Sunday, September 10, 2017

Cowboy Candy



Last year, I came across a pickle I wanted to try called "Cowboy Candy".....a sweet hot jalapeno pickle.   I never got around to it last year, but this season, I noticed some new fb friends Libby and Liz that I met through the Michigan Tech Parents facebook group were both making some, so it inspired me to try my hand at it.   I found a farmer with lots of jalapenos, well priced, at the Ypsilanti Farmer's Market, so I picked up a bunch to add to what I was already growing in my patio garden.

I started googling around for recipes and noticed that most had a huge amount of sugar in them, so I decided to develop my own recipe with less.    I also didn't want to add too much seasoning to distract from the taste....one popular recipe included celery seed, which I thought would be too overpowering.   I did like the addition of turmeric; it gave the peppers great color

Cowboy Candy
makes about 6 half pints

Ingredients
3 pounds fresh firm, jalapeno peppers, washed
2 cups cider vinegar
4 cups white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon turmeric
12 cloves garlic, peeled

Wearing gloves, remove the stems from all of the jalapeno peppers.  Slice the peppers into uniform 1/8-1/4 inch rounds. Set aside. In a large pot, bring cider vinegar, white sugar, turmeric to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pepper slices and simmer for exactly 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peppers, loading into clean, hot canning jars to within 1/4 inch of the upper rim of the jar. Turn heat up under the pot with the syrup and bring to a full rolling boil.

Use a ladle to pour the boiling syrup into the jars over the jalapeno slices, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper towel and fix on new, two-piece lids to finger-tip tightness.

If you have leftover syrup, you could can it in half-pint or pint jars, too. I used mine to marinate some pork chops.  Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.


These pickles are great out of the jar and not very spicy.  The sugar tempers the bite.   They are great on sandwiches or served over cream cheese as an appetizer.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Canning at the Chelsea Fair




I have never entered anything in a canning contest at a fair, but I decided this year I would give it a try at the Chelsea Fair.    It is held each August in the next town over, Chelsea.  Here's how I did:

First place
Corn Relish (I was the only entrant!)

Second Place
Salsa #5 - very proud of this as there were 9 entries
Bruschetta in a Jar 
Pickled Cauliflower   from Linda Ziedrich's Joy of Pickling, one of my favorite canning books
Mustard Beans
Stewed Rhubarb

Third Place
Rhubarb Jam - this recipe without the Earl Grey tea

Fourth Place
Pickled Asparagus  from the University of Georgia's Center for Home Food Preservation.   One day I will visit that place in person!  I often find myself in Athens, GA for work.

I was surprised that pickled asparagus came in 4th, I thought it looked the best.   This type of canning contest is really a beauty contest, they don't taste the entrants.    When we used to have the Classic Michigan State Fair (RIP), they tasted them.    Probably a better way to do it!

Monday, August 07, 2017

Home Made Gnocchi



It's rare that an Italian restaurant is my first choice when dining out....mostly because Italian food is so easy to make at home.    That being said, I have never made my favorite pasta, gnocchi, at home from scratch.  Instead, I always end up buying that overpriced vacuum sealed product at the grocery store for $4.   My Italian friend Patty said she made hers from scratch, so I decided I'd give it a shot.

I googled around for some recipes, and I really liked the basic ones that included just 3 ingredients: potato, all purpose flour, and an egg.   I was curious about how to form the gnocchi with the ridges in it......but it was super easy!  Just roll it down the tines of a fork with your thumb smushing it down....
I quickly got my gnocchi formed and it was ready to cook in boiling salted water:



I'm at our lakehouse on the Keweenaw this week, so I made a pasta sauce from scratch with the great UP favorite Italian sausage cudighi, but any Italian sausage would be great.   This serves 4 people.

Cudighi Sauce

1 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced small
1 red bell pepper, diced small
1 lb.  cudighi or Italian sausage
1 large can (29 oz) tomato sauce
1 small can (6 oz) tomato paste
2 T chopped fresh basil



In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat and add onion and pepper, saute until soft.  Add sausage and brown until cooked through.   Add tomato products and simmer on low.

While the sauce is cooking, make the gnocchi.   Super easy!

Gnocchi
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
2 c. all purpose flour
1 egg

Cook potatoes in salted water until soft.   Drain and mash in a medium mixing bowl.   Add flour and egg and stir until well combined.   Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth.    Divide into 6 pieces and roll out into 1/2 inch thick snakes, just like you did as a kid with Play Dough.   Cut each snake into 1/2 inch pieces.   Roll the pieces down a fork like shown in the video above.  At this point, you can freeze them on a baking sheet, or cook them in a large pot of boiling salted water, a half batch at a time.   Boil them until they float, and then strain them out of the water and put them in the sauce.    If the sauce is too thick, add some of the pasta water to it to thin it.  Plate gnocchi and garnish with basil.

It really didn't take much time at all to make this.....about an hour, start to finish.  And the texture is so much better than the plastic pouch gnocchi.