A practical guide for homemade ways to enhance your day-to-day cooking for weeks to come.
Have you ever tried your hand at flavoring vinegars, creating unique spice blends, or made your own sun-dried tomatoes? It''s easier than you think and you may grow to appreciate the more traditional process of canning and preserving that are considered true "lost arts" in the process. Whether you spend some time at your local farmer's market gathering fresh fruit, herbs and vegetables, pull from your own garden, or enlist spices from your kitchen rack, here's a simple list of ways to create flavorful recipes that could quite possibly be older than you are and fit within the realm of "lost arts" in some food circles.
1. Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Yields: approximately 2-3 pints
6 pounds ripe plum tomatoes Sea or Kosher salt for sprinkling Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F. and line baking sheets with wire racks. Wash the tomatoes well and slice them in half lengthwise. Sliced side up, place the tomatoes on the racks. Sprinkle lightly with the salt. Bake in the oven for about 10-12 hours. Depending on the size and ripeness of the tomatoes, they can take longer. Store in an airtight container. You can also place them in a sterile jar and immerse them fully in good olive oil. If packed in oil, they can be stored under refrigeration for approximately 2 months. Sun-Dried Tomato Tapanade Recipe
2. Asian-Style Spice Blend
Yields: About 1 cup
Peel of 1 orange, pith removed, sliced into 1- by 1/2-inch strips 4 Scotch bonnet chiles, cut into 1/4-inch slices 1/2 cup sesame seeds 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground garlic 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon anise seed 2 teaspoons Kosher salt Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the orange peel on one and the chile pepper slices on the other and bake until dry â about 1 hour for the orange peel and about 90 minutes for the peppers. Remove from oven and let cool. Place 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon orange peel and the remaining ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine. Use the blend as a rub on meats, fish and tofu or add to a marinade. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
3. Sweet Vinegar
Yields: 1 quart
1 quart white wine vinegar 4 cardamom pods, crushed 2 star anise 4 cloves 1 cinnamon stick 5 cups sugar Place the vinegar and spices in a non-reactive pan and bring to boil. Add the sugar and stir until it fully dissolves. Bring to a boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, cover, and let the flavors infuse for about 3 hours. At this point, you can bottle and seal the vinegar for future use or use it immediately. Stored properly, the flavored vinegar will keep for approximately 6-12 months.
4. Apple-Ginger Chutney
1/4 cup cider vinegar 2 apples, peeled, cored and diced 1 tablespoon minced 1/2 Spanish onion, diced small 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 cup water 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 1/4 cup raisins Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Stir in the vinegar, apples, ginger, pepper, onion, and garlic, water, sugar, raisins, and remaining salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until apples are very tender and mixture has thickened slightly, about 25 minutes. Chutneys go amazingly well with pork, fish, and yes, even baked tofu.
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