A documentation of my preservation and preparation of local foods as I work through the seasons. This will serve as a reference tool for me in the future and as a sharing guide for family and friends...and anyone else interested. Hopefully, I can offer some useful methods, tips and recipes to share with everyone--be they novice or pro--and encourage them to join me in the exciting world of preserving and cooking with local foods.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Homemade Pizzas with Red Sauce

Superbowl food!
A stay-at-home weekend is the perfect time for homemade pizza.  I make all ingredients from scratch, including the sausage and cheese.  No other pizza compares in taste to one prepared with totally homemade ingredients.  It's worth the extra work; homemade ingredients will give it a much better taste over packaged pizzas.  For the best texture and flavor, I use fresh (not canned) veggies.  You may want to make the mozarella ahead of time (see post 7/27/11).  It's surprisingly easy and only takes a short time.  Fresh, warm cheese on top of a homemade pizza is mouthwatering!  The more time you put into it, the more prized the end result will be.  Following are recipes for the crust, sausage and sauce.
Pizza Crust  (makes two 12" round or 9" square pizzas)
3 cups flour
1 package dry yeast
1 cup luke-warm water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
-Mix half of the flour with yeast and salt;  Add oil and warm water and stir to combine well.  Beat for a few minutes.  Add flour until a stiff ball can be formed.  Turn out onto counter and add any remaining flour.  Knead 6-8 minutes.  Divide in half. 
For thin crust pizzas:  Cover balls and let rest 10 minutes.  Grease two 12" pizza pans.  Roll out dough to fit pans with a bit extra.  Put into pans and build up edges.  Bake @ 425 for 10-12 min--until lightly browned.
For pan pizzas:  Grease two 9" square pans.  Pat dough into pans, going halfway up sides.  Cover and let rise until double in bulk (30-45 min).  Bake @ 375 for 20-25 min, until lightly browned.
Red Sauce 
1 can Hunts tomato sauce (15 oz can); (or cook down 6 garden-fresh          tomatoes until soft and strain for sauce)
2 Tablespoons fresh, finely-chopped oregano
  (or 1 Tablespoon dried oregano)
2 teaspoons fresh, finely-chopped basil
  (or 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves)
2 tsp sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Homemade Sausage
1 pound ground pork
1 Tablespoon rubbed sage
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Italian Herb seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pinch ground clove
--combine all and fry into crumbles
Toppings:  Use any or all of the following fresh toppings:  onion, green  peppers, mushrooms, sliced olives and cheese.  Note:  recipe for homemade mozarella is on 7/27/11 blog post.
Assembling and Baking:  Spread sauce over hot pizza crusts.  Place desired toppings on sauce.  Add cheese last. (can be frozen at this point)
Bake thin crust pizzas @ 425 for 10-15 min. more, until cheese melted and bubbly.  Bake pan pizzas @ 375 for 15-20 min more, until cheese melted and bubbly.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Seafood Chowder

When fridays roll around, I often get a hankering for seafood (and I'm not even Catholic).  I love all kinds of seafood prepared in any manner, but creamy seafood chowders taste so good and warm during Winter months.  Following is my recipe for a seafood chowder that was a huge hit with restaurant patrons.
The seafood sunk to the bottom but there's lots in there--promise!

Seafood Chowder
3 cups of seafood, any variety or combination thereof.
  (I usually include a can of clams with juice)
1 cup cubed red potatoes  
1 Tablespoon butter or bacon fat (best flavor)
1/4 cup diced celery
1/3 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon thyme
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1 Tablespoon flour
2-1/2 cups chicken boullion
1 Tablespoon clam or seafood base - dissolved in chix broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups Half and Half
--Boil red potatoes (skin on or peeled) just until starting to soften.  Set aside.  In large saucepan, cook onion, celery, garlic and herbs (parsley, thyme, dill weed) in melted butter or bacon fat until starting to soften.  Add flour and stir to paste.  Slowly add broth with base, stirring, until creamy.  Add wine, Half and Half and sugar, stirring until incorporated.  Add potatoes and seafood.  Heat to simmer and let slowly simmer 15-20 min.  Serve with a few drops of tobasco sauce or hot pepper flakes, if desired.

French Onion Soup

A quick check of my stored onions and it looks like I have enough until July--unless I come up with some meals using lots of onion.  So it's French Onion Soup for lunch.  I took a good recipe several years ago, doctored it up, and it's been one of my favorite soup recipes ever since.  I often suspect that recipes like this originated with someone who also had lots of winter onions in store.
Onion Soup + Homemade Pepper Cheese + Homemade Bun =
Delicious French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup
6 cups beef broth with 6 cubes of beef boullion dissolved in it
  or 6 cups beef boullion prepared with 6 cups water & 8 cubes boullion
2 huge onions (or 3 large onions), thinly sliced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1-2 Tablespoons butter (enough to brown onions)
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
1 teaspoon sugar
pinch of dill weed
small pinch of celery seed
(very) small sprinkle nutmeg
4 thick slices French bread (buttered & toasted)
8 slices Swiss cheese (4x4)
--In large fry pan, slowly cook onions in butter over very low heat until soft. Add garlic, celery seed, dill weed and continue cooking until onions turn light brown (caramelize). Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Turn heat down low and simmer, covered, for 20-30 min. Ladle hot soup into 4 bowls, top with 2 slices of the cheese and then the bread; or put bread in first, top with cheese and put under broiler until cheese melts.
Note: cooking onion on low heat for a long period of time dissolves some of the strong sulfur compounds and breaks down the onions' natural sugar, resulting in mildly sweet onions that are deep brown in color

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January Table

January's table is soft and subdued, fitting for post-holiday, quiet winter evenings. 
The dish pattern is, appropriately, "Ice Flower".

Venison Roast in the Pressure Cooker

This was the perfect Sunday dinner--roast venison with stored root veggies.  I started by putting four cups of venison broth  in the bottom of my pressure cooker.  (venison broth--see post 11/22/11)  To that I added lots of minced garlic, diced onion, diced celery, a dozen juniper berries (to remove wild taste), a few splashes of red wine, 1-2 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, 4 beef boullion cubes, a little paprika, a pinch of dill, a pinch of nutmeg and black pepper.  On the cooking rack, I placed a couple of small roasts and surrounded them with large carrot chunks, whole potatoes, quartered onions, whole mushrooms and ears of sweet corn (rubbed with a thick coat of butter).  Generously salt and pepper the veggies and roast, put the top on and cook at 15 pounds of pressure for 30 minutes.  After removing the meat/veggies, strain the liquid and serve a little with the meal.  Save the rest for a delicious French Onion Soup.
The meal was mouthwatering!! 

Homemade Mustard

With both yellow and brown mustard seeds from Penzy's, I'm ready to make and can homemade mustard, something I've always wanted to try.  After some research for recipes, I chose a "Country Mustard" for the yellow seeds and "Oktoberfest Beer Mustard" for the brown seeds.   Both of these recipes can be easily canned by heating until thickened, ladeling into hot jars and water-bath canning for 10 minutes.  However, heating the mustard will produce a spicey-hot mustard, similar to horseradish mustard (We like the "heat").  If you are planning to can your mustard, be sure not to use recipes that include egg yolks, like many mustard recipes do.  Also note:  If you taste the mustard(s) soon after making them, they will taste quite bitter.  If you wait a few days to taste them, the bitterness will have dissipated and the taste will have dramatically improved.
Ready for the bratwurst!

Country Mustard
3/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/2 cup mustard powder
1/2 cup vinegar (cider, wine or white)
1 cup white wine or water
4 teaspoons salt
--Grind mustard seeds in coffee grinder or with mortar and pestle.  You do not need to grind them fine as you want a little texture to your mustard.  After grinding them, put all ingredients together in a glass jar.  Store in refrigerator.  Wait a day to taste.  It will last a few months.  Makes 2 cups

Octoberfest Beer Mustard
1-1/2 cups dark beer (good beer=good mustard)
1 cup brown mustard seeds
1 cup water
1/2 cup malt vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup dry mustard
1 Tablespoon onion powder
--Bring beer and brown mustard seeds to boil over med-high heat.  Remove from heat, cover and let sit at least 2 hours (until seeds have absorbed most of the moisture).  Combine with rest of ingredients and mix well.  Put in jar in refrigerator for at least a day or two before using.  Makes 2-1/2 cups.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Using my whey bread dough (previous post), I took a soft-ball-size amount and flattened it out with my hands.  I sprinkled the flattened dough generously with cinnamon powder (a little sugar added) and then placed raisins and a few walnuts all over it.   I rolled it up, pulling the dough as I rolled so it would be thin and tight, then pinched the edges. After letting it rise for an hour or so, I baked it at 350 until golden brown.
Flattened out with cinnamon, raisins, walnuts.

Rolled up and in the (greased) bread pan.

Perfect cinnamon bread!

Whey Bread and Buns

After making cheese (previous post), I had quite a bit of whey left over.  I decided to make bread and large buns with it.  I also saved some dough to make cinnamon raisin bread (next post).  This bread dough produced lofty, soft buns with a slight tangy flavor--heavenly!
Sliced in half, these make delicious toast.
Whey Bread  350 for 25-40 min (15-20 min for buns)
2 cups whey
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter (or lard)
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon yeast (1 pkg)
5-6 cups flour (more if needed for soft dough)--Melt butter; Add whey and heat just to lukewarm.  Add yeast and let sit until the yeast bubbles (15 min) Sift 3-4 cups of the flour into a large bowl. Add the sugar and salt and mix. Make well in center and add liquids. Stir in remaining flour until large ball can be formed. Place ball on floured surface and knead 10 minutes. Put in large bowl, cover with light towel and set in warm place to rise until doubled. Takes approx. one hour to rise. Punch down and put in greased bread pan or make buns on greased cookie sheet. Let rise a second time. It will take less time, approx. ½ hour. Bake until golden brown on top and has hollow sound when top is tapped on top. Cool before storing.

Whey--The Valuable By-product of Cheesemaking

After making any kind of cheese, I end up with lots of whey--up to a gallon of it.  It's valuable stuff!  Whey has a lot of minerals. It keeps your muscles young, joints movable and ligaments elastic (a natural anti-aging tonic for us boomers). It can aid digestion (1 TB in a little water). It can treat stomach ailments (1 TB three times daily.) It tastes like (very) watered-down milk. It keeps for up to 6 months. I use it for all kinds of things: breadmaking (substitute for milk or water), cooking rice, in smoothies or breakfast drinks, as a tonic.

Following is a standard whey drink--a healthy way to start your day.
Whey Drink
1/2 cup whey
1/2 cup filtered water
juice of one lemon
--Mix all together and drink soon after.  Don't store, it will lose its potency. 

Homemade Pepper Cheese with Currants & Honey

A soft, buttery cheese with hot pepper flakes.

Dave and I were both hungry for homemade cheese, and it's been a while, so.........  This is an easy and quick cheese recipe.  I added hot pepper flakes for variety. While it was still warm, we had it on crackers with currants and honey drizzled atop--boy did we every enjoy it!!

Note:  **The Rochester Good Food Store carries the rennet, lipase powder & citric acid. Otherwise, you can order them online at www.cheesemaking.com.

Soft White Cheese        Yield: one pound
1 gallon whole milk  (don't use "ultra" pasturized milk)
1/8 teaspoon liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup cool, unchlorinated water*
  (*use bottled or distilled water--or let a cup of tap water sit out 24 hours)
1/8 teaspoon lipase powder, dissolved in 2 Tablespoons cool water and
   allowed  to sit for 20 minutes. (optional but adds flavor)
1-1/2 teaspoons citric acid dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water
  (or 6 Tablespoons lemon juice)
1 teaspoon salt (best is canning salt, or cheese salt if you can find it)
1. Add the citric acid/water solution to the milk while stirring
2. Put milk in pot over med heat, warm milk to 90 degrees. 
3. Remove from heat. Slowly stir rennet into warm milk with up-and-down chopping motion. Cover and let sit 5+ min. Check to see if milk is separating into solid whitish curd and watery-like whey. If not, let sit a bit more.
4. With long, thin knife, cut the curd into 1" cubes.
5. Put back on heat and warm to 105 degrees, stirring the curds gently. Remove from heat and stir gently for a few more minutes.
6. Use a slotted spoon to lift curds into 2 quart microwave-safe dish. (Save the whey in the pot for other uses.  See following post.) Gently press down the curds into the bottom of the dish and drain off any excess whey. Do not cover the dish.
7. Microwave on high for one minute. Fold cheese over and over (like kneading bread) to distribute heat evenly. Use either a spoon or heavy-duty rubber kitchen gloves to do this. Drain off any excess whey.
8. Microwave on high for 35 secs. Repeat folding/draining process above.
9. Microwave on high for 35 secs. and repeat folding/draining process.
10. Add salt and knead in to distribute.  Herbs, pepper flakes or other can be added at this time (approx. 1 teaspoon).  Drain excess whey.
12.  Mold, form and/or cut the cheese into any size or shape desireable.
Store covered in the fridge for up to one week.

Homemade Broth for Winter Soups and more

I never let the bones of a roast or poultry escape my broth pot.  Homemade soup broth is easy, healthy and delicious.  It's also thrifty:  A 5-pound chicken yields 3 quarts of broth.  With Swansons broth at $3,00+/carton, you can deduct $9.00 from the cost of a 5-pound chicken by making broth with the carcass.  (and you will have 6-8 cups of chicken pieces).  It's how I justify buying the more-expensive, free-range chickens from farmers market.  There is a remarkable difference in their taste and quality. 

For the Broth: (note weight of meat/poultry from package)
Put roasted bones in a large cooking pot and add 1 quart of water per pound of original weight. Add a ½ cup of chopped onion, 1/3 cup each of celery and carrot pieces for each quart of water, (more or less of each veggie is okay). Bring water to boiling*, turn down heat and let it slow-bubble for three hours (at least 3, not more than 4). Remove from heat and strain broth. Cool a bit, then refrigerate for several hours or overnight--until fat on top turns solid.

*If you want to get all of the meat off the bones, take it out of the water just as it starts to boil. Pull off the remaining meat pieces and return the bones to the pot.

Broth can be used in place of water for anything you're making.  I always use it for cooking rice, couscous, lentils, etc.  If a recipe calls for water, I substitute an appropriately-flavored broth.  I often cook two roasts or chickens at a time and freeze or can (lots of) broth so it's always available. 

I make all kinds of broth, but chicken is the most versatile.  By adding boullion cubes or soup base (1 cube or teaspoon for each cup of broth), some meat, veggies and herbs; you can throw together a variety of delicious, hearty soups in no time.  Here are some suggestions for soups using chicken broth:
Chicken Noodle:  broth with chicken boullion, pieced chicken, veggies, egg noodles, Italian herb seasoning, dill weed and pepper
Taco Soup: broth with chicken boullion, pieced chicken, salsa, black beans, cilantro (tsp/quart of broth) and cumin (1/4 tsp/quart)
Clam Chowder (or substitute any seafood): broth with clam base, clams, veggies, thyme (tsp/quart of broth), dill (1/2 tsp/quart), parsley (1/2 tsp/quart), pinch of garlic powder
Thai Soup:  broth with red or green curry paste, veggies (spinach and peas), lime juice (2 TB per quart of broth), ginger (1/4 tsp per quart), fish sauce (3 tsp per quart), brown sugar (2 tsp per quart), pinch of garlic, coconut milk (1 can per quart)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Chinese Buffet

For supper last night, we enjoyed chinese-style dishes I adapted for using only local food products.  Following are recipes for my fried rice, sweet and sour pork (or chicken) and beef (or venison) chow mein.
So good that we don't miss authentic chinese veggies in them.

Fried Rice               Serves 6-8
4 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced bell pepper
3 eggs, scrambled
1 cup beef or pork broth with one boullion cube dissolved in it
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
--Cook rice and eggs separately and set aside.  In large skillet cook onion, bell pepper, celery, carrot and peas just until starting to soften.  Stir in soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce.  Add rice and egg and heat through.

Sweet and Sour Pork (or chicken)      Serves 4
4 cups of pork or chicken breast, cut in 1" cubes or strips
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced bell pepper
1/2-1 cup pineapple tidbits, drained but save juice (or use apple pieces)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup pineapple juice or apple juice
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup corn starch
1 cup chicken, pork or beef boullion
1 Tablespoon oil (enough to coat bottom of fry pan)
--In large fry pan, brown chicken or pork cubes on all sides.  Add 1 cup boullion, cover and simmer on low until meat is cooked through (chicken takes approx. 10-15 min; pork takes 30-45 min.  Add onion, peppers and pineapple chunks and continue cooking on low until they are starting to soften.  Meanwhile, in separate saucepan, combine brown sugar, soy sauce, pineapple juice and vinegar.  Cook and stir until starting to simmer.  Remove a little of the sauce into a small bowl and blend in the corn starch.  Return the cornstarch mixture to the pan and continue cooking and stirring until thickened.  Combine veggies/meat (without juice) to the sauce and heat through.  Serve over white rice.

Beef or Venison Chow Mein       Serves 4
1/2 pound beef or venison stew meat
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup diced celery
2 cups thinly sliced, shredded cabbage
2 Tablespoons oil
4 cups prepared beef boullion (4 cubes in 4 cups boiling water)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
small pinch of ginger
1/4 cup warm water
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
--In large skillet cook meat, onions, celery and mushrooms 10 minutes.  Add cabbage and cook 5 more min.  Add beef boullion, soy sauce, sugar and ginger.  Stir to mix and heat to simmer.  Cover and cook 15-20 minutes, until meat is fork tender.  Dissolve cornstarch in the 1/4 cup of warm water and add to pan, stirring.  Cook and stir until thickened.  Serve over chow mein noodles.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Quick Breads

Aside from my regular baking of white bread for sandwiches, toast and buns; I like to add variety to our menu with quick breads.  They're so--well--quick! (and easy).  These are my three favorite quick bread recipes to complement winter meals:
Italian Herb Bread--pasta dishes, sausage and kraut
Brown Molasses Bread--bean dishes, beef roast
Irish Soda Bread--soups, stews

Italian Herb Bread    makes two 9" square or round pans (or pie pans)
A yummy corn bread with veggies and herbs

Combine and mix:
1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon Italian herbs
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Add in:
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (any color or combo)
1 cup chopped onion
In separate bowl, combine:
3 beaten eggs
1-1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup olive oil
Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just until moistened.  Spread into oiled pan and bake at 400 for 30-45 min. (lightly browned)

Brown Molasses Bread           makes two loaves
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup molasses
3 cups buttermilk with 1-1/2 Tablespoons baking soda dissolved in it
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups white flour
3 cups graham flour
--Combine in order.  Fill greased loaf pans half to two-thirds full.  Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes--until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Irish Soda Bread           makes one square or round baking pan
2 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold butter
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 cup raisins (optional)
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
extra buttermilk for brushing top
--In large bowl sift together dry ingredients and mix.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles course meal.  Add caraway seeds and raisins and toss to coat.  Add buttermilk and stir until the dough is moistened evenly (do not overwork dough) Knead dough one minute, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.  Shape into ball and put in round or square greased baking pan.  Slash top and brush with buttermilk.  Bake 350, 60 min.

Orange-Brined Chicken--Roasting or Canning

I'm sold on brining all my poultry.  It's so much more flavorful and moist.  This time I decided to add orange juice (concentrate) to the brine to subtly flavor the chicken with orange.  I plan to brine two chickens, can the breast meat and roast the rest.  Following are my brine recipe and instructions, as well as my canning instructions. 

Orange brine for two chickens:
1 gallon water
1 gallon ice water
1 large can of orange juice concentrate
1-1/2 cups salt
1/2 cup brown sugar. 
--Put the gallon of water (not ice water) in a large pot on stove.  Add the salt, sugar and orange juice concentrate.  Heat, stirring, until the salt, sugar and OJ are dissolved and the brine is just starting to simmer.  Remove from stove and add the ice water to cool.  Add two whole, thawed chickens and put in the fridge overnight.

To roast brined chicken:  Remove chickens from brine, but don't rinse.  Pat dry.  Put chickens in roaster pan and rub oil all over the outside surfaces (I use half melted butter and half olive oil.)  Salt and pepper to taste.  Put in roaster pan (uncovered) and put in oven at 450 for 30 minutes.  After 30 min, turn to heat down to 350 and continue roasting for an additional 30-45 minutes, or until done (160 on thermometer).
A pan of roasted chicken parts--mmmmm!

Canning Brined Chicken Breasts: (Un-brined chix meat may also be used.)
--Remove chicken from brine, but do not rinse.  Remove skin from chicken.  (Save the skin to put over the rest of the chicken when roasting.)  Cut out breasts and chop into 2" chunks.  Lightly pack the chunks into hot jars leaving 1-1/4" headspace.  Do not add salt unless you are canning un-brined breasts.  In that case, add 1/2 teaspoon salt to pint jars or 1 teaspoon salt to quart jars.  Do not add liquid, chicken will make its own broth.  Put lids and screw bands on jars and pressure can at 10 pounds of pressure (11 for dial models).  Process quarts for 90 minutes, pints for 75 min.  When done, it's okay if the top pieces of chicken are above the broth.
Orange-brined chicken pieces for summer salads (if it lasts).

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Frozen Potato Patties

A couple of times a week I scan the refrigerator to identify food that needs to either be cooked up, eaten and/or frozen; or else it will go to waste.  Yesterday morning netted the following:  one large container of quartered, cooked potatoes, 3 pieces of bacon, part of a large onion.  This one was easy.  I cooked and crumbled the bacon, ran the potatoes and onion through the food processor and combined all.  I added enough butter and a little bacon fat, just until the mixture would hold together and pattied it out.  I put three cookie sheets of potato patties in the freezer; and, later, after they froze, I put them all in one ziploc bag.  We saved out two for our breakfast and each had one with a fried egg on top--delicious!
  The potatoes were a variety of flavors and colors.