Posts Tagged ‘rosemary’

Rhubarb rosemary jam

7 June 2014

photo(22)

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.

 

 

Rhubarb raspberry crostata

21 July 2012

I wasn’t going to make this, I admit. I saw the crostata on Lottie + Doof when it was published a few weeks ago and somehow dismissed it, as I might have snubbed a recipe that combines rhubarb and strawberries. In my mind rhubarb is not enhanced by berries of any sort. (Rosemary as a gentle herbal boost, on the other hand, is a different story.)

But I arrived in Brittany in the midst of what everyone claimed to be the worst summer (summer?) in recent memory. I’d already enjoyed a generous dose of sun and heat in New York, so I didn’t mind much, and the terrible weather had brought with it a few perks: still plenty of rhubarb at the market and lots of raspberries in the garden, bravely defying the odds on overgrown bushes left to fend for themselves all year long. (Also elders still in bloom! But more on that later.)

I bought rhubarb, as I always do; eyed the raspberries calling out for prompt picking; and remembered that a friend had recently raved about this crostata. The decision seemed to make itself.

As it turned out, I loved everything about the recipe. The crust is great. The technique of bending it back over the pie so simple and clever. And, well, the combination of rhubarb and raspberry really is well inspired, after all. (I did add a sprig of rosemary to infuse the filling as it was cooking, it was irresistible. Otherwise everything remains pretty much the same.)

The great thing here is that the crust and rolling technique can be used with all kinds of fruit. I imagine peach slices tossed with a little sugar and a few sprigs of thyme simply placed on the crust (uncooked) before baking would be excellent, too.

Recipe by Karen DeMasco in Bon Appétit via Lottie + Doof

For the  crust

1 cup (125 g) white flour

1/2 cup (75 g) whole wheat flour

1 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp sea salt

3/4 (170g) cup butter

1 large egg

1 Tbsp whole milk

Keep the butter well chilled.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, and salt.

Cut the cold butter into cubes, add to the flour mixture, and combine until the dough has the texture of coarse oatmeal.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg and milk to combine well. Add the egg/milk to the flour/butter mixture, and work the dough just enough so that it can be gathered into a ball. If you need a little more moisture (I did), add some water, a few drops at a time, until the dough can be shaped.

Flatten the ball and place in the refrigerator, covered snugly with parchment paper, to rest for at least 1 1/2 hours and up to 2 days.

*

For the filling

1/4 cup (30 g) cornstarch

4 cups (about 500 g) rhubarb

1 pint raspberries

2/3 cup (135 g) sugar

1 sprig rosemary

In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in 3 Tbsps water and set aside.

Wash, peel as necessary, and cut the rhubarb into 1/2 inch (1 cm) pieces. Never wash raspberries but check through them to remove leaves or any damaged berries.

Combine the rhubarb, raspberries, rosemary, and sugar in a large heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the sugar dissolves and the juices are released, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the diluted cornstarch and bring to a boil, then transfer to a bowl and chill until cool, about 30 minutes. **The rhubarb will not be soft, the slices still intact; it will cook through later as the crostata bakes in the oven.**

*

The crostata

Flour for rolling the dough

1 egg and 1 tsp milk for the egg wash

A little brown sugar for sprinkling on the edges of the crostata

Remove dough from refrigerator and allow about 15 minutes for it to soften with the ambient heat and become easy to handle (but not too much or the dough becomes sticky and difficult to roll).

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).

Roll out the dough onto a large piece of floured parchment paper to about 12″ (30 cm), taking good care that it doesn’t stick and adding flour if necessary.

Beat one egg with a tsp milk and brush the crust with the egg wash (this helps seal the crust so the juices from the fruit don’t make it soggy).

Remove the sprig rosemary from the cooled filling and scoop the filling carefully onto the crust, spreading it evenly from the center outward leaving a 2″ (5 cm) border. Gently fold the edges of the dough back over the filling.

Brush the borders with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Slide the parchment paper with the crostata onto a baking sheet, then into the oven and bake until the crust is golden and the filling bubbly, about 45 minutes.

Let the crostata cool. Serve with crème fraîche or whipped cream.

PS: Photos are of the uncooked crostata and here I added a few fresh raspberries just before baking. This is not reflected in the recipe.


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