Miscellaneous Recipes

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Saying Good Bye to Our Dog Rif

As we start to get into August and the dog days of summer, I’d like to take a moment to remember a very important dog—our boy Rif who died last week from abdominal and liver cancer.

We had just over 6 years with him, a rescue at age 7 (give or take) about half his life and we hope he was as happy to be with us as we were to have him.

I didn’t cook a lot especially for him, but we did get really good at perfect brunoise of carrots and celery that accompanied most of his meals. We referred to him as the canine composter because of his love of all sorts of other veggies (not leafy ones), especially the stems of broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

Here are three of the recipes for treats I’d make for him, ranging from really healthy and easy to not so healthy, but he loved them.

Sweet Potato Dog Treats (or Vegan Jerky)

This was one of those too-good-to-be-true recipes, or, why didn’t I think of that? I was reading a blog post about making dog treats from sweet potatoes and if you’re a sweet potato fan, feel free to try them too. 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!

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!

Oatmeal Banana Dog Biscuits

If your house is like mine, there’s a good chance that there’s a banana getting a little tooooooo ripe on the counter. Before you toss it out, try these dog cookies. Easy with ingredients that are in your kitchen, and healthy.

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.

Liver and Bacon Dog Biscuits

These are a lot more indulgent (and probably why Rif gained a lot of weight that first winter), but an occasional one will definitely make you your dog’s best friend.

 

 

Rest in peace beloved friend.

 

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Pickles: Easy and Easier

Easiest PicklesPickles are so easy, and these two recipes will have you making them again and again. I always have a jar of the sliced pickles in my fridge and the fermented ones are like the ones I miss from Gus’ in the city.

The first one is so simple, you’ll think it’s a joke, but it makes great pickles fast. You’ll find a jar of them hanging out in my fridge all the time.

  • 3-4 small pickling cucumbers, sliced about 1/8” thick
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 1 scant tablespoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh dill
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (optional), lightly smashed
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Put all the ingredients in a quart Ball jar, cover it and give it a good shake. Put the jar in the front of the refrigerator. Every time you open the fridge, give the jar a shake. Pickles should be good after 2 hours, but I usually let mine sit overnight. They last for a while and are great on burgers and sandwiches.

The other was a recipe for half-sours that I found on Fine Cooking. It was pretty simple, just requiring a little patience (something not normally on my top-ten list of attributes) to let them sit and become pickles.

Now that I have my kits from Kraut Source, this recipe is almost as foolproof as the other. I’ll usually let them sit for about 2 weeks in a cool dark place (for some reason, under my guest bathroom sink seems to work well), taste them and then cover and refrigerate.

This makes pickles closer to those classic sour pickles and you can control how “sour” you want them to be.

My verdict: These are very different but both really good and easy pickles to make, so give them a try and let me know in the comments what you thought.

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Crêpes: Mastering My Fear

Accidental Locavore Pile of Crepes Crêpes are simple enough to make.

Or so I thought.

My previous attempts have been pretty disastrous—maybe it was just thinking they were easy and overreaching. Anyway, they made it onto my things to challenge myself to cook list.

Luckily, I’ve got a couple of friends who are crêpe making fans/fiends and one of them recently gave me a private tutorial.

I brought my own pan so that any miraculous achievements could be reproduced at home and a spreader stick that I’d brought back from France (more about that later).

Accidental Locavore Crepe PanWe mixed up her go-to batter and let it rest overnight (not necessary but resting for 30 minutes is a good idea).

The next morning, we got to work. Jan has a special ladle she uses for crêpes that I’m guessing is about ¼ cup. We heated up the pans, smeared them with butter, and Jan poured a ladle full of batter into her pan, expertly swirled it around, let it sit for a minute, flipped it et voilà , a perfect one, first time out.

My first attempt wasn’t too bad, but there was a spot in my pan that lacked proper batter coverage. However, flipping it was simple and I ended up with an acceptable (i.e. edible) crêpe.

A few more later, and I was getting the hang of it, but was still not getting full coverage in my pan, so I decided to try bringing out the French spreader stick. Bad idea. Of all the crêpes we made that day (and we made a nice stack), it was the only one that was a failure. So, I’m going to blame my previous failures on lack of proper equipment.

Jan's Crepe RecipeHere’s the recipe that we used. It’s from an old edition of Fannie Farmer and I particularly like the headnote: “Internationally famous for dessert. Also the basis for some exceptional luncheon dishes and an epicurean way to use leftovers.”

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Butter for greasing the pan

Beat the eggs until well blended. Add the milk, salt and flour and stir until smooth. Cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes (we refrigerated overnight, and let come to room temperature before making).

Accidental Locavore Crepe with Ham and SwissI had some filled with Italian ham and a slice of Swiss cheese and a couple for dessert with a drizzle of my friend Kristin’s amazing Cara-Sel, salted caramel sauce. Both ways were great!

What’s your favorite crêpe filling?

 

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DIY Hoisin Sauce

Accidental Locavore DIY Hoisin SauceAre 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.

I’ve 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.

Accidental Locavore Ingredients for Hoisin SauceDIY Hoisin Sauce

  • 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
  • Salt to taste

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. 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.

Accidental Locavore Hoisin Marnated Pork Chops (2)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?

 

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Magic Sriracha Sauce Recipe

Accidental Locavore Sriracha Sauce With SproutsThis magic sauce came about when I was looking at Tracey Medeiros’ The Vermont Non-GMO Cookbook recently. Her Brussels Sprouts with a Creamy Sriracha Dipping Sauce was one of the recipes that jumped out at me!

Two things we really like—Brussels sprouts and Sriracha, seemed like it would be a great dish, but if you’re not a sprout fan, just skip down to the sauce. Serves 4:

Brussels Sprouts:

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 3 garlic cloves (medium sized), minced
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • Salt and pepper

Creamy Sriracha Sauce:

  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon horseradish
  • ½ teaspoon Sriracha
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne or chili powder
  • Salt and pepper

Accidental Locavore Sauce With SproutsPreheat the oven to 400°. Lightly grease or cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the Brussels sprouts, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

Put the sprouts on the baking sheet cut side down and bake for about 20 minutes until they’re golden brown.

While the Brussels sprouts are cooking, make the sauce. Stir all the ingredients together until well combined.

Serve the Brussels sprouts with the Sriracha sauce on the side and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Sriracha Magic SauceMy Verdict: It took a while to actually getting around to trying this, because one day we had a lot of sprouts, but no mayo. Then I made mayo, but we’d eaten all the sprouts. Finally, I got it all together we loved it!

I used olive oil on the sprouts, instead of coconut oil and they were fine. I might try coconut oil the next time, just to see what happens. For the garlic powder, I used my new fave from Rockerbox Spice Company. It’s pure dehydrated garlic and really makes a difference!

After tasting the sauce, I added more Sriracha and horseradish to give it more of a kick.

Little did I know that Frank made the sauce his go-to for every sandwich he’s made since then. We think it’s going to be great on burgers—just haven’t done that yet. And don’t tell anyone, but it’s terrific as a dip for potato chips. Try it and let me know what you think. Brussels sprouts optional.

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Quince Chutney Recipe

Accidental Locavore Quince for ChutneyAfter making the lamb and quince tagine, the Accidental Locavore still had a few quince rolling around the kitchen.

This chutney looked like an interesting way to put them to good use and I happened to have all the ingredients on hand – always an incentive!

Makes about 3 cups.

Quince Chutney Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds quinces (about 3), peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups loosely packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3 green cardamom pods, crushed
  • 3 black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Accidental Locavore Quince Chopped for ChutneyHeat the oil in a deep, non-reactive (stainless steel or enamel) pot over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until shallots are translucent.

Add remaining ingredients to the saucepan and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about an hour or until the consistency is thick and jammy.

Serve chutney at room temperature and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Quince ChutneyMy verdict: Delicious! This was a lovely accompaniment to a variety of cheeses (not that good cheese really needs it) we had at a friend’s house. It was also great with some roast pork we had for the holidays.

Prepping the quince is a lot like prepping apples and they tend to turn brown like apples, but it doesn’t matter since they’re going to be cooked down.

If you don’t have dried cherries, try dried cranberries, or a mix. If you like raisins, they would probably work well too.

My chutney took about 90 minutes to become what looked like “jammy” to me. However, when it cooled down it got much thicker. Depending on how thick you want the end product to be, cook it for 60-90 minutes on low heat. I used a non-stick pan which made cleaning up easy.

 

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A Local Apple Relish Recipe

Accidental Locavore Red Hook ApplesThis apple relish came last year when I was playing golf with friends, it’s simple and a nice way to use up a couple of apples.

The Accidental Locavore decided on a condiment to go with the two chèvres I had from Goat Cheeses of France. The Red Hook Golf Club was originally an apple orchard, and hundreds of apple trees still line the fairways. This has been a terrific year for apples and there are literally thousands of them, ripe for the picking. I grabbed a bunch of Romes and McIntoshes from my favorite trees (around the tee box on the fifth hole) and made a simple relish for the cheeses. This made about 2 cups:

Apple Relish Recipe:

  • ½ cup of sugar, more or less depending on your apples
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • Salt
  • 1 ½ pounds tart, crisp apples, peeled and cut into 1/2” chunks
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger

Accidental Locavore Apple RelishIn a medium sized pot over medium heat, heat the sugar and vinegar, stirring to dissolve.

Stir in the apples and cook for about 5 minutes, until the apples are cooked but still hold their shape. Stir in the ginger, taste and add salt as needed.

Cool to room temperature. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: Although I’m not generally a fan of “stuff” other than bread or a plain cracker with cheese, this was a nice addition.

The apples had a nice fresh flavor that contrasted well with the rich funkiness of the cheeses. Leaving them in chunks kept them from turning into mush (aka apple sauce).

The ginger added a hint of spice and some brightness. Now that I’ve done my posts for the Goat Cheeses of France, I can sit back, relax and enjoy their wonderful chèvres my way, with a baguette. The rest of the relish I’ll use to garnish a duck, or go more traditional with some pork chops or smoked pork tenderloin.

What would you use it with?

 

 

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Thai Sweet Chili Sauce Recipe

accidental-locavore-thai-sweet-chile-sauceThai 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.

Trust me.

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

accidental-locavore-thai-sweet-chili-sauce-prepIn 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!

accidental-locavore-bag-o-chilesMy 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.

 

 

 

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Oatmeal Banana...Dog Biscuits

Accidental Locavore Rif With Dog BiscuitIn 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.

Accidental Locavore Cutting Dog BiscuitsDog 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!

Accidental Locavore Oatmeal Dog BiscuitsRif’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.

 

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Bacon Jam

Accidental Locavore Bacon JamWhile 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 versatile.

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

Accidental Locavore Bacon Jam PrepCook 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!

Accidental Locavore Bacon Jam ProcessedMy 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.

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