Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Salsa, Lies, and Videotape

I like to be proven wrong, especially when it comes to my convictions and cooking. For example, when Molly over at Orangette teased her readers with the simplicity of a buttery tomato sauce, I thought “It couldn’t possibly be that easy. Surely there must be something missing!” But as Molly has faithfully proven to me before, simple can work. She’s a very trustworthy person, that Molly. She’s even convinced me to eat brussel sprouts. Sneaky!

I was convinced the Beer and Gingerbread recipe was a spoof. Not only do I have reservations about using a boxed cake mix (the recipe calls for 2 boxes), but it contained thick, dark beer. A lot of beer. But as I mixed and tsked my way through the cake and buttercream directions, I was stunned to find potential. The buttercream actually tasted better than my usual recipe I use from Wilton! Of course, I could not leave well enough alone and I modified the original buttercream recipe. It initially called for an all butter buttercream, but I find those icings to be too rich.

A mixture of half butter and half shortening cuts down on the richness factor, but not the fat. Hey, it's cake isn’t it? I also added a tablespoon of meringue powder, as called for in the Wilton buttercream recipes, as I think it adds more body and flavor. And then of course there is the beer; a full quarter cup of beer in the icing. The actual cake batter calls for 2 ½ cups!

All in all, it turned out surprisingly tasty and moist. Unless you knew it had beer in the ingredients, you wouldn’t be able to taste it, but it did have one of those “I can’t quite figure out what's in this” moments. It’s not something I would make on a regular basis, but I would definitely make it for an Octoberfest themed party.

On a different note, I made some lovely Peach Salsa this weekend. This past year has sent me into experimenting with different salsas that I could home can (preserve). There are tons of recipes out there for home preserved salsa; however, nothing compares to Annie’s Salsa, and it’s the only true tomato salsa I’ll make. All the others taste the same and don’t compare. But lately, I’ve been trying different kinds like this zesty peach variation. Of course I tweaked the recipe and added some fresh lime juice, a little bit more honey, and a touch of salt. Next, I’ll venture into a spicy little cranberry number that I’ve had on file for a while, but have never tried. Ole!

Take a look; isn’t it pretty!

Kathy's Peach Salsa

6 cups peaches -- diced
1 1/4 cups red onion -- chopped
4 jalapeno peppers -- chopped*
1 red pepper -- chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro -- loosely packed
1/2 cup white vinegar
¼ cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons honey
3 cloves garlic -- finely chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon canning salt

Place all ingredients in a heavy 8 quart saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Pack into prepared hot jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (0-1000 ft.), 15 minutes (1001-6000 ft.), and 20 minutes (above 6000 ft.). Makes 3 pints.

*We like it a little spicy, so I leave all of the seeds and ribs.

Note: If you do not do your own home preserving, follow the recipe prior to packing the salsa in the jars and chill for several hours before serving.

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