Gooseberry Jam

July 23, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Posted in breakfast things, jams & preserves, sweet things | 7 Comments
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gooseberry jam

In honour of the Royal Baby, I’ve whipped up something that I think of as very British– gooseberry jam.  Gooseberries are high in pectin, so they’re ideal for jamming.  Also, when my CSA gave them to me last weekend, I really couldn’t think of anything else to do with them.

I had just two half-pints of gooseberries, so I weighed what I had and scaled down the recipe below accordingly.  Even though I had a mix of red and green berries, the jam took on a brilliant rosy color as it bubbled away.  My little batch cooked quickly, and gave me a pint of jam plus a smidge extra (that’s what’s left in the pot).  A raw gooseberry packs a tart punch, but this jam has a great sweet-tart balance and just a hint of vanilla.  Maybe I’ll fold it into whipped cream for a fool or a trifle.  That is, if we don’t eat it all on our morning crumpets.

Did you know that “gooseberry” is British slang for what we call “third wheel”?  Interesting.

Gooseberry Jam— makes about four 1/2-pint jars
adapted from The Preservation Kitchen by Paul Virant

Steph’s Notes:  This is a pretty small batch of jam– small enough that I personally would just store the jars in the fridge and not bother to water bath process them.  You can certainly process them to extend shelf life, though, if you choose.  New boxes of Ball jars come with instructions on how to do this, or you can find great tutorials online (like this one).

If you have trouble telling if your jam is done, you can pop a small plate into the freezer to chill.  Spoon a teaspoon of the  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.

907 g (about 6 cups) whole gooseberries, topped and tailed
282 g (about 1 2/3 cups) sugar
14 g (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) lemon juice
1 vanilla bean (seeds only)

-In a heavy-bottomed pot, combine the gooseberries, sugar and lemon juice.  Cover with the lid and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Remove the lid once the mixture is simmering and stir in the vanilla bean seeds.  Continue to cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for about 15 minutes.  Skim off any scum that rises to the surface of the jam during the cooking process.

-You’ll notice some changes in the fruit mixture as it reaches gelling stage.  These changes are subtle, but as the jam starts to set, you’ll feel your spoon “drag” on the bottom of the pot when you stir, and the boiling bubbles will slow (similar to candy making).   Also, when you hold your spoon up, the liquid will run off the side of it in thick, heavy drops.  If you are uncertain, use the cold plate test described in the above notes.

-Spoon or funnel the jam into four clean 1/2-pint jars (even though I don’t water-bath process small batches of jam, I still like to carefully pour boiling water over the jars, lids, funnel and metal spoon before using them, or have them fresh from the dishwasher), 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 several months.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Croissants (& Pains au Chocolat)

March 5, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, general pastry, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 27 Comments
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croissants (& pains au chocolat)

TWD’s crossing a biggie off the list this week– Esther McManus’s Croissants.  This probably qualifies as the most technically complicated recipe we’ve made so far.  Like puff pastry and Danish, croissants are made from a butter-laminated, or layered, dough.  This means a block of butter is encased in dough and repeatedly rolled and folded to create layers that puff in the oven (and flake in your mouth!).  Once you get over butter-shock, it’s really fun to make this kind of dough, and if you give someone a homemade croissant they will be seriously impressed by your talents.  Cool weather helps when making the dough, and so does leaving yourself plenty of time to let it rest in between rolls and folds.

I could not resist turning half my dough into pains-au-chocolat.  Dangerously good–now I remember why I don’t allow myself to buy them!  Next time I make croissant dough (that’ll be awhile since I still have like fifteen p-au-c formed in the freezer), I’ll definitely prep almond-filled ones.  Would have done it this time, but as usual I procrastinated and didn’t get it together to make the filling.  Also, I’ll cut my croissant triangles a bit bigger.  I wound up with ones that were only slightly larger than minis and I associate mini croissants with conference room party platters.  Although these were much better (and flakier) than any office-croissants I’ve ever had, and here’s proof…

croissants (& pains au chocolat)

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Amanda’s Girl+Food=Love. There’s even a video of Esther and Julia making the tart together).  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

P.S.: For something totally unrelated, enter my BOOK GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a copy of Breakfast for Dinner.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Finnish Pulla

December 18, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 27 Comments
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Finnish pulla

Oh my gosh–isn’t this loaf the cutest?!?  I’m not in the know with most Scandinavian baked goods, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with Beatrice Ojakangas’s Finnish Pulla bread.  Never heard of it, but I was pretty pleased to discover this baby when it came out of the oven.  It’s a little bit buttery, a little bit sweet, a little bit eggy and scented with cardamom, one of my favorite spices.  Pulla is often shaped into a glorious braided wreath, but I made half a recipe, so I did a loaf instead.

The recipe didn’t suggest making the dough ahead of time, but I wanted to take care of it on Saturday night so I could have fresh-baked bread with jam for breakfast on Sunday morning.  I made the dough all the way through the shaping stage (it was a dream to work with in the cooler temps), then put my braided loaf on a parchment lined sheet tray, loosely covered it in plastic and stuck it in the fridge before I went to bed.  Early Sunday morning, I took it out and left it on the counter to come to room temperature for a little over an hour before I baked it.  Seemed like a good strategy.

Finnish pulla

Pulla reminds me of challah, but with cardamom and pearl sugar (which I bought at an IKEA in Jersey about a year ago and until Sunday had still never used).  I’m glad to have this recipe on my radar now, and I bet leftovers will make good French toast (or will that be Finnish toast??).  For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read  Erin’s The Daily Morsel.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Pumpkin Waffles

November 18, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Posted in breakfast things, pancakes & waffles, sweet things | 5 Comments
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pumpkin waffles

It may be all about dinner on Thursday, but somehow this year I’m not cooking the turkey, so I get to focus on a lazy holiday breakfast instead.  The next few days are gonna be go-time at work, cranking out orders for pecan and pumpkin pies and cranberry upside-down cakes.  I know already that it will be pastry versus the savory kitchen, battling for space in the one convection oven we have.  If I come out alive, sleeping in and having breakfast at home will feel good after all this.

Waffles are a perfect way to use up that open can of pumpkin we always seem to have in the fridge this time of year.  And I don’t use my waffle iron that often, so making them seems a little more special than pancakes. These pumpkin waffles have all the usual warm spices I associate with pumpkiny treats, and they cook up to that beautiful rusty orange color of autumn leaves. Maple syrup is my normal waffle topping, but I’m kind of thinking that cranberry sauce would be pretty good, too.

pumpkin waffles

Pumpkin Wafflesmakes 4-6 large round waffles 
from Pumpkin Waffles Blog

Steph’s Note:  Don’t have a kitchen scale?  This recipe with volume measurements can be found here.

50 g light brown sugar
24 g cornstarch
156 g all-purpose flour
7.2 g baking powder
3.0 g salt
3.0 g cinnamon
3.5 g ginger
0.5 g cloves
0.6 g freshly grated nutmeg
2 large eggs
240 g whole milk
244 g canned solid-pack pumpkin
56 g unsalted butter, melted and warm

maple syrup and butter for serving

-Heat the oven to 200°F and heat a waffle iron, preferably a Belgian waffle iron.

-Combine brown sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Whisk together to break apart the cornstarch. Add the remaining dry ingredients, and whisk to blend.

-Separate the eggs– yolks go in a medium-sized bowl and whites get set aside in a smaller bowl.

-Add pumpkin and milk to the egg yolks. Whisk to blend and set aside.

-Whip egg whites with a hand mixer on high to stiff peaks (you could do this by hand instead)– about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. Set aside.

-Pour melted butter into the yolk/milk/pumpkin mixture. As you pour, whisk to combine.

-Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix them together until just combined. A little lumpiness is fine. That will smooth out when the egg whites are added.

-Slide the whipped egg whites out of the bowl and onto the mixture you just prepared. Gently fold them in until no white bits are obvious.

-Brush the waffle iron with a little vegetable oil. Working in batches, cook the batter in the waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions until crisp and golden. Set the waffles directly on the oven rack to keep warm. Do not stack them.

-Serve the waffles with the syrup and butter.  You can freeze leftover waffles to recrisp another day.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Buttermilk Crumb Muffins

November 6, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, muffins & quick breads, tuesdays with dorie | 11 Comments
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buttermilk crumb muffins

What a weird week last week was.  Weird and scary…and not just because of wacky Halloween costumes.  We count ourselves very lucky at our house, and if you live on the East coast, I hope the same is true at yours.  Some minor disruptions and inconveniences were all that Sandy really dealt us and our neighborhood.  Still, it was nice to have something comforting to bake after just emerging from the supposed storm of the century.

Like the name says, Marion Cunningham’s Buttermilk Crumb Muffins are made with buttermilk and have a little crumb on top.  They also have some warm spices and brown sugar.  They were tasty, simple and homey.  Nothing that will knock your socks off, but we ate them all just a few minutes out of the oven.  Maybe you don’t always need your socks knocked off at breakfast anyway, right?  The original recipe makes sixteen muffins and uses all shortening as the fat.  When I said we ate them all, I should clarify (so you don’t think my husband and I are complete pigs) that I made one-quarter recipe for just four muffins, using 2 tablespoons of butter and one whole egg.  I went a little heavy on the spices and a little scant on the sugar.   

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read easier than pie (it’s also here).  And there’s even a video of Julia and Marion making these together.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Bagels

October 16, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 12 Comments
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bagels

I eat my fair share of bagels.  Frankly it’s hard not to when you live in New York City and there are bagel shops all over the place (Bergen Bagels being my favorite close-to-home joint).  I’m not just a bagel-eater, I’ve actually made a lot of bagels, too, at my first restaurant job where we’d get slammed with weekend brunch crowds who all seemed to want the smoked trout with quail egg and a mini bagel….so Lauren Groveman’s recipe wasn’t totally Greek (or should I say Yiddish?) to me.

There were a couple of things I did differently than the recipe, just out of old habits.  After boiling the bagels for about a minute on each side, I removed them from the water and placed them on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet.  I baked them on the rack as well, because it allows the oven heat to circulate underneath the bagels. I didn’t bother brushing them with the egg white glaze before baking.  They may not have been laquer-shiny, but they still browned very nicely and the toppings held in place.  Also, in the bagel dough, I used half sugar and half barley malt syrup for the sweetener, which Groveman did on the TV show, but did a little differently in the book (which calls for only sugar).

I wasn’t super-prepared in the toppings department, so I just went with poppy seeds on some and grey salt on others.  The salt ones were my favorite. I stirred some dill and chives into cream cheese to jazz up my schmear a bit.  These were chewy and had a nice crust….with a cup of coffee, these bagels made for a perfect New York breakfast.

bagels

If you’ve never had a super-fresh, warm bagel before, you can really make great ones at home, so give it a go!  You can make the dough the night before and it’s ready to shape and cook off the next morning.  For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Heather’s Bytes (it’s also here).  And there’s even a video of Julia and Lauren making bagels together.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Peach Butter

August 31, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in breakfast things, jams & preserves, sweet things | 6 Comments
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peach butter

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..

More summer stonefruit you should put in jars:  apricots, plums, nectarines (and plums, again).  Happy weekend!

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.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Popovers

August 21, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, tuesdays with dorie | 22 Comments
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popovers

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!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Pecan Sticky Buns

May 15, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 31 Comments
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pecan sticky buns

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.

pecan sticky buns

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!

Savory Cheddar and Scallion Waffles

March 30, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Posted in breakfast things, pancakes & waffles, savory things | 9 Comments
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savory cheddar and scallion 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.

savory cheddar and scallion waffles

Savory Cheddar and Scallion Waffles– serves 2-4 (this made four big waffles in my iron)
adapted from Eating for England (who adapted it from Joy the Baker and Williams Sonoma)

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.

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