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Posts Tagged ‘Sean Timberlake’

Make-Ahead Curried Apple Chutney for Christmas (and Leftovers)

Sure, we all love cranberry sauce served alongside the turkey or ham on Christmas Day, but especially when slathered on the day-after sandwich. But I propose that there is another condiment that is equally (if not better) suited for festive seasonal fare: curried apple chutney. Made out of local apple varieties and warming, fragrant spices, it’s the perfect complement to your starring bird. Best of all, this is a recipe that not only can be made ahead, but actually improves with time. This recipe is safe for water-bath canning, so you can prepare the chutney quickly and easily, then store it on the shelf until you’re ready for the big day.

Curried Apple Chutney Recipe

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Make Tea Liqueur for Gifting

Liqueurs, sweetened infusions, have long been used as digestifs: quick little shots to aid digestion after an especially hearty meal, like Christmas dinner. To make a homemade liqueur, you simply infuse ingredients into a base liquor, then sweeten the resulting liquid. Some liqueurs, like a ratafia of quince, can take months to make. But you can make a really delicious, intriguing tea liqueur in just a few hours.

Think of this recipe as more of an equation: Keep the proportions and change up the ingredients. For this version, I used a chai tea with a rooibos base. The blend of spices, once infused into vodka and sweetened, makes a natural complement to seasonal desserts like a nutmeg-spiked cake. But I’ve also made very good tea liqueurs with genmai cha, Earl Grey and, one of my favorites, jasmine green tea. Vodka is a good neutral base, but feel free to try other liquors. As for the sweetener, honey and sugar syrup work equally well – they just bring different flavors to the final result. (Sugar elevates the intrinsic flavors of the tea, whereas honey brings its own character.) If you want to dabble before committing to the volume of this recipe, just scale it down accordingly. It’s perfect for bottling up and gifting to loved ones — whether they share it with guests or sneak swigs while cleaning up in the kitchen is up to them.

Homemade Tea Liqueur Recipe

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Pickled Cranberries: Not Your Grandmother’s Cranberry Sauce

In our humble opinion, Thanksgiving is superior to any other day of the year. In an effort to make this year’s feast the best of all time (sorry, Pilgrims and Wampanoag tribe), we’re bringing you the recipes, how-tos and decorating ideas to help you become a Turkey Day pro.


There are a few things you don’t talk about at the holiday table lest you risk the conversation turning sour. Religion. Politics. And whether jellied or chunky cranberry sauce is better. Seriously, it could come to fisticuffs. But to that I say: to heck with the sauce. This year, pickle your crans for a side that is surprising and delicious — and will surely mollify both sides of this intractable debate.

Now, when I first mentioned this idea, an Internet friend squawked: “Pickled cranberries? What will you pickle next, sorrel?” Allow me to alleviate your fears. We’re not talking kosher dills here. Think more bread-and-butter pickles, with a sweet brine that tempers and complements the cranberries’ natural pucker. Small-batch canner extraordinaire Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars first put forth this concept. Like most pickling projects, it’s easy as can be. The only thing to consider is to make them far enough ahead of time for the flavors to mellow and round out. A couple days will do, so there’s still plenty of time for Turkey Day.

As a bonus prize, your leftover brine will be a cranberry shrub, or drinking vinegar. Serve one part of the shrub mixed in four to five parts sparkling water for a bright, refreshing beverage that makes a lovely alternative to wine for your non-drinking guests.

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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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Everything’s Better with (Apple) Butter

How to Make Apple Butter

I grew up in the Mohawk Valley of Upstate New York, where apples abounded. In the autumn, we’d go to one of the local orchards to pick our own. I especially loved the crisp, sweet-tart Macintosh apples, which have the perfect combination of satisfying crunch and flavorful juice.

For the last 22 years, I’ve lived in Northern California, and while the produce here is generally unparalleled, our apples are, at least for eating out of hand, pretty lackluster. Some may have the right crispness, but are either puckering-ly sour or insipidly sweet. Others may have the right balance of flavor, but suffer from mealy texture.

However, the one surefire way to conjure up the flavor of the apples of my youth is by cooking them down into a rich, smooth apple butter. Slathered on an English muffin or swirled into a warming bowl of morning oatmeal, it transports me back in a single bite.

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Candy is Dandy, but Liquor is Quicker: Homemade Valentine’s Day Liqueur

For a holiday that’s all about romance, Valentine’s Day sure stacks the deck against would-be lovers. On no day is there greater pressure to have a memorable night with someone special, yet what are the available weapons in your arsenal of love? Uninspired prix-fixe menus, wildly marked up bottles of bubbly and bouquets of flowers and truly some of the worst candy confectioners have ever inflicted upon our collective palates. For example, conversation hearts taste like sugar, chalk and, sometimes, cough syrup. (Yet do you think I can stop eating them? Of course not.) And heaven help you if you invest in one of those heart-shaped boxes of “chocolates.” There is no surer way to nip a budding relationship.

I’m not saying you won’t score some points with a prospective paramour by presenting gaudy offerings and doing some kind of courtship dance like a bird in the wild. I’m just saying that sometimes it’s best to just cut to the chase. When it comes to modern love, as the saying goes, candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.

I confess there is one V-Day candy I enjoy. Imperial Hearts are just Red Hots made into little heart shapes, and yet they somehow taste different, better. Perhaps it’s because they are a metaphor for the day. Romance should be sweet, of course, but the heat of passion rescues it from being insipid. And made into a sweet-spicy liqueur, well, be still my beating heart.

A dribble of this lurid liqueur will turn even the cheapest sparkling wine into an absolute aphrodisiac.

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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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