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Posts Tagged ‘sugar’

As luck would have it, I found that I still had a little over 5 lbs. of sweet cherries in the fridge this weekend. This, after having eaten tons of what I’d originally bought, and a friend stopping by with another sack of them to toss into champagne flutes (quite a festive ‘welcome home’ party, but that’s another story).

Last summer, I’d come across different recipes for ‘drunken cherries’; most of them involved soaking them for various periods of time in Everclear or brandy. I experimented with several kinds of alcohol and found that Jack Daniels was by far the most complimentary. I ended up putting up 7 or 8 pints of these lovely jewels, and despite the rather vast quantity, they didn’t last very long. Although perfect straight from the jar, they’re also a lovely garnish for a Manhattan or Side Car, plunked into the bottom of a chilled cocktail glass. Or, tossed with a little cornstarch slurry, make for a decadent pie or cobbler. And the syrup from the jar is heavenly, stirred into some iced tea or lemonade. So many possibilities!

Freshly pitted Bing cherries

(If you’ve ever attempted to pit cherries, it’s a daunting task – unless you have one of these little babies. I can’t live without my OXO cherry pitter! It makes fast work of removing fruit from the stone. Just the same, I recommend wearing a good apron and (preferably) a dark shirt. Juice gets to flying fast when you fall into a rhythm.)

Bing Cherries & Jack Daniels – yields about 4 pints (with a little left over, if you’re lucky, to eat straight from the pot)

5 lbs. sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup Jack Daniels whiskey
juice of 3 lemons (about 1/4 – 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice)

After pitting the cherries, place them in a large, wide non-reactive pot. Stir in a cup of the sugar and the whiskey and allow to sit at room temperature for a few hours, giving them a little what-for with a wooden spoon every once in a while. Get a water bath canner ready and sterilize your jars.

Stir in the other cup of sugar and lemon juice. Bring to boil over a medium heat and continue to boil at a simmer for about 20 minutes. You want to make sure the fruit keeps its shape; you’re not making jam.

Fill jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Process in water bath for 10 minutes. Allow to cool on a tea towel, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Check for seal after about an hour and refrigerate any jars that haven’t properly sealed.

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Pickling season is upon us! The BEST farmers’ market – Willey Farms – is a 15 minute drive from here, and they are just loaded with Kirby cucumbers. They’re about five inches long (some are smaller) and hold up really well in a vinegary brine. They’re perfect for making pickles, but this morning, while I was gathering them up by the armfuls, I thought to myself, “I’ll make some relish!” I’ve been just dying for a hot dog cooked out on the grill, and I never seem to have any sweet, tangy relish in the house, so here was an opportunity not to be missed.

After hunting around for a good recipe, and finding several variations, this is what I came up with:

(Not-Too-Terribly) Sweet Pickle Relish – makes 5 half-pint jars

  • 2 lbs Kirby cucumbers, seeded and small-diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, small-diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, small-diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, small-diced
  • 1/4 cup Kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp celery seeds
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 2 1/2 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water

Cukes, peppers, and onions hanging out in the salted water bath.

Cut up the cucumbers, peppers, and onion and place in a large non-reactive pot. Stir in the salt, cover with water, and allow to sit for 4 hours. Drain vegetables in a colander, put back into the bowl, cover with fresh water, and allow to sit for an hour. Drain again and set aside.

In the same pot used to soak the vegetables, pour in vinegar, sugar, garlic, and water and heat to dissolve. Tie mustard seeds, celery seeds, allspice and peppercorns in a piece of cheesecloth (or put into a tea ball) and infuse in the vinegar solution. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes; remove cheesecloth. Add strained vegetables and return to a boil. Reduce heat, continuing to boil, for 10 minutes.

Fill prepared jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Fit lids on jars and screw bands down to fingertip tightness. Process in a boiling water bath canner with water at least 1 inch above the jars for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, remove the canner cover, and wait 5 minutes before removing jars to a tea towel on the counter. Allow them to sit undisturbed for 24 hours; check for seal after about an hour. If any jars haven’t sealed, put them in the refrigerator for use in the near future. What a great excuse to fire up the grill!

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Impossible to resist!

With the abundance of summer produce comes a deluge of those lovely plump berries that suddenly seem to be juicier and sweeter when June rolls around. There are only so many bowls of cereal with blueberries one can eat, although I must confess, I’ve yet to reach my limit. Just the same, here’s a great recipe you can whip up in under a half hour, from pantry to breakfast table (or afternoon tea!). Makes a perfect dozen, and they freeze like a dream.

for the muffins:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries (more if you’d like)
1/2 cup white sugar

for the streusel:

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter (half a stick), melted
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and cinnamon in small mixing bowl. Pour in melted butter; stir and set aside.

In a one-cup measure, pour in the milk and then the oil; crack in the egg and beat lightly with a fork; set aside.

In medium mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt, and baking soda. Stir wet ingredients into dry and then fold in blueberries.

Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin cups. Top with the streusel. Bake for 20 minutes and then allow to cool on rack in pan for 10 minutes. Remove muffins from tin and allow to cool completely (if you can wait that long!) or serve warm.

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OK, so I’ve never made jelly before. Jams, YES. Lots and lots of jams. But never jelly. Got to thinking about the two huge lilac hedges in the front lawn that are blooming riotously, and thought to myself, “Lilac + jelly = something delicious.” Never mind that I never tasted lilac jelly in my life, nor was I even sure it was an edible flower (it is). What a great idea it was! It tastes just the way lilac smells, only sweeter. It is, after all, jelly.

But wait! There’s more!

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Last fall, my husband and I went to brunch at Amada, a Spanish restaurant in the Olde City section of Philadelphia. I’ve never been much of a fan of sangria — too sweet, too fruity, too ‘something’ — but I figured, if anyone could get it right locally, this place could. And WOW did they ring the bell with this one! I loved it so much that I brought my younger daughter here for drinks (sangria, of course!) for her 21st birthday. AND I got the recipe. SCORE!

But wait! There’s more!

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My grandmother, Genevieve Zuchowska Zablotny, used to make this bread for the Easter holiday. All the Polish women in the neighborhood had similar recipes handed down from their mother or grandmother. My childhood friend, Alice, lived two doors down from my grandmother; she and I would carry loaves wrapped in tea towels across the street to the rectory so that they could be blessed by one of the priests. We’d have fits if a crumb fell to the ground – they were now HOLY loaves. Oh boy, funny memories.

I’ve attached my grandmother’s recipe. Note that it calls for FIVE POUNDS of flour. Yup, a whole sack. Her recipe makes six loaves. The first time I made this bread, I was a novice baker, it was my first attempt at bread baking, and I had no idea what a gigantic mound of dough this concoction produced. ‘Overwhelmed’ was an understatement. I’ve condensed the recipe down to make one loaf. Here’s how.

But wait! There’s more!

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There are lots of peach cobbler recipes out there, mainly due to the fact that so many people define a ‘cobbler’ differently. Lots of folks (especially north of the Mason-Dixon line) expect to be served a ‘crumble’ and are disappointed when the baked fruit doesn’t arrive with a crunchy topping.

But wait! There’s more!

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