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Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

More Bourbon, Less Sugar: A Ketchup Worth Making

There are many reasons to make your own ketchup. The bottled stuff (even the most top-shelf variety) has an indeterminate amount of sugar and “natural flavorings” — what does “natural” taste like, anyway?

The easiest way to find out is to make your own, out of strictly natural ingredients. You’ll be able to tweak the flavors to your preference, pulling back on sweetness, if you prefer, or dialing up the spices. And one thing’s for sure: You won’t find bourbon in your grocery store squeeze bottle.

Maple-Bourbon Ketchup Recipe

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Mustard That Passes Muster

When I was a senior in high school, I spent a week abroad, staying with a family in Nantes, at the mouth of the Loire River on the Western shore of France. It was a world-expanding trip on many levels, but one of the things that surprised me the most was that the food was nothing at all like I expected. Somehow, I figured that in every French household, dinner was a multi-course affair of meats bathed in rich cream sauces, washed down with flagons of claret and followed by mighty towers of croquembouche.

In fact, of course, French home cooking is simple, straightforward and delicious. Humble fare like roast chicken and potatoes is the norm. One evening we had a meal of sausages, poached and then seared, accompanied by tart gherkins and a healthy dollop of grainy Dijon mustard. Previously, my idea of Dijon mustard was Grey Poupon. This was no such thing. It unleashed a chemical blast that crept up the sinuses and seared the backs of the eyeballs, causing involuntary deluges of tears to well forth.

I was hooked.

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Hot Stuff, Comin’ Through: Pickled Jalapenos

Guilty confession: Despite my nearly fanatical devotion to all things DIY food, there are a handful of store-bought canned goods that I have a soft spot for. I still occasionally enjoy those bland, waxy black olives, for example. You know, the kind you used to stick on your fingers when you were a kid. (Or maybe you still do that. Don’t let me cramp your style.)

I also love pickled jalapenos. They’re an absolute necessity for all things Mexican, most especially nachos, and I all too often find myself simply plucking them out of the jar and eating them right off the fork. I’m a glutton for punishment that way.

But, hey, when the peppers are popping, there’s no reason not to can a bunch of your own. It’s easy, they’re tasty, and you can tinker a bit with the seasoning to suit your tastes. For example, a touch of honey or sugar helps temper the natural fire of the chiles’ capsaicin while allowing the natural sweetness of the pepper to shine through. Or, leave it out for the full-force burn. (Again, don’t let me cramp your style.)

Pro tip: Be sure to wear latex or plastic gloves while handling hot peppers. If you don’t, there is approximately 100-percent chance you will promptly touch your eyes (or other mucous membranes, ahem). Trust me, it’s not a pleasant experience.

Pickled Jalapenos Recipe

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Your Cue to Make Q

Every time I’ve traveled in Italy, I’m impressed by the micro-regionalism of the food. For example, in Romagna, near Bologna, they make a flatbread called piadina. It’s always the same ingredients: Grade 0 flour, lard from the prized moro pigs, sea salt, baking soda and water. But in one town it’s maybe 5 mm thick, and in the adjacent town it’s more like 6 mm thick, and on and on through the province. And, of course, each of them is the right way to do it.

There aren’t too many hyper-regionalized foods like that in America, but there is one biggie: barbecue. The word evokes clear and specific things depending on where you’re from. Through much of the south it’s pork, slow-roasted and smoked until extremely tender, then pulled and tossed with sauce, though in western Kentucky you’re prone to find mutton, and in Texas it’s brisket and nothing other. (And for those of us who grew up in the Northeast, “barbecue” just means grilling.)

The sauces vary the most. In the Carolinas, they favor a thinner, more vinegary “mop.” In Memphis it’s thicker and sweeter, and smokier in St. Louis. And in Texas you can bet it’s spicier.

It doesn’t stop at a regional level. Q aficionados toil and tinker to develop their own signature recipes, striving to develop the very epitome of their local sauce.

Even here in San Francisco, a place not at all famous for its barbecue culture, my friend Michele makes her own special blend. She gives a nod to the classics, but folds in flavors iconic of San Francisco: Coffee, chocolate, red wine vinegar.

Why not make your own masterpiece? The basic building blocks of barbecue sauce are not esoteric; it’s all about how you put them together. Put your own stamp on it, and develop a microregional cuisine all your own.

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How to Make Your Own Hot Sauce

How to Make Your Own Hot Sauce Recipe

I’ve already written about my passion for, nay, addiction to spicy foods. My long-cauterized palate is apparently incapable of tasting anything unless it’s got a capsaicin kick.

Subsequently, there’s always a wealth of hot sauces in the house. Sometimes I reach for the clean vinegar-based heat of Tabasco; other times it’ll be a dollop of spicy salsa from our local taqueria that is like pure crack to me. But most often of all, Sriracha is my go-to hot stuff.

It’s practically perfect in every way, with clean, sharp heat, good body and a faint sweetness to back it up and create a longer finish. For ages, I assumed this magically-balanced sauce must employ some mysterious Asian ingredient that makes the whole thing sing. And yet, on the rooster-adorned bottle, the ingredients are just chili, sugar, salt, garlic and distilled vinegar. Oh yeah, plus potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfite and xanthan gum. I could live without those last few ingredients.

It turns out that those first five ingredients really are all that are needed to make a flavorful, almost shockingly red sauce that stands up to the stuff in the bottle. Best of all, you can tweak the heat up or down with the selection of peppers. I used a mix of red jalapeño, habanero and red padron peppers; if you want to tone it down a bit, feel free to include sweet red peppers in the mix as well.

Sriracha-Style Hot Sauce

Total time: 24 hours
Prep: 30 minutes
Inactive: 23 hours
Cook: 20 minutes plus 10 minutes

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Like Pie for Breakfast (Sort Of)

Most days, I like to eat pretty sensibly in the morning. A couple eggs, a forkful of kraut and beans are regular staples on our plate. But if there’s pie in the house, you can be darn sure I’m eating it for breakfast.

I’m not particular; any kind will do. Classic apple is always nice, though the tartness of cherry plays nicely against a bracing cup of coffee. During the holidays, pumpkin pie is perfect for both the beginning and end of the day.

It’s easy to justify as a breakfast food. After all, pumpkin pie employs three food groups: Grain in the crust, dairy in the form of butter and cream, plus protein from the eggs in the custard. Heck, it’s even made with a vegetable. It’s practically health food.

But diet food, it ain’t. That’s why, when I’m craving breakfast pie, I fall back on the next best thing: Pumpkin butter. It’s a great delivery mechanism for the flavors of pumpkin pie, without the added pound of butter and pint of cream.

Slathered on an English muffin, you can almost trick yourself into believing you’re enjoying that slice of pie for breakfast. Well, maybe before you’ve had your coffee.

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Sifted: Nat’l Grilled Cheese Month, Pizza Central and Corn Dog Tots

Tastespotting's Fried Chicken and Waffle Grilled Cheese is perfect for National Grilled Cheese Month!

5 Hot Links We’re Loving:

  1. National Grilled Cheese month: Tastespotting’s outrageous fried chicken and waffle grilled cheese is sweet, salty, crunchy and gooey all at once.
  2. Pizza Central: The New York Times has answers for the perfect crust, homemade cheese, drink pairings, pie trends, plus a crusade for the calzone. We can’t stop clicking!
  3. Admit it — we all crave kid food sometimes. A Cozy Kitchen’s recipe for corn dog tots is the perfect indulgence and will bring back sweet memories from years down yonder.
  4. Heard of chickpea flatbreadThe Kitchn shows you how to make socca, a naturally gluten-free snack that’s sweet, crispy and little smoky.
  5. DIY: Ditch the instant pudding mix and make your own! The Brown Eyed Baker uses it to make her cake recipes “melt-in-your-mouth fantastic.”

Craving more?

Alton Brown’s corn dog recipe has a bold kick from cayenne pepper and jalapeños. Michael Chiarello turns the calzone into dessert with chocolate. And our pizza recipe collection will have help you achieve pizzeria-quality pie in your kitchen tonight!

DIY Pretzels: Steelers Vs. Packers

Pretzel Showdown: Steelers Vs. Packers

As a major food person and a seriously minor football fan, I get a bit more excited about the, er, touchdowns on the buffet table than I do about the ones on the field. So I can’t offer any insight on which team will come away victorious, but I do know this: Salty-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside pretzels are always a game-day winner.

This year, I’m making my own, with mix-ins inspired by both Super Bowl opponents: The Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Here’s how you do it.

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Food Jammers-Inspired Ice Cream

"Kick The Can" Strawberry Ice Cream

"Kick The Can" Strawberry Ice Cream

With weather hovering in the 90s all weekend, I couldn’t wait for Cooking Channel’s Ice Cream Truck to head to Knoxville to get my icy fix. My head filled with just four words: Need. Ice. Cream. Now. (It was too hot for complete sentences.)

The Food Jammers crew had the same craving on a camping trip, but they weren’t waiting around for that ice cream truck, either. They got to work making ice cream DIY-style — with two coffee cans and a campfire. I was inspired to make my own, sans ice cream maker.

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