Rosemary Radishes

The market is full of beautiful radishes this week, I wanted to do something other than just add them to a salad. Rinsed and quartered I tossed them with extra virgin olive oil, rosemary black pepper infused cider vinegar, and garnished with a little fresh rosemary and black pepper. It turned out to be an excellent side dish! What do you do with your radishes?

Release your Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Advertisements

Pass the Ketchup, hold the Sugar

 

Rye bread, krout, Emmentaler Swiss cheese, pastrami, and 1,000 Island dressing. Is there a better sandwich on the planet? Today there was not, but a few changes needed to be made to this classic. First pastrami doesn’t fit into my plant-based diet, substitution: smoky tempeh slices. Second 1,000 Island dressing is just too sweet for me these days. Solution: make a batch of Spicy 1,000 Island Dressing.

Spicy 1,000 Island Dressing
1 part mayonnaise (I prefer a vegan canola mayo)
1/2 part homemade ketchup (recipe follows)
1/4 part dill relish or finely chopped dill pickle
1/4 part finely chopped onion
2 Tbs sugar (if needed)
1 tsp smoked paprika

Combine, taste, adjust, refrigerate, enjoy. You can also adjust the flavor by adding lemon juice, cayenne, or sweet relish.

When I committed to reading food labels I was disgusted to see just how much sugar is in ketchup, no wonder it just tasted like ‘sweetness’ without any distinction. Originally ketchup was made from fish sauce and didn’t even contain tomatoes! But I didn’t want to give it up completely. There are somethings that just ‘need’ ketchup. So, I starting making my own. And yes, it does have some sugar, but it’s not just a sugar sauce in disguise. I make this in a large batch and freeze it in small jars. Sometimes I add finely chopped rosemary and freshly ground black pepper.

Classic Ketchup
26.5 oz tomatoes – strained/crushed/chopped
6 oz tomato paste
1/4 cup minced onion
3-6 minced garlic cloves
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp hot chili powder
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp freshly ground white pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar – divided
Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until softened. Add the tomato products and spices, cook while stirring for a few minutes. Add the brown sugar and half of the cider vinegar. Stir well, cover and let the mixture simmer for a few minutes. Transfer to a blender after it cools slightly and blend to your desired consistency, adding the remaining vinegar if needed. Store it in airtight containers in the refrigerator or freeze it.

Release YOU Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Chimichurri

 

 

 

 

Chimichurri is wonderful pungent salsa/sauce that is really nothing like salsa. There are no tomatoes in chimichurri and the green is not from tomatillos, like green salsa. Instead Chimichurri get’s it green color from fresh herbs, like cilantro and oregano. It’s said to have originated in Argentina. Like most foods, I’m sure that every household has their own way of making this condiment. Mine never turns out exactly the same, but it IS always delicious and versatile. I don’t spend time measuring for this, I simply adjust contents as needed to get the consistency I want. Chimichurri can be stored in the refrigerator. If my pantry is low on red wine vinegar then I add a touch of red wine and a touch of apple cider vinegar. We like our chimichurri hot so I add a few slice of pickled habaneros.

Chimichurri

1 bunch cilantro, stems removed
1 small clump fresh oregano
several sprigs of curly leave parsley
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (or a splash of red wine and apple cider vinegar)
1 tsp ground cumin
hot chilies (optional: hapanero, red pepper flake, etc.)

Put every thing in a blender and puree until it’s smooth. You’ll need to scrape down the sides of the blender a few times to make sure it’s mixed well. Taste and adjust as needed. I prefer a little more vinegar than oil. Some recipes call for mostly parsley with just a touch of cilantro but since I eat a lot of Southwestern foods I enjoy a cilantro base. Use it as  a condiment for eggs, burritos, tacos, steak, chicken, tofu, grilled vegetables, or purple rice as pictured above.

Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Smokin’ on a Sunday – Salsa Picante

I admit it, I love spicy food. But I’ve grown bored with pico de gallo. Last year I added a smoker to my outdoor kitchen and so I’ve started making smoked salsa. Since my main dish rarely fills the smoker, I started filling the racks with different vegetables just to see how they would turn out. Smoked jalapeños were an immediate hit. They add a superb flavor to so many dishes, but take it a step further and go for smoked salsa. If you don’t have a smoker you can probably accomplish the same thing on a grill. Just keep the temperature low and use whatever method your grill manufacturer suggests for smoking.

Smoked Salsa
15-20 tomatoes, halved
10-15 jalapeños, sit cut in the end but stem left intact
1 large onion, thickly sliced
1 bunch cilantro
2-4 Tbs jalapeño vinegar
3-4 garlic cloves minced
black pepper, freshly ground

Line your smoker racks with foil. Place the halved tomatoes cut side up on the racks and hit each one with some freshly ground black pepper. Put a slit in each jalapeño without disturbing the stem. Place them on a rack with the thickly sliced onion.

Smoke them over mesquite or hickory chips, or a combination of the two, until the vegetables are soft. It took just over an hour for mine to get perfectly done, but it can vary. Removem the from the smoker and let them cool. Once everything is cool enough to handle you’ll have to decide between chopping by hand or a food processor. I used the food processor for this batch. First I pulsed the tomatoes until I had a chunky consistency. I poured the chopped tomatoes into a bowl. Then I added the remaining ingredients to the food processor and again, pulsed until I liked the consistency. Then I added the jalapeño mixture to the bowl and stirred.

Salsa does not have to be an exact science. In other words, adjust the recipe to fit your taste, if you don’t like cilantro cut back or omit it. Oh, you probably noticed my recipe doesn’t call for salt. I rarely use salt when I cook. If you do, add some to the tomatoes when you process or chop them. If you’re not confident heading into the this then hold back some of each ingredient. That way if your salsa turns out too hot to enjoy you’ll have a few tomatoes left to tone it down a bit. If it turns out too mild, you’ll have more jalapeños to add.

The salsa will keep in the refrigerator for a while, and it freezes well. Use it like you would any other salsa: chips, nachos, burritos, quesadilla, marinades, eggs, etc. etc.

Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

 

 

Voluptuous Vinegars

If your looking for a great way to add flavor to foods without adding unsavory elements like sodium and fat, try flavored vinegars. It’s even a beautiful way to decorate your kitchen counters.

Vinegar is an ancient food, dating back to at least 3,000 BC in Egypt. Almost anything that ferments can be made into vinegar: apple must, corn, cane sugar, coconut, honey, rice, millet, sorghum, palm fruit, and trebbiano grapes, used in balsamic vinegar. It seems like each culture makes their vinegar from what is readily and regionally available.

So if you’re a Bon Vivant like me, you’ve already wondered if you can make your own vinegars. YES, and they are divine. But be careful, you will no longer be satisfied with the watered down flavors of mass produced vinegar.

To make vinegar you need a mother. The vinegar mother feeds on alcohol and converts it to vinegar. You can purchase it (try home brew suppliers) or use the mother that is in an unfiltered apple cider vinegar, as long as it is unpasterized. Once you make a batch of vinegar you can reuse the mother. It’s a living mass of bacteria so treat it well. If you have trouble finding instructions email me (info@tastefulmuse.com) and I will explain my vinegar making methods. I’ve been making white wine, red wine, and cranberry vinegar for a while now.

OK, back to easy flavors. I use clamp top lemonade bottles that have been cleaned and sterilized. Fill the bottle with the flavor element (cleaned of course), top it with the vinegar of choice (apple cider is my favorite), let it sit long enough for the flavors to infuse, refill as needed. Then use it in salad dressings (including quinoa, rice, and other grain based salads), marinades, or any place else you would use a splash of vinegar. You can do the same thing with vodka too, but that’s a different post!

Here are a few of my favorite flavors…

Cacoa nibs, cinnamon, and red chiles. As you can see, this variety takes on a lot of color from the flavor elements. My favorite use for this one is to toss it with cucumber slices and chopped purple onion for a quick summer side dish.

Jalapeño cilantro. This is a great addition to marinades, especially grilled fish. Although lately I leave out the cilantro and just make jalapeño vinegar.

Kumquat jalapeño. I use less jalapeño for this one to make sure the citrus flavor comes through.

Mango and red chiles. Sweet and hot!

Rosemarry black pepper. This is another staple in my kitchen. I use it in cooking when I want a more complex black pepper flavor, the oils from the pepper will turn it almost black as it sits.

Cherry tomato and basil. A light summery flavor for salads.

If you have any other ideas please share them! Bon Vivants are always on the lookout for new flavor combinations.

Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

 

Chorizo Chili with Cornbread Puffs

chili_8079

If you love chili and you love cornbread why not combine them for a one dish delight this winter?

Make your favorite chili, I made a chorizo and black bean version. Then, make a standard cornbread recipe. I made two batches, one with yellow corn and one with blue corn. To make it even more interesting add chopped jalapeño and or grated cheddar cheese to your cornbread batter.chili_8087

When the chili is done put it in an casserole pan and spoon globs of the cornbread batter on top. Bake the casserole following your cornbread instructions. Serve with a little fresh pico de gallo and you’ve got a great one dish delight!

Until next time… Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Make Your Own Chili Powder

chili-ing_3771

Classic Chili Powder:

2 tbsp Ground Paprika
2 tbsp Ground Oregano
2 tbsp Ground Cumin
2 tbsp Granulated Garlic
2 tbsp Granulated Onion
1 tbsp Ground Cayenne

Combine the ingredients and store in an airtight container.

chili-ing_3784

Many other spices mixes are available in The Tasteful Muse, Volume Two.

Until next time… Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Chili Bob

bob_6085It’s not really cold yet, but I still find myself craving soups, stews, squash. For this beanless ‘chili’ I sliced a small bottom round roast and browned it with two small sweet onions that had been halved and sliced, and a few garlic cloves. When the beef was browned I added a cubed butternut squash, just enough water to cover, and 2 tablespoons of my own chili powder. I let the soup simmer on low for a few hours.

Yep, it’s that simple, five ingredient chili. The sweetness of the squash accentuates the complex spice of the chili powder. Black beans would make a nice addition. Either canned or some that have soaked overnight.

The recipe for chili powder can be found in The Tasteful Muse, Volume Two. Along with recipes for many other spice mixes.

Until next time… Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

A Muddle of Misos

multi-miso_5637

Top: Organic White Miso (Japanese), Japanese noodles, red pepper flakes, and edamame pods.

Left: Red Miso (American), Japanese noodles, daikon radish, and fresh ginger.

Right: Red/Brown Miso (Japanese), Japanese noodles, Thai basil, and enoki mushrooms.

Bottom: Mellow White Miso (American), Japanese noodles, and chives.

All delicious, but which one would you choose?

Until next time… Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Beans Again?

Yes, but today’s beans are a combination of summer celebration and vegetarian chili.

black-beans_5398

I love black beans, they produce such a nice thick broth. But I didn’t want just beans, I wanted to savor some summer vegetables too. Not in the mood for salad, I decided on a pot of beans heavily laden with summer vegetables.

As a Bon Vivant I’m sure you don’t need instructions on cooking a pot of beans. But I challenge you to leave your comfort zone and put a different spin on them. After mine were mostly tender I added several chopped tomatoes, jalapeños, and yellow crookneck squash. For the seasoning I used a spice mix similar to that of chili con carne but I added smoked paprika. I let this continue to simmer until the beans were breaking and the vegetables were soft.

I was surprised at how well it turned out, and how well it was received. I’ve never added summer squash to beans but it was great. It added a juicy texture that was different than the texture of the beans.

What will you do with beans this week?

Until next time… Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!