Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dairy is Taboo

Shrimp bisque. Sounds good, yes? Canning it seems almost impossible because, apparently, botulism spores can hide in dairy fats and not be destroyed in the pressure canner. I did find suggestions about how to can clam chowder - basically you make the whole recipe without the dairy and just remember to add the dairy when you heat it up. So I thought maybe I could modify the recipe for the shrimp bisque the same way.

Shrimp and Tilapia Bisque

1 1/2 c. onions, chopped
olive oil
2 lbs. cooked shrimp
3/4 lb. cooked tilapia filets (leftovers, really)
3 pts. fish stock
6 T. flour
6 T. tomato paste
4 tsp. curry powder*
1/2 tsp. paprika
kosher salt
1 1/2 c. chopped tomato

Fry the onions in the oil, add the shrimp and tilapia and cook until heated. Sprinkle with the flour and cook for a minute. Add the stock, tomato paste, and spices and boil for 1-2 minutes. Using a hand blender, puree. It doesn't have to be completely smooth. Add the tomatoes and salt (to taste), cook a few minutes.

At this point, I put up 4 pints and processed for 100 minutes at 10 lbs. of pressure. To each pint, when opened, one would need to add 2-3 tablespoons of half and half and some cayenne pepper.

I added 1/2 c. of half and half and about 1/8 tsp. of cayenne pepper to what was left in the pot, and that was dinner tonight.

*When it came time to add the curry powder, I couldn't find any. Kinda freaked out, actually. I ended up making my own by mixing 2 T. cardi, 1 T. turmeric, and 3/4 t. ginger. It wasn't until after I mixed all this up that I found my curry powder, right where it was supposed to be. Go figure.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Branching Out

Legumes. Haven't really used them much. Until recently, I only ever used canned beans in chili. But I've had a few requests for thicker soups so decided to try adding them in.

The story behind today's soup began 2 days ago. I was so excited to make a prime rib roast for Christmas eve dinner, and had checked with Mom for details on cooking it. It was less than 4 pounds and, according to her directions it should have taken about an hour. Keeping on the schedule was very important to me, as we had presents to open and bedtimes to enforce. Well, as you might imagine, the roast took longer than expected. An HOUR longer. I was frantic! And the peas...sigh....fresh peas. From Whole Foods, even. They tasted like dirt. How disappointing.

My wonderful husband insists the roast tasted fine, but I am not convinced. All I know is that I need a new oven. Maybe two. But I digress. We saved the rest of the roast, almost half, really, to make soup this weekend.

Today I used my soup cookbook, 1001 Delicious Soups & Stews, and made the Rich Beef and Lentil Soup. I ran to the store to get leeks, but amazingly I had all the other ingredients. For Christmas I got the New England Soup Factory Cookbook but didn't have all the ingredients for the beef soup in there. Will have to plan ahead for those! The only change to the recipe is that I added red wine instead of white. After having lunch (mmmm) I canned 3 quarts in the pressure canner (90 minutes, 10 lbs of pressure) and saved a little for maybe dinner, maybe tomorrow.

Hmmm. Double ovens. I could totally use 2 ovens....

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

On a whim, I decided to make a pie for dessert tonight. Fresh blackberries were on special in the store, and I hit upon the idea of using a jar of raspberries in syrup for the base. So I made a pie crust. Normally I would have just bought a frozen pie crust, but I've been inspired by my own success with apple pies and with Chef Tess's pie crust recipe with the vinegar in it, so I figured I'd try it.

I don't know what went wrong, but the pie crust shrunk in the oven. I have never prebaked a pie crust for an unbaked pie before, so maybe I just did it wrong? But the pie crust ended up too thick on the bottom and about a half-inch below the edge of the pie plate; it was right at the edge when I put it into the oven. Anyone with an explanation/suggestions?

Regardless, full steam ahead! I mixed 3 T. cornstarch with 1/2 c. sugar and then added 1 c. of raspberries in syrup and 1/2 c. water and boiled this on the stove until thickened. I then added 2 drops of blue food coloring to get the dark purple color of the blackberries. Once the pie crust was cooled, I put the blackberries in the pie and poured the cooled thick filling over them. It's now in the fridge, cooling for dessert. Pictures and taste testing commentary later...

(Later) The crust is the flakiest I've ever made, and is really yummy! Even the gel held together really well. Thumbs up on the vinegar in the crust tip (thanks, Chef Tess!), but I guess I just have to work on the actual pie construction. Well, practicing is not a problem!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"I Like Your Hobby Because it's Useful."

So says my husband.

He's right, though. Of all the hobbies and crafts I've done over the years, this one is the most adapted for gift giving. And eating. Everyone likes to eat, right? There's always jam and soup and other yummy foods in the house. And they are in conveniently sized containers such that, when we have a need for a quick gift, voila, we have something at our fingertips.

On Christmas eve we will load the 17 jars for our neighbors into the wagon and go strolling about the neighborhood, spreading good cheer and citrus curd along our way. Happy holidays to all!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

OK, I Guess I Wasn't Done Yet

You would think that 28 small jars of preserves of various kinds would be sufficient for holiday gifts. However, we kept coming up with more and more names! So I decided I needed to make more key lime curd. (The Whole Foods was out of Meyer lemons.) I am not sure if you'd call this cheating or not, but I bought the key lime juice in a bottle and then zested a regular lime. 1 bottle of juice was enough for 3 batches of curd, which I made in one fell swoop rather than 3 separate batches. For this, the usual 2-saucepans-together double boiler wasn't going to be big enough, so I used the largest saucepan in my frying pan instead. It worked OK, nothing burned or anything, but it was really HOT because the frying pan was so much wider and so I was stirring over a larger area of boiling water. (My whisk has a really short handle, and I have singed my hand on more than 1 occasion...) This time I did not add the green food coloring, making the curd a more natural yellow color. With these 3 batches I have now made a total of 8 batches of this stuff!

Later this afternoon, the kids amused themselves by stealing all the jars and hiding them, and then using them as pedestals for tennis balls and other toys. I did finally get them all back...I think....

Monday, December 7, 2009

Citrusy Holiday Gifts

A while ago I made the Apple Pie in a Jar for holiday gifts, but realized I'd need to make something else to finish my list. Well, I was at the Whole Foods the other day (that very dangerous place...) and found Meyer lemons and key limes and got the idea to make lemon and lime curds. But when?

Today I tried to get to work. I really, really tried. But there was a tanker truck that had turned over on the highway, so I went another way, and that was backed up, too. After being in the car for 45 minutes and getting only 1/4 of the way in (usually it takes me 35 minutes to get to work), it became clear that I was going to miss the only meeting on my calendar today, so I called in and declared that I was going home.

So I spent the day alternating between doing stuff for work and making Meyer Lemon Curd, lemon-lime curd, and key lime curd. YUM. But it's a LOT of work. Especially grating the zest off the tiny little key limes and then juicing them. For the key lime curd I added a couple of drops of green food coloring to make it more "lime-ish" (and so I could tell the difference between the 2 kinds when I brought them out of the canner). They're very cute, in their wee little jars! This added 17 jars to my holiday gift stash, and maybe I'm done?