Monday, December 17, 2012

Recipes for using our Vinegar and Jam

One of the best ways to taste the true flavors of any specific ingredient is to use it as simply and plainly as possible. When trying a new vinegar or oil in a recipe why not let it shine through purely as possible? I myself will use a spoon and taste ingredients in small dosages to get a real intense, straight shot of a new ingredient. However this does overwhelm the palate and in times of doubt about an ingredient can be a rather bold commitment for your senses.

For ages many cultures have have used vinegar as a health tonic. Raw-unpasteurized apple vinegar such as Spoiled Rotten Apple is considered a living food filled with many possibilities for both internal and external well being. To get you started in your research of using vinegar in such a way try the recipe below.

Energy Drink
yields a full days serving
*For a natural energy boost and cleanse sip this recipe throughout your day. Warm or cold.

1 quart purified water
3 sprigs organic peppermint (stems & all)
raw, locally harvested honey or agave nectar to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a pitcher large enough to comfortably hold ingredients. As you add your honey or agave nectar stir mixture to help dissolve and incorporate flavors. 
It is best to allow the mixture to be kept in tact as you drink from the pitcher through the day. However if you prefer to strain the mint out of your beverage I suggest letting the mixture "steep" for at least one hour before you strain.
Serve chilled or gently warmed.

*In the recipes you will read from our kitchen note that when "salt" is called for we are referring to Kosher Salt. Any other kind of salt will be listed in the ingredients.

Basic Vinaigrette
yields 1 1/2 cup
* A good building block recipe to start with and then soon throw out as soon as you are using whimsy.

*Combine the following ingredients into a small bowl for whisking or what mechanical device you brandish.
1/2 cup Spoiled Rotten Vinegar (any variety) or any vinegar you prefer
1 small shallot, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (try not to make this an optional element)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
 *Reserve the following.
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil *For Spoiled Rotten Vinegar I prefer an olive oil blend or other light flavored oil.

While whisking athletically, slowly drizzle in the oil. Emulsifying is your goal. If using a machine such as a blender or food processor, combine the first group of ingredients in your machine and while motor is running slowly drizzle in the oil.
When smooth taste for seasoning. Ready to use or store in your refrigerator. 

Blackstrap Vinegar Reduction or Glaze 
yields 1/4 cup thick syrup
*A fun and useful condiment for a wide variety of dishes. Use as a finishing drizzle on roasted meats and vegetables or composed salads, cheese platters or on fresh berries over vanilla bean ice cream. Will keep indefinitely in the fridge.

1 teaspoon honey
1/2 small dried bay leaf

Pour the blackstrap vinegar into a heavy bottom saucepan. Over moderate heat, stir int he honey and 1/2 bay leaf. Adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer and allow the vinegar to reduce slowly.
*You may become impatient or bored during this reduction time but BE CAREFUL!! Do not turn up heat to speed up the process or get sidetracked and forget your reduction to find a hard, burnt black mass STUCK in the bottom of your pan. Keep it slow and low.
Around 20 minutes into reducing time or when vinegar mixture has lost more than half of its original volume, start to watch your pan closely. Allow to cool before use. Store in a sealed jar or container indefinitely in your fridge.
*This reduction is best used at room temp or warmed slightly.

Quick Maple Glaze for Pork & Poultry
yields a scant 3/4 cup
*For best results I would first recommend using this glaze while grilling or roasting. Since the glaze is used near the end of cooking and won't necessarily penetrate into the protein I suggest using smaller & more tender cuts of meats like; Pork loin, tenderloin & chops. Fowl breasts, leg & thighs or a whole small chicken or game bird. 

1/4 Cup Maple Syrup, Pure
1/3 Cup Whole-grain Mustard

Mix maple syrup, mustard & maple vinegar in a small bowl. Apply the glaze to your pork or poultry during the last 10 minutes of grilling or roasting.

Mahi-Mahi Ceviche with Chiles
serves 6 appetizer portions
*The fish called for in this recipe can be substituted with any number of firm, white flesh fish. I suggest using Chilean sea bass (toothfish), blue nose bass, halibut or snapper. Always use the freshest fish you can find to avoid any health concerns or "fishy" flavors. Frozen fish for this purpose is not suggested.

1 pound mahi-mahi filets (cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick strips)
1 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup Spoiled Rotten Chile Vinegar
2 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
1/2 roasted red bell pepper, seeded, peeled and diced small
1/4 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), finely chopped
approx. 12 leaves of fresh cilantro
sprigs of chive tips
Salty crackers or freshly fried corn chips

Combine fish, lime juice, chile vinegar, oregano in a large glass bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Chill until fish turns opaque, stirring occasionally, about 50 minutes.
*It is important not to over marinate or "cook" the fish in this initial step. You want the fish to have just tuned opaque when you know it is time to strain out liquid. By the time the ceviche is finished and ready to serve it will have kept "cooking" in the acid of the lime juice and vinegar. Any prolonged marinating or "cooking" will result in undesirable textures. For this reason although leftovers are safe to eat the following day the texture might be lacking for most palates. There is a tendency for the texture of the fish to become soggy.
Strain almost all of the liquid from the fish, return the fish to the bowl. Stir in onion, jalapenos, bell pepper, and cilantro. Season with salt. Chill for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours.

To serve:
Divide the ceviche into 6 martini glasses, small bowls or in small spoons for a passing hor d'oeuvres. Sprinkle the toasted pepitas on the top of each portion finally sprinkling the cilantro leaves and chive sprigs.
Serve with the salty crackers or freshly fried corn chips.

by the Foodinista
This recipe was created by a fellow foodie using our Stuck-Up Rhubarb Bing Cherry Jam. Follow the link on the recipe title to get the whole story and her recipe.


We are always interested in your comments, requests & suggestions. Please contact us at or leave a comment below to share with us.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Stuck-Up & Sometimes Pickled

Here at, Shadow Creek, we have had a great time capturing the summer and autumn 2012 seasons in various ways other than our vinegar. Originally, all of our edible wares started with making jam and pickled items.
A batch of Dapple Dandy jam
family recipe

In the summer of 2011, I got into a jamming fever. An obsession which led to gratuitous holiday gifting and breakfasts laden with our own jams. At this time there was no outlet for the jams, which were simply made in our home kitchen, but the seed was planted that if ever I were to go on making seasonal goodies it might be a worthwhile plan to make them a product legitimately sales worthy.

That first season I made old favorites of mine, choosing my ingredients from the abundant local farmers markets. Just the best produce we could find and very simple traditional recipes.
Pickled Yellow Wax Beans
recipe adapted from Chez Panisse
Vegetables Cookbook

The sound of glass jars clanking and rattling as they were pasteurized filled my house through the midnight hours. Depending on the harvest, my family would be greeted in their dreams with either the sweet aroma of fruit preserves bubbling on the stove or wafts of vinegar and pickling spice creeping from under their door. In any event, a tradition was practiced and a tasty addition to a start-up shop was realized.

The next step would be refinement. In regard to the varieties of items, the quantity of each, and which flavors were most favored; decisions were made to regulate consistency, quality, and obsessive compulsion. I am proud to say that restraint was observed with regards to jamming and preserving in 2012 (this may be directly related to the introduction of making vinegar). Ultimately, the batches were kept small and the variety and flavor was left to the season's offerings at the moment that I had the time to create. Although this method worked well, and the flavors made were well received, I was sad to say goodbye to a couple of my favorites. I would like to take a moment to remember those who cannot be with with us this year.
Tomato Jam

Pickled Okra
with curry

Pickled Yellow Wax Beans
Going into the second year, Cherie and I received some beautiful gifts from our own little farm. Our fruit trees, which were barren when we first moved to the property, all blossomed and grew fruit. A loquat tree led the way in early spring, followed by plum, nectarine, figs and pippin apples. We ate as much of the fruit as we could but some of the abundance found its way to the kitchen.
Fig Butter 2012
Nectarine Salsa 2012

Transforming our pippin apples into
Apple Butter
So by the time the holidays were upon us we had a modest collection of preserves in stock. Being the first year and holiday season for Entropy the shop, we waited in anticipation, wondering if our offerings would find their way into homes. We were happy with our creations and had enjoyed eating our own reserves but hoped that our vision would be received by the public. There are so many delicious and inspired handmade items out in the market now and we were excited to represent the cottage industry tradition.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, my cousin, Heather John Fogarty, included some of our Stuck-Up creations in her blog, The Foodinista. I was so surprised, and very honored, to be featured in her writings and critique. Although she is a relative I believe her fondness of good food and tasteful insights run thicker than blood. This is why her comments on our preserves were such a huge compliment. Needless to say orders quickly started to show up at the shop. It is obvious that Heather has a following and a reputation of knowing good foods. And we are most appreciative.

Now, in the middle of December, Cherie and I have done our share of gift wrapping and shipping. Although this added activity can be tiresome while keeping up with our lives' own demands, we have been so happy to find homes for our handmade goods and vintage finds. We both get a sense of pride and accomplishment knowing that we are helping to supply those in curious need with beauty, pleasure, and taste. I think the hardest task we have is allowing ourselves to let go of some of our treasures.
Jams and Butters waiting for a wrap
All snug in one of Cherie's gift wraps

Cherie and I feel very good about our progress with our shop and our customers. We have stayed true to our vision and honest with our offerings. And, through all of the progress and growth, we find that we are enjoying it more and more. As we learn on this first year of business, we continue to create new elements and experiences for our customers to enjoy. This continual flow of creation and sharing is something we are both drawn to and the best return we could hope to receive from our efforts.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Food Culture

For everyone food is a cultural experience and practice. 

We have respect
Steve, Lisa & Blueberries. Granville, Mass 2012

maintain tradition
Lisa's Bees

We become excited

Desserts at the pass. SF Emabarcadero


A chef preparing for a wedding feast. Emeryville, Ca
Custard and bread
KMK Farms. Kingsburg, Ca
Observe trends

Roasted Pork Loin, Fig Jus

Become Curious
Loquat hunting
In the desire to create
Brooklyn Kitchen
we grow beliefs

Homegrown Swiss Chard. Castro Valley, Ca
and through our experiences
Helping mom catalog seeds

Food is deeply rooted in our feelings.

Birthday Celebration

Monday, November 26, 2012


November 20, 2012:
I already know as I uncork one of seven bottles of  the pear that there is no hope. I had a couple of cups set aside after bottling that I would taste frequently and test in various simple recipes. I had thrown it out a while ago. I have been hoping the bottles would taste a sweet song of soured nectar.

Disappointed. Yet pleased with the history and growth I gained from the process. I am not quite sure how to describe exactly what I grew but through all the spoonfuls I consumed quite a bit.

Spoiled Rotten Pear, Batch #1 2012: Hopefully living happily in the SF bay.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I was feeling pretty good about my creations one afternoon when I thought of the perfect reason to start another fermentation. The holiday season was on its way and if I was going to be sharing vinegar with loved ones then I should cover all the flavor profiles included. And only one palate stood out as a very specific need. Some like it hot.

                                                                                                                                                      Bill, my father-in-law usually  has a whole, raw serrano chile within arms reach during most meals. He is well versed in the varieties and scoville ratings of chiles and I have yet to stump him on any original brand of hot sauce out there. He does endure the heat and I believe he enjoys these fruits for their varied flavor.

His appreciation and palate is obvious when I eat his guacamole. One might think that a simple recipe like guacamole would be a trivial way to judge a deft hand of layering flavor but then one has not had his. I have.

I wanted to make a vinegar that was hot but that also embodied the fruity flavors of the chiles I would be using. I could want and wish but just like my pear vinegar nature would ultimately dictate the end result.

 I put cloves of garlic, chunks of fresh ginger and 5 varieties of chile peppers   (habanero, arbol, jalapeno, serrano and red bell peppers) into a glass crock with filtered water, covered it with a bandanna and hid it from the light.

Chile vinegar. Only 4. Bottled on 10/31/2012.

I could not believe the aroma that emitted from the crock in less than a day. I felt like I was standing outside the back door of a Mexican restaurant. Such a warm and pungent odor. Foods like refried beans, Spanish rice and heavy, long stewed sauces came to my mind every time I was remotely close. At times it was almost embarrassing as if I was producing an unmentionable tonic which smelled similar to it's symptom. And at times it was just too rich of an odor but quite the sensory experience. I could just imagine foods being fried and sauced rich and spicy. Finally a milky, silk-like mother made a home and the intense odor subsided and the acid began to cleanse the air.

Once a good acid base had set I skimmed the mother and added toasted annatto seeds, red chile flakes and apple wood. I sealed this and let it age for 3 weeks before pasteurizing and bottling. And timing couldn't have been better for I was able to bottle it on Halloween. Perfect!

I had set out to make just a little and that is essentially what I was left with. 4 bottles. As I was preparing to bottle I originally wanted to filter the mixture to rid the vinegar of the pureed chiles and seasonings. However as I blended the mixture, tasting along the way I realized I would be throwing away not only flavor and body but the elements of the vinegar that would continue to age and lend character as it aged in the bottle. So I used a fine mesh strainer to remove any unpalatable pieces.

Sure this would lead to a large amount of sediment in the bottle but this would become part of the experience for those who were able to enjoy it. Whether one wishes to pour the vinegar off the top and savor the sediment or shake it before use and enjoy it all now. It is up for debate. Just enjoy it!

Here is the official description:

Chile Vinegar. October 31, 2012.
Flavor: Inspired by capsicum aficionado Llib Sehguh, this original Shadow Creek recipe was made with Organic Chile Peppers, Garlic and Spices. While Spoiled Rotten Chile vinegar gets its flavor from 5 varieties of chiles, including Roasted Habanero, Jalapeno and Serrano Chiles, it has aged and mellowed developing a fruity acidity finishing with a pleasantly aggressive toasted heat. Use in vinaigrettes, marinades, cocktails, salsas and ceviches.

Method: The ingredients were thoughtfully chosen, combined and left to ferment in the traditional Orleans Method of fermentation. Over time, nature developed the flavor and acidity until just right, at which point, the vinegar was sealed as a single batch and allowed to mellow with toasted anatto seeds and apple wood from 2 to 4 weeks before it was strained, pasteurized, and bottled.

Spoiled Rotten Chile, Batch #1 2012: Fruity acidity of chiles finishing with a pleasantly aggressive heat.

Shadow Creek's Spoiled Rotten Vinegars to date.

De glaze for Sauteed Greens
yields enough greens for 2 side portions

*Beet greens, mustard greens, swiss chard and lacinato kale (dino) are great chopped up and sauteed.

1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons shallot, minced
1-2 Tablespoons Spoiled Rotten Chile or Maple Vinegar
1 to 2 bunches of hearty greens mentioned above. I am a purist but mixing varieties is good too. Wash, de-stem and prep. I chop leafy parts up and slice the stems thinly. Stems tend to be fibrous so slicing thinly against grain is best. *Keep stems and greens separate*

In a hot saute pan heat 1-2 Tablespoons oil. 
Add garlic and shallot. Saute stirring frequently until starting to brown lightly.
Add stems and saute for 1 min.
Add greens and saute for 3 min. or until wilted and softened.
Season now with salt and pepper.
drizzle in Spoiled Rotten Chile or Maple vinegar (1-2 Tablespoons) to de glaze.
Allow vinegar to absorb and reduce.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I Bottled That Smell In My Garage!

Pear. July 2012.
Pear. July 2012.

Harvesting our apples.

Time to inspect the apples.
Someone is living here....
Noyau for nectarine.

Nectarine at 2 months.
October 2012.
Mother-O-Apple tangled in apple wood after straining
vinegar for bottling. Mother was rescued and is doing fine
to this day.
October 2012.

Rotten Fruits

The next phase of my summer fermenting would be understanding the fruit vinegars that were evolving.
Apple Vinegar at 2 months.

The pear vinegar, which was the first fruit I started, and actually what I had expected to be my most prized vinegar, took me through a plethora of spoiling issues. From a stage where a nectar-like fragrance wafted from the jar to a point where an almost addictive rancidity sank deep into my nostrils. Dipping a spoon into the mixture had me questioning the worst that could happen.

I so wanted this fermentation to work that I blended it with an early stage white wine vin that I had started and then bottled it hoping that some magic was in the final aging. To this date I have not been convinced that it is worth consumption and therefore have not released it. I had such high expectations.

During this time, as the pear seemed to falter, the apple and nectarine I had started a month later were fermenting like clockwork. Almost too perfect. The acid levels in these two were so high that I knew I had vinegar, but for what purpose I feared. Household cleaning?
Apple Vinegar strained
& ready for final fermentation.

After some research I found that the apple and nectarine were perfect specimens of fruit vinegar and that the acid levels were commonly very high. Again, I decided to blend the vinegars with an early batch of apple that I had started out of the excess of falling apples from our back yard tree.

At this time most (13, 375 ml. btls) of the first batch of apple has been bottled. I decided to bottle these first 13 bottles with RAW/ unpasteurized Apple Vinegar. Filtered but RAW. I wanted to allow those who would be using the vinegar to have all the natural benefits of a living food and the fun of meeting the mother.

 I didn't realize I had been making so much and never worked the need for more bottles and corks into my budget. This goes back to my enthusiastic nature whenever I take on something that brings me joy. So the nectarine and remaining first batch of apple are waiting for more bottles.

Spoiled Rotten Apple, Batch #1 2012: A bright acidity finishing crisp with cider spice notes.

Shadow Creek Presents Something Spoiled Rotten.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Spoiled Rotten

I had made vinegar once before while working in a great restaurant in Fresno, CA. After a vintners dinner at the restaurant my wine rep gifted me with all the opened bottles and quite a few corked. I had so much wine that I ended up trying my hand at making vinegar.

Years later I became inspired to begin pickling, fermenting and preserving foods again. I am interested in sharing with you the story of how Shadow Creek became Spoiled Rotten.
Starting a Nectarine Vinegar, August 2012.

In the late spring of 2012 Cherie and I decided on doing two things during the summer. Get married and put more effort into beginning our business ideas on Etsy. A year earlier I had become preoccupied with making jams and pickling vegetables from the great abundance found at our local farmers markets. This interest in preserving led me to a desire to ferment again.

As Cherie began to build her Etsy shop and selection of vintage finds and handmade design elements we noticed how many people were selling jams, vinegars and other food items. This gave me an outlet for all of the would be surplus edible products we would indeed end up with due to my compulsive nature to make 100 when anyone else would settle for 10.

The only variety of vinegar I had made before was red wine but upon researching possibilities for the ingredients I enjoy and can readily find I had a whole slough of ideas to ferment. As with all of my edible creations I do my best to use fresh seasonal, local and organic ingredients when possible. The trick for me was to decide on which vinegar to start with and how to afford it on my budget.

Maple was the first vinegar I wanted to create. I had seen it sold on Etsy by other artisans and had read about it before which stirred a huge amount of curiosity in me. I had never tasted it before and rarely heard it mentioned making this concoction a little mysterious to me. Exciting!

So to start my little industry I needed to collect the equipment; ingredients to ferment and vessels to ferment in. With my limited budget and most of my funds decidedly going into the best ingredients I can find I would have to find glass fermenting elements for cheap. A thrift store had a 2.5 gallon hurricane for only two dollars and with this find being my only good find I ended up buying more 2.5 gallon jars from a department store.
For the maple vinegar I bought grade A organic Maple Syrup, top shelf Dark Rum and raw organic Red Wine Vinegar (since I had none of my own creation to use). I mixed my ingredients for the maple vinegar, secured the hurricane opening with a bandanna to keep the critters out and hid my concoction in a dark nook to ferment. Now it was times turn to do the work and so I would have to wait.
Mother-O-Molasses at two months.
But I am never satisfied with one project or following a recipe I did not change into my own and so with the leftover rum and red wine vinegar I grabbed my families stash of molasses out of the kitchen pantry and decided to make a molasses vinegar.

Two weeks later I started a pear fermentation. Then an apple from our own tree. Then a nectarine along with more apple. Finally a red wine and a chile. I am making the chile vinegar for my father in-law Bill, who is a capsaicin aficionado and master of guacamole.

To date I have bottled the maple (9, 375ml. btls) and molasses (5, 375ml. btls) vinegars. The pear, apple and nectarine are all sealed snug and aging while the others are still changing.

Spoiled Rotten Maple, Batch #1 2012: A mild acidity and  residual sweetness married with toasted apple wood blend in this vinegar.

Spoiled Rotten Blackstrap, Batch #1 2012: Smooth acidity mellowed by warm mineral depth eludes to an American Balsamic.
Bottling Blackstrap.
Mother-O-Molasses at four months.

Root Vegetable Glaze
yields enough glaze for 4 side servings of vegetables

1/3 Cup maple vinegar
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons oil of choice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 small clove garlic minced
Fresh herbs: sage, thyme, rosemary choppped
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

Butter should be at room temp or melted. Mix all ingredients together.
Root Vegetables: Parsnip, yam, sweets, potatoes, carrots, get it. Any vegetable or combination of will do.
Clean and prepare vegetables for roasting. Mix root vegetables with glaze mixture. Roast in a very hot oven (400-450) stirring if needed until edges are browned and vegetables tender.