Saturday, September 27, 2014

Harvest Creations Part 1

The garden took a small hit early with dipping temperatures a few weeks ago.  It is warm now and things are still alive, although not quite as productive.  There was a rush to pick tomatoes, herbs, peppers and the rest.

This first item to be preserved is Thai Pepper Jelly!  

I created this recipe based on good ol' pepper jelly.  

 The peppers in this case are for the most part red Thai chillis.  A nice handful, these babies are HOT!

Another feature of this jelly is Thai basil.  A precious ingredient I always hate to say goodbye to at the end of the season.

Make a syrup with 6 large palm sugar plugs and 1 cup water.  While it is still hot add as much broken and bruised Thai basil that you can fit into your pan. Stir and submerge the basil into the syrup.  Cool while stirring now and again.  Strain.

Place bell peppers, jalapenos seeded and membrane removed (about 1 pound) and a large handful of red Thai chillis (dont bother de-seeding these, just take the top off) into a blender with 3/4 c. apple cider vinegar and 1/4 c. lime juice.  Process into a very fine paste.  Add this paste to the syrup and add 3 cups sugar.  Bring to a boil and dissolve the sugar completely.  Add 3 packets of powdered pectin.  Stir and then let boil for 1 minute.  Turn off the heat and skim.  This makes 6 8 oz. jars.  Process in a hot bath canner for 10 minutes.

This jelly makes a good snack with cream cheese and crackers, or pretzels. Just like regular pepper jelly.  It is also a good dip for spring rolls, or stuffed wontons. It also serves as a great glaze for all your favourite Thai dishes. 

Next we have tomatillos.  This was simple.  Just make a batch of salsa verde and add peeled, diced cactus and you now have Salsa Verde Nopalitos.

 Char 2 bell peppers and a large onion.  Peel the skin off the peppers and set aside. Boil a mess (a large bowl full) of husked tomatillos with 2 jalapenos (I de-seed and take the membrane out of 1 and leave the other whole).  Drain and cool. Pop a clove of garlic, the peppers, and the tomatillos into a blender.  Lightly blend to a nice salsa constistency.  

 Dice the charred onion and along with 2 large peeled, cubed cactus, add to the salsa.  Chop a large bunch of cilantro and add. Salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze in some lime juice.  Blend well. Start chip dipping!

Little watermelons are tricky to tell if they are ripe, or not.  In my haste to decide what to rescue from potential freezing temps, I picked one of my 4 watermelons.  I left the other three, hoping they would ripen and not perish.  They are still out there going strong, except a critter (squirrel, rabbit, racoon) scratching, or knawing one of them superficially.

With the unripe watermelon I made some:

Asian Spiced Refrigerator Watermelon Rind Pickles

1 small watermelon, the rind peeled and scraped, cut into chunks

2 tbsp. sea salt

1 c. sugar

1 c. vinegar

1/4 c. peeled, and diced ginger

6 star anise

2 tbsp. cloves

Boil vinegar, sugar, ginger and spices. Place the watermelon rind in the hot syrup and simmer for a few minutes.  Turn off heat and let cool.  Pack in a glass jar and place in the refrigerator.  These should stay nice for at least 6 months.

These are strangely addictive.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Vietnamese Coriander - Rau Răm

I'm growing Vietnamese Coriander this year.  I stumbled on it at the garden centre one day and decided to give it a go.  The description on the tin, a bit like coriander with a hot ending.  

Other names for this herb - Vietnamese cilantro, Vietnamese mint, false mint, Laksa leaf

A perennial plant and easy to propagate from cuttings.  I plan to over winter mine in the house, under a grow light.

 Health values include settles upset stomachs, reduces swelling, and can reduce fertility.

Vietnamese coriander is used mostly in cold salads and duck dishes.  There is a type of crystal roll it is found in, as well.

I used mine in a braised rib dish.  I started with my asian bbq sauce (linked below) and added a few dashes of fish sauce, 1/4 c. more vinegar, 1/4 c. mirin, a large knob of fresh ginger cut randomly, cloves, star anise, a squirt of agave,  2 drops of seasame oil and 2 dashes of 5 Spice powder.

 I put this to simmer for awhile on a burner, not reducing it. This infuses the flavours!  I also added a few sprigs of the coriander.  Strain and pour over ribs in a flat pan.  The sauce will be a bit thinner than everyday BBQ sauce, and this is how it should be.  Drain off any remaining sauce for dipping.

My ribs were seared off, then braised in the oven for 6 hours
BBQ, or finish off in the oven at a higher temp.  I did mine at 400 deg. F, but the ribs were close to the top element and watched carefully.  Baste the sauce over the ribs and get a good, sticky crust built up.  Serve with remaining sauce on the side and ample sprigs of coriander.  You can also mince the coriander and sprinkle over the top.

I didn't find this herb to be hot at all, just a slightly different spicy taste to coriander.  I thought it was quite mild actually.

I served mine with a cucumber salad with guess what in it?  Yes, more coriander!