Friday, September 28, 2012

Fig Jam Four Ways + Chipotle Fig Jam Recipe

Well really, if you count all the ones I ate fresh it would be figs five or six ways at least, but we'll stick to the preserving front which ranges from sweet to savory spice as well as boozy.

Once again, a friend's generosity fueled my creativity in the kitchen. Walnut Creek has got the heat, and my friend Michaela invited me over to pick from her two huge fig trees on a warm day indeed. After all that hard work, her button-cute daughter Stella was nice enough to hose down my feet. That felt nice!

While I ogled and munched figs back in my kitchen, I already had a few recipes and flavor combos in mind. First up, to make some balsamic fig jam. I have been addicted to LuLu's fig balsamic vinegar for years, and it's an indisputable swoon-worthy flavor combination. Second, I wanted to use the fennel pollen I had scored at the very first food swap. Fennel and figs go together like birthdays and cake, and that's a fact. Third, was to preserve some in brandy  these Sicilian Preserved Figs were a hit with friends.

As I cooked down all these dazzling concoctions, I knew just what to do with the remaining fruit: add some smoky, spicy, heat.

I always have a can or two of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce on the pantry shelves or in the fridge. I use them in eggs, chilequiles, soups and chili, and even put a bit of the sauce in salad dressing for roasted vegetable salads. I am happy to report the jam outcome was as expected: sensational. The earthy smoky spice of the chiles paired with the concentrated sweetness of the figs makes them soar.

Chipotle Fig Jam
Yields 4 half pints

2 lbs figs, chopped
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
4 tablespoons lemon juice, plus a few lemon slices if desired
1-1½ canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped  to taste, depending on your desired spice level

Chop your figs according to how chunky you want your jam, and place in a large non-reactive pot. Cover with sugar and let macerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Add water, lemon juice, and lemon slices if using, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer and stir regularly to prevent scorching.

After an hour, if needed, use a potato masher to break up the figs. Stir in the chopped chipotle chile in adobo sauce.

Cook another 15-20 minutes, or until the jam has reached a consistency you like.

Ladle into hot jars, and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Confession time: The harvest and output described here was actually from last year. In fact, I've already gone and picked the first round of this year's crop which has resulted in four new types of figgy goodness, including a different fennel flavor, plus herbal and citrus mixes. I promise to highlight some of them here before this time next year...

Chipotle Fig Jam on Punk Domestics

Friday, September 21, 2012

Swapper Profile: Martine Holston + Caprese Jam Recipe

I am delighted to introduce Martine Holston in our next swapper profile! Call it kismet  or maybe just the fact that SF is a small town, and the home canning/food community even smaller  but I first met Martine at Omnivore Books while waiting to get our cookbooks signed by Marisa of Food in Jars. As we stood next to each other in line and chatted for a bit, food swapping never came up...but then she walked in the door of the August food swap, and we immediately recognized each other. Though all her jams looked and tasted like summer in a jar, we didn't trade because honestly between what I make myself and what I have traded for at past swaps, our pantry and fridge are already overflowing with jam, but I am so happy that a fleeting meeting turned into a deeper connection, and I hope she becomes a regular at the swap. Read on to find out about her "voodles" and for her fabulous twist on tomato jam.

Name: Martine Holston

Home (+ hometown swap): San Francisco

Profession: International Public Health

How did you first get involved in food swapping? How long ago? I googled it! I ran across an article about food swapping, and knew there had to be one in San Francisco. My first swap was in August.

What did you make for the last food swap and what inspired your choice? I brought a sample of different jams that I made in August  Nectarine Plum Ginger, Peach Vanilla, Peach Spice, and Pineapple. The peaches and nectarines were a gift from a friend who had 24 boxes of ripe, heirloom, organic fruit. Her company subsidizes a farm with heirloom peaches and nectarines to preserve the orchard  the farm can't sell the fruit because it ripens too fast and was going to let the orchard die. The company's employees have to harvest the fruit as part of the deal (tough life). After freezing, jamming, canning and baking dozens of pounds of fruit, my friend still had excess and needed to give some away. She gave me a box each of nectarines and peaches, and these jams were the result. I didn't trade the nectarine cilantro salsa, because it was too amazing  sorry folks.

What’s your favorite thing about swapping? Getting rid of my surplus jam! Also, seeing other people's creativity and getting inspiration.

Who or what most influences your cooking? Making things healthy and veganizing them. While I'm only "veganish" (my French blood does not allow me to give up cheese), I like the challenge of making things vegan and gluten free so everyone can enjoy them and feel good about what they eat.

What’s your favorite kitchen tool?  Cooking would not be as fun or exciting without my food processor - life would be bland (no pun intended) without flaky pie crusts, hummus, pesto, and carrot miso salad dressing. My newest kitchen toy is a julienne peeler for making "voodles" 
 noodles out of vegetables.  (There's a post on my blog about it if you're curious)

Your current flavor or ingredient obsession?  Heirloom tomatoes - they're just SO good. I just made a boozy heirloom tomato sauce on top of a polenta pizza crust.... mmmmmm.....

Biggest food surprise? My Caprese Jam. It was the first time I ever tried tomato jam, and I was not expecting how good it is  or the complex flavor is from few ingredients.

If the Rapture came tomorrow, what would your last meal on earth be? Depends on if I'm going to be "raptured" or not. If I think I'm going to heaven, then I would have a decadent meal at Millennium
  and probably get two desserts (I won't be alive the next day to deal with the tummy ache). If I think I may be stuck on earth with fire and the wrath of God to contend with, I'd carbo-load with pasta tossed with brie cheese and cherry tomatoes to survive the apocalypse.  

When I'm not in the kitchen I'm... yoga-ing, running, blogging (and I guess working).

Favorite local food experience: Food trucks (even though the veggie options are limited, I like the experience); any Farmer's Market, and the bulk bins at Rainbow Grocery.

Recipe by Martine: 

Caprese Jam
Yield: 2 half pints 

For the story of how this jam came to be, read this post.  

A complex jam compared to its relatively few ingredients. Like sweet caramelized sun dried tomatoes with a hint of spice and grassy basil. Serve with any number of cheeses (cheddar, goat, brie) or on a sandwich (roasted veggie, or grilled cheese). I even think it would be good on vanilla ice cream, or on a sweet cornbread. This recipe yields a little more than 2 half pints. Enjoy the leftovers and can the two full jars.

4 cups chopped tomato (skin and seeds in tact)
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoon bottled lemon juice
1.5 tablespoon chopped basil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
A few grinds of black pepper

Prepare jars for water bath canning.

Combine all ingredients except the basil into a large, non-reactive pot.  Bring to a boil, and then let simmer stirring occasionally at first (and then more frequently as it cooks) for 20 to 30 minutes. The jam will turn a dark maroon hue and the liquid will begin to thicken when the jam is ready. Turn off the heat and stir in the basil.
Ladle into hot, prepared jars, and process for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cooking The Breakfast Book, Chapter 6: Basmati Brown Rice Pancakes

Here we are, six chapters in to our Cook the Book project, and I'm starting to realize I don't often go with the obvious choices. That's true for my life in general, so I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise here. But still, when I reopen The Breakfast Book to cook for each post, I find myself slightly second-guessing my decision (for example, why didn't I choose Dutch Babies on the adjacent page?). Ultimately that's because there are an awesome collection of recipes in each chapter of this book, so there's lots to tantalize you away from your original thinking. I stuck with my griddling selection here though and had no regrets. 

These brown rice pancakes are like little flavor packets. Light and fluffy, yet toothsome and satisfying. Based on my cooking notes, I am filing these away in the "crazy good" category.

I love a savory breakfast which is probably why I gravitated towards these pancakes to begin with, so the first couple I tried topped with just some butter and sprinkle of flaky sea salt. Perfection, I was sure of it. Round two I went with some maple syrup and was wowed by the combination  divine! Then on the last round (c'mon, they're small pancakes), I used some of my homemade peach syrup, and literally rolled my eyes and smacked my lips in delight. I am sure you will find your perfect way to eat these too, so go make them and find out what it is.

Basmati Brown Rice Pancakes
makes 2 dozen 3-inch pancakes
Adapted from from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham 

2 eggs, separated

1/2 cup cooked brown rice (I used basmati and loved the flavor, but you can substitute any brown rice)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Optional: 1/2 cup golden raisins

Separate your eggs and beat the yolks until light. Stir in the cooked rice, milk, salt, flour, and melted butter and beat until well combined.

In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until they are stiff, but still moist. Fold the egg whites gently into the yolk mixture, and if using raisins gently stir them in at this stage.

Get your griddle or pan hot and add a little vegetable oil. Stir the batter to get the rice evenly distributed, and for each pancake drop in about 1 tablespoon of batter. Cook over medium-high heat until each pancake is golden, and then gently flip over and cook until the other side is equally done.

Be sure to stir the batter before making each round as the rice will settle to the bottom of the batter.

Here's where you can find my Cook the Book friends, and get even more of your breakfast fix in:

  • Rachel from Ode to Goodness
  • Natasha from Non-Reactive Pan
  • Emily from The Bon Appétit Diaries
  • Claudie from The Bohemian Kitchen
  • Sammy from Rêve du Jour
  • Saturday, September 15, 2012

    Make Pickles - Cook It! August Resolution: Curry Pickle Slices

    Making pickles is already one of my preserving pastimes. And out of everything I've made, my hands-down favorites are these Curry Pickle Slices. Last year's supply didn't last long, so I made a few batches earlier in the summer for the June food swap, but as pickling cucumber season was beginning to wane I had to squeak some more in during August. So they are the perfect fit for the August "make pickles" resolution for Cook It! 2012.

    If you are making pickle chips of any kind, I highly recommend using a mandoline. This is not only about a thousand times faster than slicing them with a knife (no joke), but will ensure your slices are uniformly thick and they'll look nice too.

    For most pickle chip recipes you'll need to plan on two days. The first one you prepare your vegetables and leave them in salt overnight to remove excess moisture. The second day you make the brine and get them into jars. If you are not a home canner, you could easily make a half batch and keep them in your fridge. I bet they wouldn't last long at all.

    Curry Pickle Slices
    Makes 4 pint jars

    8 cups pickling cucumbers, sliced
    3 small onions
    1 tablespoon pickling salt
    2¾ cups cider vinegar
    1¾ cups sugar
    1 tablespoon curry powder
    2 teaspoons pickling spice (Penzey's has a great one, or you can make your own)
    1 teaspoon each: celery seeds and yellow mustard seeds

    Remove the cucumber ends and then cut into thick slices. Thinly slice your onions and place with the cucumber in a large non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle with pickling salt and let stand, covered, for 24 hours.

    Drain the cucumbers and rinse them twice with cold water, draining thoroughly.

    Combine your remaining ingredients: vinegar, sugar, curry powder, pickling spice, celery and yellow mustard seeds  and bring to a boil over high heat in non-reactive pan.

    Add the cucumbers and onions and return just to a boil before removing from heat.

    Remove hot jars from the canner and fill with vegetables, using a slotted spoon to remove from the pickling liquid. Pack into jars and pour in liquid, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. 

    Process 10 minutes for pint jars and 15 minutes for quart jars.

    Note: I've increased the amount of pickling liquid in this recipe adaptation as I always seem to be just a little bit short, and it is much better to have an excess than not enough to properly pickle all your hard work.

    These pickles go great on nearly any sandwich and are awesome in egg salad.

    Curry Pickle Slices on Punk Domestics

    Monday, September 10, 2012

    August Swap Recap (filled with lots of caramel)

    It's always good to try something new. Which goes hand-in-hand with the old adage 'all good things must come to an end'. So it turns out that we are doubly thankful! First, for the friendship and collaboration with Patricia  which via the Algarden and her landscape architecture business BASE  included use of the space we held most of our swaps in for nearly a year! And second, for the new partnership with Sports Basement where we held the August swap.

    In direct contrast to our former space being on the tight side, the Grotto Gallery seemed a bit vast for our group. We've already got some ideas on how to make it more intimate, and to take advantage of the extra space for next time though.

    As it always seems to go, we had a great mix of new faces and familiar ones  plus we attracted the interest of a few folks who were just passing by in the store but got excited about swapping, including Jay who even snapped & shared the photos above/below this section from his phone (thanks Jay). Spreading the swap love, that's what we like!

    So the master swap list this go around is filled with all kinds of goodness, and yes, indeed featured quite a bit of caramel: 

    Chocolate Caramels, Vanilla Bean Salted Caramel Sauce, Bulleit Bourbon Caramel Sauce, Chocolate Dipped Mangoes, Vegan Biscotti, Organic Sprout Mix, Chunky Pluot Cardamom Jam, Herb Sauce, Eggplant, North Carolina Style Pulled Pork, Salsa, Bacon Jam, Organic Yogurt, Organic Banana Bread, Tayberry Jam, Pickled Zucchini, Lavender Chocolate Macarons, Black & Orange Preserves, Chicken Liver, Apple & Bourbon Pate, Plum & Pomegranate Jam with Tarragon, Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho, Chile Infused Vodka, Papaya Habanero Hot Sauce, Boozie Cherries, Spicy Pickled Carrots, Pickled Spiced Beets, Creme Fraiche, Wild Presidio Blackberry Jam, Rustic Chocolate Choffy Truffles, Mahummara, Olive Oil Granola with Cherries, Pineapple Jam, Nectarine Plum Ginger Jam,  Asian Plum Sauce, Peach Jam with Star Anise, Apricot BBQ Sauce, Firehouse BBQ Sauce, French Yogurt Cake and Blueberry Lemon Bread

    I know I don't have the names for two types of Martine's jam and one of Katie's breads...did I miss anything else? Let me know in the comments below please, (I do nerdily like to keep a full list).

    Want to see more pics? Find them all here.

    Big thanks to the marketing folks at the Bryant Street Sports Basement store! They not only provided the space cost-free, but provided beer and wine, as well as tables. Hooray for their support of local businesses and organizations.

    See you again in October!