When you say the word “ketchup” you are repeated two syllables that are thousands of years old. The syllables have not changed but the “thing” sure has.
The original ketchup was a fermented fish sauce made in Southern China. It’s a long way from that origin to bottles of Heinz stacked on grocery store shelves. The big translation, from Asia to Europe, was implemented by the British who began to make their own formulations of the ketchup. They were seeking to reap the profits of a tangy sauce people loved in Europe, but they wanted to skip the step of paying for it in Asia and transporting from Asia.
Americans, with a surplus of tomatoes, concocted their own versions. A hundred years or more ago, American cookbooks had lots of recipes for making ketchup. Now they don’t and we simply grab bottles off the shelf. But, but there are still folks out there with “ketchup” ideas. William Rice in The Steak Lover’s Cookbook is one such man and this is one such recipe.
No tomatoes here. Essentially roasted red bell peppers and dill with some spices and vinegars and olive oil added the mix.
What is the ketchup, okay faux ketchup, like? It’s wonderful. You have the smoky flavor of roasted peppers. The bite of red pepper itself. And a layer of deep dill flavor. Do not skimp on the dill here. I used the full ⅓ cup suggested. You taste dill, but it is a Goldilocks situation: not too little, not too much, just right.
How do I use the ketchup? I’ve tried it on steak, chicken and as a salad dressing. Are you fond of baked potatoes, then this ketchup along with butter and chives makes for a perfect potato.
Red Pepper and Dill Ketchup
Yield: about 3 cups
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded
½ cup minced scallions, white only
1 teaspoon paprika, hot or sweet, preferably Hungarian
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
⅓ cup chopped fresh dill
Salt, to taste
Cut the bell peppers into chunks and place them in a food processor or blender. Add the scallions, paprika, black pepper, white pepper, sugar, and lemon juice. Process until the mixture forms a smooth puree. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a thin stream. Pour the ketchup into a small bowl and stir in the dill. Add the salt. Adjust the flavor with additional pepper or sugar, if desired. (The ketchup may be made ahead. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.).
Source: Steak Lover’s Cookbook by William Rice [Workman, 1997]
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/4 for1/40th second at ISO‑3200
Here is a weekend treat distinguished by two things: a baking technique that may be quite new to you and a cake with intensified richness from lots of butter, sugar, and sour cream. Not to mention those blueberries.
The technique matter here is that the blueberries are added part way through the cooking, not at the start. The richness of the taste comes from using sour cream for the dairy — which accounts for the need to use both baking powder and baking soda. That’s just the situation as if you were baking with buttermilk, and I suppose you could try this cake that way, too.
Blueberries have a natural sour flavor — no, I don’t think they are sweet at all. Some of that sourness is shielded by making the topping with both sugar and cinnamon added to the berries. But that berry tartness and the sour of the sour cream do play off each other in the final dish and play well.
This recipe comes from the lovely book The Weekend Baker by Abigail Johnson Dodge.This book has a clever idea: you aren’t going to bake on Tuesday night, but you just might on Saturday or Sunday. There is a stream of recipes for you there, quick ones if your weekend is packed, some recipes to assemble on Saturday if you can make components during week, and major productions you can enjoy in a peaceful day spent in the kitchen with your flour, butter, and favorite wine.
You can read a review of The Weekend Baker here, but I would hustle to find a copy of this decade-old book and begin making weekend treasures for yourself. Start with blueberries.
Warm Cinnamon-Spiced Blueberry Cake
Yield: 8 servings [that’s four people each getting the second slice they will demand]
For the cake:
1 ⅓ cups (6 ounces/170 grams) all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (8 ounces/227 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
⅔ cup (5 ½ ounces/156 grams) sour cream
For the topping:
¾ cup (3 ounces/85 grams) blueberries, rinsed and well dried
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 350 degrees (180°C). Lightly grease and flour the bottom and sides of a 9-by-2- inch (22.75cm-by-5cm) round cake pan, tapping out the excess flour.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk until well blended. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Beat with an electric mixer (stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or handheld mixer) on medium speed until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time and beat just until blended. Add the vanilla with the second egg. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture in 3 batches alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 10 minutes.
As soon as you put the cake in the oven, make the topping. In a small bowl, combine the blueberries, sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Mix the ingredients together with a fork, lightly crushing the blueberries.
After the cake has baked for 10 minutes, sprinkle the topping evenly over the top of the cake. Continue baking until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes longer.
Transfer the cake to a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Using a thick, dry dish towel to protect your hands, invert a large, flat plate on top of the cake pan and, holding both the pan and the plate, invert them together. Lift the pan off the cake. Invert a flat serving plate on the bottom of the cake and invert the cake one more time so that the blueberries are on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Storage: Cover the cooled cake in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Source: The Weekend Baker by Abigail Johnson Dodge [Norton, 2005]
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/5.6 for1/60th second at ISO‑800
For twenty-five years Dave Broom has been writing about whiskey and other matters of alcohol. His last book was Whiskey: The Manual, manifestly THE tour book to the grandeur of whiskey. Now, on October 6th, actually, we’ll be able to read his latest work, Gin: The Manual, a work of equal dedication, research, and expertise.
The core of this book is a survey of 120 gins from around the world. British at first, of course. But there is space here for a gin made in Brooklyn next to the Gowanus Canal, a waterway still condemned but loved by film makers and the many restaurants, distilleries, and breweries that find a 19th Century industrial environment invigorating — if not exactly swimmable.
Gin is in. There are the heritage brands we all know. And then new ones coming on line from boutique firms in London, Brooklyn, Upstate New York, Scotland, France, Germany, Spain, and many other spiritual by-ways. Gin has been rediscovered. The days of the bathtub are long gone.
The “manual” part of this book comes from the intensely packed descriptions of a diverse spectrums of gin brands. A typical page is shown at the bottom of this post. The description begins with Botanicals: what are the flavorings that appear in the bottle. Literally hundreds of flavors are used around the world and, yes, most gins do contain some juniper berries. Beyond the juniper, most gins have a handful of other ingredients to generate their own particular flavor and aroma profile. Noet’s Silver Dry Gin from The Netherlands is typical: juniper plus citrus peels, orris root, liquorice root, white peach, Turkish rose, and raspberry. Orris root? All I know is that it takes five years for the root to dry out and become usable.
But Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin from Germany has juniper and 40 others elements, like bee balm, honeysuckle, acacia, rose hips, and dog rose. Dog rose? It’s a very dainty purple climbing wild rose native to Europe.
Beyond those botanical ingredients, Dave provides a long one paragraph introduction and description for each gin. It’s all about the who, why, where, and how of this particular bottle. Very importantly, Dave has tasted each gin so you can benefit from his very educated opinion. That Noet’s Silver Dry Gin has a perfume nose, one that reminded Dave of the perfume of his teenage daughter [and the daughter agreed].
So, if you were in a liquor store, The Manual in hand, you could pick up a bottle and, if it is one Dave has surveyed, find what goes in it and how it is made. But how would you use it? That’s the ultimate benefit of the very extensive research Dave has systematically applied.
The bottom of each review has a section called the Flavour Camp [he’s British so flavour does come with a “u”]. Dave offers reviews and guidance for using this gin in four iconic gin beverages:
With Sicilian Lemonade
Negroni [that combo of three liqueurs: gin, vermouth, and Campari]
Dave tells you if — because not all gins work for every cocktail — the gin should be used and gives a rating for the quality of the final cocktail. But wait, there’s more. You get detail on how to mix the cocktail, light or heavy on the vermouth, for example. For the Negroni, which is this seemingly combustible combination of liqueurs that may conflict at times, Dave has tested out four different ratios of the three liqueurs and suggests the precise proportions that generate the best beverage experience.
I have never seen this detail before in a beverage book. It is rocket science impressive. And I intend to celebrate with a G&T. First though, I have to push aside my Hendricks and Tanqueray and find some Sipsmith V.J.O.P. which, in his expert opinion, give you the very best G&T on the planet.
Ah, there are other gin drinks beside that G&T. And the back of the book provides thirty pages of recipes for a variety of delights, some old and some new. Dave calls this BV and AV, for Before Vodka and After Vodka. A hundred years ago, we drank gin, not vodka, and we made our cocktails with gin, not vodka. Life, styles and cocktails change. We had the Cold War and the onrush of vodka appearing in new drinks with new profiles. Now, with the resurgence of gin worldwide, the classic cocktail formulations are back with us. And mixologists are having a field day experimenting with all the new brands and flavors. Who knows, you may have already sipped some dog roseor orris root in an upscale bar.
No “manual” would be complete without some history and navigation. The book opens with fifty pages devoted to gin history, production, mixers that you might use, and the half dozen classic recipes you need —just in case you don’t make it to the back of the book.
On that iconic scale of 1 to 10, Gin: The Manual is an 11 or 12. You could not write a more sophisticated book or pack more detail onto each page. It’s an absorbing book, one that I will be carrying along every time I visit my liquor store. You’ll want your own copy of this traveling and drinking companion, too.
Ah, I was proofreading this review and discovered I’ve done it again: used liquor in some places and liqueur in others. So, I finally googled and learned I have not sinned very much, if at all. The term “liquor” refers to an alcoholic liquid made via distillation. And you do buy them in liquor stores. A “liqueur” is a liquor that is mixed with herbs and spices, to add flavor or sweetness.
Gin is a liqueur and Gin: The Manual will surely add flavor and sweetness to your drinking experiences.