Jalapeño Green Sauce

My Indian cooking teacher and friend Farida introduced us to this all-purpose spicy pepper sauce. You can use it as a dip, add it to curries, and spice up bean or vegetable dishes. Any dish that you want to perk up with a bit of spice will benefit from a spoonful or two of this sauce. Right now there are quite a few varieties of hot peppers at the local farmers markets. Last weekend I bought enough peppers to make several batches of this sauce. It is optional to remove the jalapeño seeds. If you leave them in, the green sauce will be quite fiery, but I seed them for a milder flavor. Be sure to wear rubber gloves when working with the jalapeños or your hands will burn for hours afterwards. The green sauce freezes beautifully. Also, it is optional to dress up the sauce if you use it as a dip with a little sour cream or other dairy product.

Jalapeño Green Sauce
8-9 jalapeños, stemmed and seeded (seeding is optional)
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and rough chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro with stems, rinsed and dried
juice of 1 medium lemon
1 medium Anaheim pepper, stemmed, seeded, chopped

In a blender or food processor combine all ingredients and pulse until you get a smooth purée, using a spatula to scrape down the bowl or blender as you work. Pour sauce into small bottles leaving half an inch or so of space at the top for the sauce to expand as it cools. It will keep several weeks in the refrigerator or freeze. Makes 1-1/2 to 2 cups.

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Satsuma Plum Jelly 

Several years ago I posted a recipe for Santa Rosa Plum syrup and jelly made without pectin. This jelly is similar, but is made with satsuma plums and uses liquid pectin. It is a gorgeous and delicious jelly. You need to use very ripe plums for this jelly to taste its best, so I let the plums sit out on the table to ripen for almost a week, then rinse the fruit and leave it whole with the skin and pit intact to make the plum juice. I often make the jelly in two steps. Day one – make the fruit juice and keep it covered in the refrigerator overnight. Day two – finish the jelly by adding the sugar and pectin to the fruit juice. After the jelly is water-bath canned it will appear as though the jelly has not set, because that stage takes time. It will be several weeks before it sets up into a thicker jelly.

Satsuma Plum Jelly
Plum Juice
40 medium satsuma plums, rinsed
2 c. water

Combine plums and 2 cups of water in an 8-quart pot. Bring to boil on medium high heat, stirring often. Boil plums for 20 minutes, pressing the plums against the side of the pan with the spoon to release the juice. Pour into a cheesecloth-lined strainer with a bowl underneath to catch the juices. Let it drain for 20 minutes. You should have 2-1/2 cups juice. Boil two more cups of water and pour it over the plum leavings. Let it drain. You should have 4-1/2 cups plum juice.

4-1/2 c. Satsuma plum juice
6-1/2 c. sugar
1 foil pouch Certo liquid pectin

Begin by bringing a water-bath canner full of water to a boil. Dishwash 8 half-pint jars to sterilize them. Place lids in a one-quart pot. Cover the lids with water and bring to a boil. In a large 8-quart stockpot or jam pot combine 4-1/2 c. plum juice with sugar. On high heat bring to a hard rolling boil, stirring constantly. Hard boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and pour in liquid pectin. Stir until pectin dissolves, about 2 minutes. Fill hot jars to 1/2 inch from the top. Wipe rims with damp paper towel and screw on lids. Waterbath for 15 minutes. Makes 8 (half-pint jars) or 4 pints.

Posted in Fruit, Jams and Jellies, preserving | 2 Comments

Peach Plum Raspberry Freezer Jam

This past Christmas our friend Jack gave us a bottle of his homemade raspberry peach pineapple freezer jam as a gift. It was so delicious that I ate most of it in one sitting. He shared the recipe and I have been looking forward to the local summer fruit to try a similar version. The recipe uses Cornaby’s Ultra Gel instant modified food starch as the thickener. It is a local product that is also available online. I made this version with local peaches along with plums and raspberries from our garden. Be sure to use ripe fruit for the best flavor and texture. 

Peach Plum Raspberry Freezer Jam
2 cups peeled and chopped peaches
1 cup chopped Santa Rosa Plums
1 cup raspberries
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons fresh strained lemon juice
1/2 cup Cornaby’s Ultra Gel instant modified food starch

In a large bowl combine fruit. Use a potato masher to crush the fruit. Add sugar and lemon juice. Stir to combine and dissolve the sugar. Slowly whisk in the Ultra Gel, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Let sit 5 minutes to thicken, then stir to mix well. Pour into 4 cleaned and sterilized 8 oz. jars. Wipe the rims with a damp paper towel. Screw on lids. Freeze. Makes 4 cups freezer jam.

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Vanilla Custard Ice Cream

We lived in England in the 1980s and one of my favorite things to do was take long drives through the countryside. We lived in East Anglia and enjoyed driving over into Essex to a town called Finchingfield. It was a small, charming village with a pub called ‘Ye Olde Nosebag.’ It served typical British fare of the time period – sausages, gammon, steak and kidney pie. The best item on the menu was their vanilla ice cream made with rich Jersey cream and farm fresh eggs. To this day it is the best vanilla ice cream I’ve ever tasted; rich, creamy yellow vanilla custard. The restaurant has since changed hands and there is no longer the same wonderful Jersey cream vanilla ice cream. I have been experimenting and finally developed a recipe that approximates that rich British ice cream. For the recipe I like to use an Italian powdered vanilla flavoring called vanillina or a high quality vanilla extract. It is a nice accompaniment to fresh fruit or cooked fruit desserts or cake.

Vanilla Custard Ice Cream
8 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
2 cups sugar
9 large egg yolks
4 packets Paneangeli’s vanillina or 1-2 tablespoons vanilla extract

In 5-quart pot combine cream, milk, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla flavoring. Whisk until sugar has dissolved. Turn heat to medium high and cook 10-15 minutes, whisking constantly, until the custard is almost boiling, about 160 degrees. It should be slightly thickened. Pour custard through a strainer into a large bowl. Cover and chill overnight until cold and thick. Freeze in an ice cream freezer according to manufacturer’s instructions. Makes half a gallon. 

Posted in Custards, Desserts, Ice Cream | 1 Comment

Roma Beans in Tomato Sauce

The past few years we have planted Italian Roma bush beans in the garden with a very small yield. This year we finally have a good crop. I love these flat green beans because they have a meaty quality to them and they keep well in the refrigerator. For this recipe you will need to make a tomato sauce in advance, then use about 4 cups of  the sauce for the beans. Save the remainder for another use. This bean dish is simple but absolutely delicious. 

Roma Beans in Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (28 oz.) cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
sugar to taste
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
1-1/2 lbs. Roma Italian bush beans, trimmed

In a 5-quart pot heat olive oil on medium heat. Add onions and cook 7-10 minutes until soft. While onions are cooking put tomatoes in a blender to purée. Add garlic to the softened onions and cook 2 minutes. Add puréed tomatoes, water, salt, pepper, sugar and herbs to taste. Cover, turn heat to medium low and cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. While sauce is cooking, bring 4-quart pot full of water to the boil. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Add trimmed beans and cook 8-9 minutes until beans are tender. Drain. Place 4 cups of the sauce in a large frying pan. Save the rest of the sauce for another use. Add the cooked beans to the frying pan with sauce. Add 1/2 cup water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let cook on medium low heat for 45 minutes or longer,  until the beans are soft and tender. You may need to add a bit more water to keep the sauce from getting too thick and sticking to the bottom of the pan. Serves 6.

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Freezing Sour Cherries

I am lucky to live in a cherry growing region. Every few years I restock my supply of sour cherries for making pies, cobblers, and jam. This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a method, but I thought I would post it so family and friends would know how much fruit to freeze and how to prepare it. I buy a 25 lb. bucket of pitted sour cherries from a local cannery that comes with a 5 lb. bag of sugar added to it. (If you have either a sour cherry tree or a source of fresh sour cherries and want to freeze some, add roughly 1/2 cup of sugar per pound of pitted cherries with juice.) Stir the cherries and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved. Measure out 3 cups of cherries with some of the juice and place in a quart ziplock bag. Squeeze out the air and seal. Wipe the bag with a damp paper towel. Label the bag with the amount of fruit and the date. Repeat until you have used all the cherries. You should have roughly 18 bags for 25 pounds of fruit. Each bag is enough for 1 (9-inch) sour cherry pie. In the past, I have had the unfortunate experience of leaky bags dripping cherry juice all over my freezer. Now I take 4 quart bags filled with cherries and lay them flat in a 2 gallon ziplock bag and freeze them inside that larger bag. No more leaks. They also take up less room in the freezer using this method, and there is also less freezer burn.

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Thai Grilled Chicken Salad with Lemongrass Dressing

We are in the midst of a July heatwave and I am not planning to use my oven much until it cools down outside. Instead, my husband has grilled a large quantity of boneless, skinless chicken thighs to last us for few meals. This salad is one of my favorite ways to use grilled chicken or leftover beef or pork. It is light and refreshing, a perfect meal for the hottest of summer days.

Thai Grilled Chicken Salad with Lemongrass Dressing
4 grilled boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
4 cups water
2 cups very thin rice noodles
4 cups torn and washed Romaine lettuce
4 green onions, sliced
1 carrot peeled and julienned
1 medium cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced, then rough chopped
1 tomato, cubed
1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Lemongrass Dressing
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup minced lemongrass or more to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar

Begin the salad by thinly slicing the grilled chicken. You will need 3 cups of sliced chicken. Place chicken in a salad or serving bowl. Boil 4 cups of water, then place the rice noodles in a large bowl and pour the boiled water over the noodles. Let the noodles hydrate for 5 minutes. Drain noodles well and add to the chicken. Add lettuce, onions, carrot, cucumber, and tomato. Pour all the lemongrass salad dressing ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Drizzle the dressing over the chicken and vegetables and toss. Garnish with chopped cilantro and mint. Serves 4.

Posted in Chicken, Meat Dishes, Salads | 2 Comments

Apricot Cheesecake

One of my good friends has a beautiful old apricot tree. It was loaded with sweet fruit this year and she was kind enough to let us have all we could use. I made several batches of jam, plus I puréed apricots with a little vanilla sugar and lemon juice to freeze in pint-size jars for later use during the cold weather months. It is good for a fruit mousse, ice cream, or this crustless apricot cheesecake.  I also used some of the purée for apricot vanilla bean fruit leather with very good results. It is best to make this cheesecake the day before serving so it sets up nicely. Serve plain, with whipped cream or a drizzle of warm apricot jam.  I love apricot season!

Apricot Cheesecake
Apricot purée
5-6 large ripe apricots, rough chopped
1/2 cup vanilla granulated sugar or plain sugar
2 teaspoons fresh orange juice

In a food processor combine fruit with sugar and orange juice. Purée until smooth. Pour out the purée into a 2-cup measuring cup. Set aside 1 cup of apricot purée for the cheesecake. Save any extra purée for another use.

Cheesecake Filling
2 (8 oz.) pkgs. full fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup apricot purée
1/2 cup sugar
7 tablespoons apricot jam
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Boil 4-5 cups water for a water bath. In a food processor combine cream cheese with apricot purée, sugar, jam, extracts, and salt. Process until mixture is smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust flavoring to your liking, if needed. Add eggs and pulse until smooth. Pour batter into a glass 9-inch pie plate. Place filled pie plate into a rectangular roasting pan and gently slide into the oven. Pour boiled water into the roasting pan. Bake for  1 hour or until cheesecake is set. (You may need to adjust the time, based on your oven.) Remove cheesecake to a rack and let cool 30 minutes. Chill without a cover until cold. Wrap in plastic wrap after it has chilled in the refrigerator. Serves 8.

Posted in Cakes, Christmas, Desserts, Easter, Fruit, Jams and Jellies | 2 Comments

Zucchini with Green Olives and Capers

If you have an abundance of zucchini from the garden try making this nice summer dish. You can eat this warm or at room temperature as a side dish. It also works well as a salad.

Zucchini with Green Olives and Capers
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise then into 1/4-inch slices
a sprinkle of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
6-7 pitted Sicilian olives, sliced
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Place oil in a frying pan on medium heat. When oil is hot add onions and cook 3-5 minutes until golden. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes to soften. Add zucchini, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes until crisp tender, stirring occasionally. You should be able to put a fork through the zucchini but you do not want it soft or mushy. Transfer vegetables to a serving dish. Sprinkle with olives, capers and parsley. Toss. Taste and add salt if needed. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Serves 2-4.

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Apricot Cherry Gratin with Marzipan Topping

One of the joys of summer here in the intermountain west is the variety of very good local stone fruit. Right now the apricots and cherries are in season. Combine them in this gratin and you have one delicious summer dessert. A few years ago a member of our book club made a lovely pear and apple gratin for one of our fall meetings. I decided to try something similar using apricots and cherries. The almond paste topping is adapted from a tart recipe by pastry chef David Leibovitz. It is a bit tedious to pit enough cherries for 2-1/2 cups but it goes fairly quickly with my method: stem cherries and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Use the heel of your palm to flatten the cherry slightly, which releases the juice and pit. Remove the pit and tear the cherry in half. Save the accumulated juice in the pan and add it to your fruit for extra flavor.

Apricot Cherry Gratin with Marzipan Topping
Fruit Filling
4 cups quartered apricots (15-20 large ripe apricots)
2-1/2 cups halved Bing cherries with juice (1-1/2 lbs.)
1/2 cup vanilla granulated sugar (or regular sugar + 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
juice of half a medium orange
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
pinch of kosher salt

Marzipan Topping
1/3 cup almond paste
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup coarse raw sugar
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 6-8 cup baking dish or 9×13 baking pan. In a large bowl combine the fruit for the filling along with vanilla sugar, orange juice, melted butter, and salt. Mix well and pour into prepared pan. In a separate bowl mix together the marzipan topping by combining almond paste with flour and sugars. Mix. Add diced butter and cut in to form coarse crumbs. Add nuts and distribute evenly. Sprinkle over prepared fruit filling. Bake for 45-50 minutes until fruit is bubbling and soft and topping is set. Cool on rack. Serves 6-8.

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