Archive for Recipes

Cara-Meyer marmalade

For those that find regular marmalade too bitter, let me offer you this latest experiment, with a few suggestions to make it work better for you than it did for me. You see there were Meyer lemons left over from my Meyer marmalade adventure earlier this week, and there were ripe, sweet Cara Cara oranges from the same Costco expedition. Combining them produces a really pretty orange/pink marmalade, which is almost lacking that mouth-puckering bitterness I love so much. It’s a little runnier than I would have liked, but not runny enough to boil up again to try to get a firmer set. And marmalade sometimes firms up over several days, so it might be thicker by this time next week anyway. A mostly successful experiment, but I would give it a good 15 minutes of rolling boil next time (rather than 12), and perhaps a little more sugar or a little less water.

Just like last time, I (vaguely) used the Food in Jars 1:1:1 ratio of fruit to sugar to water, although I cooked the fruit before cutting it up, and also cut the sugar a smidgeon because the oranges were already pretty sweet. Possibly a mistake. Other things were different too. I had a slightly bigger batch of fruit, I cut the peel finer, and the (seedless) oranges didn’t give me as many of the pectin-rich seeds and pith as I got from the lemons, so there was less help with the set. But I love the colour, and the taste is not half bad as well. Others may love it.

Here’s the methodology and the quantities, which yielded just over 7 jars of pretty orange/pink jam:

Cara-Meyer marmalade
(Somehow Cara-Meyer sounds better than Meyer-Cara)

I used 4 Meyer lemons and 3 Cara Cara oranges, which weighed in 1.1kg, and just under 1kg of sugar.

Weigh the fruit, and set aside a roughly equal quantity of suger. Cut fruit in quarters, cover with water and simmer until the peels are butter soft. That took about 30 minutes for the lemons and 45 minutes for the oranges. Fish the fruit out of the water and allow to cool enough to handle. With the lemons you remove the seeds and as much as the white pith as you can and tie them in cheesecloth, before slicing the peel as finely as you like. The oranges were seedless, so I just scraped flesh off the peel and chopped that up, and then sliced the peels. That breaks traditional marmalade rules which say the peel should be suspended in a jelly. But I like the extra texture that chopped-up fruit offers, so I always add the fruit. Who cares about rules?

Measure the liquid you used to simmer the fruit and add enough water to top things up to the weight of your fruit or sugar (so 1 litre in my case), and then mix the chopped up fruit, sugar and water (plus cheesecloth bag of seeds) and cook, slowly until the sugar dissolves and then at a rolling boil until it sets. We boiled our mix for about 12 minutes, and we thought we had a set. Maybe 15 minutes next time? But then each lemon and each orange is different. It’s hard to be precise with things like jam.

Bottle in sterilized jars and waterbath for 10 minutes.

Et voilla. Slightly sloppy Cara-Meyer marmalade. Tastes very good with cottage cheese, and would be awesome in a marmalade cake, if anyone can ever offer me a recipe for that that works.

Anyone?

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Ontario oranges

I’ve taken my jam obsession on the road before now, making marmalade in California and golden greengage jam in Germany. But I never thought I would make marmalade from home-grown Ontario oranges. Locavore jam in January? In Northern Ontario? Madness.

Except that the spouse’s cousin, who lives up near Sault Ste Marie, is the proud owner of a waist-high indoor citrus tree, which this year was laden with a few dozen citrus somethings, a tiny tangerine style fruit, with loose, thin, sweet peel and a pucker-your-mouth inside. They were the size of a quarter (plus a few big twonies and a couple of nickels) and they were so ripe that some were falling off the tree. But they are so bitter inside that nobody wanted to eat them. My eyes lit up? Citrus-something marmalade?


Of course without knowing what the fruit was it was hard to find a recipe, but when did I ever let that get in the way of making jam? Even a worst-case scenario would create a citrus syrup for cakes or pancakes, so what did we have to lose? Here is the non-recipe for about a jar of marmalade from miniature mandarin-kumquat-orange-citrus somethings. Ten minutes prep time, an hour of sitting around time, then 25 minutes to boil and bottle the jam and clean up the kitchen.

Miniature citrus marmalade

Wash and slice the fruit (peel and all), removing any pits, and measure your chopped up fruit by  volume. We started with just under a pound of fruit, which yielded just over a cup of fruit/peel mix. We mixed that with a scant cup of sugar, and about a quarter cup of water. Then there was a pause while we went off snowshoeing for an hour, and by the time we got back, there was a bright orange goop, just waiting to be turned into a bright orange marmalade. Heat the mixture, slowly until the sugar dissolves, and then at the fastest boil your stove allows until it sets. That set took less than five minutes at a rolling boil, and that was basically it. I had optimistically sterilized three jars, which was two too many, but we divided our marmalade into two jars anyway, so that both families will get a taste. From the tiny taste we got in the clean-up, I would mark this one down as a success. It’s tart, but with an intense, orange taste and a nice, firm And the colour is beautiful too. Almost like apricot jam.

How awesome is that?

Update: This is a really nice marmalade, with a good, firm set and a taste that’s somewhere between bitter orange and sweet apricot. The peel has melted away to almost nothing, which makes it feel more like a jam than a marmalade, and I could never identify the taste. But it’s absolutely intriguing. If I ever had access to more miniature citrus somethings, I would definitely make it again. At least four out of five, plus a bonus point for sheer exotic wonderfulness.

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Mustard

I made my first mustard this month, and even sneaked the tiniest jar back home from New Jersey, given that it fell well under the 100ml gels and liquids airport restrictions. A fun and easy adventure, to be honest, and a huge money saver, given the cost of good bought mustard. Couldn’t be much easier either.

Dijon style mustard

1/4 cup black mustard seeds
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp honey

Pour the wine and vinegar over the seeds and soak for two days to let the seeds swell up a little. Add the salt and honey and food process until it’s as smooth as you want it to be. Transfer mustard into a clean jar and seal.

Wait another two days.

Store in the fridge. And if you store it in a Dijon Mustard jar, nobody will ever know the difference.

A word of warning, and you can’t really tell what this is going to taste right after the food processing because all you get is mustard fire — the flavours need time to mellow and meld together , hence the post-processing waiting period. We ate our little bottle on burgers after a week. It was still plenty hot, and plenty tasty.

And of course given the negligible cost of mustard seeds (available in bulk from any Indian store) compared to the non-negligible cost of ready-made mustard, you can experiment with the acid and the sweetening and you can add extra ingredients at will. Agave syrup rather than honey? Lemon juice instead of wine? Throw in some (pitted) olives? Horseradish? Preserved lemons? Small quantities at the start, until you know whether you are going to like the finished product

How easy is that?

 

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What is to be done?

We’ve had a serious tomato glut this year, despite the best efforts of spouse and self to gorge on tomato sandwiches, tomato salad and various types of gazpacho. A sandwich of home made bread, home made pesto, home grown tomato and artisan cheese has been my perfect lunch. But it only uses a couple of slices of our heirloom giants.

tomatoes

So this morning I turned the oven on very low — still a bold undertaking given Toronto’s prolonged heatwave — halved some of our cherry tomatoes, added salt, pepper and olive oil, put the tomatoes in the oven and retreated to my air conditioned office until mid afternoon.

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And the result is pretty damn good, like essence of heirloom tomato. It’s so simple that it hardly seems worth posting the recipe, but here it is anyway.

Slow roasted tomatoes

Slice or halve the tomatoes (depending on size), put on a baking sheet and brush generously with good quality olive oil. Grind on a little salt and pepper, and add a few garlic cloves, unpeeled.

Roast for 4-8 hours, depending on your mood and how chewy you think the tomatoes ought to be. Mine are still pretty moist. Store in the fridge.

You can cover them with olive oil for a longer shelf life, but I don’t think they are going to last that long.

tomatoes2

Next up. Using some of the spoils in King Arthur Flour’s #bakealong challenge, which this month offers a yummy sounding bread that I might eat in a single sitting.

Something that combines gardening, preserving (of sorts) and baking bread? How can I go wrong.

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Pickle power

CukesI spent many years experimenting with things in jars before I actually pickled cukes. True, I’ve played with bread and butter pickles for the last few years, halving the sugar and varying the herbs and spices from a super-simple New York Times recipe. But somehow until last year I never pickled cucumbers to keep. Big mistake

The recipe came a slim volume from Australian Woman’s Weekly, and makes cucumber spears with a good crunch and some serious attitude from the large quantities of pepper, mustard seeds (both brown and yellow) and chilli pepper. One batch of brine seems to do two batches of pickles, and it’s quick. The most time-consuming bit is cramming the pickle spears into sterilized jars. I eat them in a sandwich, or with a large block of cheddar cheese.

But either we squished too many cukes into the jars, or the brine levels sank overnight, and while there’s a good seal on the jars, the top layer of cucumbers is no longer covered in brine. From all my pickling reading, this is not a good thing, because the air will soften (or even rot) the pickles. We will store these jars in the fridge rather than in the cold room, and eat them fast. It may not be too difficult.

Pickled cucumbers

3-4 kg pickling cucumbers (ours were mostly about 5 inches long)
1/3 cup kosher salt
5 cups white vinegar
1 cup water
3 Thai chillies
2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
2 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp dill seeds
8 cloves

Wash the cucumbers and slice off both ends and discard the ends (I read somewhere that the enzymes in the blossom end is one reason pickles go soft, and life is too short to figure out which end is the blossom end as you chop your way through a few dozen cucumbers). Slice them in quarters lengthwise, put in a large container with the salt and let them sit overnight in the fridge.

cukes3

The next day sterilize your jars (we used the dishwasher) and rinse the cucumbers under cold water and let them drain. Put all the other ingredients in a large saucepan, bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes to bring out the flavour. Add a couple of pounds of the cucumbers and bring the liquid back to the boil.

cukes2

Now pack the cucumbers into the jars, squeezing in as many as you can, while still leaving at least half an inch of headroom. Add enough of the hot vinegar mix to cover the cucumbers completely, and seal the jars while they are still hot. Repeat, as needed, until the cucumbers are gone. Store the jars in a cool, dark place, and refrigerate them after you open them.

The recipe, like most of those from this particular book, makes no mention of waterbathing the pickles, and I suspect this much vinegar doesn’t leave much chance for bacteria to grow. But I’m also sure USDA recommends 10-15 minutes of waterbathing, depending on the size of the jars. It’s up to you.

 

 

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Blueberry cake

Sometimes there is such a thing as serendipity. A few years back, when I first played around with blueberry jam, I had such a glut of the berries that I used some of them for a rather awesome blueberry cake. It was moist, it wasn’t sweet, it oozed blueberries and it tasted really tasted good.

But then I lost the recipe, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember who gave it to me, so I couldn’t ask for a repeat.

So imagine my surprise when I noticed that I’d saved that recipe in a blog post that I never got around to posting. Baking time.

cakeBlueberry yogurt cake

1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt)
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond essence
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups fresh blueberries

Grease and flour a 9x13x2 baking pan (or do as I did and use a 10-inch circular pan).

Cream butter & sugar. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and almond essence and beat well. Sift dry ingredients together; add gradually to the egg mixture, alternating w/sour cream (or yogurt), ending with flour mixture. Fold in 1 c. of the blueberries. Pour 1/2 the batter into the pan and spread it out carefully. Scatter the remaining blueberries on top, and then spoon on the remaining batter, trying not to disturb your berry layer too much. Bake at 350F for 45-50 min (mine took just over an hour, but then the pan was smaller). Cool in pan 10 min, then turn onto a rack to finish cooling.

The friend who gave me the recipe suggests leaving the cake in the pan until it’s completely cool, but I managed to get mine out of the pan without major mishap.And then I struggled to wait for it to cool before cutting myself a sample.

cake2

 

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Blue magic

One minute I had blueberries. Next minute, or so it seemed, I had jam. Perhaps the easiest jam on the planet.berries

It started with a visit to the pick-your-own farm on the way back from a bike trip this weekend, and we scooped up $10 worth of blueberries in very short order — a surprisingly large quantity.

I did look up a couple of recipes, because blueberry jam is not one of those that I make every year. But I ignored both of them in favour of a modified 6:4:2 ratio — six cups fruit, four (scant) cups sugar and the juice of two lemons. One of the recipes suggested simmering the berries in a half cup of water for 10-20 minutes, so I simmered for five minutes, and I added a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar at the end, because I thought the blueberries could use a little extra tang.

And it was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sort of set. First I had a blue liquid, with a few floating berries, and I thought I’d be pouring blueberry syrup on my ice cream all year. Then it boiled up, to double the starting volume, and then quite suddenly the volume went down, the liquid thickened up, and I started scraping seriously jelled jam off the sides of the preserving pan. How easy can things get?

berries2

Blueberry balsamic jam
(makes 5 250mm jars)

6 cups blueberries
1/2 cup water
4 (scant) cups sugar
juice of 2 lemons
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Wash the berries, and put them in a heavy preserving pan with a half cup of water, and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the berries start to break down a little. Add the lemon juice, and then the sugar, a little at a time, and then bring to a rolling boil. Boil hard until it sets, which took less than 5 minutes. Add balsamic, and boil for another minute or so, just for good luck.

Bottle in sterilized jars. You should then waterbath for 10 minutes (according to USDA guidelines), but I skipped that stage. The lemon juice and the balsamic should make this jam plenty acidic enough to store, and it’s only a few jars. There’s room in the fridge for that.

Eat on toast, on bagels, on muffins, on yogurt, or spoon it out of the jar. It’s good.

 

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