Peach Rhubarb Ginger Jam

May 18, 2012

Peach Rubarb Ginger Jam

My life is closely attuned to the seasons now that I am making my living preserving the harvest.   The first beautiful peaches of the season arrived at our kitchen two weeks ago.    Peach season always collides with rhubarb season, one of my other favorites.  I can remember my mother picking wild rhubarb in our old neighborhood in New Jersey.  She would walk up the side of our mountain donning her apron and pruners–I can see her just as if it was yesterday.   I didn’t usually go with her on her walks in the woods.   I was always amazed that she could identify a wild plant and bring it home to prepare a dessert for us, sometimes exposing herself to poison ivy along the way.  All it took was a simple brush by the dreaded, shiny, three-leaf plant and two days later her arms would be covered in oozy, itchy blisters.   I seemed to be immune thank God.   The wild rhubarb was never bright red, mostly green and incredibly tart.   She would fix us a strawberry rhubarb pie or cobbler or sometimes simply stew it with berries and serve with cream.

Peach Rhubarb Ginger Jam

It is best to prepare the ingredients for this jam the day before cooking.  Allowing this to macerate overnight allows the peaches and rhubarb to absorb the sugar.  This recipe should yield 8 eight oz jars.  If your peaches are really sweet, you can reduce the amount of sugar without hurting the texture of this jam.  This jam should keep its beautiful texture and color for up to 12 months in a sealed jar.



Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

May 11, 2012

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe is for one of my all time favorite cookies, Oatmeal Chocolate Chippers as my Mom used to call them.   I have adapted her recipe over the years to tweek it and make it just a bit more healthy (not much considering it calls for 2 huge sticks of butter).   I don’ t know where the recipe originated, it is hand-written on an index card covered in crunchy cellophane (always the ones that are so sentimental to me).  She always used Crisco shortening and I have exchanged that for butter.  I have also used some White Whole Wheat Flour and Bread Flour in this recipe to give the cookies a little more “chew”.   My Mom would have used Nestle Chocolate Chips, my Grandmother would have insisted on raisins, but I love bittersweet chocolate.   Ghirardelli makes a large bittersweet chip that is just a little more dear than Nestle and oh so much better tasting.   You can chill the dough before scooping if you have time, if not, they will not suffer one bit!  My mom would sometimes add a cup of chopped walnuts or pecans to these too…I have chosen to leave them off the ingredients list.


Oatmeal Chocolate Chippers


Peach Lavender Cornmeal Buttermilk Muffins #Baketogether

May 10, 2012

Peach Lavender Muffins

The Baketogether with Abby Dodge this month featured a fabulous recipe for Cornmeal Buttermilk Muffins , a sweet or savory version.   As the first juicy peaches are now coming in from South Georgia, I wanted to incorporate peaches into the recipe.   Here I have used my Peach Lavender jam to create a sweet version of the original muffin recipe.   So…instead of fresh fruit, I added 5 oz of my Peach Lavender jam to the egg mixture.  The baked muffins are marbled with the jam and they burst with bits of peach flavor, really pleased with the results!  I also decided to put a little sweet topping on these and used my trusty Vita Mix to blend sugar and dried organic lavender flowers to elevate these muffins.    You will note I reduced the sugar in the muffins ever so slightly as I was using jam, plus adding a sweet topping.  Taken directly from Abby, if you are new or would like to join the #Baketogether, please know that  we are a very inclusive  group of happy bakers.  You can  Subscribe to Abby’s rss feed so you are always  in-the-know and check out this post for some info on how we #baketogether.


Marbled Peach Lavender Muffins


Creamy Plantain Pudding

April 29, 2012

Plantain Pudding


Plantains are so widely available here in Central Florida, and I have really gotten accustomed to eating them a few times a week.  They can be baked, fried, boiled, or steamed.  I did a little research on them and Wiki says that plantains, like bananas, are believed to have originated in southeast Asia, having been cultivated in south India by 500 BC.   From there, ancient trade routes distributed it to Africa through Madagascar. By 1000 AD, plantains had spread eastward to Japan and Samoa.  They arrived in the Caribbean and Latin America by 1500 AD. Since then, they have spread widely throughout the tropics.  Each country adds something unique in terms of spice and combination. Plantains contain beta carotene, vitamins C, B1, B3, B6, B12, K, and folate. Minerals include iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iodine, phosphorus, chloride and selenium.

I had three tremendous and terribly ripe plantains in the kitchen today, and I really wanted to do something different with them!  I did a bit of research on the web and I decided on a sweet pudding.  This recipe was inspired by one that on found online by Melissa’s World Variety Produce.




Baked Plantain Pudding


Savory Gruyere and Corn Relish Bread Pudding

April 19, 2012

Corn Bread Pudding sm 1

This recipe was developed with my Farmer’s Market customers in mind.  So many will ask me, well what do you do with this?  How can I incorporate this into my meals?   I researched some recipes on line and found a fabulous one that was written up in the LA Times which I have linked for you below.   I eliminated the ham entirely to keep this meatless, used the herbs I had here in my garden, and substituted a jar of my corn relish for the called-for carrots in the original.   This makes a hearty, sturdy bread pudding which makes a delightful side dish served with green salad or placed alongside a beautiful cut of beef.  The recipe called for using a bain-marie which is an age-old process for cooking with a gentle, steady heat and adds a smoothness to the end product.

The jarred corn relish gives this pudding a slight tang of vinegar, I just love it and hope that you will too!






Mom’s Custard Rice Pudding circa 1950

April 15, 2012

Rice Pudding

Mom used to make this rice pudding for us when we were kids, and I would love to eat it warm for breakfast.   She had a special pink pyrex casserole she used to bake this in,  and one year at a family gathering it was smashed to pieces…I mourned over it.   These objects take on a life of their own especially after a loved one’s death.  They seem irreplacable, but the healing is in the making.  So her recipe lives on through me and hopefully my daughter will someday make this same pudding and feel as gushy as I do about my “vintage” pyrex.   These past few months have been difficult for me, my brother has been horribly ill and is thankfully on his way back up.   He lost his swallow relflex and has been in a skilled nursing home working hard with a speech therapist to regain his ability to swallow and have his stomach tube removed.   I visited him this week, and he had been taken to the hospital to have the “official” swallow test done and he passed!  For now it is on to soft foods for him and he does not have to be tethered to a bottle of chocolate protein…and I am hopeful that he will continue to get stronger.    I asked him if he would like to have a bit of “mom’s” rice pudding, can you guess what he said?



Digging in to a Rice Pudding Casserole


Orange and Ginger Angel Food Cake #Baketogether

April 12, 2012

Orange Angel Food Cake

The Baketogether with Abby Dodge this month featured a Tangerine Angel Food Cake with a bittersweet carmel sauce.   I stuck very closely to her recipe this time, I only switched it up a bit and used my fresh picked oranges for zest and juice for the curd, and I added crystallized ginger to this batter.  Instead of a carmel sauce, I wanted to use up some of those egg yolks so I modified a fabulous recipe for lemon curd from my friend LiztheChef and substituted orange for lemon, omitted the cornstarch and added some chocolate!  It is more of a sauce than a curd, but it is really tasty and perfect with cake.  I have to say this is the lightest Angel Food Cake I have ever made, it melts in your mouth.  This recipe is a staple and keeper in my library.

I really love participating in the Baketogethers.  Taken directly from Abby, if you are new or would like to join the #Baketogether, please know that  we are a very inclusive  group of happy bakers.  You can  Subscribe to Abby’s rss feed so you stay in-the-know and check out this post for some info on how we #baketogether.


Cowboy Candy Corn Bread

April 8, 2012

Cowboy Candy Cornbread


Rebecca of Foodie with Family fame, has a recipe for candied jalapenos on her site that is wonderful.   I adapted her recipe to make my own “Cowboy Candy”, aka candied jalapenos, and I use these candied gems to enhance a wonderful Corn Bread that pairs well with chili or a simple green salad.  This cornbread is sometimes sampled to my Winter Park Farmer’s Market customers so that they can get ideas for how to incorporate my canned products into their meals.   You can also use the leftover syrup for making your own salad dressing, or martinis….or simply adding some zippy flavor to some plain brown rice.  If you press on the link above, it will take you directly to Rebecca’s site so that you can make your own.   I made several modifcations to her recipe when developing mine which includes using fresh ground Guajilla pepper , along with about twice as much granulated garlic and some other “secret” spices.    Surely, you will add your own twist to these exciting bits!

The corn bread recipe below was taken from All Recipes and ever so slightly adapted, I used canola oil instead of olive oil and instead of using 3 fresh Jalapenos I used 1/3 of  a cup of my candied jalapenos along with a tablespoon of the juice from the jar to kick this recipe up a notch.   I also turned the heat down from 400 to 395 and this slight difference added a touch of moistness to the crumb, corn bread can really come out dry sometimes.  Follow the link above to see the original recipe, here is my adaptation.




Cowboy Candy Cornbread on a Sunday Afternoon



Fresh Orange, Soursop, Vanilla Bean and Bourbon Jam

April 6, 2012

Fresh Apopka Oranges

I myself am not a great lover of marmalades.  My husband, on the other hand, loves the sweet bitterness they impart on the tongue….whereas I can only think of bile to be honest.   But I am so grateful to be living in the midst of citrus heaven here in Central Florida.  I have access to a small grove of orange and grapefuit trees in Apopka where I can go to pick oranges to my heart’s content.  I created a new jam this year combining these fresh oranges with frozen soursop pulp.  I am usually a purist and like to stick with fresh fruit only–but until I can grow my own soursop, I will be using the frozen pulp that I can purchase at our local hispanic store.   Soursop tastes like a combination of strawberries and pineapple and almost to me a bit “watermelony” with citrus undertones.   It is known as guanabana in the Carribean countries and is used to make fruit drinks, smoothies and ice creams.  I was introduced to this fruit by my Columbian friends who make glorious popsicles each summer using the frozen pulp.

This recipe does not even use any of the zest of the fruit and to me has all the sweet qualities that citrus has without any of the “tough” bitter bits!  The preparation is a bit intense, but it is so worth it when you tuck into your fresh preserves long after the season has passed.


Fresh Orange Soursop Jam with Ladyfingers and Expresso

For the preparation, I take the whole oranges, I cut them in half, then quarter them.  I place all of these orange quarters in a large working bowl,  and then I carefully cut the flesh out of the skin and “clip out” the membrane containing the seeds.  I save the seeds and membranes in a ziplock and then freeze, so I can use in my other jams that require more pectin.  These fresh orange sections have plenty of pectin and do not need the added seeds to help the jam come together to a beautiful consistency.  You will have lots of juice on your cutting board, keep scooping up the juice as you work and add to your completed bowl of orange flesh, all of these juices add to the flavor!  Do not worry at all about how the oranges look, just add all the tender bits that you can.  Once the fruit is added to your jam pot, you will use an immersion blender to break the fruit down into the bit size pieces that make this preserve so wonderful.  I cook mine in a large french copper jam pot, you may use any type of wide bottomed pot that you have in your kitchen–the heavier the better.  This jam will require standing and stirring towards the end of the cooking process, it cannot be left to cook on its own.



Droolworthy Orange Soursop Vanilla and Bourbon Jam





Orange, Soursop Vanilla Bean & Bourbon Jam on Punk Domestics

Spicy Cheddar Sables for #Baketogether with Abby Dodge

March 29, 2012

Cheddar Sables

I was finally able to participate again this month with Abby Dodge for the monthly “Baketogether!    She has presented another fabulous recipe that turns a melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookie into an elegant, savory, and versatile sable.    I served these sables with grapes, sharp cheddar chunks, plum ginger apricot jam, and fresh brewed coffee for a mid-afternoon reprieve.   Abby serves these up with wine and cocktails!  I made just a few changes to the original recipe to change it up a bit, and I was very pleased with the results.    I just happen to be growing some Lemon Basil and thought that would be a great subsitution for the chopped fresh thyme in the original recipe.  I also subsituted Kerrygold Irish Cheddar for the classic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.   I love the ease of this recipe and the results are stunning.  Once you taste these, you will never want to place a hunk of cheese on a store-bought cracker, I can tell you that!     Abby uses a classic technique called fraisage which calls for very little handling of the dough (to create those layers of melt-in-your-mouth greatness)  and then uses a simple dough scraper to shape the dough into a log for slicing after the dough is chilled.   For the original  recipe and Abby’s step by step instructional photos, please visit her blog here.

I invite everyone to visit Abby’s Blog.  She is a former pastry chef, she studied at La Varenne in Paris, has authored seven books…she is amazing and she inspires me to be better!   If you would like to join the Baketogether, please subscribe to Abby’s updates so that you can get yourself in the “know”.  You will get to join a friendly community of bakers and bloggers, and she makes it so easy to add your version and results to the roundup.   Below is the recipe,  and I have incorporated the small changes I made here in case you would like to try my version.  If you have never used this technique, please visit Abby’s blog page as she took the time to post up some great photos with a step by step instructional.

Sables with Lemon Basil

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