Balsamic and Pomegranate Reductions

It’s been some time since I posted. For those of you who have so patiently visited, thank you. During the summer I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily, it was small and only required surgery, but it took a little while to recover (typing was difficult). However, now I’m back and feeling great.

Sometimes the thing that elevates a dish is the sauce or dressing. I love using balsamic reduction on everything from salads to roasted vegetables, but face it, the stuff is very expensive to buy so I thought I would try making it myself. As it turns out, it’s really easy. I’m going to start with balsamic reduction first, and then move on to my next favorite and even more expensive pomegranate reduction.

Balsamic Reduction

All you really need is a bottle of balsamic vinegar. Some people add sugar, but I think the balsamic vinegar is sweet enough by itself.

and a pan.     

 

 

Pour 2 cups of balsamic vinegar into the pan. Bring it to a boil, and reduce the temperature to a low simmer.  Let it simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Don’t let it burn or scorch. Continue to simmer until the vinegar has thickened and reduced by about half. The result should be thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. 

 

The reduction will continue to thicken as it cools. Pour into a glass jar, and store in the refrigerator.

Try not to eat it with a spoon. It’s wonderful on salad, vegetables like asparagus, roasted beets and, of course, strawberries.

Now that we’ve got that cooling in the fridge, let’s try another and slightly more exotic reduction. You may have run across recipes that include “pomegranate molasses.” It’s the same thing.

Pomegranate Reduction

Don’t bother squeezing your own pomegranates. I’ve done it and believe me it’s a real pain in the neck. A bottle of pomegranate juice from the supermarket will work just fine.

In a sauce pan, add 4 cups of pomegranate juice and, 1/2 cup sugar (I used raw sugar), and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. You can add your favorite spices if desired.

Heat the juice and sugar over a medium heat to boiling. Once the sugar is dissolved, reduce the heat and simmer until it is reduced to 1 3/4 cup (50-60 minutes). Allow to cool and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

Pomegranate molasses is used in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes.  It’s also great on ice cream.

Be sure to label the jar because it looks a lot like balsamic reduction.

I’ll be back next week with another post. Give these a try and let me know what you think.

Mushroom Risotto

Life has been really hectic lately. I’m working on a second Pantry Magic cookbook, expanding my line of fruit and vegetable powders on Etsy, and it feels like forever since I’ve posted anything. But honestly, I’m having one of those days when I just want something simple and warm and nourishing. Creamy mushroom risotto is the perfect answer. I know, you’re thinking that’s too much work, all that stirring. But there’s nothing complicated about risotto, and as a matter of fact, I find the stirring kind of soothing. Besides, it doesn’t really take that long, so let’s get started.

Here is what we’ll need:

  • 1 cup of arborio rice (you could also use a short grain brown rice)
  • 2 cups of mushrooms, any kind, sliced and quartered, plus 1 tablespoon of my Gourmet Mushroom Powder (you can find it for sale at ElaineintheKitchen on Etsy)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 have onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped fine
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Pour the rice into a heavy bottom sauce pan with no oil or water.

Let the rice toast lightly, stirring to keep it from burning. When the rice becomes slightly fragrant, pour in the wine.  Let the wine cook down and then add 1 cup of vegetable broth.

Let the rice simmer on a medium low heat, stirring frequently. When the broth has been mostly absorbed, add another cup of broth. Continue slowly adding the broth until it has been absorbed.

In the meantime, in a preheated sauce pan, add the onions and garlic along with two tablespoons of broth.

Season with the thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes and add the mushrooms. Sauté,stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are cooked (10-20 minutes). Remove from the heat and cover.

When the rice is cooked and has absorbed most of the broth, add in the mushrooms and onions, along with the parsley. Stir to blend completely.  Continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Cover, and let rest.

 

Served with a simple side dish of steamed carrots, tossed with maple syrup and dill.

A Plate of Creamy Goodness

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Elaine in the Kitchen has Lots of News!

Sometimes you have to celebrate your own accomplishments, so I’m proud to announce that my book,Pantry Magic – Making and Using Fruit and Vegetable Powders is now available in paperback on Amazon and I hope to have the Kindle edition up soon. (See the Amazon Icon on the sidebar).I had a lot of fun writing it, and I hope that all of you will check it out and, of course, buy a copy. (How’s that for blatant self promotion)!  Seriously, I’d love to get your feedback.

But there’s more. Last summer I opened an online store at Etsy.com, and I’m happy to say that I’m getting lots of interest in my Fruit and Vegetable Powders. https://www.etsy.com/shop/ElaineintheKitchen?ref=hdr_shop_menu

Sales have been particularly good since the Holidays and I’m looking forward to adding some new items: Meyer Lemon Zest, Roasted Red Bell Pepper, and Sweet Orange Zest.

I’m sure some of you have noticed that I’ve been doing some rehab work on Elaine in the Kitchen’s Facebook page as well as the website.  I’ve also got some great recipe ideas for future posts and I should have a new one starting next week.  Thanks to all of you who have been checking in on Elaine in the Kitchen in the meantime.

Whew!  I think I’ll have some tea and lemon cookies.

Rainy Day Mushroom Soup and Vegan Welsh Rarebit

It’s the first week in April and it’s snowing outside, not a lot, just enough to let you know you shouldn’t put your heavy coat away.  So, I’m going to make some warm, silky, autumn tasting cream of mushroom soup.  Mushroom anything is delicious, and a big pot of soup is just the beginning.  After today, I’ll make some of the leftover soup into a sauce for pasta, and the day after that I’ll smother a baked potato with it, and if anything is left just throw it in the freezer for your next casserole.  I guarantee that once you make this at home, you’ll never buy that disgusting canned stuff again.

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Creamy Mushroom Soup

  • 3 cups fresh button mushrooms, brushed clean and quartered
  • 1 cup reconstituted shitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 medium large onion (about 1 1/2 cups) chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups of stock, vegetable (mushroom is best)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
  • 1 teaspoon mushroom powder*
  • Add salt and pepper later to taste
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, or Braggs aminos (Worchestershire works too)
  • 3/4 cup cashew or coconut cream (use any milk or cream you prefer).
  • 1 tablespoon plain yogurt or sour cream

You’ll need:

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Directions:

In a soup pot, gently sauté the onions, garlic and mushrooms until they are soft.  Add the parsley, thyme and paprika. *I also add a blend of dried mushroom powder that I make.  It just adds some extra depth and yumminess but it’s not necessary.

Now add the stock and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

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Add the salt and pepper to taste.  Pour in the cream or milk and stir until thoroughly combined.  Heat through.  Turn off the heat and let it rest for about 5 minutes.  Ladle into bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt.

Quick Vegan Coconut Cheese

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I’ve tried a fair number of vegan cheeses with varying success.  Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of the process.  This isn’t exactly cheese as I think of it and I wouldn’t recommend it for a sandwich, but it’s delicious and definitely meltable.  It’s the perfect topping for vegan Welsh rarebit to accompany my big bowl of Creamy Mushroom Soup.

  • 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • pinch cayenne
  • juice of ½ lime or 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 can coconut cream (I think Savoy is best, no added ingredients)
  • 1 ½ tsp agar agar powder
  • 2 Tablespoons tapioca starch mixed in ¼ cup water to form slurry

Pour coconut cream into a saucepan and stir in agar agar.  Add salt, turmeric, paprika and cayenne.  Stir to combine.  Add lime juice or vinegar and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until smooth and slightly thickened.  Stir in the tapioca starch slurry and stir vigorously until silky smooth and thickened.  Pour into molds (I’ve found plastic works really well).  Chill in refrigerator for 8 hours until firm.

*Fermented Coconut Cheese:  Follow the directions above.  Let cook slightly and stir in the contents of 1-2 probiotic capsules.  Pour into molds and let ferment on the counter top for about 6 hours.  Chill in refrigerator for 8 hours until firm.

Vegan Welsh Rarebit

I’ve eaten this for breakfast, lunch, and late night snacks.  It’s a great accompaniment for soup or salad.

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Take one slice of Ezekiel bread (or some other hearty grain bread).  Spread some coconut oil on one side.  Put in a cast iron fry pan with the oil side down.  Put two 1/2 inch thick slices of vegan coconut cheese on the top and put under the broiler for about 5-7 minutes or until the cheese turns a nice dark brown on top.

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This made my gloomy day all better.  Try it and enjoy.