Monday, December 30, 2013

Toronto Cocktail

No pic cuz  its boring. Pretend your looking at an old fashioned. A lil different and very good.

Toronto Cocktail

2 oz rye whiskey
1/4 oz fernet branca
1/4 oz simple syrup
2 dashes angostura
garnish: wide orange peel

Stir in a mixing glass with ice then pour into a rocks glass and add an orange peel. DO NOT hack into your thumb with a vegetable peeler or it will bleed terribly and make you useless for 1.5 days. Or just build it right in the old fashioned glass.

I still think fernet branca is a little weird but I really like it in this tiny amount in this drink. Fernet branca is an Italian digestif that is most popular, oddly enough, in Argentina and San Francisco. Also, bartenders all like it for some reason. Its really bitter, herby and super minty. I've seen it described as the jagermeister that frat bros don't do shots of... I think I have only made this drink with Dad's Hat Rye. It's from PA and it's good.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Autumn Slumber Toddy

This is so good. Now you can drink gin in the winter!!

Autumn Slumber Toddy
by Colleen Graham

2 oz gin
1/2 oz creme de cassis
dash simple syrup
1 tsp lemon juice
4-5 oz hot water

Boil some water. Wait for it to calm down a bit. In a mug stir all the other ingredients. Add water to taste. I've made this with Blucoat and Plymouth gins and both were delicious. 

I don't have a nice irish coffee mug to show the color so I am not posting a picture of this. I found out about this drink from about. com mixologist Colleen Graham, Im not sure if she invented it or if its a weird classic that I had never heard of.

LARAbar Copycat

cashew cookie larabar

I love lara bars. They are of the energy bar/ candy bar as food/ meal replacement category. However, unlike many of these items, they are made of simple, whole food ingredients with no added protein or vitamins. They are kind of similiar to an ayurvedic snack I used to make called date balls. Most flavors consist of dates, nuts, sometimes other fruit, and sometimes spices or chocolate.

My favorite is the Cherry Pie and the Cashew Cookie. This is my copycat recipe of the cashew jawn. I used fresh refrigerated medjool that still had the pits in them. This involved more work and more expensive ingredients than using dry, pitted dates. I think it would work fine with dry dates but having less moisture, you might want to reduce the amount of nuts or add a tiny bit of water while blending. I add salt and vanilla which I think makes these better than the original.

Cashew Cookie LARA Bar Copycat

120g cashews
320g dates
1/4 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp vanilla 
cashew meal, if you can find it

Blend first 4 ingredients in the food processor until a fairly smooth mass is created. Roll out on cashew meal or ground cashews or other slivered nuts or coconut. This makes them less sticky to the touch but is not essential. Freeze for an hour or refrigerate for several, then cut into portion sizes. They are dense, rich and sweet so you can make them small. I think I made about 16 squares from this batch.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Helianthus tuberosus (sunchoke, jerusalem artichoke...) is a false perennial, native to Eastern North America. It is a tuber forming member of the sunflower family. I call it a false perennial because it doesn't actually live from year to year. It is, however, quite persistent in the garden. Here's how it should work: You plant some roots from a friend that has too many (you always have too many if you have any), they spread out and establish themselves, grow big giant stalks with tiny little sunflowers on top, tubers form underground, the plants die off, you dig up the tubers.

Now, if you should happen to have planted them near anything, there comes a time that you realize they were planted in the wrong spot. So you dig them up and replant and they grow on happily. They grow in the place you moved them to and the original place you moved them from. They are kind of like horseradish in their persistence. If there is a tiny bit of root left in the ground, a whole new plant will form. 2 years later, I am still constantly weeding sunchokes out of the mint patch.

Some might view this plant with annoyance for its weed like nature. I embrace it though. I wish I didn't plant near the herbs but I embrace its persistence and its functional perennialism. If you have a good spot or even a crappy spot, they dont take much effort-sun, soil, or water. Sunchokes can fill them in with little effort, make pretty flowers late in the summer/early in the fall, and give you a root vegetable crop every year. All you have to do is dig them up once there has been a frost. They will magically grow back on their own next year. Even if you think you got every scrap, you didn't, they'll be back. On the internet, you will see this plant discussed in permaculture circles often for this reason. Truly perennial vegetables, in non tropical climates are quite rare or weird or bad tasting or involve much effort. Sunchokes are easy, pretty (sometimes at least) and tasty (also sometimes at least.)
jerusalem artichoke

Sunchokes are weird looking. They can get as big as a deformed, clenched fist. Most are way smaller and its exciting to dig up a huge jawn. Occasionally, they have knobby, branching sections like ginger; sometimes they look like turnips. They have a thin skin like a mix between yukon gold potato and ginger. They can be white or yellow or red though. Im not sure if it is species based or entirely random and wild still. I have two distinct looking varieties and I dont remember planting two different looking roots to start but I may be wrong. Some of mine are very small and round and red, like a new red potato. The others are various sizes, up to enormous and are really knobby and ginger like or turnip/ parsnip shaped with bulbous sections and long tails.

genetic diversity
purple and red radish pods
I had a similar instance with rat tail radish. They are such a novel weirdo crop that they havent been consciously bred and adapted over the years, resulting in distinct species like a tomato/ pepper/ any other even slightly common plant you might grow. Instead their genetic makeup is vast and varied and your not quite sure what you will get. I bought a pack of seeds for rat tailed radish from Baker Creek (and there are multiple varieties of seed pod radish, rat tail just being one type) and the plants looked the same in height and girth but the flowers of some plants were white and others were pale purple/pink. The purple flowers created purple pods while the white created smooth green pods. The seeds in the packet were indistinguishable from each other.

I think a similar genetic diversity remains in the sunchokes. I sorted mine between tiny red ones and big white ones and had about 6 pounds of each, which is too many. So, Im making pickles. Supposedly sunchokes are edible raw and cooked but they are not for most people. They wont kill you raw but your friends will hate you. Gerard's Herbal, printed in 1621 states that, "which way soever they be dressed and eaten, they stir and cause a filthy loathsome stinking wind within the body, thereby causing the belly to be pained and tormented, and are a meat more fit for swine than men." This is because they have a huge amount of inulin, a long chain polysaccharide sugar that our guts can not normally break down. The good and bad thing about that is that our body treats it as fiber, which causes less sugar in the bloodstream but more farts in your butt. In fact inulin from sunchoke and chicory are now being added to packaged foods as a prebiotic fiber. Probiotic foods, like raw fermented pickles and yogurt etc, contain beneficial bacteria for our guts; whereas prebiotics create ideal conditions in the gut for the probiotics. This makes me wonder two things: 1) If we increase our intake of beneficial bacteria, would sunchoke cause less gas? 2) If we ate sunchokes all the time would our bodies adapt to all that prebiotic fiber coming through, and cause less gas?

All of this is irrelevant, I just think farts are funny still. It is irrelevant because cooking sunchokes greatly reduces this trouble and I think Gerard is a fool and his quote of John Goodyer is hilarious. It commonly comes up if you read anything about sunchokes and I just wanted to keep it going. I have had them roasted and then pureed and they are nutty, rich and delicious. Also when  raw they are crunchy like a water chestnut and everyone knows water chestnuts are gross. Who wants farty water chestnuts? Gross! Not me.

I decided rather than just roast all of them it would be worthwhile to preserve some for the winter. I have had them pickled in a vinegar brine and they were wonderful tasting and caused no gastric distress. I have seen very little about doing raw ferments with them however. And, as earlier stated, if they contain prebiotic elements, perhaps we should include some probiotics as well? I also think, unsubstantiated by the internet, that the long cold fermentation process may help convert some of the polysaccharides into a more digestible form. Fermentation is a balancing act of time, temperature and salt. If its cold it will take longer, if it takes longer you should make it really salty to protect it from harboring troublesome bacteria, if its salty it will take even longer. Pickle catch- 22. My kitchen is only about 60 degrees in the winter so I expect it will take 2-6 weeks. Time will tell. I made two batches: a kimchi and a salt brined pickle. Here's what I did:

For the kimchi i sliced the sunchokes thinly, put them in a huge bowl and salted them.

Then in a food processor I made a paste out of onion, garlic, ginger, guajillo chili, fermented carrot pickle brine, and soy sauce.

I tossed the sliced sunchokes with the paste with a spatula because Im scared of spicy hand tiny cuts.

Then I packed a crock, stopping several times to really tamp it down with a potato masher.

Finally I scraped the bowl really good to make sure the top of the crock was covered in salty kimchi goo and no vegetables were exposed to air.

Then I also made a brined pickle. First, I sliced them up the same way as for kim chi.

Then I made a brining solution at a ratio of 4 C water: 3 Tbl sea salt.

Then I added some spices; mustard, cumin, caraway, coriander, fennel, black pepper, turmeric.

raw fermented jerusalem artichoke pickle

Pour all that into a jar, weight the top so the slices stay submerged under brine, cover and wait.

I just made all this so I dont know how it worked yet. Update coming once I eat it!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Best Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipe

deep fried mashed potato balls
The traditional Thanksgiving meal never interested me as a child. I would always prefer pizza or cereal even to roasted turkey and potatoes and stuffing and veggies. The days of leftover sandwiches never interested me either. I didn't understand what all the fuss was about. Wawa made leftover hoagies and it was cool because it was ridiculous but it still never really appealed to me.

As an adult I have come to really, really love potatoes. I enjoy virtually every possible preparation. Like Wawa, I feel the need to do something special and ridiculous when leftover time comes around. So, instead of shopping on Black Friday like a fool, I had brunch with some friends. With it being once in a century Thanksgivukkah leftovers, we deep fried mashed potatoes.

My mother and her mother before that and her mother before would all make mashed potato pancakes with leftover mashed potatoes. There are recipes all over the internet for these. They are not as thin and crispy as latkes. They are a great way to reheat mashed potatoes if you don't have a microwave, which I do not. You basically add a little flour to mashed potatoes and pan fry them. When I made some the other day with really creamy potatoes, I was having some trouble with them sticking to the pan and had to add a lot of extra flour. They don't cook that long, so I was concerned about eating lots of fairly raw flour, which is hard to digest. I added a little panko bread crumbs to the outside to help them crisp up a little easier. (Panko is the very coarse, Japanese style breadcrumb.) Which gave me the idea to make them again in the deep fryer sometime.

We made Vada Pav recently, which is KJs new favorite, so I used a similar batter in testing out these fried potatoes. The all chickpea batter doesn't get that crispy but with an extra coating of panko its really crispy and great. I made some both ways. For the Vada, the potatoes are a lot stiffer so I dont think it matters that the coating isn't so shatteringly crisp, but the fluffy mashed potatoes need more contrast.

So if you have leftover mashed potatoes and a deep fryer you should probably try making this. They were really tasty. I made 2 versions so far, the one in the pictures had fried sage and spinach added into the mashed potatoes. I just winged it but here's basically a recipe:

Deep Fried Mashed Potato Balls

thanksgivukkah2 C leftover mashed potatoes

1 C chickpea flour
1/2 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C or more water

1 C panko bread crumbs

Make the batter. Add water slowly until you have a fairly runny pancake like batter. Put the panko on a plate. Scoop potatoes with a small ice cream scoop. Toss them until covered in the chickpea batter. Carefully lift and drain, then roll in the panko breadcrumbs. Deep fry until browned and crisp, just a couple minutes. Eat with gravy or ketchup or salsa or sour cream or whatever you might want.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Vegan Mexican Chocolate Cookie

Vegan Mexican Chocolate Cookie
Vegan Mexican Chocolate Cookie

I was really in the mood for some spicy chocolate the other day so I made these for the art opening at Pile of Bricks, around the block from my house. This is a slight variant of a tester cookie I made for Little Baby's Ice Cream. We have never made them there yet. I was worried about them being too spicy for a general audience so I toned them down a bit. I used a guajillo and an ancho chile, both dried. The ancho is a mild. smoked poblano pepper and the guajillo is also mild. They add a lot of flavor without too much heat. I probably could have used 2 of each without the cookie being crazy hot. Instead, not realizing this until the batter was made, I  added 1 tsp cayenne to a bowl of sugar and rolled the cookies in that before baking. It worked perfectly. Now they were pretty, chocolatey, and spicy.

Vegan Mexican Chocolate Cookie

352g unbleached all purpose flour
6g baking soda
6g salt
40g cocoa powder

218g earth balance margarine
190g unbleached cane sugar
203g brown sugar
1 guajillo chile
1 ancho chile
1tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom

21g flax seed
83g water
13g vanilla

1 bag of non dairy semisweet chocolate chips

200g unbleached cane sugar
1 tsp cayenne powder

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa. (This recipe has tons of salt, chocolate cookies can handle more and spicy food can handle more. Keep it all balanced. Or use less if your concerned about saltiness but cookies are probably not the thing to make if you have any health concerns.) 

Grind the dry chiles in a clean coffee grinder, ideally an extra one that you don't use for coffee. Then cream the butta with chiles and spices. This helps the spices absorb into the fat, retaining the essential oils and becoming more evenly distributed throughout the cookie. Once the butta is softened up and full of flavors, cream the sugar into the butta in 2 additions. 

Next grind the flax seeds in the coffee grinder that you used for chiles. This will help clean out all the chile. Put the ground flax in a very small bowl and add the water. Whisk vigorously.until fully incorporated. Let sit for 1 -2 mins, depending on water temperature and vigor while whisking. The flax while get thicker and more gelatinous. This is how to make vegan eggs for baking recipes.

Add the fleggs to the large bowl with the butta/sugar mixture and stir well to combine. Add vanilla and stir again. Add the flour mixture to the everything else mixture in 2 batches. Stir just until combined, no floury spots but don't overmix. Cookies do not need to be kneaded, we arent trying to develop the gluten. Chewy cookies are created by caramelization of sugar, not through chewy glutinous dough like pretzels and bagels.

 Scoop cookies with a tiny ice cream scooper/ cookie scoop that is 1 Tablespoon. Roll several at a time in spicy sugar. Put 20 on a half sheet pan. Press down gently on each one with the palm of your hand. Bake 11 1/2 minutes at 350. Let cool 10 minutes on pans then remove to cool completely. This spacing and pan fullness and cooking time will produce perfect results. Less full pans will cook quicker, bigger cookies will cook slower. Do whatever you like but I urge you to try my way if at all possible, they will come out barely crisp on the edges, super chewy all through and a tiny bit doughy right in the center.

Vegan Mexican Chocolate Cookie

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Vada Pav

Vada Pav in Mumbai, courtesy of the internet.

There is this wonderful weird street food common in the state of Maharashtra in India. Maharashtra would be the 12th largest country in the world if it were in fact its on country, by population size not by land mass. It is in Western India just north of Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and contains the city of Mumbai. This food is both very Indian and very Western colonialism inspired at the same time. It involves a well seasoned ball of mashed potatoes, battered in chickpea flour, deep fried and served as a small sandwich. The bun is schmeared with mango chutney on one side, a dry spice chutney on the other, and sometimes sliced onions. It is so good. I've never had one in India nor an Indian restaraunt, but one of my favorite Indian internet chefs, Chef Vah, taught me how to make it, through youtube.

Vada Pav

6 medium/small boiled potatoes

2 Tbl coconut oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tspcumin seeds
10 curry leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric
pinch hing (asofoetida)
1/2 tsp chili powder (i had a blend leftover- gujillo, ancho, chipotle although smoked chilis are not common in indian food..)
1 tsp salt
small bunch cilantro (i made without)
1/2 lime, juiced

4 cloves garlic, minced 
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
1 fresh green chili (jalapeno), diced

1 C besan (chickpea flour)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt

Boil the potatoes whole.

While boiling heat oil in a small pan. When hot, add mustard seeds. When they pop (a few seconds) quickly add cumin, curry leaves and hing. Stir for 20 seconds or so then add turmeric, chilis, garlic, ginger. Make sure the spices do not burn. Take it all out of the pan if necessary when finished or just let cool in pan if its not getting over done. 

(If you are in Philadelphia, you can get fresh curry leaves in the fridge at International food & Spice, next to 7-11 at 42nd & Walnut. If not, unless, you are in India, they are fairly hard to find and may be omitted. Madhur Jaffrey often substitutes basil for curry leaves for a different but still interesting flavor that is easier to find. I think the cilantro added later is probably enough fresh green herb if you dont have curry leaves though...)

When potatoes are fork tender, roughly mash them. Add all spices from pan along with juice of 1/2 lime, salt to taste, fresh cilantro leaves, and chili powder to taste.

Make a batter. Whisk besan, turmeric, chili powder and salt. Slowly add water and stir. It will get lumpy if you add all the water at once. Make it into a paste with about 1/2 C water first, then slowly add more until it is like a runny pancake batter.

Now form the potato mixture into little balls, we ended up with about a dozen. Dunk them in the batter and roll around to cover completely. It helps to have a spatula or spoon to cover, and only touch them with one hand so you at least have one clean hand to do the frying. Place a few at a time in hot oil and fry for 1-2 minutes, turning after 30-45 seconds. They will only brown slightly. Take them out to drain on old paper bags from the liquor store that are not an appropriate size to ever reuse for anything else anyway, but you never recycle them and they're starting to clog up your bag hutch because of how much alcohol you buy.

We cheated and didn't make the pav this time. We just used tender little dinner rolls. Cut in half or rip open and smear with condiments of your choice. I prefer ketchup, franks red hot and garlic salt. Kj did sour cream and tomatillo salsa, and some kind of salt.

This is our new jawn for the winter. They are really good! They are easy even though there is a bunch of ingredients and I wrote out a lot of directions. I just wanted to be thorough because I don't think most people that might read this have made these very often. I was surprised to learn that the leftovers actually keep very well. Reheat in a toaster oven  at work and use whatever condiments you can find in the break room. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

An evergreen, bittersweet.

It's time once again for Mixology Monday. I skipped last month because Im terrible. This month its being hosting by Booze nerds, a blog near and dear to my heart. These guys are so serious! They geek out on subtle and weird ingredients, and are really into making lots of versions of similiar things and comparing which is best and if its worth doing the subtle variations. I really think they are awesome and you should check them out. I've seen their stuff on Liquor as well as their own site.

The theme that these nerds chose for this month was resin. Check out all the entries here: It stressed me out a little but I like it. It's fairly limited but there is quite a few directions to go within that thematic parameter. My main thought was for resinous herbs, as I grow and love perennial fall favorite herbs like rosemary and sage. Loosely defined, resinous herbs generally have woodier stems, slowly release their flavors and have an almost musky taste compared to the lively, fresh taste of more tender herbs like basil, parsley or cilantro that you might add at the end of a dish.

So, for the past 2 weeks, I have been making old fashioneds and Oaxacan old fashioneds with different quantities of rosemary and sage; muddling, garnishing and making herb tea ice cubes, all to no particularly good effect. I felt like it was very difficult to find a proper balance where these strong flavored herbs were noticeable without being overpowering.

I was drinking one of these on my stoop with my dog yesterday because it is suddenly unseasonably warm in Philadelphia. I wondered if I would post a blog about my lackluster drink and explain my efforts and subsequent disappointments, just to have a voice in the conversation. Then I invited my neighbor to join my for some warm weather whiskey drinkin on the stoop. He came over with  a beer and I explained my situation; that I have blog, and I had cocktail homework. He is a food scientist of sorts and he was really into this.

We began talking about what pairs well with rosemary and how much he liked Victory's new beer, Dirtwolf. Its a whole hop imperial ipa and its really good. That got me thinking about beer cocktails and maybe using hops as the resin ingredient rather than rosemary. After about 6 cocktails, we tweaked out our recipe to something we both really enjoyed that included 4 resinous ingredients!! (maple, rosemary, mezcal{agave}, hops) It was truly a collaborative effort, with us arguing, tasting ingredients and remaking different versions of the cocktail until it was just right.

an evergreen, bitterwseet
mixology monday resin

10 fresh rosemary needles
1/2 oz maple syrup (grade b)

1 oz rye whiskey (bulleit)
1/4 oz mezcal (fedencio)
1 oz lemon juice
dash chocolate bitters (fee bros)

3 oz ipa (Victory Dirtwolf double ipa)

Muddle rosemary and maple syrup in a shaker. Add next four ingredients. Shake with ice, then pour into a collins glass with fresh ice. Top with beer and stir gently. Go easy on the rosemary or it can turn out real gross. The beer is crucial, you want a big citrusy hop flavor to bring it all together. We also made with Founders centennial ipa when we ran out of the victory jawn. It was different and still good but not as good.

I think this combo sounds a little strange on paper but it really is delicious and I urge you to try it. The maple is subtle enough to add sweetness but not be cloying. The rosemary is subtle enough to be herbaceous without tasting like hippy dish soap. The mezcal is super subtle and adds a hint of smokiness without overpowering. The lemon juice is fairly strong  but supports the fruity citrusy hops of this ipa perfectly. And the chocolate bitters still sounds weird to me but chocolate and lemon play well together and it was the clear winner after trying the 6 different bitters in my cabinet. It's the cherry on top, the final accent that brings it all together.

Please let me know what you think if you make one!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Kiwi Berry Butter

I grow Actinidia arguta, also known as hardy kiwi or kiwi berry at my parents house. Well actually they grow themselves. I bought plants on clearance at whole foods 8 years ago and planted them different places across town. These are the only ones I know have survived, but I should probably check my old house in West Philly sometime. They grow like a grape vine and are well suited to Philadelphia's climate. They grow vigorously. It is hard to find much information about growing them or processing their fruit. They taste like a kiwi but with a smooth skin that slightly wrinkles as they ripen. They have tons of vitamin C and are delicious. I prefer them to "normal" kiwi.

I am always hesitant to invent my own canning recipes due to long term storage/ safety concerns but couldn't find any for kiwi berry. The best recipe I found was in the Ball blue book for conventional kiwi jam set with pectin. However once I multiplied out that recipe for the quantity of kiwi I had, I realized I didn't have enough pectin and it was an absurd amount of sugar. It was useful if I wanted to really stretch my crop, I could have made 2 dozen half pints by that recipe but that seemed unnecessary. Instead I opted to make up a fruit butter recipe, with Ball's acidity recommendations of 1 Tbl lemon per cup of fresh fruit. I used sugar quantities based on the apple butter recipe I had recently made. I cooked it down a really long time which should make the finished product safer , as the water cooks out the ratio of sugar and lemon to fruit increases, as well as improve the texture without needing to add pectin. I have no moral/healthful issues with pectin I just don't use it much so it makes me a little nervous.

Kiwiberry Butter

2 1/3 C water
9 C kiwiberry (3.5lb)
1/2 C +1 Tbl (9 Tbl total) lemon juice
2 1/4 C sugar

Bring kiwi berry and water to a boil, turn down to medium low and simmer for 20 mins. Puree with an immersion blender and add sugar and lemon juice. Continue to simmer for 1 hr 30 mins. Stir often or the bottom will burn. You can try to rush it at higher heat but you'll probly burn it, so dont get greedy. Perhaps if you dont add quite as much water at the start, you can shave some time off the cook down but it really isnt much water for how much fruit is there...

Testing if it is properly gelled up can be a tricky thing because its gonna be really liquidy while its hot no matter what. So do this: puut a spoonful of jam on a plate. Put the plate in the freezer for 5 minutes or so. That isnt enough time to freeze it but it will cool down that small amount sufficiently. Take the plate out of the freezer. Run your finger through the jammy blob. Eat it. If the jam stays parted without weeping liquid into the center, it is set. If it weeps, keep on cookin' and stirrin'!

Sterilize jars and caps. Water bathe for 15 minutes. Take out and make sure all the lids pop. Eat fancy toast until you run out. 

This recipe turns out a lovely sweet tart finished product. you could probably add more sugar without destroying it but I find it pleasantly tart and still a little sweet at this level. It is more tart than most store bought jams though.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Garlic Chives

garlic chives, coming back to life in early april
Garlic Chives have become the most prolific herb in my garden. A few years ago, we purchased 2 tiny little plants. By the end of the first year, they were huge clumps. By the end of the third year, we are weeding them out of all the herbs and even other garden beds and cracks in the sidewalk. Garlic chives differ from "regular" chives in that they are flat like a blade of grass whereas chives are round and hollow in the center. Garlic chives also have an unmistakably pungent garlic aroma. They are traditionally cooked, rather than used merely as garnish, in Chinese, Thai, Korean, and Vietnamese dishes.

Due to their conquering nature, I have taken to plucking off all the buds before they flower in mid summer so that they will not spread seeds everywhere. (Now, it should be stated that I do love garlic chives. We just shouldnt be growing them in a bed with other herbs. They need their own little zone to fill up. The flowers are long lasting, beautiful and attract benefecial pollinators. You should grow them. I will give u some!)

At first I was just eating the buds. They are very intense compared to the rest of the plant. Not quite as strong as a clove of garlic but pretty close. So I started picking bagfuls every couple weeks and bringing them home. I put them in a jar with vinegar and shook them up every day, to fully infuse the vinegar and to ensure none were floating, exposed to air for to long. Vinegar creates an acidic environment so as long as air exposure is limited, it is fairly safe for infusions, like alcohol. There isnt really a recipe, but all vinegar infusions are as simple as this. Put anything in a jar, cover it up, shake it everyday for a week or a few months, taste occasionally if you want, strain and enjoy! I had to switch to a bigger jar because there kept being more and more. I let them sit for almost 2 months all in all. Which is probably a little extreme. A week is probably enough to flavor a vinegar. It smells really garlicky now. I forgot/ was lazy/ procrastinated for a while. I will probably use it as a base for my habanero hot sauce or just as a garnish for greens or for dumpling dipping sauce with honey and soy sauce.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fermented (?) Vermouth Hot Sauce

So I found this chili head message board on the internet and someone on there had a post about fermenting chilies in white wine. I assume, over the several weeks it was supposed to take to make this, that the wine would convert to vinegar as it was exposed to air. I never have white wine laying around, but I always have vermouth. Now vermouth is a fortified wine; it is a higher percentage of alcohol, and it is also infused with a variety of herbs. I didn't know if the higher proof would slow down or destroy that wine to vinegar conversion but I gave it a go anyway. I also think this is more an infusion of chili in booze to make sauce than truly fermenting chili.

I used Carpano Antica, which is a higher end vermouth with a bittersweet, very herbaceous profile. The end result is very tasty but perhaps not the best use of expensive vermouth. While there is some herby undertones, the chili heat really dominates. Which, I suppose, is to be expected because it is hot sauce. I think if I made it again I would use very mild chiles like anaheims so the vermouth could be noticed more. I think this is more an infusion of chili in booze to make sauce than truly fermenting chili. So, being hopeful, I added raw pickle brine as a starter to maybe get things fermenting...

When I decided it was finished, I blended it all up. This was very annoying because there was so little of it. Stopped to scrape down the blender every second. No matter what, all the seeds never ground up; so I strained it. This gave the sauce a smooth consistency and it wont keep getting hotter while the seeds sit and infuse in the sauce while its refrigerated.

Vermouth Hot Sauce

(this was all done with a scale, based on how many chilies I had, with 2% salt and vermouth to cover)

84g chili (mix of yellow jalapeno, tabasco, habanero and mostly cayenne)
2g salt
187g vermouth 
1Tbl raw fermented pickle brine (from green bean pickles- haricot vert, salt, garlic)

Chop chilies and combine all ingredients in a jar. Stir or shake every few days for a few weeks. I ended up doing 3 full weeks in a cool fall philadelphia. 

 Blend it. 

Strain it. 

Bottle it. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Baba Ghanouj

I've been roasting eggplants lately. I have lots of late season eggplants in the garden still and tons of parsley, finally. (If you dont love parsley cut it back by half or omit entirely but I think it helps tame the raw garlic flavor and goes really nicely with the lemon.) I think the texture is greatly improved if you put out the effort to pick out the seeds. They all grow in little clumps and most of them can be removed easily. Its not necessary to pick out every single one but eggplants can have so many seeds that the texture is clumpy and crunchy and gross if you dont deseed them before making baba. Enough warning, do what you will. This is how Ive been making it lately:

Baba Ghanouj

3 eggplants; roasted, skinned, seeded 

(Yes 3, and yes "normal" big eggplants, I generally grow black beauty)
2 Tbl  tahini
2 cloves  garlic
1  lemon; juiced, about 2oz
2-3 Tbl  olive oil
1 1/4 tsp  salt
1 C  parsely; leaves only
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin seed; ground in a coffee grinder first

Grill, bake or broil eggplants until skin is blackened and blistering away from the flesh. I cut them in half and broil them, skin side up. I set the broiler to low and cook for between 20 and 30 minutes, moving them around so they cook evenly. I juice the lemon with a citrus reamer and pick parsley off the stems and grind up cumin seeds while they roast.
I keep the eggplants in a strainer over a bowl while peeling
 and picking out seeds. That way the majority of liquid in the
finished dip is from  lemon and olive oil.
When they are blackened all over and the flesh has softened and deflated, remove them from the oven. Flip eggplants over to help them cool and release moisture. Once cool, the skin should peel off very easily. The next part is messy but worth it for improved texture: With your hands, dig out the clumps of seeds. It doesnt need to be perfect but try to get out as many as possible. Put the remaining eggplant flesh into the blender or food processor. (The recipe is wet enough that I usually pick the blender because it is easier to clean...) After you pick through the eggplants, add everything else to the blender EXCEPT olive oil and parsley. Once the garlic and cumin is all chopped up and distributed evenly, slowly add the oil while it is blending on low. Finally add the parsley and mix it in briefly. (My last batch I forgot lemon until the end and really blended up the parsley so the baba had a greenish tint) Makes a big batch but it keeps well for at least a week. Dip bread and veggies in it or do anything you might do with hummus...