Yep… hot sauce making has taken over my life and so has fermentation. If you haven’t tried either and are hesitant well… put that hesitation aside and dive in. In my opinion, fermented hot sauces are superior in taste to their vinegar-acidified counterparts. There’s that extra complexity in the flavor that just can’t be described. And I’m not even gonna get into the whole health aspect of eating fermented foods. I’ll leave it at… probiotic, etc, etc. This is gonna be a really quick post guys… there’s seriously nothing to it. Let’s make some awesome hot sauce.
Yikes! that was a long post title! I always struggle with post titles. I wanna summarize what the post is about and not come off entirely lame yet pay attention to SEO hocus-pocus, etc.. but you be the judge. Now, if you don’t care for that sorta thing, I mean, blog post titles… and you want to instead try something really cool and awesome in the kitchen, today is a fortunate day. Both passion for cooking sous vide and my renewed passion for home fermentation come together here in the nicest of ways. If you’ve been paying attention, I’ve posted about hot sauces recently. About a month ago I changed my approach and stopped using vinegar all together for making hot sauce, switching my attention over to lactic acid instead. Lacto-fermentation not only preserves foods in an acidic environment that welcomes good bacteria and good yeast even good molds, it also has a tremendous impact in flavor and texture. I figured I could take advantage of this and combine it with a popular sous vide preparation: Garlic Confit.
I love lacto-fermented vegetables. Homemade sauerkraut and kimchi are fun to make and one of the first things I got into when I started this cooking blog. Along with bread making, vegetable fermentation has always been fascinating to me. Recently I’ve started experimenting with a broader spectrum of vegetables, spices, seasonings… the combinations are endless and the flavor profile that can be achieved are incredibly complex. Fermentation, aside from all the health benefits and the preservation perks simply makes things taste awesome.
Since we’re in the topic of hot sauces lately, I couldn’t wait to try a homemade sweet hot sauce. For the first time I bought habanero chiles and I’m so glad I did. These little guys pack a TON of heat scoring about 100K units in the scoville scale. Sweet bell peppers score zero and say arbol peppers score about 30K to give you some idea of how spicy they are(Check out this wonderful arbol chile hot sauce from last week btw!!!)
Proceed with caution.
Since habaneros pack a ton of heat please proceed with caution if you haven’t used them before or if you aren’t used to super spicy stuff but keep in mind, this recipe yields a moderate/medium hot sauce. Most recipes I found online instructed removing the seeds but that’s removing the fun in a way. Most of the heat comes with the seeds… I get it though… habaneros can be scary hot.
Homemade is best.
After the fist batch I couldn’t but regret not having done this before. If you think those hot sauces at the store have anything on homemade stuff, think again and the beautiful thing is: Hot sauces are extremely basic and easy to make. Just a few ingredients and cooking is really optional. In fact 1 ingredient is all that’s required. Fresh hot chiles, puree them and that alone is already a killer hot sauce. Add salt and you have a seasoned sauce. Add liquid and control the consistency. Add salt and season it… trust me, 1-3% is more than enough.
If you know or you know of somebody that holds the true original recipe for bolognese sauce please report back in the comment section if you can. I’m really curious. A simple google search returned over 200,000 result and after checking the first 2 pages of results it was obvious everybody has their own idea of what an authentic bolognese ragu should be. There are obviously the usual suspects in the ingredients list which I tried to keep in mind but seriously, cooking by most common denominator ingredients is plain boring, at least to me.
The absolutely required ingredients in bolognese ragu.
hmm…. meat? I think that’s mainly it. Which kind? well… in today’s world beef because it’s easier to find although historically veal is probably more proper. Pancetta can also be found in pretty much all the recipes I looked at. Then we have the aromatics like onion, celery and carrots. Carrots being fairly popular and onions being in pretty much all the recipes. Wine? hit or miss really. Milk? yep… another one that is popular but not standard. Garlic for sure. Nutmeg… yep. I think nutmeg is probably the only spice being added to this sauce in modern times. No bay leaves apparently. Pork? yep, it does appear but not consistently. Stock? yep… here and there although I should say.. if I can avoid it I will refrain from using stock unless absolutely necessary in a recipe.
I love making pasta dishes because simplicity is usually the way to go. This is a simple but surprisingly incredible pasta dish, just a few ingredients ingredients and although the cooking times might seem a bit extensive, it takes about as much time as making bolognese pasta. In any case, if you’re interested in simple cooking and umami explosions read on.
Mushrooms don’t need a lot of help to shine. Their flavour can be incredible when well exploited. I love cooking them but I’m not a big fan of eating them raw though. The texture is great but the taste is bland in my opinion and I always find my self searing them on a hot skillet or over a grill to develop some flavour and then cooking them for a bit to reduce that water content. I figured I would simplify my mushroom pasta go-to recipe to its most basic form and highlight the main ingredient. Hence, this recipe has actually 3 or so ingredients.
If you like mushrooms and have tried a bunch of different ones you probably would agree that white mushrooms are not the most exciting of the bunch. Well… at least that’s kind of what I thought before trying this w approach explained here on this recipe. Every time I cook something I learn something new or reinforce something I have learned. I should have never blamed white mushrooms for not being interesting because they are and is just my ignorance getting in the way as usual. What can I say, I fell in love with white mushrooms all over again and would actually argue that I prefer them over shiitakes or even portobellos. Another great thing about white mushrooms is the cost. They are the cheapest at least where I live, so I bought 2 pounds of fresh and beautiful white mushrooms and headed back to my kitchen.
How to extract flavour.
If you’ve made your own stocks at home you know that simmering any ingredient in water for a long period of time will extract its flavor. I love pressure cooking and making stocks this way, specially vegetable stocks. It’s a lot faster. It also helps preserve flavor since there’s less evaporation of water in the process. Your house might not be as perfumed by what’s happening in the kitchen but that means the flavour is kept where it belongs. It that pot.
There’s nothing original about tonight post and it isn’t really a recipe. It was tasty though. The meat ragu was leftover from my previous recipe Beef, Peppers and Leek Galette. Why not use it again and throw together a quick budget meal for tonight’s dinner and possibly tomorrow’s lunch. When I woke up this morning I thought about writing an ebook on amateur food photography and food styling. I’m sure there’s tons out there. Let’s add one more, why not. I have no clue how to put together one of those things but I’m sure there’s a bunch of editing tool out there. I have to do a little research I guess.
The reason I wanna put together this ebook is because I’ve been writing a post on food photography and food styling, but it’s getting long and beyond what anybody would have the patience to read on a blog post. That’s why I thought about an ebook format. I wanna have a free link on the blog and done. If anybody has any recommendations about apps and tools please leave a me comment. I have a mac, and that’s where I do all my blogging and photo editing, so it would have to be a tool that gets along with my setup.
I finally ate my dinner after snapping a few pics and spending some time plating this pasta. During this photo shoot I experienced some technical difficulties. My second pc sync cord died. It’s been 2 in less than a month. I don’t have a good explanation on how/why this happens. The hotshoe might be faulty…again… and for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m just ranting about some flash photography gear. The PC cord is just a stupid cable that connects a flashgun to the camera and a hotshoe is a little thingy where you mount the flashgun on. This is where the pc cord connects to from the camera. And without this silly little setup, I’m pretty much hosed photography wise. I ordered my third one on amazon last night. This is the last one. It better works and works for a long time. I literally threw that hotshoe against the wall I was so pissed. It’s ok, it’s a little tiny harmless piece of mainly plastic. Nobody died.
Thanksgiving is approaching at the speed of light and I better have my gear in working condition before then or I will be throwing more than just a hotshoe against a wall! Probably the stuffing. I don’t care much for it. Never the turkey. I would never throw a turkey against a wall. Any wall. Even if I hate that wall. Good night.
P.S. Boil some water with some salt. Add some long pasta. Cook for 7 minutes or until almost al dente. Strain. Add sauce and pasta in the same pot. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Add a Tbsp or 2 of grated parmesan cheese. Plate and garnish with some fresh basil. My basil is on its way out. The winter will kill it. This is probably the last post featuring it. Enjoy!
I failed miserably at finding my bottle of vermouth. The one I keep in the fridge. I can’t remember using all of it. Maybe not remembering what happened to it should be a hint… I had to go for the next thing I could find in there. A nice bottle of Pernod… I say nice because it is actually quite nice. Have you seen this stuff? Shake it up. Hold it up against the sun and all this awesome glitter stuff swirling inside it will have you hypnotized for “an ocean of time” … Bram Stoker Dracula and absinth reference all at once, huh!?. The taste isn’t my favorite though. Actually I hate drinking it. In cooking, the story is a bit different. A lot different. There’s nothing original about using pernod and seafood in cooking, but it’s definitely not all that common either. It works fantastically well in my opinion. Specially if paired with an acidic component and a bold flavor like that of shrimp… not to mention my good ole friend. Garlic.
The recipe is quite simple. I love cooking shrimp. It’s the easiest thing in the world. Cooking shrimps that chews like rubber is also the easiest thing in the world. There is a fine line between the perfectly cooked shrimp and the disastrous rubbery one. I cook mine in a really hot skillet and I do it as quickly as possible. They really take no time. About 2-4 minutes tops. Any longer, and the shrimps will go… well, rubbery. They can also be cooked very gently. If you’re not looking for any browning on them, then say you’re making risotto, they could be added at the very end of the cooking, stirred in, and allowed to be cooked by the rice. Turn off the stove. The carry over heat in the rice should be able to take care of business. They really don’t require a lot of heat to cook. Around 135°F (57°C) for a few minutes that’s all it takes. We could have done that for this recipe. Pasta, rice.. etc. All that really matters is hitting the proper cooking temperature. But I wanted some browning on my shrimp. Hot skillet it is.
Ingredients (serves 2 people):
300g Linguine pasta
1 1/2 Tbsp of kosher salt per quart of water.
500g Shrimp shelled and deveined. (reserve shells and heads for velouté)
1/2 Lime. Fresh. Juice + Zest
4 big garlic cloves. Finely sliced.
Splash of Pernod Ricard.
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste.
Reserved shells and heads from the shrimp.
10g dried anchovies or about 3 tbs of anchovy paste.
10g tomato paste
30g unsalted butter
enough water to cover the shells.
The shrimp velouté. The highlight of this recipe actually. It is really simple as well. Boil the shrimp shells and heads, also the dry anchovies, in a sauce pan for about 30 mins. Strain and return the liquid to the saucepan. Add the tomato paste and reduce until syrupy. Remove form the heat. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Add the butter and melt while stirring. Strain if you are super picky. I usually do, but didn’t this time. I’d recommend to strain the sauce for extra silkiness.
The shrimp ragu. This is gonna be quick. Heat up a skillet with some oil, I used olive oil in this case. When the oil is very hot but not smoking add the shrimp. Don’t mess with them for about a minute. Then toss and allow to cook on the other side for about the same time. Add the pernod and the garlic. Allow to reduce for about 2 minutes. I use a large skillet to speed up reduction of any liquid. You could also flambé it. Up to you. I chose not too. I don’t think it adds anything to the final result but it looks mega cool. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and allow to rest while you work on your pasta.
The pasta. No mystery here. Just cook in salty boiling water until al dente. Strain and and mix with the shrimp ragu.
Plating. Add a serving of shrimp pasta to a plate and drizzle the velouté over it and around it. Garnish with basil and chives. Done. I told you it was gonna be easy!
Isn’t frosted flakes the best thing in the world? It has to be, followed closely by steak and eggs. I can’t think of a better breakfast treat. I love this stuff. I love rare meat and runny eggs… yep. This is basically what I did here today. My take on Steak and Eggs. Bloody sirloin tip, a poached egg, and a drizzle of homemade chimichurri sauce. What can I say, I felt like treating myself today, deal with it.