Archives for category: Other Saucy Stuff

With the news of the Black Friday Brawls at WalMart, it looks like the holidays are well and truly upon us.  And we all know what that means – lots of family and friends getting together … and lots and lots of leftovers.

Let’s be honest, while the meal, itself, is good – it’s the sandwiches that you have in the days following that are truly outstanding.  As for me, my favorite thing is toasted (blank) and cheese sandwiches.  Whether it’s turkey, ham or roast beef, add a little sharp cheese and toast it with some soup on the side and you have a feast fit for a king!

Pop this in a plastic container and it’ll keep in the fridge for three weeks or so.

Fancy-Pants Cheese Spread

  • 9 oz sharp cheese, grated (I like a good cheddar, but Gruyere would also be yummy)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • dash or two of Tobasco (or your favorite hot sauce)
  • milk or cream, if necessary

Pop the lot into a food processor and blend until smooth.  If it forms a ball, dribble in some milk or cream until it smooths out.

Cheese spread 2 Cheese spread 1

Lately – and I don’t know why – but I’ve been in the middle of a late-fall food slump.  I wish I had a valid reason like working 18 hours a day, a new puppy or some such.  But, the fact is, we all go through it sometimes – that feeling of “can’t we just have scrambled eggs for dinner and call it a night?”

I know what it is!  I blame the Olympics – after the amazing Games followed by an inspirational Paralympics, I feel a bit of a void.  No sports to watch (professional football?? no thanks).  No inspirational stories.  No Claire Balding doing commentary.  No wonder I’m feeling a bit flat.

So, yes, I’ve been slacking in the kitchen.  Throwing things together last minute.  Not even making a menu every week.  I’ve really let standards slide and need to get back in the game.

So, what better way to get my mojo back than with an EXTREMELY easy chicken marinade!  I’ve used this with a whole chicken that’s been cut into eight pieces as well as simple chicken breasts.  You can use the leftover chicken in sandwiches or salads – it’s as good cold as it is hot out of the oven.  And I think it would be just as good with pork chops.  You don’t have to let the meat marinade all day – in fact, I’ve let it sit for as little as 15 minutes – but, needless to say, if you can throw everything together in the morning and let it marinade all day, it’ll be deeeeelicious!  I recommend using this in the oven rather than a pan or the grill – all the sugar in it will burn before the meat is cooked.

Simple Chinese Marinade

  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 minced chilli (seeded if you don’t want a ton of heat)

I recommend using this marinade with meat you plan to cook in the oven rather than a pan or the grill as all the sugar in it will burn before the meat is cooked.

I’ve been inspired by my sister and friends who are basking in the glorious tomato harvest.  My sister spent last weekend making a giant batch of fresh home-made pasta sauce so that she and my brother-in-law could enjoy it through the miserable winter months.  And, just yesterday, my friend Stacey posted a stunning picture of her heirloom tomato haul from the farmers market – a variety of colors, textures and sizes – that were going to become tomato bruschetta.

So, if you’re looking for a few great recipes to use up your tomato haul, I highly recommend this one.  Za’alouk is a tomato and roasted eggplant sauce that is redolent with spices and layers of citrus flavor at the finish.  It is delicious lightly warmed as a dip for flatbread, or as a topping for Moroccan Meatballs in pita or flatbread.  I think it would also be outstanding for a twist on a traditional lasagne sauce (look for that this fall!).

This makes a pretty sizeable batch (about 4-5 cups), but it’s a perfect candidate for the freezer – if it lasts that long!

Za’alouk

  • 6 medium-sized eggplants, trimmed and halved lenghtwise
  • a few glugs of garlic-flavored olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 -5 fist-sized tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • regular olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 healthy tsp harissa paste (I highly recommend Belazu)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • big handful cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Prepare a large rimmed baking sheet by lining it with tin foil, then drizzle a good few glugs of the garlic oil along the foil and season with salt and pepper.  Place the eggplant cut side down onto the seasoned oil and roast for a good 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool while you get to work on the rest of the sauce.

In a wide pan, add the regular olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, paprika and harissa while the pan is cold.  Put it over medium heat, and stir constantly, keeping an eye on the garlic so that it doesn’t brown and turn bitter.  When the garlic is soft and everything is smelling lovely, add the canned tomatoes, stir to combine, and cook for 15 minutes or so until it’s slightly reduced.  Add the chopped fresh tomatoes, innards of the roasted eggplant and sugar, stir and taste for seasoning.  Use a stick blender to puree the lot of it, then cook for at least another 10 minutes or so until thick.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly – just before serving, add the cilantro and lemon juice.

I will say from the outset – I’m a Hellmann’s girl.  Mom raised me on it, said it was the best and that was pretty much that. And, heck, even the French use mayonnaise from a jar – they don’t all faff around in the kitchen with eggs and oil everytime they want a sandwich.

However, when it’s a lazy weekend, it’s worth it to take the time and make fresh.  Not only does the taste beat anything you’ll buy in the store, you can adjust the flavor to your liking.  In this case, I was thinking about a recent trip to Paris and added some Dijon and tarragon, making it an ideal accompaniment for anything from roast beef to fish or with chicken or potato salad or devilled eggs.

A lot of people use a food processor to make fresh mayo, but I used my standing mixer with the whisk attachment – either way, you’ll want to have a “third hand” as it requires a little more coordination than I possess to use a hand mixer AND drizzle oil at the same time.  But, if you like to have your kids (or significant other) help you in the kitchen, this is a great dish for a helper.

One last note:  oil is the major ingredient when you make mayonnaise, so make sure you use a good one, but nothing that’s too heavy.  I tried using olive oil once – I don’t recommend it.  But canola (rapeseed) oil or walnut oil work great – they give it a little flavor without being too heavy and overpowering.

French Mayonnaise

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh or dried tarragon
  • 1 tsp grain Dijon
  • 2/3 – 1 cup oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Okay, start by mixing the vinegar and tarragon in a small bowl and letting it sit for about five minutes.  After it’s had a little time to infuse, put it, the yolk, the mustard and a pinch of salt in the bowl of standing mixer and start it on medium high.  When you start adding the oil, do it a VERY little bit at a time – almost drop by drop for the first 1/3 – 1/2 cup (which is why I say a third hand is a good thing).  You’ll see the mixture go from very runny yolk/vinegar/mustard to slightly thicker, but still very runny … then suddenly, it starts to look like mayo!  When it starts to thicken, you can increase the dripping to a steady stream.  When you’re done with the oil, taste for seasoning and adjust according to what you like, then continue whisking for another minute or so.  This will make about 1 1/2 cups tasty, yummy mayo.

A little over a year ago, I was introduced to a fellow ex-pat living here because she also married a Brit.  We’ve been baking buddies and love to swap recipes (not to mention, we both hold Miss Martha in the highest esteem).  And, bless her, she still keeps Thanksgiving every year despite the fact that they don’t celebrate that holiday here – and, in fact, in November, turkeys can be hard to come by because the farmers are all fattening them up for Christmas, when Brits traditionally eat turkey.

At any rate, last year we both made our jams and chutneys and such and swapped gift hampers – this was in the one she gave me and, I’m telling you, I swooned when I had it with my turkey sammich the next day.

This cranberry sauce is why we have turkeys.  If turkeys knew that this would ultimately be their fate, they would have no problem with being a backdrop in an ill-advised Sarah Palin interview.  This is so good, in fact, I say you should make the turkey the day before, then pop it in the fridge for cold turkey sammies with a heaping spoonful of this sauce spread over it on the Big Day.  Let’s be honest, the best part of Thanksgiving and/or Christmas dinner is the leftovers, anyway!!

This isn’t a chutney – it’s really more of a deeply spiced jam.   So, prepare your jam jars accordingly (run through the dishwasher then pop them into a low-heat oven for about 20 minutes) – this recipe makes 3 smallish jars.

The Best Cranberry Sauce on the Planet

  • 1 3/4 cup bull-bodied red wine (I like Chianti, myself)
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 6 whole all-spice
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 12 oz bag cranberries

In a medium pot over medium-high heat, mix the wine, sugars, zest and spices – basically, everything but the cranberries – and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat and let simmer until reduced by half (about 20-30 minutes).  Strain out the cinnamon sticks, black peppercorns, allspice berries and cloves, then add the cranberries and cook well.  They’ll pop, then continue to cook until they’re nice and mushy and the sauce is thickened.   Carefully pour into sterilized jars.  Store in a cool, dark cupboard and it’ll keep for around 6 months.

I think I’ve mentioned in the past that every Thanksgiving was a pie-fest in our house when I grew up.  There were five of us in my family and mom would make each of us our favorite pie – apple, chocolate cream, lemon meringue and pumpkin for my dad.  Her favorite was mincemeat – until I got older, she was the only person I knew who liked it.  Of course, now I’m in England the land of mince pies at Christmas – mom would have loved that!

This is a slight twist on the traditional recipe – instead of using plums it uses apples and pears which gives it a lighter, fresher taste.  And, since it doesn’t use suet to thicken it, it’s also a little heathier!  It makes for an easy weekend recipe if you want to put some up for your friends and family.  And, you don’t have to limit its use to pies – you can use it to stuff apples for baking or even store-bought puff pastry for smaller treats. 

Apple, Pear and Ginger Mincemeat

  • 2 1/2 lbs tart apples like Granny Smith or Bramley, cored, peeled and diced
  • 1 lb pears, peeled, cored and diced
  • 3 cups mixture of currants and raisins
  • 1/2 cup crystallized ginger, chopped to a small dice
  • zest and juice of 3 oranges
  • 1 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 1/3 cup demerera sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 nutmeg, grated
  • 1 cup almonds, bashed
  • 2/3 cup brandy

Thoroughly mix everything except for the almonds and brandy, pour into a large casserole dish, and let sit for 24 hours.  Preheat the oven to 250 F then stir in the almonds and cook the mincemeat for 3-4 hours.  When finished, stir in the brandy and pour into sterilized jars.  You’ll love how it makes the house smell!

This is the time of year that the mister hates the most.  Nearly every weekend, I’m chopping, grating and simmering and putting up chutney for Christmas presents.  To him, that just means that nearly every weekend the house has a lovely vinegary aroma.

For folks who like to give homemade presents, this is a great one.  Not only is it the perfect beginner’s chutney (only six ingredients!), it’s also great for procrastinators – unlike most chutneys, it doesn’t need a month to season.  And if you have a food processor with a grating blade, prep will take no time at all.  So, you can make it in the afternoon and take it as a hostess gift that evening.  This recipe makes a good 8-10 jars, so make a big batch then stash them in the pantry or a storage closet for when you need a quick gift – particularly if you take some nice crackers and a good buttery brie to go with it.

Beet Chutney

  • 2 lbs beets, peeled and grated
  • 1 lb onions, trimmed, peeled and cut to a small dice
  • 1 1/2 lbs tart apples, peeled and grated
  • 1 lb raisins (I like a mix of raisins and currants)
  • 4 cups malt vinegar
  • 2 lbs sugar
  • 2 heaping tsp ground ginger

Put the lot of it into a large pot, bring to the boil and reduce to a good simmer for 90 minutes – 2 hours.  The final product should be thick, but still a bit juicy.  Put the hot chutney into warm, sterlized jars, then enjoy the pinging sound as the jars cool and seal.

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