Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Hot Pepper Jam/Thai Chili sauce)

Posted by fourclankitchen on April 19, 2015

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I love the Asian chili garlic sauce because it goes with everything from a samosa, to noodles, to empanadas to a marinade for chicken or fish.  It can make your whole day if you have this around.  I have looked at a lot of these recipes and wanted to make one that did not have dried shrimp (I am allergic) or fish sauce.  A common complaint about the home-made versions is that using corn starch just not give it the gel-like constancy of the commercially available sauces.  To sort this problem out, I liberally adapted this recipe from the hot pepper jam recipe on the Kraft Sure-Jell website.  I use only hot peppers,  I added salt and I drastically reduced the amount of sugar.  With the pectin being boiled with the peppers, this is a one-pot deal and literally takes 5-10 min to be ready.

I always make jams in small batches so I don’t have to be bothered with canning.  I freeze whatever I don’t use and the frozen stuff seems to be good for a year or so.  But if you make a larger batch, please play it safe and learn how to can from any number of websites.

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Ingredients:

1 cup  chopped red, hot peppers (I used cascabels,  but fresnos, serranos or jalapeños are other choices; if you cannot tolerate heat, substitute some of these peppers for red bell peppers).

1/2 cup cider vinegar  (This really is part of the flavor so try to stick with this vinegar. I would guess that if you needed to substitute this, the best option would be rice vinegar or some other mild vinegar).

1 pkg. powder Fruit Pectin (I used Sure-Jell)

Salt to taste

2 cups sugar (or a little bit less)

Method:

1. Coarsely pulse your peppers in the food processor and place them in a medium sized pan. Add vinegar and salt. Stir in pectin. Bring mixture to a boil  on high heat, stirring constantly.

2. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam.

3. Taste and adjust the salt.

3. Ladle into clean jars.   Let the jars sit on the counter for several hours.  You will get 2 jars out of this.  Put one in the fridge and the other in the freezer.

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Granola

Posted by fourclankitchen on March 28, 2015

IMG_0892 I frequently mean to make granola and it seems relatively easy.  It’s the ingredient list that is daunting and causes me to move on to other dishes.  This time I decided to go with what I had by liberally adapting a granola recipe (Melissa Clark) from the New York Times.  I reduced the amount of oatmeal, swapped most of the maple syrup with honey and changed the type and the proportion of nuts based on  what I had on hand.  I omitted the dried fruits entirely (these are basically candy) and did not find this to be a glaring omission. IMG_0891

 

Ingredients:

1.  2 cups oatmeal (I used McCann’s quick cooking oatmeal).

2. Total seeds (3.5 cups) as follows:

a. 1 cup pistachios

b.. 1/2 cup cup slivered, blanched almonds

c. 1 cup sesame seeds.

d. 1 cup pecans

3. 1 cup desiccated, shredded coconuts (flakes would have been nicer).

4. 1/2 cup olive oil

5.  Sweetners: honey, maple syrup, brown sugar

a.  1/2 cup honey

b/ 1/4 cup maple syrup

c. 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

6. 1 tsp Diamond kosher salt (1/2 tsp is using regular table salt or other kosher salt)

7. 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground IMG_0893

Method

1. Preheat oven to 300˚F.

2.  Coat the bottom of a 18×12″ jelly roll pan with oil (I regretably did not do this).

3. Mix all ingredients and spread evenly in the pan.

4. Cook, uncovered for ~45 min (start checking at 30 min, when the granola tastes toasty and starts to clump).

5. Allow granola to cool for a 10-15 min in the pan.  Break into lumps before the granola hardens further and store in an air-tight container.

Note:  You could add dried fruits (apricots, raisins) to this, but should do it after the baking process.

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Thai Beef Curry

Posted by fourclankitchen on March 15, 2015

IMG_0879I have been working on a grant proposal for the last month and today is my first day off.  I was looking for a meal that would make me forget about the take-outs and the pantry meals that we have been consuming for the past month.  But of course I have not been to the grocery store yet.  So I became very fixated on producing a Thai style beef curry with what I had on hand.  I wanted a Massaman curry, but only had Panang paste at home. So that is what I used but added some spices that I think go into Massaman.  What resulted was pretty darn good and tasted like a cross between Massaman, Panang and the Indonesian Rendang.  I am writing it down before I forget.

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Ingredients

1 1/2 lb beef chuck, cut into 1 to 1 1/2 sized pieces

2 Red potatoes cut into 1″ to 1.5″ pieces (leave the skin on)

1 large onion sliced onions (cut the onion in half, place it cut side down and slice top to bottom, not too thin)

1 can coconut milk, full fat (According to the latest,  Coconut fat is now a desired food item because it contains medium chain fatty acids!)

1/4-1/3  cup Massaman or Panang paste (I used the Mae Ploy brand)

4 black cardamoms (available at any Indian Grocery Store, use regular cardamoms if you can’t find these)

1 stick cinnamon

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime

3- tbs. brown sugar, adjust to taste

3 tbs. fish sauce

Salt if needed

Water

1 tsp Thai basil dry (A bun of fresh basil would be better)

A handful of cilantro, minced

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Method:

1. Place an oven rack in the lower third of your oven and pre-heat to 325˚F.  Your rack should be low enough to fit the pot you use to cook the curry.

2.  Heat an oven-safe heavy bottomed pot (a 6 qt Dutch oven works best) on medium high.

3.  Remove the fatty, solid part  (fat) of the coconut milk from the can and heat in the pot.

4. When the fat has melted,  add the cardamom and cinnamon and about 1/4-1/3 cup of Panang or Massaman curry paste (this is super hot, so adjust to taste.  Adding to little will make a flavorless curry).

5. Add the beef and a generous pinch of salt and stir to coat the beef.

6. Add the potatoes and onions and the remaining coconut milk.  Then add enough water to just cover the curry.

7. Cover tightly and place in oven for 1.5 hours.
8. Remove from oven,  add the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and fish sauce and taste and adjust the broth.  Add more salt if needed.

9. Return to the oven and cook for another 1.5 to 2.5 hours until the beef is meltingly tender and falls apart if you look at it cross-eyed.  For the last hour, take the lid of so that the gravy is reduced and the beef picks up a bit of that roasted flavor.

10. Remove from oven, taste and adjust the flavors again if needed.  Sprinkle cilantro.

11.  Eat with rice and a vegetable on the side.

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Small batch Pomegranate Jam

Posted by fourclankitchen on March 7, 2015

IMG_0873I have taken to making small batch jams (1 jar at a time) using frozen fruit and whatever fresh fruit I have left in the fridge at the end of the week.  These taste better than the store bought stuff, have a fraction of the sugar and once made, will work on a piece of toast or a cracker as well as they work as a sauce or relish thrown over chicken. Also, you bypass the canning process.  This pomegranate jam, which actually also contains an apple and an orange,  would be a great replacement for pomegranate molasses in the Persian chicken stew, Fesenjan.  So give it a try,  all you need is a frozen bag of fruit and half an hour on a weekend.

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Ingredients:

1 lb bag of frozen pomegranate

1 orange

1 apple

3 strawberries (optional)

1/2 cup of sugar

1/4 cup of water (as needed)

Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste (optional).

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Method:

1.  Cut and core an apple to small bite sized pieces (no need to peel).

2.  Peel the orange part of the orange rind using a vegetable peeler and chop to little bits.  Then peel and discard  the while pith (too bitter) and chop the orange into bite sized pieces.

3. Halve the strawberries.

4. Now throw all of the fruit slog with the frozen pomegranate into a medium sized pot and cook uncovered  on low heat for 15 min.

5.  Now add the sugar and cook for another 20-30 min on low heat, stirring on and off till the  consistency of the jam is to your liking.  Do not walk away during this time or your jam could burn.   Taste your jam and add the lemon juice if the jam tastes too sweet to you.

6.  Blend the jam with a stick blender  till you have the consistency you like.  You may need to add the water at this stage.

7. Place in a mason jar and store in the fridge or freezer.  I do not know how to can, but if you make a jar at a time, you don’t have to.  The jam is great in the freezer for several months.

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Onion-Tomato Chutney

Posted by fourclankitchen on January 24, 2015

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This is a versatile and delicious condiment that is at home with an Indian flatbread, a rice pilaf,  tortilla chips or grilled chicken or vegetables.  Really,  you could eat it by the teaspoonful with no accompaniment  and feel that life is good.  It is served in Indian restaurants as an accompaniment to Dosas (rice crepes) and is apparently a staple in many homes in the southern half of India.

This version is based on an adaptation of a recipe I found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJtE7oEigGY  although I made some minor changes to fit what I had on hand and what is easily available.  These changes follow the recipe.

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Ingredients:

2 tbs oil

1 really large onion or 2 or 3 small ones, coarsely chopped.

4 large dried red peppers, torn into large pieces  (these can be as hot or mild as you please, see note below)

2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 tsp minced  ginger (optional, not in the original)

1 tsp minced garlic (not in the original recipe)

Large pinch Asafoetida (hing), omit if you don’t have access to it

A few bits of the seedless tamarind or 1/2 tsp of tamarind concentrate (see note below)

1 tsp almond or peanut butter (the original recipe calls for 50 g of cashew nuts or sesame seeds, peanuts or roasted yellow split peas, see notes  below)

3/4 tsp  brown sugar (original recipe calls for jaggery, see notes)

salt to taste

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Method

1.  Heat oil in a large cast iron or other skillet.

2.  Add the red chile pieces, hing, ginger and garlic to the oil, stir for a few seconds, then add the onions and salt.  Continue to saute till the onions pick up a light brown color.  The browner the onions, the more complex the chutney will be, but you do not want to crisp the onions.

3. Now add the tomatoes, almond butter and brown sugar and sauté until the tomatoes turn soft.

4.  Cool and then blend in a blender or a food process until smooth.  You may have to add a few tsp of water to get the consistency you desire.  Taste and adjust the salt and sugar.

5.  Serve as a condiment or side with rice, flat breads, roasted vegetables or chicken  or as a schmear for any sandwich.

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Notes on the Special Ingredients and their substitutions:

1.  Dried red peppers:  The main point here is the color and the flavor and not the heat.  The recipe calls for the large and rather mild Kashmiri chillies.  Here in the US, it is easy to find dried red peppers used in Mexican cooking.  I picked up a bunch at the local grocery store (they are also available at Whole Foods)- these were simply called Mexican Peppers and were pretty hot.  If you want a milder pepper, go for the dried Anaheims and discard the seeds.  Do not use the Indian, Thai or Chinese small red peppers, they will most likely kill you.

2. Dried tamarind cakes  (nearly seedless) are sold in Indian and oriental grocery stores (see image).  You have to break off a chunk of the desired size.  In this recipe you can dump the chunk directly into the skillet, but for most recipes, you soak in warm water for 15 minutes and rub the tamarind with your hands and strain it to get the pulp.  If you are feeling lazy,  you can go the tamarind concentrate route (see image of the container).  I also see cans of tamarind juice sold in the Mexican section of grocery stores, this work just as well and are probably the best option if available.

3.  Jaggery is unrefined sugar sold in lumps at the Indian grocery store.  Brown sugar is a fine substitute.

4.  I used almond butter instead of the 4 options the original recipe provided.  I think the point here is a mellow richness and smoothness to a chutney that can have a very dramatic flavor profile.  So I figured that almond butter is a fine substitute for whole cashews or peanuts since they do become butter-ish once they are blended anyway.

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