I hope you are all doing all right during the COVID-19 lockdown. Many of you are spending your time trying out new culinary delights, so I thought I’d throw this one into the mix.
I happened to get a container of beautiful fresh currants in a recent Misfits Market box and decided to do the simplest (and most practical) thing with it: jam.
Fresh currants are somewhat hard to find (at least in my part of the world), so this is a (really) small batch recipe. This will essentially give you enough jam for about 4 pieces of toast (or 2, if you like to slather it on).
Red Currant Jam
6 oz. red currants ¼ c + 3 tablespoons sugar
Wash the currants well by placing them in a bowl of water and adding a little vegetable wash or dish soap. Rinse them well in a mesh strainer (especially if you use dish soap).
Remove the stems and discard them. If you’re going to use the traditional canning method, prepare a small jar.
Place the currants in a small nonreactive (non-aluminum) pot and crush them lightly with a fork or potato masher.Add the sugar and 2 teaspoons water and stir. Bring to a boil over high heat. Continue to boil, stirring frequently, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon without dripping, about 10 to 15 minutes.Spoon the jam into a clean jar and seal it. If you’ve sealed it using the canning method, the jam will keep sealed up to a year. Otherwise, refrigerate up to 3 weeks.
Hi there. This week, I decided to take a little rest stop on my ongoing journey through my Regions of Italy project.
So I got these two Meyer lemons in my Misfits Market box and was trying to figure out what to do with them. Two is not enough to do any kind of substantial lemon dessert (like a pie). What could I make with just two? Then it occurred to me that I could make a nice little batch of marmalade. So that’s what I did. The recipe is very simple. As you can see, there are only two ingredients, plus water. That’s it.
Originally from China, Meyers lemons are a cross between lemons and a mandarin oranges. It has sweeter flavor than regular lemons with a distinct orangey taste. The skin, rather than being “lemon yellow,” has an orange blush to it. It’s also edible.
Quarter the lemons length wise, then slice each quarter thinly. Remove as many seeds as possible.Place the lemons in a medium saucepan (not aluminum!) and add 1 1/3 cups water. Cover the pot and leave it out at room temperature overnight (at least 12 hours).Bring the pot to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced to half, about 20 minutes.
Add the sugar and return to a boil. Simmer over medium heat, uncovered, until the mixture is thick. Stir occasionally and skim off any foam from the top. This should take about 15 minutes. You’ll know it’s done by doing the plate test: Place a small plate or bowl in the freezer for a few minutes, then take it out and drop a little of the lemon liquid on it. After a minute, it should gel up.Transfer the marmalade to a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and seal while hot. If you want to store the marmalade for long term, boil the jars for 5 to 10 minutes. Otherwise, it should stay in the refrigerator up to 6 weeks.
Do you still have cranberry sauce left over after the holidays? I know some of you do. Admit it. You’ll see lots of sites and professional chefs telling you that everything should be thrown out three days after the holiday. I have news for you—if you’ve stored it properly, that cranberry sauce is probably still good. The thing is, because of the sugar content, cranberry sauce has a long shelf life. It’s just like a jar of jam or preserves in your refrigerator. (Of course, if it smells or tastes funny, or if it has mold on it, throw it out.) For those of you who prefer the stuff that comes in cans (you can admit that, too, don’t be ashamed), you can use those up as well, so that they don’t sit in your pantry for another year.
There are many things you can do with leftover cranberry sauce. One way to use it up is to make a dressing with it, and I’ve done just that. I paired homemade cranberry sauce here with baby greens and Anjou pears. So that the cranberry doesn’t overwhelm the delicate ingredients, I strained the dressing.
So, why not start out with plain cranberry sauce (such as what comes in a can) instead of whole berry sauce, you ask. Because I think that whole berry sauce has so much more depth of flavor than flat cranberry sauce. Plus, chances are that if you have a significant amount left over, it’s probably the homemade kind, which is most likely going to be chunky.
You can adjust the recipe to any flavor profile you like. Enjoy!
Cranberry Sauce Vinaigrette
Makes ¾ cup dressing.
1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1 teaspoon stone-ground mustard 1 teaspoon sea salt Freshly ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
In a medium bowl, combine the cranberry sauce, balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and ¼ cup water. Drizzle in the oil and whisk together well. Using a rubber spatula, strain the dressing through a mesh strainer into another bowl. Taste for seasoning and adjust if you like.
Pear-Pignoli Salad with Cranberry Sauce Vinaigrette
Makes 4 servings.
2 Anjou pears (ripe but still firm) 6 oz. mixed baby greens ¼ cup pignoli (pine nuts), toasted ¼ cup Cranberry Sauce Vinaigrette 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
Slice the pears about ¼ inch thick. You want them somewhat thin, but not so thin that they fall apart in the salad. Place them in a large bowl. Add the greens and pignoli and toss gently. Add the dressing and again toss gently. Transfer the salad to a serving platter and arrange neatly. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top.
Berries are beautiful things. They are filled with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, most are low calorie, and all are pretty to look at. How many desserts have been made works of art just by the addition of berries?
Macerating berries takes them a step further. Macerating berries involves simply soaking them in liquid. You can start with fresh or dried berries, or any fruit. This techniques softens the fruit (and rehydrates dried fruit) and draws out their sugars, resulting in a syrup-like consistency, perfect for topping cake or ice cream. Sometimes people add sugar to sweeten them even more. You can use almost any liquid to macerate fruit, such as juice or wine. I chose rum for a nice boozy flavor.
For this recipe, I used mulberries. Mulberries can be found in various parts of the world, including Asia and the United States. They come in white, black, and red, and they are similar in appearance to blackberries, except they’re longer and narrower. Aside from being a good source of magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, vitamin C, and fiber, as well as antioxidants, they’ve been known to help improve circulation, lower blood pressure, improve eyesight, boost immunity, improve digestion, and reduce blemishes and age spots. I’ve also read that mulberries are one of the few fruits that contain protein.
I purchased my mulberries in dehydrated form, so macerating was the perfect way to use them. They’re sweet-tart in flavor and complement any dessert, and can be used in place of preserves.
If you can’t find mulberries, try macerating any fruit you like. Enjoy.
1 cup dried mulberries 2 teaspoons maple sugar 2 cups vodka or dark rum 1 cinnamon stick
Place the mulberries in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add the sugar, vodka or rum, and cinnamon stick. Seal the jar and shake well.
Let it sit at least a few hours.Store in the refrigerator or room temperature up to two weeks. (Because of the alcohol, the fruit will stay well at room temperature.)
If you’ve ever had roasted tomatoes, you know about the incredibly sweet, smoky flavor they have. Roasting any vegetable renders its sugars, and results in heightened flavors and vivid colors. The flavor of roasted tomatoes is deep and intense, and goes well with so many dishes.
The word confit is French and means “to preserve.” It’s usually used in relation to meats—as in duck confit, chicken confit, etc.—and it means to cook the meat slowly in its own juices (or other meat juices), along with salt and seasonings. The meat is then shredded and packed in a container and covered with fat to preserve it. This method was created for long-term storage before refrigeration was invented.
But fruits and vegetables can be confited as well. It’s extremely easy to make a tomato confit. All you need to do is mix the tomatoes with some olive oil and some seasonings and put them in the oven and walk away. They roast low and slow, and when they’re done, they’re literally bursting with flavor.
You can put some tomato confit on pieces of toast, drizzle it with olive oil, and sprinkle the tops with parmesan cheese for a great canape or snack. You can use them on focaccia or in a sandwich, or just served by themselves.
Enjoy!Cherry Tomato Confit
Makes 1½ cups.
2 cups cherry and/or pear tomatoes ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for the jar 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon peppercorns Herbs of your choice, fresh or dry (basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, etc.) 2 or 3 large garlic cloves, smashed
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients and mix.Spread the tomatoes and herbs out on a small-medium baking sheet. (You can line it with foil or parchment, if you like.)Bake for 1 hour. Stir the tomatoes, then bake for another 1½ hours. The tomatoes should be wrinkled and easily burst when poked with the tip of a knife. Some tomatoes may burst while in the oven, and some may brown a bit. This is not only okay, it’s deliciously desirable.Transfer everything to a clean, pint-size jar with a tight-fitting lid. Pour in any oil and juices from the pan. Pack in it gently. Cover the tomatoes with oil. Seal. Tomatoes will keep up to a week in the refrigerator.
A while back, while scrolling through photos of food on Instagram, I came across a picture of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was enticing.
Let me just say that while I love peanut butter, I’m not fond of jelly. So, ever since I was a kid, I’ve been eating peanut butter sandwiches, sans jelly.
But the PB&J in this photo was so delicious looking, so scrumptious, that it made me think for a moment that maybe I’d been wrong. Maybe I’d judged jelly too harshly. Maybe I should give it another try.
Mmm, no. I’m old enough to know what I like and don’t like. Honey, yes. Jelly, no.
Then, a thought hit me. What if…now, hear me out…what if I made a peanut butter and cranberry sandwich? I had a jar of homemade cranberry sauce left over from Thanksgiving. I’ve used cranberry sauce for many things—why not a sandwich?
And, so, I did. And it was crazy good. I mean crazy AND good.
Still looking at the bowl of leftover cranberry sauce in the fridge? The nice thing about cranberry sauce is that it has a pretty long shelf life (the sugar acts as a preservative). But the question is always, what do I do with it all?
Well, I’m here to help. Once again, here is my list of 12 things to do with leftover cranberry sauce.
Mix a tablespoon of it into chicken or tuna salad.
Make a salad dressing. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons to a homemade vinaigrette.
Use it as a sauce for meats, vegetables, fish, and (my favorite) vegetarian “chicken” patties.
Mix about ½ cup to 1 cup of it into cheesecake before placing it in the oven. (Just swirl it in; don’t overmix.)
Dollop some on top of slices of pound or angel cake.
Stir about 1 cup of it into a big pot of chili.
Make ketchup out of it—add it to a traditional homemade ketchup recipe.
Turn it into salsa by adding some minced jalapeno or some chili powder and cumin to it, or a chutney by adding other dried or fresh fruits, such as raisins, chopped dates, or chopped apple.
Use it as jam for toast, muffins, or bagels.
Mix about ¼ cup into muffin batter (these will be the best cranberry muffins ever!).
Use it as an ingredient in homemade ice cream.
Add it to a breakfast bread.
This recipe is a healthy loaf (which many people appreciate after Thanksgiving), using whole wheat flour and flax seeds. You can have a healthy post-Thanksgiving breakfast or snack while still enjoying holiday flavors. You don’t need a lot of sugar, either, because there are sweeteners already in the sauce. As for the flax seeds, use a clean coffee grinder to grind it until you get a coarse powder. Enjoy!
Cranberry Sauce-Walnut Bread
1 cup whole wheat flour 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 tablespoons flax seeds, ground 2 tablespoons sugar or maple crystals 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon ¼ teaspoon allspice ¼ teaspoon nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 large eggs 3/4 cup buttermilk ½ cup cranberry sauce ½ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan with parchment paper so that parchment sticks out of the sides (or grease it very well).
In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, flax seeds, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt.In a small bowl, mix together eggs and buttermilk.Mix this into the flour mixture just until all dry ingredients are moistened.Stir in the walnuts. Swirl in the cranberry sauce, but don’t mix it in completely—you just want it to run through the batter.Spoon batter into loaf pan. Bake until lightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out fairly clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Some moist cranberry on the toothpick is okay.
Set pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Turn loaf out onto the rack. Serve warm or cool completely.
If you have any cranberry sauce left, dollop a spoonful on each slice.
Do you still have cranberry sauce leftover from Thanksgiving? I’ll bet many of you do. Maybe it’s a stray can hanging out in the pantry, or it’s a cup or so in the fridge that you haven’t been able to bring yourself to throw out. That’s okay—cranberry sauce lasts a long time in the refrigerator, but at this point, use it or lose it.
There are many things you can do with leftover cranberry sauce, but making a loaf is one of my favorites. (This is a wheat-free version, but it has spelt flour, so if you have—or are making it for someone with—Celiac disease, this isn’t the right recipe for you. It also contains soy flour, so if you’re avoiding soy, again, this isn’t right for you.)
This is not overly sweet, so it makes a nice breakfast loaf, toasted with some butter or jam. But it’s got enough sweetness and crunch from the walnuts (if you want to use them) that it makes a great snack with an extra dollop of cranberry sauce.
I’m happy to say that another version of this loaf (not gluten free) appears in the holiday issue of the literary magazine Pilcrow & Dagger, along with my recipe for homemade cranberry sauce. Check out a sneak preview HERE. And if you’re interested in purchasing a copy, you can do so HERE.
So, rescue that leftover cranberry sauce and make this tasty loaf and enjoy.
I hope you all had a wonderful, joyful holiday season, and may 2016 bring happiness and success, whatever that means for you.
Makes 1 (8 x 4) loaf.
1 cup spelt flour 1 cup soy flour ¾ cup chickpea flour ¼ cup rice flour ½ cup sugar or maple crystals 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon ¼ teaspoon allspice ¼ teaspoon nutmeg 1 teaspoon kosher salt 3 medium eggs 1 cup buttermilk 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional) 1 cup cranberry sauce
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 8 x 4-inch loaf pan (or line is with parchment paper).
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt.In a small bowl, mix together eggs, buttermilk, coconut oil, and ¼ cup water.Mix this into the flour mixture just until all dry ingredients are moistened. If it seems dry, add a bit more water.
Stir in the walnuts, if you’re using them, then stir in the cranberry sauce, but don’t mix it in completely—just run it through.Spoon the batter into the loaf pan. Bake until golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out fairly clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Some moist cranberry on the knife is okay.
If the loaf starts getting very dark or starts burn around the edges but the loaf isn’t done, cover it with a piece of foil and continue baking.Set pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Turn loaf out onto the rack. Serve warm or cool completely.
Once again, I was the beneficiary of unwanted CSA produce. This time it was Concord grapes. My friends didn’t want them because they are too seedy.
I do understand what they mean—the seeds inside a Concord grape take up half the volume of the entire grape, and as delicious as that little burst of Concord flesh is, it’s a very small burst for all the spitting of seeds that follows. Plus, the skin is tart.
I know this because I once had Concord grapes growing in my yard. But the vines never yielded enough for me to do much with them except have a little snack. The birds got to a lot of them before I did, too.
Anyway, I am the recipient of unwanted foodstuffs because my friends know that I will put them to use somehow. In this case, I chose to make grape jam.
I’ve made fruit preserves before, and homemade cranberry sauce has become one of my personal Thanksgiving traditions, but I’d never made grape jam before. Turns out, it’s incredibly simple. You don’t even have to remove the seeds. You just have to remove the skins. Granted, this is a bit time consuming, but it is not at all difficult. Unlike other grape varieties, Concord grapes pop out of their skins very easily. One gentle little squeeze, and out they come. But a little patience is required to do them all. I suggest wearing latex gloves when you do this, or you might end up looking like the purple people-eater.
The rule of thumb for sugar is 1 cup per 1 pound of grapes. I had about 1 ½ pounds of grapes, so I used that many cups of sugar. The result, if I do say so myself, was delicious. The jam was sweet but not cloying (which I hate) and fresh tasting (unlike many jellies, which taste “chemically” from the preservatives).
Because my batch was rather small, I decided not to jar it with the standard canning method. I just put them in 2 little jars and, because of the sugar, they will last in the refrigerator for several weeks. However, if you’re going to make more than I made, or want to make it for long-term storage, you can find instructions for canning here:
You can add flavorings to it, like vanilla or lavender, or create any combination of flavors that you like. Enjoy this on muffins and toast, in yogurt and oatmeal, or in a classic PB&J.
Concord Grape Jam
1 ½ pounds Concord grapes
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Wash and drain the grapes. Pop them out of their skins.
Place the skins in the bowl of a food processor. Add ½ cup sugar to the skins. Process until pureed.
Place the pulp in a medium saucepan along with remaining 1 cup sugar and lemon juice. Add the skin puree and mix. Bring to a boil; lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes. Skim foam from top, as needed.
Set a mesh strainer over a bowl. Press the jam through strainer; return the contents of the bowl to the pot, and discard solids. Return to a boil; lower heat again and continue simmering, stirring frequently, for about 30 minutes. The jam will still be loose but will gel as it cools down.
Place in clean jars with tight-fitting lids. For long-term storage, use a standard canning process.