Dreamy's Delights

It's all about the food!

Review – HazMat Hot Sauce

Yesterday, Jene and I drove down to Hollister, CA just for the purpose of tasting HazMat hot sauce. It’s the creation of a friend of mine who lives locally. Marcie’s  got it in production and sells it both in some local restaurants and markets and online.

hazmat1

Anyone who knows me, knows I can’t eat hot sauce to save my life but Jene loves the stuff. Keeping this in mind, I brutally forced him to drive me the hour+ down to Hollister. It was a gorgeous day for a drive though. The rain from the night before had cleaned the air and it was in the low 70s with bright sunshine.

Jene was very perplexed by the fact that I was making him drive all the way to Hollister to try out hot sauce. Once we got there and he tasted it, he realized it was a good plan. 😀

HazMat is made with an interesting combination of apricots and habanero peppers with other bits of sweet from carrots and bell peppers. Jene’s first question was “What’s the sweet?” My first reaction a tiny drop was fanning my mouth and jumping around. For the sake of this blog I’m about to try tasting it again to see if I can pick up ANY flavor other than the pain of the heat lol.

*brief pause for tasting and gulping water*

Ok, yes, there is a really lovely apricot flavor but then the heat kicks me in the back of the mouth and I want to start crying. 😀 I even tasted it twice to try and give an honest report on the flavor… It’s nicely sweet and VERY hot for someone like me who can’t even handle a jalapeno. If you like HOT sauce, you’ll definitely like this!

We stopped at Arby’s on the way home yesterday and got some roast beast sandwiches (yes, I said beast on purpose) and between his sandwich and his jalapeno poppers, Jene went through almost a quarter of a bottle. I am fairly certain that Marcie didn’t think anyone would use it up that fast. I may have to have her sell it to me in gallon bottles!

As I sit here writing this review, I can think of a lot of ways to use this hot sauce in my cooking that would be excellent… a few drops in the mix for my stuffed bell peppers, a glug into a pot of chili (kind of obvious), a little bit mixed into a vinaigrette… There are lots of possibilities as long as I don’t mind not being able to eat what I made. *wicked grin*

So if you like hot sauce, I highly recommend you check out HazMat. 🙂

And here’s the website one more time. http://tastethehotzone.com/

 

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More Fermentation!! Like more cowbell only tastier

More cowbell! This just needs more cowbell! I mean FERMENTATION, this just needs more FERMENTATION. I have to admit that I think I’m completely hooked on fermenting things. We already knew I was thrilled with cheese making and all other things cooking related. This just adds another skill to my list of things I like to do. 😀  The really lovely thing is that it’s not nearly as work intensive as cheese making, which is an all day process (12+ hours sometimes) that has to be carefully monitored. Fermentation is MUCH easier, hooray!

Today’s batch of fermentation is a blend of gold beets, celery root, rainbow carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onions and garlic. I asked for ideas in a Facebook group on food preservation and they suggested curry. I wasn’t sure about it at first but as I put everything together, the smell of the vegetables spoke to me of curry. I happened to have a good amount of Maharajah curry powder from Penzeys spices. It’s a mild curry with good depth of flavor which I thought would go wonderfully with this.

currypickledrootveggiesOct82014

You can see the beautiful color from the saffron threads in the curry powder. By the time it’s done everything should have a gorgeous golden color. These are half gallon mason jars with air locks on top. You can’t see them but there are clear glass weights on top of the veggies.

Everything will sit in the jars overnight and tomorrow evening I’ll check to make sure enough liquid has been released or if I need to add some brine. The smell is FANTASTIC! Even after washing my hands several times I still smell like curry lol.

I had originally thought about making my own curry blend with whole spices. Finally, the fact that the curry powder needed to be used up combined with the fact that I was getting super tired won the day. I think I’m going to be very glad that I did it this way.

The jar on the left didn’t have enough of the original blend to be full so I added a cabbage on top. I’ve still got a couple of cabbages left so I’ll add them to the sauerkraut pot tomorrow when I’m not so tired. 😉

To the right of the jars you can see a plum and some apples.. I’ve got apples, plums and pears which are going into a jar with a nice pour of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum. Because you can never go wrong with fruit and booze. That will be tomorrow’s project though. I’m pretty much done for today. 🙂

 

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Sauteed Mixed Greens with Lemon-Parmesan Cream Sauce (and some bacon)

Every week Jene and I get a box of organic produce from Full Circle. They’re a company that delivers locally sourced, in season produce each week. You can go on their website and pick from a selection of things you want in your box each week and shop for extras as well. The best part is that it’s delivered to your front door early in the morning and you wake up to a box full of yummyness. I say “produce” but they also offer dairy products and meats. The offerings vary based on the season and what’s available. I love it and highly recommend trying it if it’s available in your location.

So.. anyway… Last week I got a couple of nice bunches of rainbow chard. I decided I’d just saute them with some bacon and onions, then toss in some heavy cream and parmesan cheese to finish it off. It came out quite good. This week I took the recipe a bit farther.

Recipe

1/2 lb bacon, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

3 bunches of chard

1 bunch of kale

1 small bag of baby spinach

2 lemons, juiced

1/3 cup heavy cream

3/4-1 cup grated parmesan (if you’re using pre-grated you will want to use a bit less because fresh grated is fluffy)

1 TB dried dill

1/2 tsp white pepper (you can use black)

salt to taste

In a large pot, over medium heat, saute the bacon until crispy-ish. Add the onions and continue to cook until translucent.

Meanwhile, rinse the greens thoroughly but don’t dry them completely. The water will help cook them. Roughly chop the card and kale, removing the tough center stem from the kale.

When the onions are tender, add the kale to the pot first, then the chard. Add the lemon juice, pepper and dill. Don’t add the spinach yet. Let the greens cook, stirring them frequently until they appear to be softening. NOW you can add the spinach. Cook just long enough to wilt the spinach a bit.

Pour the cream into the post and stir well. Finally stir in the parmesan a bit at a time. If you add it all at once it can make a big clump that is slow to melt. Taste and season with salt if desired. The bacon and parmesan make it fairly salty on its own.

There you have it… the fancy version. If you want it even simpler, use bacon, onion, any of the three types of greens, salt and pepper and cream with parmesan. The steps are the same, just fewer ingredients. 🙂

 

 

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What kind of recipes would you like to see me post?

I started this blog with the intention of sharing my cooking experiences and recipes. I’m not sure I’m sharing much that’s worth sharing.

I do have recipes but I wonder if too many of them are too complicated for most people to want to bother with. So I thought I’d ask and see if any of my readers have comments on what they’d like to see. I know there are a few of you out there watching me plod along lol.

Do you guys think I should invest in a good camera and take more pictures?

Do you want more very basic stuff and less advanced stuff?

Do you want more or less insight into how an idea pops into my head?

Do I need to include more steps as to how I make a creation go from brain to table?

Do you want to hear more or less of the scientific side of things like lacto-fermentation or cheese making?

I find myself not posting things I make because they seem too simple for people to be interested in them or they’re not quite perfect. Do you want the super simple and not quite perfect stuff?

Please PLEASE let me know what you think. I need some direction to go with this.

Thank you! 🙂

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Fermented pickles – First attempt

I know I’ve been talking about making lacto-fermented pickles for over a year now. Well, I’ve finally got myself together enough to give it a try today. I went to three farmer’s markets yesterday AND bought a second pickling crock just to make sure I could get a batch done before the end of the cucumber season. The second crock was because I needed to get a new batch of sauerkraut going.

Now, that I think of it.. A note on eating fresh sauerkraut: This stuff is beyond awesome for keeping your inside ticking along regularly. Due to the medications I take, this is important lol. So since I’m down to just one quart left of the last batch, it’s time to make more. This is the same dill/onion combo but with daikon radish added.

Ok, back to my pickle preparations… The first part of the prep work was doing some reading up on the process. One of the things I found out was that a key ingredient in making crisp pickles is tannin. Main sources are fresh grape leaves, oak leaves and black tea. An interesting note is that spices like cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves also contain tannins, which explains why you find them in pickling spice blends. I don’t have a handy grape vine or oak tree but I DO have some black tea so I’m going to put a couple of tea bags in the bottom of the crock.

The next step is prepping the cucumbers. Since I bought them yesterday and it had probably been a few days since they were picked, I have had them sitting in water all afternoon to perk back up. Next step, I finished washing them and then trimmed off the blossom end. It turns out there are enzymes in the blossom that can eat out the center of the pickle leaving it hollow. Huh, never knew THAT either.

Once the cucumbers were prepped, the tea bags go in the bottom of the crock along with some garlic, pickling spice and fresh dill. I didn’t have fresh dill seed heads but I did have some dried seed heads I used in combination with fresh dill sprigs.

Once everything was in the crock I added a brine of about 5.4% salinity. This works out to about 1.8 ounces of salt to quart of water. I use weight here because salts come in so many different grain sizes. It’s important not to use regular table salt or salts with iodine or anti-caking agents added. The only ingredient on the box should be “salt.” The additives can create off colors, flavors and cloudy brine. Icky.

In my reading I found that some people recommend adding a bit of a “starter” to get the ferment going. Either sauerkraut juice or boiled wine or boiled vinegar. The wine or vinegar get boiled to kill off any yeast that might still be active. Personally, living in the rich environment of the San Francisco Bay area, I don’t feel a need to use as starter. My previous batches of sauerkraut have done just fine so I’m confident the pickles will too.

While I was filling the crock I decided a tiny bit of heat would be ok so I tossed in a few dried hot peppers. I’m not sure what type of peppers I used but they’re pretty hot as far as I’m concerned. Jene will disagree but too bad lol. Here’s a picture of what it looked like when I started filling up the crock.

picklecrockOct52014

I layered in more fresh dill as I filled the crock with the cucumbers. I like my pickles really dilly. I’m not sure there’s enough garlic. I might have to add more in the future after I taste my first pickle. These pickles will sit on the counter for several weeks before they’re ready. Just as with sauerkraut, I’ll check them every day or two and skim off any bloom that forms. Here’s what it looks like with the plate and weight on top.

picklecrockfinished

 

I will really have to keep a close eye on this because it’s just a bit overfull. I’ll give it a day or two two see if there’s any settling and if not, I’ll pull the top layer of cucumbers off. The pickles should be covered with at least an inch of  brine, which they are, but it’s a very close thing lol. I know I’m excited about seeing how these come out in the next few weeks. 🙂

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