Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Home made Schnapps or Snaps or...

As you may have figured out by now, I'm Danish.

Yup, I am.

You figured it out?

Oh, OK.

At any rate, as I've posted here before I love my Rye Bread and Herring, and I don't think I've met a Smørrebrød yet that I didn't like either.

But for myself,  as for a lot of Danes, one of the key elements of a good smorgasbord is not only Beer, but Snaps, Schnapps, Aquavit, or Akvavit.  Doesn't matter how you spell it. Or even say it. 

Also known as 'water of life'.   Which might be a little bit of exaggeration.


My favourite Akvavit is Jubilaeums, by Aalborg, but since Danish Distillers was sold, it apparently is not imported into the US anymore. I can buy the Taffel Akvavit here, but I have to admit to liking the flavour of Jubilaeums better and since I can't buy it, I decided to try my hand at making some, or at least flavouring a good potato based, in other words, neutral, vodka with some Dill, Anise and other spices.   There is a website I looked at for ideas, here and they had all kinds of ideas.  So many ideas...

But, I wanted to see if I could recreate or at least approximate the taste of my favourite.

So here's what I did back in July.

I got the last seed head from my dill plant (the rest had been eaten by the swallowtail butterfly caterpillars), placed that in the jar, added coriander and some star anise.  Sealed it up tight, put it in the cupboard and managed to keep my lips off of it for a couple of months.

It is now the most gorgeous amber colored liquid.   And it tastes good too.    
I did taste test it.   I had to. 

It is now residing in my freezer, waiting...

I think I see a nice piece of Smørrebrød in my near future along with a glass of snaps as well.

*** I have to add, that in my search for Jubiliaeums Akvavit I did find a distiller here in the US who makes a version that they say is similar to Jubilaeums.  It is called Gamle Ode, and they produce a variety of Snaps.  Now, I haven't tried it, but.... Here's a link to their website, and if you're in Minnesota, or Wisconsin or any of the other places they distribute it to, go ahead and try it.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Mandarin Orange Halloween Cookies

I know I'm a little nuts when it comes to food.

Go ahead, laugh, I can take it.

I had fun last week hand dipping some beeswax candles for Lantern Fest, the candles will be sold as part of their fundraising efforts for the lighthouse.
Bee approved, Beeswax Candles

And just cause I can't keep out of the kitchen, I decided to help them out by baking some cookies.

I was going to make some cookies I call Grand Slams, (I'll make some soon and will share the recipe)  but I decided to go ahead and pick up the theme of the the Lantern Fest, well, kinda pick it up, and since Halloween will only be a week away I thought,


And not just any pumpkins, Pumpkins that looked like they had stained glass inserts, that you could hold up to the light and see through.


Wait for it...

I decided to try a twist on the regular sugar cookie.  

I'm not real fond of oranges, quite frankly, but I like a hint of orange flavour in a lot of foods.

I know, right?

Well, I bought this Mandarin Fused Olive Oil and wondered how it would be in a cookie.  I wasn't too sure if it would work, but I wasn't going to use more than a couple of tablespoons as part of the fat in the dough, so I thought it might work.    I mean the Greeks and other Mediterranean countries have been using Olive Oil for centuries, and I bet they used Olive Oil in cookies. Actually I know they did cause I googled it.

Here's my take on Orange Halloween cookies.   And they're semi healthy, cause they are made with Olive Oil, and not a lot of sugar either. 

Recipe:  Mandarin Orange Halloween Cookies   Makes about 6 dozen.

1/4 cup Mandarin Fused Olive Oil
1/4 cup  Butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. Lemon Extract  (I used my Homemade Lemon Extract)
1 tsp. Orange Zest 
2  cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder

Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside.  Cream the butter, sugar and Mandarin fused olive oil together until the sugar has dissolved into the butter/olive oil.   Add the egg and mix well, then add the lemon extract and finally the flour mixture.
  Form  into a ball and place in the fridge to rest for half an hour.

Preheat oven to 375, then, 
Take out half the dough, roll out thinly and cut into shapes.    Bake for 9-11 minutes or until they just start to brown.

Here's where I had fun.   I thought it would be kinda cool to make some stained glass looking cookies.

So I cut some eyes into some of the pumpkin shapes, baked the cookies for about 5 minutes, took them out, added some crushed Jolly Rancher cookies into the cut out part, then put them back in the over for a few more minutes.

Mandarin Orange Halloween Cookies
 And the cookies are good, but next time I'll add some orange zest to them, they needed, something...
Mandarin Orange Halloween Cookies

Took them out and let them cool on the Silpat sheet, then peeled them off very carefully.
I decided that was just too fiddly as I was running short on time, so I just made some more pumpkin shapes, sprinkled them with some turbinado sugar, and took the rest of the dough, rolled it out and cut that into little squares.
Mandarin Orange Halloween Cookies
  I then took one of my metal frosting tips, punched a little hole, well, I did fiddle around trying to get them to just the size of a life saver in the middle,
Mandarin Orange Halloween Cookies

Mandarin Orange Halloween Cookies

Mandarin Orange Halloween Cookies
and baked them part way, and plunked a life saver in the middle, and let them continue to bake.

Mandarin Orange Halloween Cookies
Oh and the red thing at the side, to the right?

Well I had a lot of crushed candies so I decided to let them melt together. 

I now have a giant lollipop without a stick in it.
Mandarin Orange Halloween Cookies
And here we are all ready to pack up for the sale.

Mandarin Orange Halloween Cookies
Well I'm ready, at least the cookies are.     And I also baked some more cookies, but with a different recipe and I'll share that one later on. 

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Orange Fused Ginger Chutney Sauce

Wow, long title, huh?

But this sauce was so good, people were using it not only on the Pork Fritters but on the fried chicken, the pound cake and I guess, just eating it.  (and I should add this was all for the Boat Club last week)
Orange Fused Ginger Chutney Sauce

I know I liked it, a lot.

I was playing around with stuff the other day when I came up with this dipping sauce and I even measured it out, just in case it was good.  And it was good, very good.
But don't take my word for it, make some yourself and try it out.
I'll even give you the recipe.

Recipe: Orange Fused Ginger Chutney Sauce   Makes 1 1/4 cups sauce
2/3 cup Mrs. Ball's Chutney
1/3 cup Orange Marmalade (I used some of my 3 Citrus Marmalade)
2 tablespoon Mandarin Fused Olive Oil (use more if you like)
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger (I use the ginger root I keep in the freezer)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Grey Poupon mustard, the coarse grind
3 tablespoons brown sugar

Mix it all together in a little pot, heat together and taste. 
  Which I did, and then I added more ginger, tasted it again and pronounced it good. Heating helps the brown sugar melt into everything.   You get little bits of orange and mango and peach all overlaid with a lovely orange flavour.

I have to say, I'm making this again and again. 

** Edited to add:
I just made a second batch of this sauce and this time I added a second tablespoon of the Mandarin Fused EVOO and let it cook for a couple of minutes.   And I think it's even better than the first batch.  

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Heavenly Orange Pork Fritters

I had a hard time coming up with a name for this recipe.   sigh   I had this long and wonderful and totally descriptive name for this, but then people kept calling them Pork Fritters, so they are now Heavenly Orange Pork Fritters.
Heavenly Orange Pork Fritters

I went to the 'big city' with a friend last week and we stopped in at this little store, called Smashing Olive.   Big mistake on my part.   I tried several of the oils and could have drunk a glass full of the Balsamic Vinegar, it was so good.

The mistake on my part?  Well, I only bought a couple of the oils and vinegars and now I have to go back and buy more.  But, I can wait for a week or two before I go back there.


At any rate, it was Boat Club this week.   We've had a summer hiatus, and  people are now back and chomping at the bit and ready to cook and eat and enjoy themselves.

I decided to try using the Mandarin Fused Olive Oil along with the Balsamic Vinegar to make a marinade for the pork tenderloin.   I whisked together roughly equal parts, with a little more oil than vinegar.  Then I went out to the garden and raided my oregano plant and used my mezzaluna to chop up the oregano leaves. 
Mandarin Orange Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
Added those into the marinade and coated the tenderloin and stuck them in the fridge.  After an hour, I decided that I needed to add a minced clove or two of garlic to the marinade, and then the ginger said, use me too, so I used my microplane and added about a half teaspoonful.    I love keeping ginger in the freezer, even if it talks to me sometimes, it's just so handy. 

I was trying to keep it simple.

Recipe:   Orange Infused Marinade for Pork Tenderloin, makes enough for one small tenderloin.
2 tablespoons Mandarin (orange)  Fused Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon grated Ginger

Whisk together, coat the tenderloin and place in fridge  for at least 3 hours.  
To make the fritters: 
Take out the tenderloin, slice thinly and then using a meat mallet, pound thin.   Dredge in flour, egg and then Panko Bread Crumbs and fry in a little neutral oil. 

Detailed instructions follow. 

I didn't make a whole lot of marinade, so I used one of my trusty gloves and massaged the marinade into the pork tenderloins, very gently.  I didn't want all that porky goodness to be overtaken by the orange, I just wanted a hint, to enhance. 

After they'd had a chance to rest in the fridge for a few hours, I took them out, cut them into little cutlets and proceeded to use my meat mallet on them.

You can get out a lot of frustrations that way.

I pounded them out quite thin, then did the flour dip, then an egg wash and finally  pressed them into some panko, and fried them quickly in a little hot oil.

When the pork is pounded out this thin, it only takes a minute or so to cook, so just go ahead and brown them on each side.  I use peanut oil to fry them, as it is a mild oil.

You know I taste tested this as well.
There was a lovely hint of orange in finished pork fritter, before dipping it into the dipping sauce I made.  I think maybe I could have used more of the oil, and maybe next time I will.

I'm thinking of all kinds of ways to use this Mandarin Fused Oil.    
Heavenly Orange Pork Fritters

  I served the fritters with a dipping sauce and I'll share that recipe with you later on.     The dipping sauce is what totally blew this away.  

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Boat Club for October

It was Boat Club last night and as usual a wonderful gathering.   Lots of friends, great food, and mild temps made for yet another memorable evening.   We were even treated to natures fireworks, a lightning storm came in and made a wonderful show.

Boat Club has been on hiatus for the summer months, so this was our first gathering since June I believe. 

I know you're not here to read about how good the conversations were, you want to see what we ate. 

I know my readers...
 I'm going to lead off with what I brought, which got renamed in the process.  
When I post the how to's on this it will have Pork Fritters somewhere in the name.
 And no gathering is complete without this little guy and the accompanying pineapple.
 I wish my picture did justice to this, the beans were perfectly cooked, and so good.  But the presentation, in that gorgeous bowl...
 Quinn made his chicken again, and I was told that the dipping sauce I made for the pork went very well with the chicken.  But, the recipe for that is for another day. 
 I love a good queso dip, and this was stellar.   I didn't bother taking a picture of the chips that went with, cause gee, you've seen what tortilla chips look like.
 A pasta bake, and it was good, but then again, you know me and pasta.  I consider us very good friends.
 This was a fun chinese style casserole.   It reminded me of one I used to get at a friends house when I was younger.  I took one bite and somehow time traveled back a few years.  
And it tasted good too.
 And yet another pasta dish.   I was in heaven I tell you.   I love pasta salad.  I just don't dare make it for myself cause I'll eat the whole thing and then I'll be sorry. 
 I noticed that the pizza disappeared in very short order.  I didn't get a chance to taste it.  But that's OK, I know where I can get some. 
 And then there were these.   Wild Game Sausage, and they were served over saurkraut.  I was lucky, I did get to taste them.  Very nice, perfectly spiced.   A real treat. 
And the last main dish offering was this Moussaka. 
I did take a large helping of this and finished every bite.  I don't know what there is about eggplant, but I think it's one of those perfect veggies.   

You know I think it would go well as a side dish with a nice Gyro.  

And then there were the desserts.

 Mango cream pie.  Very nice.
 Pumpkin Ooey Gooey Cake, which I thought was very fitting since yesterday was Thanksgiving, for Canadians at least.   At any rate, I had some and it hit my pumpkin craving. 
 An Apple Pan Dowdy.   I haven't had one of these in years, and it was good.    I think I need to go dust off my recipe and make this for myself.   And putting whipped cream on top, well, you have to ice the cake sometime. 
 We also had another nice cream pie, and I didn't get a chance to taste this, it was gone by the time I got there. 
I also didn't get a chance to taste this, I was so full.  But I was told that the sauce I made for the pork went nicely on top of a piece of the pound cake.  

Well, that's it for this month, and I will post the fritter recipe and the dip recipe a little later on this week, in the meantime I need to go and get ready for a candle making session.   I'll tell you about that another time as well. 

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Gyro Meat for SRC

It's that time of the month again;
Yup, it's Group B's turn to shine.  We're all members of the Secret Recipe Club and we all have blogs and love to Cook and Create in the kitchen.  Or is that Create and Cook?

The Secret Recipe Club consists of bloggers, who are divided into groups, and are randomly assigned another blog every month to explore and make a recipe or two from.  We then 'reveal' our choice on a set day at the same time.  I've been a member of the club for almost 2 years now, and have to admit to the fact that I rarely check out other food blogs, but the SRC means I have to do so at least once a month.  And I am grateful.  I've gotten a lot of new recipes, had my mind blown by some of the incredibly busy and talented and amazing people out there.   All I can say is WOW.

Every month I get a great blog to explore and believe me when I say I explore it.    I've bookmarked and 'pinned' more recipes and ideas than I have time to make, but it's all good.

And this month I hit yet another jackpot.  Grandma Loy's Kitchen.  I've actually gone there for inspiration on more than one occasion in the past, and have already 'pinned' a few ideas from her.   I do like a good recipe source like her blog.   I'm going to try making her recipe for DIY Buttermilk, if I can keep myself from drinking it all when I buy it.  I do love buttermilk, and like to cook with it as well.   And it would be great to have some 'on hand' all the time.   My local grocery store doesn't always have it available for purchase.  And I want to try my hand at her DIY Sweetened Condensed Milk as well.  I think I see a theme going here, hmmmm
Gyro  (homemade)
For today's reveal, I decided to make her DIY Gyro meat.   I've been craving a Gyro for quite some time now, and this recipe just jumped out at me.  I even ducked. 

Sorry, couldn't resist that one. 

And now for my SRC reveal:

DIY Gyro Meat.

1  small onion, cut into chunks
1 lb. ground beef, 
1 lb. ground lamb, (I ground my own)
1 T. minced garlic
1 t. dried oregano (I used some fresh oregano from my garden)
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. dried marjoram
1 t. ground dried rosemary
1 t. ground dried thyme
1 t. coarse ground black pepper
1/4 t. ground allspice (I cut this in half as I don't care for the taste of the allspice)
1/2 t. ground coriander
1 1/2 t. salt

Grind your lamb and hamburger if needed.   I did grind up some lamb. 

Using my new toy to make finely minced garlic.
I 'smooshed' up the fresh oregano with my mortar and pestle before putting it in with the onion.

Place the onion in a food processor (I use my small chopper) and process until very finely chopped. 

Place meat and onion in a large mixing bowl.  Add all seasonings and mix with your hands until everything is well combined. 

Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend.  Grandma suggested putting the meat into food processor and processing it until it was a thick paste, but I just put the meat into my KitchenAid mixer and walked away for a few minutes while it mixed up.  I did keep an eye on it, but I let it mix for a little while.   Pack into a 9x5-inch loaf pan, making sure there are no air pockets.(Next time I make this, I will form it into a loaf, and then put it into the pan, as I did get a couple of air pockets.)

  Line a roasting pan with a damp kitchen towel.  Place the loaf pan on the towel inside the roasting plan and place in a 325 degree oven.  Fill the roasting pan with boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the loaf pan. You are basically making a 'Bain Marie' here.  I don't have a roaster so used an aluminum bake pan set on a rimmed baking tray.    Bake 1 hour or until the temperature reaches 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.  Safety Note Here:  Remove loaf pan from the roasting pan, when done.  Don't even try to take out the hot water, let it cool in the oven for a little while.  They will be very hot.  Be very careful if removing immediately. Drain the loaf pan of any accumulated fat, or just fork up the baked loaf and set to cool.  Grandma Loy said to place several 1lb. cans on top of the meat and place in the refrigerator to cool and set up overnight.  I didn't do that, real life got in the way and I had to hurry up and just get the loaf into the fridge.   

Gyro  (homemade)Slice meat very thinly and grill or brown in a skillet before serving.   I sliced up the whole loaf and froze most of it.   I can now have Gyro's anytime I want to, giggle.
Serve on flat bread with lettuce, tomato, onion and sauce of your choice. 
The flavour of the meat was spot on.  I've had worse Gyro's in restaurants.  My only quibble with this was the pita bread I made.   I need to try a different recipe.   But the Gyro meat was great.   As was the Tzatziki Sauce I made to serve with it.   Serves 8 to 10.
 *And it also makes a easy breakfast, especially if you're hungry.  All you need to do is slice up some lettuce, tomatoes and onions.  

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