Make Your Own – More Dairy Ingredients

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Normally we have the dairy products we need for cooking or baking but every once in a while we discover we’ve run out of some critical ingredient. In an earlier post I explained how you can make some dairy products. This post gives instructions on how to make even more dairy ingredients.

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Make Your Own – Dairy Ingredients

Make-Your-Own-Dairy

My husband has been known to drive 17 miles to the village (one way) to get something I want. But even though he’ll make the trip to town whenever I ask it’s great for me to know I can make my own ingredients if need be. Here are some recipes so you can make your own dairy ingredients.

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Make Your Own – Salad Dressings

Make Your Own – Salad Dressings

 

My family has always been salad eaters so it can feel like a real crisis around here if we run out of certain salad dressings and have not noticed until right before dinner. And with all the chemical additives found in most commercially prepared dressings it just feels right to make our favorites at home. Once you try it you may find you love to make your own salad dressings!

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Make Your Own – Infused Oils

So many recipes call for oil and using infused oil can add another layer of flavor. Oil can be infused with herbs, aromatics like garlic or onion, citrus, and even nuts. It’s easy to make your own infused oils! Here’s how to do it.

First, remember that you must always use fresh herbs when making infused oils. The flavor of fresh herbs is more pure than dried and using fresh herbs will give your oil a vibrant color.

Make-Your-Own-Infused-Oils

You’ll need:

  • A blender or food processor
  • Cooking pot or oven-safe bowl
  • Cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer
  • Funnel
  • Glass bottles with tight fitting caps
  • Olive oil (or any other neutrally flavored oil)
  • Fresh herbs, aromatics, citrus, and/or nuts

 

 

Herb Infused Oils:

herbs

Blend soft herbs like basil and cilantro with the oil in the blender or food processor before heating. If you want a more vibrant color blanch the herbs then shock with ice water before blending. Adding the herbs without blanching gives you more flavorful oil. When using woody herbs like thyme or rosemary, simply add the sprigs to the oil and follow the instructions for heating.

When you have combined your herbs and oil heat them in a small saucepan over medium heat until the oil is lightly bubbling. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the oil to cool completely.

Strain the oil through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer. If making oil using soft herbs, be sure not to press on the solids. Care during the straining process will prevent cloudy oil. You can place the woody herbs in the bottle but it will cause slightly cloudier oil.

While basil, cilantro, rosemary, and thyme are commonly used herbs you may want to also try these herbs:

Chives

Dill

Marjoram

Mint

Oregano

Parsley

Sage

Tarragon

 

Aromatic Infused Oils:

aromatics

For both dipping and cooking oils infused with aromatics like garlic and onion can’t be beat.

Wash whatever aromatic you’re going to use even though you’ve peeled them. You want to be sure to remove any trace of impurities.

Cut large items like onions in half or in rings. Garlic cloves and shallots can be left whole.

Roast aromatics before heating them with the oil. Pop them in the over on a baking sheet at 350°F for 20 to 30 minutes or until just golden. This releases the fragrance and flavor.
Add the aromatic to the oil in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the oil begins to lightly bubble. Remove the pan from the heat and allow mixture to cool completely.

Although you can leave aromatics in the bottle without causing cloudiness the aromatic will continue to infuse the oil making the flavor stronger over time.

Garlic and onion are popular aromatics used in infused oil but also try:

Ginger

Green onions (scallions)

Lemongrass

Shallots
Citrus Infused Oils:

citrus

Citrus zest can add a bright flavor with a little tang to your infused oil.

Wash fruit carefully to remove any trace of pesticides. Use a vegetable peeler to make long strips of peel for easier removal. Be sure not to get any of the bitter, white pith.

Add peel to oil in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the oil begins to lightly bubble. Remove the pan from the heat and allow oil to cool completely.

Removing the zest while the oil is cooling will leave you with clearer and more delicately flavored oil. Leaving the zest in while the oil cools will produce a stronger flavor but cloudier oil. Strain the zest from the oil before bottling.

Lemons, limes, and oranges are typical citrus choices for infusing oil but you can also infuse oils with these citrus flavors:

Blood orange

Clementine

Grapefruit

Meyer lemon

Tangerine

Kumquat

 

Nut Infused Oils:

nuts

Use raw, unsalted nuts to make nut infused oils. Buy nuts that have been skinned or blanched. The oil will not taste quite the same as nut oils because they are made by pressing the oil from crushed nuts. Your nut infused oil will have a rich, roasted, savory flavor.

Add the nuts to the oil in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the oil is lightly bubbling. Remove from heat and allow oil to cool completely.

You don’t even have to strain the nuts out because they will not cloud the oil.

Peanut infused oil, while not the same as commercially produced peanut oil can add a lot of flavor but you may want to try these, too:

Almond

Cashew

Hazelnut

Pecan

Pine nut

Pistachio
Be Creative:

be-creative

Try combining flavors when you infuse oils. Many herbs, aromatics, citrus fruits, and nuts combine well together. Just follow the instructions for preparing each ingredient then combine with the oil and heat, cool, and strain.

Make these for cooking or great dipping oils for crusty bread:

Basil and garlic

Basil and mint

Marinade or cook chicken in these tasty oils:

Cardamom and orange

Rosemary and orange

Try these spicy combinations for Mexican dishes:

Cilantro, red pepper flakes, lime, and onion

Cilantro, scallions, jalapeno, and garlic

Keep your infused oils in the refrigerator and discard after a month.

 

 

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Make Your Own – Baking Ingredients

Sometimes we run out of the ingredients needed to make that perfect cookie or frosting. It can be frustrating to have to run to the store to pick up ingredients. Here are a few ways to make your own for baking.

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Make your own powdered sugar –I can be an impulse baker and although I usually have lots of powdered sugar in the house sometimes I mess up. If you find yourself without enough powdered sugar just toss some regular granulated sugar in a blender and turn it on high until it becomes powder. Don’t put too much granulated sugar in at once as some may not get really pulverized, which is what you want.

Make your own brown sugar – Brown sugar isn’t made from some kind of special sugar cane. Just like chocolate milk isn’t made from brown cows (remember that from childhood?) brown sugar is just white sugar with a little something added. For light brown sugar use 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon of unsulfured molasses. This is where it gets complicated. Pour the sugar into a bowl. Add the molasses. Use a fork to mix the two together. At one point in this process you’re going to believe you’re doing it wrong. The mixture will be kind of gloopy and it will clump together. You’re fine. Just keep mixing and it will soon start to look like real brown sugar. You can use a mixer but you’re still going to need the fork to kind of mash any lumps. If you need dark brown sugar just add an additional tablespoon of molasses.

So, that’s:

 

Light brown sugar: 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses.

Dark brown sugar: 1 cup granulated sugar + 2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses.

 

Make your own chocolate chips – You can make your own chocolate chips (and white chocolate chips) and they’ll even look like chocolate chips! Follow this recipe:

Chocolate Chips

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons 100% unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons coco butter (food grade only)
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons maple syrup

 

White Chocolate Chips

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons cacao butter or coconut butter, melted
  • 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • Tiny pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon raw cashew or macadamia nut butter (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon milk powder (optional)

Directions:
For regular chocolate chips:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or wax paper.
  2. Fill small saucepan with about 2 inches of water and place it on the stove.
  3. Place a heat-safe, glass bowl on top of the pot. Make sure that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. You can melt the baker’s chocolate in the microwave but using the stove gives you more control so you don’t scorch the chocolate.
  4. Cut the baker’s chocolate into small pieces.
  5. Pour all the ingredients into the glass bowl. Omit the butter if you’re making dark chocolate chips.*
  6. Melt the mixture over a low to low-medium heat, stirring constantly. Using a silicone spoon or spatula will prevent the mixture from sticking.
  7. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a small tip or a zipper bag then cut a tiny bit of a corner from the bag. You don’t want the hole to be large since you want small chocolate chips.
  8. Carefully pipe the chocolate on to the parchment or wax paper. To get the little tips like store-bought chips stop squeezing the bag and lift it up allowing a bit of chocolate to pull up and then away from the bag. Alternately, you can use a toothpick to lift a tiny bit of chocolate up from the chip and then move the toothpick away.
  9. Place the baking sheets in the freezer for about an hour to harden the chips.
  10. Store finished chips in a zipper bag in the freezer

 

For white chocolate chips:

  1. Prepare baking sheets as for regular chocolate chips
  2. Set up double boiler.
  3. Cut a 2 inch piece of cacao butter and melt it in the glass bowl, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients (the nut butter and milk powder are optional but give the chips a creamier texture).
  5. Pipe the melted chocolate on the prepared paper.
  6. Place the baking sheets in the freezer for about an hour to harden.
  7. Transfer chips to a zipper bag and store in the freezer.

 

*The butter will give you richer, creamier chocolate, but they will also make the chips softer. Chocolate chips made without butter will be bitterer, but less likely to melt.

 

 

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