It barely feels like winter has kicked in, but here we are waving goodbye to another National Soup Month. Lucky for us, Super Bowl is just a few days away so we can keep rocking the soup vibe without shame. This Posole Verde is so much more than a soup, perhaps a stew, and has all the personal choice condiments that are mandatory for serving a crowd. You could make this vegan by leaving out the pork (must you?) and swapping the stock. But the slow cooking required to pop the posole begs for pork to be front and center and turning into delicate strands, filling every bite.
Posole or Pozole?
I’m talking POSOLE, people!! Or is it POZOLE? It’s hominy or giant puffed-up corn. I first ran into posole while foodstyling a Today Show segment for Williams-Sonoma. Interesting that it was a first, because I grew up just down the street from Fuhrer Ford Mills, a hominy processing plant. As a result, our house always smelled of popped corn (kind of yummy), and there was a constant coat of silt on every surface (kind of crummy). But despite formative years in corn country, this most definitely was never ever on our table.
Pozole is the traditional Mexican spelling, though more commonly spelled posole here north of the border. Maize (maíz) was a sacred plant for the Aztecs and it was often a part of celebrations. To get from maize, to hominy or posole, the dried corn must be slaked with lime to create an alkali solution, called nixtamalization. This process loosens the hulls, makes them soft like beans, and then “pumps you up!” Remember Hans and Franz on SNL??? The lime used here is not from fresh citrus; rather, it is a food-grade calcium hydroxide. If you have ever turned cucumbers to pickles, perhaps you used “pickling lime” to crisp up the vegetables before canning. Luckily for us, by the time you find dried white corn on the shelves (in the dried bean section), this has already been done and is ready for use in soups and stews.
Another benefit of cooking or soaking in slaked lime and ash (an alkaline process) is that the nutritional value is bumped up (making it niacin-rich), it becomes easier to grind (resulting in masa, the main ingredient in tamales), and flavor and aroma are improved. In addition to dried posole – sometimes labeled as Giant White Corn or Maíz Mote Pelado – you might see canned hominy at your store. It’s a much faster solution, but to my taste NOT nearly the no-brainer substitution as canned-for-dried beans. The texture of posole prepared from dried kernels is unlike anything else – chewy, toothy, satisfying – and is totally lost in the canning process. Canned hominy is much like the soft texture of a canned bean and tastes like disappointment. It’s slightly metallic and oh so mushy. I’m so keen on dried posole texture that I have never made the substitution since I once sadly tried canned.
The traditional Mexican preparations for posole are blanco, rojo or verde. The first (blanco) is unadorned and has no green or red ingredients added, and the latter two rely on chilis (rojo), such as Guajillo or Ancho, or tomatillos, lime, cilantro and jalapenos (verde), as I am sharing here. Adding the green things at the very end of your simmering keeps them from overcooking, leaving the flavor bright and a bit spicy.
Preparing the Posole
If I have the time, I like to prepare the posole the same way I would prepare dried beans. Rinse the posole under cold water, and transfer to a stockpot. Cover with 1-inch of water, bring to boil, and turn off the heat. Let the posole soak overnight. When ready to use, drain and rinse again. If you are pressed for time, you can skip this step or just shorten it to the time you prep the remaining ingredients.
The verde recipe I share here calls for a late stage addition of a puree of lime juice, jalapenos, cilantro (stems and all) and tomatillos. It kicks up the flavor profile like 100000%. This is the kind of dish you can just plop on a back burner and walk away, passing every hour or so to check on the liquid level and adding more stock, as needed. I am not an instant pot or slow cooker “cooker”, but I bet/know in my heart they would drastically reduce the time. I happen to have a few followers who are, and I’m counting on you to comment below. The big reveal comes when the posole starts to pop and look like a flower or popcorn, depending on your vision. I’ll admit it – it can take from 3 to 5 hours to pop (longer if the dried corn has been around for years and if you skip the soaking step), but it’s very low maintenance and for me a bit satisfying to have something cooking for the afternoon that really doesn’t cry out for attention. It’s like I’m cooking, and I’m not. Once it’s getting close, just toss the lime juice et al. in the processor, and give it a whirl. Add this to the pot and cook a few minutes more.
In Mexico, this dish is usually served with an array of toppings, including limes, cheese, sour cream, avocados, and radishes. Who doesn’t love to dose their own dinner? All those garnishes make it the perfect football afternoon kind of centerpiece. Add a few chips or warm tortillas, maybe a big salad or some cornbread….. and a nice frosty beer. You will not be sorry!
If you have a big enough pot – or want to use two – double up on the recipe. It freezes really well and then you will have a souvenir of the day you turned your kitchen into the most fragrant cantina in town. I added some notes below on how best to freeze. And while you are scrolling down, check the bottom of the post for some delicious additions to your soup repertoire.
Super Bowl is just a few days away so we can keep rocking the soup vibe without shame. This Posole Verde is so much more than a soup, perhaps a stew, and has all the personal choice condiments that are mandatory for serving a crowd. Put down a feast of toppings, a crunchy salad, and some cornbread, and sit back and watch the half-time show!
1 pound dried posole, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 pounds pork loin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1″ cubes (about 3 1/4 pounds pre-trim)
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4–5 quarts chicken broth
1 pound tomatillos, husked removed and rinsed (about 10 medium)
2 jalapenos, stems removed and sliced in half
1 bunch cilantro, stems and leaves (reserve a few sprigs for toppings)
Juice of 2–3 limes
Grated Monterrey Jack
The night before, prep the posole:
Rinse the posole and transfer to a stockpot, covering with 1-inch of water. Bring to boil and turn off the heat. Let the posole soak overnight. When ready to use, drain and rinse again.
To make posole:
Heat oil over high heat in an 8-quart stockpot. Add pork, cumin, salt, and pepper. Sauté until pork is browned, about 10 minutes.
Add onion and garlic, and cook until softened and excess liquid has cooked off, about 6–8 minutes. Add soaked posole and stir to combine. Add 2 quarts of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check the liquid and when getting low, add another quart of stock. I tend to add the third quart around 90 minutes and the 4th quart around 3 hours. Altogether, this will simmer a total of 3, 4 or maybe even 5 hours. It will depend in part on the age and dryness of the dried product. To be safe, give yourself enough time for a 5-hour simmer.
The pork will fall apart and shred, and you will know the posole is done when the posole kernels have popped. The kernels will puff and pop, and look a bit like a flower (if you squint and have been hitting the cerveza during the last five hours). They burst open joyfully as if they want to become popcorn! Taste them periodically for doneness. Before they “blossom”, they will be quite starchy, fiber-full, and too chewy. Once sufficiently stewed, they will remain a bit chewy and toothy, but not woody.
Thirty minutes before the end:
When the kernels are starting to pop and getting close to the desired texture, toss the tomatillos, jalapenos, cilantro and lime juice into a food processor and puree. Add to stockpot and simmer for the final 30 minutes until the posole is tender. 30 minutes is plenty of time to simmer for this last step, but see note below.
Pressed for time? You can skip the soaking stage, or reduce it to the prep time for the rest of your chopping. That will likely lengthen the cooking time however.
Never add an acidic ingredient when cooking beans, or in this case, posole until the end. The acid binds with the outer structure and toughen it ups. No amount of additional cooking time will allow it to break down. Additionally, you want the fresh vibrant flavor from the green ingredients, which will dissipate if added too early in the cooking process.
If you are serving the posole later: Add the green mixture as you take the stew off the heat. The hot stew will cook sufficient “heat” out of these spicy and tart ingredients. To reheat, I also use some of that 5th quart to add to the pan. The posole will have continued to soak up broth as it sits in the refrigerator overnight, and you will need to loosen it a little with more stock.
Serve with bowls of the toppings, a crunchy salad and some cornbread!
Freezing? This stew is a fantastic freezer staple, but make sure to cool completely before transferring to freezer containers. I called for a 5th quart of stock so that you can top off the stew with liquid. Since there are a lot of chunky pieces, you want to make sure that they are all submerged in liquid before freezing.
Prep Time:30 minutes
Cook Time:4 hours
Keywords: posole, posole verde
It’s #NationalSoupMonth – so shout it out!
Here are some other ab-del (absolutely delicious) soups for your winter blues.
In case you are worried that someone left their shoes on the table, rest assured this is an in-store display at Bergdorf’s. They always have the most colorful holiday displays, and its part of my holiday ritual to “window shop” inside the store. On Fifth Avenue, more is more and bigger is better. Not likely what you had in mind when shopping for your favorite gift, certainly not for the food lover, cook, chef wannabe, or hungry person in your life. Voilà! Foodie Gift Guide to the rescue!
Last year, I started this guide on the perfect gifts for cooks, and included tips on how to buy them and what you should consider as you look for a special gift for the food lover in your life (or your own self). Be sure to check back to that post for more ideas. (Scroll to the bottom of this post for more information on my shop and affiliate relationship with vendors represented in the shop.)
Without further ado, let’s get shopping! Time now for the Foodie Gift Guide of 2019!
Gifts for Entertaining with a Sense of Whimsy
My Aunt Kay made the most fantastic gingerbread men for us every Christmas. Perfectly thin and crisp with snip-of-raisin eyes and red hot buttons. And, I have made many a gingerbread house with nieces and nephews and neighborhood kids. Pro tip: lick the roof if you don’t want anyone trying to get a piece of yours. Any child would treasure this little Gman apron for rolling up his sleeves and getting busy in the kitchen. It’s just one of many darling designs for cooks of all ages by Jesse Steele. Remember the Eiffel Towerprint last year?
Don’t go bacon my heart? These towels just make me giggle. Way too funny. They are exclusively (not really) only for cooks with attitude. What about a combo of a Bacon-My-Heart Towel with last year’s Bacon for the Takin’ Tongs. I have a few peeps that would be happy with that! Probably won’t find two of these under the tree.
Love all things Mud Pie, and there are many from that gift line in my shop from which to choose. They add such whimsy to the table. This 80-ounce (2 1/2 quarts) Pineapple Pitcher is great for entertaining. Ceramic, with rind detail and a pineapple crown.
Chef Bryce Murphree and his wife Maggie met in Aspen at the famed Little Nell hotel. After years in hospitality, they started tinkering in candles to improve the quality – better scents, cleaner burns, more eco friendly. And after learning to make their own essential oils, they found they were firmly rooted in culinary scents. All fragrances were food-based. Go figure! Gluttony Candles was born. I first visited them when this was just a home kitchen and spare room operation. (I bought six immediately!) The candles are packaged in 14-ounce food cans topped with colorful theme-related melted “crayon”. Not only are they adorable, but they smell amazing. So many flavors, many for the holidays. You will have to check them out for yourself. I also love “camp fire”. Note: Gluttony Candles are only available directly from their site or in local Dallas boutiques.
Finally, how about these clever canisters – 1, 2, 3 – with glass door knob handles? Footed Ceramic Canisters range in height from 7 1/2″ to 10″. Mud Pie, of course.
Gifts to Stuff a Stocking
This may seem like the least sexy present ever, but I kid you not, NOBODY has an ice scoop in their ice maker, and EVERYBODY needs one. Why do we think it’s okay to run our dirty little hands through someone else’s ice bin. Even the folks with ice dispensers on their fridge doors, need to pull the whole bin out to fill a ice bucket or wine chiller from time to time, and hands are not the perfect helper. Got this idea from my sister and still love it!! OXO for the win.
Back by popular demand! This was the 2018 stocking stuffer best hit. I got lots of rave reviews and dozens were stuffed in stockings. This peeler (by Microplane) changed my life. It’s just as sharp and wonderful as the Microplane grater (also in my shop) is for zesting, but this time for peeling, with hands safely out of the way. Everyone needs one. Now.
And while we are talking about spreaders, which can only bring to mind cheese!!!, I also discovered The Cheese Grotto this year. Jessica Sennett has all you need to care for, preserve and serve your cheeses perfectly. Here’s another set of spreaders that I love for their unique shape.
Essential Tools of the Trade
Here are just a few items that every good cook needs on hand. These Souper Cubes Freezing Trays are a wonderful way to manage stocks, bone broth, and soup freezer storage. The trays come in several sizes, holding up to 2 cups per well, with each well having four fill lines for portion control. They have tight fitting lids that maintain freshness and make them stackable. Made from food-grade silicone, the trays are BPA free and dishwasher safe.
This handsome ladle could appear in almost every section of the foodie gift guide. I put it here because its essential. Another beautiful piece from Earlywood Designs, this is the sturdiest, most functional and design-winning ladle. It will last a lifetime. The Classic Ladle holds 3/4 cup level-fill, but nearly double if scooping up a heapin’ helpin’. Made in the USA (by the cutest woodworker ever) from sustainable hardwoods.
Here are two books that are must-haves. Beast Bowl Nutrition, written by my friend Laura Reigel, lays out all the rules and tools for building unlimited protein-rich bowls. Tips, components, combinations, and dressings are all clearly and colorfully laid out in an easy-to-follow format, making meal assembly a snap.
Abra Berens‘ book Ruffage is a real treasure. With an alphabetical listing of veggies A to Z, this book, based on her life on a Michigan farm, goes from confit to caramelized and everything in between. Simple techniques, combined with new creative combinations (smoked whitefish dressing!), are represented in the 100 recipes, each with 3 variations. You can’t just drool over the stunning photography, you must get up and get cooking!
Flavors that Pack a Punch
White Truffle Hot Sauce? This lovely gift appeared this summer and I was skeptical for about 3 seconds, but immediately won over. It’s a good condiment to level up all your dishes. TRUFF is infused with white truffle and white truffle oil, with a pinch of organic coriander. Using the same chilis and agave as the black truffle version of the product, this hot sauce has game.
James Beard nominated chef Meherwan Irani created Spicewalla to bring small batch, roasted and ground, then hand-packed, spices to market. Are your spices above the stove getting hot daily? Near a window getting oxidized from the sun? More than a year old? Time for a spice intervention. Spicewalla Kitchen Essential Spices include must-have single varietals and some signature blends. If you haven’t tasted a quality turmeric, prepare to have your world rocked.
For the do-it-yourselfers on your list, what about a DIY Hot Sauce Making Kit? Handcrafted in Portland, this kit has all you need to get started on your own special sauce. 6 glass bottles, 6 recipes and all the chilis, sugars, and vinegars that you will need. What a unique gift for the hot sauce enthusiast.
Classic Keepers – The Last One You will Ever Buy
Well that might be a slight exaggeration because these brands will no doubt introduce a pan, appliance, knife that is unlike others and you HAVE to add that to your collection. But, what I mean is that they will last forever, and you won’t need to replace THAT piece. To the non-cook, they might seem an absurd amount. (I remember when my otherwise generous Dad couldn’t justify Martha Stewart’s $40 Entertaining book, at double the price of other books). But great pieces ARE an investment, and like little else these days, they will last a lifetime if you take care of them. When you look at my preferred brands, you will see the same names over and over again. I have no sponsored relationship with these companies, but I really trust them to be the best. OXO for gadgets and tools; KitchenAid for countertop appliances; Staub, Lodge, Calphalon, Mauviel, and Le Creuset for pots and pans; Emile Henry for ceramics; and Henckels, Sabatier, and Wustof for cutlery. I’m sharing just a select few of my favorites here.
I STILL love all things Staub. This is a 12-inch fry pan. It comes in a rainbow of luscious colors, but I’m partial to cherry red. This pan has a unique interior matte surface that aids in browning. It has the heft of cast iron, but needs no special seasoning before using. It’s oven safe to 900°F, and its smooth enamel bottom makes it ideal for any cook surface, including induction, glass, and halogen.
Emile Henry is my go-to for all things ceramic. This “flame-ceramic” tagine cooker is made to withstand mechanical shocks, temperature changes (freezer to oven is approved!), and color fading. With no metal, the cooker is non-reactive for all foods, and the high glaze makes it easy to cook with less fats. Tagines derive from the Moroccan dish of the same name, and represent a style of cooking with a conical lid that locks in steam and allows basting in the food’s own juices. I tried to bring a traditional clay Moroccan tagine back from Fez in my youth, and let’s just say it was not resistant to mechanical shocks (read: TWA baggage handlers).
I’m probably half in love with this board from Brooklyn Butcher Blocks because the name is Brick and Mortar Board. Mortar board? Get it??? But the other half is pure design envy. Gorgeous! This is an iconic collectible, hand-made in Brooklyn. Walnut forms the bricks and reclaimed mahogany the “mortar”, designed to pay homage to the aesthetics of Brooklyn’s plentiful brick buildings. This board measures approximately 12 x 18 x 2, but there are a variety of shapes and designs available on Amazon. And, pieces can be customized.
Gifts for the Lover of Wine and Cheese? Yes, Please!
Is there anyone on this list who doesn’t devour the whole brie in one sitting? Kolby, you can skip to the next section. Ever end up with tidbits of cheese you can’t find till entirely too late at the way-back of the fridge? The Cheese Grotto is for you. It’s the perfect way to store cheeses, letting them breathe while retaining moisture. Jessica Sennett has designed this line with four sizes, varying by available fridge space. This handsome model (Fresco) is for the metropolitan among you, a mid-size version. It holds 3 to 4 pounds of cheese, and features a clay brick for humidity control and a vaulted ceiling for condensation control. The shelves are removable to use as serving pieces. It’s a stunning collection with copper, leather, birch and bamboo. Nothing like it on the market and bonus – Made in the USA!!
Repeat offender from the 2018 list – the Gabriel-Glas wine glass. This is the only wine glass you will ever need. This Austrian-made lead-free crystal is both delicate and elegant while also being sturdy and dishwasher safe. It’s a real game-changer! No longer do you need a different shape for different wines. The broader base of the glass’ lower bowl is a “bouquet-driver,” while the slightly conical design concentrates the aromas, making it ideal for both red and white.
This dishwasher safe New York State slate round makes a Stunning Cheese Server. Available with one bamboo spreader, which I have shown as a set of four above. What a lovely hostess gift or wedding present, or dare I say it, a gift for yourself. You were good this year, right? The 11-inch round has been treated with food-safe mineral oil and comes with a piece of soapstone for noting the cheese names. Another wonderful find from The Cheese Grotto.
Foodie Gift Guide to Pay it Forward
And no Foodie Gift Guide would be complete without a nod to being big-hearted! Do you have people on your list that don’t want a thing? Or they’d rather pay it forward and help others. Here are a couple options that fall into two groups: some charitable ideas that have to do with hunger, nutrition, and sustainable solutions, as well as some home-made culinary treats that show you are cooking with love. What about both? A gift to charity, with a little something yummy on the side?
Kicking it off with a few home-made culinary treats. Ingredients and spice jars are both linked through my shop.
Here’s a zesty steak rub that happens to be delicious on a ginormous Tomahawk steak. And don’t forget the tasty combo of citrus salt and pepper in da house. Giving something that is home-made is always appreciated, and you will likely get bonus points for giving a gift that doesn’t need to be dusted.
These seeded cheese crisps are just as easy as they are delicious. Just mix together two grated cheeses, 5 seeds and some salt and bake for 7 – 8 minutes.
And this is a just published recipe for homemade Kahlúa. Mix four ingredients, store it in a cool dark place, and you are all set. More tips on how to use it and full recipe details are available in the post.
What about taking some spiced nuts to your next party? Here are Warm Thai Peanuts, for which I won an award in a professional chef’s recipe contest. Take them warm to the party or let them cool and box them up in cute holiday tins as a culinary treat!
I’m a big fan of giving to charities in lieu of gifts. I’m on the Executive Committee of the Board of Church World Service, a global relief agency with a 73-year track record committed to making sure there is #Enough4All They are focused on sustainable solutions for hunger, poverty, climate change, and those displaced.
Browse the Best Gift Guide and see how far your dollars go. $15 rehabilitates a malnourished child in Indonesia, and just $22 buys 500 fishlings in Honduras. This year CWS is featured in Giving Machines placed around the world. I’m not Matt Damon and I didn’t buy a zoo, but I did buy a pig near Lincoln Center. Like a vending machine, but doling out so much more than Cheetos, gifts purchased here serve the greater good. See if there is a machine near you. What a great way to show the little people in your life that we think about others and help where we can?
This summer I joined 40,000 people worldwide living for one week on the rations of a Syrian refugee displaced to a Jordan camp. It was not easy, and it was definitely humbling, but it was just one week. What about those that spend the average 23 years that refugees spend in camp? Learn more, and provide food and medical care for refugees in Jordan by supporting the Ration Challenge.
Well, that’s a wrap on yet another shopping season. As always, please comment below and let me know as you check the boxes on your shopping list. And, of course, let me know if you find something in the best gift catalog! May your shopping be stress-free and your holiday joy-filled! Wishing you all the best for this season!!
This post contains affiliate links. For more of my must-have faves, visit my shop. I am continuously updating the shop on my website with my newest favorite items (over 130 items to date). The items above are just a few of the many items I recommend in my shop. They are all items I own and use regularly and ♥ L.U.V. love. Purchases made with these links earn an-oh-so-small advertising fee, so…thank you in advance! I regularly get questions from readers needing help making a purchase decision. Feel free to leave a question in the comment section, and I will answer and update the shop with the new item, letting other readers benefit from our joint research.
The Amazon links in the shop take you directly to your Amazon account, ready to Prime ship, if that’s how you and your browser do Amazon. Please, note: I try to pick the least expensive offering that is Prime-eligible, but Amazon offerings are ever changing. So, remember that my recommendation is for the product and brand, and shop around as you always do. I always read reviews, but I trust my own expertise over random and possibly having-a-bad-day comments. Who you gonna believe – Foshizzle2817 or me?
Sure, sure, sure. You could run to the liquor store and pick up a bottle of Kahlúa and nobody will kick you out of the party. It’s plenty respectable as the number one coffee liqueur in the world with a provenance dating back to 1936 Veracruz, Mexico. (As the story goes, four guys pooled resources and talents and whipped up the first batch using Arabica beans, rum, local sugar and vanilla. Four years later, Kahlúa had hit the US shores). But think of the approving nods and admiration you will get if you roll in with a handcrafted hostess gift of homemade Kahlúa and a knowing “I made this” glow about you. Mic drop. The crowd murmurs.
To tell you the truth, I had never considered making this until one of you, dear readers, asked me about it recently. I was casting about for a homemade culinary treat like the ones I have shared over the years (and oh so conveniently linked below) and it hit me as pure genius. I have done spices, candies, crackers, but never a liqueur. I had to do a bit of research and only then realized it is quite brilliant, because unlike the commercially bottled stuff, you can use high quality ingredients and tweak it to your own desired sweetness and ingredient selection.
What’s in Kahlúa?
For SURE, traditional Kahlúa is made with rum – white or dark would work. It’s Mexican, for crying out loud. But there is already so much sugar in the recipe – I have seen recipes that double the amount of sugar I use – that I feel using a more neutral spirit, like vodka, provides a more rounded taste. But since you are cheffing it today, consider a small batch Bourbon, vanilla rum, or even a spiced spirit. I am a longtime believer that Garbage In/Garbage Out rules the kitchen, so choose a quality ingredient.
All coffee beans are either Arabica or Robusta. Most quality cafes and coffee brands use Arabica for its sweeter, more mellow taste, with undertones of fruit and berries. There is a bright acidity to the finish. Robusta is more likely to be found in mass marketed and instant coffees, and it is more harsh, with raw grain and peanut notes and low acidity. Can you guess which one I insist upon?? A lot of Kahlúa recipes will call for instant coffee. My guess is that is how you can easily control the brew strength – more crystals, less water. But you will get a more sophisticated and smoother blend if you make coffee or espresso the old fashioned way, using Arabica beans with a heavier hand. I used Lavazza espresso beans and added 50% more than standard coffee strength. The reader that started this all had flown in Kona from Hawaii. Ooh la la!
Ingredient three (of four) in homemade Kahlúa is sugar. You can find recipes that call for white, brown, molasses, even Stevia or monkfruit. I’m a bit of a purest with avoiding sugar substitutes. The sugar not only adds sweetness – no surprise – but it has a critical role in the final viscosity. This recipe will get slightly thicker as it sits for a couple weeks, but it will not be syrupy like commercial brands. To my taste, that yields a better bar component that can be used in myriad ways. If you like that syrupy, cloying sweetness, by all means add more sugar, up to double. I chose an organic dark brown sugar for its molasses flavor notes.
Lastly, the vanilla bean. They have gotten quiet pricey, so sub with a splash of real vanilla extract if you must. If you make this all in one big jug for the two weeks of curing, you might want to strain out the bean, if using, before bottling. But if you are going straight to the gift bottle as you make it, scrape all the seeds into the batch and cut the beans into enough pieces to put one piece in each bottle.
I have recently become a sucker for Health-Ade Kombucha which conveniently comes in cute 16-ounce brown glass bottles with resealable lids (with a nice little anchor on top), as well as a 64-ounce jug. I had enough bottles to cure in the big jug and then transfer out into small bottles after curing for two weeks. If you have to buy them, there are plenty of options on Amazon. (affiliate link)
Due to travel, I left this bottling in the capable hands of a beverage tasting professional. The report back yesterday after two weeks of swirling and agitating (inverting to move any sugar settling) was “smooth, great coffee undertones, balanced” followed by “having another taste…….I like it.” 🙂
Kahlúa Flavor Harmony
For anyone who is a coffee lover, the number of options for marrying coffee with other flavors is no surprise. Just think of the constant rollout at Starbucks and see how they have paired it. I list several here just to spur your creativity. Consider these inspo for cocktails, drizzles over ice cream, or savory dishes where you might want to add in a hit of Kahlúa.
What Can I Do with Homemade Kahlúa?
Ohhhhhhhh, so you saved some for yourself, now did ya? I got you covered!! There are so many ways to use Kahlúa beyond cocktails, though that is oddly all I see on the official Kahlúa site. Over the years, I have worked with dozens of spirit brands, and it’s always a struggle to get them away from cocktail recipes. It’s such a narrow perspective! One of my clients – Carolans Irish Creme – thought outside the box. I developed all kinds of recipes for them, from brunch to BBQ to breads to sides. So with that spirit 🙂 in mind, here are a few cocktails and a number of other ways where Kahlúa and you might journey. Let me know what you try! Take the road less traveled, made so much tastier with homemade Kahlúa!
I know that spirits are not for all my readers and so I have listed below some of the other culinary gift treats you can find on my website. Here are a few quick and easy things you can make to delight your friends and family:
Prepare the bottles by running them through the dishwasher and having them hot when ready to fill.
Prepare strong coffee and pour into a large mixing bowl or stockpot. While still hot, add the brown sugar. Stir until dissolved.
Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the coffee/sugar mixture, cutting the remaining bean into four equal pieces. Distribute the pieces of bean between the bottles.
Add the vodka to the coffee/sugar mixture and stir.
Using a funnel, divide the Kahlúa among the four bottles (you may have a little extra – for the chef, of course). Let the bottles cool to room temperature, then tightly seal with the caps.
Store in a cool, dark place for two weeks (four is even better), and once a week agitate, turning them upside down and right side up to move any settled sugar around.
If you find yourself short on time to have this made and stashed for 2+ weeks, how about attaching a cute little note saying “don’t drink til New Year’s Eve”? Nobody is going to judge if you give a gift with a little more resting time required. Let’s make this no stress, ok?
Traditionally Kahlúa is made exclusively with Arabica bean coffee. I made mine just short of espresso strength using a high-quality blend from Lavazza.
Choose a good quality spirit to mix with. As the kitchen saying goes, Garbage In/Garbage Out. Only here it’s Garbage Out with a whole lotta sugar, should you reach for rot gut.
I used Wholesome brand dark brown organic sugar which added a rich molasses flavor. As you can see in the photo above, its texture is more coarse than refined. Feel free to adjust sugar quantity to your taste. This yields a slightly less syrupy product than if commercially produced. But if you don’t mind a Kahlúa thinner still and you want to feature the coffee flavor, then you can cut the sugar back further, up to half of what I call for, using only 3/4 pound brown sugar.
It’s the Gobble, Gobble time of year already. Is it me or does Thanksgiving come every 4 months now? I say it like it’s a bad thing, but really what could be tastier? All those family favorite recipes coming out of semi-retirement. This year I have a new recipe, but it’s inspired by a family fave, as well as time spent during my year cooking in France. It seemed like something the French might serve. Introducing creamy rainbow chard gratin.
We grew up with a local turkey farm over the hill and always went to pick out our bird. The backing track of gobblers is a sound I won’t soon forget. Growing up surrounded by farmland, this was the way of life. But despite the fresh birds, there was not an abundance of winter produce available. Hence the frozen spinach casserole that started this ball rolling. At least it was green, we’d think, on an otherwise brown food day.
Rainbow Chard and Leeks
You have no doubt seen Swiss chard in the markets and at your local grocery. But have you noticed the red chard with its magenta stems? Or the rainbow chard with stripey fuchsia, navel orange, taxi-cab yellow and granny apple green? The colors are magnificent.
This dish is inspired by my Aunt Mary’s spinach and artichoke heart casserole. I’ve made it so many times I can do it blindfolded and so have many of my friends. (I have included the original in the recipe card notes below). This is the first Thanksgiving without Aunt Mary, and she has left big shoes to fill. I spent most of the last 5 or 6 Thanksgivings prepping next to her, where she was in charge of dressing, a family apple compote recipe and gravy. Oh, and polishing the candlesticks. Gamama, as the kids called her, spent most of two days giving some old silver candlesticks the royal treatment. Mary never met a stranger, and I am confident she might have swindled the latex gloves required for silver polish manicure preservation right off the hands of her TSA agent. They never saw her coming. She had to be the only one passing bittersweet branches for the centerpiece, freshly clipped from her Indiana garden, through the CTX machine. She held court in the kitchen and the rest of us served at the pleasure. Whatever else I contributed, you can be sure that the spinach and artichoke hearts dish was on the list.
I wanted to pay homage to that dish but zhoosh it up a bit. She was all color, so as I debated what changes to make, rainbow chard raised its hand and said “Pick me, pick me!” I considered keeping the art hearts, but didn’t think the flavor was the ideal match, and I figured they would overwhelm in the texture department. So instead I swapped out the onion for some leeks. I also added some Gruyere to make it a bit more creamy – and then of course, I added bacon. Of course I did.
Cleaning Chard and Leeks
You might be tempted to look at the prep time and think ain’t nobody got time for that, but I assure you it is worth the effort. Plus – for the meal prep WIN – you can do this all the day before and just bake it off while your turkey is resting and as you carve.
Both leeks and chard can be sandy, so I wanted to just reassure you with tips on the best way to get the grit out. For details on how to clean a leek, check out this post. For the rainbow chard, place the leaves in the sink or a large bowl, and fill with cool water. Let them soak, then lift them from the sink, rinsing, leaving any grit at the bottom of the sink or bowl. Don’t try to pour the water out of a bowl, as that will just move the grit and sand back into the leaves. Always lift them out! Dry on towels or spin, in batches, in a salad spinner.
Once cleaned and dried, trim and remove the end of each stem, then cut a “V” in each leaf to remove the full stem. Slice the stems into 1/2″ wide pieces and set aside. Stack the leaves and roll tightly into a long tube shape, then cut cross-wise into 1/4 – 1/2″ ribbons. It will be quite voluminous at this point and you might think you need another baking dish, but it will cook down and fit in a 3-quart casserole.
From here, the chard gratin is just a sauté of stems and leeks, a wilt of leaves, and a stir in of sour cream and Gruyere. Top with some grated Parmesan and crumbled bacon and you are oven-ready. You can wrap it up and put in the fridge for a day at this point or bake it off now (slightly less time) and reheat when ready to serve.
Gratin is the French word for a dish that has melted cheese or bread crumb topping, turned golden brown. Remember the Betty Crocker box mix of Au Gratin potatoes? The cheese was already in the mix in powdered form. This dish doesn’t have breadcrumbs – though I definitely considered a Panko dusting atop – but it does have real Parmesan (I used Reggiano) that “goldens” up quite nicely.
If you were Aunt Mary, you might now kick back with a house Chardonnay and a glass of ice and nurse that for the remainder of the meal!!! Gobble. Gobble.
Full Thanksgiving Menu!!
You got this trimmin’, but what else to serve? Don’t worry – I got you covered. We have everything you need for complete and tasty meal perfection. If you are ever in doubt, there is a search button on the top of the site that will take you where you need to go. But today – holiday special – I have curated the list you are most likely to need!
You are just fooling yourself if you try to pull off Thanksgiving without these things 🙂 There’s also a good assortment of hostess gifts that are sure to be put to immediate use.
This rainbow chard gratin is inspired by my Aunt Mary’s spinach casserole. She was quite colorful and deserves the rainbow. Packed with flavor from caramelized leeks and some nutty Gruyere, with a touch of the creamy goodness of sour cream, this will be the newest must-have on your Thanksgiving menu.
2 pounds of rainbow chard (approximately 2 –3 bunches)
4 Tablespoons of butter, divided
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 leeks, split lengthwise, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 cups sour cream
4 ounces Gruyere, grated
1 cup grated Parmesan
4 pieces of bacon, cooked and coarsely crumbled
Prepare the chard: Place the chard leaves in the sink or a large bowl and fill with cool water. Let them soak, then lift from the sink, rinsing, leaving any grit at the bottom of the sink or bowl. Dry on towels or spin, in batches, in a salad spinner.
Separate the stems and leaves: Trim the root end of each stem, then cut a “V” in each leaf to remove the full stem. Cut the stems into 1/2″ wide pieces and set aside. Stack the leaves and roll tightly into a long tube shape, then cut cross-wise into 1/4 – 1/2″ pieces.
Cook the chard: Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan. Add the stems and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 – 12 minutes, until softened and lightly browned. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add half the leaves and a drop (1 – 2 teaspoons) of water. Cover and cook until wilted, about 4 -5 minutes. Remove the lid and let any accumulated water cook off. Transfer to the bowl with the stems. Repeat with the remaining leaves.
Return the first batch of leaves and the stems to the sauté pan and stir to combine, cooking off any excess moisture. Season with salt and pepper. Return to the mixing bowl.
Cook the leeks: Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter in the sauté pan and add the leeks. Cook over high heat for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally and scraping up any brown bits from the pan. Add to the bowl with the chard.
Mix: Add the sour cream and Gruyere to the bowl and stir to combine. Adjust seasoning as needed.
Finish the chard gratin (bake now or refrigerate for up to 24 hours): Transfer the mixture to a buttered 8 x 12″ or 3 quart casserole. Top with the grated Parmesan and crumbled bacon. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate for up to one day. (Thanksgiving prep for the win!)
Bake in a pre-heated 350oF oven for 30 – 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and bubbly.
This is a great make-ahead dish, especially since it takes a bit of time to clean and cut the chard. You can get the majority of the prep done a day ahead and then bake it off when ready to serve. If it’s Thanksgiving and the oven is very busy, you can bake this off while the turkey is resting and being carved.
Aunt Mary approves!
Creamed spinach and artichoke hearts: If you find yourself short on time, you have my permission to go for the original which is really quick to make. Sauté one chopped onion in 2 Tablespoons of butter. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add two boxes of frozen spinach (thawed and well-squeezed) and one box frozen artichoke hearts, thawed. Stir in one pint of sour cream and add salt and pepper to taste. Spread into a buttered 8 x 8″ baking dish (or similar sized soufflé dish) and sprinkle 1 cup Parmesan on top. Bake in a preheated 350oF oven for 30 – 40 minutes. Serves 8.
If you are up on your leafy green trends or just caught this scathing kale obituary in The Atlantic last month, you might be convinced that kale has had its day in the sun. If kale-bully Amanda Mull is to be believed, nobody really liked it anyway. As a pro-bono promoter of kale, I’d like to speak to my client’s intentions. Chock full of vitamins, with nutrient-rich fiber and low calorie to boot, kale has always had your back. I particularly love Tuscan kale. It’s much less bristle-y and mouth-scratchy than curly kale which can be downright aggressive from plate to mouth. I, a committed kale-lover, find myself begging kale to just get new handlers. Or more accurately, to stop crying out to be handled. Let’s face it – we’d rather get a massage than give a massage, and all those needy recipes calling out for massaging kale were just a bit too much! #AmIRight? Bad PR, in my mind, is the ONLY reason kale gets the cold shoulder. We are smart enough to eat ugly fruits and vegetables to minimize food waste. We should be able to dismiss this nay-sayer dissing my beloved leafy green.
This time of year (actually most times of year, but it goes so well with fall dishes that it’s more noticeable now), Tuscan kale pops up on every menu. To my tongue, Tuscan or black kale is less woody than curly kale and less in need of a massage…though my pal Mike swears he enjoys beating the kale into submission with a meat mallet. (It’s not entirely clear to me that this is really just about the kale.) Simply trim the stems and remove the rib from the lower end of the leaf, then stack and roll into a tight bundle and cut thinly cross-wise. That’s called a chiffonade. Voilà! Now you speak French. You’re welcome. I recently came across a bag of pre-chopped Tuscan kale at Trader Joe’s, and it was not salad-worthy. The chop was too coarse and it made for quite an unrefined salad. Save the pre-chop for a soup or stirfry.
You may also know this dark, wrinkly leaf with a blue-green cast by names other than Tuscan: Lacinato, dino, dinosaur, Cavolo Nero…..even palm tree kale, because the growth pattern resembles the fronds atop a palm tree. It’s been grown in Tuscany for centuries and is a key ingredient in the Italian soups ribollita and minestrone.
Creamy Avocado Dressing
All the nooks and crannies cry out for a creamy dressing that will gently nap the leaves. I grew up with Seven Seas Green Goddess, but have never actually tracked down an authentic recipe for one made from scratch. I, as always, simply grab what is on hand. It won’t keep long with the acids taking their turn on all things that start out green, so just make it with what you have today and make it differently tomorrow. With so much flavor in the dressing, I keep salad toppings to a minimum – some sliced radishes for a color contrast and a handful of croutons for added crunch. Tasty!!
Tuscan kale, very thinly sliced, is the perfect dark, leafy green with nooks and crannies to grab this tasty, creamy avocado dressing. Add a few colorful and crunchy garnishes and you have yourself a salad.
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream (non-fat, full-fat, etc. – your choice)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 avocado, peeled and pitted
4 sprigs parsley
3 scallions, cut into 1” pieces
2 Tablespoons extra virgen olive oil
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped chives
1 clove of garlic (or more to taste)
Handful of arugula
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
bunch of Tuscan kale, very thinly sliced
radishes, thinly sliced – watermelon radishes if you can find them
Make the Dressing:
Put the dressing ingredients, and/or anything else green and flavorful you have on hand, in the Vitamix or food processor and let ‘er rip. Scrape down the sides as needed, and taste and adjust seasoning.
It will keep in the fridge for a few days before losing its bright green. Simply press plastic wrap directly on the surface and seal tightly.
Make the Salad:
Thinly slice the kale by trimming the stems and removing the ribs from the lower end of the leaves. Stack and roll into a tight bundle and cut thinly cross-wise.
Top with sliced radishes and toss with dressing. (You will have dressing left over.)
Garnish with croutons before serving.
Without the croutons, the kale, even when dressed, will keep for one to two days in the refrigerator. Enjoy your sturdy salad greens!
Prep Time:10 minutes
Keywords: Tuscan Kale Salad, Creamy Avocado Dressing
There’s still time to lend an ear, grab an ear, shuck an ear, do what you must…to make this peak-of-the-season fresh corn salad that was on the menu at last week’s Summer Harvest Bounty feast. I have shared this recipe before and while it’s a no-recipe recipe, I’ve been ask to fill in some blanks.
Nothing is better than late summer tomatoes and corn. Local farmers here in west Michigan know that I am a bit of a fiend when it comes to sourcing products. I have been known to hit four different markets and source my meal from half a dozen farmers in any given week. So much for reducing the carbon footprint from eating local. Gotta have corn from Ham Family Farm. Arugula only from Grandson’s Garden. (Don’t miss the world’s best $2 pot scrubber from 9-year-old weaver Liam!) Bacon from Creswick Farms (THEY have zero carbon footprint). Organic salad mix with nasturtium blossoms from Summer Blend Gardens. And don’t get me started on Laughing Tree Bakery breads. For the love of all that’s sacred, Charlie and Hilde, make more Elbridge Parmesan Olive bread!! It gets a little competitive most Saturdays. With all that commitment to sourcing ingredients, who has time to follow a recipe? Truthfully I am a bit ambivalent about recipes. I think there is nothing sweeter than a well-tested recipe that works every time. They are worth their weight in culinary gold. (I’m talking about salt, people!) However, this time of year and with perfect ingredients, they can get in the way. There are no right or wrong ingredients for this dish. And no right or wrong amounts. What’s in season? What’s picked at the peak of perfection? What sounds good today?? But for those that prefer it, I have updated this recipe to show how I make it. You do you; I’ll do me.
Fresh Corn Salad – Yes, Please!
My go-to must-haves for this corn salad are always the basics – obvs corn and tomatoes. And I almost always include tomatillos. The grilled or roasted tomatillos provide the acid, and the bacon and avocados provide the fat, thereby eliminating the need for a dressing. It’s a self dressing salad – pure genius!!! The rest of the ingredients always vary and the proportions are flexible to taste. You can assemble all the ingredients except for greens and bacon well in advance. Just toss the more fragile ingredients in at serving time and don’t overmix – I love the big chunky pieces of corn cut from the cob. It tells everyone you got your hands dirty. That makes it taste so much better. What are you waiting for?
As always, check the seasonings. If anything, I usually grab a generous sprinkle of smoked serrano salt. That’s salt and pepper in one-stop shopping – almost as brilliant as the self-dressing salad. Or Maldon salt – my flaky favorite. Fresh cracked pepper. Done.
IF by some miracle you have leftover corn salad, it makes a fabulous addition to a quesadilla. But more than likely, you too will have a guest that grabbed the serving bowl and polished it off using a giant serving spoon. 🙂
Hey hey hey – I said everything BUT the farmer. But anyway here’s my corn guy from Ham Family Farm – always good for a recipe or produce update.