Ketchup or Catsup? Make Your Own

Whether you call it Ketchup or Catsup, we all love vibrant tomato ketchup for one reason or another. I can’t imagine eating pot roast without it, and it is divine with burgers and fries.

Did you know you can make it at home? Leave all the preservatives, artificial flavorings, high fructose corn syrups, red dyes behind you and follow this recipe. This looks vibrant, tastes great and your friends and family will simply LOVE it! Best of all, you know exactly what is in the food you are serving.

Picmonkey Homemade tomato ketchup

This is one small way we can take control of our food and avoid GMO‘s, high fructose corn syrup and other hidden sugars, fats, salts and preservatives. Take a stand against Big Food and learn to make your own ketchup! It’s small, but it will have a very healthy effect of your family!

Homemade Ketchup

For the spiced vinegar:

  • 1-1/2 cups white distilled vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon broken stick cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed

For the ketchup:

  • 5 ½ pounds tomatoes
  • 1 cup granulated sugar – separated into two ½ cup measurements
  • ½ medium onion chopped fine
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon non-iodized salt

Method:

Combine the first four ingredients. Bring to a boil; remove from heat then set aside to cool.

Wash the tomatoes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove the core from the top of the tomatoes and cut a shallow X into the bottom end.

A "Tomato Shark" makes removing the blossom end simple and quick

A “Tomato Shark” makes removing the blossom end simple and quick

Scratch a shallow X on the bottom

Scratch a shallow X on the bottom

The skin will split when ready, the more ripe the tomato, the quicker this happens.

The skin will split when ready, the more ripe the tomato, the quicker this happens.

When the skin splits, plunge into ice water to stop cooking.

When the skin splits, plunge into ice water to stop cooking.

Slip the skins off the tomatoes, cut and squeeze out the seeds.

Slip the skins off the tomatoes, cut and squeeze out the seeds.

Set a large bowl of ice water near the pot of boiling water. Place the prepped tomatoes into the boiling water. As soon as the skin splits, remove and place the warm tomatoes in the ice water to stop cooking.

Slip the skins off the tomatoes. Slice them in half around the center of the tomato, not from top to bottom. Squeeze gently to remove all seeds. Do this over a strainer that is over a bowl to catch the juices that come from squeezing the seeds out.

Cut the tomatoes in quarters. Combine half of the tomatoes with ½ cup sugar, onion, garlic and cayenne pepper in a deep stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil and allow the tomato mixture to boil vigorously for 30 minutes, stirring often to avoid scorching.

After 30 minutes, add the remaining tomatoes and sugar and boil for another 30 minutes. At this point you will need to stir it often as the mixture gets thick.

Strain the vinegar and discard the spices. Add the spiced vinegar to the boiling tomato mixture, stirring constantly for 15 minutes or until the desired texture is reached.

Test the consistency by placing a small amount of the ketchup on a small plate. There should be no watery run off. If there is, keep cooking.

For smooth ketchup, puree using a stick blender, or use a blender to puree the hot mixture. Bottle the hot mixture in sterilized jars or another non-reactive container.

Store under refrigeration unless processing in a water bath canner. An “Old Wives” trick is to wrap each jar in brown paper to protect the color during storage. Not necessary if you store the jars in the refrigerator.

A vibrant bowl of homemade ketchup

A vibrant bowl of homemade ketchup

Wild Mushroom Arancini with Swiss Chard and Roasted Garlic

A miracle happened at our house recently. We had left over wild mushroom risotto. We have no idea how it happened but it is the only way to get to make arancini.

Mushroom Arancini

Mushroom Arancini

Arancini is made from left over risotto, breaded and sautéed to crispy golden brown.

Arancini 002

Arancini 002 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To go along with the arancini, I “water-sauteed” a bunch of red Swiss chard, added some roasted garlic, salt and pepper and 2 drops of liquid smoke – Yum! A lovely contrast of flavors that blend and contrast amazingly well with the arancini.

Here is how to make Arancini:

Use any left over risotto, in this case we had wild mushroom risotto.

Shape the risotto into equal size balls, flatten sightly and then dip them into a standard breading procedure of flour, egg wash, bread crumbs (or ground nuts, which would be amazing!)

Pan fry the arancini in a small amount of oil. Do this over medium heat so the inside of the arancini can get good and warm.

Once one side is golden brown, flip them over and brown the other side.

English: Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with vari...

English: Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with variously colored stems on sale at an outdoor farmers’ market in Rochester, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To make the Swiss chard:

Wash the leaves and remove the stems. Reserve the stems for another use.

Chop the chard into 1″ ribbons.

Heat a saute pan to hot, do not add any oil. This is going to be a “water-saute”.

When the pan is hot, add the chard all at once, allowing whatever water still on the leaves to remain. “Water-saute” the chard until it wilts. Turning in the pan as the water evaporates.

Add a heaping spoonful of roasted garlic and a few drops of the garlic oil to the pan, stir gently to incorporate.

Season with fresh ground pepper, salt and 2 drops of liquid smoke (totally optional!)

Once all the liquid has evaporated, you are ready to serve.

Place a mound of the Swiss chard on the plate, place a wild mushroom arancini on the mound, garnish the plate with fresh tomato wedges, sliced fresh mushrooms and roasted garlic.

Simple, elegant and rich in flavors.

IMG_5500

Simple (And Great Tasting!) Bean Burger

Bean Burger

Bean Burger; Can you see it under the mushrooms and onions? I had to take the picture before Robert got to the table and didn’t have time to “present” the burger for photos.

This simple and great tasting bean burger is quite simple to make and is versatile enough to become many things besides burgers.

  • 1 15-ounce can dark red kidney beans
  • 2 cups cooked old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 tablespoon dried vegetable flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
  • 1/2 cup ground pistachio or almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg’s liquid aminos (the salt)

Start by cooking the oatmeal. Include the garlic, onions and dried vegetable flakes if using for flavor.

Drain the beans, rinse and add to the oatmeal.

Combine the oats and beans and all the seasonings

Combine the oats and beans and all the seasonings

Process the mixture in a food processor until things are coarsely chopped up. You do not want to make a paste.

Coarsely chop

Coarsely chop

Form burgers using a scoop for even sizes.

Scoop for even size

Scoop for even size

Pat the burgers with additional pistachio or almond meal to ‘dry’ the outside of the burger. This will allow it to become nice and golden brown.

Using a very small amount of coconut oil or olive oil in the bottom of a saute pan (or use a non-stick pat and go fat-free) place the bean burgers into the hot pan, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.

Saute them until golden brown on one side, flip and cook on the other side until golden brown too.

You can finish cooking them in the oven or hold them in the oven until you are ready to eat.

Delicious Cooked Bean Burgers

Delicious Cooked Bean Burgers

Remove the burgers from the saute pan and then add sliced mushrooms and sliced onions, saute for 2 minutes, then add 1-2 tablespoons of water, continue cooking until the water is evaporated.

Serve the sautéed onions and mushrooms over the bean burgers.

This evening, we served them on a bed of fresh spinach with a side Caesar salad. I couldn’t eat it all!

If you have leftovers, you can saute the  crumbled burgers with some diced onions, chili powder, cumin and diced tomatoes to make “taco meat”. Fill corn tortillas and finish with your favorite taco toppings.

I find this can be used nearly the same as you would ground meat. Make chili, tacos, casseroles etc.

Enjoy!

Bean Burger topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms

Bean Burger topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms

Turkey Sausage with Peppers and Tomatoes

It is cold and sleeting out today with a high of 27°F. A thin layer of ice coats everything.

Robert went out to do some foul weather errands before it gets really bad this evening.

Icicles

While he was out, I decided it would be quite nice to have a nice big pot of turkey sausage with sautéed peppers and tomatoes over some pasta for lunch. We just finished off a large pot of chicken soup last night so it was too soon to eat soup again.

English: Green, yellow and red bell peppers fr...

English: Green, yellow and red bell peppers from the capsicum annum plant. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I used yellow and green peppers, onions, garlic and diced tomatoes. Everything got chopped into a large dice and set aside. Choose yellow and green peppers  because of the red in the tomatoes. This dish looks so good with lots of different colors.

A pound of turkey sausage (remove the casing if you want) gets sliced and sautéed, add the vegetables and simmer everything while you boil pasta and make a salad.

Add fresh garlic bread if you like.

A steaming bowl of sausage and peppers over some spaghetti is a perfect lunch for a day like today. Let’s eat by the fire!

Turkey Sausage and Peppers

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1  large diced yellow pepper
  • 1 large diced green pepper
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds  peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes
    (Canned diced tomatoes are a good substitute)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
  • kosher salt to taste

Method:

Prepare all the vegetables and sausage. Keep items separate until ready to cook.

Heat the oil in a deep saute pan, add the turkey sausage, toss to brown the sausage. When sausage begins to brown, add the onions, peppers and cook for 5 minutes over medium high heat.

Add the bay leaves and the herbs de Provence and garlic, stir to combine.

When the bottom of the pan begins to turn brown, add the remaining ingredients, stir well and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Like I mentioned earlier, you can make a salad and garlic bread while the pasta is cooking or just pour yourself a glass of wine.

Enjoy!

DSC_0087Turkey sausage and peppers

Garlic Confit

Slow roasted garlic Confit is easy to make.

A delicious bowl of slow roasted garlic confit

A delicious bowl of slow roasted garlic confit

It takes some time in a low oven and your house will smell amazing in the meantime.

English: A basket of garlic (allium sativum) o...

English: A basket of garlic (allium sativum) offered for sale at the farmers’ market in Rochester, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pre-heat the oven to 250°F.

Take a deep baking pan, fill it with peeled garlic cloves.

English: Waitrose ready peeled garlic in a pla...

Use peeled garlic if you don’t want to peel all of what you make.This is Waitrose ready peeled garlic in a plastic pot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cover the garlic with vegetable oil.

Add a sprig of fresh thyme and a light sprinkle of salt.

Cover the dish tightly with tin foil. Place the pan into the oven; overnight is best. If not overnight, then 4-6 hours.

The confit is done when the garlic is soft.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before transferring into storage containers or gift jars.

Keep refrigerated.

Use the garlic in sautéed vegetables, potato dishes, spread it like butter on bread, fold it into pasta or knead it into bread dough to make a roasted garlic bread.

Garlic confit on toast

Garlic confit on toast

There are so many uses for this. Having a jar handy in the fridge is a real treat!

DSC_0015Perfect for a gift from your kitchen.

Fresh Herb Wreath

DSC_0007Making a fresh herb wreath is easy and very fragrant. I love fresh herbs which is why I grow them, lots of them. If you don’t grow them now, consider starting a herb garden. It will save you a ton of money, you will always have fresh herbs on hand and you can have enough to make things like this. So grow yourself a money-saving herb garden.

You will be dizzy with how great this smells!

Herbs: Thyme, oregano and rosemary

Herbs: Thyme, oregano and rosemary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To make a fresh herb wreath, you will need:

  • 1 wire wreath frame
  • 1 package of fine floral wire
  • a bunch of fresh herbs
  • Whole garlic and shallots, not peeled

Cover your work space with paper to catch all the leaves that she during the wiring process.

Lay the wreath form on the paper and start attaching bundles of herbs to the frame.

For this wreath I used fresh Thyme and Rosemary.

Overlapping the ends of the herbs, fill the frame all the way around.

With a skewer, pierce a hole through the bottom of the garlic and shallots. Thread a floral wire through the hold and attach the garlic and shallots to the herb frame.

English: Christmas Wreath Being Made

English: Christmas Wreath Being Made (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A basket of garlic (allium sativum) o...

English: A basket of garlic (allium sativum) offered for sale at the farmers’ market in Rochester, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tie a ribbon and hang. I made a small wire loop on the back of floral wire for the hanger.

The herbs will dry. You can use this in cooking if you like, but I am only using it for decoration this year.

It smells so good!

Fresh Herb Wreath

Fresh Herb Wreath

How To: Saffron ‘Aioli’

Dear Tyler,

When I had the restaurant, we used this recipe instead of plain mayonnaise for lots of things.

You loved it then, as I’m sure you would now.

Low fat or lite mayonnaise will fine for this.

I prefer and highly recommend Duke’s brand from an old southern family recipe and family run business.

Besides being family run, they make a darn good mayonnaise.

Here is how to turn Saffron Aioli into one great condiment that flavors everything very well.

Use it anywhere you would mayonnaise.

About the ingredients:

Saffron is the stamen of the crocus flower. The best quality comes from Spain and all stamen are hand-picked.

It is one of the worlds most expensive spices.

Saffron is coveted for the lovely yellow color and the exotic scent and flavor it contributes to the dishes wherever used.

I’ll do a post on Saffron later.

Aioli refers to garlic flavored mayonnaise.

However, a true Aioli is crushed garlic with olive oil. Some recipes ask for an egg yolk to assist with the emulsification of oil and garlic. Making it correctly is hard and the mixture is temperamental.

It takes a long time to make real aioli which is why mayonnaise has become a common substitute.

Yes, we will use mayonnaise in this recipe.

Saffron Aioli

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2  Tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon each, minced garlic and minced shallot (use the microplane)

1 cup mayonnaise of your choice – I prefer Dukes.

Just don’t pick “miracle whip”!

Add the vinegar, honey, saffron, shallots and garlic to a small saute pan.

Cook the mixture down until it remains separated when a spoon is drawn through the mixture on the bottom of the pan as shown.

Cool the mixture and add it to mayonnaise

Stir it in thoroughly. The longer the saffron sits in the mixture, the more color will dissipate. Stir it in before using to evenly distribute the flavor and color.

Saffron Aioli

Store this Saffron Aioli in the refrigerator and use within a month. Use the expiration date of the mayonnaise used as your guide.

As the aioli sits, it will become more yellow. Stir the color in so there is uniform color and saffron flavor.

It is delicious!

You can use this as a dressing for steamed vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and asparagus.

If you are one to put mayonnaise on your french fries, try this instead. ;)

Yes, you can leave out the shallots, but you have eaten them and liked them.

Make Saffron Aioli in small batches so it is fresh.

I’d like to know if you remember the flavor when you taste it!

Study well.

Love You,

Mom

BTW: You can purchase a small amount of Saffron in local stores. The quantity you buy is so small it is usually packed in small bags or vials  inside much larger packages to deter theft.

Why theft? Because it is pricy and very small.

I sent you some in a small plastic bag and inside a small mason jar. (The smallest one!) Keep it in a dark cabinet away from the heat of the stove, top of fridge or dishwasher.

It will last a long time, if you keep it sealed and in the dark.

When you use it, you only need a small pinch. Just a a few stamens, 5or 6 are enough for a cup of aioli.

XO