Archive for August, 2010

{Preserving Summer} Bourbon Peach Jam

Friday, August 27th, 2010

I mentioned we recently went peach picking at Hollin Farms in Fauquier County, Virginia. Unfortunately my preserving aspirations exceeded my hands-free time during the week (one so quickly forgets how time-consuming infants can be) so sadly we lost a few to spoilage before I got a chance to put up a batch of jam. (We did enjoy quite a few out of hand … and in smoothies … and in a pie, as well. Nothing sweetens the end of summer like fresh-picked peaches!)

The husband is a bourbon drinker, so I’d been searching peach and bourbon pairings when I came across this jam. I adapted the recipe to follow the ratios specified by Pomona Universal Pectin — if you’ve never used Pomona before, it allows you to use less sugar than regular pectin.  I didn’t weigh the peaches, but this used about 24 or so of my smaller- sized peaches.  I’d picked mostly white peaches (White Lady), but thankfully the boy had picked a few of the scarlet-tinged Red Haven orange variety — which has this brilliant reddish-orange hue beneath the skin. Aren’t they lovely?

Aside from waiting for the canning water to boil (tip: start it before you start cooking the jam), peeling peaches is probably the most time-consuming part of this process. Blanching the peaches may seem like extra work, but trust me, it does save time — and avoids wasting any of that precious peach flesh that you might lose peeling with a paring knife.

How to Peel Peaches:

Bring a pot of water — deep enough to submerge a peach — to boil. Drop peaches in and boil for 20-30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and drop into an ice water bath, then set on your work surface. Peels will slip right off.

Recipe: Bourbon Peach Jam
adapted from Beantown Baker

Ingredients:

1 box Pomona Universal Pectin (follow package instructions for exact amounts of calcium water and pectin)
8 cups mashed peaches
4 cups organic cane sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla paste (or 1 vanilla bean, split in half)
1/4 cup bourbon

Instructions: (Before you begin, make sure all equipment is clean and ready. Sterilize jars in boiling water or the dishwasher — here are prep instructions from the National Center for Home Preservation.) Prepare calcium water according to pectin package instructions. Peel, pit and mash peaches. Measure into a large, non-reactive stock pot, and stir in lemon juice, vanilla paste (or bean) and calcium water. In a large bowl, combine sugar and pectin.

Bring peach mixture to a boil. Add pectin-sugar mixture, stirring vigorously for 1-2 minutes to dissolve the pectin. Return to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in bourbon, not leaning too closely over the pot as the fumes will be quite potent as the alcohol cooks off. (Remove vanilla bean, if using.)

Fill jars, leaving 1/4-inch headroom at the top. Wipe the rims clean with a damp paper towel and screw on the lids. Process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove from water and set jars on a dry kitchen towel to cool. You should hear the soft “pop” sound as the lids seal — check to make sure the inner lid is depressed, indicating it’s properly sealed. Store jam in a cool, dark place until you’re ready to enjoy. (This made nine half-pints and one full pint.)

Have you joined the Canvolution? What are you preserving for winter?
canning+across+america+logo This was a grown-up-only endeavor — my just-about-4-year-old lacks the attention span for such a time-consuming project — but if you’re looking to include your children in canning, read this article first.

{Meatless Monday} Spaghetti Caprese

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Eating meatless seems simpler in the summer, when steamy hot August days often leave me in the mood for little more than a salad for supper. The traditional caprese salad, comprised of tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, is perfectly sufficient for dinner along with a few slices of a nice, crusty baguette. I was in the mood for something with slightly more substance, though, so I added pasta. You’ll want to use very ripe cherry tomatoes and real, fresh mozzarella — the liquid from the tomatoes and cheese combine to make a silky sauce for the spaghetti. I used Blue Ridge Dairy’s boccini mozzarella (small ball-shaped) from the Falls Church Farmers Market.

The sungold yellow cherry tomatoes and the basil for this meal came from our own kitchen garden — the two stars of our garden, I might add. While the sungold tomatoes have not made a tomato lover out of my son, he did voluntarily taste one … and offer to try them again another time. Small steps… he does enjoy picking them and bringing them in for us to eat, though!

Recipe: Spaghetti Caprese

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound spaghetti, cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • about 4 large basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, preferably small balls (halved) or else cut into small cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper

Instructions: Prepare spaghetti according to package instructions; drain and set aside. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil and garlic over medium heat. Cook until garlic softens and begins to appear translucent, being careful not to brown. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook several minutes, letting tomatoes give off their juices. Add basil, season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Toss with the spaghetti noodles and let cool a couple minutes before adding the mozzarella. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

{Summer Sweets} Watermelon Slush

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Without a doubt the best purchase I’ve made this summer is our sno cone maker. I keep these great natural fruit concentrates in the fridge and we can just come home, pop a few ice cubes in and voila — an icy, refreshing sweet treat in seconds with no added sugar.

The best part of having the sno cone maker is that we’re not limited to pre-made flavors. A little fresh fruit and simple syrup is all it takes to make our own custom flavors. This watermelon version was fabulous, and oh so simple. I happened to have vanilla simple syrup on hand, you could use any flavored or even herb-infused simple syrup to up the sophistication factor. But if you’re just craving a simple fruity slushie, watermelon and a little sugar are all you need.

Recipe: Watermelon Slushie (or Sno Cone)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 1/4 cup simple syrup*
  • shaved ice

Instructions: Load watermelon into your blender. Add simple syrup, cover and puree until smooth. Pour into a pitcher and refrigerate until ready to serve. Then, fill a glass or sno cone cup with shaved ice, pour watermelon syrup over and enjoy! Makes about a half quart of syrup.

* To make simple syrup: Combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, whisking to dissolve the sugar. When it begins to boil, remove from heat and let cool. (You can add a vanilla bean half or a handful of basil or mint after removing from heat to add flavor.) Store leftover syrup in the fridge — and use for iced tea, coffee or cocktails.

Easy and Kid-Friendly Portobello Pizzas

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

As a featured contributor for The Mushroom Channel, I created these portobello pizzas on the grill — they’re fast, fresh and easy to make with the kids. Perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.

portobello pizzas

Get the recipe at The Mushroom Channel.

Local Potluck Tuesday (and fresh picked Sweet Corn)

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

My mom, brother and sister-in-law were in town this past weekend, so naturally I took advantage of the opportunity to have extra hands and dragged them out to an orchard for peach picking. (I have a little one to carry, after all.) We went to Hollin Farms this time in Fauquier County, a hilltop orchard and farm with views that can’t be beat.

And we were in for an extra treat with pick-your-own-corn. The boy and his aunt and uncle picked a dozen ears of Silver Queen sweet white corn, which we then took home and immediately grilled up for dinner, along with our Cibola Farms buffalo burgers. It doesn’t get any fresher than this!

picking corn

Now typically when we make corn-on-the-cob, I cut the kernels off for the boy. I know some kids love biting into a big ear of corn, but I guess it’s a little intimidating when the ear is bigger than your head. Yesterday, Jan from Family Bites shared a recipe on Twitter for “corn coins,” and a light bulb went off. These “coins” are simply short pieces of corn, cut into kid-sized lengths, wrapped in foil packets with butter and seasoning and cooked on the grill. It’s proof that sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Sure enough, they boy devoured five of them with dinner. (Thanks, Jan!)

I could eat plain old grilled corn-on-the-cob all summer, but I’ve seen some other corn recipes lately that look pretty tempting, too. Like this corn-and-asiago-cheese bread pudding from the Tennessee Locavore. Yum!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy summer’s sweet corn?

If you’ve got a favorite corn recipe, please share it below — or anything else you’ve cooked up lately from the farmers market, CSA or your garden!

Local Potluck Tuesday — a few guidelines:
1. Share a relevant post — a recipe, menu or pictures of a meal featuring local foods, from the farmers market, CSA, farm stand or your own garden — using the MckLinky widget below. In the link title field, enter both your post title and your name &/or blog name, e.g., “Lemon Cucumber Salad — Colleen @ FoodieTots.”

2. Bonus points if you included your kids in picking, growing, purchasing or cooking the ingredients for the meal! (And by bonus points, I mean increased likelihood of seeing your post featured in a future post.)

3. In your post, please link back to this post here at FoodieTots, so your readers can find the potluck and be encouraged to join in as well.  Of course if you don’t have a blog, you’re welcome to share in the comments.

That’s it! I hope you’ll join in and share what you’re cooking up that’s fresh & local to you!