Posts Tagged ‘homemade’

Rhubarb rosemary jam

7 June 2014

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This is me realizing that jam need not be a well planned out, day-long project. It can be, of course, and should, on occasion, because is there a better way to spend a day than whiling away the hours hunched over bubbling vats of sugared fruit? This is not about those days. This is about how making jam can be an afterthought, as easy as clearing out the fridge before a week-long holiday.

I was the first to consider jam making an incredibly laborious process. Carefully timed trips to the market to grab the last of the season’s fruit at an unbeatable bargain, endless kilos of berries to cut and trim and wash, giant jam pans boiling furiously for hours… I didn’t make jam very often. For one, market vendors in New York don’t usually sell off fruits for a good bargain, even as they pack up to leave  (I’ve tried); second, fruit at home often disappears so quickly I need to hide it to keep it safe (and I have); third, I don’t own a jam pan, giant or otherwise.

So I don’t (didn’t) make much jam. There were exceptions, naturally, few and far between, so noteworthy I usually recorded them, here, and here.

A few years ago my mother gave me Christine Ferber’s book (available only in French). Christine Ferber is a world re-known Frenchwoman from Alsace, widely described as the ‘fée des confitures’ (jam fairy). I’ve never actually eaten from one of her jars, but I have read so many tantalizing descriptions that I feel I might have. Taken literally, her technique is quite time-consuming, but using her inspiration, some latitude, and a little improvisation (she would be appalled), I’ve realized that making jam can actually fit quite snugly into my life.

Key is that the process in divided into two parts. In the evening, prep the fruit, mix it with sugar and lemon juice, and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, cook the jam. Chances are, it’s easier to find 15 quick minutes in the evening and another 45 of mostly cooking time the next day, than scheduling a full long slot for the entire process.

Emboldened by this realization, last week I made jam, the easiest thing I found to save a few remaining bunches of rhubarb.

Rhubarb jam recipe

1 kg rhubarb

1 kg sugar

Juice from one lemon

Few sprigs rosemary

Wash the rhubarb, trim the ends, and chop the stalks into 1/2 inch (1 cm) pieces.

In a saucepan, mix the rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice.

Let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

The next morning, cook the jam. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for approximately 30 minutes. At first it will bubble furiously, but as the jam jells it thickens, the bubbles slow down and burst at a more leisurely pace. To check whether the juice has “gelled,” take out a small spoonful and let it cool. Once cold, the juice should have thickened in the spoon, and when you try to pour it the drip is not liquid but heavy, as though it was sticking to the spoon. Cook longer if necessary and check again.

Meanwhile, sterilize the jars in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes.

Once the jam is ready, stir in the rosemary to steep for about 5 minutes. Remove. Pour into sterilized jars and close tightly.

Jam is best stored for a few weeks (and up to a year at least) before eating.

 

 

Quince fruit pastes (pâtes de fruit)

27 November 2013

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The truth of the matter is, rather than preparing for a blasphemously belated Thanksgiving on Saturday, for which most of my family is crossing the channel, I have been roasting quinces and simmering chutney.

Last week, friends unexpectedly brought me a big bag of quinces from their garden in the Cotswolds (I hear it is more of an orchard). I was quite excited and may possibly have briefly jumped up and down at the sight. It was a very busy week, and I was away this weekend — the quinces were becoming impatient. Quinces do hold out for a while but I wasn’t willing to tempt fate for too long, so last night I made chutney. As a first test improvised from a few recipes it is quite good, but I am not entirely happy enough to report the results here — yet. In any event, Thomas managed to save the last of the quinces from their chutney fate, begging that I make quince paste, too.

What he doesn’t know is that in the course of the morning, half of the membrillo has been transmogrified into my absolute favorite sweet: pâtes de fruit.

The preparation is the same up to the point of cutting the paste into dice or rectangles and coating them with sugar.

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Quince cheese recipe adapted from the River Café Cookbook (Blue)

Quinces

Sugar

Lemon

Preheat oven to 300ºF (150ºC).

Rub the fuzz from the quinces and wash well under cold water. Cut the quinces in half and place them face down in an ovenproof dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until the quinces feel quite soft when poked with a knife (probably 1 1/2 to 2 hours).

While the quinces are still warm, pass them through the fine mesh of a vegetable mill. (To insure a very pure paste, first remove the quinces’ core).

(The quince purée can at this point be refrigerated overnight.)

Weigh the purée, place in a saucepan, and add an equal amount of sugar and one tablespoons of lemon juice per 100g of quince.

Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the paste has darkened and begins to fall off the sides. This will take a good long while, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, so take a book, newspaper, or magazine close to the stove but DO NOT leave. (I happen to know that left unattended, the paste will burn very quickly. In which case transfer quickly to another saucepan and continue cooking.)

Once the paste has reached a dark, heavy consistency, spread on a plate to cool. Once cool, cut into the desired shapes and roll in some sugar. The pastes should keep for a few weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Mackerel rillettes

15 May 2013

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Sometimes food happens without much forethought or planning. I could have pondered it for weeks, in fact I’ve been wanting to make these for years, but when I bought mackerel fillets at the market last week I had no plan; a quick weeknight dinner at best. Rillettes were far from my thoughts, lurking behind the distant corner of a hazy summer memory. But as I contemplated dinner for friends and something that could easily be made ahead, I found myself searching for mackerel rillettes recipes.

So this is adapted from one by Annie Bell, modified to suit what I had on hand. It was delicious.

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Recipe adapted from Mackerel Rillettes by Annie Bell

8 small mackerel fillets

2 bay leaves

2 stems fresh garlic (or 3 garlic cloves)

Few sprigs fresh thyme

100 ml dry white wine

100 ml water

1 lemon

3 Tbsps very good olive oil

Fleur de sel or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the mackerel fillets flat at the bottom of a pan, add the bay leaves, garlic, thyme, wine, and water. Bring to a gentle boil, simmer for 1 minute and remove from heat. As soon as the liquid is cool enough, take out the fillets and flake the fish, taking care to remove any remaining bones.

Place the cooking liquid back onto the stove, cook for a few minutes until ireduced to a couple of tablespoons.

In a medium bowl, combine the mackerel gently with the reduced liquid, the juice from 1/2 lemon (the other half for serving), and 3 Tbsps very good olive oil. Season with fleur de sel or sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Transfer to a serving bowl or jar and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to 2 days.

Serve with bread and butter, and a generous squeeze of lemon.

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Related posts

Cheat’s potted crab

Baked mackerel with mustard and thyme

Pork rillettes

Rhubarb rosemary syrup and a gin drink

21 June 2012

The rhubarb rosemary syrup is barely an adaptation of 101 Cookbooks‘ rhubarb rosewater syrup. It is the same recipe, but instead of adding rosewater once the syrup had cooled, I added a sprig of rosemary while it was still warm. I am entirely pleased with the result. I had seen the pairing of rhubarb and rosemary mentioned in a few places, and I love how it brings out rhubarb’s herbaceous edge.

Typically I’ve simply been using a tablespoon of this syrup with sparkling water, a good squeeze of lime, and a few ice cubes. But somewhat uncharacteristically the other day I made a drink. It was a warm evening and I wanted something light and refreshing. Here’s how I made it, on a whim.

2 tsps rhubarb rosemary syrup (recipe from 101 Cookbooks, I just substituted rosewater with a sprig of rosemary)

2 ounces gin

1 ounce rosé

A dash of sparkling water

A squeeze of lime (to taste) and one slice

A sprig of rosemary

The slice of lime and sprig of rosemary ‘garnish’ are important to add a little more edge against the sweetness of the syrup and wine. I added a few ice cubes but took them out fairly quickly as they were melting too fast and I didn’t want them to water down the drink too much (using one larger ice cube would do the trick).

Cheers!

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Related posts

At the market | Rhubarb

Rhubarb ice cream

Cranberry sauce and a Thanksgiving menu

22 November 2010

Who wouldn’t love a holiday whose sole purpose is to share a meal? As a French woman I’ve always wondered why the French didn’t come up with that idea.

I started making Thanksgiving dinners long before I moved to the United States. The custom began with my mother, who is American (in a somewhat roundabout way), and though I cannot remember that we celebrated Thanksgiving every year as a family, I certainly picked up the tradition when I left home, and have celebrated, if not hosted it consistently since.

My first endeavor involved roasting a chicken with wild rice stuffing in a tiny countertop oven in a small Parisian studio apartment. Later, in Germany, turkeys replaced chickens as the dinner parties became larger to fit the size of the beautiful old apartments students could afford in Berlin in the 1990s (I haven’t lived in such a big apartment since!). I discovered that KaDeWe was the only store in the city to carry (frozen) turkeys in November.

Since I moved to New York I have expanded on and modified recipes, and refined a menu that to me is traditional, though it isn’t exactly, in spite of the turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. On Thursday I will make the dishes I have honed in recent years. In the future I am sure some things will change.

2010 Thanksgiving menu

Pumpkin leek soup

Heritage turkey with apple chestnut stuffing

Sautéed hen of the woods and king trumpet mushrooms

Mashed celeriac with parsley

Cranberry sauce (recipe below)

Pumpkin pie

And other desserts brought by the guests

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Cranberry sauce

There is no possible excuse for buying cranberry sauce it’s so ridiculously easy to make. I usually do it the weekend before Thanksgiving.

***

3 x 12 0z (340g) bags* cranberries

3 cups (750ml) water

2 cups (450g)  sugar

Zest of 2 untreated lemons

1 Tbsp Grand Marnier (optional)

***

Place the cranberries in a large bowl, fill with water and toss to wash. If you are obsessive as I am, check through the cranberries one handful at a time to sort out the soft, discolored ones, placing the good cranberries in a colander as you go. (This is not exactly necessary, but I love the ritual and the feel of the cranberries through my fingers… Otherwise just strain the berries through a colander.)

In a medium saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add cranberries and lemon zest, mix and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have popped. Remove from heat and mix in some Grand Marnier if desired.

Once cool, transfer to a jar or bowl and refrigerate (if you make the cranberry sauce a while in advance, sterilize the jars in boiling water, pour in cranberry sauce while hot, and seal tightly).

*For some reason, cranberries are practically always sold in 12 oz bags, so I started using that as the reference.


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