Annie's Hot Chop Relish

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While discussing what to do with an abundance of garden produce at this time of year, my friend Annie gave me her recipe for what she called her "hot chop concoction."  She cooks and cans it, but suggested it could also be frozen.  It's one of those recipes you "eye ball."

Annie said it's a family favorite that they mostly use on fried eggs, hamburgers, and hot dogs. She explained that there's no set recipe, but it's just something she concocted years ago, and that her son has also paid her to make it for him so he could give it out as holiday gifts for friends and neighbors.

So if your garden is abundant or you can't resist the good sales at farmer's markets at this time of year, considering making a batch of Annie's Hot Chop Relish.

I don't have "bushels" of produce like Annie, so adjusted the recipe for a smaller batch. I used 2 cups of combined chopped jalapeno peppers and green bell peppers,  2 cups of chopped tomatoes, 1 large onion and several cloves of diced garlic.  I started with a cup of vinegar and small handfuls of sugar and salt, then taste adjusted as directed. The cooking time on a medium simmer was about 40 minutes.
 photo null_zps01933151.jpgHere's her directions:
"Use half tomatoes and half Hungarian Wax Peppers.  In other words, a half bushel tomatoes *peeled and chopped and a half bushel hot peppers cut in thin rings.  (I don't bother to seed them).  
If you don't like that much heat, add less peppers.  I add a couple chopped green peppers, a couple large chopped onions and about a quarter cup of chopped garlic.   
Add at least 2 cups of vinegar  (I just glug it in), a handful of salt and handful of sugar, and then start cooking it down.  Taste it occasionally and add more vinegar, salt or sugar if you feel it needs more of one of them.  After it cooks down a couple hours, put in hot sterilized pint jars and seal with hot lids." 
* to easily peel tomatoes, blanch in boiling water until skins break, a minute or two, then plunge in ice cold water to easily remove skins.

My small batch cooked down to a pint and a half. I've used it on burgers, and served with scrambled eggs and omelets.  It's very much like a salsa, but cooked into a sweet/sour relish.

Ham Croquettes with Cheese Sauce

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My mom made ham croquettes whenever she had leftover ham, including scraps and pieces. They're worth the time and effort for taste and an economical attractive meal, as a little ham goes a long way.

They can be made in varied sizes and shapes for a dinner or an appetizer table.  It took me a few tries over the years to achieve the firm consistency needed to hold them together for frying, but discovered chilling the mixture does the trick, or making ahead and freezing until ready to fry.

With more leftover ham coming up after Easter, these will be on my menu plans several times in coming months.  I plan on making a big batch, or doubling the recipe, then freezing croquettes ready for future frying, a real time saver.

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Mixture Ready to Shape
Ham Coquettes with Cheese Sauce
2 Tabs. butter
4 Tabs. flour
1 cup milk
1/4 cup minced onions
1 tsps. parsley
1/4 tsp. of nutmeg
1-1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups minced ham, cooked
1 beaten egg with 1 shell of water, about a Tab.
oil for cooking

Melt butter and blend in flour and onions, cook for a minute or two to make a roux, then slowly stir in milk.  Cook until very thickened, almost like paste. Stir in finely chopped/minced ham, parsley, nutmeg and 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, cooking a few more minutes until all is blended.  Cool mixture in refrigerator at least an hour.  Shape into small balls (an inch to inch-and-a half ) or small logs ( 3/4-inch thick and 2-3 inches long). If mixture seems too thin to shape, add more bread crumbs.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppUploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppCoating:  Roll shaped croquettes in bread crumbs, dip in beaten eggs, then roll in bread crumbs again.  Refrigerate again for 2 hours or chill more quickly in freezer before frying.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppFry several at a time in hot oil (350 degrees) 2 or 3 minutes turning until golden brown on sides or deep fry at 375 degrees, for 1or 2 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.

Croquettes may be frozen after shaping and coating for future use as appetizers or quick dinner. Makes 12-24 depending on size made.  Serves 4-8.

Cheese Sauce
1 Tab. butter
2 Tabs flour
1 cup of milk
1 to 2 tsps. prepared mustard, according to taste
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 a cup of shredded cheese of choice: Swiss or Cheddar

Make a roux with butter and flour, adding milk, stirring and cooking for a thick white sauce, then stir in mustard and cheese until melted.  Serve over croquettes or use for dipping sauce.

Variations: Ground chicken, salmon or tuna can be used instead of ham for Chicken Croquettes, or Salmon Croquettes, Tuna Croquettes

Estimated cost: $3.00 or less; .75 cents or less per serving of allowing 3 or 4 per person.