I've been on a real jam kick lately. Every fruit I see, I think about turning it into jam. And since the market's overflowing with fresh local fruits these days it's really easy to just go crazy and buy too much...so I end up with a lot of jam! For now it's mostly for me and the man and to give to friends and family but it might turn into a business someday...stay tuned!
So anywyay, last week-end I got some really beautiful bright red currants for pretty cheap, as soon as I saw them I knew I had to make jelly!! When I grew up we had a few bushes by the garden always full of those berries, and my mom used to make a good pudding with them. That would have been good, yes, but considering my latest obsession...
Making jam and jelly is really not that hard, it just takes time. And a good idea of how much sugar and lemon juice to use according to the amount of fruit...if you're using pectin, just follow the recipe, but if you want a good classic-tasting jam or jelly it's better to just let the fruit speak for itself with the sugar. There will be A LOT of it(sugar), but it's worth it in the taste! Usually it takes about 3/4 to 1 cup of sugar for every cup of fruit. Yes, that's a lot. It's jam, people!
Okay, back on the red currant jelly...
Those little things are very tart so there needs to be a good amount of sugar in there to make it tasty. Plus the berries have a lot of natural pectin so they need that sugar to concentrate that pectin and make the juice gel properly. It's a whole chemistry thing, I love it!
So, first of all, weigh and wash the berries and put them into a large pot (leave the stems! they have a lot of pectin too!). For every pound of fruit you'll need to add 1/2 cup of water. I had 2 pounds, so that's 1 cup water.
Simmer on medium while crushing the fruit to release its juices, for about 20-30 minutes, until the berries seem fully cooked and easily crushable... They will become colorless and the liquid will be like a syrup.
Pour that cooked fruit in a colander/seive lined with 3 layers of cheesecloth WITHOUT PRESSING ON IT and let it sit overnight. (I put it in the fridge because it's very humid here these days I didn't want to attract insects...)
The next day, discard the fruit and mesure the amount of juice. For every cup add one cup of sugar. I got 2 cups of juice, so 2 cups sugar. Also if you feel like it you can give it some spice, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and all-spice got into mine...subtle but brings it up a notch...
Bring that juice to a boil and cook until the gel test says it's, about 20 minutes.
To test for doneness, put a few plates in the freezer before you get started and to test spoon a bit of the jelly mix on one, leave it in the freezer for a few minutes and if you see that the sample is not dripping like water when you tilt the plate, but ressembles a jelly-like consistency on top, it's done. Here I have to apologize I didn't take any pictures of that process. Sorry.
When it's done skim the foam off, strain it again in a regular strainer to get the spices out, pour into hot STERELIZED jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. I'm not gonna get into the whole canning explanation...the web is LOADED with info on that subject!
When it's all done leave the jars cool 24 hours in a draft-free place. If afterwards there's a jar that didn't get sealed put it in the fridge just in case...it'll stay good for at least a month!
Isn't it pretty?
I got a total of 6 cute little 125ml jars of that good stuff. I'm gonna have to make more because it's too good!
This is what summer tastes like! Fresh fruit!!
Strawberries are in season and I bought a load of them a few days ago to make jam, but even after a big batch I had a lot of fruit left. And I also had a few black plums lying around that were a bit to tart to eat raw but were getting a bit too soft... So I made a fruit crisp, one of my favorite dessert to eat AND to make, also a good way to save fruit that are about to die... There's no recipe, per say, only instinct and common sense!
For the fruit mix:
3 big black plums, thinly sliced (don't bother peeling them, the peel will get nice and soft)
About 3-4 cups strawberries (maybe 5,...it made 6 cups of fruit total), hulled and sliced in half if needed (I sliced the bigger ones in half, left small ones whole!=BIG strawberrry chunks!!)
1 cup sugar (more if you like it very sweet...)
3 TBSP cornstarch
1 TBSP lemon juice
For the topping:
2-3 cups quick oats
About 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup soft butter, unsalted
1 tsp chinese five spice
Pinch of salt
Mix all the topping's ingredient together until it clumps when you squeeze it. If it's to dry add more butter, if too wet add flour.
Mix all the fruit mix stuff, pour in a 8x8in. baking pan.
Spread the topping and press gently to make it even.
Bake at 350 on the middle rack for about 30 minutes, until it starts bubbling and the fruit is fully cooked (poke it with a fork, there shouldn't be any resistance!).
Grab a spoon and dig in!
p.s. starwberries are very juicy, so to prevent a mess in your oven put a sheet of foil on the bottom rack! This one didn't boil over but just in case... ;)
This is what happens when you get a tub of sour cream on special that's close to the 'best before' date but since you usually don't really use sour cream in semi-healthy baking you kinda end up searching through books and magazines for a recipe that uses LOTS of it...so theeeeen you end up with this yummy, moist and soft peachy coffee cake. I got the recipe in a big baking book and changed it up a bit. It originally called for blueberries, but I didn't have any so I substituted for peaches and strawberries. I also switched half of the sugar for brown sugar because peaches and "cassonade" go hand in hand, right?
Here's the recipe:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, soften
3/4 cup sugar, half regular half dark brown(pack it well!)
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups frozen of fresh fruit of your choice(i used peaches and strawberries)
1 TBSP brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 TBSP butter or margarine, melted
1 TSPP flour
Start by turning on the oven at 350 and set the rack in the middle of the oven. Also grease or spray with oil a 9in. springform pan.
Get the fruit mix ready by simply mixing the fruit and the sugar with the cloves and set aside.
Make the topping: mix all the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
In another bowl, mix the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the egg, vanilla and sour cream and mix.
Gradually add the flour and blend it all well.
The batter will be a bit hard, it's ok!
Spread 2/3 of that batter in the prepared pan. If it's too sticky, put some butter or oil on your fingers and press the batter evenly around the pan. POur the fruit mix over and sponn the reaming batter over the fruit. Again, oily fingers will help!! Sprinkle the topping over for the final layer and bake for 60-65 minutes, until a knife in the middle comes out clean.
Cool in the pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then detach the side of the pan to cool completely.
(by the way, I LOVE my springform pan!!! great for cheese cakes! everybody should have one! just saying...)
Please ignore the mention of "healthy baking" at the top of this blog...this is not one of those recipes. This one is decadent, rich and oh so sinful! It's chocolate, cream cheese, peanut butter, jam, all in one. A medley brownie if you will.
I got the recipe in a big baking bible book, I forget the title, and I changed it a bit to fit today's craving of choco-pb&j-cheesy treat.
It requires quite a bit of organisation so it's good to read the recipe first before getting started. Start by turning on the oven at 350. Also get a 8x8 square pan ready, sprayed with oil.
Here's the ingredients you'll need:
for the filling:
4oz. soft cream cheese
4oz. smooth peanut butter(you could use crunchy but I like smooth...)
3 TBSP sugar
1 tsp vanilla
-beat the cheese and p.b. together until smooth, add the egg, sugar and vanilla and mix until very smooth. Set aside.
for the brownie batter:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (NOT melted!)
3/4 cup+1TBSP sugar
3oz semi-sweet chocolate melted
2oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
-start by melting the chocolates(in the same bowl...), once melted set aside to cool a bit.
-mix the butter and sugar together until creamy.
-add the egg and beat in.
-add the chocolates slowly and mix well.
-add the flour and salt and blend in with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Spread the batter in the pan, leaving 1 cup aside for the topping.
Spread the cheese/pb mix over.
Add a few teaspoonfulls of jam, I chose raspberry. But cherry would be good too, or strawberry, or even marmalade. Drop spoonfulls of the remaining batter on top.
Spread all that goodness around and swirl a knife through the top to make a pattern. It will look messy but the heat of the oven will take care of the final spread...
Pop it in the oven (on the midddle rack)for 35 minutes.
I love making muffins. I think I've already said that before, many times, but it's true. I love how it's an easy snack, a nice quick breakfast and plus they can be really healthy. I have this one recipe I use as a base, I make them so often I know it by heart now. It's from the Healthy Oven baking book. This one here is a tweaked version.
Today I thought it was time to open the can of pumpkin and have a "pumpkin week"...And since anything goes with chocolate I decided to make them chocolate muffins.
Here's the recipe:
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup coco pwder, sifted.
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp EACH of nutmeg, ground cloves and ground ginger
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg
1 1/2 TBSP canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Turn on the oven at 350. Spray a muffin pan with some good ol' Paaaam.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
In another bowl, wisk all the wet ingredients until frothy, about 2-3 minutes.
Make a well in the flour mix, pour in the wet mix and stir until just combined. Add the cocolate chips and nuts and mix in, but don't over mix.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and unmold and cool on a rack.
Makes about 10 muffins. They will be gone in 2-3 days I garantee it!
(As I type this the man of the house is having his third one today...)
I'm baaaaa-aaaack!! I know it's been a really long time since I've posted anything, I apologize to my followers...but since I've moved my kitchen set-up is different and it's a bit harder to take nice pictures. Plus I have to admit my blogging mojo kinda went away. That does not mean I stopped cooking though, I still cook and bake a lot, even more so because I moved in with my boyfriend who eats A LOT!! So I gotta feed the man, you know? Last night for dinner I made some chicken casserole thingy, and for dessert I baked this:
Yummy, warm and comforting peach cobbler with berries. I got the recipe in a Taste of Home magazine. The recipe was for double that, so I cut it in half that's why the mesurements are a bit weird...But the result is awesome nonetheless!
Here it is:
6 peaches, sliced 1/6 cup all-purpose flour (take the 1/3 cup and fill it half-way...) 2-3 TBSP honey Juice of half a lemon Pinch of salt 1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries
Topping: 1 cup flour 1/4 cup sugar 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp baking soda pinch of salt 1/4 cup butter, cold and in small cubes 1/2 cup plus 2 TBSP buttermilk
Start the oven at 400F and spray a 8x8in baking pan with oil. In a bowl mix the peaches, flour, honey, lemon juice and salt and let it stand for 10-15 minutes. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients and cut the butter in until it becomes crumbly, and when you squeeze it it clumps together a bit. Add the buttermilk and stir until it comes together in a soft dough. Fold the berries in the peach mix and pour in the baking pan. Drop tablespoon fulls of dough on the fruit. (Sprinkle with sugar if you feel like it, about one teaspoon.) The dough does not have to be all sealed around the edges, the batter will spread a bit. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the topping is cooked( a tooth pick will come out clean, or you can check underneath if you lift it...it should be fully baked).
The bf loved it and i did too! I did miss the cinnamon a bit though, so next time I'll throw some in there. But the fresh peaches speak for themselves. I love them!
I really love cooking stews. Every 2 weeks or so, usually on friday, I make a stew of some sort. It's so comforting when it's -20 outside, like it is now, and it makes the house smell amazing. Most of the time it ends up being a beef stew, because beef is cheap, but this week at the grocery store there was some surprisingly cheap lamb cubes...oh joy. I rarely eat lamb because it's so pricy, so I jumped at that occasion. Now forgive me, I don't remember exactly how much there was, so I can't tell you the amount of meat in there, but it was around a pound. Maybe a bit more... Anyway the exact amounts in dishes like this is not too important. The end result is what counts!
For this lamb stew I was gonna do it like I do a beef stew, with red wine and rosemary, and some potatoes and onions. But after browsing around some food blogs I got inspired by an indian cooking blog and decided to go for a curry stew. It's quite different in taste, but the procedure is exactly the same! Here's what you'll need:
About 1 lbs lamb cubes, cut into 1 inch cubes 2-3 TBSP flour 1 big yellow onion, roughly chopped 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1 piece fresh ginger, about 1 cm. No need to chop it... 1 cup whole tomatoes, roughly chopped 1/3 cup tomato juice (from the can of whole tomatoes...) 1 TBSP brown sugar 1 cup vegetable broth 1 big carrot 1 branch celeri 1/3 cup red lentils 1 TBSP tomato paste 1 bay leaf
For the spices, I used a curry mix I got as present a while ago, it's called "Panch Phoran". It's got cumin, mustard, nigella, fennel and fenugreek seeds. And I added other spices I really like and that go great in a curry:
2 tsp Panch Phoran, or curry spice mix 1 tsp coriander seeds 1/2 tsp tumeric 1/2 tsp crushed chili salt and pepper
Throw all the spices in a morter and pestle and grind away! The smell will be a-ma-zing!
So for the stew. Firt of all, toss the lamb in the flour with about 1 tsp of the spice mix. In your favorite heavy bottom pot heat up (on medium high) 1-2 TBSP oil and brown the meat on both sides, in batches, until nice and brown. Remove and set aside. Add a bit more oil and sautee the onion, garlic and ginger with salt and pepper, until the onion is semi-soft. Carefull not to burn the garlic! It might be a good idea to turn the heat to medium for this. Then return the lamb to the pot and mix well, add a bit more spices, about 1/2 tsp. Since these spices can be quite, uh, spicy, I add only a bit at a time and check later if it needs more. Too much is not good, but not enough can be corrected later!! To deglaze, pour in the tomato juice, and scrub the bottom of the pan to lift those brown bits! Brown bits=flavor!! Add the tomatoes, broth, sugar and a bit more spices. When it starts to bubble, turn the heat down to low, cover and let it go for about 1 hour. After that hour as passed add the carrot, celeri and lentils, check and adjust the spice status, re-cover and let it go again until the veggies are soft and the lamb falls appart at the touch of a fork, about 2-3 hours. The longer it simmers the tender the meat! And the less the cover gets lifted the better, too! I know it's tempting to look every 15 minutes but let it have its heat! Patience is key. When it's all nice and cooked, add the tomato paste. Wait 15-20 more minutes or so to let the tomato paste do its thickening job, and it's ready!
You can enjoy this with rice, coucous, pasta, or by itself with some nice bread.
I had no idea what to do for diner tonight. There was a little piece of salmon leftover from a few nights ago, half a zucchini and a few mushrooms about to turn, and a nice chunck of Fontina cheese begging for mercy. This called for some freestyle cooking! I didn't want to just warm up the salmon, cook some rice on the side and fry up the zucch's and shrooms. Bo-ring...So here's what I did:
I started by cooking some rice, in a bit more water than usual so there'd be some liquid to moistened everything else later! Then I sauteed some onions, garlic, zucchinis and mushrooms in a bit of oil and butter until soft, with some salt, pepper, paprika and thyme. Meanwhile I defrosted a bit of seafood mix. Yes, a frozen seafood mix. It comes in very handy when it's winter time and fresh seafood is not really available... When the veggies got soft I added the seafood and cooked them for a few minutes, until semi-done. Then I added the rice and the little bit of water left at the bottom of the the pot, along with the already cooked salmon and a bit of milk to tie everything together*. And a bit more salt and pepper. *I originally thought of making a bechamel sauce but I decided to keep it semi-healthy... All of this wonderful stuff went in to a baking dish, dotted with a few knobs of butter and got covered in Fontina and some Parmesan.
In a 450 oven it went, for about 5 minutes, then on broil until it got nice and golden.
Blueberry muffins are pretty much a classic. In any good bakery you can find a berry muffin, most of the time it's blueberry. I know when I worked at Moguls in Whistler the blueberry muffin was our biggest seller. I'd make at least 2 batches of 24 every morning and by noon they were almost gone. It's quite a good breakfast, especially on the way up the ski hill!
There's no more ski hills in my life now, but I still love my blueberry muffins! The basic of this recipe is my go-to muffin recipe, easily adaptable, and it's low fat and packed with protein. It's from the "Healthy Oven" baking book, by Sarah Philips. Here's what you'll need:
1 1/2 cup whole wheat PASTRY flour, or all-purpose. 3/4 cup quinoa flakes 1/3 cup ground flax sseds 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce 1/2 cup maple syrup 1 egg 1 1/2 TBSP canola oil 1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup frozen blueberries
Set your oven at 350F and set the rack in the middle. Spray a muffin pan with canola oil. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients and set aside. In another bowl, mix all the wet ingredients and whisk until frothy, about 2 minutes. Make a well in the dry mix, add the wet and stri until just combined. Add the blueberries and mix lightly. Carefull not to overmix otherwise your muffins will be a bit tough. Bake fo 22-25 minutes, until a kinfe inserted in the middle comes out clean. *My oven is a bit "difficult", it doesn't brown things easily, so for the last 2 minutes I turned on the broiler. But if you do this DON'T WALK AWAY!! Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, unmold and cool completely on a rack.