Mostly about food, this blog is just a place for me to throw things that are of interest to me. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by an look around. This represents just some of the stops on the various pathways that this amateur home cook finds himself.

You may find that these foods tend toward protein and away from carbohydrates - this is due to diabetic issues, so I try to only sparingly use carbs, and good ones at that. Of course, sometimes I forget....

Feel free to drop me a line with any suggestions or just to let me know what you think. Thanks!

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I want to thank you for the time that you spend here, and hope that you can find useful things here.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Texas-Style Chimichurri

Chimichurri is a great accent served with grilled beef or chicken, or even Mexican food!  It can even be used as a marinade, and frankly makes my mouth water just thinking about making it.

A traditional Argentinian chimichurri is made with parsley, fresh oregano, garlic, onion, red pepper, vinegar and vegetable oil.  I have made some small adjustments to this, both for convenience and for taste.  Frankly, I don’t like the taste of parsley but love cilantro – suit yourself.

Yield:  about 1 ½ cups

half a bunch of fresh cilantro, about ½ cup finely minced
1 tablespoon of dried chopped oregano
6 garlic cloves, crushed
½ tsp granulated garlic
½ cup finely diced/minced red onion
2 tsp of chili pepper flakes – I dump on the board with the garlic and mince them all together.  
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup of olive oil
½ t salt, or to taste
1 t black pepper, or to taste

Prepare the ingredients as directed above.  Add all the ingredients to a medium sized bowl and mix well.  It will appear very oily – it’s supposed to, just eat it!  Keep it in in the refrigerator and serve with your meal.  Can be kept in the fridge for a few days.

Low Sugar Atúna Jelly

Prickle Pear Cactus Fruit Jelly

This recipe has less sugar than most – only 7 grams of sugar per tablespoon of jelly.

4 cups tuna juice (requires around four to five pounds of fruit)
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 cups sugar, divided
50 grams of low sugar/no sugar pectin (about 1 ¾ ounces)

One dozen 4 oz. canning jars, lids and bands, ready for water bath
Hot water bath with enough space for the sealed jars

1.      Select some healthy cacti with a lot of nice dark red or purple fruit.  Depending on where you live, this may happen anywhere between August and October.

2.      Using some metal kitchen tongs, grab the fruits and twist lightly – they should detach easily.  Drop the fruit in your collection bucket and continue to the next one.  Continue until you have 4 or 5 lbs. of fruits.  Resist the temptation to recover already-dropped fruit from the ground, as it may have insect or disease issues.

3.      Burn off the spines by holding each fruit over a burner on the stove, or in the flame of a propane torch for a few seconds.  The idea here is to just singe off the little invisible spines, as you will never get them pulled by hand. You don’t need to sear the skin or darken the fruit.  If you don’t do this, I guarantee you will end up with some in your hands, regardless of how careful you are.

4.      Quarter the fruit and put the pieces into a good blender.  Push it down as you pulse the fruit into a mash.  You may have to add just the smallest bit of water to get it to start a nice puree, but don’t add more than absolutely necessary.  Continue with this until you have pureed all of the fruit.

5.      Okay, I confess for this next step I use a food mill, and I know that most people don’t have one.  It is the easiest and fastest way to process the pulp, so borrow one if you can.  Basically, you want to get all the pulp run through the finest mesh of the mill, leaving the seeds, skins and any other pieces behind, and collecting only the beautiful dark magenta syrup.

Alternatively, you can place it all in a pot and add water to just barely cover.  Boil the mash for about 10 minutes, occasionally mashing it in the pot to make sure all the juice is extracted.  Once this cooks a bit and can be handled, strain the mash through layers of cheesecloth or even t-shirt material laid in a sieve or strainer.  Once the juice has run out, gather the edges and squeeze it hard to extract all that remains.

6.      Pour a quart of the juice into a pot and add the lemon juice, then stir to mix well.

7.      Mix a half-cup the sugar and the specified amount of pectin together, and then sprinkle that evenly around the pot, stirring to mix well again.  Bring the pot to a full boil.

8.      Now you can slowly and evenly add the remaining sugar and bring the pot back to a full boil.  Boil for a minute or two, stirring constantly.

9.      Pour the now-thickening mixture into the pre-heated jars, leaving a small air space for expansion.  Wipe the rims carefully, add heated lids, and tighten bands to finger tight.  Process in the boiling water bath for ten minutes.

Uncover the pot, and remove from heat.  Remove jars from the pot and let cool on a rack.  You should hear the popping sounds as the jar lids seal.  Once cool, remove the bands, test the lids for a good seal, and clean and label your jars.  You will probably have some jelly left that wouldn’t fit in the jars – this is for you to enjoy right away, just keep it in the fridge.