Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Renaissance Marmalade redux

So last year, about this time, I tried redacting a recipe for marmalade from a early 17th century cookbook, the 1609 edition of Hugh Plat's Delights for Ladies. While inspired by the original, I altered it a lot to resemble a modern marmalade more.This year, I decided to try to follow the recipe more closely.

Modernly, a marmalade means a preserve with shreds of peel. This is not the meaning in the renaissance. Then, it meant a sweet congealed paste of fruit and sugar. Since it is cooked as whole fruit and strained, there is no peel in the result.

The original recipe was: TAke ten lemmons or orenges & boyle them with half a dozē pippins, & ſo draw them through a ſtrainer, then take ſo much ſugar as the pulp doth wey, & boyle it as you doe Marmalade of Quinces, and then box it vp.

 Since the recipe calls for either oranges or lemons, I wanted to try lemons this time. Also, I used Granny Smiths last time, and they never disintegrated. This time I used Red Delicious, which fall apart more easily. The lemons I found were a little small, I felt, so I used twelve instead of  ten.

For good food safety, I canned using modern water processing technique with modern jars and seals.

Because it is cooked with the lemon pith intact, it retains a fair amount of bitterness, but not in an unpleasant way. There is definitely a lot of pectin, it set up solid easily. 

Since it calls for even weights of pulp and sugar, I can't tell you exactly how much sugar. Expect around 45 ounces. My first batch weighed in at 43 oz., my second at 49.85 oz.



Hugh Plat's Apple Lemon Marmalade


12 medium lemons
6 large red delicious apples
sugar to match weight of pulp
1 tsp. salt






Cut lemons and apples in eighths. Put in a covered pot over medium low heat. Simmer until apples disintegrate. 

Press through a colander. Weigh resulting pulp. Combine with equal weight of sugar, and return to stove over low heat. Add salt, simmer and reduce. Marmalade will darken. 

Press through a strainer. Return to the stove on low heat to stay hot while canning, Can using water process or pressure canner.

Happy Eating!





Monday, June 1, 2015

Fantasy Menus: part 2

For my second fantasy menu, I did an early spring menu. Again, the emphasis is on using seasonal flavors, and trying not to repeat flavors. Early spring is almost as difficult as late winter. Some of the berries have come in, but stone fruit is still a month or two away. I tried to bring in a few more exotic items, but not too odd.



Spring Dessert Menu



Chocolate Orange Cake with Tequila Orange Sherbet

Chocolate chiffon cake, Triple Sec buttercream, tequila orange sherbet, rolled pizelle with orange pastry cream, candied orange slice, chocolate Triple Sec sauce


Strawberry Shortcake with Greek Yogurt Gelato

Shortcake, macerated strawberries, Greek yogurt gelato, gewürztraminer rhubarb reduction sauce, crisp meringue chip, whipped cream, candied rhubarb twist.



Cherimoya Custard

Cherimoya custard, diced fresh mango, caramelized dried banana chip, lemongrass sauce, tangerine cotton candy


Sweet Lime Meringue Pie

Sweet lime Meringue pie with salty pretzel crust, candied lime peel, candied ginger brittle, ginger lime sauce





Chocolate Crepes with Dark Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate crepes, dark chocolate mousse, chocolate chocolate chip ice cream, chocolate tuile, chocolate tawny port sauce, chocolate curls



New York Style Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake
Lemon ricotta cheesecake with Graham cracker crust, almond brittle, candied green almonds, thyme sauce

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Fantasy Menus part 1

In my Advanced Baking class, our homework assignments were  to create two fantasy dessert menus. I thought you all might like to see them. It was quite a challenge. We had to create six desserts. We were to use seasonal flavors, avoid repeating flavors, and have both light and heavy desserts.

My first menu was a late winter menu. I kept to in season fruits and vegetables, and wanted to avoid holiday season flavor combinations.


Late Winter Dessert Menu


Chocolate Silk Meringue Pie

A chocolate silk pie with a chocolate Graham cracker crust, and a toasted meringue topping. Served with a tawny port reduction sauce and a dark chocolate curl garnish.


White Chiffon Cake with Kiwi Curd

Three layers of white chiffon cake with kiwi curd, and Gran Marnier buttercream frosting. Served with cashew brittle and coconut cream mango sauce.


Trio of Small Tastes

Three different small desserts. A chocolate lace cookie cup with a tangerine pastry cream and a twist of candied tangerine peel. A creampuff filled with a lemon mousse and dipped in white chocolate and topped with chopped pistaschios. A lavender custard tart with an elderberry tea shortbread crust. Served with basil sauce.
Warm Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

A warm chocolate chip bread pudding with Irish Creme ice cream, mint sauce, and a crisp whiskey meringue chip.




Guava Panna Cotta

Guava panna cotta, passion fruit sauce, cardamon tuile, pulled sugar garnish.
Butternut Squash Mousse and Mascarpone Crepes With Bourbon Raisin Ice Cream
Crepes filled with butternut squash mousse and mascarpone, with bourbon raisin ice cream, cinnamon orange sauce, and candied pecans.


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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

CSA: Lots of Greens

Got our latest box from Farm Fresh to You this morning. Still heavy on the winter greens. Today's box had spinach, purple kale, golden beets, tatsoi, fingerling sweet potatoes, red onions, shallots, broccoli, cauliflower, an avocado, carrots, and a butternut squash,

The carrots came without greens, so no pesto, but the beets had a glorious crown of greens. Love golden beets, so that was a good thing.

Tatsoi is new to me. It's a cultivar of Brassica Rapa, making it the same species as turnips, Napa cabbage, and broccoli rabe. It has a very spinach-like texture, with a mildly bitter, mustardy taste. It can be eaten raw or cooked.

My roommate has requested a curry, as he has never had it. I figure a chicken curry with the beets, carrots, squash, bok choy, and some grape tomatoes over a black cumin rice will be great for dinner.

Happy Eating!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Grandma's Sugar Cookies

Christmas is, for me, probably above all other things, a time of comfort food.

My father abandoned my mother and me when I was seven, leaving us a mountain of debt and not much else. Doing what was necessary to survive, my mother became a real estate agent. The hours were long and uncertain, and there definitely were no vacations. Luckily, my grandparents were around, so the long breaks (summer and winter) were often spent with them.

Summer generally meant exploration, tooling around the country in a Dodge van converted to a camper. Summers I expanded my horizons, saw new things, and and learned. Summer was Indian fry bread at  various pueblos, carnitas in small cafes, and Canadian pizza.

Winter was about warmth, and comfort, and family. It was a time of deep, rich, satisfying flavors, like my grandfather's exquisite prime rib roast, or roast turkey with sage stuffing (my number one comfort food). And the desserts, oh the desserts! My grandmother's desserts were amazing. Pumpkin and apple pie, homemade mincemeat pie, Christmas steamed pudding, popcorn balls in red and green, date nut porcupines. But, the number one important ritual of the season was making sugar cookies.

And what a production it was! On sugar cookie day, we made enough for ourselves, for me to take home, to give to friends, take to holiday parties, gift to carolers, and otherwise spread around. I'm pretty sure Santa got a big plate set out for him every year. One batch of dough makes 4 - 5 dozen cookies; I bet grandma made four batches.

Grandma made the dough, rolled out and cut out the  cookies, and did the baking. I had two jobs. One was decorating the cookies. We generally had a wide variety of things to work with; green and read sugar, rainbow dots, chocolate sprinkles. silver balls, and cinnamon candies, I now understand part of my  grandma's frustration, having made a batch all by myself. I tended to treat each cookie as an individual work of art, my grandmother wanted me to just mass produce a tray and get on with it.

My other job was sorting the cooled cookies by shape. Long rows of Santas, trees, stars, reindeer, wreaths, and more.

Almost all of the bonding with my grandmother was over food, and no ritual was deeper or more fulfilling than the sugar cookie marathon.

This recipe is for thin crispy sugar cookies. They are light and crunchy, a perfect accompaniment to coffee, tea, or milk.

My grandmother used a pastry cloth to roll them out on. I use my marble slab. It is important that the surface be well floured, and flour the rolling pin as well. You want them just as thin as you can get them. I roll the dough out until it is translucent, and I can just see my marble through the dough.

Sugar Cookies

3 cups AP flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream shortening. Add flour mixture a third at a time, creaming together.

While whisking eggs, slowly add sugar. Whisk until smooth, Add vanilla paste, and whisk in thoroughly.

Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Run mixer at medium speed until well combined. 

Form into a ball, and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Working with a small amount of dough at a time, roll out on a well floured surface until very thin.

Cut to desired shapes. Transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet.

Sprinkle cookies with granulated (white) sugar. Decorate as desired (colored sugar, jimmies, dots, etc.)

Bake for 5 - 8 minutes, until light brown.

Transfer to a cooling rack.

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Trio of Persimmon Preserves

A friend with a very productive persimmon tree gifted me with two full grocery sacks of fruit. I'm always looking to make preserves for my tea business. It is nice to be able to offer a range of possibilities to prospective customers.

I ended up making three different preserves from them, so far. In the upper left is a straight persimmon jam, in front is a bourbon persimmon jam, and in the upper right is a lemon persimmon marmalade.

I figured the straight jam would have the best presentation of the fruit. Always good to have a simple, straightforward option.

When I tasted the persimmons, I thought bourbon would be a great match, flavorwise. Coincidentally, the spouse had just purchased a large bottle of bourbon for her own culinary purposes. She wasn't going to need all of it.

I'm always in the need for marmalade, so thought that would be a good idea. And, persimmon works well with lemon, anyway. I was a little surprised at how red it turned, but think that it is a fabulous color. The lemon peel stayed tougher than I would have liked. Have a plan to fix that in the next batch.

Recipes

Persimmon Jam

6 cups diced persimmon ( peeled and cored)
1/2 cup lemon juice
7 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 pouch liquid pectin

Combine persimmon and lemon juice in a stock pot over medium low heat. Bring to a simmer. Let simmer until persimmon is soft. Use an immersion blender to process smooth. Force persimmon mixture through a sieve to remove any peel, seeds, or fibrous material. Return liquid to pan. Add sugar and salt. Bring to a rolling boil. Add pectin, bring back to a rolling boil. Cook three minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer to sterilized hot jars. Seal, process in a water bath for 15 minutes.

Bourbon Persimmon Jam

6 cups diced persimmon ( peeled and cored)
1 cup bourbon whiskey
6 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 pouch liquid pectin

Combine persimmon and bourbon in a stock pot over medium low heat. Bring to a simmer. Let simmer until persimmon is soft. Use an immersion blender to process smooth. Force persimmon mixture through a sieve to remove any peel, seeds, or fibrous material. Return liquid to pan. Add lemon juice, sugar, and salt. Bring to a rolling boil. Add pectin, bring back to a rolling boil. Cook three minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer to sterilized hot jars. Seal, process in a water bath for 15 minutes.

Lemon Persimmon Marmalade

6 cups diced persimmon ( peeled and cored)
1 1/2 cups lemon juice
7 cups sugar
peel of 4 small lemons, all pith removed, cut in fine julienne
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 pouch liquid pectin

Combine persimmon and lemon juice in a stock pot over medium low heat. Bring to a simmer. Let simmer until persimmon is soft. Use an immersion blender to process smooth. Force persimmon mixture through a sieve to remove any peel, seeds, or fibrous material. Return liquid to pan. Add sugar,, peel and salt. Bring to a low simmer. Let simmer until mixture has thickened, and lemon peel is translucent. Bring to a rolling boil.  Add pectin, bring back to a rolling boil. Cook three minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer to sterilized hot jars. Seal, process in a water bath for 15 minutes.

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sugar Class: Sweet Treats

Most of what we are doing in sugar class is decorative pieces. Yesterday, we had the one day where we made things you actually want to eat. We made lollipops, pillow candies, and making marshmallows. We then practiced making hard caramel decorations.

Lollipops are fairly easy. You cook sugar to hard crack stage. then add color and flavor. We used metal spring molds. You grease them lightly, then clip in the stick, and place it on a silicon baking sheet. Fill the molds with the hot sugar.









Pillow candy  is made by heating sugar to hard crack stage. Add flavor. Pour half on to a silicon pad, then  add color to the other half. At it cools, roll it up, and stretch it to add air and it becomes shiny. Roll out each color, and stick together. Stretch and fold to produce stripes. Stretch and twist, and cut into inch long pieces. Let harden on non-stick surface.







Marshmallows are fairly simple. Sugar is cooked to soft ball stage. Then place in a stand mixer with gelatin. Whip until fluffy and cooled to just warmer than room temperature. Add color and flavor, whip to incorporate. Transfer to an eight by eight pan that is lined with greased plastic wrap. Dust with a mixture of equal parts powdered sugar and corn starch. Press into pan. Let set, turn onto a cutting board and cut into squares. Toss with more powdered sugar and corn starch.




Recipes

Lollipops

7 oz. by wt. sugar
3 3/4 oz. by wt. corn syrup
4 oz. by vol. water
1 tsp. flavor extract
1 tsp. water
1/4 tsp. citric acid
artificial color

Combine 1 tsp. water, flavor extract, citric acid, and artificial color. Set aside.

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a small pot over medium low heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, to 300 F. Remove from heat, add flavor mixture. Swirl to combine. Pour into prepared molds, allow to solidify before unmolding.

Ribbon Candy

14 oz. by wt. sugar
6 oz. by vol. water
3 oz. by wt. corn syrup
1 tsp. water
1/2 tsp. citric acid
1 tsp. flavor extract

Dissolve citric acid in 1 tsp. water. Add flavor extract. Set aside.

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a small pot over medium low heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, to 300 F. Remove from heat, add citric acid mixture. Swirl to combine. 

Pour half of sugar mix onto a silicone mat. Add color to remaining half, swirl to combine. Pour onto a separate location on the mat.

As they cool, roll up. When cool enough, stretch until shiny and opaque. Roll into 12" rolls, stick together, fold and stretch to form stripes. Stretch and twist. Snip into one inch lengths. Let cool on a non-stick surface.

Marshmallows

Mix together equal parts cornstarch and powdered sugar. Set aside.

3/10 oz. by wt. powdered gelatin
2 oz. by vol. water

Combine water and gelatin. Let stand at least ten minutes.

6 oz. by wt. sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
3 oz. by vol. water
1 tsp. flavor extract
1/8 tsp. salt

Line an 8" by 8" with plastic wrap. Lightly grease, set aside.

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a small pot over medium low heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, to 238 F. Move to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add gelatin. Whip on high speed until fluffy and cooled to just warmer than room temperature. Add flavoring, salt, and color. Whip until well combined. Transfer to pan. Dust with cornstarch mixture. Press into pan to level.

When cool, dust a cutting board with cornstarch mixture. Turn marshmallow onto board. Cut into squares. Toss with more cornstarch mixture.


Happy eating!