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Homemade Orange Blossom Water or Rose Water

INGREDIENTS

  • ~ orange, blossoms or red and pink rose petals
  • ~ distilled water

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pick your petals and blossom early in the morning, ideally those which have been grown completely organically and free of pesticides.
  2. Rinse the petals and blossom carefully in cold water, taking care to remove all dirt and any insects.
  3. Crush the petals or blossom with a mortar and pestle.
  4. Leave them to rest for a few hours.
  5. Place them in a jar with some distilled water  but don’t go overboard with the water as you can always add more later.
  6. Leave the jar, with the lid on, in the sun for a couple of weeks before you check the scent.  Continue to leave in the sun for another week or so if it is too weak.
  7. Experiment with the quantities of water and petals to see what works for your water.
  8. Strain the blossom water into several smaller sterilized jars with lids.
  9. Store in a cool dark location such as the refrigerator.

Notes:  Orange Blossom Water is a scented water frequently found in Moroccan homes, where you’ll find it applied as a perfume and freshener or used in culinary preparations as an ingredient.  The traditional method of making pure orange flower water requires steam distillation in special copper equipment known as a still or katara in Moroccan Arabic.   Unlike rose petals, Orange blossoms may be harder to come by.

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Homemade Asian-Style or Italian-Style Chili Oil

INGREDIENTS

  • For Asian Style Chili Oil:
  • 1-1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 tbsp dried red chili pepper flakes or ground cayenne
  • or
  • For Italian Style Chili Oil:
  • 1-1/4 cup olive oil, preferably extra virgin (EVOO)
  •  tbsp crushed dried red chili peppers
  • 1/4 cup whole dried chili peppers

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add the chili pepper to a clean, dry glass bowl or jar.
  2. Heat the oil for a few min in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to smoke.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Allow the oil to cool in the pan for a min or two.
  5. Pour the oil slowly and carefully over the chili pepper, making sure that the oil completely covers the chili pepper.
  6. Use a spoon to stir so that all the chili is submerged.
  7. Set the oil aside to cool for at least an hour or two.
  8. You can taste the oil once cooled.
  9. Strain the oil to remove the crushed or ground chili pepper if it’s to your liking.
  10. Cover the oil and allow it to infuse overnight or for as long as desired before straining if you’d like more heat and flavor.
  11. Store the oil in a clean, airtight glass container once strained.
  12. Return whole dried chili peppers to the oil to gradually intensify its color and flavor.

Notes:  The instructions to make both oils are the same.  Some people don’t bother straining the oil at all and allow the crushed chili to settle on the bottom of the jar and use it along with the oil as a condiment. The oil will store well at room temperature for several months.  Seal and set aside for one to two months before using.  The more finely ground the chili peppers, the more intense the color of the oil will be. The Asian style chili oil, therefore, will be deeper hue than its Italian cousin.  If you want to intensify the color of the Italian version, just replace some of the crushed chili pepper with ground cayenne or hot paprika.  The oil will have enough flavor to use in an hour or two but as the infusion continues to mature, the heat factor will rise.  The recipe easily doubles or triples, and you may adjust the ratio of chili pepper to oil to taste.  You can also experiment with different dried chili peppers to yield varying flavor and heat.

Cucumber-Orange Water

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 cup cold water
  • 6 English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 5 orange, thinly sliced

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher.
  2. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 min.
  3. Serve.

Notes:  Not all of us like soda and flavored drinks, but plain old water can get boring after a while.  This of drink of clean flavors of cucumber and orange steep in water for a refreshing twist.

Cucumber Mignonette

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup vinegar, rice
  • 1 tbsp sugar, granulated
  • 1/2 tsp salt, kosher
  • 1/4 cup English cucumber, small-dice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
  • 1 Thai chile, fresh, stemmed, and minced
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a medium, nonreactive bowl.
  2. Stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
  3. Add the cucumber, shallot, chile, and pepper and stir to combine.
  4. Let sit at least 15 min before serving.
  5. Store in the refrigerator in a container with a tight-fitting lid for up to 1 day.

Notes:  The cooling crunch of cucumber tames the heat from Thai chile in this easy mignonette.  While the name sounds fancy, it’s a simple mix of vinegar, sugar, salt, and a few seasonings that’s great for dunking steamed crab in or topping oysters on the half shell.  For an even spicier kick, use Habanero chile in place of the Thai chile.

Homemade Amaretto

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cup vodka
  • 2 vanilla beans, split
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons almond extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat up both sugar with 1 cup of water in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Turn down the heat to a simmer until all the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Remove from the heat.
  5. Let cool completely.
  6. Pour the cooled sugar-water into a seal-able bottle.
  7. Add the vodka, vanilla beans and almond extract and stir.
  8. Let sit for a week at room temperature.
  9. Strain through a piece of cheesecloth.
  10. Return to the same bottle.

Notes:  Make this Homemade Amaretto instead of buying it at the store.

Homemade Navel Orange Liqueur

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 to 5 navel oranges
  • 2 cup raw sugar
  • water
  • 2 cup vodka

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Remove the peel of two oranges with a vegetable peeler, taking only the orange part. Try to leave the white pith behind as it’s very bitter.
  2. Add the peel to a clean quart jar.
  3. Juice all the oranges. You should have about 1-1/4 cup of juice or more.
  4. Add enough water to make 1 1/2 cup if you’re short.
  5. Dissolve the sugar in 1/2 cup of juice in a sauce pan over low heat.
  6. Add the remaining orange juice and stir once dissolved.
  7. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer for 5 min.
  8. Cool mixture.
  9. Add the cooled syrup to the quart jar with the peel and fill to the top with vodka.
  10. Store in a dark, cool spot for at least a month.
  11. Strain and bottle.

Notes:  Use Orange Liqueur in any recipe calling for Triple Sec or check out my Triple Orange Margarita cocktail.

Crockpot Blueberry-Lavender Butter

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 cup blueberries, fresh, puree-d
  • 1 tbsp dried lavender
  • 1 lemon, Zest of
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cup sugar, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place blueberry puree in slow cooker.
  2. Turn to low.
  3. Stir blueberry puree after 1 hour.
  4. Fill bouquet garni bag with lavender.
  5. Tie bag shut.
  6. Add bag of lavender.
  7. Prop open lid with a spatula or wooden spoon to let excess moisture escape.
  8. Continue cooking on low, stirring occasionally.
  9. Add lemon zest and sugar after 4 more hours.
  10. Remove lid.
  11. Cook on high for 1 hour.
  12. Remove bouquet garni bag of lavender and discard.
  13. Turn off Crockpot.
  14. Cool to room temperature.
  15. Place blueberry mixture in food processor or blender.
  16. Process to desired consistency.
  17. Pour into sterilized jars.
  18. Leave 1/2-in of head space.
  19. Wipe rims and screw on lids.
  20. Process in boiling water can-er for 10 min.
  21. Store jars in cool, dark place.

Notes:  Can or store in refrigerator and use quickly.