Posted in Condiments, Gluten Free, Jam, Kitcheninspirations Original Recipe, Recipes, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetarian, tagged Apple, jam, naturally sweetened, preserves, strawberries, strawberry, sugar free on January 23, 2017|
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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)
- ~1.8 kg (~4 lbs) strawberries
- 1 cup water
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 1 apple, chopped finely, peeled, cored (reserved)
- 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).
- 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.
- 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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This past Saturday we hosted a collaborative brunch with a couple of friends. By collaborative, I mean we all pitched in with one or two parts of the meal. One friend brought home-made waffles, while another brought home-made maple syrup, a huge fruit platter, bacon and we supplied sausages, ricotta, whipped cream, smoked salmon and coffee. We may have had morning glories as well (Prosecco and OJ). It was quite the feast! No one left the table hungry at least I don’t think so!
That's quite the pile of ricotta on that waffle, isn't it?
I had wanted to contribute something a little more unusual to the brunch, so I scoured the net. My ‘friend’ John made cream cheese recently and posted about it on his blog From the Bartolini Kitchen; hmmmm, from that post I was linked to another post where he made Ricotta Cheese. I have always wanted to make my own cheese and the ricotta seemed like a great place to start. Plus having a group of people for brunch meant that I wouldn’t have too much left over! We had ricotta with the smoked salmon AND topped off the waffles with it. Quite tasty indeed! Thanks John, I will be making this again and again.
John’s recipe was easy to follow and came together quickly. The only thing I changed is that I halved the recipe because I felt one pound of ricotta would be enough for brunch, and perhaps a lovely appetizer for Sunday dinner with nephew Brian.
Hey, where's the syrup?
Total time: 30 minutes to prepare, at least 2 hours to drain.
Makes about 1 lb fresh ricotta
- 1.9 L whole milk (homo)
- 0.5 L heavy cream
- 1/2 tbsp table salt
- 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
- Combine milk, cream, and salt in a large non-reactive pot and stir over medium heat as you bring the temperature up to 85°C (185°F) (about 15-20 minutes).
- Add the vinegar all at once and stir for 15 seconds; heat for two more minutes before removing from heat.
- Allow to rest undisturbed for 15 – 20 minutes; using a small sieve or slotted spoon, remove the floating curds and place them in a cheesecloth-lined colander to drain (I used coffee filters).
- Place colander over a bowl in refrigerator and drain for at least a couple of hours or overnight (I found 3 hours was enough). The longer you allow it to drain, the more firm the results.
- Remove the ricotta from the colander, place in airtight containers, and refrigerate.
- Ricotta will last up to 2 weeks.
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Day one of JD went much better than expected!
As I mentioned I had to be downtown at 8:30am, and I’m fortunate, my entire trip was about 20 minutes; it would have been 30 if I had to walk to the subway, but JT kindly gave me a lift to the subway.
We all had to walk through security much like the air port, except we didn’t have to take off our shoes. Then we were registered, and told to sit in a room. The chairs are all lined up, facing a small TV placed precariously too low for anyone but the front row to see. Oh, will we see movies? Not quite; they ran a lame movie about actors pretending to be sucked into the process and how proud they all are. Bleh!
Now we wait. Just because you are summoned for JD, doesn’t necessarily mean you will serve on a jury. For each trial (there are several courts in this building) they draw names from the people in the room and if your name is drawn (lucky you) you are called into the courtroom. The other time I was here, my name wasn’t drawn. In the court room, the trial lawyers ask each potential juror a pertinent question to determine if they want them on the jury. Correct me if I’m wrong (Kelly), they don’t have a limit on how many they can decline. When JT was here, he was called but was rejected (now that’s a rejection I can handle).
In Canada you do not get remunerated for JD unless it is a trial more than 10 days. Then they pay you a whopping $40 per day! Seriously?
As luck would have it at around 10am some big wig came and further pontificated on the value of our presence and then in a long drawn out speech he released us for the week — just like that! Sweet. sweet words: “your service will not be required today, nor for the remainder of the week.” Is it appropriate to cheer in the courthouse? Now I’m done for three years (yup they changed it!)! Yay.
On my way out, you’ll never guess who I bumped into…non-other than Flat Ruthie…she’ll be accompanying JT and I on a short vaycay to Niagara Falls, Ontario where we’ll see the Band from TV as well as do some eating, drinking and shopping (perhaps even in the US where our dollar is ever so strong these days!).
This is the Panna Cotta that I made for our Vegetarian Valentine Dinner last Saturday. I served it with sliced strawberries and a 100 year old balsamic that I lightly drizzled over the plate. Asmita at the Compulsive Foodie inspired this recipe, but I made it lighter and used non-fat ingredients. It worked out very well. I’ll keep this recipe for the summer months.
Panna Cotta with Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar
Serves 4 in 3.5oz ramekins
- Non-stick cooking spray
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 1 1/4 cup plain fat free Greek Yogurt
- 1 1/4 cups carnation fat free condensed milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 quart strawberries
- Drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar
- Spray ramekins with non-stick spray.
- Sprinke the gelatin over 2 tbsp water
- Heat the milk with the sugar and vanilla bean until almost boiling. Add the softened gelatin and mix until it has entirely melted.
- Remove from heat. Remove the vanilla bean pod and scrap the seeds into the milk mixture and mix well. Add the cardamon.
- Stir in the Greek Yogurt until well blended. Pour into the prepared ramekins and allow to cool. Once cooled, place in refrigerator overnight to set.
- Run a little hot water on the bottom of each ramekin to loosen. Lightly loosen the edges of the ramekins with a sharp knife and turn onto the middle of a large plate. Drizzle with balsamic and decorate with strawberries. Enjoy.
Panna Cotta - a nice light dessert
If you have left over berries, dip them in melted chocolate for a valentine’s day treat.
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