Category Archives: Jams, Jellies and Spreads

Feller House Pear Ginger Jam + A Giveaway!

Pear Ginger Jam (1)

This past summer the Mister and I, along with two dear friends, took a road trip to Portland and wine country in Oregon, among other places.  We stayed in the Willamette Valley at a homey little bed and breakfast called the Feller House.

Feller House Gardens

Feller House Hearth

I had never stayed at a bed and breakfast before, so I was giddy about all the little extra touches that you don’t find at a hotel.  The antique furniture, the wood burning stove, the community garden surrounding.  The Mister and I, and the owners Barb and Arnie, clicked right away.  As soon as Arnie gave us the grand tour of his heirloom tomatoes, and the happy goats and chickens, we knew we had found friends.

Goat at Feller House|Spoonwithme

Fresh Eggs|Spoonwithme.com

In the mornings, we’d come downstairs to the smell of coffee and some new creation that Barb had whipped up.  When I think breakfast, I normally think of dairy (which doesn’t work for me.)  Barb made delicious quiches with greens from the garden, and french toast with homegrown berries, all with my eating restrictions in mind.  I’m used to kind of picking around breakfast items, and eating what I can (usually it’s potatoes and toast).  I was thrilled that Barb took the effort to make sure I could eat everything!

Pear Ginger Jam 1

Ginger|Spoonwithme.com

One of the breakfast staples at the Feller House is the Feller House pear ginger jam.  It’s a beautiful gold color, with a not-too-sweet pure pear flavor, a little hit of fresh and crystalized ginger, and a bright lemony finish.  It makes a perfect match for the gluten-free cranberry scones I have coming up next.  When I told Barb I’d love to post the recipe on my blog, she kindly gave me a jar to take home and the recipe.  Thank you Barb!

Pears|Spoonwithme.com

As we were walking around the wineries and food shops, I was thinking of you, dear readers, and picked up a little something!  The lucky winner will receive an olive oil and balsamic vinegar sampler from the Oregon Olive Mill ( I have no affiliation with them, I just loved their little shop and sampled their products to my heart’s delight!).

Olive Oil Giveaway|Spoonwithme.com

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below on this post, and tell me about a recipe you want to tackle in the new year. Commenting will close on December 27th at midnight, EST.  The winner will be randomly selected and notified via e-mail.  One entry per person, U.S residents only.  

 Feller House Pear Ginger Jam

Kindly shared by Barb Mitchell from the Feller House Bed and Breakfast in Aurora, Oregon

Makes about 7-8 half pint jars

5 cups cored and chopped pears

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoons grated fresh lemon zest

2 tablespoons peeled, grated fresh ginger

1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger

3 1/2 cups sugar, divided

1 3/4 oz box powdered light fruit pectin (Sure-Jell in the pink box for less sugar)

Process:

Prepare water bath canner and jars (for info on the canning process, click here).

Place pears, lemon juice, zest, and ginger in a medium saucepan over high heat.  Stir in  1/4 cup sugar, and the pectin.  Bring to a full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred), stirring constantly.  Stir in the remaining 3 1/4 cups sugar quickly.  Return to a rolling boil, and boil exactly for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and skim off foam.  Ladle into prepared jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes (or longer if high altitude).

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Filed under Edible Gifts, Jams, Jellies and Spreads

Grilled Brie and Apple Sandwiches with Onion Jam and Maple Dijon

I have developed a condition called City O’ City radar.  Whenever The Mister and I are even mildly close to Capitol Hill in Denver, he doesn’t even have to ask me where I want to eat.  Think upscale but casual vegetarian bar food, everything made from scratch with honest, good ingredients.  I have ordered most things on the menu, from the addictive greek salad with a vinaigrette I’d love to re-create at home, to the freshly baked whole wheat sourdough bread, and the Urban Cowgirl pizza, with its addictive chipotle marinara sauce.  Even though half of the menu is devoted to small-batch spirits, locally made beers, and carefully selected wines, make no mistake–City O’ City is not your typical bar scene.

There is almost always a wait to be seated, but plenty of entertainment to be had while waiting.  One could: gawk at the frosting-crowned cupcakes and latticed blueberry tarts, check out the concert posters taped to the wall, or, people watch.  The clientele wears the most fascinating assortment of hats.  You’ll see hair covering the full gammet of the color palette, with bangs trimmed in every which way.  Don’t worry, though.  You need not fit any specific image to be treated well here.  Earth mommas, artists, young, old, and in-between; cool people that think they’re nerdy, and nerdy people who think they’re cool, and people who just don’t care what other people think of them… All are welcome here.

The service is always friendly, and again, and while you’re waiting for your food, there is plenty more amusement to be had.  You could: read the daily quote on the framed chalkboard above the bar, or, check out the rotating local art displayed on the wall.  So far the most recent and memorable have been the quilted pictures of brightly colored lizards riding bicycles, and just last time, the interestingly-lit curio cabinets with strange objects inside–like something you might find in the movie Coraline.  Look back into the kitchen and you’ll see about ten people doing a sort of bohemian ballet, the guy with the dreadlocks and the bandana arcing a pizza peel into the oven, another sliding an Urban Cowgirl out of the oven.  The waitstaff weaves in and out, plates balanced on either hand.

While the atmosphere at City O’ City contributes to the magnetic force that pulls me into the restaurant, the food is really what keeps me coming back.  The other day, I had a serious craving for “La Petite Amie”; a grilled cheese sandwich like you’ve never experienced before.  I knew that City O’ City was not in the cards for the day, so I decided to re-create the sandwich to quell my hunger until next time.

My version turned out to be a close approximation of the original; bread slices with a sheet of golden crunch on the outside, giving way to melted brie swirled with caramelized onion jam and maple dijon, topped with thinly sliced Granny Smith apples and tempeh bacon.  After the whole mess was perfectly crispy and melty, I added baby arugula, as they do with the original, to add a fresh peppery note.  A couple girl friends and I devoured our fancy grilled cheese with a mixed greens salad tossed in Meyer Lemon vinaigrette, and a mindless dose of The Bachelor; the perfect way to quell my craving…until my radar beeps again.

Grilled Brie and Apple Sandwiches with Onion Jam and Maple Dijon

Inspired by “La Petite Amie” at City O’ City

Makes 4-6 sandwiches

  • 1 loaf of your favorite crusty bread, sliced
  • 1 wedge of brie, a little over a half pound, thinly sliced (the rind is edible and may be left on)
  • 2 granny smith apples, washed, cored, and very thinly sliced
  • 1 package tempeh bacon, or 8-10 slices real bacon
  • 1/3 cup dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 batch caramelized onion jam (see recipe below)
  • Olive oil for spraying or brushing
  • kosher salt
  • 2 handfuls baby arugula, washed and dried

1. Make the onion jam and set aside.

2.  Whisk the dijon mustard and maple syrup together in a small bowl and set aside.

3.  Heat medium or large frying pan over medium high heat.  Cook the bacon until crisp.  (If using tempeh bacon, heat 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil in the pan first.).  Set aside to drain on a plate covered with paper towels.  Chop the bacon into 1/2 inch long pieces

4.  Wipe out the pan used to cook the bacon with a paper towel, then return to the stove and reduce heat to medium.

5. Assemble the Sandwiches: Spray or lightly brush one side of two pieces of bread with olive oil, and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt.  On the sides of the bread not sprayed with olive oil, spread the maple dijon and onion jam, and layer the brie, apples, and tempeh bacon.

6. Close the sandwich, place in the heated pan, and cover.  Cook for about two minutes, or until one side is golden and crispy, and the cheese is beginning to melt.  Flip, and cook for approximately two more minutes, or until the other side is golden, and cheese is gooey and melted.  Remove from the pan, and pull the sandwich open, put a small amount of arugula inside, and close the sandwich up again.  Repeat this process for each sandwich, and serve while hot.

Caramelized Onion Jam

Adapted from The Improvisational Cook, by Sally Schneider

A helpful guide for caramelizing onions can be found here.

  • 2 pounds yellow onions, halved, peeled, trimmed, and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoons plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar, divided
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1. Heat the butter in a large skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the onions, sprinkle with salt, and stir.  Cover and cook for about 12 minutes, or until the onions have released their liquid.

2. Increase the heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated and the onions turn a slight golden color.  Sprinkle with sugar, and continue to cook, stirring frequently until the onions are a deep golden brown, 10-25 minutes more.  Add the apple cider vinegar to the hot pan, stir, and scrape up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan.  Remove from heat.

3.  Transfer the onions to a cutting board or a food processor and finely chop (but don’t puree).  Add an additional 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, then season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.

P.S:  Here is a goofy photo of me with a grapefruit margarita at City O’ City last summer.


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Filed under Jams, Jellies and Spreads, Sandwiches and Burgers

A Trio of No-Knead Breads + Compound Butter

Ever watch a movie where a homely under-confident girl or guy goes from zero to hero?  Think Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, or Peter Parker, the nerdy guy who morphs into Spider Man and fights evil villains like Doctor Octopus or Venom.

This is the tale of an underdog, a homely mass of dough made from humble ingredients, neglected for hours at a time.  When you see the gooey, sticky, bubbling blob in your bowl, you’ll start to doubt the magic.

You’ll wonder if you should be kneading, fussing over, or finessing the dough until it turns into a smooth elastic ball.  You might begin to think that the evil villain has taken residence in your bowl.  Don’t worry, this is a zero to hero story, remember?

A quick stir creates a shaggy dough.  Resist the urge to fuss.  Cover it up, and go do something else.  Sleep.  Wake up.  Eat breakfast, paint a picture, watch a movie.  Sprinkle in some flour, and fold the dough around in the bowl a little bit.  Don’t over-exert yourself though.  We wouldn’t want anyone to catch us kneading our no-knead bread.


Now, amuse yourself for two hours.  You could make some compound butter (a fancy name for jazzed up butter).  More on that later…

After almost a day of waiting, and very minimal effort on your part, your homely glob of dough will be ready to make it’s grand transformation from “blah” to “yeah!”.

Enter the dutch oven (ie:  cast iron pot);  the magic chamber that makes the impossible possible.  Jim Lahey, the most well-known mastermind behind the no-knead dutch oven method, calls the dutch oven “an oven within an oven.”  The hot cast iron imitates the evenly heated bricks of a domed brick oven, and the tight-fitting lid traps in the steam, which keeps the inside of the bread moist and gives the outside a solid, crackly crust.

After lid-on and lid-off cooking in the dutch oven, your hero will emerge.  Like many super-heroes, your bread will be attractive and solid on the outside (so solid, that it will sound a hollow “knock” when tapped), and tender and complex on the inside.

You may want to partake immediately.  I don’t blame you…but you must wait.  An hour, in order to achieve the best texture.

Be sure to make an extra boule or two…You may not be a zero, but baking this bread will surely make you a hero.  Even the most evil of villains melt into giggling little school-children at the smell of orange cardamom bread.

Basic No-Knead Bread + Variations

Adapted from  Jim Lahey, via Mark Bittman of the NY Times

3 cups bread flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 1/3 cups water

cornmeal or additional flour for dusting

Mix

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, yeast.  Add the water and mix with a wooden spoon or your hand until you have a very sticky, shaggy dough.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dish towel.

Wait

Let the dough rest and rise for 12-18 hours, until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough doubles in size.

Fold and wait:

See “Notes” for an easier, less-sticky way to form your bread into a ball

When the first rise is complete, generously dust a cutting board with flour.  Use a rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl to the cutting board (it will be sticky).  Using lightly floured hands or a rubber spatula, gently fold the edges in toward the center, shaping the dough into a ball.

Generously coat a cotton towel (non-linty) with cornmeal.  Put the dough seam-side down on the towel and sprinkle with more cornmeal.  Fold the towel over the dough.  Allow the dough to rest for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.   30 minutes before the last rise is complete, place the dutch oven (cast iron pot) in the oven and pre-heat to 450˚ F.

Bake

Remove the pot from the oven.  Slide your hand under the towel, and turn the dough over into the pot.  (This will be messy, but no worries…it will round out as it bakes).

Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes.

Uncover and continue baking for about 15 minutes, or until the loaf is browned.

Cool

Remove the bread to a wire rack and allow to cool for an hour before eating.

 

Variations + Compound Butter

For all variations, combine the extra ingredients with the flour, and yeast, changing the amount of salt if directed, then proceed as you would for the basic no-knead bread recipe.

Orange, Honey and Cardamom No-Knead Bread

Add the following ingredients to the flour and yeast in the basic no-knead bread recipe, then proceed as directed.  Note that the amount of salt is reduced.

2 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

1/2 teaspoon salt (instead of 1 1/2 in the basic recipe)

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 tablespoons honey

Sweet Orange-Cardamom Butter

Don’t let the name fool you–compound butter is much more simple than it sounds,  and it compliments the subtle sweetness of Orange, Honey and Cardamom No-Knead Bread.

1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), softened (at room temperature)

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed orange juice

2 teaspoons peeled and finely grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 teaspoons dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon real maple syrup

In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients using a fork until smooth and well-combined.  Serve immediately, or if desired, spoon the butter from the bowl onto plastic wrap and roll into a log.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to one week.  Serve with Orange, Honey and Cardamom No-Knead Bread.

Parmesan, Cracked Pepper and Thyme No-Knead Bread

Add the following ingredients to the flour and yeast in the basic no-knead bread recipe, then proceed as directed.

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, picked from the stem

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

3/4 cup finely grated parmigiano reggiano, romano, or parrano cheese

1 teaspoon salt

Rosemary Lemon No-Knead Bread

adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s version of Lahey’s no-knead bread

Add the following ingredients to the flour and yeast in the basic no-knead bread recipe, then proceed as directed.

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

Notes:

•Less-sticky method:  Instead of removing the dough to a cutting board after the first rise, lightly sprinkle some flour over top of the dough in the bowl.  Using your hands or a rubber dough scraper or spatula, fold the edges of the dough in toward the center, forming a ball.  Cover with a towel and allow to rise for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.  When it comes time to bake the bread, generously sprinkle cornmeal in the bottom of the preheated dutch oven, and gently scrape and slide the dough into the pot.  Bake as directed.

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Meyer Lemon Marmalade: Little Jars of Sunshine in a Cold, Cold World

Winter and I have had a spotty past.  We’ve had more break-ups than Ted and Robin on How I Met Your Mother.  We’re trying to work out our differences, but winter doesn’t like to compromise.  So here I am, garden-less and chilly, trying to fabricate a summer scene inside my Denver snow-globe; an insanity brought on by temperatures which are unreasonable, in my opinion.

The first frost marks the beginning of Project Snow Globe, or, my gravitation toward all things comforting: soft knit scarves…my most loyal furry companion…warm no-knead bread…the patch of sunlight that visits the corner of the couch every afternoon…dinner with friends…dinner with strangers (after all, it’s hard to remain strangers when sharing good food)…my husband…and…marmalade.  

Every year from the time I begin to hibernate to the time the sun begins to warm the earth, Meyer lemons begin to appear on the backyard trees of people who do not live in the arctic tundra;  far away places like Southern California, and Florida.  Here in Denver, winter sunshine-craving folks like myself find Meyer lemons perched on produce bins in cheery netted bags next to their thicker-skinned, more puckery relatives.  

Meyer lemons are ladies.  Feminine belles of the citrus world; gloved hands folded on a pressed floral skirt out for high tea. Complex and confident, they assert worldly wisdom in a softer, less in-your-face sort of way than their spunky cousins.  They embody a just-so balance of orange and floral aromas with enough of the brightness that we have come to expect from a proper lemon.  

Meyer lemon marmalade is what happens when these “ladies” get together to socialize.  No one really knows what goes on, but it’s safe to assume that scones or tea cakes might be involved.  

Spread this marmalade on anything at any time of day; your morning English muffin, an afternoon scone, or use to create a glaze for broiled salmon.  If, like me, you haven’t had enough, you could make Meyer Lemon Marmalade Bread Pudding…and what a coincidence!  I will be posting the recipe this week.  It will make you want to do a little dance.  It’s that good.

 

Meyer Lemon Marmalade

adapted from Gourmet December 1999

  • 6 Meyer lemons (about 1 1/2 lb)
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups sugar (3 3/4 cups if you like a less-sweet marmalade)

Special equipment:

  • Cheesecloth and kitchen string (Or, use an empty tea bag or metal tea infuser)
  • 5 (1/2-pint) Mason-type canning jars and lids, washed and sterilized (see notes)

Process

Prepare the lemons:  

Wash the lemons, then halve crosswise and remove seeds.  Tie the seeds in a cheesecloth bag, or put them into an empty teabag or tea infuser.  Quarter each lemon half and slice very thinly (this step requires patience, but is well worth it in the end to give the marmalade a delicate, not rubbery texture). Put the lemon slices, water, and lemon seeds into a large pot.  Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

Cook the marmalade:

Bring the lemon mixture to a boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until reduced to 4 cups (between 45 min. and 1 hour), removing the lemon seeds after about 20 minutes.  Stir in sugar and boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally and removing any foam from the top until the mixture reaches 220˚ on a candy thermometer.  If you do not have a thermometer, boil until a teaspoon of the marmalade dropped on a cold plate gels, about 20-25 minutes.  The marmalade will thicken in the jars as it cools.

At this point, either follow the instructions for canning below, or ladle marmalade into clean containers to be refrigerated once cooled.

Meanwhile, prepare to can:

I am lucky enough to have a grandma-in-law who has shared her vast canning knowledge with me.  If you are not familiar with canning, either adopt a savvy grandma or check out Tigress in a Jam’s “Canning 101” guide to read up on the process before getting started.  This resource helped me immensely in explaining the canning process below.

Pre-heat and sterilize jars:

  1. Remove the lids and place the jars on top of a rack in the bottom of the canning pot.  Fill with hot water until jars are full and covered by water by at least 1 inch.  Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 10 minutes.  (Dropping cold glass jars into boiling water could end in disaster, so be sure to heat up your jars with the water.)  
  2. Heat the jar lids in a saucepan of almost simmering water 5 minutes before filling the jars with marmalade.

Fill the jars:

  1. Spread out a kitchen towel on the counter next to your canning pot (hot jars + cold counter top = cracked jars).  
  2. Lift a jar out of the boiling water with a jar lifter, emptying the jars back into the pot. There is no need to fully dry the jars before filling.  Set the jar on the kitchen towel and ladle in the hot marmalade (a canning funnel helps here) leaving 1/2 inch headspace (empty space between the marmalade and the top of the jar).    
  3. Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp towel and screw the lid onto the jar firmly, but not overly tight. 
  4. Repeat process with all jars.  

Process the jars:

  1. Lower the filled jars into the pot using the rack.  Adjust the water level to cover the jars by one inch.  
  2. Boil for 10 minutes. Cooking time starts when the water is at a full, rolling boil.  
  3. Lift the jars out of the canner using a jar lifter and place on the kitchen towel.  Allow to sit for 12 hours to cool completely.

 Notes:

  • If you decide not to can your marmalade, ladle it into clean jars and store in the refrigerator.
  • Canning is a great way to preserve seasonal ingredients when they are at their peak, and it is less scary than it sounds if done correctly.  It is best to read up on safe canning techniques if this is your first time.  Here are some additional resources if you are just getting started:  

http://www.freshpreserving.com

http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/index.html

http://wellpreserved.ca/2008/12/28/in-a-jam/

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Filed under Breakfast and Brunch, Jams, Jellies and Spreads