Category Archives: Recipes

Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam

Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam

Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam

For my birthday this past year my mother-in-law gave me The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving to further encourage my canning aspirations.  Marc and I have been making jam and applesauce for years, dabbling in the occasional fruit butter.  However, I was looking to move beyond the traditional strawberry, blueberry, and peach jam and into the world of unusual jams, marmalades, conserves, and pickles.  Unfortunately, my birthday is in January so I have been staring longingly at the book and waiting for the day when I could pick it up and start using it.

The key players

The key players

Finally, those days are here.  In anticipation of the start of u-pick fruit season and our veggie CSA I sat down with the book a few weeks ago and found myself tagging lots and lots (and lots) of recipes that I want to make.  The first one I picked was for a strawberry lemon jam made without added pectin and cooked in the microwave.  I made two pints of that yummy, deep red jam and I was hooked.

Lots of honey

Lots of honey

Next up, this rhubarb and honey jam.  I was fortunate to be able to take an armload of fresh rhubarb stalks from the many plants at my in-law’s house and immediately set about prepping and chopping.  Overall, this recipe is pretty easy to make.  The prep time is relatively low as all you have to do is clean and chop two cups of rhubarb and one tart apple (I used a Granny Smith) and zest and juice a lemon.  The fruit cooks with a little water until is is bubbling and starting to break down.  Then you add sugar, a lot of honey, lemon juice and some candied ginger.  You cook the whole thing until it forms a gel, ladle into prepared canning jars, and process for 10 minutes.  Because it is a small batch (makes 3 cups plus a little more) it cooks relatively quickly.  In fact, it only took about 6 minutes of strong boiling for my gel to form.  The finished jam is balance of tart and honey-sweet with the occasional bite of ginger.  It is a nice option for those who like their jams a little less sweet than typical commercial products.

A couple of things to consider:

  1. Make sure to follow the most recent guidelines for safe boiling water canning.  Properly preserved, this jam will last for a year in a cool, dark place.
  2. Take a few minutes to read about how to test to see if your jam is set.
Gel is almost set

Gel is almost set

Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam
Ingredients:
2 cups finely chopped rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
1 large tart apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1 lemon zested and juiced (reserve 1 tbls lemon juice)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup honey
1 1/2 tbls diced candied ginger
To Make:
Prepare your jars, rings, lids, and canning vessel.  I used a small stockpot with 5 jar rings tied together to serve as a rack.  A nice thing about small batch canning is that I don’t have to bust out my large speckled canner which uses an enormous amount of water.
Combine the rhubarb, apple, and lemon zest in a stockpot or large saucepan with 1/2 cup of water.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower heat, cover, and simmer until fruit is tender and starting to break down, about 15 minutes.  Add the sugar, honey, lemon juice, and ginger to the pot.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Turn the heat back up and bring the contents to a rapid boil that can’t be stirred down with the spoon.  Boil, uncovered, stirring frequently until the jam starts to set, anywhere from 6-12 minutes. I recommend using the freezer test (link above) to test if your jam is gelled.  If you watch it closely, you will see when the mixture starts to thicken and change into its gelled form.
Once the jam is set, ladle into your hot jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.  Get rid of any bubbles, wipe the rims, top the jars with the lids, put the rings on, and tighten until they are finger tight (don’t crank them on).  Place the jars in the canning vessel, cover, and bring the water to a rapid boil.  Once the water is boiling set your timer and process for 10 minutes.  Once the 10 minutes is over, remove the canner from the heat, take the lid off, and let the jars sit for 5 more minutes.
After 5 minutes, carefully and gently remove the jars to a towel or rack set in a draft free area.  Then walk away.  Leave them alone and don’t touch them until they are sealed and cool (can take 12-24 hours).  If you are lucky, you will hear the tell-tale “pop” of the jars sealing.  If you have a jar that doesn’t seal you can either reprocess with a new lid or simply put it in the fridge and eat it first.  Once the jars are sealed and cooled, remove the rings, wipe off any wayward stickiness, and store.
Apple and lemon juice both add nice amounts of pectin so you should be able to achieve a good gel.  However, pectin levels vary by individual fruit so if you can’t get a good gel, process it anyway and use it as a delicious ice cream topping.
To Serve:
I probably don’t need to tell you how to serve jam.  This jam is delicious on toast or biscuits but would also work well in more savory applications such as on top of a piece of roasted chicken or pork chops.  Makes 3 1/2 cups.

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Filed under Add-ons, Breakfast, Gluten-Free, Recipes

Pickled Radish Greens

Pickled Radish Greens

Pickled Radish Greens

Summer is finally here in New England and I couldn’t be more excited.  For me, the start of summer doesn’t correspond with a date on the calendar, a particular holiday, or even the weather.  Summer truly begins when I come home to that first veggie CSA pickup.  After a long winter of root vegetables, potatoes, and sad grocery store tomatoes, the box full of greens, strawberries, spring onions, and radishes makes me so thrilled.  We were all so excited that when that first box arrived, we consumed its entire contents in 3 days flat.  I think that might be a new record of vegetable consumption for us.

With our second box, I was determined to eat every single thing in the hopes of making our veggies last longer than 3 days.  I thought I remembered reading that you can eat radish greens so I hit the internet in search of some inspiration.  Turns out, radish greens are absolutely edible and many bloggers sing the virtues of sautéed  radish greens and radish green pesto.  Unfortunately I had just made a nice batch of pesto using fresh peas, Italian basil, and Thai basil.  After doing a bit more searching I decided to create more of a pickle / brined radish leaf dish to use as a condiment on top of some polenta slices.

Turns out, this is an easy and really delicious way to use radish leaves.  The brine softens the leaves and imparts a nice pickled flavor but still allows the flavor of the greens to come through.  Even better, the whole thing takes minutes to pull together and can sit in the fridge for a day if needed.  So instead of tossing your radish greens, try this recipe and see if it doesn’t convert you to a greens lover*.

Greens soaking in the brine

Greens soaking in the brine

Pickled Radish Greens

Ingredients:

1 large or 2 small bunches of radish greens

1/2 cup water

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp rice vinegar (white wine vinegar would work too)

1-2 dried hot chilies, snipped into pieces

Sesame oil, for drizzling

To Make:

Wash the greens very well in several changes of cold water.  Radish greens tend to be very dirty so err on the side of over-washing so they aren’t gritty.  Once they are clean, spin them dry and remove the tough (and sometimes spiny) stems.  Coarsely chop the leaves and place them in a small bowl along with the chilies.

In a measuring cup (or another small bowl) mix together the water, salt, sugar, and vinegar, stirring until dissolved.  Pour the mixture over the greens and let sit on the counter for at least 3o minutes (toss it in the fridge if you are going to let it sit longer).

Drain the liquid and drizzle the greens with toasted sesame oil.  Toss gently to combine and serve.

To Serve:

Serve as you would any Asian-style pickle… on top of rice, on a burger, alongside a piece of meat, or just eat it from the bowl.  The beauty of this preparation is that it seems to take the bitterness and sharpness out of the greens while still leaving their earthy flavor.

* Or at the very least, you can enjoy the weird stares people give you when you tell them you ate pickled radish greens

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Filed under Add-ons, CSA Talk, Dairy-free, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd

Lemon curd… just the words make me start drooling.  I happen to love sour foods (read: vinegar, citrus, mustard, rhubarb, etc.) and pairing sweet and sour together makes me even more happy.   On a recent trip to London I enjoyed some lemon curd spread on scones with my afternoon tea.  The British are so darn civilized with their little sandwiches and scones in the middle of the afternoon.  When I came home, I was itching to make some curd of my own.  Lemon curd is one of those things (like custards and pie crusts) that have always intimidated me.  Turns out, I really didn’t need to fret.  Making lemon curd was surprisingly easy and the results were fantastic.

Curd ingredients

Curd ingredients

Marc helpfully picked up a sack of organic lemons from Trader Joe’s and set about juicing them over a fine mesh sieve using a lemon reamer.  On the other side of the counter I zested the spent lemon halves, measured the sugar, and cut up the butter.  Then came the stirring, and the standing in front of the stove, and more stirring.  Admittedly, the stirring part took a long time.  I kept my heat on the low side of medium because I was afraid of scrambling my eggs.  Next time, I might turn it up a bit to speed things up (keep in mind, I have an old electric stove that takes quite a while to heat up. I might not try this if I had a powerful gas version).

Spent lemons

Look at all those spent lemons

Luckily, all the stirring time was absolutely worth it. The finished curd is a thing a beauty… deep yellow color, thick, satiny-smooth texture, and the best tart/sweet lemon flavor.  I had my mother-in-law do a taste test – our curd vs. Trader Joe’s.  We did not tell her one was homemade.  She picked ours “hands down because it tasted more like lemon and less like sugar.”  Now that is a ringing endorsement if I ever heard one!

Straining the thickened curd

Straining the thickened curd

Lemon Curd

Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 tbls plus 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

1-1/3 cups sugar

4 large eggs

14 tbls salted butter (if you use unsalted butter, make sure to add a pinch of salt to the curd)

To Make:

Choose a 2 quart, heavy-bottomed sauce pan to make the curd in.  Set the pan over medium-low heat and whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and eggs until smooth.  Adding the butter, a few tbls at a time, and whisking constantly, cook until the curd is done.

How to tell if the curd is done:

After you have been cooking for a while, the curd will start to thicken noticeably.  It is done when the curd is thick and bubbles are just starting to form on the top.  The original recipe said this take about 10 minutes.  Using medium and medium-low heat it took us closer to an hour.  So don’t be surprised if it takes longer than you think.  Just keep whisking and be patient and you will be rewarded with a rich, thick curd.

As soon as the curd is finished cooking, run it through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.  Let it cool to room temperature on the counter, stirring occasionally.  Once it is cool, refrigerate covered until it is cold.

To Serve:

Lemon curd is a remarkably versatile condiment.  You can spread it on toast, spoon it over ice cream, or use it between the layers or on top of a cake.  You can fold it into whipped cream to make an instant “mousse”.  Spread it on a muffin, scone, or waffles.  Or just eat it with a spoon.  The original recipe says to consume within a few days and once you taste it, I assure you that won’t be a problem.

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Filed under Add-ons, Breakfast, Dessert, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Recipes

Sesame Honey Lace Cookies

Sesame Honey Lace Cookies

Sesame Honey Lace Cookies

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and despite being a mother for 4.5 years now, I still always pause for a moment when Marc asks me what I would like to do for the day.  You see, I still think of my mother and my mother-in-law when Mother’s Day rolls around.  I forget that I am part of the celebration now too.

Sesame Honey cookie ingredients

The short list of ingredients

So to celebrate moms everywhere, here is a recipe for a light, deliciously sweet cookie that is a perfect pairing for afternoon tea.  These cookies are thin, crisp, and have a delicate, lacy structure.  They are a pretty golden color and taste of honey.

Lots and lots of sesame seeds

Lots and lots of sesame seeds

Make sure to use an excellent quality honey as it is the predominant flavor in these cookies.  When you place them on the cookie sheets, make sure to space them wider than you think you need to.  They spread a lot.

Cookies ready for the oven

Cookies ready for the oven

Happy Mother’s Day!

Sesame Honey Lace Cookies

From The Gourmet Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 cup confectioners sugar

3 tbls unsalted butter

3 tbls honey

2 tbls water

1 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup flour

Pinch of salt

To Make:

In a 1 1/2 quart heavy sauce pan over moderately high heat, combine the confectioners sugar, butter, honey, and water and bring to a boil.  Stir and boil for one minute.  Remove from heat and stir in the sesame seeds, flour, and salt.  Let cool to room temperature.

Position oven racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.  Set the oven to 350F and allow to preheat.  Have ready two large baking sheets, lined with parchment paper.

Scope out level 1/2 teaspoons of dough, roll each scoop into a ball.  Place each ball about 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets.  The cookies will spread a lot so better to space them further apart. Bake until the cookies are flat and golden, rotating the baking sheets half way through, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the cookie sheet and let cool.  The cookies will crisp as they cool.

To Serve:

Serve at room temperature, as a complement to afternoon tea.

Serve room temperature.  Cookies will keep, kept in an air tight container, for 3-5 days.

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Filed under Cookies, Dessert, Recipes