Summer Berry Jam, Quick

blackberries

Mmmm! It’s summertime, and that means berries! Blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, golden raspberries, blueberries – even plums and cherries are gettin’ their business done. So what does this mean? Either stains on your shirt from eating them while sitting in the  sun, juice lusciously dripping down – or jam!

finishedjars

Traditionally we think of jam as this long, outrageous process that our grandmothers  spent all of Sunday doing while darning their husbands socks and making fudge. The truth is, it doesn’t really have to be that way. You can do it with really minimal ingredients, no pectin and in about an hour.

You don’t have to properly can this (or “put it up” as they say) if you will use it within 3 weeks or so. Instead, just let the jam cool completely after boiling it, put it in a container (glass is best) and refrigerate it.

If you are canning it make sure to have your jars, lids and rings prepared and ready, and get your water bath going so it’s all ready when the jam is done; it will make the whole process move much more quickly.

For approximately 2 pints of jam, you will need:

  • 2.5 lbs of fruit (whatever mix or single variety you desire; first time, I recommend strawberry for greatest simplicity)
  • app. 3 cups of sugar, added 1/4 cup at a time, tasting along the way
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • jars, lids and bands (or some preferably glass holder, if not canning) to hold the finished product
  • a ladle
  • a spoon in the freezer (trust me, you’ll see why)

 

  1. Start by washing your fruit well and hulling you strawberries, stemming your grapes, etc.
  2. Any larger fruits (the size of a small strawberry) cut into quarters, smaller, cut into halves, anything as small as a blueberry or raspberry leave whole. Feel free to use a food processor for this, unless you are using grapes (it messes with the skin). Cut all grapes into halves and quarters.
  3. Plop the fruit into a heavy bottomed pot – preferably a dutch oven, or at least something short and stout – at turn the heat on medium-high. I like to smash the fruit immediately with a potato masher or fork, just a little bit, to help get the juices flowing.
  4. Once the fruit gets juicy and starts to heat, start adding the sugar and stir often to make sure the sugar and fruit doesn’t burn.  cookingjam
  5. Add the lemon once the fruit is nice and juicy and begins to boil, and still continue to stir often.
  6. Continue to stir, letting it boil and reduce for 15-20 minutes (some fruits take longer, some take less). To check to see when it’s done, you can do the spoon test:

Use the cold spoon that you have in the freezer and put a tiny dollop of jam on               the spoon and stick it back in the freezer for a minute until the jam cools a bit and then use your finger to wipe a stripe down the middle. If it doesn’t run, it’s good to go. Take it off the heat and get ready to can it up. If runs, continue to boil and reduce, and try the spoon test again in 5 minutes or so.

 Though I don’t strongly recommend it, if you do have any troubles with getting it thick and gooey enough, you can use:

  • cream of tartar
  • arrowroot
  • cornstarch

*note: if you use any of these, use very little and dissolve in water first (make a “slurry”), otherwise you will have lumps and it won’t do it’s job, it’ll just be a weird mess.

Once it’s thick to your liking, it’s ready to jar. If you’re not going to can it, let it cool and put it away in the fridge. If you are going to can it, make sure you have your water bath boiling, your jars, lids and rings hot. Fill the hot jars with the hot jam, wipe the rims clean with a paper towel, secure the lids and rings and get them in that water bath, lid side up, fully submerged.boilingjars

Once the water is back up to a serious rolling boil, process for 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of the jar, remove, and leave to cool on a towel for 12 hours.

And you’re ready to enjoy! (I like mine on toast with peanut butter…mmmmmm…..)

toastandjam

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuffed Crescent Rolls: The Best Way To Clean Out Your Fridge

doneplated

Usually this would be offered to you with a recipe for the most beautiful crescent roll dough, especially with my new Kitchenaid in tow. However, I recently ended up with a tube of one of those pre-made pop-open crescent roll tubes – and a fridge full of food.

We all know homemade is better, but we also sometimes have to admit – those pop-open canister crescent rolls are mighty tasty (and so fun to open!). Definitely good enough on their own, they’re also awesome with some chicken, dipped in soup, or like a friend made – as a topping for savory meat pie.  But with a fridge full of cheese, meat, veggies and the tiniest bit of left over fruit – I figured, “how about stuffing them?”

And so, after tearing through the fridge, pulling out most of what was in there and staring at it, I put together the following fillings and combinations: (in no particular order)

1. rasberries (with a pinch of sugar on the dough)

2. salami, fresh mozzarella, a tiny dose of the best horseradish mustard around

3. roasted red beets, black pepper, and Cypress Grove fresh goat cheese

4. roasted potatoes and the remnants of some red pepper and eggplant spread

5. roasted mushrooms and Taleggio cheese (with the tiniest brush of truffle butter on the crust)

6. roasted broccoli and Beemster mild cheddar

7. fresh mozzarella and last night’s anchovy pizza sauce

8. roasted jalapenos and smoked gouda

Roasting all the veggies before putting them in the rolls really makes a difference; because the crescent rolls don’t cook for more than 7-ish minutes, any vegetables inside will stay mostly raw. Raw potatoes, raw jalapenos, raw beets (certainly no good)– the mushrooms and broccoli could work raw, but I recommend making them better by roasting.

You will need:

  • 1 canister pre-made crescent rolls
  • a few veggies from your fridge (anything you have laying around)
  • fresh berries (anything you have laying around)
  • a few tablespoons of a few different cheeses
  • a few slices of tasty meat: salami, prosciutto, ham
  • one egg

To roast the vegetables:

  1. pre-heat your oven to 425
  2. clean and dice each 1/2 beet, 1/2 potato (or anything you are using) very small; clean any cauliflower or broccoli into 4-5 tiny florets; quarter 3-4 mushrooms; half 1 jalapeno down the middle and pull as many seeds out as possible
  3. leaving out red beets, toss and coat all veggies together with olive oil, salt and pepper; toss beets with olive oil, salt and pepper separately to keep from bleeding onto the others
  4. spread veggies evenly onto a sheet tray and roast until slightly browned and cooked through
  5. if some veggies cook first, take them off of the sheet tray and begin cooling

Once the jalapeno is done, try to peel it as best as possible, get the seeds out and very finely chop it:

jalapenoschopped

Once each of the veggies are done, turn the oven down to 375.

While the oven cools, make sure you have all your fillings (berries are cleaned and raw) out and ready and have laid out your little triangles of dough like so:

unrolledunfilled

Now, you can go ahead and start putting the filling on top of the triangles, taking care not to be too generous, as it will squish out the sides as it bakes.

unrolledfilledbetter

Next, roll them up gently and set them aside for a quick second.

Separate one egg, discard the white and use a fork to lightly scramble the yolk.

Finishing Touches

Use a pastry brush to put a thin coat of egg yolk on both sides of each roll (unless you are using any flavored butter, in which case see below).

If using any butter, melt it gently just enough to be able to brush it on, but not enough for it to be hot, and brush it on in place of the egg wash.

Sprinkle the top of the berry roll with a pinch of sugar, and the beets/goat cheese with a pinch of black pepper, the mozzarella and pizza sauce with a pinch of crushed red pepper.

rolleduncooked

Place the rolls gently on a baking sheet (I recommend using a Silpat or parchment paper beneath for easy clean up if the cheese or anything else melts out) and get them in the oven, baking until golden brown.

donerollsunplated

Let cool to the bite and dive in!

Search through your own fridge and see what you can find to fill a few rolls – I guarantee you’ll find plenty of treats and combinations to play with!

halfeaten

 Have fun and enjoy!

Baked Eggs in Meat Cups! (or, how to wow your brunch guests…)

 

I made these baked egg meat cups for breaky last weekend, and was telling a co-worker about them. She seemed to think it was some kind of super fancy ordeal, but it’s really not. Simple as can be – only a few steps and little clean up, great for serving a lot of people. While they’re baking in the oven (bout 10 minutes or so), throw together a quick salad with a nice tart vinaigrette and a few slices of lightly buttered sourdough toast to serve with the egg cups. With salad and toast, one egg cup is usually enough per person. They can be pretty rich.

Ingredients:

You’ll need a non-stick muffin tin for this.

For each individual cup, you’ll also need:

  • A few slices (about 3, depending on the size) of very thin sliced cured meat (proscuitto recommended)
  • One egg 
  • 2-3 white button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2T butter
  • One medium-thick round slice of tomato
  • 1T grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 oven, preheated to 400

How-to:

1. Line the muffin cups with proscuitto. You can substitute the proscuitto for very thinly sliced bacon, or other cured meats. Just make sure whatever you use is as thin as can be!

2. Sautee your already chopped mushrooms in a small dollop of butter, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Then, drop a slice of raw tomato into each cup, and top it with a few mushrooms.

3. Crack one egg carefully atop the mushroom-tomato cup, careful not to break the yolk and trying to keep it as close to the center as possible. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and a pinch of the parmesan cheese.

4. Bake in your preheated 400degree oven until the whites are juuuust set, the yolk still a tiny bit wobbly.  The yolk will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven, until you cut it open and let all the heat out. So poke the yolk ever-so-gently (without piercing it) to find the perfect time for your desired consistency. If serving with toast and salad, I recommend it nice and runny! MMmmmm….

5. After you pull it from the oven, and once it sets for a minute in the meaty-muffin cups, it will be easy to slide out using a couple of wooden or large spoons (be gentle!). Top it with the remaining parmesan cheese and serve with a simple salad of greens and vinaigrette to cut the richness of the meat and cheese and egg and toast to sop up the yolk.

 And don’t neglect all the options! This is just a base for beauty of a breakfast canvas…

  • Replace the parmesan with goat cheese or cheddar cheese. Instead of on top, put the cheese right under the egg, on top of the mushroom and tomato. Top the egg only with salt and pepper.
  • Replace the parmesan with a slice of fresh mozzarella, and replace the mushroom with 2 leaves of fresh basil for a caprese-ish meaty egg cup. Layer in this order: meat cup, tomato slice, basil leaves, mozzarella slice, salt and pepper, egg, salt and pepper.
  • Try adding spinach to the layer of tomato and mushrooms.
And, as always…. enjoy!

Choose Your Own Baking Adventure: Banana Walnut, Carrot, or Blackberry Cardamom Bread


I’m no master baker by any means; without a sweet tooth to call my own I generally stay on the savory end of the kitchen. Baking also requires a certain kind of attention to detail and scientific organization that after the daily patience my day job requires, I just can’t hang with. But I’ll tell you – you could be missing an arm and think a whisk is is some kind of sex toy and still be able to make this bread awesome! You can even get creative with it and use your savory skills to combine flavors without opening your oven door to yet another baking catasrophe.

Apart from being a quick simple recipe, the delicious secret to it is FRESH spices. If you’re using cinnamon and nutmeg, don’t use the janky stale powdered stuff that’s been sitting in your cabinet since three Thanksgiving’s ago when you made pumpkin pie. Get a zester or fine grater, some cinnamon sticks, and a hard nutmeg nut and make yourself sneeze with the freshness.
If you’re using cardamom, toast the fresh seeds quickly on the stovetop (not pods, but for extra freshness, you can get pods and crush them to extract the seeds) and grind them in a spice grinder (which you have already, right? It’s just a little coffee grinder that you use for spices instead of coffee….)

Get this together:

1 cup smashed banana, ¾ cup toasted chopped walnuts (or)
1 cup grated carrots (or)
1 cup semi-smashed blackberries , 3/4 cup oats

      (or….):

1 cup any fruit, veggie, etc (wet ingredient that you choose and up to 3/4 cup any nuts, oats, small chopped dried fruit, coconut, choco/butterscotch/peanut butter chip or combination thereof that your heart desires

And here’s how to do it:


1. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease 9×5 pan or (2) 6×3 pans

2. Mix 1 ¾ flour ¾ c sugar 1t each baking powder and salt and ½ t baking soda cinnamon nutmeg in large bowl (except blackberry bread, replace with a couple pinches cardamom), add dry ingredients (nuts, oats, dried fruit, coconut etc)

3. In separate bowl whisk 2 eggs, 1/2 c cooled melted butter or vegetable oil, ½ c. yogurt or sour cream, 1t vanilla, stir in wet stuff and fold into dry mixture until nicely combined.

4. Spread batter in pans and bake until tooth pick comes out clean. Cool in pans on rack bout 30 min, then pop out to cool the rest of the way, on a rack.

5. Eat it!