Tuesday, September 30, 2014

habanero hot sauce

I had decided several years ago that I was going to grow habanero chiles, one day. This year, I did it. Nothing fancy, just the orange ones, but man, did I enjoy seeing that gorgeous plant with all the hanging ornaments, waiting to make my eyes water. Truly beautiful.

Not knowing what to do with so much abundance, I started out with habanero pepper jelly. It is SO GOOD. That's for a later post. :)

I wanted to make habanero hot sauce. Not what a lot of people around here call hot sauce, the kind that is a bit chunky and you eat with tortilla chips - but instead, something like Tabasco or Louisiana Hot Sauce, that you sprinkle on your food. That's the texture I was after.

After frying my brain with all the variations of recipes I found, I decided on Rick Bayless's version. Pretty much the way he did it, I didn't change a thing (surprise! lol).

Habanero Hot Sauce
Rick Bayless

5 unpeeled garlic cloves
1/2 cup peeled, chopped carrot (1 medium or about 6 decent sized baby carrots)
1/2 cup chopped white onion
12 medium habanero chiles, destemmed
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Roast the garlic in a skillet over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes until soft. Cool and peel.

In a saucepan, combine carrot, onion, and chiles with vinegar and water. Partially cover and simmer until the carrots are completely tender, about 10 minutes. Pour into a blender jar, add the peeled roasted garlic, salt, and sugar. Blend until smooth. This with a little more water if you think it is too thick, and season with additional salt if you think it needs it.  Pour into bottles or jars and cover with a cork or lid. Store in the fridge. 

I love this so much, it's going to be a yearly thing from now on. 

moroccan chicken tagine

WOW, are there a lot of variations of this dish! Now there's a new one, I had to tweak it a bit since I didn't have enough olives. ;)  LOVED this. The recipe I followed (a bit loosely, admittedly) came from Simply Recipes, and you can find it here.

I don't have a tagine, so I started out using one of my pride and joy pieces, my oval Le Creuset Dutch oven. All the chicken wouldn't fit, though, so I also used my Staub 4 quart Dutch oven (love that one).  I just split all the ingredients accordingly between the 2 pots.

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces (2 drumsticks, thighs, wings; back separated from breast and cut in 2 pieces; and 2 breasts, each cut in half to make 4 pieces)
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (heaping)

Combine the spices in a bowl. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, then put in the bowl with the spices and toss to coat thoroughly. Let stand 1 hour.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced

Heat the olive oil in the Dutch oven(s) on medium high heat. Lightly sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt. (I omitted the salt in this step and just salted to taste on the plate). Place the chicken pieces in the hot oil, skin side down, and cook for 5 minutes. Top the chicken with the onion and garlic, cover with a lid, reduce heat to medium low, and cook for 15 minutes.

the rind from 1 preserved lemon (wash in cold water, remove pulp and discard, and cut the rind into thin strips)
1 cup green olives, pitted (I used 1/2 cup green olives with pimiento, halved, and then chopped about 1/4 cup of pickled okra)
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup water

After the 15 minute cooking, turn chicken pieces over, top with preserved lemon, olives (and okra), raisins, and water. Bring to a simmer, cover again, reduce heat to low, and cook for 30 minutes.

Top with 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, and serve over rice. (I did not have the herbs but it was fantastic anyway).

This recipe takes a bit of time, but it is well worth it. The preserved lemon rind and the olives add such a salty tang to the dish, the raisins are a sweet surprise that does not take over, and the sauce over the rice is wonderful.

banana mango smoothie

I didn't care much for smoothies a few years ago. Somehow, they always collected in the back of my throat and got really hard to swallow, after a few sips.

Something changed, though. Maybe it was the addition of ice, which was not the usual way back when. I absolutely adore smoothies now.

Here is our current favorite. Adding a big handful of spinach will add lots of good stuff for your body, not taste much different, and turn the smoothie a lovely shade of green. :)

Banana Mango Smoothie

In a blender pitcher, add 1 cup milk, 1 cup greek yogurt, 1 1/2 cups ice cubes, 1 banana (broken into pieces), 1 mango (peeled and chunked), 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 tablespoon honey. Blend until smooth and thick.

This whips up into about 6 cups of smoothie, so I guess 6 servings at the breakfast table with some other breakfast items. We tend to split it between 3 - Dillon and I take ours and head to work/school, and Stevie, who doesn't have to be out and about as early, can have hers at a bit more leisurely pace.


This is how most of my recipes start - scribbled on a pad from somewhere on the web. If they pass the test, they find a home in my recipe box on a cute little recipe card. lol

roasted chickpea ratatouille

I've been pretty absent/pretty busy/pretty neglectful lately about posting but I have been collecting photos and recipes!  Here on the last day of September 2014, I'll do a run on posting and share some of what I've been cooking.

For quite a while now, I've been roasting veggies instead of most other preparations, because the flavors intensify and I adore that crispy crunchy goodness. So this recipe didn't surprise me - well, except for the chickpeas part. Roasted chickpeas? Had to give it a try.

I'm not sure this really qualifies as a ratatouille, but here is the original recipe on Love and Lemons, where she used a few different vegetables than I did, as well as different vinegar, but the basics were almost the same. This blogger also cooked hers a bit longer than I did; I think I like a little more crunch to my goodness than she perhaps does.

I did not use eggplant nor did I serve mine on rice. Dillon has texted me earlier in the day, asking for alfredo, so I combined that request with this experiment and served these veggies over whole-wheat egg noodle alfredo. It. Was. Amazingly. Good.  I also roasted cabbage and, on a whim, fennel. It was the first time I'd roasted fennel, and I can tell you that it was my favorite part of the meal. I will be doing that again. Stevie adored the chickpeas, which I thought were a little too hard, so when we made this again a couple days later, I decreased the cooking time by 5 minutes after adding the vinegar.  I liked the chickpeas much better then.

Roasted Chickpea Ratatouille

1 fennel, cored and diced
2 roma tomatoes or 8 large cherry tomatoes, cut into wedges (roma) or halved (cherry)
2 or 3 medium yellow squash or zucchini, quartered lengthwise and then cut into 1.5 inch wedges
1/4 of a head of cabbage, chopped into large pieces
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
dried chili flakes (optional)
couple tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place all the vegetables and the chickpeas on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and chili flakes (if using), then toss gently to coat. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and toss gently with spatula, then bake for 5 more minutes. Serve hot over rice, noodles, or just eat as a side without a starch.