Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Recipe: Homemade Ketchup

I will never buy bottled ketchup again. This was relatively easy and came out so yummy, this is exactly why I love doing the Nola Locavore Eat Local Challenge: new food discoveries.

Would I have ever thought to make my own ketchup on my own? Maybe eventually, but now I did it because I needed to and I won't ever look back!

I looked at a handful of recipes and got the idea: spice tomatoes, sweetener and just ran with it. I'm super happy with the end result. If you're not as lazy as I am, you would have done it right and removed the skins and seeds and extra water. I didn't feel like doing it and thought it was yummy and not so tedious and time consuming. A hand mixer/immersion blender makes the process super easy. Please excuse the vague amounts of ingredients--I just put stuff in the pot and made adjustments as needed.

All-local Nola Creole Tomato Ketchup

1-2 garlic cloves, diced
pecan oil
couple lbs of creole tomatoes, chopped
spicy oregano
Steen's cane syrup
couple tablespoons of lemon juice

In a large sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat and sautee the garlic for about 30 seconds or until golden brown. Add the oregano and tomatoes and use a stick blender to puree the mixture. Add salt and a couple tablespoons of cane syrup to taste. Add in lemon juice. Cook the mixture down, stirring often until it thickens (about 20 minutes or so depending on the amount of tomatoes). Make adjustments to taste as needed. I used the stick blender again at the end just to make sure to get a nice smooth consistency. The sauce will thicken more as it cools. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator. The info I've read on the interwebs varies, but I'd guess it can last about 3 weeks in the fridge and obviously longer in the freezer.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Recipe: Shrimp and Grits

3 cups water
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grits
1/4 cup grated Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 tablespoon pecan oil
1 medium tomato
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup bell pepper, chopped
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup white wine
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

In a saucepan, over medium heat, add the water, milk, butter and salt. Bring to a boil. Slowly stir in the grits. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue to cook for about 1 hour or until the grits and tender and creamy, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent the grits from sticking. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and heavy cream. Season with more salt if needed. Set aside and keep warm.
Puree the tomato in a food processor or with a hand blender. In a saute pan, over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic, bell pepper and mushrooms and saute for 30 seconds, then add tomato puree and wine and let cook for about 2-3 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt, then add to pan and saute for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and add in the butter. Remove from the heat and stir in 2 teaspoons of the parsley. To serve, spoon the grits in the center of a shallow bowl and spoon the shrimp mixture over the grits. Garnish with parsley. 

Eat Local Challenge 2012 & A Southern Garden Party

I had so much fun doing the Eat Local Challenge last year, but this year I am definitely more prepared for what I was getting into. I've been freezing plenty of lemon juice from my trees this year because that was one item that was just too difficult to go with out last year. And WHEAT!!! I'm so excited we have wheat this year. I haven't baked with it yet, but I'm pumped to see what kinds of goodies I can whip up.

It's day three and it's already been an eventful challenge so far. Our anniversary was Wednesday and in our house, that means its party time. Of course, when we first set aside June 2 as the party date, I didn't initially realize its JUNE...which means throwing an all locavore party was going to be a challenge I hadn't completely thought through. But I ran with it and made the theme A Southern Garden Party and it came off fabulously.

We served shrimp and grits, fried fish and shrimp, fiesta dip with squash chips and grape tomatoes, a yummy cheese and fruit spread, lemonade, southern peach punch, strawberry soda and mint juleps. Our guests ran with the theme too and we had some great additions including red beans and rice, pecan butter cookies, pralines and lots and lots of local wine and beer. I'll be posting some recipes from the day shortly!