Thursday, July 27, 2017

Easy Local Summer Recipes! Part One

Blog:  Easy, Local Summer Recipes!

The Summer is flying by, isn’t it?  Unlike lots of folks, summer is a really busy time at our urban homestead.  Maintaining the gardens, canning, freezing, pickling and developing recipes using the incredible local bounty of our region keeps things hopping. And we are adjusting to the loss of our oldest fur kid, Stricia, and the arrival of our newest fur kid, Tiki.  Tiki is teaching us how to do the very best for a cat living with diabetes - including managing his diet.  Lots of challenges, expected and unexpected, have filled our days.  With all of that, we definitely wouldn’t want anything to be any different. Evenings splashing in our plunge pool;  Icy cocktails to end long days;  and lots of wonderful dishes to make and recipes to adapt and invent make for a wonderful summer season here at Il Moya.  

We have adapted and come up with some wonderful summer meals over the past weeks.  And, of course, these dishes incorporate our local, seasonal bounty.  How could they not?  I hope that you try some of these recipes.  It is still going to be seriously hot for awhile and eating “light in the heat; heavy in the cold” continues to be the way to go.  

Corn on the Cob Prep (Technique)

Respect that fabulous, fresh local corn that we are so lucky to have available to us!  These wonderful treats do not have to be boiled in a big pot for 10, 15 or more minutes!  They need just a short swim in salted boiling water to reach perfection.  
Clean the Corn:  Shuck the corn (Right before use. Please do not buy shucked corn!). Use a mushroom brush to get rid of any remaining “silk”.  
Cook the Corn:  Put the cleaned corn cobs in a large, sturdy stainless steel bowl.  Sprinkle some kosher salt over the corn and pour over - enough to cover - some boiling water (I use our electric kettle).  Put a towel or a lid over the bowl and set a timer for about 3 minutes - no more than 5 minutes.  
Eat the Corn:  Drain, butter and serve.  The corn will be perfectly done and perfectly delicious. 

Be Kind to Fabulous Corn

Crudo (Technique)

We are also blessed to have wonderful fish and seafood available to us.  In my opinion, when the weather is hot and you are looking for both a flavor bang and something cold, Crudo is the way to go. Think “Italian Sushi”.  Here I used fluke.  A white fleshed mild fish caught right off the Jersey shore.  Very fresh is the key, of course.
Preparation:  Slice the fluke very thinly.  Lay the slices out on a shallow plate and sprinkle slices with fresh lemon juice, a sprinkling of good extra virgin olive oil, and a scattering of sea salt.  Here, I topped the crudo with some thin slices of a smokey pepper from our garden - jalapeno peppers work very well too.  Serve with pita chips or by itself.  Crudo is wonderful with a cocktail or as an appetizer.  The type of fish or seafood you use is up to your imagination and what is at its peak of freshness,

Fluke Crudo
Summer Greens Lasagna (Recipe)

If you are like us and are growing greens like Swiss Chard, Mustard, Collards or any of the Kales, or if you just find that you can’t resist buying them at your local farmers markets, this recipe is for you.  It is so satisfying, delicious and not that difficult to put together.  The treatment of the mixed greens is what makes the dish - how could it not?  This recipe is enough for two with left overs.  If you just double the ingredients and use a larger baking dish, you have lasagna for a party!

One pound of mixed greens, roughly chopped - hold stems aside and chop them
1/2 medium onion, minced
2 small garlic cloves, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
2/3 cup creme fraiche (can substitute sour cream) - separate into 1/3 and 1/3
1/2 pound of fresh ricotta 
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Fresh Lasagna Sheets (see note *)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Heat the olive oil over medium heat until you see a shimmer on the oil surface
Add the onions and garlic and the chopped stems -  season with salt and pepper 
Cook until the onions, garlic and stems are soft, about 5 minutes - avoid browning
Add the heavy cream to the onions, garlic, and stems and stir

Add a handful of chopped greens, stir and wilt the greens
Keep adding handfuls of chopped greens and let them wilt until all of the greens are in the cream mixture
Cook the mixture for about 10 minutes more
Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat

Spread  1/3 cup of the creme fraiche evenly over the bottom of a 9 x 9 baking dish
Cover with a layer of 4 lasagna noodles - they can overlap a bit
With a slotted spoon, scoop a third of the greens mixture out of the cream and spread it over the lasagna noodles
Cover the greens with about 1/4 of the ricotta and a 1/4 of the grated parmesan - your amounts may vary a bit.  The idea is to get a nice but not too heavy coating of the cheeses over the greens.
Repeat with two more layers, ending with a layer of noodles on top.
Spoon the cream mixture over the lasagna - the cream is the liquid that will cook your fresh lasagna noodles and make this dish so luscious
Mix together the remaining parmesan and creme fraiche and spread it over the top
Cover the lasagna with foil and bake until bubbling and starting to brown. About 45 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake until the top is completely browned and the sauce is bubbling.  About 10 additional minutes.
Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

*Note:  This recipe uses fresh lasagna sheets that are not cooked ahead of time.  They will cook in the liquid of the dish.  I do not recommend “no cook”, boxed lasagna noodles. 

First Addition of Chopped Greens

Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream Spread on Baking Dish

Ready for the Oven

Out of the Oven and Ready to Serv

Next Time:  Stuffed Squash Blossoms, Mixed Berry Tart, Whipped Sweet Ricotta, Another Crudo, and Ideas for Eggplant

                                                                          EAT REAL FOOD!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Food Activism in Challenging Times

It’s time for some seriousness, Friends,  before my next round of wonderful Summer recipes & techniques hit these pages again.

In this current frightening political climate, which seeks to have monolithic corporations run unregulated, our food supply and what is available to us is at greater risk than ever. We need to realize that actions for change are necessary. 

We can all play a part. You can make a difference by taking one step or a lot of steps.  But we all have to start somewhere.

The following are a few suggestions from my own experiences and learning over the past ten plus years of researching, cooking, growing, buying and writing about food and our practices and systems around food. 

1. Read. Stay informed - understand what terms like, organic, free range, grass fed, hormone & antibiotic free and pasture raised really mean. For example, "grass fed" is fine as long as cattle are not "finished" with grain (to make them fatter). Feeding grain makes the animal sick requiring the use of antibiotics. 100% grass fed is the standard you want.

2. Read the writings of Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle & others and watch the documentaries on food in America and eating, such as "Forks Over Knives" and "Cook", and many more. Netflix has a ton of them.  They make for good rainy day viewing and you learn something.

3. Understand the Slow Food Movement - its origins and work around the world. There were very legitimate reasons why Italy blocked McDonalds and formed a movement - which became world wide - to protect local, seasonal Real Food.

4. Learn about the symbiotic relationship among factory agriculture & the pharmaceutical companies. It is becoming clearer every day that processed, sugar laden, inhumanely raised, drug filled factory "food" is making America sick.  A "sick" population benefits big pharmaceutical companies. Millions of Americans are taking multiple medications daily that they might not need if their diet consisted of Real Food.  Others -  adults and children alike - have reactions and sometimes full blown allergies to common, every day foods for the most part because those "foods" are loaded with unnatural additives.  And realize too that much supermarket "produce" is grown using massive amounts of dangerous fertilizers and weed killers developed by Monsanto and other pharmaceutically connected corporations.

5. There's one rule that could change your life and the lives of those around you if you get them to join with you.  The rule:  Don't buy things to eat from supermarkets or chain restaurants. Supermarkets are for paper products, kitty litter, batteries and cleaning products. Chain restaurants have no useful reason to exist.

6. Shop at Farmers Markets and local Fresh Food Outlets for food. Eat local, seasonal, humanely raised food as much as possible. I certainly know that sometimes we must step outside the "Local" label.  That's OK.   But pick your spots. Go ahead and buy Italian Olive Oil. Order that fabulous Carolina Gold Rice or those Hatch Chilies. Just  do not buy Asparagus or Strawberries in a supermarket in February.

7. Grow some of your own food - even just some herbs if that's all you can do. If you can grow more, do it. The benefits are astounding on so many levels.  I truly believe it is something we all should know how to do.

8. Most importantly COOK! Cook Real Food. Cook and sit down at the table with others. Eat, talk, relax. We are one of the few cultures on earth to almost totally abandon this social practice - to our great detriment!

9. Take your lunch from home.  Use your food.  Plan menus and make shopping lists - before you go to the markets.  Take left overs for lunch.  You'd be amazed at how much money you save and how much better your lunches will be as you get used to this practice.

10. Avoid food waste. Learn to preserve food at whatever level you can. Make your own soup stocks. Freeze some seasonal food. Learn how to Pickle & Can. It's a wonderful way to have something delicious when it is out of season. Strawberries in December from your freezer, for example. Or delicious, old fashioned "barrel pickles" in your refrigerator. Compost food scraps yourself or find a local company (of which there are many) to do a weekly pick up of your compost materials.

11. Support small independent & family owned farms & producers in every way that you can. We need them! If you eat Real Food, remember, "No Farms. No Food".

12. Support Food Banks, School Breakfast & Lunch programs, and Food Trusts that focus on fresh food deserts. Do whatever you can to fight hunger in America, and to help get nutritious food to low income citizens.

13. Become familiar with regulations designed to suppress small farms & farmers markets. They are a huge threat to the factories and I suspect that we will see so called "regulations" increasing for real farms and decreasing for the factories.

14. If you are going to eat meat & poultry know how it was raised and where. Also know how it was harvested. It did not live its life in a styrofoam blister wrapped package!  Use meat and poultry as an ingredient - not a main course, as much as you can.  

15. The unhealthy food system that has been built in the US depends mightily upon an uninformed consumer. The belief in "the industry" is that all Americans care about is convenience & price. For example, ask yourself why the "steak dinner" at a chain restaurant is so cheap. Because the products used are that bad! That's why. That's it.

16. Share what you know and what you learn. Teach and support others to cook Real Food. Support legislation that will bring healthy eating back to America; this will serve to diminish "treatment" of disease and enhance health through good diets and thus,  "prevention".

Please join me in the effort to help people understand that they can cook and eat Real Food and live better, healthier, more enjoyable lives. Real Food is not a fad. It IS how we used to eat. It IS how many countries in the world still eat. The challenges are real. The time is now.

@The Philly Foodist copyright 2017

Monday, May 1, 2017

What I'm Growing & Some Delicious Ideas with Spring Arrivals

Happy Spring!

Learning a  new gardening technique
What a glorious time of year for growers, gardeners, cooks and folks who just love real food!  I mentioned awhile back that I was going to be experimenting with some of our planting beds using the Square Foot Gardening Method.  Over the winter months I did a good deal of reading on the subject and decided it was just what I was looking for by way of producing enough vegetables, berries and herbs for two people. And it seemed to be what I was looking for in terms of making the absolutely best use of the growing space I had. I highly recommend the 2nd edition of the book, “All New Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew.  A few weeks ago, we measured out the growing areas, divided them, used the special “blend” of soil and compost he recommends (which is available already blended by the way), and planted just a few seeds and placed just a few seedlings.  We also added lettuces and spinaches. As of this writing, the bed is completely planted (see photos).   A major concept of Square Foot Gardening is avoiding “thinning” seedlings, when just a few seeds will most likely all take.  Check out Bartholomew’s thinking and techniques.  I will keep reporting here on our progress. So far, the early greens and radishes are growing like crazy.

Our Largest "Square Foot Gardening" Bed
This year’s garden:  i have long been an overachiever at the start of each growing season.  This year I promised myself that I would reign in my, “let’s try this, let’s try that” and the “well, we have to plant this” inclinations of past years. We discussed what we really love to be able to pull out of our garden and use, and what was regularly available at reasonable prices to us from our wonderful Farmers Markets.  For example, I rarely put in more than two or three tomato plants of different varieties.  I have access to fabulous Jersey tomatoes and lots of Heirloom tomatoes and frankly,  they do take up a good deal of space in my garden. for tomatoes I will support our local farmers.  Same thing with asparagus and cucumbers.  And I gave up on zucchini a few years ago.  I have confessed here in the past that, for the life of me, I just can’t grow zucchini.  As someone who thinks they are pretty accomplished in growing, I’d rather not talk about it anymore. I can, however, smile about it now.
So, here’s what made the cut at the Il Moya Homestead Garden this year.  I offer it up to get you thinking if you are struggling with how to use your space to get the most enjoyment out of it - especially if you are an urban gardener and your growing space is not big.

Herbs - Don’t discount planting a good deal of herbs that you enjoy and will use.  They are expensive to buy and, along with cooking with fresh herbs, many of them either freeze or dry well.  You can also flavor oils and vinegars with herbs. 
We have our usual line up this year:  Italian Parsley, Sweet Marjoram, Common Thyme, Greek Oregano, Italian Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, French Sorrel, Culantro (stronger and easier to grow than Cilantro), Chives, a small patch of Garlic, Genovese Basil, and Pesto Basil.  - 
Vegetables - We have put in:  Potatoes, Okra, Haricot Vert Beans, Bush Beans, Radishes (lots right now), Tomatoes (just two plants), Eggplant (3 different types), and nine types of peppers, plus a pot of “ornamental” peppers that overwintered in our kitchen window.  From sweet to hot and in between, we love peppers and they are so versatile. Peppers offer a good yield too. 
Greens - We particularly love four different kinds of Lettuces (heirloom romaine, bibb, black seeded simpson and mixed leaf), along with:  Tatsoi, Spinach, Black Kale (Lacinato), Mustard, Arugula, Mint, Raspberry Dressing, Collard Greens and Swiss Chard.

Some of our Baby Herb Pants
Butterhead Lettuce

Potato Beds
Fruit - We have three pots of Ever Bearing Strawberries and a couple of Blueberry bushes; these return each year. We also have a two year old Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree.  We always put pots of Marigolds around and in recent years some boxes of “pollinators” - bee and butterfly attractors - they work!  I urge you to plant attractors.

My best advice to you is to remember to make what you are doing and planting work for you.  Some shortcuts and modifications are fine.  For example, a number of things we grow are Heirlooms, but not all are.  Much of what we grow we start from seed, but we also buy starter plants.  Go easy on yourself.  If you are a beginning food grower, it will probably take a few seasons to have your firm plan in place.  
Lastly, consider your schedule and your time commitment.  Don’t plant a  big beautiful garden that you can’t water, weed, control pests, and tend DAILY, preferably at least once in the morning.  During the very hot weather, you will probably need to water twice.  Remember, Gardens are living things in which you have made a considerable investment. I have seen way too many thriving gardens that have been deserted for vacations.  Hiring out long term garden maintenance is sort of a sad thing to do, as well. In the current epidemic in America of people feeling that they have to constantly reinforce how they have "no time" for anything, committing to a garden maybe just the anecdote.  The many and most wonderful benefits of gardening include spending time and effort watching things that you have planted grow and produce real food.  The other benefits are hard physical  work, meditative down time, and stress reduction.

Delicious Spring Treats
At this time of year, there are wonderful things available at the Markets.  Nothing announces "Spring" like Fiddlehead Ferns, Ramps, Morel Mushrooms, and of course, Asparagus.  Baby Greens also start to appear, along with Green Garlic, Chives, Radishes and New Potatoes.  What a time!  All of these delicious foods are extremely versatile.  

Here are just a few ideas:
Fiddleheads and Ramps are delicious pickled.  Flavored butters can also be made with both, then slice the butter into rounds and freeze.  Great for grilled meat, vegetables poultry and fish.
Ramps are also wonderful seared in a pan with fried eggs.
Morel Mushrooms make for a fabulous Risotto.  They are also amazing fried - what an appetizer!  Cream of Morel soup is over the top delicious.  Sautéed in butter with some fresh thyme and spooned over good toast is a lunch you will crave over and over.
Asparagus - in our home this is THE early season winner!  Local asparagus is packed with flavor and should be used as close to harvesting as possible.  Along with a quick steam, with butter, salt & pepper and fresh lemon juice, we also like to oven roast it or to cook it quickly over hardwood coals.  Cream of Asparagus soup, sprinkled with the asparagus tops and a little bit of crumbled bacon, is a Spring dish that you will become addicted to believe me.  Also, a puree of asparagus, topped with seared scallops is an easy, and oh so delicious dish.  Like with a number of other seasonal things, we like to quick steam asparagus (very quick), let them cool, and pack them up in freezer bags for the winter.  And do not forget great Radishes, sliced, with softened butter on slices of baguette and sprinkled with Sea salt.  THE Spring appetizer!  Get yourself to the Markets and grab these early season - and quickly gone - treats!

Support your Farmers’ Markets!  Many are opening for the season soon. 

Remember to Eat Real Food!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Spring. Stock and Ramen Stock

BLOG: Spring Stuff. Stock and Ramen Stock

I hope everyone is enjoying the almost arrival of Spring.  By now I’m sure that you have ordered your seeds and plants and supplies and fussed over when to uncover what, as the temperatures jump all over the place. As we get further into Spring, I will spend more time here talking about growing - especially growing in the city.  

But first, some thoughts. It has been a hard winter.  Not because of awful cold or snow really.  No - it’s more because of the constant stream of disturbing news, debates, and the like that we are dealing with every day.  Lately, I have been having conversations with folks who are looking for ways to divert their attention, to feed their spirits, and/or to have some fun.  I wholeheartedly agree with these efforts!  As I have written here in the past, we are deeply into activities to simplify our lives. Find what things make you happy and do those things.  Start somewhere!  Create activities and events that bring you joy, that distract you, and that feed your spirit.  Think about the things you’ve wanted to try or do but have so far put off.  DO one of those things.  Take that photography class.  Sign up for those gardening seminars.  Join those cooking classes. Volunteer. It is your bliss - you have to identify it for yourself.  

And, of course, include in your days good food, shared meals, cooking from scratch, and becoming a regular at your local farmers market.  Get together with like minded friends and family for long, lazy dinners, good conversation, wine and delicious dishes. Start some traditions.  A pot luck Sunday dinner?  A dining club?  Once a month group Farmers Market shopping and cooking? What will you enjoy?  

Lastly, in our region, we will gradually start to see wonderful spring products at the farmers markets.  Please - wait for them!  Don’t be fooled because chain “markets” present all sorts of things that aren’t in season here yet.  Those things have traveled a long way and have certainly been treated with something or other.  They also will not have the flavor profile of seasonal, fresh and local products.  Soon we will be seeing:  ramps, fiddle head ferns, morel mushrooms, asparagus, shad, and spring onions, among other things.

Recipes (This is what we do in my house.  There are all sorts of variations but in my endless effort to make cooking and recipes accessible and do-able, these have worked really well).

Basic Homemade Stock and Ramen Stock

Bones:  Ask your butcher for pork bones - 5 - 6 pounds will yield almost 6 quarts of stock.

Roast Pork bones at 350 degrees until they are brown and toasty.  This will take about 45 - 60 minutes until browned but not charred.

Put them in a large stockpot, cover with water, and add 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar.
Off heat, let that sit for about 45 minutes.  Then bring to a boil, skim any scum off, and add 3 - 4 carrots, 3-4 stalks of celery, and a large onion, all coarsely chopped. Add a tablespoon of black peppercorns. 
Simmer  for 12-24 hours.  The longer the better.

Strain and can or freeze - or use!


Bones:  Ask your butcher for chicken bones - backs and necks - (should cost you less than a dollar a pound), 5-6 pounds.

You can roast chicken bones but we don’t.  Chicken bones have a lot of meat on them so we generally don’t roast them.

Put them in a large stockpot, cover with water, and add 2 small onions quartered, and 3 celery stalks, 4 carrots rough chopped and a tablespoon of black peppercorns.

Simmer for about 6 hours.  Strain, and can or freeze or use!

Note: Both of these stocks, but particularly the pork stock, may need to have the fat skimmed off of them.  Allow them to cool, and save that fat for another use!  I always leave a little fat in the  stock.

Ramen Stock

To 2 pints pork stock, 1 pint of chicken stock, add about 1 pound of chicken feet or pork trotters (pigs feet)
Add about a 2 inch piece of fresh ginger and 6 large garlic cloves.
Simmer for about 2 hours - you want the collagen to blend out of the chicken feet or trotters.  You should be able to see that.  The collagen will make the stock more opaque. 

Add one sliced leek - white and light green parts only
Add a standard bunch of scallions - white parts only, chopped -(save the green parts for garnish)
Add about 1/4 pound of mushrooms - whatever you have will work

Simmer for  about 1 hour. 

Strain and do whatever you want to do for your particular Ramen.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Glory of Cast Iron; Hot Sauce Made at Home

I have recently had the opportunity to discuss the glories of cooking with Cast Iron with a number of serious cooks.  Not all of these folks are fans however.  And from what I am learning are pretty common reasons.  I heard repeatedly, “things will stick”; “you can’t cook everything in them”; “once they get messed up, they are done”, etc. I am here to tell you that all of those beliefs are false.  It just takes a bit of time and practice and care of the cast iron and they will become your favorite medium with which to cook.  So, let’s confront these fears one by one:

  1. Things will stick - actually if properly seasoned, nothing will stick if you follow a few simple basic cooking practices.  After a pan is well seasoned, it is necessary to use a bit of oil or fat - just a tiny bit  - to avoid any experience of “sticking”.  And let’s face it, some of what was sold to us in the latter half of the 20th century as “non - stick” was lethal!
  2. You can’t cook everything in them - OK, there is one caveat - cooking highly acidic foods - like slow cooking tomato sauce - is not recommended in cast iron. Other than that, feel free to try anything.  I regularly make scrambled eggs, omelets, frittata, vegetables, just about everything.  I also bake in my cast iron. And there is nothing, absolutely nothing, like a good steak of chop done in a searing hot cast iron pan.  
  3. Once they get messed up, they are done” - Nothing could be further from the truth.  We have purchased cast iron at flea markets and tag sales that have looked way beyond hope.  We use them regularly.  We have also been gifted with cast iron from friends’ relatives who have passed away.  Those mean more to us than we can say. Think of the food history in those pans. Unfortunately,  often they get packed away in a basement, sometimes get wet and end up rusted and sad. Bringing them back is totally possible!  If you get a chance, do it. 

OK - so what follows is a quick lesson in saving and maintaining Cast Iron that has worked in my kitchen.  Folks have different methods but the basics are generally the same. 
With poorly cared for cast iron, or if your own well cared for cast iron that starts behaving badly, here’s a tried and true technique.

  1. Rub the cast iron all over with a neutral oil and then add a half inch or so of the oil into the pan - if you are dealing with a griddle, get the oil as deep as you can.  
  2. Heat it on the stove top over medium heat and then put into the oven set on 250 degrees for an hour or so. 
  3. Let the pan cool in the oven and then wipe it out with a paper towel.  
  4. If the surface is not where you want it to be, repeat the first three steps.
  5. When you use the cast iron heat it before adding oil, butter and ingredients.
  6. After you cook, rinse it with very hot water.  If it needs to be scrubbed, use kosher salt on a paper towel - NEVER USE SOAP ON THE COOKING SURFACES OF CAST IRON! (did I make that clear?). If you cooked fish or seafood in the pan, instead of salt, use baking soda. 
  7. Dry the cast iron very well.  If your oven is warm put it in the oven to dry.
  8. You want the pan to have a nice smooth finish.  If it doesn’t, wipe it with a little oil after it has dried.
  9. You CAN use soap on the outside, non-cooking surface of cast iron if it gets really dirty but don’t make a habit of it and rinse and wipe it dry really well. 
  10. Get yourself into a schedule of re-seasoning your pans, especially if you don’t use them - or the ones that you don’t use - very often.  The trick is to USE them. They and you will be happy! 
See?  Not at all difficult.  Just a little time and attention is all that is needed. 
Please never look at a piece of cast iron as "shot" -  unless it is pitted. Unfortunately, that is hard to conquer and you will not be able to get a nice cooking surface.  Rust?  No problem.  Start with steel wool, get the rust off and start the seasoning process described above. 
Cast Iron is a wonderful thing for cooks to learn to love and use.  You are cooking through generations in many cases.  The price point of new cast iron is very reasonable and it is definitely something that you can pass from generation to generation. 

Why Use Cast Iron?

A Very Useful Reference Book
Recipe:  Making Hot Sauce at Home
Many of us like a little heat.  However, often, I prefer the heat with some flavor, too.  Many commercial hot sauces are just very hot peppers, vinegar and salt.  NOT that there’s anything wrong with that!  I want that hot sauce for a lot of things - oysters and pizza for sure. But when you want some flavor, making hot sauce at home will be a real treat for you.  And the best thing is, it is easy to do and just requires a little patience. 

Select one pound to one and a half pounds of fresh chilies.  I like to try different combinations.  I always use a few bell peppers for balance.  To this I add medium heat, like a Serrano, Fresno, or Jalapeno.  Then I add the serious heat:  just a couple of Habanero, or, as with my last batch, ghost peppers.  
1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 to 1 cup of minced onion
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 - 2 cups of distilled white vinegar

Pulse the peppers with the garlic, onions, and salt in a food processor  - for this stage you want the mixture to be a relatively coarse chop
Transfer the mixture into a large glass jar
Cover the jar loosely.  I use some cheesecloth over the opening, held in place with a rubber band.
Let the jar stand overnight at room temperature.
The next day, add the vinegar, stir the mixture and again, loosely cover.
Store at room temperature and away from direct light for at least 7 days - 10 maximum.
Pour the mixture into a blender (if you want a really smooth hot sauce, use a blender; use a food processor if you want some bits in the sauce. I highly recommend smooth).

Bottle the sauce and keep it refrigerated.  It is normal for the hot sauce to separate; just shake before using. I like to hold onto small bottles with good tight caps or corks to store my hot sauce.  Also, a small, labeled bottle of your sauce makes a great host gift for your heat loving friends.


Ready to Start the Process

Hot Sauce Bottling Time!

Il Moya Hot Sauce