Home Brews – Anisette

Three recipes for making anise flavored liqueurs-

Anise flavored liquors and liqueurs are popular in Europe and around the Mediterranean. Often served before or after a meal they are thought of as a digestive aid. I personally can’t vouch for that but they are tasty unless you don’t like licorice- in which case you probably won’t like these.

Anise flavored liquors (like Ouzo) and Liqueurs (like Anisette) turn cloudy when diluted with water. This is called “the Ouzo effect”. This is due to chemical compounds- mainly trans-anethole- imparted by the anise seed and star anise coming out of suspension as water dilutes the drink and lowers the alcohol content. You can see this in the two pictures below of a glass of Mastika with ice melting into it-

On that note: never store anise-flavored spirits in the fridge or freezer as this will cause a similar effect due to the drop in temperature. Once the anethole comes out of suspension it will eventually turn to sediment and will negatively effect the flavor of the brew. Honestly you shouldn’t be keeping liquors or liqueurs in the freezer anyway.

Liqueur Recipes- Simple and Easy Anisette

*This liqueur tastes remarkably complex for how few ingredients there are. The scent and flavor is very similar to Marie Brizzard Anisette. Unlike commercially produced anisette though it is a greenish-gold color -not clear- as this brew is not distilled afterwards.  It makes an interesting ingredient in cocktails and it’s wonderful on the rocks.

* For an herbaceous, green anisette that looks and tastes similar to a pastis or absinthe add a tbsp or two of mashed fresh fennel greens and fresh parsley to the brew a full 24 hours before straining.

  1. Pour the vodka into a mason jar (preferably wide mouth).
  2. Coarsely crush the spices in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and add to the jar.
  3. Tightly seal up the jar and shake vigorously for a minute or so. Then place the jar in a cool dark location for at least 5 days (preferably a week or two), shaking daily.
  4. After the spices have infused check the brew. The liqueur should have an intense and intoxicating anise scent balanced with underlying spicy and citrusy notes. Add a tbsp of honey and let it dissolve then taste and see if it has the desired level of sweetness. If not add more honey (it should be semi-dry and very smooth). Seal the jar and shake vigorously for a minute or so. Let stew for another 8 to 12 hours, shaking every so often.
  5. Decant and strain the liqueur -preferably twice- through coffee filters or cotton plugs or both. The strained liquid should be a beautiful translucent, greenish gold. It should not be cloudy. Place liqueur in a bottle or jar (preferably dark glass) and keep tightly sealed. You can drink it straight away but I think it actually improves for weeks after straining. If kept in a tightly stoppered bottle at normal room temperature it should keep for months.

Liqueur Recipes- Complex and Spicy Anisette

*This liqueur tastes (and smells) similar to Ouzo although it is smoother, spicier and sweeter. It can be served like brandy, in cocktails that use anise based liqueurs or on the rocks. If served with ice or cool water this translucent liqueur will turn cloudy like ouzo.

  1. Pour the vodka into a mason jar (preferably wide mouth).
  2. In a mortar and pestle or spice grinder coarsely crush/grind the spices and add them to the jar.
  3. Tightly seal up the jar and shake vigorously for a minute or so. Then place the jar in a cool, dark location and let stew for week, shaking daily.
  4. Dissolve a tbsp of the honey to the jar and taste it to see if has the desired sweetness. If not add more honey. Then seal it back up. Shake the jar vigorously for a minute or so. Return the jar to a cool, dark location and let stew for a few more days to a week, shaking daily.
  5. Open the jar and smell the brew- it should smell intensely of anise with an underlying backbone of cinnamon and cloves with floral notes. Taste the liqueur again to see if it has the desired level of sweetness. It should have a little bite from the alcohol but it should not burn like moonshine. This liqueur should have a brandy-like mouth feel so if the alcohol is to strong add a little more honey. It should be semi-sweet, complex, spicy and smooth
  6. Decant and strain the liqueur -preferably twice- through coffee filters or cotton plugs or both. The strained liquid should be a beautiful, translucent earthy red- like a fine China black tea tea. It should not be cloudy. Place liqueur in a bottle or jar and keep tightly sealed. You can drink it straight away but I think it actually improves for weeks after straining. If kept in a tightly stoppered bottle at normal room temperature it should keep for months.

Liqueur Recipes- Mastika

*Mastika (or Mastica) is an anise-based liqueur flavored with gum mastic that is popular in Greece and surrounding countries. Gum mastic or mastic of Chios is a resin obtained from a tree related to pistachios native the Aegean basin. Gum mastic has a slightly bitter, piney, bay-leaf like scent and flavor. This liqueur tastes (and smells) similar to Ouzo. It can be served like Ouzo in cocktails in or on the rocks. If served with ice or cool water this translucent liqueur will turn cloudy like ouzo.

  1. Pour the vodka into a mason jar (preferably wide mouth).
  2. In a mortar and pestle crush the gum mastic and add it to the jar. Let it dissolve (this may take a few hours).
  3. In a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder coarsely crush/grind the other spices and add them to the jar.
  4. Tightly seal up the jar and shake vigorously for a minute or so. Then place the jar in a cool, dark location and let stew for week, shaking daily.
  5. Dissolve a tbsp of the honey into the brew then taste it to see if it has the desired level of sweetness. This liqueur should be semi-dry with some a bitter, piney notes imparted by the gum mastic. Seal the jar back up and shake vigorously for a minute or so. Return the jar to a cool, dark location and let stew for another day or two, shaking occasionally.
  6. Decant and strain the liqueur -preferably twice- through coffee filters or cotton plugs or both. The strained liquid should be a translucent reddish-brown – like tea. It should not be cloudy. Place liqueur in a bottle or jar and keep tightly sealed. You can drink it straight away but I think it actually improves for weeks after straining. If kept in a tightly stoppered bottle at normal room temperature it should keep for months.

Three Easy Stir Fry Recipes with Napa Cabbage

Napa or Chinese cabbage seems to be at it’s best this time of the year so here are three very quick and easy stir fry recipes that make use of it-

Spices for making Chinese five spice powder-

Napa cabbage is very different from the red and green cabbage you normally find at the grocery store. It is much more tender and mellow. It’s flavor is more like a mild celery than cabbage with nutty undertones and it doesn’t develop that sulfurous stench when cooked. It also keeps well once chopped and does not develop those black moldy looking spots as long as it is refrigerated.

*These recipes are loosely based on recipes from Elaine Luo’s cooking blog- www.chinasichuanfood.com – if you would like to find more authentic Chinese recipes check it out.

*The actual cooking process for this recipe is very quick- so it’s much easier to have everything prepped and ready to go.

*Chinese black vinegar, or chinkiang vinegar, is a dark, malty vinegar made from rice and wheat. It tastes very similar to a Flemish sour red ale without the bubbles.  If Chinese black vinegar is unavailable a mixture of regular rice vinegar and a balsamic vinegar, or Flemish sour or smoky brown ale is a pretty close substitute.

*Bok Choy can be used in place of Napa Cabbage. Whichever Chinese cabbage you are using the greens will cook much faster than the white rib portions- so to keep them from getting mushy they should be added just before removing from heat.

 

Vegetables:  Szechuan-Style Cabbage Stir fry

*Doubanjiang is a paste made from fermented fava beans (broad beans), hot chilies, salt and spices. There is really nothing quite like a quality Doubanjiang but a mixture of Sichuan Chili Oil and regular Chinese Black Bean Paste will make an effective substitute.

  • 1 tbsp each Chinese Black Vinegar, Chinese Cooking Wine and light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp each sugar (opt) and starch
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced thin on the bias
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 3-5 slices of fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp Doubanjiang (fermented broad bean and chili paste)- pref from Pu Xian region
  • ½ tsp Chinese Five Spice powder (or to taste)
  • 1-3 dried Thai red chilies crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • Vegetable oil (pref sesame oil) as needed for coating pan
  • 1 head Napa Cabbage, sliced thin with white portions separated from the greens
  • Additional light soy sauce, ground Szechuan Pepper and thinly slices green onions to garnish

 

  1. In a small bowl mix vinegar, wine, soy sauce, sugar (if using), starch, sesame oil and sea salt. Sauce should be about the color of lightly creamed coffee. Set aside.
  2. In a second bowl crush the white portions of green onions as well as the garlic and ginger slices to a paste and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
  3. In a mortar and pestle mash up the Doubanjiang and stir in the Five Spice powder and Thai chilies. Set aside.
  4. In a wok or deep sauté or frying pan heat oil over medium. When nice and hot add the onion/garlic/ginger paste and sauté 30 sec or so until the raw garlic smell goes away. Add Doubanjiang/chili/ Five Spice mixture and sauté for another minute or until the reddish oil begins to separate from the pastes.
  5. Add the sliced up white portions of the cabbage, turn heat up to medium-high, stir for a minute and then add the sauce.  Continue cooking  for a minute or two until sauce thickens and turns translucent. Stir in green portions of cabbage and remove from heat.
  6. Serve hot with steamed rice and garnish with remaining green onion slices and a drizzle of soy sauce.

 

Pasta:  Chili Sesame Noodles

*If alkaline noodles are unavailable vermicelli or thin spaghetti will work. Tahini paste will work as sesame paste.

 

  1. Cook noodles in salted water until al dente. Drain, toss with a tsp of sesame oil (so they don’t glue themselves together) and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl stir remaining sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauces and water one by one into the sesame paste until it is thick and creamy. Add the salt and five spice powder and set aside.
  3. In a large wok, deep sauté or frying pan heat cooking and chili oils oil over medium. When nice and hot add the garlic paste and sauté 30 sec or so until the raw garlic smell goes away.
  4. Add the sliced up white portions of the cabbage, turn heat up to medium-high, stir for a minute then push the cabbage to the sides of the pan. Add the sesame sauce, cook for a minute then stir in the noodles.
  5. Mix everything together and cook for a minute or so until the noodles are nice and hot. Stir in green portions of cabbage and remove from heat.
  6. Serve hot garnished with fried soybeans or toasted peanuts, a drizzle of soy sauce and green onions.

 

Pasta:  Egg Fried Noodles In Black Bean Sauce

*Douchi are salted, fermented and spiced black soybeans. Douchi smells strangely chocolate-like with a very salty, savory flavor. There is really nothing quite like them but if you mix up some regular canned black beans with ginger, Chinese five spice powder, a lot of salt and cocoa powder it actually smells and tastes roughly similar.

*If alkaline noodles are unavailable plain ramen noodles, vermicelli or thin spaghetti will work. You can also use quinoa pasta- but you will want to rinse the noodles off after cooking as they tend to glue themselves together after draining.

  • ½ lb alkaline noodles
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil – or as needed
  • 1 tbsp Douchi (fermented and spiced black soybeans)
  • 1 tbsp each Chinese black vinegar, light soy sauce and dark soy sauce.
  • ½ tsp Chinese five spice powder (or to taste)
  • 1-2 Thai chilies, broken coarsely (opt)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed to a paste
  • 1-2 slices ginger root, mashed to a paste
  • 1 lb shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 3-5 leaves Napa Cabbage, sliced thin with white portions separated from the greens
  • ¼ tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  • Additional light soy sauce and thinly sliced green onions to garnish

 

  1. Cook noodles in salted water until al dente. Drain, toss with a tsp of sesame oil (so they don’t glue themselves together) and set aside.
  2. In a mortar and pestle mash up the douchi. Add a tsp of sesame oil, the vinegar, soy sauces and spices and mix everything together into a thin paste. Set aside.
  3. In a large wok, deep sauté or frying pan heat a tbsp of sesame oil over medium. When nice and hot pour the beaten eggs into the pan. Let them sit for a minute until they begin to set up then break them up with a spoon and fry until just cooked.
  4. Push eggs pieces to the sides of the pan and pour another tbsp or so of oil into the center of the pan. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté 30 sec or so until the raw garlic smell goes away.
  5. Add the mushrooms and white portions of the cabbage, turn heat up to medium-high, stir for a minute or so then push the cabbage to the sides of the pan.
  6. Add the black bean sauce, cook for a minute then stir in the noodles.
  7. Mix everything together and cook for a minute or so until the noodles are nice and hot. Stir in green portions of cabbage and remove from heat.
  8. Serve hot garnished with a drizzle of soy sauce and green onions.

Recipes- Updated Hamburger Stroganoff

Since summer is now technically over and it’s quite cool and clammy (in these parts anyway) here is a fresh take on a savory comfort food from childhood-

Hamburger Recipes:  Updated Hamburger Stroganoff

*This is a tangier and more complex take on the classic Americana recipe. The wine and vinegar reduction brings some natural sweetness and acidity to this traditionally very heavy (and fatty) dish that complements the sour cream. The generous amount of herbs gives it some added depth.

*A Chablis, Bourgogne Blanc or Viognier work best in this recipe. TVP or Faux ground beef work well if you want a veggie version of this- and they don’t need to be browned beforehand- simply add them to the pan after the mushrooms are nice and tender.  We have Pot Pie Squares from The Little Barn of PA here in the store which work well to in place of regular egg noodles.

 

  1. Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the raw hamburger and sauté until nicely browned and no pink shows. Remove from pan and keep warm.

2. Add the remaining butter to the pan and melt over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until onion is soft and begins to caramelize. Crush garlic into pan and sauté until fragrant and beginning to turn golden- do not brown/burn the garlic- about 30 seconds.

3. Add the porcini mushrooms, herbs, spices, wine and vinegar and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer, uncovered, until the liquid begins to condense a little- probably 10 minutes or so.

4. Add mushrooms and sauté until they start to give off their juices. Then stir in the water or broth, the flour mixture, a little salt and the ground beef and let simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes.

5. When the gravy begins to thicken remove from heat and stir in the sour cream and parsley.

6. Serve hot over egg noodles dusted with pepper and paprika and garnish with green onion or chives.

Home Brews- Bath Tub Gin

Two easy home brewed gin recipes-

So I was looking for recipes that called for juniper berries and found several for “bath tub” gin. Fairly simple- mash up some juniper berries pour some vodka over them and let them sit overnight. Then add whatever botanicals you want the next day, let them infuse a few hours more then filter and serve. I looked up which herbs went into my personal favorite gin- Bombay Sapphire- and decide to try an experimental batch with those and a second batch that would be lighter, sweeter and more floral.

For Batch #1 I went with a combo of juniper berries, almonds, orris root, lemon peel, green cardamom and cassia cinnamon. And since I don’t have angelica root I used a combination of some celery seed, bay leaves and gum mastic (which smells like angelica- trust me). And for a little extra zip I added a piece of galangal root.

For Batch #2 i wanted something more floral and perfumey so started with juniper berries and added linden flowers, German chamomile, rosebuds, frankincense (which has like an intense woodsy, floral scent with citrus notes and has a resinous piney flavor), orange peel and orris root. Orris root comes from the Dalmatian iris plant. the root is then slowly dried and aged for 2-5 years to develop a strong floral scent similar to iris – the raw root doesn’t have much scent or flavor. It imparts a perfumey scent and a violet-like taste to the gin.

I placed the mashed up berries in two different mason jars, along with the orris root, mastic and frankincense and in batch #2’s jar I added the chamomile and linden flowers. I poured a high proof vodka over the herbs and resins, sealed up jars and placed them in a sunny window to let them stew for 24 hours. I think that was a bit to long as the scent- and flavor- were a little overwhelming. I also probably shouldn’t have put the orris root in so early as even the few pieces I added came out very strongly in the brew. Otherwise they smelled and tasted about right. I then added the remaining herbs and spices, resealed the jars and let them marinate overnight. The next day I strained and filtered both batches. They were a bit darker  (batch #2 came out about the color of a brown ale) and a little more bitter than the commercial blends I’ve tasted but still fairly close.

Batch #1- while a bit piney- was actually pretty good once diluted (and chilled) with lots of ice. Batch #2 was really bitter but a little honey and some ice to cool and water it down turned it into a refreshing, bittersweet liqueur.

Liquor Recipes- Amber Gin

*This home brewed gin tastes (and smells) very much like Bombay Sapphire and can be used in cocktails like true distilled gin or served on the rocks. If served with ice or tonic water this translucent liquor will turn cloudy like ouzo.

*The juniper berries should be fairly fresh and plump- similar to a raisin- not hard and crunchy. They should have a piney, cedar wood like scent and a sweet, fruity and spicy flavor. They should not be bitter or taste like turpentine. You can use almond meal in place of whole or slivered almonds.

*If you can’t get angelica root a combination of ¼ tsp celery seed, 2 bay leaves and a slice of galangal comes pretty close to it.

  • 1 1/2 cups vodka (80 or 100 proof)
  • 1 tbsp juniper berries, raw almonds
  • 1 tsp granulated dried lemon peel
  • 1 tsp each whole coriander seed and angelica root
  • ½ tsp orris root, whole or minced
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 1 3” stick cassia cinnamon
  1. Pour the vodka into a mason jar (preferably wide mouth).
  2. In a mortar and pestle mash up the juniper berries and almonds. Add to the jar along with the lemon peel.
  3. Shake the jar vigorously and place it in a cool dark place. Then let it sit for 8-12 hours.
  4. In a mortar and pestle coarsely crush the coriander, angelica, orris, cardamom and cinnamon. Add these spices to the jar.
  5. Tightly seal up the jar and shake vigorously for a minute or so. Then place the jar back in a cool, dark location and let stew for 24 hours or so. Shake the jar every few hours.
  6. After 24 hours the liquor should have developed a lovely rich, amber coloration. Open the jar and smell the brew- you should note the sweet piney juniper scent first against a spicy, floral background. Taste the liqueur to see if it has the desired level of sweetness. It should have a little bite from the alcohol and orris root but it should not burn like moonshine or be unpalatably bitter.
  7. Decant and strain the liquor -preferably twice- through coffee filters or cotton plugs or both. The strained liquid should be a rich, translucent amber- it should not be cloudy. Place liquor in a bottle or jar (preferably dark glass) and keep tightly sealed. You can drink it straight away but I think it actually improves for weeks after straining. If kept in a tightly stoppered bottle at normal room temperature it should keep for months.

Liqueur Recipes- Gin Blossom Liqueur

*This gin-based liqueur can be used in cocktails like true distilled gin or served on the rocks. If served with ice or tonic water this translucent liquor will turn cloudy like ouzo.

*The juniper berries should be fairly fresh and plump- similar to a raisin- not hard and crunchy. They should have a piney, cedar wood like scent and a sweet, fruity and spicy flavor. They should not be bitter or taste like turpentine.

*If you can’t get Mushaad grade frankincense any high quality omani or Yemeni franckincense will do. Mushaad frankincense has an intense perfume-like scent –similar to violets with hints of balsam and citrus. The flavor is floral, piney and somewhat bitter.

  • 1 1/2 cups vodka (80 or 100 proof)
  • 1 tbsp each juniper berries, linden flowers and German chamomile
  • ½ tsp Mushaad grade frankincense
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp granulated dried sweet orange peel
  • 1 tsp each whole coriander seed, orris root, whole or minced, and rose buds or petals
  • ½ tsp lavender buds
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 2 3” sticks Ceylon cinnamon
  • 1-3 tbsp honey (or to taste), preferably clover or linden
  1. Pour the vodka into a mason jar (preferably wide mouth).
  2. In a mortar and pestle mash up the juniper berries and frankincense. Add to the jar along with the linden, chamomile, bay leaves and orange peel.
  3. Shake the jar vigorously and place it in a cool dark place. Then let it sit for 8-12 hours.
  4. In a mortar and pestle coarsely crush the coriander, rose, orris, lavender, cardamom and cinnamon. Add these to the jar.
  5. Tightly seal up the jar and shake vigorously for a minute or so. Then place the jar back in a cool, dark location and let stew for 24 hours or so. Shake the jar every few hours.
  6. After 24 hours the liquor should have developed a dark brown coloration- about like coco cola. Open the jar and smell the brew- you should note the sweet piney juniper scent first against a perfumey, floral background. Add the honey- a tbsp at first. Let the honey dissolve and then taste the liqueur and see if it is sweet enough. It should be bittersweet but not so bitter that you couldn’t drink it on the rocks. After adding any additional honey (if needed) reseal the jar and let sit another 8 hours or so.
  7. Decant and strain the liquor -preferably twice- through coffee filters or cotton plugs or both. The strained liquid should be a dark translucent amber- about like a brown glass bottle- and not cloudy. Place liquor in a bottle or jar (preferably dark glass) and keep tightly sealed. You can drink it straight away but I think it actually improves for weeks after straining. If kept in a tightly stoppered bottle at normal room temperature it should keep for months.

Home Brews- Spiced Orange Liqueur

So for my first experiment with making flavored liqueurs I decided to make something similar to the spice blend I dust over my coffee in the morning which uses granulated orange peel, star anise, Ceylon cinnamon, mace and green cardamom.  I got some high proof vodka, placed some of these spices in a jar and then poured the vodka over them, twisted on the lid and let it marinate in a sunny window for a couple of days.

Upon first sampling the scent was intense as was the anise flavor- and the bite from the vodka. so to sweeten things up I added some mashed dried fruit and to balance out the spiciness I added more orange peel. The brew was left to infuse for another day. The smell was heavenly and the flavor much better- though there was still some burn to it so I added some clover honey and let it sit overnight. The final result was like a cross between a really good, mellow orange brandy and anisette.

Liqueur Recipes- Spiced Orange Liqueur

*This liqueur tastes (and smells) like a combination of orange brandy and anisette and can be served like either. If served with ice or cool water this translucent liqueur will turn cloudy like ouzo. Navel oranges are ideal for this recipe although mandarins will also work.

  1. Pour the vodka into a mason jar (preferably wide mouth).
  2. Break apart the star anise and cinnamon and add to the jar along with the orange peel.
  3. In a mortar and pestle coarsely crush the allspice, cloves, cardamom and mace and add these to the jar along with the nutmeg.
  4. Tightly seal up the jar and shake vigorously for a minute or so. Then place the jar in a warm, sunny window and let stew for at least 24 hours. 36 to 48 hours is even better. Shake the jar every few hours.
  5. Add the orange juice, raisins, dates, orange zest and 1 tbsp of honey to the jar and shake vigorously for a minute or so. Then return jar to the window sill. Let stew for another 24 to 48 hours, shaking every so often.
  6. Open the jar and smell the brew- you should note the anise first and the orange scent second against a spicy, floral background. Taste the liqueur to see if it has the desired level of sweetness. It should have a little bite from the alcohol (like a quality brandy) but it should not burn like moonshine. This liqueur should have a smooth mouth feel so if the alcohol is to strong add a little more honey. It should be semi-sweet, citrusy, spicy and balanced not bitter or like drinking straight orange juice.
  7. Decant and strain the liqueur -preferably twice- through coffee filters or cotton plugs or both. The strained liquid should be a rich, translucent earthy orange- it should not be cloudy. Place liqueur in a bottle or jar and keep tightly sealed. You can drink it straight away but I think it actually improves for weeks after straining. If kept in a tightly stoppered bottle at normal room temperature it should keep for months.

Frigerator Pickles

Tired of mushy dill pickles or spending hours sterilizing jars and brining cucumbers overnight? Here are three incredibly easy refrigerator pickle recipes to try out-

And when I say incredibly easy I mean incredibly easy- they require no cooking skills whatsoever- just chop and assemble the veggies then the vinegar, salt and spices do the work. Plus since you can make a jar at a time you can have more variety.

* Use Thai chilies for heat and cayenne chilies for flavor. If fresh turmeric is unavailable ½ tsp ground turmeric will work. A tbsp of dried, minced onions will work in place of fresh onion or shallots. If want a sweeter version of these add a tablespoon of sugar or a pinch of stevia extract.

Recipe 1:  Frigerator Dill Pickles

  • 1 clean 16 oz wide mouth pickling jar with lid
  • 1 clove garlic sliced thin into chips
  • 1” piece fresh (or frozen) turmeric root sliced into thin chips
  • 2 tsp dill seed
  • ½ tsp coarsely crushed black peppercorns
  • 1-2 dried chili peppers, crumbled (opt)
  • 1 large English cucumber (or equivalent amount regular cucumbers) sliced into chips or spears
  • 1 ½ cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp canning and pickling salt (or to taste)
  • Pinch of alum (opt)

Recipe 2:  Sweet and Spicy Pickled Zucchini

Recipe 3:  Frigerator Pickled cabbage

1 – Place onion, garlic, turmeric and other spices into the jar. Then pack in enough veggies that it fills the jar to just below the lip.

2 – Heat vinegar, water, alum (if using) and salt in a small sauce pot. When solution comes to a boil remove pot from heat and pour solution into the jar. The vinegar solution needs to cover the vegetables- if there isn’t quite enough add a little more vinegar.

3 – Secure lid to jar and shake jar vigorously. When jar is cool enough to pick up with bare hands place it in the fridge. Let veggies inpicklelate for 3-4 days before using. They will keep in the fridge for weeks.

 

Golden Split Pea and Pumpkin Soup

Autumn is still months away but when I was cleaning out the freezer I realized I still had quite a bit of pumpkin left over from last fall so I figured I would put it to use in an experimental recipe-

I took a basic North Indian Chana Dal recipe and tweaked the spices for a more Autumnal flavor. The caramelized maple scent of the fenugreek seed and bready, savory quality of the nigella compliment the earthy sweetness of the split peas. I use cassia cinnamon in this recipe instead of Ceylon cinnamon as it has a sweeter scent with vanilla undertones (due to it’s coumarin content). The pumpkin marries well with the peas and sweet and savory spices and imparts a rich, golden hue to the soup. This soup goes well with naan, roti or masala paratha.

Peas: Golden Split Pea and Pumpkin Soup

*The Thai chilies give this recipe a little kick- if you don’t like the heat you can skip them. A pinch of stevia extract works nicely in place of the jaggery.

*For a velvety smooth soup take the soup off the heat when the peas are all tender. Remove the cinnamon stick and tej patta and puree the soup (in batches) in a blender until smooth. Reheat and add the amchur and cilantro before serving.

  1. Soak split peas with baking soda in cold water for an hour or so. Drain peas, and rinse in several changes of water.
  2. Melt ghee over medium heat in a pot. Add the fenugreek, nigella, tej patta, cinnamon stick and Thai chilies (if using). When the seeds start to splutter add the onion and sauté a few minutes till onion begins to caramelize. Crush garlic directly into the pan and cook, stirring, until garlic is fragrant and starts to turn golden (do not brown/burn the garlic).
  3. Add the asafetida, chili, garam masala and tumeric powders. Cook, stirring, until the ghee becomes golden hued- about a minute. Add the tomatoes and pumpkin puree and simmer until the sauce thickens- about 5 minutes.
  4. Add peas, a tsp of salt, the sugar and enough water to make a thick soup. Bring to a boil, lower heat and let simmer until the peas are very tender- about 30-40 minutes. If you cook them long enough they will “melt” and develop an almost pureed quality. Add water if it isn’t soupy enough.
  5. Stir in amchur, remove from heat then add cilantro. Serve topped with a dollop of yogurt, green onions, and a dusting of grated nutmeg or extra garam masala.

 

Sweet and Savory Stewed Kidney Beans

The spice and cocoa blend used in this recipe is based on an authentic Mexican dark red mole recipe I found. The blend of smoky chipotle, sweet cinnamon and savory cumin and herbs compliments the rich, meaty quality of the kidney beans-

Kidney Beans: Sweet and Savory Stewed Kidney Beans

*You can use pre-ground spices instead of whole ones but the flavor won’t be as rich. You should use the thin, papery sticks of cassia cinnamon- the thick bark pieces can destroy a spice grinder. Save the thick pieces of cassia for mulled wine or cider. Thai chilies (or peri peri peppers) will give this dish some heat. If you want something less spice use ancho chilies or cayennes. Also ¼ tsp of stevia powder (or other sugar substitutes) can be used instead of brown sugar.

*I just pureed the raisins with the tomatoes. Other dried fruit like prunes or dates would also work.

*For a non-vegetarian version ground beef (lightly browned) would work well in this recipe. I would add it after the beans have become tender as they take quite awhile to cook. And on that note make sure to simmer/boil the beans for at least half an hour- kidney beans contain phytotoxins that can cause gastric upset (think extreme wind breaking). Thouroughly cooking the beans destroys these toxins. Pre-soaking them with baking soda also helps.

 

  1. Soak beans at least overnight (24 hours is even better) in cold water with baking soda. Drain beans and rinse in several changes of water
  2. Grind cinnamon, cumin, allspice, oregano, peppercorns, thyme, cloves, nutmeg and Thai chilies (if using) into a fine powder in a spice grinder. Place in a bowl and mix in cocoa and chili powders. Set aside.
  3. Melt butter in the large pot over medium heat. Add onion and bay leaves and sauté until the onion softens and begins to caramelize.
  4. Crush garlic and add that to the pot. Sauté the garlic for 30 sec or until fragrant and beginning to turn golden. Do not brown/burn the garlic.
  5. Add raisins, tomatoes and ground spice mixture to the pot and simmer for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until gravy is thick.
  6. Add beans, water to cover (and a little extra depending on how soupy you want this dish), a tsp of salt and the sugar.
  7. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer 40-60 min or until the beans are very tender. Mash a cup of the cooked beans into a fine paste and return them to the stew. Continue to simmer, uncovered for about 20 min until stew is very thick. Remove from heat, add salt to taste and then stir in the cilantro.
  8. To serve, spoon over rice, add a dollop of sour cream and mix thoroughly. Garnish with shredded cheese, jalapenos, green onions and a dusting of ground cumin, cinnamon, chipotle and some freshly cracked black pepper.