Homemade mustard sauce – January self-production

Did you maybe forget our appointment with the self-production? I certainly didn’t, I was here in the shadows wondering what to offer to you this month, experiencing and photographing, and I finally decided for this beautiful mustard sauce. Until two or three years ago I didn’t even know what mustard was, now this sauce is always in my fridge. Mainly I use it to prepare sauces for seasoning salads, like the celery leaves dressing that I published in october or some french dressing that I’ll maybe propose in the next weeks. I recognize that when used alone it tastes a bit too strong for most people, including myself, but combined with other ingredients adds that spicy and tasty note that it’s worth to try. Like all things, preparing it yourselves is always better than buying it ready made in order to select the ingredients, especially the vinegar and the sweetener, I didn’t know before looking at the ingredients, but the mustard sauce is a sweet and sour (what a discriminating taste, huh? What can I tell you, I’ve never sense the sweet in mustard sauce…). Instead of refined sugar and cheap vinegar, which is almost certainly used in industrial production, in your self-production you can use a good apple cider vinegar and a whole brown sugar or honey (if you are not strictly vegan is the best thing), agave syrup or malt. The apple cider vinegar, as well as being quite rich in minerals, is very alkalizing and has bactericidal, antiseptic and cleansing properties. Its pectin content makes it an excellent intestinal regulator, and this effect, in unpasteurized vinegar, is further strengthened by acetic acid bacteria that have a high affinity with the intestinal microflora. The properties of mustard seeds go very well with those of vinegar, considering their power against internal parasitics, but their most evident and well-known property is to stimulate blood circulation and warm the body. The stimulatory force is effective to the point that abuse is not advice, but as nature is not stupid at all, it happens to be difficult to take advantage of a food that has been wisely endowed with a so intense flavor.
Talking about intense flavor: I wanted to do the classic sauce with mustard yellow seeds alone, but I hadn’t enough of them, so I made it with half dose of brown seeds. Just know that by following this procedure the mustard will be even stronger, for a more delicate flavor choose only yellow seeds.

// Homemade mustard sauce //

°° Ingredients °°

  • 100 grams di yellow mustard seeds, or 50 yellow seeds and 50 brown seeds
  • 75 grams of apple cider vinegar
  • 85 grams of water
  • 20 grams of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 40 grams of whole brown sugar, or honey, malt or agave syrup
  • a small pinch of salt
There is very little to say: soak the seeds in vinegar for a night, or in general for at least 8 hours. During this time all the vinegar will be absorbed. At this point you just need to transfer the soaked seeds in a blender or in the big glass of the hand blender along with the rest of the ingredients and blend until you’ll obtain a cream not too smooth, which you will transfer in one or more glass jars.

You can store the sauce in the fridge for a loooong time, without the need to cover it with oil or things like that, vinegar is a preservative already powerful enough. Come on, it’s easy, try it! I promise that I’ll give you soon some new recipe of salad dressing to use it!

Red lentils and ginger creamy soup and confidences

It’s pouring. Always better than fog, that’s sure (did I say already that I hate fog? ah yes, I did). I have to tell you that I’m a bit frustrated about my writing on this blog. The problem, and it’s not just my own, I know, is that I would need 48 hours days, or at least 36, but these 12 hours more must be really free, no obligations, no work to be done, no dog to bring out, no fire to be kindled or houseworks of any kind. 12 hours dedicated only to write, create, photograph. The problem is that my head is full of ideas, the more I write the more they come in, which is very nice, but of all these ideas I can realize a little twenty percent, everything else is archived here in my head and on scattered messy notes (too messy) on my PC.read more

Spicy cous cous with winter vegetables

The first hard work to deal with after the new year break was the new, abundant load of wood to be piled for the next cold winter months…the classic thing that is always postponed to the end until you realize that the pallets are empty and that maybe is really the case to do that phone call. When the van download the huge amount of oak stumps directly into the garden, you automatically sigh, that everything you would do in that moment except loading and stacking all that stuff for the whole day. The whether at least helped us, with warm rays of the sun that definitely lightened the infamous work.read more

Ginger and chili heating infusion

This is a natural remedy against small winter cooler diseases.
We alredy talked about digestive, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of ginger in the recipe of red pepper salad dressing. In addition, this root has heating and diaphoretic properties, that is to say that increases body perspiration: the greater is the sweating, more powerful is the expulsion of toxins from the body and the body temperature, if too high as in the case of fever, is lowered. Although there was no fever, detoxification is facilitated and accelerated, and also any other flu symptoms are reduced.read more

Apple strudel

A dessert, finally! Right for me during these days, characterized by a dense and persistent fog. If there’s one thing I can’t climatically stand and that saddens me is fog, especially knowing that behind there the sun is shining. I console myself standing near the fireplace and giving myself this little delight made ​​of few simple ingredients that give a great result, especially for people like me who loves apples. I will be brief as I’m leaving tomorrow and I still have a little bit of things to do. For this recipe I have to thank Marina, of the natural cooking school Gioia di vivere, about whom I have already told you when I published the black cabbage and cannellini beans soup. Marina is really good in making desserts, so much so that she recently launched a new specific course for natural pastry-maker, I envy anyone who has participated and will participate in the future!read more

Homemade gnocchi with vegetable tomato sauce

I know, this isn’t a recipe much original (at least here in Italy), but it’s absolutely one of my favorites, it has always been, since I was a child. I don’t know how many times I pressed my grandmothers (who both were able to prepare exceptional gnocchi) with repeated requests. They were always trying to skirt the issue, ’cause the work was a bit heavy for them, but eventually succumbed always, with my great joy and contentment. I liked helping them turning over the small cylinders of dough on the grater and in the meantime to start eating some of them raw.read more

Citrus flavored brown sugar

Wake up early this morning, the panorama out the window launched a single message: go back under the patches. The grass in the garden completely frozen, sunrise still half an hour faraway, plenty of fog in the hills and a cold at home requiring double sweater. I resisted the temptation and I look forward to the next Saturday for a sleepy morning without alarm clock.
Do not resign myself to this cold whether, even because the pipes of the methane stop about 300 meters from my house, GPL gas costs so much and I’ve almost finished the first load of wood already, I really don’t like the prospect of making a new pile with this frost. In short, winter weather could wait a little longer, yet we are still in autumn!

In this melancholic end of season I want to give you something sweet, something that marries with hot drinks by the fireplace or close to the radiator under the window, those things with which we cuddle on cold days feeling happy just being at home wrapped in a blanket while it’s freezing outside.
I want to give you a song as well, from my fetish album of the moment by my fetish songwriter and musician of the last year, that is Bobo Rondelli (I woul link to you his official website, but this fool let the domain expire…). This is Viaggio d’Autunno (Autumn Travel) pure poetry for me…it has accompanied me on many occasions by the end of August until now.
The recipe that I propose is instead a brown sugar flavored with citrus, which would be as well the self-production of December, which also lends itself to be a Christmas present for whoever you want, if you habitually make Christmas gifts. You just need a nice glass jar and a bow and it’s ready.

The procedure is simple, even easier if you have a dehydrator. If you don’t, you’ll need just a hot radiator and a little patience. In both cases, the smell that will spring in the drying process will smell of late autumn any environment, even the more desperate. Sugar cane must be whole, preferably demerara, which is more neutral compared to mascobado for example, that is already pretty aromatic. If you want you can try to use it, the flavor will be even stronger.

// Citrus flavored brown sugar //

°° Ingredients °°

  • 200 grams of brown sugar
  • 1 orange necessarily organic or untreated
  • 1 lemon as above
Wash and dry the fruits and get their zest with a vegetable peeler or a small knife. Put them in the dehydrator for 10 hours at 40°, or in the oven with the flap a little bit open. As an alternative, place them on a grid (you could set on a baking tray or on any frame a piece of mosquito net or a sheet of resistant gauze) and let dry slowly on a hot radiator for the time it takes. When they are dry you will know, it looks like the picture above.
Once dried, you can put the zest with the sugar in a mixer and pulverize everything well, or pass to the grinder the zest before and then the sugar, then mix them together. You’ll get almost the same texture of icing sugar.

So simple. I thank Simona of Pensieri e pasticci for inspiration.
You can use it to sweeten tea or herbal tea, for example a wild rose infusion :-), or use it to make a more aromatic cake. Multiplying the doses for X times, you can make many jars to make a present to anyone you want in any occasion you like.

Wild Rose

Outside it rains, and it has been raining for two days. I just sipped the last pomegranate juice that my prodigal plant gave me (I don’t know when I’ll resign to the fact that I no longer have pomegranates to squeeze), taking advantage of the flood to sit here holed up talking a bit of my latest gathering of wild fruits. I finally brush up the category of herbs, that with cold weather it’s a bit sleepy as all nature around. November is the perfect month to collect the false fruits of wild rose, which in addition to providing the opportunity for long, beautiful walks along country lanes, allows us to stock these precious berries, that just happened to be really useful to prevent and combat various winter diseases. But how wise is nature?read more

Pomegranate juice and jam

Here we are with the appointment of the month with Self-production! I didn’t want to already re-propose you a jam, but I have to say one thing: the fact of cooking following the seasons is a great thing, but also a nuisance for what concerns the timing of the publication of articles. I mean, when I prepare and photograph something, then I can’t hold the material there waiting for too long, because then the season pass and the recipe goes to next year! And I would have been so sorry not to immediately share this delight, even more than the jam, the juice of this wonderful fruit. Have you seen the opening picture? It’s not photographic post-production, but the real color of pomegranate juice. I swear, I couldn’t believe it when I started to extract the juice, I’ve never seen a color like that in nature. It seemed to me like I was drinking pure chemical coloring, but no :-)

I start by telling you that I’ve the luck to have a large plant of pomegranate in my garden. Last year, ignoring the collection period and listening to those who told me “You have to wait for them to break!” I gathered them at the end of December and I took them to my parents for Christmas, that of course have opened those dry balls and said, “What’s this crap?” and were also right. This year I’m well documented about it and beyond following my tree from flowering (so beautiful!) until the ripening of fruits, I have fully exploited all the abundance of the plant by making the jam but also by drinking fresh juice at will, that I have not yet finished to do.

The juice is really delicious, for me it tastes a bit too sharp so I usually add an apple to soften a bit the flavor, but I know that lots of people drink it pure. It’s very rich in beneficial properties, first of all an anti-oxidant power among the highest in nature. It has a high content of flavonoids, which stimulate cell regeneration and also have a protective effect on the heart and arteries. It’s rich in minerals, especially potassium, and then phosphorus, sodium and iron, vitamin C and vitamins B and A. In ancient and popular cultures this fruit has always symbolized the abundance and fertility, and in fact it has aphrodisiac properties, stimulates the production of testosterone in men and thanks to the richness of estrogenic substances it contrasts the most common disorders related to menopause in women. It also has astringent, vermifuge and diuretic effects. For more detailed information go to see here and here.
Precondition to any preparation made from pomegranate is the infamous procedure of shelling the fruits. You have to provide yourself with stoic patience, especially in the case of the jam, that needs lots of fruits. I had gathered a lot and I found myself having to shell over 20 pomegranates! However, I found a procedure on the Internet that makes the procedure a little easier, you can find it at think link. Yesterday I also found another technique, a bit more rough, find the video here (it’s in italian, but the images explain everything). I tried and somehow it works! To extract the juice from the grains, that you can then immediately drink fresh or use for your jam, the best thing is to have a slow juicer or a simple juicer, otherwise you can press them through a potato masher. In both cases, be prepared to splash red throughout the kitchen like in a horror movie.

Coming back to what I was saying before, I should have post this recipe before, but I really didn’t have time! I prepared the jam in October, which is definitely the best month for pomegranates, but you can find them for the entire month of November and at early December. Well, I’m still preparing good juices with fruits freshly picked so the period is still very good.

// Pomegranate jam //

°° Ingredients °°

  • 8 pomegranates
  • 5 apples
  • grated zest of 1 orange or one drop of essential oil of orange
  • 50 grams of whole cane suga (don’t use the mascobado variety, the flavor is too strong)
  • 1 teaspoon of agar-agar in powder
Shell the pomegranates and juice them. Cut the apples into small pieces getting rid of the core but not of the skin (we need pectin!) and add them to the juice in a bowl with the sugar, letting all rest for the night. The next day, put everything in a pot, add the orange zest or a drop of essential oil and bring to boil leaving to cook over low flame and removing any foam that forms during cooking.
When the apples are soft, turn off the heat and blend with a hand blender or pass everything with a masher. Turn on the fire again and continue to cook over low flame, stirring often. When you feel that everything becomes thick and you start to struggle in stirring, add the agar-agar, which you have dissolved in a little bit of water 15 minutes before. Continue 5 minutes more and then pot immediately in sterilized glass jars.
Close strongly the jars just filled and put them reversed on a wood plane, cover them with a dishcloth and store them only when they are completely cold. If the vacuum-technique is correctly done the cap will be retired in the inside direction, and if you press on it, it won’t move; if on the contrary it does the classic “click” of the open jars, re-boil the jam and pot again.

HOW TO STERILIZE THE JARS WITHOUT TAKING A LIFETIME? Go read it on the post about concord grape jam, it’s all there! Same is for the advice that I gave at the end of recipe regarding the conservation.

Kalamata olives and sunflower seed creamy sauce

I received an explicit request by two friends of Spazio Oxygene for new recipes in category Spreadable Things, since there are no more eggplants to make the babaganoush. I promised you friends, and here it is, a delightful new creamy sauce for your enjoyment, and of course for that of anyone who is reading and wants to try the recipe. Today I won’t dilate because I’m very busy, I go straight to the point … we talk about a veg tapenade with kalamata olives and sunflower seeds, it tastes quite strong, you can also make it more delicate avoiding ingredients such as balsamic vinegar and onion. I really like this version, just try and find the one that suits you. read more