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Posts Tagged ‘jam’

strawberrypreserves_first

This is an apple sweetened preserve with strong strawberry flavour and a hint of cinnamon. It’s delicious on toast, cheese or even a garnish on dessert. However, if you are a sweet tooth, this may not be for you.

Late last year, JT and I decided to hunker down and lose the weight we put on in 2016, start date January 3, 2017. I don’t know about you, but it keeps getting more and more difficult to shed those pesky pounds. So over the last few weeks, we have been dry and on a very strict regiment. I’ve joined a doctor supervised program that I’ve had much success with in the past and I am happy to report, I am doing rather well. At this rate, I should reach my goal by March! I also bought a fit bit zip, so as corny as it sounds, I am getting in my 10,000 steps, a day! We got a bit lazy after our trip to Europe last fall, so it feels great to get back on track.

The diet we subscribe to has you eating real food (in moderated proportions) so it will be easy to keep up the practice even after we reach our goals. Having said that, there are a few things that I miss because the preferred brands contain aspartame or some other chemical sugar that I decided many years ago to avoid like the plague. So, in this simple post, I present to you an apple-sweetened strawberry preserve recipe. I must warn the super sweet tooths out there that this recipe is definitely not for you. It does, however, have excellent strawberry flavour and the apple just curbs the tartness of the berries without any processed sugars! I suspect I could have added honey or some other natural sugar, but the diet really limits ALL sugars (except chemical) so my hands were tied. These preserves should be frozen as opposed to canned because it does not contain processed sugars as a preservative. At first, I made a single batch of one jar, but JT loved it so much, the jar did not last long. So when I saw strawberries (from Mexico) on sale for $1.88/454 g (1 pound) I jumped! Surprisingly, they have excellent flavour and aroma and the berries really shine through in this preserve.

Apple Sweetened Strawberry Preserves

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes about 500 mL (about 2 cups)

Ingredients:

  • ~1.8 kg  (~4 lbs) strawberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 apple, chopped finely, peeled, cored (reserved)

Directions:

  1. Roughly chop strawberries, add them to a heavy bottom saucepan along with the cinnamon sticks, apple and the water. Wrap the apple peel and core tightly in cheesecloth and add to the mix (the peel and core will add natural pectins which will help thicken it).
  2. Boil until the berries and apple have broken down, most of the water has evaporated and it has thickened. With a fork, mash any berry chunks or apple that have not broken down. Remove the cheesecloth bag, drain and discard.
  3. Bottle in sterilized jars and refrigerate for immediate use or freeze for future use. The refrigerator preserves are good for about one month, but it probably won’t last. The freezer jams will be good for about 6 months if they are sealed tightly.

 

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peach, butter, jam,

My parents emigrated to Canada from Hungary in 1956 during the Hungarian Revolution; the citizens revolted against the Russian takeover. After about 12 days of Revolution, the Russian army mounted and squashed Hungary once and for all. At 20 years old, my Mom left just prior to the Russian’s ending the revolution to escort her sister to Vienna but ended up continuing her journey on to Canada; she celebrated her 21st birthday alone in Halifax. My Dad was relatively active against the Russians and decided to leave to protect himself (my uncle and aunt were expecting their first child so they were not able to leave). My Dad’s family lost everything to the Russians (the Puppet theatre(Báb Szinház) in the Liget, their family home…E V E R Y T H I N G). My Mom’s family had already lost everything to the Germans during the WWII (they had a small store that sold coffee, flour etc.). The Russian hostility toward Hungary surprised the world and both my parents were able to immigrate to Canada as Refugees of War.

My parents did not know one another in Hungary so they made their way to the New World on their own. My Mom (13 years younger than Dad) talked about her journey but Dad sadly did not. I only know that Dad came through Gibraltar and an Ocean Liner. Mom also arrived by boat but I can’t remember how or where from. You know the movies that show people trying to escape oppression, desperately crawling on their bellies across vast lands under the cloak of darkness? That was my Mom’s story. She and her sister came across the farmlands of Hungary, all the way to the Austrian border near Vienna. The Austrians were very sympathetic to the plight of the Hungarians and they helped make their way to a better life.

I’m not sure either of the parents had a “plan” as such but I know my Mom already had some relatives in Canada (an Aunt and her husband, children and their spouses). My Mom’s sister’s husband had already arrived in Toronto and was instrumental in making arrangements for my Aunt to meet him there, sadly Mom was not in that equation due to the economic circumstances of my Aunt and Uncle so she had to find her own way to Toronto. Did you ever read Angela’s Ashes? I remember reading the bit about Angela only having enough money for one egg and it resonated with me…there were many times my dear Mom only had enough money for one egg during the first months in Canada. It’s difficult to understand that this happened only 59 years ago. Mom landed in Halifax and stayed for a few months. All Canadian immigrants were given $5 (around $45 today) upon arrival and were told to have a good life. Mom found a sympathetic Swiss woman who owned a beauty shop and she worked various odd jobs at her shop and rented a room in the woman’s home. Neither of my parents spoke a word of English, so they learned from listening to the radio.

My Dad found his way to Toronto and worked in restaurants to make a living, at first waiting tables and then later as a Maî·tre d’hô·tel (Maître-D) at a very prestigious hotel near the airport. Mom’s sister introduced Mom and Dad  in 1957; they dated on and off and then lived together in 1958 (yes, that was very risqué back then!). My Mom was the hold-out, she didn’t want to marry a ‘pretty boy’ as she called him. It’s true, Dad was quite the looker and the ladies loved him. Dad taught Mom puppetry and they travelled together working on the Chrysler Canada Tour in the late 50’s. He finally wore her down and they married in 1960. They eventually settled in Toronto and began having a family.

I remember my dear Mom making most of our pantry items, just like her mother did and my Dad’s mother. Jam was always a treat and as I mentioned before, Mom’s strawberry jam was one of my favourites. I bought some peaches for a photoshoot and it turned out we didn’t need them so I decided to make peach butter out of it. Mom would bottle several mason jars of jam, but since it’s only JT and I, I only made a small amount. Now that we’ve already gone through the first jar, I wish I had made more.

Jam, peaches, preserves,

A delicious, smooth peach butter or jam made without pectin.

Peach Butter

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 400 mL

Ingredients:

  • 650 g peaches, I had about 6  peaches (measure with peel and stone)
  • 100 mL water
  • 160 g white sugar
  • 30 mL lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Peel peaches and remove stone (see notes for tip on peeling). Cut into eighths and set into a heavy bottom pan. Add water and set over medium heat and cook until peaches are softened.
  2. Add sugar and lemon juice and purée with an immersion blender or run through your food mill.
  3. Return peach purée to pan and cook for 30-40 minutes until thickened, testing often with the freezer method.
  4. Once the butter has thickened, pour into mason jars and follow canning best practice instructions.

Notes:

  • An easy way to peel peaches is to score the skin into quarters, pour boiling hot water over them to cover and allow to sit for a minute. Take a sharp knife and begin by sliding the knife between the skin and flesh and peel away. Repeat for all of the peaches.
  • If you have a food mill, you need not peel the peaches (I have one but felt like peeling them anyway), the mill will capture all of the skin.

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CherryJam_First

I read David Lebovitz’s recipe for No-Recipe Cherry Jam and loved it from the start because it was just ratios! Usually I have to take down recipes to suit the volume or quantity of ingredients I have on hand and David’s recipe made it super easy, plus I liked his first direction: “1. Wear something red.”

David suggests to cook the cherries and measure the volume and then add 3/4 of it in sugar (apparently the sugar is required so that it doesn’t spoil, otherwise I would have reduced it).

Delicious goodness of homemade jam.

Delicious goodness of homemade jam.

Cherry Jam

Makes 300 mL jam.

Original recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 350 g fresh Ontario cherries (you can use any old cherries, but I thought I’d give our Province a plug!)
  • 400 mL cherry juice (I had some left over from cherry squares I made a few weeks ago)
  • 375 mL sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 fresh lemon

Directions:

  1. “Put on something red.”*
  2. Pit all of the cherries and chop about 2/3 of the cherries into smaller pieces and the remainder into halves.
  3. Cook the cherries and cherry juice in a non-reactive pot. David suggests a slightly larger pot because the juices bubble up. Put a plate in the freezer (this will help you determine when the jam is done).
  4. Add the lemon juice and zest (I used a peeler to peel large slices of lemon so that I could remove them after). Continue to cook until the cherries are soft (about 20 minutes).
  5. Once cooked, measure the volume you have, including the juice. I netted 500 mL so 3/4 of that is 375 mL sugar. Stir in the sugar and continue to cook on higher heat until the bubbling diminishes and the jam congeals when a drop is put on the super cold plate and returned to the freezer for a moment. Be careful not to overcook the jam it will caramelize the sugar and it will taste terrible! It’s best to test often (David suggests it’s better to test often than to overcook the jam). My volume took 20-25 minutes to the perfect viscosity. Remove from heat.
  6. David suggest to add a bit of kirschwasser, but I was all out so I added a tiny drop of almond extract as he advised. Stir well.
  7. Cool to room temperature and bottle as you would normally. He suggests this jam will keep in the fridge for several months.

*From David Lebovitz

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Years ago we were watching Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello and he and a friend had a pizza cook-off. I cannot recall who won, but I do know we came away with the best Onion Confit recipe EVER. I usually make up a couple of batches and freeze; they are perfect for a pizza base, sauce base, dip base, even on a salad with crumbled blue or goats cheese. And because I freeze small quantities, they defrost quite easily. Please click here for Chef Chiarello’s original recipe.

I posted my take on the original recipe here, but I never took a photo of it. Well, you’re in luck because I made some up on the weekend and I was smart enough (wink, wink) to remember to take a gorgeous daylight filled photo of it.

Incredibly sweet and tangy, these onions make an amazing topping to pizza, salads brioche...the possibilities are endless

For additional ideas on how to use these gorgeous sweet onions, please see:

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Szamárfül was a popular cookie during the second world war in Hungary; my  mom always said it was because it had no eggs, although it does have butter (I don’t really understand the rationale, were eggs harder to come by than butter?). And I am not entirely sure of where the recipe originally came from, it was handed down to me by my mother, she had entered it into her first computer using DOS in the early 80’s and had several printouts which I inherited (I can find no other reference to it on line).

I posted this recipe quite a few years ago (December 2007), and I really don’t care for the photo anymore, so I decided to re-post with new photos! Tonight I am making the cookies for my nephew (Jack, 11) who adores them — we’re spending Canadian Thanksgiving with his family at their cottage this weekend. His Dad (my brother) is an amazing cook, but hasn’t mastered the art of baking, so every Thanksgiving, I bring about one hundred of these cookies (and believe it or not, they polish them off, lock, stock and barrel!).

The recipe is really no fail, you just need a little patience. The cookie is a simple yeast dough, with a little butter. It is rolled to about 2mm thick, cut into circles, and a small dollop of jam is placed in the centre. You then take this round cookie and fold it in half, then you pinch the edges tight. The challenge in making these delicious cookies is to pinch them down so the jam doesn’t escape and ‘burn’ while baking. Of course, as children, we always LOVED this melted jam because it caramelized to a wonderful candy coating. The cookie’s sweetness comes from the European Jam (which is generally thicker and with less pectin than the North American jam) and the confectioners sugar coating once they are baked. They are not an overly sweet treat.

My Kitchenaid set up with the pasta rolling attachment

A few years ago, I discovered that the thickest roller on my Kitchenaid Mixer Pasta Roller attachment is really the best and only way to go — it gives you the most consistent thickness of dough, and it avoids over working it. The dough renders a beautiful, flaky cookie pastry.

This year, JT offered to help, so I set up two stations on the island, and while I ‘rolled out’ the dough, he cut, filled and pinched. I did my share of cutting, filling and pinching too…but this dough is like the fishes and loaves, it is never ending…you keep taking the leftovers and re-rolling them…never ending! I am so lucky he helped tonight, otherwise it would have taken me a couple of hours to finish (we were done in 45 minutes). He even said he had fun doing this with me :-). His cookies stayed closed better than mine!

Two workstations set up made the job go much faster

You see how the jam has caramelized on the edges? That is the best part!

Donkey Ear Cookies:

(Szamárfül) makes about 100-130 cookies (we used a 5cm round cookie cutter this time and yielded 102)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp quick rising yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water + 1 tsp sugar
  • 600 g flour (3-4 cups)
  • 240 g unsalted butter (1/2 lb)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
  • Thick European jam (we used cherry for this batch)
  • 1-2 cups confectioners sugar (for dusting)

Directions:

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water with sugar, proof for about 3-5 minutes.
  2. In an electric mixer with the scraper hook, mix butter and flour until crumbly. Change to dough hook.
  3. Add yeast and enough sour cream and knead with the mixer until a shiny dough forms.
  4. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 1/2 to 1 hr (you may also do this step in the fridge overnight if you won’t be making the cookies the same day. Allow the dough to get up to room temperature before you begin to work it).
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  6. Roll out the dough into 1 mm thickness (or #1 of the Kitchenaid Pasta Machine) and cut with a 5-6 cm round cookie cutter.
  7. Fill each round in the centre with about 1/4 tsp of jam.
  8. Fold each circle in half and pinch edges really, really, really well (this dough has a tendency to pop open like a clam!).
  9. Bake at 350° F for 10-12 minutes (dough will be slightly golden), jam may have oozed out, it’s OK, really!
  10. Immediately put cookies into a large bowl with icing sugar and dust generously. Or dip each side into a small bowl filled with icing sugar.
  11. Remove to a wire rack and cool.
  12. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • You may half the dough recipe, I’ve done it several times and you yield about 50 cookies!
  • Dipping your finger in lightly beaten egg whites and running along the outer edge of the rounds before pinching them closed will help keep them closed tight while baking.

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