It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here, largely because, frankly, it takes a lot of time to get posts together in the way I have been. But I find that I miss having a record recipes I’ve made and what I thought of them, especially ones I’m likely to make again, like pickles and condiments. So, I’m going to start posting again, but much more informally.
So, that said, here’s a recipe for Chili-Garlic Sauce I made recently with hot peppers from my dad’s garden. I’m not sure exactly what kind they were; he couldn’t remember. They looked a bit like thai bird peppers, but a bit larger and very thin-walled, almost like smaller cayenne. The recipe is a mish-mash of several I found. I think it’s closest to Tuong Ot Toi – Vietnamese Chili-Garlic sauce – but it isn’t exactly that. It has some funkiness from the fish sauce, sweetness from the bell peppers and a nice lingering slow burn.
You can use just about any type of chili in this recipe; obviously the results will be somewhat different depending what type you use. You can also add more sweet peppers or leave them out entirely, depending how hot you want it.
10 oz chilies
2 oz red bell peppers (I used melrose)
6 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp fish sauce
Mince the chilies, bell peppers and garlic. Mix everything in a small pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Pour/scoop into jars and screw on the lids. (This size batch made 4 4 oz jars, which is the same as 2 1/2 pint jars.) Leave the jars sit out on the counter for about two days to ferment. At this point, you can process in a boiling water bath if you want to store them on the shelf, otherwise they’ll store in the fridge for about a year.
Back in culinary school I took an elective in Indian cooking. One of the dishes we made along the way was dal makhani, a stew made of urad dal (also known as Indian black lentils or black gram), kidney beans, ginger, garlic, garam masala, tomato and plenty of butter and cream. (There’s something quite satisfying about being able to unwrap a whole stick of butter and just drop it into a pot of stew.) The recipe was simple, rich and easy to make in bulk. Definitely a keeper.
A few days ago, I had hands down the best winter squash I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat. I don’t have such hubris as to talk about my own cooking that way (although my preparation was pretty damn good.) Just the squash itself was amazing. Eating the steamed squash plain with nothing added was phenomenal…rich, earthy and sweet in much the same way as all winter squash, but somehow moreso. Have you ever tried to cook or eat a carving pumpkin? They taste like someone took the flavor of an acorn or butternut and cut it in half. This tasted like someone took the flavor of an acorn or butternut and doubled it.
One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about subscribing to the CSA this year is that I get a box of random produce every other week. It makes dinner every night a bit like mystery box cooking…open the fridge and see what’s there to work with. There are also things I haven’t enjoyed about having the CSA, mainly that I haven’t made it to the farmers market much this year because I don’t want to go get more produce when I already have a fridge full at home. I’m trying to figure out how to balance the two so I can continue getting my myster box (and supporting the farmers) without losing those trips to the farmers market. So far my main idea is just to cook more at home…but that has its own problems.
These lentils are one of my standbys. They’re good cold in the summer, hot in the winter or room temperature any time. I usually make a big batch of these along with something else for dinner, then eat the leftovers for lunch for the rest of the week. They go wonderfully with a salad for a light summer dinner or as a side dish for a heavier winter dinner. In short, they’re great no matter how you eat them. And when they’re cheap and easy on top of that…