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June 10, 2010

Cranberry Chutney and Brie en Croute!

I had 3 bags of frozen cranberries in my freezer that I had bought last Christmas when I thought that stringing fruit on my tree might be a good idea with a 1 year old in the house. Make that 4 bags (I found one yesterday). Once baby Moo was mobile, I figured that cranberries maybe WEREN'T a good idea - plus all that stringing of popcorn and fruit?!?! WAY more work than I wanted to do around the holidays. We did paper chains instead and put the non-breakable ornaments way up high. The nice ones stayed in the box. Again. Ahhhhh, the joys of kids :)

Anyway - back to the chutney - this is the recipe that we used, slightly adapted. It was good plain, it was excellent in brie en croute and I'm sure it'd be lovely with a roast turkey. Slighty sweet, slightly tart, a cute little jar with jewel flecks running through...beautiful.

Cranberry Chutney:
1/2 med onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2" piece of ginger, finely chopped
1 12 oz bag fresh cranberries, coarsly chopped
1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
3/4 cup water
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tsp celery seed
1-1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Saute the onion in a little olive oil about 2 mn, add garlic and ginger and sautee an additional 2-3 mn.
Add remaining ingredients and cook until thickened, about 45 minutes.

Fill hot jars with chutney and process 10 mn. Let sit in pot additional 5 mn. 
Cool on counter with towel underneath until completely cooled or overnight .

p.s. Here's what happens when your jars aren't hot before you start putting food in them: The bottom just popped right off and we had chutney floating around in there with our cans...

For the Brie en Crute? EASY and simple appetizer to wow a crowd! Unfortunately I only took the 1 picture, of it in the oven - which turned out horribly and all I can really see here is how disgusting my oven looks with all the fingerprints and baby slobber...but I swear that if you can look past that, you'll see that it's pretty neat :)

1 small wheel brie cheese
1 half pint jar cranberry chutney
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1 egg
1 Tbsp water

Defrost puff pastry - roll out slightly depending on the size of your brie

On a small baking sheeet, lay out your pastry.
Place the brie wheel in center of pastry, spoon chutney over top and fold pastry up and over the chutney and brie, creating a little "package".

Mix egg and water together to make an egg wash and brush over the top and sides of the pastry.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. 

June 9, 2010

A Beautiful Wedding...

I was fortunate enough to be asked to shoot my first wedding in May. Beautiful location, beautiful people. Here are a couple of the photos that the bride picked out for me to share...

I'm a Can-Can Canner! (Spicy Strawberry Jam)

Ok, so I don't REALLY know how to dance the can-can, but I can CAN!

Sorry - I'm done now, I swear...

I applied to be a host through houseparty.com some time ago. I've applied for a bunch and never got chosen and so forgot about it for a while until someone I knew actually got something. So I went back on and applied for the Ball Taste of Summer Party which included a ton of canning supplies including all the tools, a stainless steel bath, pectin, tons of coupons for people, etc. Seriously, I don't care if they ever pick me for anything again, this was the BEST!

I had talked to a couple friends and my grandmother just before getting this so it must've been kismet.

Fast forward to last Friday and my girlfriend and I canned for 5 hours while our boys played. It was so much easier than I ever thought it would be and the results were pretty amazing. We made a strawberry-hot-pepper jam and a cranberry chutney. Both were delicious. Here is the recipe for the jam. It's delicious poured over a brick of cream cheese and eaten with crackers. I'll post the chutney recipe next:

Strawberry Hot Pepper Jam:

  • 4 cups crushed strawberries (we put them through the food processor - I don't know if this is wrong to do or not, but it worked. Although I'm told it's why our fruit floated upwards during the settling - anyone know anything about this?)
  • 1 cup minced jalapeno peppers or other hot peppers (we did a mix of mostly jalapeno, a couple serrano and a few habanero. It's still not that spicy - next time I would probably use a few more habanero - or a less-sweet fruit)
  • 1/4 fresh squeezed lime juice (you can use lemon too - we thought lime would be a little more fun)
  • 1 (2oz) pkg powdered fruit pectin
  • 6 cups white sugar
  • 8 half-pint canning jars with lids and rings

Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot or canning bath and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and keep at a boil for processing.

Meanwhile, place the strawberries, peppers, lime juice, and pectin into a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once simmering, stir in the sugar until dissolved, return to a boil, and cook for 1 minute.

Pack the jam into the hot, sterilized jars, filling the jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Run a knife or a thin spatula around the insides of the jars after they have been filled to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars with a moist paper towel to remove any food residue. Top with lids, and screw on rings.
Carefully lower the jars into the pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between the jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary until the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 10 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes in the pot with the heat off.
Remove the jars from the stockpot and place onto a cloth-covered or wood surface, several inches apart. Allow to cool overnight.

June 5, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie

Thanks to my dear friend Mrs. S, I finally got my hands on some rhubarb. I am probably one of the few people in this great state that don't have it growing in my back yard. For this, I am sad...

I spotted it at the farmers market a few weeks ago but balked at the idea of paying $5 for a small bunch. My friend told me that she was sure she'd seen some in a ditch closer to her boys' daycare so we headed over that way. Turns out it wasn't rhubarb, but this pesky plant. Good thing I didn't chop it up for my pie! Also, good thing there weren't a ton of neighbors around - us crazy girls parked on the side of the road foraging through the underbrush...the things we go through for cooking!

Inspired by this post, I decided to make a crumble pie - I had a leftover pie crust in the freezer and berries were on sale 2 for 1, so I really couldn't go wrong.

I wish I'd shared a picture. I really do. But my camera battery was dead after taking 700+ photos at a wedding only days before and it was gone in less than 12 hours! My husband, who claimed the crumble too sweet, ate a second piece after I'd gone to bed and a 3rd the next morning. When I was brushing my teeth the next morning my 3 and 1 yr old pushed a chair up to the counter and ate the remainder of it straight out of the pie dish.

(side note - I didn't think the topping was too sweet at all - I think the cheap ice cream he bought to go with it was too sweet...but hey, he's the critic, right? Oh wait...no...that's not right...)

I'm going to make another one. I have leftover rhubarb and strawberries are on sale again this week.
I promise I will. And I'll take pictures. For real. And I might even post them.

UPDATE! I remade the pie and took a picture before it was all gone! Woohoo!

For now, you'll just have to live with the recipe:

1 pre-made uncooked pie crust (I used pillsbury - feel free to make your own - it's something I haven't attempted to master yet and I certainly wasn't going to take any chances using the little rhubarb I had)

3 cups rhubarb, diced
2 cups strawberries, sliced
2/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch

mix it all up in a bowl and let it sit while you make the crumble

Struesel/Crumble/Sweet crunchy goodness:
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt (you can leave this out but I think it really adds something...)

1/2 cup butter, REALLY cold, cut up in teeny pieces

Mix all ingredients except butter - cut butter into flour/sugar/oat mixture until it forms crumbly goodness.

Dump the filling into the pie crust
Dump the crumbly goodness on top of that
Dump the pie (ok, don't dump) - GENTLY place the pie in a 400 degree oven for 10 mn. Without opening the oven, lower the temp to 350 and bake another 35 minutes.

Let it cool for a while. Warm pie is good. Hot pie with hot sugar that burns your mouth is NOT good.
Trust me on this one...

Good with ice cream or fresh whipping cream! It's the beginning of the fresh season and I love it!

Ham and Red Lentil Soup with Garam Masala

I'm cleaning out my freezer. Basically this just means I have stuff in there that has been there close to the 3 month mark and it needs to go. Plus, well, the budget is tight this month with me off for 2 weeks and paying for all the summer activities the boys are up to. Man, kids are expensive! You think when they get older and you don't have to pay for daycare that the money will just start rolling in? Not so much...kids are busy! They ruin clothing faster, they hurt themselves and have to go to the ER where you fight with the insurance company because apparently a 2 yr old needs an accident report to make sure he didn't harm himself at his place of work....

ANYWAY - onto the soup:

I made a version of this soup a long time ago and LOVED it - loved it so much I went out and bought a ham and made it again a month later - this is not normal for me. I am a cook that doesn't really have a typical "rotation" of meals. Sure, I do spaghetti and chili in the colder months, a fabulous pasta salad in the spring/summer but for the most part I just love experimenting...with food that is ;)

This soup is basically made from leftovers and pretty cheap ingredients - I actually have garam masala and star anise in my cupboards fairly regularly, so maybe I'm being a big fat liar right now, but they're readily accessible at any grocery store - even down here - so I think you should be good.

So without any further ado...

Ham and Red Lentil Soup with Garam Masal
(phew! that's a mouthful!)

1 leftover ham bone with meat attached - and leftover slices set aside to chunk up and add after you make the broth.
About 12 cups of water - or enough to cover the bone
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 bay leaves
5 cloves sliced garlic
1-2" pc ginger, sliced
1 tsp coriander seeds

Add the above to a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Simmer on low about 2 hours or until reduced by 1/3.
Remove bone and any fat and chop meat into bite sized pieces.
(I usually do this the night before so that I can refrigerate the stock and then just take the fat off with a spoon)

1 Tbsp
3 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 white onion (med - lg), diced
2 Tbsp Garam Masala
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp smoked paprika

3 cups red lentils - less if you like it soupier.

Sautee vegetables in oil 4-5 minutes until slightly soft. Add spices and stir a couple minutes but be careful not to let them burn. Add stock and bring to a boil - lower to simmer, add chopped ham and cook about half hour. Add lentils and cook 15 mn or until cooked through.