Thai sweet chili sauce may not be one of the condiments you reach for, but that could change quickly.
It’s really versatile and goes well with everything from fish to French fries.
The Accidental Locavore’s husband, Frank, first fell in love with it at the Oakhurst Diner in Millerton and promptly ordered a couple of bottles. One evening we were desperately scraping the last bits out of the bottle.
There had to be a recipe online.
There was, and now Thai sweet chili sauce is always in our fridge.
Thai Sweet Chili Sauce Recipe:
Quick and easy, this makes about a cup.
- 3 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 red Jalapeño or Serrano chiles, stemmed and seeded
- ¼ cup white distilled vinegar
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ tablespoon salt
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
In a blender, purée the garlic, chiles, vinegar, sugar, salt and water.
Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until the mixture thickens up a bit and the garlic-pepper bits begin to soften, about 3 minutes.
In a small bowl or cup, mix the cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture and continue to simmer until the sauce starts to thicken slightly (and causes a nice suspension of the garlic-pepper bits). Let cool completely before storing in a glass jar. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Another thing we’ll never buy again!
It’s probably better made with a blender, but if all you have is a food processor, that will work too.
This version was a little hotter than the bottled one (we did save a bit for comparison), but it really mellows after a couple of days in the fridge.
If you’re worried about the heat, finely chop all the chiles, throw a little bit in the blender and add more until it gets to your desired heat level. A lot will depend on the chiles you have (and if all you have are green ones, that’s fine, it might just look a little weird).
Store the chili sauce in the refrigerator and let us know in the comments what your favorite use for it is.
In the Accidental Locavore’s mind as I was mixing up these dog biscuits was the refrain from those dumb Geico commercials…“if you’re a ______, that’s what you do.”
If I’m a cook, that’s what I do. Doesn’t matter—humans or canines.
What really spurred this on was a recipe for these cookies on BarkPost and a very ripe banana that was on its way into the garbage.
They’re really simple, you probably have everything on hand, and just remember, unlike humans, a dog is never going to complain about a cookie. Makes about 20 3” bone-shaped dog biscuits.
- 3 cups old-fashioned oats
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 ripe banana, peeled and mashed
- Water as needed
- Flour for rolling the dough
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
In a blender or food processor (blender is preferable), blend the oats until you have a fine powder.
In a medium bowl, add the oatmeal flour, coconut oil, cinnamon, honey, and banana. Mix until well combined into a stiff dough. If the dough is too stiff, add a little water. Or, if it’s too sticky add a little flour.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it’s about ½” thick. Using a pizza cutter cut into rectangles, or, if you do have a dog bone cookie cutter…
Bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown. Cool, treat and enjoy!
Rif’s verdict: Woof, woof! Much better than those healthy dehydrated sweet potatoes (don’t tell him these are healthy too!). I’ll sit for one of these anytime!
Frank’s verdict: “Are these for the dog?” Maybe the bone shape gave it away. He thought they needed salt, something he rarely says.
My dog biscuits looked coarser than the BarkPost ones, probably should have run the oats through a blender rather than the Cuisinart, but I was multi-tasking. If your dog is like mine, you might want to make a double batch.
While we all know that everything * is better with bacon, some things just make you beg for more – bacon jam is one of those things. The Accidental Locavore isn’t sure where she first had it, but it was really, really good.
And easy to make.
And I had a whole bunch of lardons from recent batches of bacon.
This, from Ottolenghi, makes about a pint jar. You’ll run everything through a blender or food processor so don’t worry about being too neat with the pieces.
- 10 ounces bacon, cut into 1/2” strips
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (if needed)
- 2 shallots, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ cup bourbon (or scotch)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon wholegrain mustard
- 1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
Cook the bacon in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, until golden brown and starting to crisp, about 12 minutes.
Transfer to a small bowl, keeping a tablespoon of fat in the pan (if there’s not enough fat, add some olive oil). Fry the shallots, garlic and spices for a minute, then add the bourbon, maple syrup and mustard.
Leave to reduce for a minute, turn the heat to low and add the vinegar, sugar and bacon. Cook, stirring for a minute, until the liquid is thick and coating the bacon.
Put all the contents of the pan into a small food processor or blender (better) and process to a rough paste. Store in a glass jar in the fridge or serve and enjoy!
My verdict: What’s not to like? Try it on a grilled cheese sandwich, hamburger, scrambled eggs, crackers with goat cheese, etc.
Comment and let me know what you use it on.
*except for bacon swizzle sticks plunged into cold Bloody Marys and bacon/chocolate bars.
“If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” If you’ve looked at the June issue of Food & Wine you might think the new saying should be, “If life gives you lemons, preserve them.”
So if life dropped hundreds of lemons into your yard, what would you make? Once when the Accidental Locavore was out in Palm Springs, a huge branch, full of lemons, from the backyard tree landed on the patio. We picked two big shopping bags of lemons before the branch got cut down, but what to do with them?
I tossed a few in my carry-on and brought them home, originally thinking of making lemon curd. After meeting Paula Wolfort and reading The Food of Morocco, I decided to go the full-on preserved lemon route. It’s super-simple, you just need to have time to let them develop.
- 5 lemons, scrubbed and dried
- 1/3 cup kosher salt
- ½ cup lemon juice
Soften the lemons by rolling them back and forth. Quarter them from the tops to within ¼” of their bottoms. Sprinkle salt on the exposed flesh and reshape the lemons. Pack them into a glass jar, pushing them down and adding more salt between the layers. Top off with the lemon juice, but leave some air space before sealing the jar.
Keep the lemons in a warm place for 30 days, occasionally turning the jar upside down to redistribute the lemon juice and salt. If necessary, add more lemon juice to keep the lemons covered. They’ll keep for a year in the refrigerator. Rinse before using, serve and enjoy!
I always have a jar of the traditional ones in my fridge and since they were running low, I bought a bunch of regular lemons, ready to go for the 30 days until the roasted (2.0) recipe crossed my path. Since I had a batch of apricots dehydrating in the oven, tossing the lemons in only made sense.
- 3 lemons, scrubbed and dried
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 200°. Slice the lemons lengthwise into 6 wedges per lemon. In an 8” ovenproof baking dish, toss the lemons with the salt. Add the lemon juice and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for about 3 hours until the peels are tender. Cool before using.
My verdict: Remember that either way, you need a few extra lemons for the juice. If you have access to Meyer lemons, both recipes recommend that you use them. Being on the wrong coast…The traditional ones have had about six months in the fridge and are exactly what you would think of as a preserved lemon with that slightly funky taste and still good citrus. The 2.0 roasted ones were very different—much fresher and more like a straight-up lemon. It will be interesting to see how they develop. My real verdict is that if you’re not sure if you’ll like them, or don’t have 30 days, go for the roasted ones (you might even try tossing the dish onto the corner of a slow grill), but you can always buy a lot of lemons and try both! If you want suggestions for using them, check out the June Food & Wine, or finely chop the rind and use it in salad dressing or try them in anything savory in place of (or in addition to) regular lemons.
As the Accidental Locavore promised last week, here’s the recipe for the tuiles that went with the salted caramel chocolate mousse. Tuiles are really easy to make, and even easier if you have a Silpat. Both make about a dozen.
Sweet (Caramel) Version:
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- 1 Tbs. water
Preheat oven to 350°.
Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. In a pot over medium heat, melt the butter then stir in the sugar, syrup and water. Continue to stir until it comes to a boil.
Remove from heat and let stand for 2 minutes. Stir in the flours mixture until smooth. Spoon onto a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Make sure to leave plenty of room around them, they’ll spread.
Bake for 7-10 minutes until they’re golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about a minute before shaping them. If you want to make tubes, you may use your fingers to do this or lightly butter the handle of a wooden spoon and roll them around that. If you want to make small dishes, drape them over a small bowl or ramekin. Set on a rack to cool. You have more time to work them than you might think but if they get too stuff to roll, place them back in the oven for half a minute or so and they will soften again.
- 2 cups grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 350° (Do not use convection!).
On a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper, drop the cheese into small, cookie-sized piles. Bake until the cheese is melts and forms lacy disks, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool a minute and shape like the sweet version above. Cool on a rack. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Sweet or savory, these are so simple but always impressive! The caramel ones added exactly the crunch I wanted with the chocolate mousse. If they look square in the photo it’s because I didn’t space them far enough apart and they needed to be coaxed into shapes. Lesson learned.
The savory ones (otherwise known as fricos) are even easier to make and are great in things like Caesar Salad. I’m not sure about the caramel ones, but you can make the savory ones one at a time in a small frying pan. We’ve even tried embedding things like a slice of salami in them – less than successful.
The Accidental Locavore always makes rice, be it long grain, jasmine, basmati, the same way – twice as much water as rice, a little salt. Bring the water to a boil, add the rice, turn the heat down as low as you can, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Works every time. If I remember, or want to get fancy, substitute chicken broth for the water. Mexican style, blend some cilantro, and anything green – a poblano pepper, a tomatillo etc. – with the chicken broth and proceed as usual.
So when I was looking at Made in India and she had a recipe for “Perfect Basmati Rice” I was skeptical. How much better was this than my normal way? There are a lot of cultures that are really particular about how rice is cooked, much like how the French judge a cook on how perfect an omelet they turn out, but working harder to make “perfect” rice wasn’t on my bucket list.
However, there’s nothing like a challenge to get me to do something and I was curious to see if this method/recipe was going to make a difference. Feeds four and here’s how it goes:
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 ½ cups of just boiled water
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- ¾ teaspoon salt
Wash the rice in a few changes of cold water until the water runs clear. Let it soak in a bowl of cold water for at least 10 minutes, but 30 is better, then drain.
In a separate pot, boil the water.
Put the oil in a wide bottom pan (that has a lid) on medium heat. Add the rice and salt and stir to coat all the rice with the oil. Pour in the boiling water, turn up the heat and bring the rice to a “fierce” boil.
Put the lid on, turn the heat down to low and simmer the rice for 10 minutes. Do not take the lid off!
When the 10 minutes is up, turn the heat off and let the rice rest for another 10 minutes. Just before serving, dot with butter if you like and fluff with a fork. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: As hard as it is to admit, this was much better than my normal basmati rice! Definitely worth the extra time (which is really just planning ahead). The grains of rice were long and perfectly cooked. You do have to be careful to soak the rice in a fairly large dish and drain it well. The second time, I tried to take a short cut and my rice wasn’t well drained (or soaked) and it wasn’t as good as the first time. A pot with a glass lid helps to see what’s going on, since she tells you that removing the lid is a definite no-no. I’m even going to see if this method (with longer cooking time) will work with brown basmati rice.
Are you a huge fan of hoisin sauce? If you’ve ever eaten Peking Duck or Moo Shu Pork, it’s that delicious dark sauce that gets painted onto the pancakes. The Accidental Locavore has always been a big fan–Frank and I often make pork roasts smothered in some mix of hoisin and whatever looks Asian in the fridge. So when bon appétit ran this recipe for pork chops with hoisin sauce that you make yourself, I was skeptical at first—why make it when the stuff in the jar is just delicious? But then I saw how easy it was and became interested.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Cook garlic, stirring often, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add soy sauce, honey, vinegar, tahini, and Sriracha and whisk until smooth. Cook, whisking occasionally, until mixture is thick and smooth, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper and let it cool. The sauce will keep about 4 days, covered, in the refrigerator (if you don’t eat it all first).
I used half the hoisin to marinate the pork chops overnight, but if you’re impatient, you can do them for as little as an hour. The way I’ve been cooking pork chops recently is really simple, it just requires “standing over a hot stove” but you can catch up on email etc… Click here for the recipe.
My verdict: We were both really surprised at the addition of tahini which I’ve never thought of as Chinese, but hey, they travelled. This was really good and the hardest part was coaxing the honey from the container. They just don’t make those bears like they used to! I’m about to make another batch to coat a pork loin that will get roasted (unless the weather warms up and we can grill). I forgot to do a taste test with our old standby, but there will be other chances. What do you think the results will be?
This was one of those too-good-to-be-true recipes, or, why didn’t I think of that? The Accidental Locavore was reading a blog post about making dog treats from sweet potatoes. Here’s how it works:
- Preheat the oven to 175°.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper – figure one pan per potato, depending on their size.
- Wash and dry 1-2 large sweet potatoes and slice very thinly the length of the potato. If you have a mandolin, this is the time to use it. If you’d rather practice your knife skills, slice a small piece off one side to give yourself a steady base.
- Arrange the slices in one layer on the baking sheets (they can touch but not overlap).
- Bake for 8 hours until they’re dehydrated.
- Let cool overnight, serve or feed to the dog and enjoy!
My verdict: Depending on how many sheet pans your oven will hold, as long as you’re running it that long, you might as do as much as you can fit. I did two large sweet potatoes because we’ve got a big dog, but you might want to use smaller potatoes if you’re eating them yourself or you have a small dog. Along with being low calorie (and knowing exactly what’s in them), these have the advantage of being really chewy so it takes a dog a little longer to wolf them down. After I did the sweet potatoes, the two butternut squash on my dining room table (since Thanksgiving) got peeled, sliced and dehydrated too. I took a bite and promptly spit it out, but my brave friend tried both and preferred the sweet potato. She thought they were both too chewy though.
Rif’s verdict: Woof, woof, woof! Worth sitting for. Nice and chewy and I’m a fan of sweet potatoes in any form. Not sure they replace a classic large Milk Bone and definitely no contest when it comes to a smoked pigs ear, but since the humans think they’re better for me, I seem to get a couple extra. Butternut squash was pretty good too, but not as chewy. Keep up the experiments, mom, but please no kale!
Just before Christmas the NY Times ran a recipe for what was basically a savory bread pudding or strata. Now, the Accidental Locavore isn’t sure exactly what the difference is, other than more people seem to be able to relate to the idea of bread pudding. I thought this would make a good breakfast for a crowd. If you can start it the night before, you’ll benefit from it sitting around overnight so the bread can absorb the liquid. Serves 8.
- 1 pound croissants (about 5 to 7), split in half lengthwise
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for baking dish
- 1 bunch scallions (6 to 7), white and light green parts thinly sliced, greens reserved
- ¾ pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
- 8 large eggs
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces Gruyère, grated (2 cups)
- 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
Heat oven to 500°. Spread croissants on a large baking sheet and toast, cut side up, until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes (watch very carefully to see that they do not burn). Let cool, then tear into large bite-size pieces.
In a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add sliced scallions and sausage meat; cook, breaking up meat with a fork, until mixture is well browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in sage, and remove from heat.
In a large bowl, toss together croissants and sausage mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, 1 1/2 cups cheese, salt and pepper.
Lightly oil a 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Turn croissant mixture into pan, spreading it out evenly over the bottom. Pour custard into pan, pressing croissants down gently to help absorb the liquid. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
When you’re ready to bake the casserole, heat oven to 350 degrees. Scatter the remaining grated cheese over the top of the casserole. Transfer to oven and bake until casserole is golden brown and firm to the touch, 45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Garnish with sliced scallion tops, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Great! I substituted some good Southern breakfast sausage for the Italian and it was delicious. While the croissants I used were just okay, if you could find some good ones (Maison Kayser), it would make it a better dish. You could add or substitute all kinds of goodies, smoked salmon, mushrooms are a few that come to mind. It was also good to just be able to pop it in the oven on a busy morning.
- 2-3 bags of peppermint candies (depending on the size you want)
- Any kind of cake pan or muffin tins
- Parchment paper
Preheat the oven to 350°. I don’t know how convection would work for this, so if you can, use the regular setting. Cut parchment paper to fit the bottom of your pan. Unwrap the candies and place in the pan, leaving about ¼” space between them.
Carefully put in the oven and bake for 6-8 minutes, until they are melted together and have formed a flat surface. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: This was so simple and really cool-looking – don’t you think? Surprisingly, the hardest part was tracking down the candy. We got lucky because the ones we used didn’t have the traditional twisted wrappers, so we could just cut them which made the whole process so much faster. The original recipe called for using a springform pan to make a big platter. I used two 6” cake pans to see what individual ones might look like. The reason you don’t see the second one in the photos was because I tried to get creative and drape it over a bowl (for obvious reasons), but it was too hot and along with almost burning myself, it stuck to everything except the bowl. I still think if you could get them at just the right temperature you could mold them. The other idea we had was to twist a piece of parchment into a rope and use it around the edge to maybe make it more bowl-like. It’s a fun idea for a dessert plate for anything (like ice cream, brownies, etc.) that would benefit from a little peppermint crunch. I think it would also work with other hard candies and even lifesavers, but then I’m not so sure what I would serve with it. Any ideas?