Fire Cider

We received a small bottle of something called Fire Cider for Christmas. I’d never heard of this before, so I immediately opened it up for a taste.

WOW! It’s incredible. It’s a savory, tangy, spicy vinegar concoction believed to have health benefits if drunk regularly. The ingredients were straightforward, I just bought a food processor (finally!), so I figured I’d start making my own so I can consume this daily.

Fire Cider Ingredients

What you see is what you get: Onion, orange, horseradish, ginger, lemon, garlic, habañero, turmeric, and apple cider vinegar.

I quartered and sliced the orange and lemon, and de-stemmed and sliced the peppers. Other than that, I peeled the other ingredients and shred them in the food processor. Add it all to a jar, add some peppercorns, cover in vinegar, and wait one month.

Fire Cider

Here’s what I learned from the inter-webs: Plastic wrap prevents the lid from being corroded from the vinegar. It needs to be shaken up daily while it’s infusing over 3-6 weeks. Bragg raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the ‘mother’ is the ideal vinegar to use for fire cider. When it’s ready to be consumed, strain it in a colander with cheese cloth to squeeze every last drop and then transfer to a sterile jar and add local honey to make it as sweet as you like. It can be stored in the fridge for up to one year, though that will never happen in my house.

I’ll update this post in February when it’s done. I can’t wait!

Roasted Cinderella Pumpkin

Chef asked me to swing by the Munson Farm Stand for a Cinderella pumpkin he could roast and preserve for the winter. I LOVE pumpkin, so I was really happy he wanted to preserve some this year. I usually buy a few pie pumpkins to make my pumpkin peanut curry soup, and they’re much smaller- maybe smaller than a soccer ball. The selection of Cinderella pumpkins at Munson’s Farm Stand was impressive, and this one was larger than two of my heads put together.

Cinderella Pumpkin

Sean almost effortlessly sliced it in half. I would have needed a saw, I think.

Sliced Cinerella Pumpkin

Scooped out the seeds…

Cinderella Pumpkin ready for roasting

Drizzled olive oil on top and then some salt and pepper…

roasting Cinderella pumkin

And then they BARELY fit into our miniature oven. We live in 600 sq ft, and our kitchen appliances reflect that. But, we shoved it in there and made it work.

It roasted at 450 for more than an hour and didn’t quite come out as brown as we had hoped, but that’s sometimes what happens with miniature appliances- the end product isn’t as perfect as it could be. It still tasted great, so that’s really all that matters.

Roasted Cinderella Pumpkin

We let it cool and then scooped out A LOT of pumpkin.

Cinderella Pumpkin

Sean then pureed it in the Vitamix, poured it into jars, and processed it to save it for a wintery day. It’s truly wonderful to be married to a chef who likes to cook at home.

 

Perfect Potatoes

There’s a technique that creates a perfect potato (in my opinion) which, upon trying it, has changed the way I cook potatoes at home. It doesn’t matter if it’s a red potato, Yukon gold, sweet potato, yam… just start with a potato, follow my steps, and see how it turns out. I’ll replicate this in future posts with different potatoes, but for this posting I had local Colorado red potatoes on hand.

First, par-boil them in salted water until a knife can pierce them without force.

Then, take them out of the water and let them sit until they’re cool enough to touch. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

When a potato is par-boiled, it’s not quite cooked evenly through, and you can see the difference in doneness when it’s sliced in half.

par-boilded potatoes

For this particular evening, I sliced the almost fist-sized potatoes in half, sliced the halves, and then cut them again in half to 2-inch long pieces. You could slice them into any length or width you want, but your oven roasting time might then vary.

I tossed the potatoes with garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread them on a baking sheet.

Perfect Potatoes

After 10-15 minutes in the oven they’ll be sizzling, or as I like to say, “talking to you,” at which point it’s OK to check to see how brown they are on the underside. When they’re looking crispy, I flip them, repeat the process, and voila- a perfect potato.

Perfect Potatoes

They have the crust of something fried with the creamy interior of a french fry done correctly, yet are tossed in just a few tablespoons of olive oil. They’re not just a guilty pleasure of mine, but something I’m really proud of figuring out while chef’s out working and I’m preparing dinner.

Vietnamese Sweet Lemon Curry Soba Noodle Tofu Salad

If I’m going to enjoy tofu, it HAS to have been frozen, thawed, and pressed before being seasoned and cooked. Freezing tofu changes the texture into something I almost find enjoyable, so there’s always a block sitting in our freezer. This cold soba noodle salad with tofu, locally grown carrots, peppers, and tomatoes, and fried garlic is well worth repeating.

Here’s how I made it.

First, the thawed tofu needs to be pressed to expel excess liquid. I usually wrap it in a few layers of paper towels and gently squeeze it, being careful not to squeeze too hard and tear the block. Then it’s ready to be cut into bite-sized pieces and marinated. I chose a dry rub since it was going to be fried. Wet marinades make for quite a mess when it hits hot oil. Lesson learned!

The tofu was generously seasoned with Vietnamese Sweet Lemon Curry from Savory Spice Shop and then pan fried in peanut oil until crispy on all sides. The secret to getting a nice crust on each side is having a hot pan, hot oil, and not checking the food to see if it’s cooked, but waiting until it’s fully seared before flipping it. The chef-husband had to lecture me a few times on this before I listened, and what a difference it makes! Gone (hopefully) are the days of tofu sticking to the pan and breaking apart when it’s flipped, leaving smaller pieces to burn and stripping the tofu of it’s coating (read: flavor). After each side gets a crust, just remove them and let them cool.

Next, a chopped carrot and green pepper from the Boulder Farmer’s Market went into the peanut oil pan to heat them ever so slightly. I boiled soba noodles according to the instructions on the package and then rinsed them in cold water to keep them from cooking, fried some garlic until crispy, chopped a jalapeño, and sliced a tomato.

I tossed the cold noodles with sesame seeds and the carrot and pepper pieces, and then drizzled some toasted sesame seed oil, fresh squeezed lemon, soy sauce (I prefer the unpasteurized Nama Shoyu brand), and a little local honey. Finally, I added diced jalapeño and crispy fried garlic for an extra crunch and kick.

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