Showing posts with label sweet 'n savory. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sweet 'n savory. Show all posts

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Spicy Sweet Savory Pickled Cherries




i don't know how i got this idea that i HAD to make pickled cherries. i just wanted a way to enjoy all these beautiful cherries all year long.  i googled around and found a few recipes, but the vinegar thing was throwing my off.  i knew if i tweaked the recipes a bit i would have to give it a try.  i had no idea how these would turn out, but it was an unbelievable surprise when i opened the first jar...

upon first bite i was a little wary...WHAM! the vinegar wakes up your taste buds...then the spice slaps you upside...the rosemary kicks in and you're left with this amazing flavor sensation that leaves you wanting more.  one of those flavor sensations that makes you wonder...
"why haven't i tried anything like this before?"...

they ARE weird......weird in the best way.

i've only served them with cheese and crackers. creamy savory cheese calms the sweet heat and pairs well with the tart tangy vinegar.  maybe prosciutto, salami, or pate de campagne?...
any charcuterie platter would be proud to have these as an addition.
there are so many other possibilities. one friend put them in a salad and another chopped them and put them in black rice with a nice glazed salmon.
so far i find myself eating them right outta the jar.

these are a must try.  canning isn't necessary.
like i said, i was hoping to have cherries for the winter, but these aren't gonna last until then.
follow recipe, let them cool, then refrigerate and wait for a few days before opening...if you can wait that long.

many thanks to Tom at Tall Clover Farm
for his "how-to"s and a great starting point.
this recipe made 4 pint jars and 3 half-pint jars with a few left over.

3 pounds of firm sweet cherries...i used 1 lb. Rainer and 2 lbs. Bing
for the brine...
2 cups white wine vinegar
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp peppercorns
2 tsp red pepper flakes...1 tsp will be okay for the normal heat seekers.
1 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3-4 whole cloves
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
5 smashed cardamom pods
1/2 vanilla pod split open
extra stuff for the jars... can stuff them with these extra goodies if you want.  you need to make sure these things have been boiled for a short time in the strained brine if you are canning...C-note at bottom
6 - 8 chili arbol...or long thin dried chili
6 nice rosemary sprigs
3 vanilla pods, split and halved to make 6 pieces
a few cardamom pods if you want.

wash can choose to leave stems (trimmed to 1/2 inch) and pits in or remove stems and pits...i tried both and found the pitted were obviously easier to eat, and they also filled the jars a little better.  the non-pitted ones, however are cuter in the jar and a little more attractive and rustic for a nice charcuterie platter.
in a heavy bottom sauce pan add all brine ingredients.  heat on a low simmer for 5-10 minutes.  things should be getting very fragrant.  turn off heat and let steep for 30 minutes.
meanwhile, fill STERILIZED JARS with cherries.  fit as many as you can without squishing them too much.  leave 1 inch head space.  also put a few extra items like rosemary, chili arbol, vanilla pod, in down the side of the jar....NOTE...i am not sure about food safety on these additions if they have not been you could just evenly distribute the ones that steeped in the syrup.
strain syrup with cheesecloth.  save the rosemary sprigs, cardamom pods and vanilla for the jars.
bring the temperature back up to hot.
pour syrup into jars over cherries leaving 1/2 inch head space. careful.  DO NOT pour hot liquid into cold jars.
screw on sterilized lid.
process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.
OR...screw on lids, let come to room temperature and refrigerate.

try to wait 2-3 days before trying. they pack quite a spicy wallop, but seem to mellow out a little on the heat factor after a week or so.

NOTE AT THE BOTTOM...i am not a canning expert.  please take care in canning properly for food safety.  here is a good place to start if you are new to canning or a little unsure.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Parmesan Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

i love pound cakes...

i think i'll be on a never ending search for the perfect pound cake...
never ending because there is not ONE perfect pound cake.
there are too many perfect pound cakes.

perfect in it's own way.

a whole cup of Parmesan cheese sets this one apart from the norm.  the parmesan hits your senses first with the fabulous aroma, then the vanilla sets in with a bit of warmth and familiar flavor...the texture is not like your basic pound cake.  at first it is just a tad "cakie"...on the verge of crumbly, but not crumbly like cornbread...hard to describe, but holds together nicely.  as you'll see in the ingredients is 1 cup of corn starch.  i might think about changing this next time.  maybe more flour less cornstarch might make a difference.  if you let it rest for a day it seems to gather it's senses and acts more like a pound cake.
 results ?...rave reviews from all of my foodie friends and guinea pigs.  at first they thought it sounded odd, but after the first bite one remark was..."this might be the best thing you've ever given me."
i served it like little sandwiches shown in last photo...sandwiched with some Cherry Balsamic Jam...i will post the jam recipe soon.

i love pound cake for breakfast.  one of my favorite ways to eat pound cake is to give it a light saute in a hot skillet.  this one lends itself to this method because it wakes up the parmesan flavors.
warm toasty cake and cold smooth ice cream  (or vanilla greek yogurt in my case) is never turned down in this house.  throw on a few fresh seasonal cherries and you have quite the dessert.

slightly adapted from Food Samba

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar...i used 3/4 cups regular sugar and 3/4 cup Z sweet sugar sub.
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 cup corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup good parmesan, grated fine
1/2 cup milk

preheat oven to 350 F degrees
butter and flour a tube pan...i used an angle food cake pan

cream together the butter and shortening in a mixer.
add sugar and mix until light and fluffy.
add eggs one at a time...beating after each one.  add vanilla.  mix well.
stir together dry ingredients in another bowl.
add dry to wet alternating with the milk.  mix until just incorporated.
pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes...until golden on top and toothpick inserted comes out clean...mine took 47 minutes.
you do not want this to overcook...i think it could tend to dry out very easily, so keep a close eye towards the end and use your toothpick or long skewer as i did.

NOTE...i like to let my pound cakes rest for a day.  they tend to develop flavors and less "cakie"texture when they sit.  go ahead and try it the first day out of the oven,  but save some wrapped in saran and try it 2-3 days later and see if you can tell the difference.

below is a fun way to serve a jam sandwich when you're faced with a pound cake cooked in a tube or bundt pan.  i usually like to cook in loaf pans for easy storage, but the tube or bundt pan makes a better presentation as a whole.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Orange Tarragon Marmalade

i don't know about you, but i'm a big HUGE fan of  SWEET and SAVORY.
for instance, i miss the Rosco's Chicken and Waffles i used to get in L.A.  crunchy, well seasoned fried chicken and a fluffy, crisp golden waffle with a bottomless dispenser of sweet maple syrup to pour on every bite.  if you've never tried it or you think it's an odd combo, i suggest you investigate.  you'll become a believer in no time.  i'm not really after the waffles but the genius who decided that maple syrup and fried chicken would be good together should get a James Beard award.

i also miss dining out and seeing Duck a l'orange on a stuffy French menu...i guess i'm dating myself...i guess it's too old school.  but again...the sweet and savory.  that syrupy orange glaze dripping over the crispy skin of a perfectly cooked duck breast.  mmmm...delicious!

well,  with those two things locked in memory, i came up with this marmalade.
don't get me wrong here...this is outstanding on a fresh scone, crumpet, popover, muffin, pound cake or any old bread, but put in on some fried chicken or a ham and cheese fried egg biscuit and we have a WINNER!

heck...this stuff is good just on a spoon!

sounds like i'm tootin' my horn again...well i am on this one...

adapted from Ina Garten and Anna's Orange Marmalade

4 large seedless navel oranges
2 lemons
7 cups sugar
2 heaping Tbsp fresh grated ginger, grated on a cheese grater
2 large sprigs of fresh tarragon
1 heaping tsp dried tarragon tied in a cheesecloth pouch
2 cloves roasted garlic, pulverized to paste and mixed with orange water.

cut the oranges and lemons in half crosswise, then into very thin half moon slices.  discard any seeds.  place sliced fruit and their juices into stainless steel pot.  add 8 cups water and bring to a boil, stirring often.  remove from heat and stir in sugar until it dissolves.  cover pot and allow to stand overnight at room temperature.

the next day, add the sprigs of tarragon, the tarragon pouch, the ginger and the roasted garlic mixture and bring the mixture to a boil.  reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 2 hours. ***don't forget to put a small plate in the freezer for your plate test.  remove tarragon sprigs.  turn heat up to medium and boil gently, stirring often for another 30 minutes.  skim any foam that you can...don't get obsessed with the skimming.  it will not be a problem.  when almost to temp, throw in a few leaves of tarragon...more than just a few.  you want to see the tarragon in the marmalade.  cook the marmalade until it reaches 220 F degrees on a candy thermometer.  remove tarragon pouch.
do a plate test.  if it's firm, not's ready, it's done.  it should be a lovely golden orange color.  if it is runny, continue to cook until the plate test works for you or if it's too hard add more water, stir and bring back to temp.

pour the marmalade into clean, sterilized jars and continue with the canning procedure...or let come to room temp and refrigerate for use.

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