All posts filed under “Sauces & Condiments

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“Kitchen” Spice Mix

It may seem ridiculously obvious that during the potato famine, the Irish ate a lot of potatoes. But did you know that’s literally all they ate? Although their meager diet was occasionally supplemented with some herring or an oat cake or two, for the most part, all the Irish ate was potatoes. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, 6 to 8 pounds a day. In order to create a little variety in their diet, the thrifty Irish added some “kitchen” to the potatoes, using any flavorful morsel they could find to improve the meal. A little bit of black pepper, some salted fish, foraged shellfish and seaweed, it was all used to “kitchen” the potatoes.

I learned this gem of culinary history from the book 97 Orchard, a thoroughly enjoyable look at the food habits of five different cultures living in the tenements of New York City. Now that I’m back in New York, I’ve started the food book club back up, and 97 Orchard was February’s pick. The book has many fascinating tidbits—so many that I am planning to read it a second time to catch the ones I originally missed—but one of my favorites was the idea of adding some “kitchen” to a dish. Read More

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Roasted Pear Butter

Berlin in October

Last week we took a lovely trip to Istanbul to visit with friends and explore the Turkish capital, and we returned to find Berlin colored in a gorgeous hue of golden autumn leaves. Although I’ve mentioned my deep love for the German Christmas season, and I was very happy to explore Berlin in the summer, the city covered in the glow  of fall is just spectacular.

This beautiful fall weather is the perfect time to eat up our haul of CSA pears, which had turned overripe after their vacation in fridge while we were away. But I wasn’t sure just how I wanted to use them until I found this genius roasted apple butter recipe early in the week, which cuts the prep time by roasting uncored apples (or pears). The roasting adds a nice deep caramel flavor, and the natural pectins in the skin and seeds help thicken the butter to a creamy consistency. Although apple butter is more traditional, I love the pear version, which I have spiked with ginger and bourbon, as many good things are. It made a delicious afternoon treat on top of nice German toast, but the butter can be used for everything from a glaze for roasts to an add-in for cake and pie fillings.

Roasted Pear Butter_Katherine Sacks

Roasted Pear Butter, adapted from Food52
Servings: 2 cups
3 pounds pears, quartered
½ cup pear or apple cider
½ cup brown sugar
¼ lemon, juiced
1 small piece ginger

½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
¼ cup bourbon
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the pear pieces in a large roasting pan and cover with the cider, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Grate the ginger over the pan, sprinkle with cinnamon, and dot with butter. Roast until the pears are soft to the touch, about 2 hours.

When soft, remove pears from the oven and use a potato masher or heavy spoon to mash into a puree. Run the mixture through a food mill or push through a fine chinois to remove the seeds, core, and stems. Transfer to a pot, stir in the bourbon and salt, and bring to a boil. Adjust seasoning with sugar and cinnamon and cook until desired consistency is reached. Process in canning jars or cool and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer. 



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Carrot Greens Pesto

Carrot Pesto

It’s been a crazy month—I started writing regularly for Thrillist, which means even more food and drink explorations, and I’ve also wrapped up a project for Fodor’s Travel Guide, which had me checking out some of Berlin’s new hotels. All very fun, but it left little time for extras. I meant to post this recipe last week, but Monday got away from me, suddenly it was Friday, and now it’s September! I found a few extra moments today though, and better late then never.

I’ve mentioned before that you can make pesto out of just about anything, but I’m always surprised when friends are stunned by different variations on the herb spread. My favorite is with beet greens, spicy radish greens, and most recently, this carrot greens pesto.

We’ve received lovely carrots from the CSA this year, and I usually keep the greens in the freezer, along with my other trim, to use to make vegetable stock. When this batch arrived I was in the mood for pesto, and it was as easy as that. We had a big jar of sunflower seeds so I subbed those for the nuts, plus the regular olive oil, lemon juice, cheese, and garlic mix. A quick buzz in the food processor and we had a nice pesto to snack on. It was lovely with the radishes, which also came from the farm, on top of wheat crackers.

Carrot Pesto

Carrot Greens Pesto
Servings: 2 cups
1 bunch carrot greens and stems, washed and dried
1 garlic clove
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper  

Combine the carrot greens, stems, garlic clove, sunflower seeds, and cheese in a food processor. Buzz until a chunky texture begins to form, then add in the olive oil and lemon juice and process until the mixture is thoroughly combined and desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.