Archive for the ‘Sauces’ Category
A curd is a thick, sweet-tart type of sauce that is typically made with citrus juice, eggs and butter. It is known for being rich in flavor, with a very silky texture. I call it a sauce for lack of a better category, as curds are much thicker than most sauces (rather pudding-like).
This version of a curd almost doesn’t fit the description above at all. It uses no eggs, no butter and only a minimal amount of citrus. My curd is strawberry-based and is a great way to use up a lot of end-of-season fruits in an interesting way. It has the thick, smooth texture of a regular curd and it’s vegan. I was inspired after seeing the vegan mango curd at Buttermilk and Pinecones. Curds that are based with a fruit other than citrus are uncommon (and I love mango), but since I’ve made curd-like puddings that happen to be vegan before myself, it didn’t surprise me too much that the idea would work so beautifully.
This recipe is quite easy and requires very few ingredients. It starts with fresh strawberries which are pureed with sugar, then added to a lime juice (lemon can be used) and cornstarch mixture. The cornstarch is the thickening element of this curd, while eggs are the thickening element of a traditional curd. This isn’t really all that surprising a substitution, since cornstarch is frequently used as an egg replacer (or partial egg replacer) in other vegan recipes. It actually works out especially well, since there is no additional flavor (the egg) to detract from the strawberries. The taste of fresh berries is definitely the star here and the lime juice just adds a nice accent to brighten it up.
The texture is perhaps a tiny bit less smooth than that of a curd which uses juice, as opposed to a fruit puree. I strained my curd twice -once going into the saucepan and once coming out – to try and get as smooth a texture as possible. I know someone will ask if this can be made with frozen strawberries, but I must admit that I think it will turn out best with fresh berries. They’ll have a more vibrant color and probably a better flavor. If you try to use frozen berries, be sure to defrost them completely before working with them.
Chipotle peppers are known for having a smoky sweetness, with a slow but strong heat. The spice is what makes them so great, but the sweetness is fairly unique and lets chipotle work very well when paired with some much sweeter things. Honey and chipotle is one of my favorite combinations for a salsa. It wasn’t a stretch to make it into a smoky sweet barbecue sauce – perfect for pairing with anything grilled.
My sauce has a ketchup base, sweetened with a good amount of honey and spiked with a bit of Worcestershire sauce and vinegar for tang. And, of course, it has chipotle peppers. I used a food processor to blend everything together. Mincing up whole chipotles is effective, but wasn’t enough to provide the smooth consistency that I really like in a barbecue sauce. Using a food processor also ensures that the sugar will be well incorporated into the sauce. I definitely recommend a food processor, if you have one available to use.
The sauce is quite thick and has a consistency that is similar to ketchup. It thickens up even more once it has been refrigerated, since honey tends to thicken when it is kept below room temperature. If you prefer your sauce to be slightly thinner for any reason, you can add a tablespoon or three of water to the mixture when you’re making it. If (like me, in this case) you like your sauce to be quite thick so that it can adhere generously to anything you dip into it, just make the recipe as-is.
The more fruit you have in the kitchen at any given time, the more difficult it is to use it up before some of it begins to become overripe. Apples, for instance, are durable, but the majority of summer produce – stone fruits, berries, etc. – either continues to ripen on your counter or simply starts to go bad the minute it comes through the door. So, while it’s always good to have a recipe that will use up only a bit of fruit, it’s also good to have options that call for a lot.
Poaching is a great way to cook fruit in big batches. Ripe, or almost-ripe, fruit is placed in a saucepan full of some sort of flavored poaching liquid and cooked until tender. The resulting fruit can be eaten plain, with yogurt, used as a topping for cake or ice cream and in just about any other application where fruit might be appropriate. I used a lot of apriums (an apricot-plum hybrid) here. Not only do they have a great, sweet flavor, but they’re amazingly easy to split in half – so easy that I could just pop them in half without using a knife and pull out the pits!
The poaching liquid here is very simple and the flavors complement the stone fruits well. When you make it, you have two options for serving. Either you can serve the fruits on their own, or remove the fruits from the liquid and reduce it by half, until it is somewhat syrupy, then add it back to the fruit for a saucier presentation.
When you get a batch of really sweet berries, sometimes it seems like a shame not to use them to make a wonderful dessert when you know that a top quality berry will really make any dessert heavenly. Of course, it also often seems like a shame to add too many other flavors and textures in to a dish to compete with the berries. This dessert is a really simple way to put fresh berries to good use without doing too much to them. It’s a quick-fix trifle that uses cake, berries and a very light custard sauce.
Trifle is typically a very rich dessert, made with lots of thick custard and/or whipped cream mixed with layers of fruit and cake. I wanted to keep the flavors and feel of this dessert light, so I used angel food cake (any vanilla cake will work, however), a slightly thin custard sauce that soaks up well into the cake and, of course, lots of berries.
The custard sauce, which is a lot like a runny American-style pudding, has to be made in advance so that it can cool down. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long to make and will keep for several days, so you can make the dessert almost any time. Just cut up your cake and berries, then layer them in individual dessert glasses (wine glasses work well) with the custard and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
I recently found myself with an apple overload in my kitchen. This rarely happens to me since I tend to go through apples very quickly (eating them plain, in pies, in crumbles, etc.), so I decided to take advantage of the situation with a recipe that calls for quite a few apples: applesauce.
Applesauce is one of those foods that is so easy to make, everyone should do it at least once. And even if you’re not a fan of applesauce in general, I guarantee that it will taste better when it’s homemade than when it’s storebought. Part of the reason for this is that you’ll have a sense of accomplishment that you won’t find on a trip to the grocery store, but the main reason is that it is incredibly easy to customize applesauce to your own personal taste preferences.
For this batch, I used granny smith apples and fresh cranberries, and worked with guidelines I found here. Since both elements of the applesauce were on the tart side, I added a bit more sugar than I would have used for a sweeter apple to even out the flavor of the sauce. I also opted not to add any additional spices – cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves are all good additions to applesauce in general – to ensure that the cranberry flavor really shined.
The result was a delicious and incredibly beautiful looking applesauce. It tasted wonderful when it was hot and fresh off the stove, and is equally good cold. I’ll probably include this on my Thanksgiving menu this year. I didn’t bother to can the sauce because I will go through it fairly quickly, but you can certainly can it if you are so inclined; the recipe makes a big batch. +Continue Reading