Category Archives: Sauces & Spreads

Holiday Spiced Almond Butter

This Christmas, I wanted to make something for my friends and family that would be interesting and delicious. I did just that.

The first two jars are recipes I found on the edible perspective, the last (Honey Vanilla and Flax Almond Butter) was something I developed from a few of her recipes. I don’t think I could pick a favorite recipe of the three, they’re all so unique and delicious. We don’t use a lot of nut butters around here (Brett’s allergic to peanuts and addicted to Biscoff spread) but this was gone in days. We added it to oatmeal, spread it on English muffins and toast, ate it with a spoon… etc. And it’s so much cheaper than buying almond butter in the store (I may have payed $16 for a jar once) and you can control your ingredients and sugar levels. It also makes a great gift!

Holiday Spiced Almond Butter
(from the edible perspective)

2 cups raw almonds
3 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses, divided
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil, or more according to desired consistency

Spread almonds on parchment on a baking sheet. Pour on 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and 1 tablespoon molasses. Stir with hands so that all nuts are covered. Roast for 30 minutes at 300 degrees, stirring once every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 20 minutes. Pour into food processor and turn on. Process and scrape down bowl as needed, until it butterizes (10-15 minutes, past the stage where it turns into a ball of “dough”). Stop food processor and add remaining 1/2 tablespoon of molasses and 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and all of oil, spices, and salt. Process again until smooth consistency is met (another 5-8 minutes, past the second dough ball stage). You can add more oil if you want a smoother, more “drippy” almond butter. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

 

Almonds coated with goodness. I use Grade B maple syrup because it has more flavor and less sugar. Win-win.

All of the in-process additions.

Hot out of the oven. There may have been a few of these that didn’t make it to the food processor…

Warning about processing: the first 30 seconds is very LOUD! Hold your ears. About 8 minutes into processing, the mixture will turn into this ball of “dough” that just circles around and around the outside of the food processor. This means your close to your goal!

Final product: about 1 1/2 cups of yumminess. This lasted about a week.

Mmmmm

One word of advice: don’t double or half the recipe. This amount works great in a normal-sized food processor. I tried to double it and my (admittedly old. but great-working) food processor started smoking. If you cut in in half (which you would regret as soon as you immediately hit the bottom of the jar), I’m not sure there would be enough mass for the food processor to work with.

Happy butterizing!

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Tomato Sauce

To continue with the theme of having way too many tomatoes and needing a way to convert them into a food that would be consumed by both members of our household, I present you with a recipe for tomato sauce.

I adapted this recipe from a food blog idol of mine, Kath from KathEats. It is her mom’s recipe for tomato sauce that she always raves about, and since I had a million tomatoes to eat, and I recently picked up a bottle of sherry, I figured it was the perfect time to try it out!

I made just a few changes just because of  my lack of pantry-stocking; I didn’t have tomato paste so I substituted a tablespoon of pomodori agrodolci… not really the same but I wanted to add a little dense, cooked tomato flavor and that is what I had. I also didn’t have any sun-dried tomatoes but I think the pomag (my new nickname for the stuff – much easier to say & type) flavor made up for that as well. And I skipped the sugar since the pomag is so sweet on its own.

(Here is the link to Kath’s original recipe, along with much much better pictures of the process!)

Homemade Tomato Sauce

13 roma-size tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon pomadori agrodolci (or 1 can tomato paste + 1 teaspoon sugar)
1/4 cup sherry wine
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 handful fresh basil (if you have it)
1 large roasted red pepper, chopped

Saute garlic in a large pan or dutch oven. Add chopped tomatoes and simmer until thickened slightly. Add all other ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes, or until desired consistency is reached. Process in a food processor or with an immersion blender if you want a less rustic sauce. Serve immediately or refrigerate and enjoy within a week.

First, I chopped all of the tomatoes we had. I didn’t count, but it was probably about 10 roma-sized tomatoes and one large heirloom tomato (the purple one!).

The chopped tomatoes with Kath’s recipe in the background – a typical sight in my kitchen.

Next I got the garlic going in some olive oil.

Then I added all the tomatoes to simmer for about 15 minutes.

Then I forgot to take any more pictures until I was done. Here is one to show the consistency of the final sauce.

The sauce and the vessel that made it all possible. I love my Le Creuset French oven. It almost makes cooking on electric bearable.

As with most first-time recipes, it needed a couple tweeks. The flavor was very good, but as with the pomag, I wish I had processed the tomatoes before cooking because the skins rolled up and formed pointy sticks in the sauce. I’m new to cooking tomatoes (I’ve never had so many at once!) so I’m learning as I go. Next time I would definitely add the tomato paste to give it some more body. Also, I would process it after cooking to make it less chunky and more Brett-friendly. We enjoyed this sauce in a yummy eggplant parmesan that I will share the recipe for soon (it is eggplant season!).

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Pomodori Agrodolci

There’s a tiny shop in downtown Lexington called Oliva Bella. We used to drive past this shop every week for three years and wonder, “How can an Olive Oil Shop exist??” (We were young and naive!)

When I moved just a few blocks away from the shop in my last semester of college, I finally decided to go in. And let me tell you, I wasted those three years not going into that store. The tiny shop is full of artisan breads, real, aged balsamic vinegar, beautiful chocolate truffles, and olive oil imported from Italy. The owners immediately welcome you in and feed you anything and everything they have to sample. Each of the three olive oils the shop sells come from a family farm that produces only enough oil for themselves and the store. Each has a distinctly unique flavor, all worthy of drinking straight from the bottle. They often create recipes with their products and allow people to sample them, including pastas, sauces, and these amazing sweet and sour jams, one tomato and one with Vidalia onions. As soon as I tried the sweet, dark, rich tomato jam, I knew I had to have more. I brought a jar when I moved home at Christmastime, and my mom and sisters and I devoured it within weeks. I bought a jar for my mom and one for myself the next time I was in Lexington, and before I knew it, my mom was calling me to commiserate over seeing the bottom of our jars.

Spread it on french bread, add it to tomato sauce, spread it on crackers and melt cheese on top, add it to mac & cheese, or just eat it with a spoon. The Oliva Bella website also has a page of recipe ideas using the stuff. The possibilities are endless, though unfortunately the jar is not.

A few weeks ago, we got 3 1/2 pounds of tomatoes from our CSA. Being the only tomato-eater in the house (Brett hates fresh tomatoes), I knew I had to do something drastic. After giving a couple away, we still had about 2 1/2 pounds left.

2 1/2 pounds of tomatoes and 2 pounds of  sweet peppers in one week?! Is this a normal portion for 2 people?

As I watched them slowly ripen more and more, I racked my brain trying to think of something I could do that would either preserve them, or at least make Brett interested in sharing the load. I finally remembered this stuff. My mom kept the label from the jar with the ingredient list, just in case she every felt like trying to replicate it. She gladly sent me the list and I got to work. After 10 looong hours of waiting and stirring and filling our apartment with wonderful smells, it was finally ready to taste.

Pomodori Agrodolci

2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 small onion or 3 small shallots, minced
Tabasco
salt + pepper

Combine all ingredients in an oven-safe dutch oven or baking dish. Roast uncovered at 275 degrees for 9-10 hours, stirring every two hours, until it reaches a thick consistency and a deep brownish-red color. Fill into an airtight containter, refrigerate and enjoy!

All the ingredients in the pot – too pretty to pass up a picture!

The final product – from 3 pounds of vegetables to not even filling a pint-size mason jar halfway. Not nearly as pretty but sooo good!

I cut the tomatoes in 2-3-inch dices, but next time would cut them smaller (or as my mom suggested use a food processor), only because the skin rolled up and formed little sticks. They don’t affect the flavor, just the appearance. Also, the only hot sauce I had at the time was Cholula Chile & Lime, which I didn’t think would compliment the other ingredients so I left it out. I didn’t miss it, but I would add a few splashes next time. Also, I don’t think I added any salt & pepper. It couldn’t hurt though!

If you’re ever in Lexington, I would definitely recommend stopping at Oliva Bella and trying everything they offer to feed you!

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Filed under Recipes, Sauces & Spreads, Vegan, Vegetarian