Vanilla Bean Syrup

Vanilla Bean Syrup

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A small glass jar of Vanilla Bean Syrup resting in a wooden tray draped with a laced napkin.

Some of the simplest things are the most delicious. The combination of vanilla and sugar is just such an instance. This classic combo comes together as Vanilla Bean Syrup when you combine with water and give it a gentle simmer.

You might be asking what need you might have for this jar or aromatic sweetness? Let me give you plenty of reasons. One of my favourites is to flavour specialty coffee and teas like my Baileys London Fog. There’s no need to spend copious amounts of money at a fancy coffee shop when you can make your favourites at home. My second favourite way to use it is for brushing onto cakes. It adds tremendous moisture and flavour to cake layers or the tops of sweet loaves. But the list is longer yet, drizzle it onto fruit salad, ricotta pancakes, plain yogurt with fruit (that way you control the sugar), smoothies and cocktails. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Vanilla Bean Syrup resting in a wooden tray lined with a laced napkin and a stainless steel pot sits in the background.

Vanilla Bean Syrup
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    2/3 cup 10 minutes
    Cook Time
    5 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    2/3 cup 10 minutes
    Cook Time
    5 minutes
    Vanilla Bean Syrup
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      2/3 cup 10 minutes
      Cook Time
      5 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      2/3 cup 10 minutes
      Cook Time
      5 minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: cup
      Instructions
      1. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds with a small spoon or knife.
      2. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat until mixture comes to a simmer and sugar is fully dissolved, stirring often. Once at a simmer, cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla beans.
      3. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature and then refridgerate in a sealed jar for up to 1 month.

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      I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
      Peanut Sauce

      Peanut Sauce

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      A spoon heavy with peanut sauce stands against a mason jar filled with peanut sauce.

       

      Hello, peanut sauce lovers!!  You’ll love this simple and delicious Peanut Sauce recipe that takes no time at all to come together.  The wonderful flavour comes from a little red curry paste, coconut milk, garlic and ginger.  It’s so good, and you’ll want to enjoy it with so many things.

       

      Whole peanuts fill a mason jar that is surrounded by ginger, curry paste, garlic, lime and coconut milk in preparation for Peanut Sauce.

      How to enjoy this lovely Peanut Sauce….let me count the ways.

      -toss with a noodle stir fry
      -smother on cooked pork ribs and bake
      -drizzle on shrimp tacos
      -as a dip for summer rolls
      -as a dip for pork, chicken or beef satay
      -broiled on salmon fillets
      -toss with chunks of chicken and serve over couscous
      -tossed into a salad
      -as a dip for vegetables

      A spoon heavy with peanut sauce stands against a mason jar filled with peanut sauce.

      A spoon heavy with peanut sauce stands against a mason jar filled with peanut sauce.
      Peanut Sauce
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        1 1/2 cups 15 minutes
        Cook Time
        10 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        1 1/2 cups 15 minutes
        Cook Time
        10 minutes
        A spoon heavy with peanut sauce stands against a mason jar filled with peanut sauce.
        Peanut Sauce
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          1 1/2 cups 15 minutes
          Cook Time
          10 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          1 1/2 cups 15 minutes
          Cook Time
          10 minutes
          Ingredients
          Servings: cups
          Instructions
          1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Whisk over low-medium heat until smooth. Increase heat to medium and whisk until slightly thickened and the sauce comes barely to a simmer (do not boil).
          2. Remove from heat and adjust thickness with a little more water or coconut milk if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.
          Recipe Notes

          -The sauce will thicken as it cools, adjust thickness with a splash of water or coconut milk to suit your taste.

          -The sauce will keep refrigerated in a sealed container for up to a week and in the freezer for a month.

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          I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
          Creamy Mustard Dill Sauce

          Creamy Mustard Dill Sauce

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          Creamy Mustard Dill Sauce in a small glass dish nestled on a white tray lined with a white kitchen towel.

          I really do love versatile foods and my Creamy Mustard Dill Sauce is at the top of my list. Not only is it simple and quick to make, but it’s also bursting with flavour and freshness from capers, Dijon and fresh dill.

          Using fresh dill is definitely the preference in this recipe because of the lovely freshness it adds, however, dried dill can also be used.  The general rule of thumb if using dried herbs is to use a third of the stated amount of fresh.

          This recipe does call for a small amount of sugar, and I like to let the sauce sit refrigerated for 10-15 minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve and the flavours to meld. Creamy Mustard Dill Sauce really couldn’t be any easier and it’s a wonderful sauce that you’ll want to make over and over.

          Ingredients for Creamy Mustard Dill Sauce in a wooden tray lined with a white kitchen towel.

          For my small family of two, using up a cup of sauce is not always an easy task! By incorporating it into dishes we love there’s no chance of any of it going to waste.

          Here are many delicious ways to use it.

          -drizzle over grilled or pan-fried fish such as salmon, halibut or cod.
          -use a dip for cold poached shrimp.
          -drizzle over steamed vegetables like asparagus, broccoli or green beans.
          -mix into your egg salad, potato salad or chicken salad.
          -add to your deviled egg mix.
          -thin with buttermilk for a creamy dressing over crisp greens.
          -add additional sour cream and top baked potatoes or steamed baby potatoes.
          -use as a sandwich spread to liven up your ham or turkey sandwich.
          -mix with a little cream cheese and serve with smoked salmon on crostini.

          Creamy Mustard Dill Sauce served over cooked salmon and asparagus on a white plate.

          Creamy Mustard Dill Sauce in a small glass dish nestled on a white tray lined with a white kitchen towel.
          Creamy Mustard Dill Sauce
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            1 cup 10-15 minutes
            Passive Time
            10-15 minutes
            Servings Prep Time
            1 cup 10-15 minutes
            Passive Time
            10-15 minutes
            Creamy Mustard Dill Sauce in a small glass dish nestled on a white tray lined with a white kitchen towel.
            Creamy Mustard Dill Sauce
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              1 cup 10-15 minutes
              Passive Time
              10-15 minutes
              Servings Prep Time
              1 cup 10-15 minutes
              Passive Time
              10-15 minutes
              Ingredients
              Servings: cup
              Instructions
              1. Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill for 10-15 minutes to allow sugar to dissolve and flavours to meld. Serve garnished with additional fresh dill.

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              I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
              Spiced Rum Caramel

              Spiced Rum Caramel

              Delicious doesn’t have to be complicated.  Spiced Rum Caramel signifies how only a few ingredients can be transformed into something amazing.  With its burnished colour, creamy texture and buttery caramel taste, it’s the perfect topping for ice cream, cakes and apples to name just a few. 

              There’s no need to ever buy store bought again, because making your own is easy with a little know how.  Mainly, you don’t want any sugar crystals to form.  NO stirring is key to help prevent sugar crystals forming on the side of the pan. Sugar crystals form when the hot sugar hits the cold pan side or cold whisk if you were to stir it. This, in turn, can cause the whole sauce to become crystallized. You can brush down the sides of the pan with water and a pastry brush if a few crystals start to form. 

              The second important thing is timing.  It takes seconds to go from a light amber colour to a dark, overcooked colour.  The goal is a deep amber colour and knowing where that is, comes by doing. It may take a try or two to know exactly where you like it.  If in doubt, it’s best to opt for a slightly lighter colour than to go too far the other way, which will have a bitter taste.  Your caramel will still be amazing. Enjoy!

              Spiced Rum Caramel
              Print Recipe
                Servings Prep Time
                1 1/4 cups 10 minutes
                Cook Time
                12 minutes
                Servings Prep Time
                1 1/4 cups 10 minutes
                Cook Time
                12 minutes
                Spiced Rum Caramel
                Print Recipe
                  Servings Prep Time
                  1 1/4 cups 10 minutes
                  Cook Time
                  12 minutes
                  Servings Prep Time
                  1 1/4 cups 10 minutes
                  Cook Time
                  12 minutes
                  Ingredients
                  Servings: cups
                  Instructions
                  1. Assemble all ingredients prior to cooking.
                  2. Combine sugar and water in a medium-large saucepan (I used a 3 quart). Heat over medium-high until sugar is dissolved, gently swirling pan once or twice. DO NOT STIR. If any crystals form on the side of the pan, brush away with water and a pastry brush. Allow to cook at a boil until starting to turn an amber colour, about 10 minutes.
                  3. Once the outer edge starts to turn colour you can gently swirl the pan a couple of times to evenly distribute, once again, do not stir. When it becomes a deep amber colour, remove from heat and whisk in heavy cream. The mixture will bubble vigorously. Once it has smoothed out, whisk in butter and salt. Stir in rum. Pour into a sealable jar and allow to cool completely prior to storing in the fridge.
                  Recipe Notes

                  -If in doubt about the colour, opt for slightly lighter.  Going to dark will result in a slightly bitter/burnt taste.

                  -Makes about 1 1/4 cups and will keep in a sealed jar for up to a month in the fridge.

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                  Affiliate Disclosure

                  I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
                  Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup

                  Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup

                  I’m getting older you know!  But the benefit of this, is the chance to have a party.  So that’s just what my husband did for me this year on my recent birthday.   Along with my extra year of age, I also received many wonderful gifts that day.  One of which was a Mexican food basket that contained great items such as fresh tomatillos, corn husks and chipotle peppers in adobo. But the one ingredient that really got my attention was the dried hibiscus flowers.  I knew right away that I wanted to use this product for a blog post and set to work on making a lovely, richly infused Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup.

                   

                  Dried hibiscus is just that, hibiscus flowers that have been dried, and probably most common for making tea.  When steeped, it has the most amazing deep purplish- red colour and tart berry like taste.  Perfect for beverages, hot or cold, jams, and sauces.  Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup is slightly tart and fruity with a hint of sweetness.  It’s amazing on pancakes, ice cream, cake, yogurt and fruit.  A little thicker than a simple syrup, but go on and stir it into a vodka cocktail, champagne or punch as well.  That’s if it makes it past the pancakes and ice cream of course…..enjoy!

                  Recipe source for Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup:  Compelled To Cook

                  Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup
                  Print Recipe
                    Servings Prep Time
                    2 1/2 cups 10 minutes
                    Cook Time Passive Time
                    30-35 minutes 90 minutes
                    Servings Prep Time
                    2 1/2 cups 10 minutes
                    Cook Time Passive Time
                    30-35 minutes 90 minutes
                    Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup
                    Print Recipe
                      Servings Prep Time
                      2 1/2 cups 10 minutes
                      Cook Time Passive Time
                      30-35 minutes 90 minutes
                      Servings Prep Time
                      2 1/2 cups 10 minutes
                      Cook Time Passive Time
                      30-35 minutes 90 minutes
                      Ingredients
                      Servings: cups
                      Instructions
                      1. In a medium sauce pan bring water to a simmer. Add dried hibiscus and bring back to a boil, stirring to soak all the hibiscus. Turn off heat and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, allowing hibiscus to drain naturally without squeezing or pushing on it.
                      2. Return liquid to the pot and add frozen strawberries along with any juice and sugar. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to a steady boil and allow to cook, uncovered for 15-20 minutes, mashing berries with a fork or back of a wooden spoon to help them break down.
                      3. Mix cornstarch with 1 tbsp cold water until dissolved. Add to syrup, stirring constantly until mixture is fully combined and has returned to a boil. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and allow to cool to room temperature, then cool completely in the refrigerator to reach full thickness.
                      4. Pour into sealable jars or airtight container and keep refrigerated until ready to use. Will keep refrigerated for 2-3 weeks well sealed.
                      Recipe Notes

                      -Yields approximately 2 1/2 cups of syrup.

                      Tomato Confit

                      Tomato Confit

                      Slow roasted, jammy and infused with garlic and herbs, Tomato Confit is delightful on crostini.  It’s my personal favourite way to enjoy it.  I find the subtly sweet tomatoes to be the perfect match with soft tart cheese, in this case, goat cheese.  The copious amount of olive oil, along with a long slow roast makes it all luscious together and a great addition to pasta, fish and vegetables.  

                      Thanks to Nigel Slater for this lovely recipe that I found in a copy of The Guardian.  I’ve made the recipe pretty much as written, other than being in my own words.  Sometimes things don’t need to be messed with.  The beauty of this Tomato Confit is its simplicity, and how only a few ingredients can be transformed into a versatile delight. It is concentrated goodness in a jar, and handy to have on hand. It will keep for a solid week in the refrigerator, giving you numerous possibilities for snacks and meals throughout the week. 

                      Recipe source for Tomato Confit: Nigel Slater’s Tomato Confit

                      Tomato Confit
                      Print Recipe
                        Servings Prep Time
                        3 cups 45-50 minutes
                        Cook Time Passive Time
                        3 hours 1 hour
                        Servings Prep Time
                        3 cups 45-50 minutes
                        Cook Time Passive Time
                        3 hours 1 hour
                        Tomato Confit
                        Print Recipe
                          Servings Prep Time
                          3 cups 45-50 minutes
                          Cook Time Passive Time
                          3 hours 1 hour
                          Servings Prep Time
                          3 cups 45-50 minutes
                          Cook Time Passive Time
                          3 hours 1 hour
                          Ingredients
                          Servings: cups
                          Instructions
                          1. Preheat oven to 260℉.
                          2. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer. Wash and core large tomatoes. Cut a small X through the skin on the bottom of each tomato. Plunge tomatoes into simmering water and allow to sit for 40-60 seconds (you will start to see the skins slough off). Remove tomatoes to a cold water bath to stop the cooking. Repeat with remaining tomatoes. Peel skins off tomatoes by grabbing the flaps of the cut X.
                          3. Cut large tomatoes in half horizontally and scoop out seeds. Place tomato halves, cut side up in a roasting pan.
                          4. Wash cherry tomatoes and cut in half. Squeeze or scoop out seeds and scatter with larger tomatoes, tucking some in along side the larger ones. Tomatoes should be tightly packed.
                          5. Trim herb stalks of any thick woody ends. Scatter herbs and garlic over tomatoes, pressing them down among the tomatoes.
                          6. Lightly crush peppercorns and along with the sugar and salt, sprinkle over tomatoes and herbs. Pour olive oil evenly over tomatoes and roast for 3 hours.
                          7. Pour boiling water into your sealable jars to help sterilize and warm them. Scoop hot tomatoes, along with herbs and garlic into jars. Top with remaining juice/oil. Screw on lids and allow to cool at room temperature, then refrigerate. If eating cold, allow to come to room temperature first, to allow olive oil to return to its original state.
                          Recipe Notes

                          -Seeding  the cherry tomatoes is tedious, but only takes 10-12 minutes once you get going.

                          -Will keep for a solid week in the refrigerator.

                          -Makes approximately 3 cups.