Sunday, September 11, 2016

Guava Passion Fruit Rum Jam


Okay, I know, I know, I said I wasn't going to make any more jam.  I know.  I think something may be wrong with me, because I just couldn't stop myself.  I saw this big pile of guavas at the store, and they smelled so fantastic.  Before I knew it, I was filling up a bag and telling myself what a fantastic jam they would make.  And they do!  Especially when you add a pop of passion fruit.  And don't forget the rum.  Because every good jam deserves some alcohol.

Guava Passion Fruit Rum Jam

7 to 8 passion fruits
3¾ pounds guava
4½ cups granulated sugar
2 ounces fresh lime juice
¼ cup spiced rum, such as Captain Morgan's
6 tablespoons powdered pectin
½ teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Prepare six jars with bands for canning.

Cut each passion fruit in half and scoop the seeds into the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse the pulp three or four times to loosen the seeds.  Press the pulp through a strainer, discarding seeds.  You should have ½ cup of passion fruit juice.  Set aside.

Top and tail the guavas, peel, and cut into quarters.  Put into a large pot with 2 cups of water.  Cook over medium heat, mashing the guavas, for 20 minutes, or until soupy and only some large chunks remain.  Press the guava mixture through a strainer, discarding seeds.  You should have 4 cups of guava puree.

In a large pot, combine passion fruit juice, guava puree, sugar, lime juice, and rum.  Heat over medium for about 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with powdered pectin and add butter, bring to a boil, and boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and mix in vanilla bean paste.

Fill prepared jars with the jam mixture.  Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth and place lids on the jars.

Place the closed jars in a large pot of hot water, covered by 2 inches. Bring the water to a full boil and boil for 10 minutes, then transfer the jars onto a thick towel to let cool. Leave them undisturbed for 24 hours. Check to make sure that all lids have sealed by pressing on the center of the lid. If the lid moves, place the jar in the refrigerator.

Makes 6 half-pint jars

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Emeril Lagasse: Sautéed Rock Shrimp in Creole Cream Sauce in a Puff Pastry Vol-au-Vent


It's not often that you see little rock shrimp at the store.  Rock shrimp have this ridiculously hard shell that is a pain to shuck, so they don't make much of an appearance.  But good gracious, are they tender and delicious.  So of course I had to find a way to bring out the beauty of the shrimp.  And I certainly don't mind a little spice.  So I went with this delicious recipe from Emeril, because all of his Louisiana recipes are fantastic.  I'm sure this would be just as good over some cheese grits if you don't want to fuss with puff pastry.

Sautéed Rock Shrimp in Creole Cream Sauce in a Puff Pastry Vol-au-Vent
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

1 (10-ounce) package frozen puff pastry shells (6 shells)
1 pound frozen rock shrimp (70 to 90 count)
1 tablespoon Emeril's Essence
1 tablespoon olive oil
⅔ cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Crystal Hot Sauce
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper

Bake shells according to package directions.  Set aside to cool while preparing the shrimp.

Season the rock shrimp with Essence seasoning. In a large skillet over high heat, sauté the rock shrimp in olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes, until most of the liquid released by the shrimp has evaporated. Add green onions, Worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce and cook for 1 minute. Add the cream, bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until reduced by half and sauce covers the back of a spoon, about 4 to 6 minutes. Add butter and whisk thoroughly to combine, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

With the tip of a knife, carefully remove the top of each pastry. Divide shrimp and sauce between pastries, cover with reserved tops and serve.

Makes 6 servings

Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning
2½ tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Mix well.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Fresh New England: Concord Grape Muffins with Dark Chocolate Crumble


Well, I managed to get a hold of the last of the Concord grapes.  But I had already done the jam/jelly thing, so I wasn't sure what else I wanted to add to my repertoire.  Internet it was.  And the internet gods gave me a fabulous gift of this delicious muffins.  Having learned my lesson with my previous cache of supposedly seedless Concord grapes, I proceeded to halve and deseed all of them.  I wasn't sure how these grapes would turn out once cooked, but the muffins really reminded me of blueberry muffins.  Tender, sweet muffins with bits of tart grapes.  Good work everyone.

Concord Grape Muffins with Dark Chocolate Crumble

½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup whole milk
2 cups Concord grapes, halved and seeds removed
Dark Chocolate Crumble

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line muffin tin with paper liner and grease rims with butter.  Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in vanilla.  Sift dry ingredients and add alternately with yogurt and milk.  Toss the Concord grape halves with 1 tablespoon flour.  Fold in by hand.  Fill muffin cups ¾ full.  Sprinkle crumble over muffin tops.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool for 30 minutes.

Dark Chocolate Crumble
⅔ cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
⅔ cup old-fashioned oatmeal
½ cup good quality dark chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Process ingredients in food processor until a crumble forms.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Cowboy Candy (Candied Jalapeños)


I said I had made the last jam, but this isn't a jam!  Because who the heck can resist candied jalapeños?  I would like to know.  No one.  Which is why I made them.  Plus, I still had all my canning supplies out, so laziness played a role in the decision.  These were super easy to make, and you get some pretty fantastic sweet, sour, and spicy tidbits.  Can't wait to slap some of these babies on nachos.  Or burgers.  Or pretty much anything.  Darn you, four week waiting period!

Cowboy Candy (Candied Jalapeños)

2 pounds jalapeños
1½ cups apple cider vinegar
4 cups granulated sugar
⅜ teaspoon ground turmeric
⅜ teaspoon celery seed
⅜ teaspoon roasted garlic powder
⅜ teaspoon onion powder
⅜ teaspoon bacon powder (optional)
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Remove stems from all of the jalapeños and slice into ⅛- to ¼-inch rounds. Set aside.

In a large pot, bring the cider vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed, garlic powder, onion powder, bacon powder, and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the pepper slices and simmer for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peppers into clean sterile canning jars leaving ¼-inch gap at the top of the jar.

Turn up the heat, and bring the syrup to a full rolling boil. Boil for 6 minutes. Pour the syrup over the jalapeño peppers in the jars, but still leave ¼-inch gap from the top. Make sure there are no air pockets by sliding a plastic utensil down the inside of the jars. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth and place lids on the jars.

Place the closed jars in a large pot of hot water, covered by 2 inches. Bring the water to a full boil and boil for 10 minutes, then transfer the jars onto a thick towel to let cool. Leave them undisturbed for 24 hours. Check to make sure that all lids have sealed by pressing on the center of the lid. If the lid moves, place the jar in the refrigerator. All sealed jars can be stored in a cool dark place for up to a year.  Wait 4 weeks before trying the peppers; the flavors need time to meld.

Makes 4 half-pint jars

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Spiced Rhubarb Angelica Jam


Okay, I swear this is the last jam.  THE LAST.  At least for the month of August.  No promises when the apples, pears, and pumpkins start rolling in from the fields.  But I just couldn't resist when I saw there was still some rhubarb to be snatched.  And I finally figured out something to use my candied angelica in.  I'm still trying to get past the general stringiness of rhubarb, but the jam is delicious and definitely worth the work.

Spiced Rhubarb Angelica Jam

3 pounds rhubarb
¼ cup candied angelica, finely chopped
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons brandy
⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Place a small saucer in the freezer.

Slice the rhubarb into 2-inch sections.  In a large pot, combine all ingredients except for vanilla bean paste.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn the heat down to medium.  Cook the rhubarb, stirring often, until it is soft and falls apart.  Continue cooking 20 to 30 minutes, until the mixture is thick.  Stir in the vanilla bean paste.

Remove the saucer from the freezer.  Test the consistency of the jam by placing a spoonful of the mixture onto the cold plate.  Return the plate to the freezer for two minutes.  Remove the plate again, and check the consistency of the jam. The jam is set when it holds its shape on the cool plate. If it seems loose, continue cooking over medium-low heat until set.

Fill prepared jars with the jam mixture.  Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth and place lids on the jars.

Place the closed jars in a large pot of hot water, covered by 2 inches. Bring the water to a full boil and boil for 10 minutes, then transfer the jars onto a thick towel to let cool. Leave them undisturbed for 24 hours. Check to make sure that all lids have sealed by pressing on the center of the lid. If the lid moves, place the jar in the refrigerator.

Makes 6 half-pint jars

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook: Black Mission Fig and Candied Buddha's Hand Jam


I think August is the height of delicious goodies at the grocery here in Texas.  Because just when I swore I was done making jams, they pile up this giant mound of figs.  Kadotas, Tiger, Black Mission...  And before I knew it, I was stuffing plastic bags full of soft, ripe figs.  Luckily, I had my new favorite cookbook to help me along.  And my fabulous candied Buddha's hand that I made over Christmas break last year.  And they came together wonderfully to make a jam that I never thought I would enjoy.  It's surprisingly delicious.  This ain't yo' mama's Fig Newton.

Black Mission Fig and Candied Buddha's Hand Jam
Adapted from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook

3¼ pounds Black Mission figs
1¼ pounds granulated sugar
3 ounces fresh lemon juice
5 ounces candied Buddha's hand, or other candied citrus peel
¼ ounce Benedictine
¼ ounce triple sec
3 tablespoons powdered pectin

Day 1

Chop the figs into medium-small pieces.  Place the pieces in a stainless-steel kettle wide enough to hold them in a double layer.  Add enough cold water to make a 1/2-inch layer in the bottom of the pan.  Cover the pan and bring the fruit to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Stir, decrease the heat to medium-low, cover again, and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir, cover once more, and cook for 10 to 20 minutes, or until the figs are tender, stirring every 5 minutes or so to prevent sticking.  When the figs have finished cooking, put them into the bowl of a food processor.  Process for about 30 seconds to chop up the peels.  Do not puree completely.  Combine the chopped figs and their liquid with the sugar, citrus peel, and lemon juice.  Stir well to dissolve the sugar, cover tightly, and let macerate in the refrigerator overnight.

Day 2

Place a saucer in the freezer for testing the jam later.

Remove the figs from the refrigerator.  Transfer the mixture to an 11- or 12-quart copper preserving pan or a wide nonreactive kettle.  Stir in the Benedictine and triple sec.  Sprinkle with the pectin and stir well.

Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring a few times with a heatproof rubber spatula.  When the jam boils, decrease the heat to a lively simmer.  Continue cooking, stirring frequently and lowering the heat slightly if the jam thickens.

When the jam has thickened, test the jam for doneness.  Remove the saucer from the freezer.  Test the consistency of the jam by placing a spoonful of the mixture onto the cold plate.  Return the plate to the freezer for two minutes.  Remove the plate again, and check the consistency of the jam. The jam is set when it holds its shape on the cool plate. If it seems loose, continue cooking over medium-low heat until set.

Fill prepared jars with the jam mixture.  Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth and place lids on the jars.

Place the closed jars in a large pot of hot water, covered by 2 inches. Bring the water to a full boil and boil for 10 minutes, then transfer the jars onto a thick towel to let cool. Leave them undisturbed for 24 hours. Check to make sure that all lids have sealed by pressing on the center of the lid. If the lid moves, place the jar in the refrigerator.

Makes 6 half-pint jars

The Well-Seasoned Cook: White Currant Elderflower Jelly


Guess what I found at the grocery store?  White currants!  So I did what I usually do and bought most of them.  I'm not a very good sharer.  And no, I had no idea what I was going to do with them.  I just knew that if I didn't get them, they wouldn't still be there when I went back.  (I was right by the way.  There weren't any left the next day.  I love being right.)  So I took those beautiful crystal globes and cooked them down with some floral liqueur.  All to make a delicate pink jelly.  The flavor is tart and sweet and completely unexpected from such unpresuming fruit.

White Currant Elderflower Jelly
Adapted from The Well-Seasoned Cook blog

4 (6-ounce) containers white currants, rinsed and plucked from their stems (about 4 cups currants)
1 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons powdered pectin
2 tablespoons elderflower liqueur, such as St. Germain

In a medium saucepan, bring currants and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Mash the currants with the back of a wooden spoon and simmer until fruit collapses. Remove from heat. Turn mixture into a large strainer placed over a large bowl. With a wooden spoon, press and rub fruit mixture through strainer to separate from the seed and peel solids. Discard solids.  You should have a little over 2 cups of juice.

In a clean saucepan, combine currant juice, sugar, pectin, and elderflower liqueur.  Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and let boil for one full minute.  Mixture will set almost immediately while still warm. Transfer to refrigerator to cool.

Makes approximately 6 (4-ounce) jars

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook: Aprium-Orange Blossom Jam


After the delicious grape jelly I made from my new cookbook, I took a look through the remaining recipes.  I quickly realized I was flagging most of the recipes.  Good sign.  Well, I took all those ideas with me to the grocery store to see what was in the bins.  And the answer was apriums.  I have never actually had an aprium, but they are a cross between an apricot and a plum.  Seems like a win.  Well, still having never actually eaten the fresh fruit, I can say that they make a fabulous jam.

Aprium-Orange Blossom Jam
Adapted from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook

2½ pounds apriums, pitted and quartered
1 pound granulated sugar
2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon pure almond extract
½ ounce orange flower water
1 ounce orange blossom honey
2 tablespoons powdered pectin

Day 1

Combine the apriums with the sugar and lemon juice in a large glass or hard plastic storage container.  Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of each aprium mixture, smoothing well to minimize air bubbles (this will help keep the fruit from browning as it sits).  Cover tightly with a lid and let macerate in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Day 2

Place a saucer in the freezer for testing the jam later.

Remove the apriums from the refrigerator.  Spoon the apriums into the bowl of a food processor and process until only small chunks remain.  Do not completely puree.  Combine the chopped apriums with the remaining sugar-lemon juice mixture in a large pot.  Add the almond extract, orange flower water, and honey, stirring well to combine.

Bring the jam mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently with a large heatproof rubber spatula.  Boil, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes.Taste the jam time and adjust the flavorings, if necessary.  Decrease the heat slightly.  Continue to cook, monitoring the heat closely, until the jam thickens, 30 to 45 minutes.  Sprinkle the top of the jam mixture with the powdered pectin.  Bring the jam mixture to a boil for 1 minute.

When the jam seems ready, test it for doneness.  Remove the saucer from the freezer.  Test the consistency of the jam by placing a spoonful of the mixture onto the cold plate.  Return the plate to the freezer for two minutes.  Remove the plate again, and check the consistency of the jam. The jam is set when it holds its shape on the cool plate. If it seems loose, continue cooking over medium-low heat until set.

Fill prepared jars with the jam mixture.  Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth and place lids on the jars.

Place the closed jars in a large pot of hot water, covered by 2 inches. Bring the water to a full boil and boil for 10 minutes, then transfer the jars onto a thick towel to let cool. Leave them undisturbed for 24 hours. Check to make sure that all lids have sealed by pressing on the center of the lid. If the lid moves, place the jar in the refrigerator.

Makes 3 half-pint jars

Serious Eats: Vanilla Bourbon Peach Jam


When I got to the farmer's market this morning, I went to my usual stall to get some goodies.  And they had big baskets of fresh peaches that smelled amazing.  Immediately I started imagining gleaming jars of peach jam.  Well, the farmer made me a deal I couldn't resist.  I got a big bag of less-than-perfect peaches that were the ripest, sweetest peaches I've had in years.  So what did I do?  I made them even more delicious by dumping some vanilla and bourbon in the pot with them.  This jam is absolutely fantastic on toast or scones, and I'm sure it could do double duty as a cake filling.

Vanilla Bourbon Peach Jam
Adapted from Serious Eats

3½ pounds ripe peaches
5 cups granulated sugar
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup bourbon
1 cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon unsalted butter
6 tablespoons powdered pectin
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

If you are going to preserve the jam, prepare the jars and lids: place six half-pint jars on a rack in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the jars, and bring to boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes, then turn off heat and allow the jars to rest in the hot water. Meanwhile, put bands and lids in a small saucepan and cover with water. Heat over medium heat until the water is simmering, then remove the pan from heat and allow the bands and lids to rest in hot water until ready to use.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Cut a shallow X into the bottom of each peach and drop them into the boiling water. Blanch for 30 seconds, then immediately plunge the peaches into the ice water. Peel and chop the peaches, discarding the pits. Transfer them to a blender and pulse just until they are coarsely pureed. You should have about 4 cups of puree.

Transfer the peaches to a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the sugar, lemon juice, bourbon, cinnamon stick, and butter. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Add the pectin and return the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for one minute. Remove to pot from the heat and skim any foam from the surface with a metal spoon. Stir in the vanilla bean paste.  Discard the cinnamon stick.

Ladle hot jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe rims of the jars, cover with lids, and screw bands on until just barely tight. Place jars on rack in pot and cover completely with water. Cover pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, uncover pot, and allow jars to rest in water for five minutes. Remove jars from pot and allow them to rest undisturbed on counter-top for six hours or overnight. Preserved jam will keep for up to one year in a cool, dark place. Un-preserved jam will keep in the refrigerator for about six months.

Makes 6 half-pint jars

Friday, August 12, 2016

Bon Appétit: Maraschino Cherries


I remember as a child really enjoying Maraschino cherries.  Those bright red jewels in the jar never lasted long.  I wanted to put ten on one sundae.  A little ice cream with my cherries.  But as I got older, it slowly sank in that cherries really aren't that unnatural shade of red, so something unnatural had to be causing that.  And that kinda ruined those fabulous cherries for me.  UNTIL NOW.  I have found a ridiculously delicious recipe for making a bag of Bing cherries into something spectacular.  And now I have a ridiculous-big jar of goodies to dip into for months to come.

Maraschino Cherries
From Bon Appétit magazine, August 2016

3 pounds fresh Bing cherries, pits removed
1⅓ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup Luxardo maraschino liqueur
1 teaspoon almond extract

Set a mesh sieve over a medium bowl. Bring cherries, sugar, lemon juice, and ⅔ cup water to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally; cook until cherries have released their juices and are softened but still intact, 20 to 25 minutes. Pour cherries into prepared sieve, letting juices collect in bowl. Set cherries aside.

Return juices to same saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until liquid is reduced to 1½ cups (it will be a thin syrup at this point), 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat, add reserved cherries, and stir in liqueur and almond extract.  Transfer maraschino cherries to jar, cover, and chill at least 24 hours before using.