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The habaneros are all gone!

Well, not disappeared. The last 2-3 pounds went into a crock, layered
with salt according to George Shirley's instructions and they'll be
pepper sauce about Christmas. Hey, George, do you weight down the top
on those? I threw in a layer of jalapenos too - and more peppers will
be layered in when they come into season. Thank Moses for the
Cuisinart. I've just been using it with the lower blade (got it
Februsary) until now, but does that thing ever make chopping peppers
easy. I may never chop an onion again. This thing has made it possible
for me to make things I never even dreamed of. About 5 minutes to get
nice pretty pepper slices out of 5 pounds total of peppers. Zzzzzpft!
- there goes another bunch.

I emptied the 3-gallon crock that had pickles in it and moved them
into the 5-gallon crock for the last week or so of their fermentation.
I must be getting better at picking pickles because they was not a
squisher amongst 'em - and that's over 7 pounds. If you ever made
pickles, you'll know what I mean by a "squisher". If you haven't, you
don't want to know. All I knew was that I didn't want to give up the
5-gallon crock for 6 months while the voodoo sauce brews, so I didn't
start it there.

Right now, and I do mean RIGHT NOW, right after finishing that last
paragraph, I just pulled 6 half-pints of habanero jelly out of the
BWB. Loosely following a pepper jelly recipe, I put three pounds of
habs in the Cuisinart (my new best friend - hehehe) last week and
added 7% white wine vinegar until it got real sloshy. I sealed that up
in a gallon jar with the Tilia and waited a week. (pause - just
checked the jelly - all the jars have sealed already. None of that
nice tactile snap like a domed lid, but the Golden Harvest lids have a
little, well, there's nothing better to call it, it's a nipple
dangitall, and it, uh, no, I'll stop with the graphics here, it just
goes away when the jar is sealed). Yesterday, I put the slosh in a
jelly bag and just let it drip out most of the afternoon at its own
rate. A few curious fruit-flyoid critters buzzed near it and I watched
sadistically, hoping one would take a taste, but they're smarter than
I guessed. I filtered the extract on more time, through a paper towel,
and unlike the last time when I got a clear liquid, this remained a
bright orange. Last time I just gave it overnight to extract.

I put about 3 ounces of that extract in a blue medicine bottle with an
eye-dropper and took it over to the BBQ place, along with some posters
I made for a special tomorrow night. Jake, the owner, liked it so well
that he put it on the top liquor shelf. I just labeled it "Essence Of
Habanero" and put in a small print disclaimer about signing a waiver,
etc. That is no kidding. I accidentally touched my eye this morning
and, even after many previous washing, got a bit of a burn. I guess
they're not kidding about plastic gloves for dealing with these guys.
Just from the fumes, I have been sneezing and coughing, but they are
nice sneezings and coughings because they are endorphin-induced <g>.
Everything that has come in contact with the various hab stuff, except
myself, is in the dishwasher right now.

I also made two more mustard yesterday. I am increasing all these
recipes to produce 3 cups total. Here is mustard #3:

HAZELNUT MUSTARD

14 roasted hazelnuts, skins removed
1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds, coarsely-ground
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup hazelnut oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Yield: 3/4 cup (in reality more)

I found it is much easier to find hazelnuts once you realize they are
also called filberts. At $5.50 a pound bulk, they are not that bad a
deal. In fact I cut back on the hazelnut oil, which is quite
expensive, and just added more hazelnuts. I also added honey and used
white pepper - and a white wine instead of water.

I've bought all the brown mustard seeds they have at my discount
store, so I'll probably have to cool it on dark mustards for a while.
Today, I wiped them out of mustard powder too, but I did get enough to
make the following - I wanted a contrast with the dark, seed-based
mustards I've done so far:

HONEY MUSTARD

1 cup mustard powder
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 clove garlic (try to stop at one - ha!)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Yield: 1 1/4 cups (in reality less)

With both mustards, as with the previous recipes I've posted, just mix
the stuff together in a food processor or blender, then let it age a
couple of weeks (I check for thickness after one week). Other than the
above, I started a rye sourdough with the pickle-skimmins and made a
nice meal of homemade noodles with beef tenderloin last night, shared
with a special friend. I got much more cooking accomplished in my days
off this week than I ever imagined I could, but I'm sorry to say these
days are coming to an end. Within the month, I will be on a regular
schedule, M-F, and will lose that extra day off. It will be nice to
have weekends socially again for the first tme in 5 years, but I'm
sure gonna miss that extra day of cookin'.

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