Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quince - the Cleanup Recipes!

Ahh - the quince - I still have 25 quince, several are half mushy and six or so are bigger than my two fists together. Since I am out of all vinegar except balsamics (I KNOW? right??) - quince pickle is out, but I do have cranberries in the freezer so am going to make (drum roll) Quince Cranberry Compote. A compote is fruit cooked in sugar - you serve it over something like cake or ice cream. Or crepes.

So, tonight - I'll make quince jelly with the lovely half-gallon jar of juice, quince-cranberry compote and... I'm going to need to do something else with the quince. Poached? Time to go fill the hot water bath and get it started!

Quince Compote:
  • 2 lbs quince, quarter, peeled, cored & cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 8 c water
  • 2 c sugar
  • 12 cloves
  • 18 allspice berries
  • 2 Tb orange zest (wide strips)
  • 1 12-16 oz bag cranberries
  • 1 c currants
  • 1 cinnamon stick (3" long)
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • Blood orange vinegar, 1 Tb in each jar after filled
Combine water, sugar, spices and orange peel. Bring to boil, stirring, to dissolve sugar. Add quince. Reduce heat, cover pan and cook very slowly until fruit has turned a deep pink color, about 2 hours.

Sort and rinse cranberries, add to cooked quince. If mixture seems too dry, add a little more water or cranberry juice. Increase heat a little and cook cranberries until they begin to pop open, 12-to-15 minutes. Gently mix them with quince. Remove cinnamon & vanilla and pack jars. Add 1 Tb vinegar to each jar.

The compote is BEAUTIFUL!

5 16 oz jars
2 8 oz jars*

*In a very odd "first" - one of the wide mouth half pint jars cracked - the bottom of the jar broke right off, and the jar turned over, keeping most of the fruit inside the broken jar (which I saved for picture in the morning). This is only the 3rd mason jar I have ever broken. The 2nd was an empty half-gallon broken by a falling filled half pint. The 1st happened last year - a jar just cracked down the side when I put hot plum jelly into it. Are jars being made with less quality assurance these days? I have never had jars break like this in 20 year of canning!

A Cooking Course - CHALLENGE!!

For years, I have cursed myself for buying cookbooks and then not ever feeling like I have properly exploited their benefit. I thought about cooking my way through one or two, recipe by recipe for ages and then several years ago came across the book "Julie & Julia" but the sort of "chick lit" bent didn't appeal to me greatly. My friend Cris agrees with me - she also wants to "do" a cookbook. Everyone in food blogs seems to be writing cookbooks - how about cooking your way through a really good one?

I'm planning to tackle "The Millennium Cookbook" and my friend Cris is going to tackle "The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen" by Donna Kein (212 pages) AND "Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet" by Raman Prasad (224 pages).

Anyone else interested in this challenge?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dilly Beans (Again) & Peppers

Since I have such poor impulse control, I responded affirmatively to the call for orders for peppers from Mariquita, and had to pick up 25# of peppers on Friday after work. Saturday was dedicated to quince (and I still have 10# of quince!). After various motorcycle & household chores, Sunday night saw me roasting peppers on the fire pit in the back yard in the company of three friends - in the dark. Less than ideal as it was late and I ended up not seeing what I was doing quite as well. I was up well past midnight peeling and seeding peppers with Scott's company & Season 1 of Mad Men.

My purchase consisted of:

  • 10# mixed sweet peppers (mostly yellow & orange, a few red)
  • 10# Anaheims (equal mix of red & green)
  • 5# red jalapenos
I managed to smoke about 9 jalapenos as a test (for making chipotle peppers) - seemed to work out alright. I added the rest of the peppers and went to bed, but so did the fire! It went out overnight and the 2nd larger batch of peppers didn't even roast! The 9 test peppers are in the dehydrator, drying out the rest of the way.

The Anaheims are destined for red and green enchilada sauce, while the sweet peppers are to be canned plain for use in recipes over the winter.

I also picked up 3# of string beans and some habaneros to make even more spicy dilly beans... so, tonight, I managed to actually finish the dilly beans and put the roasted sweet peppers into jars! I also had two japanese cucumbers in the garden so in jars they went as dilly spears (with some slices of red jalapeno and yellow sweet pepper).

That leaves only freezing the roasted Anaheims to make sauce later, smoking the rest of the red jalapenos, and making a quick batch of quince jelly with the half gallon jar in the fridge before I can actually start packing for my trip! I do wonder sometimes why I do this to myself! It's a good thing I am off on Friday and the Lost Coast Dual Sport ride is on Saturday!

5 - 16 oz jars spicy HOT dilly beans
2 - 16 oz cucumber dill spears
1 - 16 oz pickled yellow sweet pepper
1 - 16 oz roasted yellow pepper
4 - 12 oz roasted sweet yellow-red peppers
2 - 8 oz roasted sweet yellow-red peppers

Monday, September 28, 2009

Late Summer Vegetable Soup

Fresh tomato juice is one of my favorite soup bases - it just tastes so good, doesn't it? Since I am getting ready to go on a road trip, I wanted to clear the fridge and what better use for 2 quarts of fresh tomato juice than a soup (OK, bloody marys, but that's not dinner - well, not without spicy dilly beans). So, this soup turned out really amazing - it's all about putting together the right things and not overdoing it, right? And, wanting to make some space in the fridge, I found a quart bag stuffed with ice cubes of tomato juice and added those, too...

Late Summer Vegetable Soup

Step 1: Saute in olive oil, in heavy bottom stockpot:

1/2 large white onion, minced fine

Step 2: when onions are softening and getting clear, add:

2 10-12" squash (1 zucchini & 1 coccozelle in this case), diced

Step 3: as zucchini are starting to brown, add

1 c frozen peas
2 c green beans chopped in 1-2" segments

Step 4: as everything starts to soften, add broth ingredients

3 quarts fresh tomato juice
1.5 quarts chanterelle broth (simmer 1-1.5 c. dried mushrooms, strain & reserve the mushrooms)
2 c of fire roasted red pepper juice (just happened to reserve after peeling & seeding peppers)
1 c orange tomato curry ketchup (some left from last fall's recipe)

Step 5: finely mince or julienne mushrooms, add to broth

Step 6: chiffonade into pot with scissors 2 handfuls of kale (red russian winter and lacinato), stems trimmed, more kale is good - depends on what you have (chard, arugula, parsley would all be good)

Step 7: add herbs, salt & pepper to taste:

1 t. dried tarragon
1 t. dried sage
1 t. dried marjoram
1 t. dried savory
1 T. dried rosemary
1 t. powdered garlic
1 t. black pepper
1 T. salt

Step 8: cube 16 oz block of extra firm Nigori tofu into 1.5' chunks, stir in gently

Step 9: prepare 2-3 c orrechiete pasta in salted water with olive oil (to keep it from sticking together - you aren't tryig to get sauce to stick to this pasta, so it's ok) - once broth is about where you want it, still thin - add cooked pasta to soup

Step 10: eat yummy soup and bring some to work in a nice big quart size mason jar.

Serves A FREAKING LOT! Ok, about 8 quarts. Get eating!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dulce de Membrillo - Quince 2009

Quince season is here once again - my friend sent out the bat-signal to tell me that they ripened early and "I have quince falling to the ground and rotting!" I hadn't been excited about trying quince again this year but not wanting to be bested by a damned furry pear-apple thing, I gamely headed over with Scott and we cleaned up the groundfall and picked the tree clean.

This year, there were far fewer quince - I ended up with 27# of quince. Some of them were quite large - the size of big softballs, with the smallest being tennis ball size. They are almost all entirely yellow - much riper this year than last year, so that heartened me a lot. My friend and her fiance invited us to help them taste test wines for their wedding and we had a nice visit, even cleaning up some of the gorgeous pink flesh apples - again, fewer than last year but still quite yummy. Her apricot tree, so far, is the only fruit tree that really overproduced this year (though the persimmons are still small and unripe - I may end up with another 200# of those this year).

Today, while my friend married her best friend, I quartered and peeled 14# of quince. I cooked the first 4# batch while I continued to clean some more. When the next batch was ready, I strained the first and retained the water, pouring it back into the pot over the next batch of raw quince quarters.

I've ended up with 17 cups of quince puree and a half gallon of gorgeous rose coloured quince juice for jelly. The puree is on the stove - a pretty high 1:1 puree to sugar ratio is recommended by most recipes for membrillo.

My plan this year is to line some shallow cardboard boxes with parchment and to put the cooked down puree into the dehydrator and just leave it there for days at 105 degrees til it sets. This year, gosh darn it, I am going to make membrillo that can be sliced!

Your quince recipes & membrillo making stories welcome as I wait for the puree to cook on super low, wash dishes, watch Season 1 of "Mad Men" and wait for Scott to bring over thai food and beer.

POST-SCRIPT:  The dehydrator worked BEAUTIFULLY!  I ended up with 9 pounds of quince paste that is sliceable at room temperature, and somewhat spreadable (a bit stiff) - it is so delicious that if I had managed to make it in a commercial kitchen, I believe I would be able to sell it to restaurants (at least one of my chef friends expressed interest).  I had the dehydrator at 95-105 degrees F for about a two days - very low energy usage compared to running the oven at 125 for two days, let me tell you!

I highly recommend stovetop-to-dehydrator for making your membrillo - you won't have to fuss and worry about the stove or dread overdoing it in the microwave.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bread & Butter Pickles - 3 ways!

I just can't resist the allure of making up pickles to snack on over the winter and into next spring - I love bread & butter pickles. I made a promise to myself that next batch will be dilly - I'll do more dilly beans because the batches that I did with a half habanero quartered (but not separated) and pushed into the top of the jar turned out amazing!

Tonight, I turned my attention to the very large striped cocozelle and zucchini in the fridge, as well as 3# of 6" long pickling cucumbers from the garden. I also decided to take the last few unripe green tomatoes and sliced them up and did a bread & butter treatment just to see how it would turn out...

6 - 12 oz jars cucumber bread & butter pickles
4 - 12 oz jars zucchini bread & butter pickles
1 - 12 oz jar green tomato bread & butter pickles
1 - 8 oz jar green tomato bread & butter pickles

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Apricot & Red Pepper Chutney

APRICOT CHUTNEY for 2009 follows a modified recipe based on last year's recipe. I liked the spice combination from the fig-tomato chutney, so left out the tumeric and star anise this time.

Fruits & alliums

  • 12 cups (7.5#) fresh apricots, pitted and chopped (no more than 1/2 inch thick)
  • 4 large (3#) white onions, finely chopped
  • 5 (1.25#) red bell peppers, chopped
  • 2.5 oz finely minced fresh garlic
  • 16 ounces mixed mixed raisins and currants


  • 2.5-3 oz ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 2-4 big sticks of Ceylon cinnamon
  • 3 Tb salt
  • 1 Tb chili flakes
  • 2 dried dried Ancho chilies, toasted lightly in the oven so that they can be crumbled, include seeds for extra zing but omit any stems
Toasted and ground together:
  • 1 tsp allspice berries
  • 1 Tb brown mustard seed
  • 1 Tb white peppercorns
  • 2 Tb fenugreek seed
  • 1 Tb coriander seed

Sour & sweet

  • 2.5 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1.5 cup malt vinegar
  • 1.5 pounds Sucanat
  • 4 lemons, both zest and juice


  1. Lightly toast the spices until they start to get fragrant. Remove from pan quickly and put into a cool dish to cool a bit, then grind coarsely with mortar and pestle.
  2. Put apricots, garlic, onions and spices into a large stock pot with a heavy bottom. Turn the heat onto medium high. Pour in enough vinegar to prevent mixture from stick to bottom of pot. Bring to simmer then lower the heat to medium.
  3. Add more vinegar as the mixture simmers to prevent it fairly mobile - you don't want it to erupt like molten apricot lava out of the pot. You should have used more than half of the vinegar by now. Continue to stir to avoid sticking, lower the temperature to maintain a gentle simmer.
  4. After about 1 hour, stir in the raisins, lemon zest and lemon juice.
  5. Stir in the brown sugar as soon as the apricots look like they are nearly falling apart. Add the sugar gradually, stirring and letting it dissolve. Alternate with remaining vinegar or additional lemon juice if needed.
  6. Simmer and stir occasionally another 45 minutes or until the chutney has a thick jammy consistency.
  7. Turn off of the heat, and set aside overnight on the stovetop or cool and put in fridge if you plan a longer delay.
  8. To finish, stir and taste your chutney!
  9. Bring the chutney to a simmer over medium high heat, then lower the temperature to medium low or low to maintain a gentle simmer.
  10. Add any additional spices, vinegar or sugar to desired taste and viscosity. Cook for 1 hour.
  11. Ladle the hot chutney into the jars and process (10 minutes in hot water bath).
  12. Store in a cool location at least 2 to 3 months before serving.

2 - 12 oz jars apricot chutney
16 - 8 oz jars apricot chutney
14 - 4 oz jars apricot chutney

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tomates a la Provencale, Redux!

You can never have too much of something as good as Tomates a la Provencale! Please revisit my recipe and make some - and remember - it's better to do it under the broiler but I don't have one so I bake. You can crisp up your garlic & breadcrumbs much better in the broiler. Yums!

Fried Green Tomatoes Po-boy Sandwich

I remember a dear friend once asking me - "Where do you get green tomatoes?" - and when I said only from my garden, she got confused, thinking I meant some kind of heirloom - rather than unripe tomatoes. The idea of eating unripe tomatoes had never occurred to her - but there are so many things you can do with them - including frying and pickling them.

Fried green tomatoes are tangy and delicious - firm and unique. You can fry up ripe tomatoes the same way, but getting unripe tomatoes is something that requires timing and perfect seasonality.

I like to make a thin batter of flour & water to dip my sliced tomatoes, and then roll them in a mix of corn flour and wheat flour, black pepper, salt and paprika - and then fry them in canola or peanut oil. These were delicious topped with Green Zebra tomato jam and with the Fig-Tomato Chutney.

So, naturally - the next day, I decided to make a sandwich out of them.

Fried Green Tomato Sandwich:
  • Leftover fried green tomato slices from the fridge
  • Fresh bread - poboy bread would be idea, but Semifreddi's seeded sourdough baguette and ciabatta have worked pretty well
  • Harissa (roasted red pepper spread) for the bottom piece of bread
  • Add tomatoes - cut to fit on the bread
  • Sprinkle salt & pepper if desired
  • Add fig-tomato chutney
  • Add fresh arugula - cut or tear pieces so that they don't just pull out of the sandwich when you eat it
  • (vegan) garlic aoili on the top piece of bread
  • fold your bread and eat it!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Green Zebra Tomato Jam

I got this idea from a recipe for Tomato Jam on paninis from a Portland newspaper - and sort of ran with it. You may not have Green Zebras on hand - but the fresh, ripe mellow flavor of green heirloom tomatoes is really good in this recipe.

  • 2# of peeled, seeded & coarsely chopped tomatoes (drained - reserve the juice for bloody marys, for the love of mike!)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp freshly ground white pepper
  • 4 Tb sherry vinegar
Simmer til slightly thick - you still want to have some nice chunks of tomato - add a bit more sugar if it's not thickening up enough. It shouldn't be jammy sticky and thick - this is for savory sandwiches. Turns out this works really great on fried green tomato poboys.


8 - 4 oz jars

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fig Persimmon Chutney

In the spirit of experimentation and - I still have a lot of frozen persimmon, I decided to try this sort of recipe - I already have some modifications for next time but here's what I did first:

  • 4# figs - quartered/coarsely chopped
  • 6 c persimmon puree
  • 3# onions - fine mince
  • 4 serrano chiles, seeded & minced
  • 1 1/4 oz fincely minced/grated fresh ginger
  • 1 can pineapple rings, coarsely chopped & juice
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 3 star anise, 1/2 tsp fenugreek seed, 5 allspice berries, 1/2 tsp dehulled cardomom - ground
  • 1 Tb salt
  • 4 oz dried dates, chopped
  • 1 c raisins
  • 2 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c dried flake coconut
  • 1.5 c sucanat
This actually turned out quite nice, but it's more of a blend of flavors and the figs are rather lost. It doesn't have the same glamorous spice combo as the Fig-Tomato chutney. I think for the next time, I will reduce the amount of persimmon to 3-4 cups, leave out the coconut, star anise and pineapple rings, and adjust the spices.

8 - 8 oz jars
12 - 4 oz jars

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Pottsville Relish

Pottsfield Relish

The "official" version of this has cabbage in it - but my grandmother only used onions, tomatoes, green peppers, salt, vinegar & sugar.

10# seeded, peeled & chopped tomatoes (reserve juice separately for soup)
8.5# to 10# chopped onions
5 large green bell peppers, seeded & chopped
2 c apple cider vinegar
2 c unrefined cane sugar
3 Tb salt

Cook down til the onions are translucent and you've reduced most of the liquid.

14 pint jars
11 half pint jars

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Fig & Tomato Chutney

I found a recipe that looked interesting - a way to kill two birds with one stone, I thought - figs AND tomatoes! So, as usual - I've altered it quite a bit and the result smells amazing.

  • 4# figs - quartered then roughly chopped*
  • 3# onions - peeled and chopped all to hell in the Cuisinart DC10
  • 4# Early Girl tomatoes, seeded, peeled & quartered
  • 1 c. Thompson seedless raisins
  • 1 c. sherry vinegar
  • 1 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 c. sucanat
  • 1 tb chili flakes
  • 2 tb salt
  • 1/2 tsp each whole white pepper, coriander seed, fenugreek seed & black mustard seed ground together

*I only quartered them and am going to have to fish out big pieces and smoosh them smaller!

Be sure to put the seeds and skins into a chinois or fine mesh strainer to allow you to capture the juice - the juice can be frozen in ice cube trays for later soups or drink it fresh (or make a bloody mary!)



8 half pints
15 4 oz jars

57# of San Marzano Tomatoes

My friend Jeff visited on Saturday and took 10# of the San Marzanos, leaving me with 57# which I cooked in one big and one smaller batch.

I put everything into the giant colander over a big steel bowl and then ran that juice through the chinois (to capture the seeds), then smashed all the pulp and seeds out in the chinois.

Next step was to process through the Kitchen Aid fruit strainer/puree attachment which is not quite robust enough for a lot of tomatoes - I had to stop every 5-10 minutes to take it apart, unclog it and put it back together. Next time - I will get a big tomato press/strainer!

  • 11 quarts San Marzano tomato sauce
  • 7 pints San Marzano tomato sauce
  • 3/4 of 1 quart jar (for dinner tonight!)
  • 2 quarts San Marzano raw tomato juice (to be frozen for soup broth)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Pesto, Part 2

Ah... Sunday... the day of mucho food processing. I got started on seeding the tomatoes for the sauce and James came to help with the pesto. He pulled leaves off all 20 bunches and we made another giant batch of pesto to split. I know have just over 3# of pesto in my freezer - yay!

Time to go through and clean out more frozen goodies to use in cooking projects - like the gallon of chopped apricot, persimmon puree and... hey - roasted tomato garlic marinara sauce? Time to eat that!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Tomatoes, Figs & Peppers, oh my!

Perhaps I overcompensated but... the tomatoes were so friendly at Mariquita's U-Pick day, and their skins so warm and compelling to my touch... I ended up bringing home 67# of San Marzanos, and 60# of mixed heirlooms, Early Girl, Beefsteak and Green Zebra tomatoes. Along with 2# of pimientos de padron (including a big bag that Julia warned were "too hot" to sell because most of her customers fail to appreciate the charm of super spicy pimientos de padron), several pounds of red and yellow bell peppers, 20 (more) bunches of basil (because I just can't get enough pesto!),

I still have to put up the figs and am looking over fig chutney recipes to occupy my afternoon while the tomatoes cook down... some ideas are fig & tomato chutney, fig chutney with Meyer lemon zest & (canned) pineapple, fig & red pepper chutney, and fig & persimmon chutney. I'm also going to try my hand at tomato jelly this week, as well as defrosting the apricots to make up some apricot chutney.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Mariquita had basil "shares" for $1 a bunch - I took the bait and bought 20 bunches of basil.

James came over and we spent all evening pulling the leaves to make pesto. 20 bunches = 1.5 lbs of leaves = 3.25 lbs of pesto. We split the goods and froze up our pesto in muffin tins as well as ice cube trays this time. We also managed to eat 1/2 # of pimientos de padron and lots of tasty fresh tomato bruschetta instead of an actual meal - but it all worked out.

Looking in the freeezer, I have little space but need more pesto to get me through the winter. I still have 20 cups of frozen chopped apricot that wants to be chutney, and a 1.6 gallon tub of fresh figs from James' friend's home in Rio Vista. I am going to be busy this week!

YIELD: 20 bunches basil = 1.5# leaves = 3.25# pesto

Half of 3.25 lb of basil-pine nut-garlic-olive oil pesto:

12 - 1/2 c muffin tin size frozen portions
24 ice cube tray size portions