Homemade Ketchup

Since my post about making tomato paste, I felt I needed to show at least one of the cool uses of tomato paste. The most common and, in my opinion the easiest use, is home made ketchup.

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I start off with measuring out my dry spices and dumping them into a bowl. I find that 1/2 tsp of each is more than enough. For this recipe I used salt, black pepper, cumin, ground mustard and ground oregano. Feel free to mix and match different spices for different flavored ketchup.

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next I add 1/4 a cup of apple cider vinegar and mix everything well. If you need to use less vinegar, compensate by adding water. This 1/4 cup of liquids is what helps give the ketchup the right consistency.

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Using a whisk I add in a couple of spoonful of tomato paste into the bowl and mix well. And repeat until I have used enough tomato paste to achieve a nice consistency.

This time though I had made just enough tomato paste to fill this little mason jar so I added a little at a time until I ran out of tomato paste. Once you are done mixing you can use the ketchup right away or store in a container and refrigerate.

Grandma’s Biscotti

It took me many years of searching and begging but I was finally able to get my Grandma’s, highly in demand, biscotti recipe. My only regret is that grandma did not get to test out this version of her recipe before her passing. It was her rule that she did not like sharing the recipe with anyone. So to respect this decision I will give a basic recipe. That way you get to enjoy figuring out what the secret ingredients are!

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I begin by adding unsalted softened butter, eggs, granulated sugar into a mixing bowl. I let this mix until there is a lose liquid batter. At times the dough mixture will look a little weird. If at any point the mixture doesn’t look or feel right try mixing for another 30 seconds.

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I then add flour, salt, and baking powder and mix until there is a soft slightly sticky dough. At this point you can add in your flavor. Grandma’s recipe calls for anise extract, but you can use any flavor extract or add in baking pieces such as chocolate chips. Really any flavor that sounds good to you will work.

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Once the dough has been mixed enough to incorporate your flavoring, it needs to be split in half. Each dough ball needs to be rolled out to approximately a 2 inch thickness sheet. Extra flour is optional for handling the dough. I find that this optional amount of flour is based on what you choose for flavoring the cookies. Place the 2 dough sheets side by side on a baking sheet and place into a pre-heated 350 degree oven until slightly golden (about 20 minutes). This will turn the cookie sheets into cookie loaves.

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Once the cookie loaves are slightly golden, cut individual cookies into desired thickness. It is important to not allow the cookie loaves to cool too much during this process. Once cut, lay the pieces on the side.

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Once the cookies are spread out on the cookie sheet, place back in the over for a few minutes to make the top of the cookies golden brown (about 5 minutes). Then pull out the baking sheet and flip the cookies to the other side and then place back into the oven to allow the other side of the cookie to become golden brown (about 3 minutes). Take out the cookies and immediately transfer to a cooling rack or open table/counter space. Do not let the cookies cool on the baking sheet otherwise the cookies will become burnt.

Once the cookies have cooled down you can enjoy them. Most of my family though prefers to let these cookies sit for a day or two in a cookie jar. This make the cookies a little stale and in their opinion better for coffee dunking.


Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour, plus a little more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Flavoring
    • 1 Tablespoon of extract or 3/4 cup of baking pieces

Directions

  1. Add butter, eggs, and sugar into a mixing bowl and mix until the ingredient are mostly integrated.Then add flour and salt and mix until a soft sticky dough has been achieved. Add in you flavoring and mix the dough to integrate your flavoring into the dough.
    • if using extract use mixer. If using baking chips use a spoon or spatula to mix
  2.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Divide dough in half and gently roll each dough section into a ball. If the dough is still a little bit to sticky to handle add a little sprinkle of flour. Roll out each dough sheet to approximately 2 inch thickness and place each sheet side by side on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 20 minutes
  4. After 20 minutes pull baking sheet out of the oven and quickly cut each cookie sheet into individual cookies of desired thickness and lay each cookie on its side. Put the baking sheet back int he oven for 5 minutes then flip the cookies to the other un-toasted side and place back into the oven for 3 minutes.
  5. Once the whole cookie is golden brown remove baking sheet from the oven and immediately place cookies on a cooling rack or open table/counter space to avoid burning the cookies. When the cookies are cooled enjoy immediately or allow them to go slightly stale and enjoy with coffee.

 

Made in Rememberance

The past month has been such a mix of emotions and anxiety. On Februrary 20th I got the call from my Aunt informing me that my Grandpa had passed away. For me this was extra rough becuase Grandpa taught me all the skills no one else thought I should learn. Like gardening, basic electrical knowledge, how to tell the difference between tools, when to use duct tape vs when to use a bit of wire, etc. He really sparked the creativity in me because he believed that there is more than 1 way to fix a broken object.

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He lived to be 95 years old and was always being silly for a picture. I literally haven’t had time to do anything besides funeral stuff and trying to console grandma and help get her situated with her new life changes. Since things have settled down a little, and I could finally have an evening at home, I decided to make one of the many favorite meals I’ve made for grandpa, Beef Stew.

I don’t use many measurements for this recipe. This was mostly an indulgent dish for grandpa because of his health issues he had some dietary restrictions. I heavily altered the original recipe to sneak in some things that he could eat every once in a while.

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I prefer to get the pre-cut beef stew meat but if that isn’t available, such as this particular meal, I get a nice London Broil and cut it up in into cubes. I throw the cubes into a bowl and add some flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and then mix it up until the meat coated. Once coated I add a little oil, grandpa preferred extra virgin  olive oil, to a large pot and allow it to heat up. I then dump the coated meat and any excess seasonings into the pot. While the meat is browning I slice up 1 onion, 2-3 carrots, thoroughly wash 1 small bag of baby potatoes, and trim and rinse 1/2lbs – 1lbs of green beans. DO NOT USE CANNED GREEN BEANS! canned green beans will turn to mush and/or dissolve away in the stew because they are already cooked. Plus they won’t be able to take much of the flavor from simmering in the stews juices.

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Once the meat is mostly browned I toss in the sliced onion. I then let the meat finish browning and allow the onion to get soft. I also add a bit more salt and pepper to help break down the onion a little bit faster. If needed, add a little bit more oil so that things do not stick to the pot.

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Once the meat is browned and the onions are soft, I add in the carrots, baby potatoes, and 1 carton of unsalted beef stock/broth. I allow this to simmer for a few minutes before I begin adding in spices.

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After everything has been simmering for a few minutes I add in a few bay leaves, a generous amount of salt and pepper, and my special secret spice. My special secret spice is 1 cap full of ground corriander. I know its a very untraditional beef stew ingredient and it kind of sound like a large amount but trust me it’s delicious.

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I stir the spices around and put the lid on the pot and let everything come up to a boil. Once at a boil I add in another non-traditional beef stew ingredient, green beans. Adding in the green beans made this feel like a more filling meal. I give everything one last good stir and then put the lid on and let the pot simmer for at least an hour.

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Once the potatoes, carrots, and green beans are fork tender its ready to be eaten. Don’t forget to take out the Bay Leaves before serving up! If you’re feeling extra indulgent, you can add a sprinkle of your favorite cheese on top.