Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pickled grapes (p. 228), Panfried leftover pasta (p. 323), and Ohio farmhouse sausage chili (p. 514)

First things first, I just posted an old blog from November--if you have a blog reader, it probably showed up, but if you don't, go check it out! I love when people officially "follow" my blog because it's good for my ego but I know that I have readers who just have TJOTJOC in their blogreaders and that's terrific too.

I've mentioned before that I always panfry leftover pasta because I think it's soft and gross heated up any other way (a trick I was taught by my mom). While going through TJOC, I noticed that Panfried leftover pasta (p. 323) was actually a recipe--but I had never taken pictures while making it. I rectified that today!

TJOC and I make this the exact same way.

First, heat up olive oil and dump the pasta into the pan.

Cook it, stirring fairly often (otherwise it burns).

I REALLY recommend heating pasta up this way--delicious! (And if you are wondering about the pasta, it's rotini with a garlicy tomato sauce that I got out of Mark Bittman's cookbook that my brother got me for Christmas--I know, I was cheating on TJOC!).

I decided to make Ohio farmhouse sausage chili (p. 514) for dinner because it was incredibly easy. This is a sausage chili rather than a hamburger chili. At first, you brown pork sausage and onion. I think normally the sausage would have a higher fat content than the Boulder Company sausage I used--I actually had to add a little olive oil because there was NO fat at all.

When the sausage was browned, celery is added until it's softened. I've never had celery in chili!

I added diced tomatoes, maple syrup, cumin, sage, and black pepper. TJOC calls for two cups of either tomato juice or chicken stock. I was making chicken stock but needed something immediately, so I used (the hated) canned chicken stock. The can was.5 cups too short but I didn't want to open a second can so I searched the house for tomato juice. And all I found was Spicy Hot V8. I figured it was good enough and added a half cup.

I love Spicy Hot V8 (in a Bloody Mary or by itself) but I had no idea how it was going to work in chili.

The finished product (after the beans are added and it's simmered for a while):

How was it? AMAZINGLY GOOD. I just wanted to drink the broth it was so good! Apparently, I love the combination of cumin, sage, and black pepper, and the Spicy Hot V8 was an awesome addition. This is absolutely a recipe that I think I will have to fool around with more (oh, and I love red kidney beans in chili). I'm not sure that I will make this exact recipe again but I will definitely make some version of it in the future.

And on to the piece de resistance of my Monday cooking...Pickled grapes (p. 228). I'm not sure exactly what attracted me to this recipe. I love pickles although I've never had pickled fruits. But I have been doing so spectacularly terribly on the fruit chapter I really needed to produce something from it and the pickled grapes were calling my name (figuratively, of course, it would be quite scary if they were literally calling my name).

So how did I pickle grapes?

The first step is to fill the jars (or one big jar or a bowl) with a couple cups of grapes and some garlic. Grapes and garlic? The recipe is interesting already!

Another view:

Then I made the pickling mixture--cider vinegar, sugar, fresh ginger, salt, coriander, whole colves, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. I simmered it until the sugar dissolved (at this point it was a sort of spicey vinegar syrup). The kitchen smelled like I had just been cleaning!

The pickle was then poured into the jars...

Top view:

And they were let stand for an hour before I tasted the first one (they don't require an actual canning step).

How was it?

Tasty! Shockingly tasty. It's a weird experience. The first thing you think is "Wow, these are gross". As you chew, you think "Hmmm...these are actually pretty good". When you finish the first one you think "That was terrific!" and before you know it you've polished off half a jar. Josh had the exact same experience! I have to say, I will make these again. In fact, I will probably make these again within a week because I have a sad suspicion that they will all have disappeared...

In other news, I'm producing an index of the all of the indexes. I'm also stealing an idea from Teena of the Gourmet Project. She uses a random number generator to generate page numbers and she has to cook something off of them every so often. It's a good way to make sure that you aren't avoiding recipes--otherwise I could end up with a year of really nasty-looking foods that I didn't want to make.

I'm going to post my list (that way I can't cheat!) so make sure to look for it. I think I'll post it on the side bar...

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  1. I've never tried pan-frying leftover pasta but I will next time! Especially as pasta is often my fall-back for dinner plans, even more so that I now have lots of home-made pesto from my basil garden, yum!
    And I can't believe I've never thought of using sausage for chilli, duh!! We don't eat much beef and I usually use ground turkey but it's rather lacking for chili I think. Oh and maple syrup, interesting...
    Great post!

  2. Wow, pickled grapes? I wonder who ever thought, "Hmmm, what am I going to do with all these grapes?" and then said, "A-ha! Pickles!" It must have been a strange thought process, but I've got to admin, you've piqued my interest.

  3. Pan-frying pasta is where it is at :) I hate when it's soggy.

    And I agree, sausage is a great idea but not one I would have came up with either!

    And Kate, I totally agree about pickling the grapes. It is totally bizarre :)

  4. My grandparents used to pan fry leftover pasta...I haven't done it in ages!

    That chili looks delicious...I'm interested in the spicy v8 in it!!

  5. Whoa... Pickled grapes are GOOD? Just looking at them makes me a little queasy. I'll have to try making them - although I'm gonna feed them to my friend Jason first. I think he could eat an aluminum can if necessary, and he's a good picked things taste-tester.

  6. I like to use v8 and spicy v8 to sneak some goodness into a dish (whispers)don't tell.


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