Tags: jam, preserves
We’re at the point in the summer (the end of it, I mean), when I’m freaking out a little about the prospect of a winter full of rutabagas and turnips. My reaction to this, apparently, is to stash little jars of summery things on the top shelf of my fridge.
I made this peach butter recipe last year, and then promptly ate up without a word to you about it. So I just made it again. It’s thicker and more intense than jam. It’s not only what’s in it (peaches!) that makes it delicious, but also what’s not– no spices and not too much sugar. I think it’s what crumpets were made for..
Peach Butter– makes about four cups
from Smitten Kitchen
Steph’s Note: This can be “properly” canned if you want to store it longer-term. See the original recipe for tips on that process.
4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) peaches
1 cup (237 ml) water
2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
juice of one lemon
-If you are not using a food mill: Cut a small “x” in the bottom of each peach. Dip each into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, and then into a bowl of cold water for a minute. Slip off the peels.
-Cut your peaches in half and remove the pits, then cut each half into quarters (8 chunks from each peach). Place peach chunks and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until peaches are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they cook evenly. If you have a food mill, run them through it to puree them and remove the skins. Use a disk with smaller holes if you want a smoother puree. If you don’t have a food mill — i.e. you already peeled your peaches — you can puree in a food processor, blender or with an immersion blender.
-Return the peaches to the pot, add the sugar and lemon juice and bring the mixture to a good strong simmer/gentle boil, cooking them at this level for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally in the beginning and more often near the end, as it thickens up and the fruit masses risk scorching on the bottom of the pot.
-There are several methods to test for doneness: You can drizzle a ribbon of sauce across the surface; when that ribbon holds its shape before dissolve into the pot, it is done. Some people use cold or frozen plates; dollop a spoonful in the middle of one and if no water forms a ring around it in a couple of minutes, it is done. Others use a spoon; if the butter remains rounded on a spoon for two minutes, it is done. You can also check the pot itself; the butter is usually done when a wooden spoon leaves a clear train when scraped across the bottom.
-Spoon the peach butter into clean jars (you can sterilize the jars and lids first with boiling water, if you are so inclined), leaving about 1/4 inch of space at the top. Close the jars and let the jam cool to room temperature. Store the butter in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Tags: baking, breakfast
My first couple of years at Wellesley, there was a restaurant in “the Vill” called Popovers. Popovers served, you guessed it, popovers…giant, bowl-sized popovers that could be ordered on their own with butter and jam or used as a vessel for one of a zillion different (mostly mayo-based) salads. This place was clearly an old-school institution and I thought the concept was so entertaining, that when I returned from my junior year abroad, I was kind of confused and heartbroken to see it had closed. (I have heard that there’s something similar here in NYC, but I haven’t been.)
That place is what sprang to mind when it was announced we’d be baking the late, great Marion Cunningham’s popovers this week. There’s something fun and kind of magical about popovers–how does such a runny, crepe-like batter explode and mushroom like that in the oven? And because they are hollow inside, eating them is kind of like eating air. They do take a while to crisp and dry out, and there’s no peeking in the oven (unless you have a working oven light), so if you are an impatient type, these may test you a bit. But that’s the only hard part….the batter is sooo easy to make…a 15 second blender blitz and it’s done. I happen to have a popover tin that was gifted to me, but you certainly don’t need one. A muffin tin works, and Marion even used custard cups in the BWJ episode.
We had ours for breakfast…some with honey, some with jam. I heard a savory twist with cheese and herbs is tasty, too.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Paula’s Vintage Kitchen Notes and Amy’s Bake With Amy. A short version is also here. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, bread, breakfast
I’ve been getting a lot of practice making breakfast pastries lately. A couple of months ago, the owners of the shop I work for decided that we should open three hours earlier and have a menu of morning baked stuff. I now have to wake up basically in the middle of the night to walk to work and make this happen. I’m thinking about quitting soon….but you didn’t hear me say that, and you certainly didn’t come here for banal griping. You came for Nancy Silverton’s Pecan Sticky Buns!
It’s pretty much a given that sticky buns have a lot of butter in them, but this recipe uses a sh*t-ton of butter. There’s brioche dough..no, make that laminated brioche dough (unlike the other sticky buns we did about–yikes– four years ago)…and then there’s the sticky top part. The only component without butter is the pecan-cinnamon swirl inside. When everything’s tallied up, it comes to five sticks for a whole recipe!! My mind immediately went to work wondering where I could shave off a few tablespoons. First off, a whole recipe makes two 9-inch pans, or 14 buns, and I certainly didn’t need that many for the two of us. A quarter of a recipe would be fine…I knew I could squeeze four slightly smaller buns out of that and bake them in a 6-inch pan. I ultimately decided on making a half recipe of brioche dough, and only taking half of that to make buns with (I’m saving the other half for another project). I kept the full amount of butter in the dough itself. Best not to mess around with that. I used about two-thirds the butter called for in the laminating step and half for the topping. I don’t think I missed out too much…my buns were sweet and soft and flaky. I plan to experiment more with this laminated brioche thing later on…it’s a cool technique.
By the way brioche is a lovely dough to work with…if you can keep it cool enough while you shape it, that is. It’s so soft and nice to touch. And it rises beautifully.
It took me like an hour to figure out how to put two pics side-by-side in Photoshop, btw…wow.
I made my base dough on day one, parked it in the fridge overnight after its first rise, and finished off the laminating and rolling the next day. I did my dough in my stand mixer. Since I just made a half a batch, my KA had no problem cranking it out. It was really such a small about of dough, though, that I think even the whole recipe would have been just fine. Despite my earlier talk about breakfast pastries, my husband and I actually ate two of these sticky buns for dessert. After getting up so early for work now everyday, I can’t manage to get up early enough on the weekends to have buns proofed, baked and cooled before brekkie. The other two baked buns were wrapped up tight and stuck the freezer, to be defrosted and enjoyed properly one weekend morning with a cup of coffee.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Lynn’s Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat and Nicole’s Cookies on Friday. There’s also a video of Nancy and Julia making the buns together. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: breakfast, waffles
Usually I don’t work on Fridays. Typically I have the day to myself. Sometimes I do errands or shopping. Occasionally I can find a friend to escape work and have lunch with me. Always I eat breakfast and watch episodes of House Hunters.
Breakfast du jour was a Savory Cheddar and Scallion waffle topped with salsa, sour cream and an egg. I treat myself right, don’t I? Actually I just pulled the waffle out of the freezer and reheated it. It was leftover from a “breakfast for dinner” night earlier in the week. That’s the beauty of a savory waffle…perfect for brekkie or dinner. It’s not weird, trust me. This one has a bit of a Southwestern twist to it– some cornmeal, scallions, cheddar, cilantro and hot sauce (I use a heavy hand with the Crystal). I was worried that the cheese might adhere to the waffle iron and act like superglue…it didn’t. I had beautifully formed, crisp-edged waffles with buttermilk tang and a savory flavor.
I’m trying to use my waffle iron more often. After I get past the annoyance of removing it from its styrofoam and box (yes, OK, I am an original packaging hoarder), making waffles is really fun. And eating them, even more.
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c cornmeal (coarse, if you have it)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 large eggs
2 tbsp vegetable oil
couple dashes of hot sauce, to taste
1 1/4 c buttermilk
1/2 c finely grated cheddar cheese
1 chopped scallion, white and green parts
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
-Heat your oven to 200°F and heat your waffle iron, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Grease it with a little vegetable oil if it needs it.
-In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, black pepper, sugar and salt.
-In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, hot sauce and buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, then add the cheese, scallions and cilantro. Stir until just incorporated. Try not to over-mix the batter.
-Cook according to your waffle machine instructions. Hold the finished waffles in the warm oven while you make the rest.
-Garnish as you wish (for me, it was salsa, sour cream, an egg and some extra cilantro) and serve immediately. If you have extra waffles, wrap them well and freeze them…they can be recrisped in the toaster or oven.
Tags: breakfast, pancakes
Weekend mornings are made for laziness and pancakes. Unfortunately for the last few weeks, Saturdays here have not been so lazy. We’re getting the windows replaced in our house, and it’s been a long and messy process that, six days a week, starts with contractors coming over at 8:30 and ends in me finding at least one new ding in our carefully refinished original wood floors. Seriously, that makes me want to pull my hair out. Thankfully, there’s Sunday. A day when I don’t have to worry about being changed out of my Hello Kitty pajama pants before nine. A day when I can make Cinnamon “Toast” Cloudcakes for breakfast!
Cloudcakes require a little extra effort than regular pancakes, but if I can handle it in the morning, then I promise you can, too. Really, you just need to whip and fold some egg whites…that’s what makes them puffy and cloud-light. The “cinnamon toast” here just refers to spicing in the batter. If you want plain cloudcakes, simply axe the cinnamon. The recipe sounds like it makes a ton, but they are just little silver dollar-sized things, so a tall stack is what you’re after. I made a half-recipe for just the two of us. And some turkey bacon, which I see now looks totally weird in pictures.
Cinnamon “Toast” Cloudcakes- makes twenty-five 3-inch pancakes, serving 4 to 6
from Cook’s Country (April/May 2005)
Home stovetops vary, so you may need to adjust the burner setting between medium-low and medium. For maximum rise, allow the eggs and buttermilk to come up to room temperature before using them. Low-fat buttermilk works best here; if using fat-free buttermilk, reduce the amount to 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons. Although these pancakes are at their puffiest when served in batches, they can be kept warm on a cooling rack coated with cooking spray and placed over a sheet pan in a 200°F oven for up to 20 minutes.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk (see headnote)
1/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, separated, plus 2 extra egg whites
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 – 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
-Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in large bowl. Stir buttermilk and sour cream together in medium bowl until combined. Add egg yolks and butter to buttermilk mixture, and stir well to combine. With electric mixer or balloon whisk, beat all 4 egg whites in large bowl to soft peaks. Pour buttermilk mixture over dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. (Batter should be lumpy, with visible streaks of flour.) Using spatula, carefully fold whites into batter until just combined. Do not overmix–a few streaks of whites should be visible.
-Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Using 1/8-cup measure or small ladle, spoon batter into pan. Cook until bottoms are evenly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip pancakes and cook until golden brown on second side, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Serve, cooking remaining batter and using more vegetable oil as needed to grease pan.
Tags: breakfast, snacks
It was hard for me not to make this week’s FFWD recipe. It’s toast– heck, I can make time for that! Toast with yummy stuff on top, that is. This tartine is a thick slice of brioche with butter, marmalade, Nutella, nuts and salt. You could buy everything and simply assemble it, but I happened to have a couple of the components in homemade form (but already on hand). I still had some homemade brioche in the freezer, and over the holidays, my BFF and I made a big pot of mixed-citrus marmalade to give to family. A bit of sweet, a bit of sour and a bit of salt…this is toast at its finest. Dorie says this is a typical after-school snack for French children, but I ate mine for breakfast. Then I went to the dentist and he found no cavities. Breakfast of champions.
Tags: baking, bread
Bread is definitely my favorite food group. I’m not sure why, then, I skipped Raisin Swirl Bread when Susan picked it for TWD over the summer. Maybe I was away…maybe it was too hot out for bread baking…I can’t remember. Anyway, now is prefect bread baking weather, so I thought I’d give it a try. Also, I wanted to brush up on my yeast skills before we get going on the white loaves from Baking with Julia in a couple of weeks.
This is just a straight-forward dough technique (no sponge or starter) with a couple of proofs. I used my mixer for it, so I didn’t even break a sweat. Scented with a little orange zest and of course a cinnamon-raisin swirl, it smelled really good baking. I was so proud of myself for waiting until the bread had cooled completely before cutting into it. I was even more proud of its perfect texture and beautifully hypnotic swirl. There was a time when I would have skipped the raisins altogether and this would just have been a cinnamon swirl bread, but raisins and I have gradually made peace over the last couple of years. We’re good now…I’m glad I gave them a second chance.
This makes fabulous toast (with a little salty butter, of course)! I could probably have downed the whole loaf that way, but I tried it out as French toast, too. Good stuff. Really, I can’t wait to make this again. For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Food Baby, as it was Susan’s pick from back in June.
P.S.: If you don’t already have it, don’t forget to enter my Baking with Julia BOOK GIVEAWAY!
By the time Wednesday rolls around, I’m usually thinking seriously about my weekend breakfast options. Geez, that sounds pretty lame, but I eat granola and yogurt every morning during the workweek, so I’m more than ready for a switch-up by the time Saturday arrives. Usually I’ll go with pancakes over French toast, but last weekend I couldn’t resist the photo of ”French toast sandwiches” in a great breakfast cookbook I have. This is a lot like stuffed French toast, except here you just sandwich together two slices of bread (I used homemade brioche that I had in the freezer) rather than making surgical-style incisions and injections into one fat slice. The filling is just a schmear of soft cream cheese and your favorite jam. I think a marmalade or a tart jam works best…I used my homemade plum jam here…especially if you plan to slosh it with maple syrup.
Cheese-and-Jam French Toast Sandwiches– makes four servings
adapted from Williams-Sonoma Breakfast Comforts by Rick Rodgers
1 cup milk
finely grated zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice or orange-flavored liqueur
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 slices challah, brioche or other egg bread
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons jam or orange marmalade
canola oil or butter for cooking
unsalted butter, at room temperature, for serving
maple syrup for serving
-Preheat the oven to 350°F.
-In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla. Lay one bread slice on a work surface and spread with one-fourth each of the cream cheese and jam. Top with another bread slice. Repeat with the remaining bread, cream cheese and jam.
-Preheat a griddle over medium-high heat until hot. Lightly oil the griddle.
-One at a time, dip the sandwiches into the egg mixture and turn gently to coat evenly, keeping the sandwiches intact. Let stand until the bread has soaked up some of the egg mixture, about 30 seconds.
-Remove the sandwiches from the egg mixture, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, and place on the hot griddle. Cook until golden brown underneath, about 2 minutes. Turn the sandwiches over and cook until browned on the other sides, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
-When all four sandwiches are on the sheet, place the sheet in the oven and bake until the cream cheese melts, about 10 minutes.
-Serve the French toast sandwiches immediately with butter and maple syrup.
Tags: baking, biscuits, breakfast
…or something like that. I had intended to make Buttermilk Biscuits. I had followed the recipe…it said it was “basic.” I had been having such good luck with scones recently that I thought biscuits would come out of the oven. I’m pretty sure that, while what came out was delicious, it was technically not a biscuit. It was something more bready, with a bottom that had essentially fried in its own butter on the baking sheet. More English muffiny maybe. Whatever happened, this little breakfast roll was great with homemade jam…both apricot and concord grape. I’ll have to try again for proper biscuits though.
Tags: jam, preserves
Is there a food that you were deprived of as a child and now, as mistress of your own grocery list, you can’t get enough of? Well, I guess I really have a few of them, but one is certainly grape jam. There was never a jar of Welch’s to be found in our kitchen cupboard growing up. It was PB&J with raspberry usually standing in for the “J”…good, sure, but not that sweet, sticky intensely purple-black jam that I only had at friends’ houses (thank you Angie and Christy!).
For my now-slightly-less-childish-palate, the storebought stuff is actually too sweet for me. Luckily it doesn’t take a whole lotta effort to make a few little jars of my own grape jam, with the sugar dialed down a few notches (or the grape dialed up). And now is the time to do it…the concord grape season is short, but it is now and, for the time being, they are pretty easily found at the greenmarkets here in NYC.
I did a lot of research before making this jam, and the recipe is a hodgepodge of several I found, with the sugar adjusted to my taste. You’ll get a homemade jam that is very grapey and plenty sweet, without making your cavities zing. You do have to peel the grapes before you start, but with concords it’s a cinch…just give them a pinch. The skins practically fall right off.
This recipe makes just a few half-pint jars of jam, so I don’t bother to can it. If you keep it refrigerated, it should last a couple of months at least. I will probably eat every last drop just like in the picture…spread with peanut butter over a slice of junky white bread. With potato chips on top. I was too embarrassed to show you that part.
Concord Grape Jam– makes about three 1/2-pint jars
Steph’s Notes: I like the texture from the noticable bits of skin in my final jam. If you’d rather have a smoother end product, purée the skins with the sugar, salt and lemon juice in the food processor before adding to the saucepan in step 3.
If you have trouble telling if your jam is done, you can pop a small plate into the freezer to chill. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon fruit mixture onto the cold plate and allow to set for 30 seconds. Tip the plate 45 degrees to one side; jam should be a soft gel that moves slightly. If mixture is liquid and runs quickly down the plate, return the jam to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, 2-5 minutes longer; then repeat the test.
2 1/4 lbs de-stemmed concord grapes, washed
9 oz sugar
1/8 t salt
1-2 T lemon juice
-Working over a large, nonreactive saucepan in which you will be making the jam (to catch juices), skin the grapes by gently squeezing each one between two fingers. The skins will pop off easily. Let all of the pulp and any juices fall into the saucepan. Put the skins into a medium bowl, stir in the sugar, salt and lemon juice and set aside.
-Over medium heat, bring grape pulp to a simmer, cover and cook until soft, about 5-10 minutes. Push through fine strainer and discard seeds.
-Return the strained pulp (now more like juice at this point) to the saucepan and add in the sugar/skin mixture.
-Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Turn down the heat and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid runs off the side of a spoon in thick, heavy drops, 20 to 30 minutes. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface of the jam during the cooking process.
-Spoon the jam into three clean 1/2-pint jars (you can sterilize the jars and lids first with boiling water, if you are so inclined), leaving about 1/4 inch of space at the top. Close the jars and let the jam cool to room temperature. Store the jam in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.