockpot. Deglaze the roasting pan with a little water, scraping up all the bits and pieces of coagulated meat juices from the bottom and sides. (Don’t worry about the fat at this point. It will come off later and in the meantime contributes flavor to the developing stock.) Pour all of the collected juices (everything) into the stockpot. Add cold water to the stockpot to cover the meat and bones by 1½ inches. Heat slowly. When the liquid comes to a bare simmer, regulate the heat to maintain, and then begin to skim off any scum that forms on the surface. Above all, do not stir the stock at this point, as this action will incorporate the clouding particles into the liquid. Continue skimming until the scum ceases to accumulate, about 15-20 minutes. Now add the bay leaf, cloves, thyme, and more water, if necessary, to maintain the beginning level. Partially cover and continue cooking at a very slow simmer for 3-4 hours, partially covered if desired. (Overnight is fine.) Remove the large ingredients from the stockpot with a large slotted spoon, and put the stock through a triple mesh strainer. There will be virtually no flavor or nutrients left in the solid ingredients at this point; they should be discarded. Allow the hot stock to settle for 5-10 minutes before attempting to remove the fat. Then, skim the surface with a spoon, draw a “grease-catcher” brush across the surface, or use a bottom-pouring degreaser (available in most kitchenware stores and definitely the easiest of the three methods) to remove the fat. If time is not critical, refrigerate the stock, uncovered, until the fat hardens, at which point, it can be easily removed. After the stock is thoroughly degreased, check it for taste. If there is not enough flavor, simply boil it down to concentrate its strength. Salt may be added now if desired, although I think it is generally preferable to wait with this until the final dish is prepared utilizing the stock. Refrigerate, covered, remembering to boil the stock for several minutes every few days to keep it from spoiling, or freeze in 2-C. batches.

Everyday Tomato Sauce

Everyday Tomato Sauce

Everyday Tomato Sauce¼ C. EVOO
1 large Onion, diced
4 Garlic Cloves, peeled and minced
46oz. can Tomato Juice
29oz. can Tomato Puree
2 6oz. cans Tomato Paste
1 T. each dried Basil, Oregano, and Thyme
2 Bay Leaves

In large saucepot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomato juice, puree and paste and stir until blended. Crush basil, oregano and thyme in your hands and add to sauce. Add nay leaves. Lower heat and simmer at least 30 minutes, up to several hours, until thick. When ready to serve, remove bay leaves and add salt and pepper to taste. ¼ tsp. crushed Fennel seeds may be added with herbs, if desired.

Cooking Nopales

Cooking Nopales

Cleaning cactus is no easy feat to accomplish. In fact, I was too scared to attempt it until I was older, for fear of getting pricked. That’s because even though the bigger needles are visible to the naked eye, there are also some tiny needles that are as clear as water and virtually invisible. You can blanch your cactus, boil it, saute it, or even cure it in salt for a different approach. Heck, some people blend cactus into their green smoothies. Note that the smaller the paddle, the more tender the cactus will be.

6 nopales (cactus pads)cactus

1 tomatillo husk (to reduce the viscosity effect)
1/4 white onion
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp. of salt

VERY IMPORTANT TIP: Use kitchen tongs to hold the nopales or, better yet, wear gloves to protect your hands from the thorns. Once you are familiar working with cactus paddles then you can try to clean them without gloves. Place the cactus paddle on your cutting board and, using a sharp knife, trim off the edge. Scrape the spines, thorns or eyes, running your knife from back to front until completely clean. Turn the cactus paddles and do the same on the other side. Repeat the same steps with the rest of the cactus paddles. Finally rinse the cactus paddles and take them back to your clean cutting board. Place a medium size pot with 4 quarts of water to boil. Cut the cactus paddles in small strips. Once the water is boiling add the cactus, onion, garlic, 1/2 tsp. of salt and the tomatillo husk. Boil uncovered for about 8-10 minutes or until tender. The cactus will exude a sticky substance and most times will foam, so, pay special attention to this step to avoid the foam to spill over. Once cooked, drain and rinse the cactus. Let them drain completely or pat them dry with paper towels. Now, your nopales are ready to be prepared into salads, scrambled eggs, as an addition to your Mexican stews, etc. Note: Nopales also taste good grilled and topped with melted cheese. Just make 3-4 small cuts to each nopal after you cleaned the spines; brush them with oil and grill them for about 3 minutes on each side.

Tortilla de Maiz

Tortilla de Maiz

Tortilla de Maiz2 C. Masa Harina
½ tsp. Salt
1 ½ C. Warm Water

In a large mixing bowl, combine masa harina and salt. Slowly pour in warm water and mix with your hands until incorporated. Knead mixture until you have one large ball of dough. Pull a small bit of the dough off and roll into a ball to test the consistency. Squash the ball gently between the palms of your hands until about a quarter inch thick. The dough should squish easily in your hands without being too sticky and form a flat disc with rounded edges. If the disc has rough edges, it is too dry, and you need to add more water. If the dough sticks easily to your hands, it is too wet and you need more masa. Pull and equal size portion of dough from the larger piece and roll into a ball just larger than a golf ball. Place on sheet tray lined with parchment paper and repeat for all the dough. Keep the dough ball covered with a damp towel as you work to keep the dough from drying out. Heat comal over medium high heat. Put 2 6” round pieces of plastic (such as from a plastic shopping bag) and place one on the bottom of a tortilla press. Place a masa ball on the plastic and cover with the second plastic disc. Close cover and apply enough pressure to flatten the dough into a 5” tortilla. Lift lid of press, gently peel away the top layer of plastic, flip in your hand and peel away the other piece of plastic. Place tortilla on heated pan and cook 30 seconds, until bottom starts to brown and bubble. Turn tortilla over and cook 30 more seconds. Remove and set aside. Cover with a clean towel to keep warm. Repeat with remaining dough, stacking the tortillas on top of each other after cooking.

Chorizo de Mexicana

Chorizo de Mexicana

Mexican Chorizo

5 whole black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
¼ tsp. ground Cinnamon
½ tsp. Oregano (Mexican)
½ tsp. dried Thyme
2 tsp. Paprika
2 tsp. Salt
2 dried Ancho Chiles, stemmed, seeded, dry roasted and rehydrated
1 dried Guajillo Chile, stemmed, seeded, dry roasted and rehydrated
1 dried Chipotle Chile, stemmed, seeded, dry roasted and rehydrated
1 Chile de arbol, stemmed, seeded, dry roasted and rehydrated
2 cloves Garlic
2 T. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 lb. Fatty Pork (such as pork shoulder), coarsely ground

Place peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, paprika and salt in a blender and blend until peppercorns and cloves are completely crushed. Add rehydrated chiles to blended spice mixture, along with garlic and apple sider vinegar. Blend for one minute. If necessary, feel free to add up to ½ cup of water to the mixture to ensure it is thoroughly blended. Place ground pork in large bowl and top with spice mixture. Using a large wooden spoon or your hands, mix the pork and spices. Cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hours to allow flavors to combine. Freeze or refrigerate until use. Note: Sausage must be fully cooked before eating.

Make Your Own Panko

Make Your Own Panko

pankoPreheat oven to 300. Cut several pieces of bread into strips. Feed them into a food processor fitted with a shredder attachment. Spread on a sheet pan and bake for 6-8 minutes, tossing every two minutes or so. You don’t want them to brown, you just want them crispy.

Uses for Bananas

Uses for Bananas

271157-bananas

To use overripe bananas, store them whole in the freezer to make smoothies later. When ready, peel off the skins from the frozen bananas with a paring knife. Slice into a blender and add berries, milk or yogurt, and fresh orange juice. Blend until smooth.

For a tropical ice cream that will cool you down in the summertime, peel 2 bananas, wrap them in plastic, and freeze until solid. Then place in a food processor with:

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries or strawberries
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Blend to the desired smoothness (or chunkiness). Pour into a shallow metal pan, cover, and freeze until firm. Scrape out servings with a spoon. Keeps frozen for up to 2 months.

For complex-tasting blueberry muffins with less fat, replace the butter in your favorite recipe with a mixture of mashed bananas and vegetable oil.

To give the kids a more nutritious frozen treat, make chocolate-covered frozen bananas on a stick. Peel whole bananas and skewer each one with a wooden craft stick or chopstick, then freeze until solid. Dip each banana into 1/4 cup melted chocolate (melted chocolate chips work fine). If you like, quickly roll in chopped nuts or sprinkles before the chocolate firms ups. Place on wax paper and return the chocolate-covered bananas to the freezer for 15 minutes.

Tidbit Adding a banana to a bag of peaches will help ripen the fruit faster. Ethylene gas emitted by the banana speeds the ripening process.

Uses for Sweetened Condensed Milk

Uses for Sweetened Condensed Milk

milkTo make easy caramel sauce (dulce de leche), remove the label from a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk. Put the unopened can in a large saucepan and cover with water by 5 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 2 hours, adding water as necessary to keep the can covered. Remove the can with tongs and cool to room temperature. Open the can and spoon the thick, sweet caramelized sauce over ice cream, brownies, pound cake, apple crisp, or your favorite desserts.

For ultra-easy strawberry sorbet, puree 1 quart strawberries with 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk and 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice. Freeze in a shallow metal pan, stirring occasionally. Scrape out servings with a spoon.

To roll up some chocolate truffles in no time, combine 20 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (or a mix of bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate), 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until the chocolate melts and the mixture can be stirred smooth. Let cool until the mixture can be handled, then roll into 1-inch balls between your palms. Roll in powdered sugar and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. You can also refrigerate the truffles for up to 2 weeks, but bring them to room temperature before serving for the best flavor.

For no-fuss refrigerator fudge, combine 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk, 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract in a saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until the chocolate melts and the mixture can be stirred smooth. Scrape into a foil-lined 8-inch square baking dish. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until the fudge is firm. Grab the foil to remove the fudge from the pan, then cut into 1-inch squares.

Uses for Tea Bags

Uses for Tea Bags

Tea-bags-E-Note-sxcTo flavor rice, steep a few tea bags (such as mint, orange, or jasmine) in the boiling water before adding the rice. Remove the tea bags, add the rice, and cook according to the package directions.

For a tasty topping for green beans, sauté 2 minced garlic cloves in 1 teaspoon canola oil until opaque, then add 2 cups brewed tea. Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes, then pour over a pound of steamed green beans. Garnish with sliced almonds, if you like.

To make an orange-scented sauce for pan-seared chicken or pork, remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm. Saute 1/3 cup chopped shallots in 1 teaspoon olive oil in the same pan. Add 1 cup chicken broth, 3/4 cup fresh orange juice and 2 Earl Grey tea bags. Boil until the liquid is reduced to 3/4 cup. Remove the tea bags and whisk in 1 1/2 teaspoons honey and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter. Serve over the chicken or pork.

To make an aromatic fruit relish, brew hibiscus tea in a saucepan. (Hibiscus tea is available in supermarkets, sometimes mixed with rosehips, which works just fine.) After the tea steeps for 5 minutes, discard tea bags then add sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until the liquid reduces and becomes syrupy. Stir in finely chopped onions, pineapple, and apple and simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Serve the relish with seafood such as shrimp, scallops, or broiled fish.

For rhubarb scented with jasmine, bring 11/4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Remove from the heat and add 3 jasmine tea bags. Cover and let the tea steep for 5 minutes. Discard tea bags, then add 2 pounds (6 cups) fresh or frozen sliced rhubarb, 1 1/4 cups sugar, and 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger to the saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the rhubarb is just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and refrigerate until well-chilled, about 3 hours. Keeps in the refrigerator for about 4 days.

For a warm, energizing autumn drink, combine 4 cups apple cider, 4 cups pineapple juice, 1/2 cup water, 1 cinnamon stick, and 4 whole cloves in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then add 1 tea bag. Let steep for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 1 hour. Discard the cloves, cinnamon, and tea bag before serving.

To make muffins with a surprise flavor, add 1 tablespoon fine loose English breakfast or Earl Grey tea leaves to the batter of your favorite basic or blueberry muffin recipe. Bake as directed. If you don’t have loose tea leaves, open two tea bags and add to the muffin batter.

When you want to add something different to mulled wine, toss a few lemon spice tea bags into the simmering liquid. Remove the tea bags before serving.

Uses for Vinegar

Uses for Vinegar

vinegars490To make an outrageously good sauce for grilled beef, melt a stick of butter over medium heat. When the butter foams, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until it turns from yellow to medium brown but not black, 5 to 7 minutes. Watch the butter carefully so it doesn’t burn. Pour the brown butter into a small, heat-proof bowl, leaving the sediment in the pan. Raise the heat to medium and pour balsamic vinegar into the pan, swirling it and letting it boil down to about half its volume. Remove from the heat and pour the brown butter back into the pan to combine. Drizzle over grilled steaks. A grating of fresh horseradish takes this over the top.

To make a marinade for your favorite steaks, combine 6 ounces beer, 1/4 cup tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, and 1 tablespoon steak seasoning. Marinate in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours before grilling or broiling.

To rescue an egg that cracks while being hard-cooked, add a teaspoon of distilled white vinegar to the cooking water. The vinegar will cause the egg white to coagulate and stop seeping from the shell. The same principle works with poached eggs too. Add a tablespoon of vinegar to the poaching liquid to help the egg whites set up before they spread too much.

To help a peeled and sliced cucumber stay crisp, put the cucumber slices in a colander and sprinkle them with 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of sugar. Use your fingertips to rub the mixture into the slices for 1 minute. Weight down the slices with a large zip-close bag full of water and let the cucumber drain in the colander for 15 minutes. Rinse and pat dry before using for cooking or a salad.

To give shrimp cocktail just the right amount of acidity, combine 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar, 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer, 2 tablespoons crab boil seasoning, such as Old Bay, and 1/2 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and add a pound of shrimp. Simmer until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain the shrimp and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Serve cold with cocktail sauce.

To make Brussels sprouts that everyone will love, cut the sprouts in half and cook, cut side down, in a skillet with a little olive oil until the bottoms brown, about 10 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons of best-quality balsamic vinegar, shaking the pan to distribute it evenly. Cover and simmer on medium-low until the sprouts are tender, 10 minutes. Finish with 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Homemade Flour Tortillas

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2 cups bread flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening or lard
3/4 cup hot (115-130 degrees) water- I just let the tap get as hot as it can.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Mix by hand or on low speed until the dough comes together. Knead by hand or with the dough hook on low to medium speed until smooth, 4-6 minutes.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll them into balls. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
Roll out each ball of dough into a 6-8 inch round about 1/8 inch thick. If the dough is resistant, move to the next piece and return later to finish rolling. Heat a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Slide the tortillas into the skillet one by one, cooking until brown spots appear, about 30 seconds on the first side, 15 seconds once flipped. Cover the cooked tortillas to keep warm while you cook the rest. Serve warm.

Chili-Infused Oil

Chili-Infused Oil

1/2 C olive oil
1 tsp dried crushed red pepper

In a small, heavy saucepan, heat the oil and red pepper flakes over a low flame, stirring occasionally, until a thermometer inserted into the oil registers 180 degrees, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Transfer oil and pepper flakes to a 4-ounce bottle or other small container and seal the lid. Refrigerate. Can be used as a dipping oil for breads, or to liven up the flavors in other dishes-as your cooking oil, in salad dressing, or just drizzled over grilled fish or meat. Keeps in the fridge for a month.

15 Ways to Doctor a Jar of Salsa – Add Interest to your Dish

15 Ways to Doctor a Jar of Salsa – Add Interest to your Dish

Add avocado cubes, chopped fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.

Stir in mango chunks, chopped fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice

Fold in a small can of drained, crushed pineapple and fresh cilantro

Marinate chunks of white Mexican cheese in salsa; serve with toothpicks

Stir in a small can of drained corn

Combine with drained and rinsed canned black beans and drained canned yellow corn.

Add chopped jicama, shredded carrot and chopped fresh ginger.

Stir in a chopped fresh, vine ripe tomato.

Mix shredded radish and pinch of ground cumin with the salsa.

Add chopped canned tomatillos.

Stir in a chopped, soaked chipotle pepper.

Ass 1 tsp. prepared horseradish and fresh lemon juice; serve with shrimp.

Mix in chopped roasted red peppers, a dash of balsamic vinegar and chopped fresh basil.

Ass a couple T. plain yogurt, chopped cucumber and cumin seed. Serve with toasted pita bread wedges.

Fold in shredded carrot, a dash of fish sauce, a squeeze of lime juice and chopped fresh Jalapeño pepper to taste. Serve with crackers.

Cream Cheese 15 Ways – Add Some Interest to Your Spread

Cream Cheese 15 Ways – Add Some Interest to Your Spread

-Blend 1/4 C store bought pesto with cream cheese. Top it with lightly toasted pine nuts.

-Blend 1/4 C pitted kalamata olives into the cream cheese. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves.

-Blend 1/4 C chopped, oil-packed, sun dried tomatoes into the cream cheese. Sprinkle 1 T. of chopped fresh basil over the top.

-Blend a jar of chopped marinated artichokes into the cream cheese and spread this on pumpernickel or rye bread.

-Drain a small can of tiny shrimp and blend them into the cream cheese. Season with a pinch of ground mace or nutmeg and sprinkle with 1 T. of minced red onion. Spread on bagel chips.

-Blend a can of drained chopped chiles, 1/2 C. of shredded Cheddar cheese, and a pinch of cumin into the cream cheese.

-Blend 2 ounces of smoked trout and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice into the cream cheese. Garnish with 1 T. of chopped fresh parsley.

-Blend 1 clove of garlic that you have crushed in a garlic press, 1 tsp. of herbes de Provence, and a pinch of black pepper into the cream cheese for a homemade Boursin-style cheese.

-Blend 1 small can of deviled ham and 1 tsp. Dijon mustard into the cream cheese.

-Blend 1/4 C. of chopped radishes and some black pepper into the cream cheese.

-Blend 1/4 C. of finely chopped honey-roasted almonds and a dash of hot pepper sauce into the cream cheese.

-Spread the top of the cream cheese with 1/2 C. of chutney. Sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds.

-Cover the cream cheese with 1/2 C. of whole-berry cranberry sauce.

-The classic-spread the top of the cream cheese with 1/2 C. of top-quality pepper jelly. Let it drip down the sides.

Mac & Cheese 15 Ways – Add Some Interest to your Dish

Mac & Cheese 15 Ways – Add Some Interest to your Dish

-Stir in 1 C. of chopped ham

-Add 1/2 C. frozen peas or chopped broccoli (and 1/2 C. chopped ham, too, if it’s in the fridge)

-Drain a small can of sliced mushrooms and fold them into the macaroni & cheese

-Add 1 C. chopped fresh, ripe tomatoes and 1 T. minced basil

-Stir in 1/2 C. of drained flaked tuna plus 1 tsp. of drained capers

-Fold in 1/2 C. of smoked salmon strips

-Add 1/2 C. cooked cauliflower florets and a dash of ground nutmeg

-Top each serving with a spoonful of fresh spinach that has been briefly sautéed.

-Add 1 C. of browned ground beef that you have lightly seasoned with salt and black pepper

-Sauté 2 sliced garlic cloves briefly in melted butter and fold these into the macaroni & cheese

-Stir in 1 C. of drained canned white beans, then season the macaroni & cheese with a little dried thyme

-Spoon the macaroni and cheese into a serving bowl and top it with strips of grilled sausage.

-Toss a C. of toasted bread crumbs in olive oil, run these under the broiler, then sprinkle them on top of the macaroni & cheese.

-Stir in 1/2 C. of sautéed shrimp and a dash of Cajun seasoning.

-Sauté some thin slices of red bell pepper briefly in olive oil, then stir them into the macaroni & cheese

Cooked Rice 15 Ways – Add some Interest to Your Dish

Cooked Rice 15 Ways – Add some Interest to Your Dish

-Stir a handful of finely chopped fresh parsley into the rice

-Add 1 T. of fresh lemon juice and 1 tsp. grated lemon zest

-Pour in 1/4 C. heavy cream, add 1/2 C. of grated Parmesan cheese, then stir the rice slowly over low heat for a time-pressed person’s risotto

-Sauté sliced fresh mushrooms in butter and toss them with the rice.

-Toss some melted butter, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a spoonful or so of drained capers with the rice

-Add sautéed minced onion and cooked peas to the rice

-Stir in chicken stock to moisten the rice, then add currants and sliced toasted almonds. Reheat the rice before serving.

-Toss the rice with garlic slices you have browned in butter

-Mince a scallion and some fresh parsley. Reheat the rice with butter and salt, then fold in the minced scallion and parsley

-Toss the rice with drained canned corn kernels, the kind that come with diced red and green peppers, then reheat it

-Warm 2 tsp. of curry powder in 1 T. of butter in a small skillet for 1 minute, then transfer the rice to the skillet and reheat it.

-Reheat the rice, then fold in toasted sesame seeds, a dash each of soy sauce and Asian sesame oil, and minced scallion

-Add minced onion and chopped tomato that have been lightly sautéed in olive oil with a dash of saffron or turmeric

-Brown some mild Italian sausage, toss in some fennel seeds, and stir in the rice. Add enough stock to make the rice moist.

-Sauté a 1/4 C. each of chopped onion and bell pepper in 1 T. of olive oil, and stir in 1 C. of rice. Season the rice with salt and black pepper, then pour in 4 lightly beaten eggs. Stir and cook, adding 1/2 C. shredded Monterey Jack cheese at the last minute so it melts

The Ultimate Roast Chicken Provencal

The Ultimate Roast Chicken Provencal

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Leaves from 1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
Leaves from 1/4 bunch of fresh thyme
Leaves from 1 bunch of fresh tarragon
4 garlic cloves
1/4 C. EVOO
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 (3.5 pound) chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, cut in half, plus 1/2 lemon sliced paper thin
3 big tomatoes, cut into wedges
4 small zucchini, cut into 1/2″ thick rounds
1 red onion, thinly sliced
Leaves from 4 fresh thyme sprigs
EVOO

Preheat oven to 400. Throw the parsley, thyme, tarragon, garlic and EVOO in a blender, season well with salt and pepper, and puree to a green paste. Rinse the chicken with cool water inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. Set the chicken on a cutting board, and season the cavity generously with salt and pepper. Stuff the lemon halves into the cavity. Fold the wing tips under the bird and tie the legs together with kitchen string to give it a nice shape while it cooks. Rub the chicken all over with the herb paste so it’s well coated. Put the chicken in a large roasting pan fitted with a rack and scatter the tomatoes, zucchini, onion, lemon slices, and thyme around. Give the vegetables a big, healthy dose of EVOO – 1/4 cup should do it – and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the chicken into the oven and roast for 1 hour, then check on it with an instant-read thermometer by popping it into the thickest part of the thigh. When it reads 160, the bird is cooked. Take the pan out of the oven and let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes before carving so the juices have a chance to settle into the meat. Serve with the roasted vegetables.