Archive for the ‘Preserves & Condiments’ Category

Homemade Dijon Mustard

January 20, 2013

Snapshot_20130118_1After much research I found a recipe for homemade German mustard and just had to tweak it for my version of a Dijon mustard. Dijon is the mustard most often used in gourmet recipes and making it at home will save money and guarantee quality plus you’ll always know what is in it. Making your own condiments just couldn’t be easier when you start with a tried and true recipe. There’s lots of room to adapt this recipe to your particular tastes, so play around with it and make it your own. You might like to try tarragon vinegar or regular granulated white sugar, maybe some onion juice or garlic powder. I like to use this mustard in my homemade mayonnaise for some real zip.

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How to Make Sauerkraut in a Jar

January 18, 2013

SauerKrautI have a new batch of sauerkraut that will be ready next week, probably Thursday.  Easy Peasy method:  just shred cabbage on a mandolin, add salt (3 Tbsp per 5 pounds of cabbage), bruise the salted cabbage with your hands and pack it really, really tight into a jar. You want the juice to float above the cabbage at least 1 inch.   Place another jar inside to hold the cabbage under the juice…or use giant glass marbles (sterilized of-course).  Set it on your counter on a plate with a tea-towel covering.  Wait 10 or 12 days and voila, old world “sauerkraut”!  Refrigerate to stop fermenting.  Will keep in frig up to a month or longer.

 You can add Juniper berries to the fermenting cabbage for a real old-world flavor. Once the sauerkraut is ready, cook up some sauerbraten and add to a pot of hot sauerkraut cooked with chunks of apple and a teaspoon of caraway or fennel seeds.  Serve with mashed potatoes and homemade Dijon mustard.
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Homemade Papaya Jam Over Fluffy Pancakes

January 10, 2013

ImagePapaya is available nearly year round here in Puerto Rico.  Unlike Hawaiian varieties, Caribbean papaya tend to be large…2 pounds or more is not uncommon. It’s a versatile fruit that can be used in all its stages of ripeness.

Drizzle lime juice over slices of fresh ripe papaya for a cool and refreshing breakfast…so good and loaded with vitamins and minerals.  Over fluffy pancakes papaya jam is to die for.  Green papaya makes a terrific chutney as piquant as you dare and even a pickled salad Filipino style.  A popular dish in the Polynesian South Pacific is lo’i lesi.  Its a papaya filled with coconut milk, a little cinnamon and raw sugar. Then it is wrapped in banana leaves and baked in an umu (underground oven). What a treat! Like pudding.  Polynesians also use shredded green papaya to tenderize lamb, beef, giant clams, octopus and conch.

This jam is even better with a few of the seeds thrown in.  The seeds become tender and have a slight peppery flavor when cooked.  They add a little more character to the jam, at least in appearance.

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Ginger and Starfruit Jam

November 15, 2012

Starfruit and Ginger Jam

Hurricane Sandy did a number on some of the beaches in Rincon, taking away the sand right down to the bedrock in some areas.  My friend, Judy, lost several beautiful fan-palms on the beach side of her home leaving an eight foot drop off.  Fortunately the rest of the property was intact and the fruit trees were unharmed.  Judy had one starfruit tree loaded with fruit so I brought home about 10 pounds of fruit for chutney and this jam.

Tropical fruits are very sweet when ripe with delicate flavors and its important not to overcook them or add ingredients that will overpower their intrinsic flavors.  A couple tablespoons of fresh grated ginger was all that was needed to turn a batch of starfruit into a jam with just a hint of sparkle.  Starfruit tastes like a strawberry with apple tones and has the texture of watermelon or ripe pear depending upon the ripeness.

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Star Fruit Chutney

September 4, 2012

Roasted Chicken and Star Fruit Chutney

Star fruit or Carambola is another tropical fruit with a delicate flavor reminiscent of citrus and watermelon. Its sweet when ripe and makes a nice chutney.  This chutney has just enough jalapeño chili to offset the sweet and sour of the sauce and there’s texture from the onions, bell peppers and fruit.  This condiment really makes chicken and fish pop.  It certainly gave my roasted chicken and fried breadfruit chips a zing.Carambola are in season now here in the Caribbean so you probably can find them in major supermarkets.  They should be yellow with light brown spots on the ribs of the star.  If they’re green without any blemishes just set them in a bowl on the counter for a few days to ripen.  Again, if you’ve been following my blogs, fruit will not ripen sweetly if it was picked too green so its kind of a gamble buying green fruit from a market.  The best fresh produce markets offer a slice of their fruits in season so customers have the opportunity to taste the quality before they buy.

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Guava Jam with Star Anise

September 1, 2012

I’m no newbie when it comes to processing guavas…check out my page The Tongan Experience.  But I’ve got to tell you Puerto Rican guavas are the bomb in size compared to South Pacific guavas.  It takes a lot less Puerto Rican guavas (guayaba) to make jam than the South Pacific variety.

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Mango Saffron Jam

June 22, 2012

The freezer is full of mango slices for smoothies and cakes and my pantry now has a good supply of mango jam.  These little jars of jam spiced with saffron are perfect for gift giving.  A teaspoon of mango-saffron jam in a banana-mango smoothie is a terrific substitute for honey or sugar and makes a yummy filling for sponge cakes.  This jam takes 5-8 minutes to cook, has less sugar and jells in a snap with 1 pouch of Certo pectin.   I love the color of jams and jellies made with Certo pectin.  Because of the reduced cooking time, the color and clarity of jams and jellies made with Certo are brighter and the flavors are fresher.  Small batches also help to control the quality of color, flavor and the gel.  Plus the whole canning process is less of a chore when the batch is smaller.

Start by finding really ripe mangoes…they’re the sweetest.  They should be firm but not bruised and have a heavenly fragrance. The flavor of a mango is like a peach married to a papaya.  Always taste a slice to be sure they are sweet and the texture isn’t mushy.

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Whiskey Orange Marmalade

April 18, 2012

Whiskey Orange Marmalade

Bread and jam always invokes memories of The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins.  Marmalade is one of the easiest jams to make and citrus fruits are ideal for making marmalade since they have abundant natural pectin.  The addition of whiskey is borrowed from an Australian friend of mine who is of Scottish heritage…makes perfect sense since the Scots are known for their fondness of whiskey…and adds another flavor dimension as well as preventing mold.  The whiskey is actually floated on top of the marmalade before sealing the jar.  Of-course you can leave out the whiskey or if you prefer the whiskey can be added to marmalade in the last 3 or 4 minutes of boiling. read more

Pickled Limes Cured in the Island Sun

December 31, 2011

Winter in the Caribbean is lush with limes, bitter oranges, mandarins, carambola (star fruit) and a host of other organic fruit and vegetables.  This recipe turns those bitter oranges into a condiment fit for avocado dishes, a compound butter for chicken and fish, salad dressings, fragrant rice dishes and more.  When the price for citrus in local markets soar, these pickled citrus are just the ticket and so easy to make with sea salt, garlic, chili, and assorted spices.  Pureed or smashed into a paste, these pickled citrus are very much like yuzu kosho (Japanese condiment made with orange citrus shaped like a hand) at pennies of the cost.

Every island in the Caribbean has bitter orange trees thanks to the Spanish conquistadors.  Unable to grow Seville oranges in the Caribbees, Curaçao in particular, the Spanish conquistadors ended up with these very bitter little oranges which are the basis of Curaçao liqueur also known as Triple-Sec.  They’re a good substitute for lemons and limes in a pinch but much better as a fermented pickle or made into liqueur.     read more

Pequin Chile Sauce

August 24, 2011

According to the Scoville Heat Scale pequin (also spelled piquin) chile peppers are right up there with Tabasco and Cayenne pepper…30,000 SHU to 60,000 SHU.  Not as hot as a Scotch Bonnet or habañero pepper but plenty spicy and fruity for my tastes.  Pequin chiles grow wild here in Puerto Rico and I have also picked them in the wild bush of Tonga in the South Pacific.

One of the advantages to this recipe is its replenishable without having to add more chilies or start from scratch again…at least a couple times…all that is needed to fill up the bottle again is more brine and time.

Any size glass bottle or jar will work depending upon how many chilies you have.  If a gallon jar is used, strain the sauce through a fine-mesh and fill smaller bottles for table use.  If you can’t find fresh pequin chilies in local markets, there are dried pequin chilies available in most Latin markets or check out for seeds and all the instructions to grow your own pequins.  They also have several good salsa recipes.

Use this sauce like Tabasco.  It adds a little sparkle to just about any savory dish.

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