Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Homemade Hot Giardiniera

It takes a lot for me to get excited about a turkey and cheese sandwich. A lot. But, boy, does this giardiniera do the trick.

Having never tried giardiniera during my one visit to Chi-town, the concept for this as a sandwich topping was one I could kind of care less about. I don't eat hot dogs and rarely eat Italian beef sandwiches, so this wasn't really on my "to make" list. However, after watching a couple episodes of the Sandwich King, along with reading so many great reviews on Jeff Mauro's recipe, my mind was changed and I decided I had to at least try it.

I'm not going to lie, I had my doubts. Especially after pulling it out of the refrigerator after the initial 24 hour saltwater brine process. To say it smelled unappetizing may be an understatement. My husband wasn't convinced that it would be edible, but I was only three small steps away from completion, so I persevered.  Thank God I did. The end result was a slightly spicy, flavorful topping that I think my sandwich is so much better for being topped with. Even my husband, who has a thing against crunchy, uncooked vegetables seem to really enjoy this.

I followed the recipe as written using five Serrano peppers. It gave it a really nice, but not overpowering heat. I highly recommend making sure the saltwater brine is rinsed off the veggies thoroughly after their first night in the fridge. If you don't do a good job rinsing, I understand the giardiniera may turn out too salty. This is also one of those condiments that just gets better with age, which is a nice bonus because it makes a lot. And we all know I love a recipe that I can share with a friend or three.

Homemade Hot Giardiniera
Yield: 3 - 4 cups
  • 1/4 cup table salt
  • 1 cup small-diced carrots
  • 1 cup tiny cauliflower florets
  • 4 to 8 Serrano peppers, sliced (depending on heat level desired)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced small
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine 2 cups water and the salt in a glass or non-reactive bowl. Mix until the salt is dissolved. Add the carrots, cauliflower, Serranos, garlic, celery and bell pepper to the salt water and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Day 2, drain and rinse the vegetables. In a clean bowl, mix together the oil with the oregano and pepper. Add the vegetables and mix to combine. Allow to marinate overnight. Giardiniera will only get better with time. After 2 days at the most in the bowl, you can place in air-tight mason jars and keep in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 weeks.

Source: Food Network's Sandwich King, Jeff Mauro

Monday, March 12, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Deliciousness

Looking for some tasty ideas for St. Patrick's Day? Here are some of the goods that may be coming from my kitchen again this year:

What's not to love? It's better than Bailey's (and I actually really enjoy Bailey's). This stuff is GOOD.
A tender, slightly fruity, almost no-knead bread. And you look like a rock star because you made your own bread. How easy it was can be our little secret.
Moist chocolatey cupcake. Rich chocolate ganache. Velvety smooth Irish cream buttercream. Chocolate shavings. Absolute heaven. Make these. They really are as good as they sound.

I've also got a couple new recipes on deck. My youngest loves all things mint chocolate chip (and really, who could blame her?!), so we have this mint chocolate chip cookie recipe on the agenda for Friday. I'm also pretty curious about this cheddar Guinness dip. I can have dip with a cupcake and an Irish cream chaser, right?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Steel Cut Oats with Apples and Raisins

I love trying new ways to make oatmeal. Maybe I'm secretly hoping that one of these versions my kids will flip for, but so far, no luck. I think it's a texture thing. And one thing steel cut oats are not lacking in is texture. They are both nutty, creamy, and chewy all at once. If you're new to steel cut oats, my description doesn't really do them justice.

This version was delicious: The apple, cinnamon, raisin combination is pretty classic, and the maple syrup really amp-ed up the sweetness. I halved the recipe and the leftovers were also tasty, with just a small amount of milk added while reheating.

If those sweetened packets of instant oatmeal are your thing, shake things up a bit with this healthier version. As with other versions I've shared, if apples and raisins don't sound that appealing, use any other variety of dried fruit and nuts. I see a cranberry pecan version in my future.

Steel Cut Oats with Apples and Raisins
Yield: 4-6 servings
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup (2% or 1%) milk
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and grated
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
Combine the water and milk in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a simmer.  Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 10- or 12-inch skillet over medium heat.  Add the oats and toast, stirring occasionally, until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Stir the toasted oats into the simmering liquid.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the mixture is very thick, about 20 minutes.  Stir in the salt, cinnamon, apple, raisins and maple syrup.  Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the oatmeal is creamy, about 10 minutes more.  Remove from the heat and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Source: The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Cookbook