Blue Chair Jam’s Seville Orange Marmalade with Muscovado

As we sit here buried under two feet of snow (and counting), I think it’s just the right time to talk about oranges.  (After all, how can my thoughts help but escape to Florida right now?)

The thing is I made this marmalade a few months ago, in fact.  I found out that one of my new favorite online stores, the Florida Orange Shop, sells Seville Oranges which are well-known but hard to find (like so many other fruits I struggle to get my hands on).  When I ended up ordering the smallest package, 3/16 a bushel, however, I had more than I knew what to do with.

Seville Blood Orange Marmalade with Muscovado (4 of 4)

With such precious raw materials, I had to turn to the The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook.  If you’ve ever seen this book, you can’t help but be drawn in by the saturated colors of a seemingly magical world of fruit.  But the recipes too are captivating–elegant, sophisticated, every step carefully thought out to bring out the best possible results.  I was recently lucky enough to take a class with the author and founder, Rachel Saunders, and even with all the jam I’ve made I learned so much–but it only whet my appetite (so to speak!) and I didn’t hesitate to sign up for her upcoming marmalade class  in March.  It goes without saying that I can hardly wait.

The marmalades generally take 3 days or so to make–which before you balk actually makes the process all the better.  You can do all the work of chopping and seeding and slicing and squeezing one day and then put it aside.  The second day you boil and set aside again, and only on the third day do you actually make the preserves.  This makes it less of a Herculean undertaking and more of a manageable process that can even be done on a weeknight.

It’s not about convenience though, but about making a beautiful product.  Unlike other marmalades I’ve made, the jelly is clear and translucent (rather than opaque and gelatinous) and the suspended pieces of fruit are like candied jewels.  About half the fruit is quartered and used for its juice alone and discarded, while only the other half actually makes its way into the preserve.  I was initially aghast at throwing away so many peels unused (I mean, I did special order these!) but when I ended up with such beautiful results and 13 jars, I saw no reason to complain.

Seville Blood Orange Marmalade with Muscovado (1 of 4)

As for the flavor:  there’s no exaggeration in the fact that these are called bitter oranges.  If you’ve never had marmalade before it’s a bit shocking (and even if you have).  But it grows on you–with vanilla and muscovado sugar, its flavor is as elegant and complex as its rich burgundy hue.

I apologize for not providing the recipe here, but I can at least tell you where to get Seville oranges–which should be in season through the remainder of the month.

Note that the methodology used in the The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook for processing jars is not the USDA specified method.  I was nervous about this so I processed the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Seville Blood Orange Marmalade with Muscovado (2 of 4)

I’ll be slathering this on warm toast as I watch the growing mountains of white snow out the window.  Stay warm!

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Sour Cherry Pie with Jarred or Canned Cherries

I’m feeling particularly impatient with the cold.  Not just because it’s mid-January, but also because our heat has not been working properly for the past few days.  It’s hard enough to get out of bed in the morning on a dark mid-winter morning, and when it’s 41 degrees in the living room, that doesn’t help matters.

While it’s still cold enough that the prospect of double digit temperatures is exciting, our heat is fortunately working (unless I just jinxed us).

Sour Cherry Pie from Jarred Cherries (6 of 7)

I’ll still have to be patient for warmer temperatures but we can do some things to brighten our dark days.  Like making a cherry pie that brings a bit of July to January.

And don’t worry–I’m not going to tell you about making sour cherry pie from fresh cherries in mid-winter.  That would just be annoying.  Tart cherries are hard enough to find when they are in season, much less this time of year (hence I’ve had to “make do” with sweet even in the height of summer).  But fortunately they can be found jarred.  My local whole foods sells 24 ounce jars imported from Hungary, billed either as “compote” or simply “sour cherries in sugar.”  They are simply packed in their juice, which is only lightly sweetened–no viscous, cloying pie filling here.  You could happily spoon this compote into your morning yogurt, or even just eat a few straight from the jar.  Or, of course, make pie!

Sour Cherry Pie from Jarred Cherries (1 of 7)

Sour Cherry Pie from Jarred Cherries (2 of 7)

A few tweaks are in order, though. Most fresh pie recipes require you to macerate the cherries in sugar to draw out their juice–obviously that step is not necessary, but you should save some of the juice when you drain the cherries to compensate for this–I found a half cup worked well.  I also added just a touch of sugar, as jarred cherries usually come pre-sweetened.

Sour Cherry Pie from Jarred Cherries (3 of 7)

I’ve recently been experimenting with the Chez Pim pie crust method–a very pliable, easy-to-work with dough, which is particularly nice to use when making a lattice crust pie.  You can always just fit your top crust with a rolled out disk, however–it will be just as delicious.

Sour Cherry Pie from Jarred Cherries (5 of 7)

Sour Cherry Pie with Jarred Cherries

Recipe Type: dessert, pie
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Prepare crust in advance and divide into two disks. Make sure the dough has time to rest before assembling the pie.
  2. Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 425°F.
  3. Drain the cherries and reserve 1/2 cup of the juice.
  4. Stir together the cornstarch, salt, cherries, sugar, lemon juice, reserved cherry juice, and vanilla extract.
  5. Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch pie dish. Trim dough overhang to 1/2 inch. If using egg white, paint the crust with the egg white to “seal” it.
  6. Roll out second dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Using large knife or pastry wheel with fluted edge, cut ten 3/4-inch-wide strips from dough round. (You can also just roll into a round and use this to top the pie if you don’t want to make a lattice crust).
  7. Transfer filling to dough-lined dish, mounding slightly in center.
  8. Arrange dough strips over filling, forming lattice; trim dough strip overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold bottom crust up over ends of strips and crimp edges to seal. Brush lattice crust (not edges) with milk. (If not using a lattice crust, slash the top decoratively to allow steam to escape while baking). Sprinkle the top crust with sugar.
  9. Place pie on rimmed baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake pie until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, covering edges with foil collar if browning too quickly, about 1 hour longer.
  10. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (Salsa Verde) Two Ways

Several weeks ago, I was hoping for one last haul of plums at the farmer’s market, but it was not to be.  As I made it to the last stall, it looked like I’d be leaving with my canvas bag still tucked into my purse.  (Lest you think I am too virtuous, I was actually impressed with myself for remembering it that day.  Good intentions don’t always translate into action for me).  But over at the edge of that last stall was a basket full of of bright yellow-green orbs in a papery skin.  Tomatillos!  And since I’d  had a disappointing visit so far, I happily filled (overfilled?) my bag.  Victory from the jaws of defeat and all that.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (1 of 6)

I love these little twists on the familiar–like tomatoes, but a little more sour than sweet.  Wrapped up in a husk that is easy, and fun, to peel away.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (2 of 6)

I suppose I could have tried to figure out how to can this, but just as for my tomatoes, I took the easy way out:  the freezer!  (Yes it’s getting a bit full in there).  This also meant I got to try some recipes for tomatillo salsa from my Rick Bayless cookbook: Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant Flavors of a World-Class Cuisine.  It’s with good reason that Rick Bayless’s is the first Mexican cookbook I bought–he’s a fellow Oklahoman and Spanish major.  That’s probably the end of the similarities, as he has a restaurant empire and I’m a lawyer.  But please don’t hold that against him. I’m sure these failings are hard enough for him already without your disapprobation.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (3 of 6)

I’m often indecisive, so the fact that I overbought on tomatillos actually saved me a lot of agonizing about which tomatillo salsa recipe to make.  I made two.  Both are roasted (which streamlines the process) but get their heat in different ways:  serrano for a straightforward burn, chipotle for a smokier hit.  Bayless suggests various ways to use these in his other recipes, and I’ll be sure to report back on these later adventures.

Roasting and toasting, that’s all there is to it.  The tomatillos go under the broiler, get flipped halfway through the process, and char and soften all at once.  (I lined my pans with parchment paper to ease cleanup).  Meanwhile, the garlic and peppers get charred on the stovetop.  Get out your tongs and a cast iron pan and that’s all you need.  It’s always a bit funny to me to cook something in a dry skillet–don’t I need to add oil?–but it’s easy and does the trick.  And unlike toasting nuts, which often seem to burn even under a careful eye, black charring is the goal here.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (4 of 6)

I made some adaptations to these recipes since I planned on freezing them–raw onions and cilantro seemed best to add once I was serving these sauces, as my understanding is they don’t freeze well.  My hope is that they’ll add a fresh taste and people will be none the wiser about their stay in the freezer.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (5 of 6)

Since I don’t trust my memory, though, you’ll see I’ve not only labelled but also written in what needs to be added to each portion.  I feel very…clever.

Mexican cooking is something I’m still learning about–see my guest post over on Dos Gildas, with an action shot of me leafing through my Rick Bayless cookbook!

Roasted Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa

Cuisine: Mexican
Author: adapted from a Rick Bayless recipe
Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound tomatillos
  • 3-6 dried chipotle chiles (1/4 to 1/2 ounce)
  • 3 large unpeeled garlic cloves
Instructions
  1. Turn on the broiler and place an oven rack about 4 inches from the heat source and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Remove the husks from the tomatillos and wash with a bit of soapy water to get off any sticky residue. (A touch of vinegar also helps). Arrange on the prepared baking pan. Broil for about 5 minutes until the tomatillos start to blacken and blister. With tongs, flip over each tomatillo and return to the oven for another 5 minutes or so. When done the tomatillos will be soft and charred in spots all over. Let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a dry skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Place the garlic and chiles on top, and turn occasionally. Press the dried chiles against the hot pan with a spatula so they toast evenly. It will take only a few seconds on each side for the chiles. Remove the stems and place the chiles in hot water for 30 minutes to rehydrate. The garlic will take about 15 minutes. Turn occasionally. It is done when charred and blackened in spots. Remove from the pan and allow to cool. Peel the garlic.
  4. When read to proceed, drain the chipotles and pulse everything together in the food processor until it is a chunky rough puree. (Be sure to scrape in the juice from the tomatillos that has accumulated in the pan).
  5. Add a little water to lighten the consistency if you like, and season with salt and sugar as needed.
  6. Freeze or serve.
Notes

You can also use canned chipotles en adobo. In this case, no toasting and rehydrating is necessary–just remove them from the adobo and add to the food processor when ready to puree.

 

Tomatillo Serrano Salsa

Cuisine: Mexican
Author: adapted from a Rick Bayless Recipe
Ingredients
  • 1 pound tomatillos
  • 5 serrano chiles (about one ounce)
  • 2 large unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 1 small (4 ounce) white onion, finely chopped.
  • 1/4c loosely packed, chopped cilantro
Instructions
  1. Turn on the broiler and place an oven rack about 4 inches from the heat source and
  2. line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Remove the husks from the tomatillos and wash with a bit of soapy water to get off any sticky residue. (A touch of vinegar also helps). Arrange on the prepared baking pan.
  4. Broiler for about 5 minutes until the tomatillos start to blacken and blister. With tongs, flip over each tomatillo and return to the oven for another 5 minutes or so. When done the tomatillos will be soft and charred in spots all over. Let cool.
  5. Meanwhile, heat a dry skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Place the garlic and chiles on top, and turn occasionally. The chiles will take about 5 minutes, the garlic about 15. Again, they are done when charred and blackened in spots. Remove from the pan and allow to cool. Peel the garlic.
  6. When read to proceed, pulse everything together in the food processor until it is a chunky rough puree. (Be sure to scrape in the juice from the tomatillos that has accumulated in the pan).
  7. Freeze now, or proceed as follows:
  8. Finely chop the onion and rinse under cold water, drain well. Stir this into the salsa along with the cilantro, season with salt and sugar, and serve.
Notes

You can use jalapenos instead of serrano chiles.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (6 of 6)

Bon Ami Giveaway Winner + Free Canning Labels

This week has been busy with work, so correspondingly quiet in the kitchen–leftovers, freezer meals, and dinner at work have been the name of the game.

So there’s no recipes or philosophical musings here today.  But I owe you all a post to at a minimum announce the winner of the Bon Ami Chicks who Can giveaway.  So without further ado…congratulations to Judy, commenter #2!

And even if you didn’t win, there’s still something for you here:  two downloads that Bon Ami sent me to share with everyone who is a Chick (or otherwise) who Cans–cute little canning labels (with that Bon Ami baby chick!) that you can print out pop on your jar lids.  Just click on the links below for either a 2-inch or 2.5-inch size.

Bon Ami 2in Labels

Bon Ami 2.5in Labels

Roasted Tomatoes for the Freezer

Tomatoes.  Since I try to keep my tomatoes on the counter (oh yes, woe betide ye who put them in the fridge), I have to be sure to use them quickly.  Sometimes this is a challenge, such as when I recently succumbed to peak tomato season and acquired, um, 20lbs of them.

Roasted Tomatoes for the Freezer (5 of 5)

It’s a good thing that this method that I’m going to tell you about does the trick, and is easy to boot.  (How can you not love a method from a blog post entitled The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Preserving Tomatoes, after all?)

Roasted Tomatoes for the Freezer (1 of 5)

You might be surprised, given my predilection for making jam (and more jam, and ever more jam), that I’m not canning these tomatoes.  Truth be told, I’m still a bit nervous about it–and even if I weren’t it’s not a project I want to tackle on a weeknight–which is when we picked these tomatoes up as an “extra” on our CSA.

Roasted Tomatoes for the Freezer (2 of 5)

And laziness aside, roasting just sounds like a delicious way to enjoy these tomatoes:  a few charred spots, sweetness intensified in the oven, melting texture.  They’d make anything they touch taste good.

Roasted Tomatoes for the Freezer (3 of 5)

And lest I feel bad about being a Lazy Girl (which I don’t), it seems that there’s no clear answer on how to safely process roasted tomatoes (see Doris and Jilly’s discussion here, which in addition to a safety discussion includes other methods for roasting if you’re curious).   These are the seemingly minor twists and turns that get me nervous about canning tomatoes–I never would have guessed that this would matter–and it’s all the more reason for me to feel perfectly happy about stashing all mine in the freezer.  And even though freezer space is limited, roasted tomatoes really compact down and easy to find space for.  Of course, the flip side of this is that I only got about 9 jars from 20 pounds of toms.  The upshot, then, is that unless your tomatoes are coming from your garden, this probably won’t save you money over buying canned tomatoes in the store.  My great price of $1.50 a pound on local organic tomatoes, then, wasn’t quite so grand.  Nevertheless, I’m happy to support my CSA and I know I will enjoy using these bit by bit in the coming months.  And maybe I’ll work up the nerve (and the energy) to try canned tomatoes next year.  In the meantime, I see no shame in having taken the easy way out.

Roasted Tomatoes for the Freezer

Ingredients
  • Tomatoes (any quantity)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • basil and/or oregano (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line jelly roll pans (or any pans with sides) with parchment paper or foil. (See note). Make sure whatever you use lines the sides as well so that the juices are caught and don’t scorch.
  2. Trim your tomatoes: remove any blemishes or bruises from the tomatoes, and then cut them in half.
  3. Set up a colander over a bowl. Gently squeeze your tomato halves over the colander so the seeds fall inside and the juice is reserved in the bowl underneath.
  4. Roughly chop the tomatoes and set on the lined baking sheets.
  5. Sprinkle extra virgin olive oil, kosher or sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and freshly minced or dried oregano or basil onto your tomatoes.
  6. Bake for 45-50 minutes (or until the tomatoes are cooked through, being careful not to burn them). Check every so often–hot spots in your oven may cause some tomatoes to burn while the majority have not finished cooking.
  7. In the meantime, place the reserved juice from the bowl into a pot and slowly boil with some salt and pepper for about five minutes.
  8. Remove the pans from the oven and scrape the tomatoes into a small pile using a wooden spatula and then spoon them into a large bowl. Stir in the cooked tomato juice.
  9. Let cool until room temperature and then ladle into either freezer-safe canning jars or quart-sized freezer bags that have been labeled with the date and contents.
Notes

I’d guess that you shouldn’t roast more than 10lb of tomatoes at a go–if you roast more, all the steam that will spew out of your oven will set off your fire alarm and cause your husband, upon returning home late from work, to ask why the whole kitchen smells. In theory, of course (I certainly don’t know from personal experience or anything like that, ahem…)
I used aluminum foil but next time I’ll try parchment as I’ve had good luck with that for similar purposes in the past and the size I buy makes it easier to line pans with. Make sure whatever you use lines the sides as well so that the juices are caught and don’t scorch–I learned that the hard way by being too stingy with my use of foil.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade Cake

When I saw this beautiful post on Jammy Chicken last (ahem) February, it was nothing less than a sign.  This winter I made marmalade for the first time, and in perhaps too much awe at my achievement, got a little carried away–come August and my pantry is still stuffed with the results of my snowy-evening activities, and in only a few months it will be citrus season again.  The oddest thing is that I’ve never really liked marmalade, or eaten it much before this venture, but fortunately I’ve found that I liked my homemade versions.  Even so.  I’ve been needing ideas more creative than thickly layering it on toast.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade Cake (1 of 8)

Again, since this was a sign, I didn’t balk at ordering the recommended 6-inch by 3-inch cake pan required by the recipe.  While it wasn’t expensive, I did hesitate a bit as my baking drawers are already overstuffed, for better or for worse.  (For better or for worse indeed–it turns out 6 x 3 is the standard size pan for the top tier of a wedding cake).  I realize, however, that you might wisely prefer to use a pan you already have on hand, so I’ve also tested this with an 8-inch cake pan, and I’m happy to report it worked just fine.  How did I figure this out?  Pardon the reference to high school algebra, but simply multiply the area of the circle (πr2, r being equal to half the diameter) by the height of your pan.  While not perfect, the 8-inch pan was the closest match.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade Cake (2 of 8)

Meyer Lemon Marmalade Cake (3 of 8)

Meyer Lemon Marmalade Cake (4 of 8)

Enough of that though:  Let’s eat cake!

I’ve called this a meyer lemon marmalade cake, but you could make it with any citrusy derivation–I’ve also tried it with my blood orange marmalade, and you’ll see the original recipe (from Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking) uses Seville orange marmalade, the variety that is considered to make the best preserves.  I can’t say, because I’ve never managed to find these bitter oranges, but there’s always next year.  Point is, though, that the recipe is versatile.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade Cake (6 of 8)

My husband pronounced that this cake tastes a bit like a brioche, which obviously solidified its place in the pantheon for me.  In part, because it seems to justify eating cake for breakfast.  Although therefore welcome, it was an unexpected comparison, as this cake is neither kneaded or yeasted (albeit lots of butter).  But while the recipe is decidedly not one for a brioche, it’s also an unusual method as far as your typical cake recipes go.  Rather than creaming in the butter with the sugar, you cut in the cold butter, much like making a scone or even a pie crust.  (This leads me to believe the initial step could be performed in your food processor, though I admit I haven’t tested that).  Maybe that’s what makes it so good first thing in the morning as late afternoon.  It’s like a giant (buttery moist) scone!

I still have a real clutch of jars from last winter’s activities, so I’ll be continuing to make this cake, and slathering it with more marmalade, probably with increasing frequency as the citrus season approaches.  Because I know full well I’ll be getting myself in the same marmalade-laden boat next winter.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade Cake (7 of 8)

 

More Darina Allen on Three Clever Sisters:

Meyer Lemon Marmalade Cake
adapted from Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 10T butter (about 2/3 cup) plus more for buttering the cake pan
  • 3/4c sugar
  • 1 level tablespoon+ 1 generous teaspoonful of baking powder (note that a tablespoon equals three teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon + 1 generous pinch of kosher salt
  • heaping 1/4c marmalade–chopped into small bits if needed, or whizzed in the food processor.
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • powdered sugar for serving (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and grease the tin (or use cooking spray).
  2. Rub the butter into the flour and salt until the butter is incorporated and the mixture is crumbly and sandy with some pea-sized pieces, then stir in the sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and marmalade until combined, then stir in the milk. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. The batter will be very thick and spoonable rather than pourable.
  4. Scrape into the cake tin, smooth out the top, and bake in the oven for 75 minutes until the top is browned and a cake tester comes out with only a few crumbs. (If you use a different-sized pan, the time may need to be adjusted).
  5. Leave to cool on a wire tray, and dust with powdered sugar to serve. Put out your jar of marmalade alongside as well.