Showing posts with label jam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jam. Show all posts

Friday, December 20, 2013

PB&J Baked French Toast

Welcome to the last day of WITK's pre-holiday festivities!  Hopefully you've finished all of your shopping, decorating and menu planning.  This weekend should be all about relaxing, wearing something comfy and watching movies.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Why Bother? - Homemade Jam

Back in the early eighties, my mom tried her hand at making jams and jellies.  Unfortunately my dad dubbed the products "Not like my mom's jams."  The canning materials went into the basement where they gathered dust for the next twenty-five years, until I went poking around.  Which is why last year, I inherited a large canning pot and three boxes of vintage Ball mason jars. 

I have fuzzy memories of my grandmothers basement.  It was dark, dusty and scary for an eight-year old.  It was full from front to back with old furniture, boxes of Christmas decorations and musty vintage clothing.  One corner also held a make-shift shelving unit, built into the stud of the walls, that was filled from floor to ceiling with dusty mason jars.  From what I remember, they were all filled with peaches.  I have no idea why.  My grandmothers house was in Upstate New York, where there are a dearth of peach trees.  If she had jars of jam in her basement, they looked like peaches to my young, frightened of the dark, eyes.

This weeks challenge was to channel my jam-making grandmother, using my moms vintage canning supplies and churn out modern preserves.  There are so many varieties of jams, jellies and preserves available in the grocery store and at the farmers market, I didn't want to make a plain, single fruit jam.  Why make plain strawberry jam when I can buy fresh, locally made strawberry jam at the farmers market right around the corner from my house?

There are a few reasons why you could make all of your own jam.  1. Using fresh, in season, organic fruits gives the most flavorful product possible.  2. Jam-making and canning is a simple process.  3. Make a batch of homemade jam - you have presents for everyone!

For my canning-fest, I chose two very different flavor combos.  First - fresh and bright Strawberry-Lemon preserves.  Next - tangy ginger-pear preserves.  Yes, I decided to go with preserves for both of my jams.  Personally, I like a bit of chunky texture to my spreads and therefore I'm not really a jelly fan.  I also didn't want to go with any tricky recipes that required added pectin from apples or the baking aisle. Maybe I'll give jelly a go once we finish these jars of jam!

Results - the strawberry-lemon jam was bright and fresh.  The recipe was super simple to follow and the jam came together very quickly.  This was exceptional on my morning English muffin and I will have no problem finishing the two jars that I made.  The ginger-pear preserves took a bit longer to make because the pears were very juicy.  Once complete, this jam made a striking change in a traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

When it comes to jams, jellies and preserves I have two suggestions - Head to the farmers market or "Pick your own" farm and stock up on local, in season produce.  And, when making your own jams, try something a little different, you can get strawberry jam anywhere.

One Year Ago: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Ice Cream

Important!  When it comes to canning, you want to be sure to follow canning rules to ensure a safe product.  To sterilize your jar and lids - Bring a large pot of water to a boil, it will probably take between 15-30 minutes for your water to boil.  Get it ready in advance.  Add your jars to the pot and boil them for 10 minutes.  Remove with tongs and pour out the water.  Let jars cool on the counter top on a kitchen towel.  Place lids in a heat-proof container and pour a few ladles of boiling water over them.  Try not to touch the inside of the lids with your fingers.

Once the jars are full, return them to the water bath and process for the required amount of time.  Remove them from the water bath and set them on a kitchen towel.  Let the jars sit at room temperature for 12 hours.  You should hear the jar lids pop closed after a few minutes.  If the lids haven't sealed in an hour, put those jars in the fridge.

Strawberry-Lemon Preserves
Adapted from Canning for a New Generation

2 pints strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
2 lemons, washed
1 cup sugar

Cut the ends off of the lemons.  Cut lemons in quarters and remove the seeds.  Slice lemons very thinly, about 1/8-inch thick.  Gently toss strawberries, lemons and sugar in a large bowl.  Cover and put in the fridge overnight.

Prepare 2-3 1/2-pint jars and their lids.  Combine fruit with 1/3 cup water in a large saucepan with high sides.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Pour fruit into a colander and collect the liquids in a bowl below.

Return liquids to the pan and bring to a boil.  Cook for 15 minutes until the liquids are reduced to a syrup.  Return fruit to the pan and bring to a simmer.  Stir frequently and cook for about 20-25 minutes.  The strawberries should hold their shape, but be shiny and glossy.

Remove jars from the water bath and ladle hot water over the lids.  Add preserves to the jars.  Wipe the lip of the jars clean with a wet paper towel.  Place lids on the jars and screw on collars.  The lids should just be finger-tightened.  Process in the water bath for 5 minutes with the lid on the water bath.  Remove jars from the bath and let sit on a kitchen towel.  Do not disturb for 12 hours.

You can store the jam in the pantry.  Store opened jars in the fridge and eat within a few weeks.

Ginger-Pear Preserves
Adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

6 pears (choose your favorite type), peeled, cored and chopped
Zest of 3 limes
Juice of 3 limes
2 1/3 cups sugar
1 tbsp grated gingerroot

Prepare 3-4 1/2-pint jars in a water bath.  Place 3 spoons in the freezer.

In a large, non-reactive, saucepan, combine pears, lime zest, lime juice, sugar and ginger.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stir frequently and cook for 15 minutes. 

Test the gel - Take one of your frozen spoons and scoop up some of the liquid from the pan.  If the liquid drips off in small drops, the gel is not ready.  Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly and test again.  If the liquid falls off the spoon in a sheet, it it ready to can. 

Remove jars from the water bath and ladle jar into the jars.  Wipe off the lip of the jars with a wet paper towel.  Place lids on the jars and screw on the collars.  Process jars in the water bath for 10 minutes the the bath lid on.  Remove the lid and let boil for 5 more minutes.  Remove jars from the bath and place on a kitchen towel.  After 1 hour, check to see if the lids have sealed (the tops should not pop when pressed down).   If any jars have not sealed, place them in the fridge immediately.  Do not disturb the sealed jars for 12 hours. 

Sealed jars can be stored in the pantry.  Opened jars should be stored in the fridge.  Try this with peanut butter for a new take on your classic PB&J!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blackberry Crostata

I really enjoyed this months Daring Baker's Challenge.  So much so that I decided to make it the theme for this week.  I've also been really busy, and crostatas are super easy to make!  For todays installment of the crostata, I decided to bring back summer.  How am I going to do this you ask? 

I'm going to pull out some of my freezer jam.  Blackberry-lemon jam that I canned and put in the freezer back at the peak of blackberry season.  The weather around here is starting to turn cold and I needed a little warming up.  The best part about making summertime jam is enjoying it in these darks days of the fall and winter.  After tasting this crostata, a friend remarked on how bright it was.  A strange, yet appropriate, description of this dessert.

If you didn't preserve any berries this summer don't worry.  Store-bought jam will still fill this crostata perfectly.  I only made minor modifications to the first pasta frolla recipe, omitting the lemon zest.  The blackberry-lemon jam was lemony enough and didn't need back-up in the crust.  If you use plain blackberry jam then you should definitely include the tsp of lemon zest, you'll get a great tang.

So no recipe for today, just refer yourself back to the Pasta Frolla and the Blackberry-lemon jam!  Instead of a lattice top I decided to decorate with cut-out stars, because it was fun!  This one only took 30 minutes in the oven until it was golden.  You can see how it pulled away from the pan, this is what you want.  Eat up and don't forget to vote for your favorite holiday cookie!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Chocolate Buns

Ask and you shall receive, kinda. So last week I proposed a question, “What sweet should I make next?” With the choices of a. Layer cake, b. cinnamon rolls, c. cookies or d. scones, I knew which one would win. And I was correct. The winner was cinnamon rolls! Of all the choices, I knew cinnamon rolls would be the most work and time intensive. Cookies I could throw down in ten minutes, same with scones. A layer cake would take some time to frost, but maybe two hours tops.

Cinnamon rolls are a yeast bread. This meant that I would have several times to sit and wait, something that I am not good at. The yeast breads that I have made in the past haven’t turned out so well because I get antsy. That dough ball looks doubled in size, right? I need to let the dough rest for how long? Oh boy, now I need to let the dough rise again? I call shenanigans on this recipe!

So this weekend I took on the cinnamon rolls, but I wasn’t in the mood for cinnamon. I was in the mood for chocolate! Here I am, standing in front of my spice rack, trying to figure out what will go well with the chocolate pastry. Then it hits me, the blackberry jam! Mmm, chocolate pastry filled with sweet jam. Perfect.

A little internet search lead me to a chocolate cinnamon roll recipe from Cooking Light. So not only is this delicious, but it’s good for you! (That’s what I’m telling myself, don’t say anything) The recipe just needed a little tweaking, the dough was too wet, the spices wouldn’t work with the jam, but I think we came out with a winner.

The chocolate buns themselves aren’t terribly sweet, so I decided a cream cheese frosting was in order. When is cream cheese frosting not a good idea? Okay, maybe you shouldn’t slather it on your steak, but other than that, pile it on. I’m actually eating a spoonful of it right now, don’t judge.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Raspberry-Peach Jam

Okay, so I went a little jam crazy. But can you blame me? Ripe summer peaches, bright raspberries, it had to be done. Now I need to find some more space in my freezer, or start eating toast for all my meals. Although, that’s not such a bad idea.

Toast is one of those perfect foods that can be eaten at any time. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner or even the middle of the night. Mmmm, it’s crunchy and warm, then slathered in jam… I’m hungry, time for some toast!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Blackberry Jam

If you have never been to Madison, Wisconsin, plan a trip. It might sound like a strange place to visit, but there is so much more so be seen than you can imagine. Originally, I was concerned that I was moving to the middle of nowhere. Cowtown, Wisconsin. Would I find things to do? Were there places to go, things to see? What about food? Are there good restaurants in the Midwest?

The answer to all of these questions is yes. While Madison is technically in the middle of nowhere, surrounded on all sides by miles and miles of fields, it is not nowhere. The city breathes life. If you can’t find something to do in Madison, then you aren’t trying hard enough. I had my own personal favorites while living in the Mad-city (it is a city, second largest one in the state of Wisconsin!) and you should plan your trip around what you want to do.

In the springtime head to the Olbrich botanical gardens to see the flowers. Wander the acres, stop in the herb garden to smell the smells, take a moment at the Thai pavilion or warm up in the conservatory. If you come during the summer, be sure to hit the Art Fair on the Square or the Taste of Madison for a late summer trip. Fall is an excellent time to take a bike ride through the fall leaves, on the miles of bike path that criss cross the city. Don’t come in winter, it’s just too cold. No, really, stay away. Go to Florida.

If you find yourself there anytime between April and November, then head to the Capitol. Saturdays from 6am to 2pm you will find the Dane County Farmers Market. It is a mecca for all things fresh and delicious. You can get fresh fruits and vegetables (organic or not), breads, pastries, honey, cheese and so much more. One of my favorite stalls is (was?) located on Main street. A little white tent filled with jewel-colored jars of jam, jelly and preserves. Sparkling in the sun, these jams are all tantalizing, I longed to fill my pantry with all of them.

I don’t live in Madison anymore, but I still have a farmers market. While not nearly as fantastic as the DCFM, I did manage to find some tasty-looking blackberries this past weekend. More berries than I could possibly eat in one week, but just enough to preserve for the whole year. These berries would be jam and my bright summer days would last me through the dark days of the winter.

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