Even Better Better Than Miracle Whip

Oh, look – I’m alive!

Sorry for the lack of posting, but real life has been, well, real.  Our garden is coming along quite nicely, although that is more Beloved’s doing than mine. The man has been a gardening maniac; I will have pictures soon.  The Young One is home for the summer, and gainfully employed – HOO. RAY.  Darling Daughter has completed her two week certification course for becoming a state tested nursing assistant; she’s busy looking for a job and studying to take the state test (they make them wait a minimum of 7 to 10 days after completing the certification course).  Jolly has landed a coveted field position within her company and is making ready to move to Michigan, which means we’ll have The G Man quite a bit this summer while she makes the transition at work and finds a good place (read: within a good school district) to relocate.

As for me, I’m looking for a new refrigerator, since ours is slowly dying, working on approximately 793 gum paste flowers for a tiered cake I’m doing in early June, planning a groom’s cake as well as a tiered cake for a fall wedding, and juggling two crochet projects and a cross stitch project while trying to work my way through season 6 of Sons of Anarchy.  All while working a 50-hour week and gearing up for what looks to be an incredibly busy season of canning, freezing and otherwise preserving the produce from not only our own garden, but the CSA as well.

If I collapse from exhaustion right before Halloween, you’ll know why.

Despite all the busyness, I do have things to blog about, including this little gem.  Since I posted it, my Better Than Miracle Whip has been been one of my most popular recipes.  However, as written, it requires a piece of equipment not everyone has in their kitchen: a stand mixer.  It also takes a bit of time and even then, the results aren’t always consistent – sometimes it thickens up really well; other times, not so much.  Recently, thanks to many demos on the interwebz, I’ve discovered a way to make it consistently and in a fraction of the time it takes in a stand mixer.

If you don’t have a stick blender, I suggest you buy one.  Like, right now – they are simply amazing, and you can get a good one for under $35.  Not only does it make the most amazing mayonnaise (or, in this case, Miracle Whip knock-off) consistently in under 2 minutes, it’s versatile as hell – we use it for everything from pureeing cauliflower to blending soups to whipping cream.

So here’s an updated version of one of my most popular recipes.  It makes a bit less than the older version, but is easily be doubled if you need more, and tastes even better than the original.  It really should be its own food group.

Note: Leave out the honey, paprika and garlic powder, sub the vinegar with lemon juice and presto!  You’ve got mayonnaise.  Also, do NOT leave out the water, or you’ll end up with Miracle Whip flavored soup (yes, I speak from experience).

Better Than Miracle Whip.  The deliciousness that is Miracle Whip, homemade in less than 2 minutes!

Click the image to enlarge

Even Better Better Than Miracle Whip
Serves: 16
[i]Makes about 1 cup[/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • pinch smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 3/4 cup cold pressed, high-oleic safflower oil
Instructions
  1. Place all of the ingredients except the oil in a tall, narrow glass or plastic container (such as the one that comes with the stick blender). Slowly and carefully pour the oil on top, taking care not to disturb the other ingredients more than you can manage.
  2. Insert the stick blender all the way to the bottom of the container. Turn it on and leave it there for at least 20 seconds – you’ll see the bottom part of the mixture begin to thicken and emulsify. Keeping the blender running, slowly pull it to the top of the mixture. Gently submerge it to the bottom again; repeat the process 2 or 3 times until the mixture is completely blended and thickened.
  3. Scrape the excess off of the blender into the container and gently mix it in, along with any oil that may remain on the top. Cover and allow it to sit at room temperature for at least an hour before refrigerating.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 98 calories, 10.5g total fat, 11.3mg cholesterol, 65.3mg sodium, 4.7mg potassium, 1.3g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.1g sugar, <1g protein

Red Onion Jam

Hello, there.  I meant to post more last week but, well, life kind of got in the way.   Darling Daughter, who was supposed to be walking down the aisle this past weekend, instead packed up all her worldly goods and moved to Podunk to start afresh.  (Long story, but it seems that Mr. Fixit’s feet got a little on the chilly side.  That’s okay; he’ll have plenty of time to kick himself with those sized 9 1/2 ice blocks in the future.  The very near future.)  She’s bearing up well, and while she’s sad and hurt, she’s also excited at the opportunities her future now holds.

At any rate, after spending the week dealing with the logistics of getting DD, as well as her stuff, here in very short order, we had a moderately large family gathering on Sunday for Chocolate Bunny Day dinner at our house.  I’m exhausted, but things went quite nicely, and the dinner was delicious.

Our main course was boneless leg of lamb – or, as The G Man called it, Lego Lamb (hey, it got him to eat it) – that I butterflied and stuffed with a mixture of mint, parsley, dried currants, toasted pecans and sourdough bread crumbs.  It was just delicious, but since mint was part of the stuffing, it was served with this incredibly simple but oh-so-delicious condiment.

Nor is this jam good with just lamb (many variations of lamb, as you’ll see with my next recipe), but it would go excellently with beef, pork, or game – in fact, venison will probably be the next protein I make to to serve with it.  It would also be a lovely part of a charcuterie or cheese platter.

While this isn’t hard to make, it does take a little time – about 45 minutes (it’s so worth it, though).  A little goes a long way, however – you’ll start off with at least 6 cups of sliced onion that will cook down to about 2 cups, and a serving is a mere 2 tablespoons.  A wonderfully flavorful – tart, sweet and earthy – 2 tablespoon that will totally rock your taste buds.

Red Onion Jam. This richly-colored, sweet and tangy condiment goes really well with red meats and strong cheeses.

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Red Onion Jam
Serves: 16
[i]Makes about 2 cups[/i]
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large red onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a wide, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with a little salt and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft but not brown, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and honey; reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and almost all of the liquid has cooked out, another 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar; season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the jam to cool to room temperature before serving.
  4. Nutrition Facts
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 96 calories, 5.9g total fat, 15.3mg cholesterol, 3.7mg sodium, 13.1mg potassium, 9.7g
  6. carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 4.9g sugar, <1g protein

Pink Sauerkraut

Hello, there.  I’m working from home today because I have this thing about going outside when it’s -11 F outside, with a windchill of -40 F.

Just sayin’.

Anyhoo, this was part of our (new) traditional New Year’s dinner.  When I moved from Texas to Ohio in 2005, I was a bit perplexed my first New Year to find no displays of bags of black eyed peas alongside heaps of collard greens in the produce section of the grocery stores.  Instead, there were bags and bags of commercial sauerkraut alongside all of the pork in the meat case – it seems that up here, sauerkraut and pork are the traditional foods for the New Years.

Repulsed by commercial sauerkraut, I defiantly sought out the pitiful 1-pound bags of black eyed peas hidden next to the bags and boxes of rice.  I was by golly gonna have my black eye peas and cornbread anyway, thank you very much.

And so it’s gone every year I’ve been here.  Until this year, when I decided, you know, pork and sauerkraut just might be nice with some Hoppin’ John.  And that’s what we had.

(A note about the Hoppin’ John:  if you read the post I’ve linked to, you’ll see that I state black eyed peas do not need to be soaked.  I have completely reversed my stance about this, but we’ll go into this some more later this week.)

At any rate, around Christmas I decided if I wanted sauerkraut with my New Year’s dinner, I better get started and make some.  But rather than a traditional kraut, I thought I’d shake things up a bit and see what would happen if I used a red cabbage, a sweet yellow onion, an apple and whole allspice berries.

What happened was a vibrantly hot pink sauerkraut that is just delicious – crunchy and earthy, with a slight bite from the onion and just the faintest hint of sweetness from the apple and allspice.  It’s a news favorite here at the Sushi Bar.

Pink Sauerkraut. Add a beautiful splash of color to any dish with this vibrant and deliciously different ferment.

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Pink Sauerkraut
Serves: 16
[i]Makes one quart[/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 small red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and grated
  • 1 tablespoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • filtered water
Instructions
  1. Have ready a clean, dry, 1 quart glass jar.
  2. Toss the cabbage, onion and apple together in a large bowl until well mixed.
  3. Layer the cabbage mixture into the jar until it is about 1/3 full. Sprinkle some of the salt on top of the cabbage and pound it down with a wooden spoon or pestle until the cabbage begins to give off liquid. Sprinkle in a few of the whole allspice berries.
  4. Repeat layering the cabbage, salt and allspice, pounding in between each layer, until all of the ingredients are in the jar. Add filtered water to cover the cabbage if necessary. There should be about 1 inch between the top of the kraut and the top of the jar.
  5. Top off the sauerkraut with about 1/4 cup of olive or coconut oil to keep the cabbage submerged beneath the liquid, or use a glass weight. Cap loosely and store at room temperature (on a counter out of direct sunlight is fine) for 3 days, or until the kraut begins to bubble. Transfer to the refrigerator.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 22 calories, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 364mg sodium, 121.9mg potassium, 5.5g carbohydrates, 1.1g fiber, 3.2g sugar, <1g protein

Apple Butter

I really have to apologize for posting so many recipes that involve jars, but since it’s what I’ve been spending most of my time doing lately…well, that’s all I really have for you.

Now, that being said, we have a three-day weekend beginning tomorrow (Columbus Day here in the U.S. – they can’t shut that down, although I suppose they would try if they thought it would piss enough people off), and I plan to take advantage of the time off and cook quite a bit.  I have an idea for a seasonal dessert that I hope will blow your socks off, so everyone keep your fingers crossed.

Anyhoo, we’ve begun the yearly processing of the apples, which means more applesauce and more of this, as well – wonderfully rich and smooth apple butter.

Last year when I made it, I wondered what I’d do with it all, but it turns out it came in quite handy – it’s great in poultry and pork recipes.  It has also been appreciated by the bread eaters in the family, who occasionally enjoy a nut butter sandwich or a piece of toast.  If you have no problem with dairy, it’s great stirred into yogurt or cottage cheese, as a topping for ice cream, or poured on top of a baked brie.  This year, I’m going to use it to try and get a certain grandson to eat more vegetables – it would make a great dip for sweet pepper strips and carrot sticks.

Because, y’all, this is just about the best apple butter I’ve ever tasted.

Yes, it does have a little added sweetener – you could sub coconut sugar for the evaporated cane juice if you wanted, although I’d probably increase the amount to 3/4 cup – but if you want to go sugar free, you could.  It’ll just be a tad more tart and a little less “rich” tasting, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  But the small amount of unrefined sugar along with the cinnamon just take this over the top; it is just that good.

If you do leave the sugar out, this should be Whole30 compliant (I’m not sure if they consider this a no-no…and I’m not sure I care).

Note:  You can make apple butter from applesauce; the amount of apples given in this recipe will make about a quart of applesauce, so that is the how much you should use for this recipe – simply omit the first 3 steps of the recipe.  If you use sweetened applesauce, omit the evaporated cane juice.

Apple Butter. Rich and sweet, homemade apple butter couldn't be easier to make completely from scratch.

Click the image to enlarge

Apple Butter
[i]Makes about 3 cups[/i]
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds assorted apples – the sweeter the better
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Remove the stems from the apples, and quarter them – do not peel or core them. Add the apples and water to a large stock pot that is large enough to hold all of the fruit with room to spare, as the apples will expand as they cook.
  2. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the apples are soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool enough to handle.
  3. Working in batches, push the cooked apples and liquid through a a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the skins and seeds, or process through a food mill (again, discarding the skins and seeds).
  4. Transfer the applesauce to a large saucepan; stir in the evaporated cane juice and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly, then reduce heat to a simmer. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened and reduced by about a third (the apple butter will continue to thicken as it cools).
  5. Makes about 3 cups and can be frozen or processed in water bath canner for 20 minutes.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 44 calories, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, <1mg sodium, 63.2mg potassium, 11.6g carbohydrates, 1.5g fiber, 9.4g sugar, <1g protein

Jalapenos en Escabeche

Oh, look – another ferment.  What can I say?  I’ve come to love them and tend to have one in the fridge at all times.  Right now, I have three:  the small remains of our last batch of sauerkraut, the rapidly diminishing dilly beans, and now this.

The reason I made this is because in the comments of the dilly bean recipe, Lisa – one of the most stylish style bloggers you will ever find, to say nothing of being an incredibly beautiful,  intelligent and gracious woman – said, “The Mexican restaurants around here do a pickled jalapeno carrot that’s INCREDIBLE. Want to backwards engineer a recipe for me?”

Oh, that all requests should be so easy.

Those jalapeno carrots fall into a broad category of pickled vegetables known as escabeche (which literally translates to “pickle”), a common condiment in many Mexican kitchens and restaurants (meat-based escabeche – usually fish, poached or fried, and marinated in an acidic mixture before serving – is popular in many Mediterranean cuisines, particularly Spanish).  Almost all recipes include jalapenos or other hot chilies, carrots, onions and garlic, and many contain other vegetables; cauliflower is the most common.

The vast majority of commercially available escabeche is preserved in vinegar, making it shelf stable.  Not necessarily a bad route to go – I still have many, many jars of cucumber and watermelon pickles safely tucked away in my basement from last year’s canning frenzy.  However, this method cooks the vegetables, leaving them rather limp and, if you wish to make it at home, is a bit of a production.

Lacto-fermentation results in a tangy, fiery escabeche that is fresh, crisp, delicious and easy – not to mention oh, so good for you.

Note:  I did not seed the jalapenos at all; I simply sliced them.  This is quite spicy (10 jalapenos, after all) and will become more so as it continues to ferment.  If you or members of your family have a tender palate, you may want to halve the chilies lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and veins before adding them to the carrots and onions.  Also, according to most sources I’ve found, this will last many months in cold storage (one account cited it as still being good a year later), but I’d still probably eat this within 3 or 4 months.

Jalapenos en Escabeche. This classic Mexican condiment is naturally fermented and full of probiotic goodness.

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Jalapenos en Escabeche
[i]It’s important that the vegetables be completely submerged beneath the liquid to avoid mold and promote the proliferation of the good bacteria. Pouring olive or coconut oil on top after adding the liquid is helpful, or Pickl-It sells [url href=”http://www.pickl-it.com/products/94/pickl-it-dunk-r-3-pack/” target=”_blank”]handy glass weights[/url] that fit inside the mouth of the jar. Makes one quart[/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the bias
  • 10 jalapeno peppers, sliced
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced into half rounds and separated
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • filtered water
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients, except the water, in a large bowl and toss to distribute the salt. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Pack the vegetables into a clean, wide-mouth quart jar. Add the water until the jar is filled to 1 inch below the rim.
  3. Cap the jar, not too tightly, and keep at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 2 to 3 days or until the liquid in the jar beings to bubble. Transfer to the refrigerator.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 37 calories, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 886.4mg sodium, 258.9mg potassium, 8.6g carbohydrates, 2.6g fiber, 3.7g sugar, 1g protein