Hot Pepper Vinegar

When I was growing up we always had homemade hot pepper vinegar. I know you can buy it at the store, but what’s the fun in that. In our case, my mom grew serrano peppers for hers. It was hot – no doubt about that, but we (meaning me and Fred), liked it that way. Fred would put it on things and you could see the sweat break out on his forehead from across the kitchen table – he and I sat at opposite ends of the table. It was always funny to me.

D&D_2792Collards, or any greens really, would not be right without good hot pepper vinegar. So as soon as some good looking skinny hot peppers show up at Bailey’s – well, there I am. I used finger hot peppers this time.

My mom made a simple version by just heating the vinegar and pouring it over the sliced peppers, but I’ve learned a few tricks I like from making pickles, so here is what I did this time.

Brine:
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs sugar
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
8 finger hots – Bailey’s

Heat brine (everything but peppers) until sugar dissolves. Pour over sliced peppers. Let cool and then refrigerate. Easy Peasy.

All this said, about three weeks ago, I purchased my own serrano pepper plant just to make this like my mom did. Now if the temperatures would only be normal for us for April. I mean honestly, it’s the second week in April and we’ve run the heater a little tonight. I just don’t get it – and I feel for people who live further north than us – which is pretty much everybody.

These peppers are called finger hots, but I’m not sure whose fingers they are supposed to be. I can only think witch fingers because the are green, skinny, wrinkly, and pointy at the end. And yes, they are hot. Yum.

UPDATE: 30 April – I have three serranos on my little plant and am over the moon excited. That’s kind of sad.

 

Lemon Love Cake

This is a recipe I never, um, ever, thought I might make. It uses two things that I just cannot abide by. Cake mix and pudding mix. Ugh. Dear lord the chemical smell just about sent me over the edge.

That said, I had seen Valerie Bertinelli make this kind of cake some many times, in so many iterations, that I just had to give it a go out of pure curiosity sake. So why not a lemon cake for Easter.

D&D_2787Easter to me is lemons or carrot cake and a few bits of chocolate, oh, and wait, some tiny jelly bird eggs – yes, I stock up for the whole year. You just don’t want to get into the details of what happens when you eat WAY too many jelly bird eggs.

Unsalted butter, for greasing
All-purpose flour, for dusting
One 16.5-ounce package lemon cake mix
1 lemon, zested and juiced
>One 32-ounce container part-skim ricotta
Two 8-ounce containers mascarpone
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
One 3.4-ounce package lemon instant pudding mix

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with baking spray.

Prepare the cake mix according to package directions, then add 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and set aside.

Beat the ricotta, lemon zest and 4 ounces of the mascarpone with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until smooth. Add the sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until just combined. Gently spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the cake batter.

Bake until the cake layer has risen to the top (the ricotta and cake layers switch places) and a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the remaining 12 ounces mascarpone with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the milk, beating until smooth. Add the pudding mix and beat until smooth. Let stand until thickened, about 5 minutes. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake.

Notes: I was a glutton for punishment and did all this by hand. It worked out, but I really need a nice hand mixer for when I don’t want to get the stand mixer into a mess.

Also, this recipe made me purchase things, I, um, never buy. 1) Cake Mix, 2) Jello Pudding Mix. But the idea seemed so good I could not quite help myself.

Source: Valerie Bertinelli

While I have to say this smelled a little chemically being mixed up – it certainly didn’t taste like that.

There were only 4 of us for Easter and this cake is huge, um, and dense. So I sent the vast majority of it to the Boy’s work. I understand that one of the bartenders hid it from pretty much everyone else. I think the best thing about this cake is it makes it own “cheesecake” layer on the bottom – hence – dense, but yummy. Might need to make one of these for the next pot luck at work – might be a new favorite.

I do love to take baked goods to the restaurants that we frequent. I also do make a special effort to get treats back to the kitchen. So many people forget about the back of the house.

Mustard-Swiss Crackers

This is a new recipe for me and a new idea as well. I have so very many cookbooks, but just for convenience sake, I usually use recipes I’ve saved on my cute little red drive from off the interweb.

Well that stops now. I am going through so rather old cookbooks to start “cooking the books.” I won’t do it all at one time, just as I feel like it, but this is my first foray into the idea.  I already know what I have next in line – spoilers, but since I had swiss in the house and all kinds of mustard and I have an unnatural thing for crackers, I decided to start here. My changes, due to not wanting to go to the Publix,  are noted below.

D&D_28248 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
8 ozs Swiss cheese, coarsely grated (2 1/4 cups)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbs Dijon mustard – used Gulden’s and added Dijon to the next grocery list
2 tsp dry mustard (Coleman’s)
1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds – didn’t use
1 tsp salt

In the bowl of the food processor, blend butter and cheese until almost smooth. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until combined. Divide dough between two sheets of waxed paper and role into an 8 inch log. Wrap tightly in wax paper and then foil; freeze until firm, 1 1/2 – 2 hours.*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. Cut logs into 1/4 inch slices and arrange 1 inch apart. Bake, turning half way through until edges are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Source: The Best American Recipes: 2004-2005

Cook the Book 2018

*Refrigerate overnight – totally worked as it most of the time does.

Dough 7 April

Baked 10 April – smells a lot like mustard, but the taste is wanting. Needs some heat and I think the Swiss just gets lost in the end. So we shall try this again – maybe adding a pinch of cayenne

They bake up beautifully though, so worth another try (very soon) with some flavor adjustments. Maybe the Dijon mustard will make a change too.  Sprinkle of some salt on the top. Not sure – so many ways that this can go.

Love things you can prep and leave in the fridge and bake a few days later. Makes baking in the evening after work so much easier. You feel like you’ve accomplished something on a Wednesday or whatever.

 

Chutney Cream Cheese with Gingersnaps

I have not seen a recipe like this in donkeys’ years. It’s super simple, but has a lot of flavor, if, and that’s a big if, you like these kinds of flavors. To me these are great, and underused, flavors and while the MotH and the Boy both tried this, it was largely left to me to finish. Gee, rough job. I will go out on a limb and say this is not breakfast food though. Afternoon snack, especially with some hot tea, was just lovely.

D&D_2663

16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1⁄2 cup chopped chutney
2 Tbs sultanas (the pretty raisins)
2 teaspoons curry powder
1⁄2 teaspoon dry mustard

Mix softened cream cheese with curry powder and mustard. add the chutney and mix together well. Place in fridge at least 3 hours or overnight.

Serve with gingersnaps.

Source: Genius Kitchen

Guinness Pub Cheese

Pub cheese is such a wonderful thing. I guess, that only applies when I make it myself. I really don’t want to purchase “pub cheese” from a grocery store – sorry to the Publix.

The fact that this recipe has Guinness in it makes it all the better. I made it the first time as a trial run for a pot luck at work. I am happy to report, it was a great success.

Never hurts that it is super easy, does it?

D&D_2657

2 blocks cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 c. shredded Cheddar
1/4 c. beer, such as Guinness
1 tbsp. chives
1 tsp. garlic powder
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with chives and serve with dippers of your choice.

Source: delish.com

Hood Day

On this day in history: 2012 – we brought home our little idiot.

Here’s the back story on Hoodlum: In 2011 we had to put down our beautiful Siberian Husky because his cancer had spread. He was only six. He had a great life until his last week.

Fast forward about a year: I have a friend who works with a therapy dog training group. They breed dogs and train for a variety of needs and I know dogs can wash out from those programs and my friend had adopted a couple herself (Goldies), so before I went to lunch one day, I emailed to see if there were any pups available knowing that this usually takes weeks if not months. I didn’t even tell the MotH because it was so unlikely to have a result anytime soon.

Famous last words: I got back to the office and there was this photo:Hoodie Boy

He’s half Border Collie and half Labrador and was washing out because of a hip, or so I was told. It didn’t take long to realize that his hip is fine, it was his personality – he’s too stubborn by half.

The agency was looking to have the personality of a Lab with the intelligence of a Border Collie – oops. There were four in the litter; 3 males, 1 female. Met the males – Hood was far and away the best looking of the bunch, but all the brothers washed out. Imagine that.

Either way, we went to Daytona to pick him up – how could you refuse that face? And then the fun began …..

D&D_1504

 

Homemade Mascarpone

I’m just not sure how many dogs get to have some homemade mascarpone cheese. My guess, is it just mine. This could not be easier to make and it tastes amazing. I will do the cost / benefit thing to see if it makes sense, but in my head this is so simple with things I already have on hand that I’m pretty sure this is a good deal. And did I say it tastes really good, because it is not just the Hoodie boy that likes it. It is me too.

D&D_2726Makes about 2 cups

2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Note – do use a thermometer for this recipe.

In a saucepan, slowly bring the heavy cream to a low simmer. The temperature should reach at 180° F and the goal is to try to keep it around there.

Let simmer at 180° F for 3 minutes then add in the lemon juice.

Simmer for another 3 minutes, then remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature, 30 minutes.

Fill a small strainer with several layers of cheesecloth and set over a glass measuring cup.

Pour the cooled mascarpone mixture into the cheesecloth and stick the entire bowl in the fridge overnight, cover the whole thing in plastic wrap.

The next day, take it out, whip it up and use it however you would like. Keeps for a week in the fridge, if it lasts that long – in mine and Hood’s case, that is a no.

D&D_2728Source: Food52