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