Tag Archives: recipe

Homemade drinking vinegar

29 Oct

three bottles of brightly colored drinking vinegar

three bottles of brightly colored drinking vinegar

After my graduation in August, my family and friends hit up well known Portland restaurant Pok Pok for the first time.  There were two things on my “must try” list: fish sauce chicken wings and drinking vinegar.  My companions were down with the wings but they were a little skeptical about the latter, and I didn’t blame them.  A big gulp of vinegar doesn’t exactly sound appealing, does it?

This isn’t straight vinegar, though.  Fruit-infused and sweetened, the drinking vinegars are added to soda water or cocktails for a sweet and sour kick.  After one drink, we were all converted.

When my mom’s birthday rolled around in September, I wanted to get her some drinking vinegar for her homemade libations.  After a little online searching, I found that a 16oz bottle would cost about $30 to have shipped to my doorstep.

Umm… excuse me?!

So I made the obvious choice: time to DIY.

three mason jars with fruit and vinegar

I made three varieties: ginger peach, strawberry basil, and cherry.  Your imagination is the only real limit when it comes to these.  We’re dreaming up a cherry tomato vinegar to make next year to use as an addition to our bloody marys.

Making these drinking vinegars could not have been easier.  Literally the most difficult part was MacGyver-ing a funnel out of aluminum foil to help get the warm vinegar into the fancy bottles.  If you have a real funnel, you can avoid that step.  The second hardest part was waiting patiently while the vinegars infused.

This ain’t rocket science, ya’ll.

three jars of fruit and vinegar

Cherry drinking vinegar

Resources: 1, 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 c. pitted cherries (fresh or frozen)
  • 3-4 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar

Place cherries in a quart size jar and cover with vinegar.  Shake well.  Let infuse for one week, shaking daily.

After one week, strain liquid into medium size saucepan.  Add sugar and simmer over medium heat until slightly thickened, 5-10 minutes.  Add extra sugar to taste.

Pour vinegar into a clean glass bottle or jar (careful, it will be hot).

Your homemade drinking vinegar should keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.

I can’t recommend these enough as a secret ingredient in your favorite adult beverages.  For a tasty, alcohol free beverage, combine one part drinking vinegar with four parts soda water over ice.  Mix well.

And they look good too!

three bottles of brightly colored drinking vinegar

Stay cool

4 Aug

Here in the Pacific Northwest we’ve managed to avoid the heatwave that’s been plaguing the rest of the U.S up until this point.  That’s all supposed to change this weekend as we make it into the triple digit temperatures for the first time this year.

While I’m looking forward to some of the effects of this heat (hello, homegrown tomatoes!), I’m not much of a fan of hot weather.  So, I’ve been trying to keep in mind some of my favorite tips and recipes for staying cool.

The kitchen is the prime source of unwanted heat, so I try to switch up the kind of cooking that I do when the sun is out.  The key is to avoid turning the oven on at all costs, and the stove-top should be used as little as possible.  Thankfully, there are tons of recipes that are seasonal, tasty, and use little to no heat.  The Kitchn just did a recipe roundup of 20 no-heat or low-heat recipes.  Lots of smoothies and salads there.  I’ll be making lots and lots of gazpacho once our tomatoes come around.

If you do want to cook with heat, keep your wits about you.  I’ve found that using the crock pot to cook dried beans takes longer but keeps the house much cooler than using the stove.  Couscous takes less time and heat to cook than pasta does.  Cook extra so that you can reuse leftovers rather than heating your house again to make another batch.  And just about anything can be made outdoors if you have a decent grill.  Grilled pizza is a favorite around here.

When it’s hot out, there’s no shame in cheating a little.  Pre-cooked food items are fair game.  Shred some chicken from your local deli for taco night or slice a little roast beef to use as a salad topper.  Tofu and tempeh are pre-cooked and can be added to your dinner straight from the package.

One of our favorite hot weather foods is the classic salad roll.  It’s great because you can adapt it to include whatever ingredients you already have around.  These bad boys are vegetarian, with chunks of tofu and hard-boiled egg inside.  You could easily vegan-ize them by leaving out the egg, if you so desire.  Lots of fresh veggies and herbs are required, though!

Salad rolls:

  • 1 package of rice papers
  • rice noodles, cooked according to package directions (usually soaked in hot water for 10 minutes and drained)
  • 2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 1/2 package tofu, sliced
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Bean sprouts
  • Fresh herbs (mint, basil, cilantro)
  • Peanut sauce (see below)

Soak the rice paper wrapper in warm water until pliable, about 30 seconds.  Place on a work surface and load on your desired ingredients.  Wrap up like a burrito, both ends folded in and rolled up tight.  They don’t have to be perfect!

Perhaps the best thing about salad rolls is that they act as a vessel for one of the world’s greatest condiments: peanut sauce.  Here’s my go-to recipe; it’s super easy and you probably already have all the ingredients already.

Peanut sauce

  • 4 T smooth peanut butter (natural is best, if you use something else you may want to use less sweetener)
  • 1 T rice vinegar
  • 2 t soy sauce
  • 2 t honey or agave syrup
  • 2 t minced ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced fine
  • Water
  • Sriracha hot sauce to taste (optional)

Mix first six ingredients in small bowl.  Add water until desired consistency is reached, approximately 3-4 tablespoons.  Mix in a squirt of Sriracha if you so desire (you know I do).

Stay cool out there!

Being green

21 Mar

I can tell I’m starting to become an adult.  I know that in the U.S. they say you become an adult when you turn 18, but let’s be real.  The first few years of adulthood happen to line up with the “college years” for a whole slew of people.  Not that I’m speaking from experience here, but I would say that, in many cases, there isn’t much that’s grown-up about the college years.  Sure, you have to feed yourself and do your own laundry and pay rent, but besides that?  Irresponsible choices galore.  Not that I’m speaking from experience…

Anyway, I can tell that I’m growing up because my idea of a fun St. Paddy’s day this year was focused on food rather than booze.  I donned my best 1950’s Irish housewife outfit and hit the grocery stores for corned beef, cabbage, soda bread, and Guinness (hey, I said it wasn’t focused on booze, not that it was booze free)!

Fat woman with light skin and short brown hair, wearing a pink headscarf, green dress and green cardigan. She is wide eyed and covering her mouth with her hands. Her fingernails are painted green.

Despite being named Margaret and having a brother named Cullen (two pretty darn Irish names), I don’t feel very in touch with my Irish heritage.  Or any heritage, for that matter.  I guess that’s the price you pay for being a western European mutt.  Recently, I was wondering if previous generations of my family have distanced themselves from these identities due to the negative connotations that have historically been associated with them.  We’re mostly Irish and German, after all.  Have any insight, Mom?

Anyway, I’ve decided that there’s no time like the present to try to get in touch with those roots and there’s no better way to get in touch with a culture than through food.

Cabbage is a big deal to both the Irish and German, so my eyes lit up a little bit when I saw the recipe World’s Best Braised Green Cabbage in Molly Stevens’ book “All About Braising.”  I guess this dish is technically Italian (what with the balsamic vinegar) but it went perfectly with our corned beef.  Actually, it didn’t go perfectly with our corned beef; it blew our store bought beef out of the water!

On a side note, have you ever heard of Chef Molly Stevens?  I recently heard an interview with her on The Splendid Table and immediately put her cookbooks on hold at the library.  So far, Nate and I have made four of her recipes and they have all been stellar.  I’d never heard of her before so I figured I would spread the word in case you’re in the same boat.

The only negative of this recipe is that the cooking time is over two hours, so plan ahead.  It’s worth it!

Braised cabbage in a blue cast iron casserole

Best Braised Green Cabbage I’ve Ever Had

Vegetarianized straight from Molly Stevens’ All About Braising, check it oooout

Ingredients:

  • 2lb cabbage
  • 1 onion, sliced into large slices
  • 1 carrot, chopped into rounds
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. vegetable stock, divided
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • Hot pepper flakes (to taste)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Lightly oil a large baking pan or casserole (I used our 3 quart cast iron casserole). Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and slice into eight wedges.  Add to the pan or casserole in a single layer.  Sprinkle the onion and carrot over the top, then drizzle with the olive oil and 1/4 c. vegetable oil.  Season with salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes.  Cover (with aluminum foil or lid) and put into the oven.

After two hours, remove the pan from the oven.  Increase the oven heat to 400 degrees.  Turn the pieces of cabbage over.  Add the balsamic vinegar and, if things are looking dry, the remaining vegetable stock.  Return the pan to the oven and let cook, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, until the cabbage starts to brown.

Braised green cabbage in a blue cast iron casserole

Molly says that this could serve 6-8, but it was so good it only served four at our house.  It ain’t pretty, but appearances aren’t everything, right?  Especially when something is this delicious!

Spice is nice – kimchi stew

28 Feb

Close up of kimchi stew with chicken and tofu over steamed jasmine rice.

In January, Nate and I made about four pounds of homemade kimchi and we’re just using up the last of it.  We tried eating it a number of different ways but my favorite was definitely as kimchi stew served with some jasmine rice.  It was really tasty and could easily be made with store bought kimchi.

bowl of kimchi stew with kimchi, chicken and tofu with jasmine rice.

Maangchi’s recipe for kimchi stew recommends using pork belly or canned tuna.  I was feeling lazy, so I figured I would pick up a few cans of tuna from Trader Joe’s.  When I got there, the tuna was around $3.00 a can.  I don’t buy tuna very often so I don’t know if this is a reasonable price or not but it seemed expensive for fish in a can.  I’m not up-to-date on different tuna species and ethical fishing practices so I’m not sure if this contributed to the price.  In all honesty, I’ve never been much of a fan of canned tuna anyway.

So, after walking through the store and eying the meat case, I noticed that TJ’s has organic free-range chicken drumsticks for $1.99/lb.  Sold!

Obviously, this recipe isn’t vegetarian, but I think you could easily adapt it to be.  You could leave out the chicken, use veggie broth and maybe add some extra tofu.  I imagine that sauteing some mushrooms along with the onions would be damn tasty, too!  Keep in mind, though, that kimchi is often made with fish sauce and if you use store bought kimchi it may not be vegetarian.

Chicken Kimchi Stew – makes six to eight servings

Adapted from Maangchi’s Kimchi stew (kimchi chigae)

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 lbs chicken drumsticks, skin on
  • 1 Tbsp high temperature oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3-4 c. kimchi, cut into bite size chunks if needed
  • 3+ c. chicken broth or water
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 package tofu
  • Salt and pepper
  • Soy sauce, sesame oil, hot sauce (optional)
  • Steamed jasmine rice (for serving)

Heat about half the oil in dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot with a lid.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown the chicken on all sides.  The goal here is not to cook the chicken through, but to create some flavor (“Brown food tastes good,” as Chef Anne Burrell says).  Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan.  Once hot, add in the onion and saute for a few minutes until translucent.  Add the minced garlic and saute for another minute or two.  Add some of the broth/water and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot.  Add the kimchi, red pepper flakes, the remaining broth, and the drumsticks.  The drumsticks won’t be covered by the liquid, that’s fine.  I like my stews to be more chunky than soupy.  If you’d like more broth, feel free to add some more liquid.  Bring everything to simmer, then reduce the heat.  Cover the pot and simmer for about 40 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pot and let cool briefly.  Shred/slice the chicken from the bones (which you should save to make chicken broth).  You can either remove the skin and toss it or you can slice it up as well.  Return the chicken to the pot.  Cut up the tofu (I like to leave it in fairly large pieces but it’s up to you) and add that to the pot as well.  Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Serve in bowls over the jasmine rice.  Season with pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, and hot sauce to taste.

Close up of kimchi stew with chicken and tofu over steamed jasmine rice.

One final note: I think this would be a great recipe to pull out when someone you care about is feeling under the weather.  Spicy chicken soup should really help clear out those sinuses!