Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cathy's Apple Ginger Pie Jam

Here's how I turned a piece of toast into a slice of Apple Pie.  I put all the flavors that make Apple Pie filling so warming, so homey, so classic into a jam.
Apples are around a good part of the year, but Autumn is when they really take the stage.  It starts with an apple for the teacher,then bobbing for apples at the Halloween Festival, Apple tarts at bake sales and finally going on trips to pick apples at a nearby orchard.
Apples are key to good jam making because of the high level of natural pectin.  In my recipe, I even boil the apple peelings first just to get the most pectin and flavor right from the start.
I like jams with real pieces of fruit still there for munching and texture.  This jam has little apples pieces preserved with tiny bites of candied ginger and the toasty warmth of cinnamon all through it.  

Watch for a monthly post here on canning and preserving various products as a part of "Can It Up".  Then you can click over to All Four Burners and see a round-up of many unique and inspiring ways to also preserve each month's product choice.  This month is Apples, so I created an Apple Ginger Pie experience in a jar, and you can too.
Recipe:  Cathy's Apple Ginger Pie Jam

5 cups Apples - about 6-7 peeled and chopped (save the peelings)

1 Lemon (zest and juice)
1/3 cup Chopped Candied Ginger
1/4 cup raisins *optional
1 Teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice (or 1/2 tsp Cinnamon + 1/4 tsp each Nutmeg & Cloves)
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
3 1/2 cup Sugar

1)  Put the peelings in a large saucepan with 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.  Drain and reserve the apple water.

2)  In a large, deep pot add the Apples, lemon juice and zest, chopped ginger, raisins, spice and the reserved Apple Water.  Stir on Low Heat just til warm.

3)  Add both sugars and stir on Low heat until sugars are dissolved.

4) Increase the heat to Med/High and bring to a boil.  Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until a jam consistency is achieved: 
     A) Test to see if the jam maintains a gel by spooning just a
     bit on a chilled plate.
     B) Or, allow the temperature of the jam to reach 220F
     C) Or, check to see the liquid on the wooden spoon is thick and
     2 drops hang on the edges and move into one drop.

5)  Carefully pour the jam into sterilized jars, seal and finish in a canning water bath (click here for info) for 8 minutes.  Remove to a rack and allow to cool. Once opened, jam should be refrigerated.

**If preparing for "Refrigerator only" the canning bath is not needed.  Simply allow the filled and capped jars to cool and keep in refrigerator.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Rolled Stuffed Turkey in Orange and Cranberry - Rotolo di Tacchino-

Food can be like hearing a song that takes you right back to a place and time.
October in California feels like summer. I miss the colors, the crisp chilled mornings and the smells of Autumn that I grew up having in North Carolina.  So, I cooked up my own little season in a pot.

When the whole main course depends on one pot, it better work, right?  I got an invitation to test out one of the Martha Stewart Enameled Cast Iron Pots and the reason you're reading about it is because I was impressed with it.
 [the recipe starts with flattening a skinless, boneless Turkey breasts, spreading out dressing and veggies and rolling up to tie]
As you would expect, the pot is fairly heavy which is comforting when you're wanting it to do everything from browning well to braising for hours in the oven.  I picked the "blueberry" color and I have to say it will make many appearances right on the buffet table this season as a serving piece, too.
One of the keys to a great tasting braise is the browning of the main ingredient, meat or meatless.  I thought about browning the turkey roll in a different skillet first, in case this enameled pot didn't handle that well.  I'm glad I didn't mess up another dish for that, because the 8 quart cast iron beauty worked up a wonderful caramelized fond and only needed Medium heat to create it. 

 [look at the browning on that turkey, looks tasty already, huh?]
I could eat the classic combo of Turkey/dressing/cranberries and gravy all year (if I'm honest - every week.)  I had a blast developing this recipe that incorporated all of my favorite smells and tastes in one pot- all at one time.  I'll be serving this at many family gatherings, pot-luck offerings, and Holiday Dinners this year.  I'd also like to attest to how good it taste straight out of the fridge for a late night snack. I can't help it, late night is my weakness.

Recipe:  Stuffed Turkey Roll-Up

1 Boneless, skinless Turkey Breast (about 2 1/2 pounds)
Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
1/2 pound Bulk Sausage
1/4 cup Dried Cranberries
1/2 cup Mushrooms, chopped
2 cups Dried Bread cubes or 1 pkg. Stuffing cubes
32 oz. warm Chicken Stock (divided)
1 egg
Zest of 1 orange (save the orange) 2 Carrots
1 Zucchini
1 bunch Fresh Thyme
1 cup fresh/frozen cranberries
1 orange sliced (use the one you zested)

1) In a skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil and cook onions with a pinch of salt until tender, then add sausage meat (breaking up with a fork as it cooks.)  Continue to cook until no pink is showing (about 8-10 minutes.)

2)  Add mushrooms and dried cranberries, stir in for only about a minute.  Remove from heat and reserve.

3)  In a bowl, add bread cubes plus 1 cup (8ozs) of stock, orange zest, pinch of salt & pepper and egg.  Stir together and allow them to soak for 5 minutes, then add the sausage/onion mixture and stir together well.

4)  Place the Turkey breast on your chopping board, slice through the length, but not all the way through.  Unfold it, like a book, making one larger piece.  Cover with plastic wrap and use a meat mallet to flatten to an even thickness. (about 1/2 inch.)

5) Spread the dressing over the turkey breast, leaving the edges clear.

6)  Using a peeler, slice ribbons of the carrots and zucchini over the dressing, sprinkle with thyme leaves, salt, pepper.

7)  Roll up the turkey, starting with the widest side, and tie at even intervals with cooking twine.

8)  Heat the Martha Stewart Enameled Cast Iron Pot (or large deep pot) on Med/High heat, adding a heavy drizzle of oil.  Carefully place the stuffed Turkey Roll into the pot and allow it to brown on all sides. 

9)  Move the browned Turkey Roll to the side and "deglaze" the pot, working up all the flavor that comes from the browned parts, with 1 cup of the stock (*optionally you can use white wine) poured in and stirred.

10)  Add to the pot, the fresh cranberries and orange slices, then the rest of the stock.  Bring to a simmer, then cover the pot and place in a preheated 375F for 20 minutes.  Uncover and continue cooking for about 1 hour (or until internal temperature reaches 165F), basting with the liquid every now and then.  Remove the Turkey Roll to a platter and allow to sit, resting, for about 10 minutes.  Slice and serve warm, or chilled.
** For gravy or au jus: In the same pot, add the strained liquid back to the pot and cook on high until liquid is reduced by half. Remove from the heat, whisk in 2 tablespoons of cold butter.  Serve with Turkey Roll slices.

Create your own Season In A Pot~

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cowboy Black Bean Dip - and Halloween Scary Food Idea~

I made this Cowboy Black Bean Dip in about 15 minutes.  It's healthy (protein, iron, vitamins). It's versatile (crackers/chips, veggies, even a breakfast topper). And, it's easy (as in easy.)
Just for fun I turned it into a Halloween theme food and added some homemade "Ghoulish Crackers".  My monthly online virtual potluck pals chose to do "Scary Food" for our Let's Lunch entry.  This Cowboy Black Bean Dip is Scary Good, so I hope that counts, too. :D
There's just a bit of spicy heat, which you can increase or decrease, but my in-house focus group (aka teenage son and friends) liked the heat so for my second batch I also added a little minced jalapeno.  Teenagers with pepper breath?  Now, that's scary!

The crackers could be just your favorite Olive Oil or 10 Minute crackers.  I rolled the dough thin onto parchment paper on a baking sheet and cut them into odd shapes. I made the ghoulish faces by pressing through with my fingers and stretching the holes, just before placing in the oven to bake.

For the "head stones", I cut the dough into squares and rounded the tops, then pricked with a fork for unreadable dedications.
Have a safe and hysterically scary Halloween, "Let's Lunch" pals. (see MORE scary foods from my pals listed below)
Enjoy this Cowboy Black Bean Dip anytime you need to scare something up that's easy, healthy, spicy and fun.
Recipe: Cowboy Black Bean Dip

2 Cans Organic Black Beans (drained)
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup chopped Onion
1/2 Tsp. Cumin
1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup Plain Yogurt
2 Tbls. Chipotle Peppers in Adobe Sauce

1) In a blender, puree all ingredients except 1/2 cup of the beans.
2) Add the reserved beans and pulse til choppy.  Add water or stock to achieve desired consistency
3) Spoon into serving dish.  Can be refrigerated for a couple days, and taste better at room temp.  Serve with crackers/chips, cut veggies or with eggs and salsa.

**More Scary Foods:**

Lisa’s Pretzel fingers at Monday Morning Cooking Club
fabulously spooky Halloween cakes at A Cook and Her Books
Halloween Spice Cookies at A Glass of Fancy
Pumpkin Spiced Flan at Spicebox Travels
Spooktacular Stuffed Pumpkin at Hot Curries & Cold Beer
Sloppy Vegan Joe with Mock Meat at Joe Yonan

Monday, August 27, 2012

Roasted Tomato Confiture - Summer's Finale

You say tomato, and I say..., let's roast them with herbs, a little apple cider vinegar and sugar to make a confiture.
At the end of summer, my garden is bursting with a tomato finale. The vines look tired, and my family and friends are over my elaborate ravings about each and every vegetable miracle.  I gather all the stragglers and throw them all together for this easy recipe.

It's a chunky, savory preserve that gives your burgers a POW! 
You can spread it on sandwiches (instead of ketchup), or use as a topper for homemade Pizza.
It's a tangy kicker to scrambled eggs, and about a bazillion other tasty uses.  Oh, did I mention how good it tastes on Hatch Chile Grilled Corn Muffins (click here for that recipe.)
We're not talking about hours of attention to cooking, either.  If the tomatoes are large, just a quick dunk into boiling water makes the tomato peels slip right off.  If the tomatoes are small, (cherry tomatoes) or you're like me and it doesn't matter, you can skip that step.
Then, simply chop and add everything to a pan to roast and that's it.  Done. Proudly fill up jars, or bowls with your "Looks so fancy, but it's not", Roasted Tomato Confiture.
I've never made this without "taste-testing" a big scoop onto a piece of toast before I ever shared it with anyone else.  Umm, what I mean to say is, it also makes a delicious and colorful Bruschetta topping. :D
Roasted Tomato Confiture is one of those little "secret sauces." You reach into the refrigerator, and quickly toss a little on slices of avocado or a corn muffin and watch everybody almost lick their plates while thanking you for cooking up something "so special and complicated."  Then, you smile and just say, "Oh, you're welcome, but I'm so tired, can someone else do the dishes (from yesterday and today?)  Shhhh, I'll never tell. 
RECIPE: Roasted Tomato Confiture

Tomatoes (peeled, large chopped)
Sugar (1/2 cup to every 2 cups of tomato)
Apple Cider Vinegar (1/4 cup to every 2 cups of tomato)
Fresh herbs (at least 1/4 cup to every 2 cups of tomato, but more is welcome according to preference.  The ones I use are Thyme leaves, Marjoram, Oregano, and Basil.)

1)  On a covered baking sheet pan, or in a casserole dish - spread the chopped tomatoes out evenly.

2)  Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the tomatoes, then the vinegar.

3)  Top with fresh herbs distributed evenly.

4)  Roast in a 350F preheated oven for about 1 1/2 hours or until most of the liquid has been reduced.  Stir every now and then (about every 20 minutes) just to distribute ingredients and liquid.

5)  Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Pour into a bowl and stir to break up any large clumps and achieve your desired consistency.  I like it chunky, some like it put into a blender and very smooth.

6)  Store in the refrigerator in airtight jars or containers.  Good for a couple weeks if refrigerated properly.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Quinoa "Build-A-Bowl" Party

It was Mother's Day and my request was for the family to join me in a party.  A Quinoa "Build-a-Bowl" Party.  Right now you're probably muttering to yourself just like my family members did, "why, and um...why, and really?" 
Yes, I can be a bit of a food nerd. But, I was so convinced that if they could just experience the flavors, the nuttiness, and the ease of this "perfect" grain they would fall in love with it, too. I'm not saying that Quinoa (Keenwa, Kinwa) can solve all the health problems in the world, but it's a start,'s a start.
The United Nations has named 2013 the International Year of Quinoa.  This ancient cereal contains 18% protein along with fiber, magnesium and iron.  It even has calcium, making it a great choice for vegans.  It's naturally Gluten Free and is one of the simplest foods to cook, ever.
Quinoa can be cooked like rice, or Quinoa flour can be used in baking and pasta, or the grains can be used in everything from baked goods to breakfast foods.  Gimme a flag, I'm ready to march!
I discovered Quinoa in cooking school when one of my favorite Chef instructors said, "If you're on an island and you can have only one food, pick Quinoa because it's the perfect grain."  Then we cooked some and it was bitter and I was so confounded.  

Did healthy have to be so bad tasting?  As it turned out, we had bulk Quinoa which needs to be rinsed to get the natural coating off of the grain that makes it bitter to taste and (hello, perfect universe) keeps the birds from eating it before it's harvested. When we cooked it correctly, I became a self-appointed ambassador.
Most Quinoa sold in stores has already been pre-washed and the instructions will guide you to just give it a quick rinse before cooking.  I recommend that for rice and all grains.

I'm convinced that anyone who thinks they don't like Quinoa has simply not found the way they like it.  Perhaps they cooked it in unseasoned water, then judged it to be bland. It's a food canvas that takes on the flavors you bring to the whole picture.
At the Quinoa Build-a-Bowl party, I put out tons of choices to mix and match, toss and turn, and pick and nibble.  
At one end of the table there were two choices of Quinoa. Both had been cooked in Vegetable Stock.  The Red Quinoa Mixed was warmer with a toasty bite.  
 Some of the items for mixing into their Quinoa bowls were for the meat lovers (tarragon roasted chicken and bacon.)
In another section, I had varied offerings of vegetables (red peppers, grilled corn from the cob, caramelized onions, grilled squash, black beans, rocket arugula, shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes, garbanzo beans,etc.) 
There were toppings (nuts, cilantro, red onions, shredded cheeses, etc.)
I included fruits and nuts to show just how different Quinoa can be used.  My daughter eats Quinoa for breakfast, warmed with fruits and Almond milk.
To toss in or drizzle over the Quinoa, I made two different pours:  Honey Lime Cumin Vinaigrette and a Cinnamon Coconut Milk.
Of the seven members of our family there that day, four of them were guys.  They are loving and tolerant and very supportive, but I knew I was really testing their humor asking them to go along with my idea and call it their lunch.  Like I said, I waited til it was "Mother's Day" (sneaky, huh?)
After my little spiel about my "love for Quinoa", I let them party with simple directions to start with some Quinoa and then just have fun, you know, "building-a-bowl".  
We had some wine, some waters, some music going and a lot of jokes (mostly at my expense) flying around the room. 
I'm not kidding you, the buffet table was almost empty at the end of this meal.  For as much "guff" as I took, I also watched every single person return to that table to try another combination.  My Firefighter, 6'3" son who listened to my preaching with a patronizing grin admitted that he couldn't stop eating "this stuff."  
The conversation around the table turned into recommendations for the "perfect" bowl, and the right time to "garnish". 
They actually said the word, garnish. Which means they listened to me.  Huge Mother's Day gift.
So, maybe you don't need to have a whole party to try some of these combinations (although it was seriously fun.)  I just hope that your "take away" from my recap is a sense of confidence that you can create a wonderful, healthy and simply delicious meal from Quinoa.
And, no, I haven't been compensated or sponsored by any National board for the Inca Indian grain that is so mispronounced called, Quinoa.  Like I said, I'm a bit of a food nerd and I just love making you a star in your own kitchen.

**photos by ShowfoodChef and LVKM** 


1 cup Quinoa grains
2 cups Liquid (Stock, water, coconut milk or combo)

1) After rinsing the Quinoa and draining it, pour it into a saucepan with the liquid. 
2) Bring to a bowl, season, then lower the heat to a simmer.  Cover and Cook for about 15-20 minutes until the little grains sprout.  Check after 15 minutes.
3)  Fluff with a fork and serve warm, or cool and then keep in refrigerator for up to several days and use as needed in recipes.

RECIPE: Honey Lime Cumin Vinaigrette

1 oz. Honey
1 Lime (juice)
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
2 oz. Olive Oil

1)  Whisk the honey and lime juice together.
2)  Whisk the cumin and olive oil together.
3)  Add the oil into the honey citrus, season with salt and pepper.  Whisk briskly to form an emulsion (or use an immersion blender.)

RECIPE:  Cinnamon Coconut Milk

1 Cinnamon stick
1 Cup Coconut Milk

1)  Pour the milk into a small sauce pan, add the cinnamon stick and bring to an almost simmer over low/med. heat.
2)  Remove from the heat, cover and allow to infuse for at least 15-20 minutes.
3)  Remove the cinnamon stick and chill the milk or serve warm.

Here are a few other Quinoa recipes for you to enjoy: