Archive | quick & easy

Effortless Anytime Fruit Crumble

I wasn’t the type of person who kept frozen fruits in the freezer. A firm believer of eating everything fresh, I just bought what’s in season at the farmer’s markets. Shakes or smoothies weren’t my ‘thing’ either, preferring to masticate on my fruits and veggies to fill me up because I tend to snack throughout the day. It wasn’t until I lived with a smoothie-loving frozen fruit-stocking partner that I realized what I had been missing.

While I (still) rarely reach for a shock of cold fruit drink, except for two scorching-hot summer days every year, I appreciate those bags of frozen fruits now. They satisfy any last-minute cravings for fruit pies, especially for out-of-season fare. Whenever everyone in our household would have the patience to wait for a couple of hours, I would make pie–double crust and all– or tart, but a quicker substitute for our dessert-/sweets-loving family is this go-to simple crumble. This minimal-effort snack, dessert or breakfast treat requires only these 3 easy steps:

  1. Toss the fruits in sugar and flour. [I add a pinch of ground cinnamon and nutmeg sometimes.]
  2. Top with a layer of easy-mix crumble.
  3. Bake for half an hour or so. Do something else.

Then eat!

We love having this for dessert and I usually prepare this right after dinner. While it’s baking, the girls either do homework and we’ll catch up on some reading (or knitting) or we’ll play board game if it’s a non-school night. Easy peasy.

Berry Crumble

I make this for weekend breakfasts, too. There’s no need to wake up early for this and it’s done before anyone could say, “I’m hungry!”. The aroma of something baking in the oven is almost a welcome “alarm clock”.

Berry Crumble

Frozen four-fruit medley mixed with ground almonds, sugar, and flour.

P1050712-600

Oaty and nutty crumb topping makes a nice texture contrast with the fruit filling.

Pairs nicely with whipped cream.

Pairs nicely with whipped cream.

Berry Crumble

You’ll know it’s done when you see the fruit filling oozing from underneath the crumble.

If you want to make this for breakfast on a busy work morning, don’t fret. Pre-mix the fruit filling  and the crumble the prior evening, transfer the fruits in your baking dish and mix the crumble in a separate container, keeping both in the refrigerator overnight. Bake in the morning while you’re getting ready. All set to go.

Going on a trip to the cabin but don’t want to bring all separate ingredients? This is what I did for our family trip last weekend: pre-mixed the crumble (minus the butter) and the almond mix for the filling and placed them in separate containers. We brought fruits and butter on the island and it took less than five minutes to put together before baking. We had this for dessert with some whipped cream and mango goat milk ice cream while playing an intense round of Ticket To Ride – Europe.

Give it a try. It’s no April Fool’s joke, it really is so easy to make!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Effortless Anytime Fruit Crumble
Author: 
Active prep time: 
Cooking/Baking time: 
Total hands-on & cooking/baking time: 
Serves: 6
 
An easy fruit crumble that can be used for any fresh or frozen fruit the whole year round.
Ingredients
For the Crumble
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp Demerara sugar (or any brown sugar)
  • ¾ cup almond slices
  • ⅓ cup cold butter, cut into half-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup quick oats
For the Fruit Filling
  • 2 pints of washed hulled/sliced fresh or frozen fruit
  • ¼ cup to ⅓ cup of sugar (packaged frozen fruit tend to be less sweet, so use more sugar)
  • 3 tablespoons almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F with the rack in the middle or upper middle part of the oven.
  2. Mix the filling ingredients (minus the fruit) in a medium bowl, then add the fruits. Toss fruits in the mix.
  3. Combine the crumble ingredients, except for the butter, in a separate bowl. Add butter cubes and rub dry ingredients and butter between your fingers until most of the butter is incorporated and mixture resembles coarse sand.
  4. Pour fruit filling in a glass, ceramic or metal baking pan and level. Distribute the crumble on top. Press it lightly to make it a little more compact.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30minutes, or until top starts to turn brown. You can leave it in the oven for another 5 minutes once it's turned off if you like the top more brown.
  6. Dig in, serve hot with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, or warm with a dollop of freshly whipped cream. You can also enjoy it as is, but make sure to let it cool for at least 20 minutes.

 

Posted in baking, breakfast, brunch, dessert, fruits, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy2 Comments

Welcoming the New Year and a Recipe for Banana bread with Pecan Streusel

How is it that we’re more than halfway through January? The three-week stretch before the holidays felt like the longest and slowest marathon of parties, get-togethers, preparation, shopping and errands and then Boom! time moves in lightning speeds.

It was lovely to spend some relaxing time with our loved ones once the flurry of pre-Christmas stuff settled down. The beau’s brother and his girlfriend flew in for the holidays, so it was quite a treat to have the entire family around the table on Christmas Eve. I remember when we were kids, my cousins and I were too eager and impatient for everybody to show up so we could eat then open our gifts. As an adult, one thinks about how to keep the kids preoccupied so we can enjoy each other’s company in peace. On the beau’s side, the girls are old enough that they engage in our conversations–they have very interesting things to say! We don’t have to give them toys and talk over the noise of their toys! Ha. On my side, my nephews are four and five, living and breathing dinosaurs, Transformers and Angry Birds.  They can be really blunt and honest, which make gift-opening around the tree hilarious. You never really know how they’d react or what they would say. Oh, I don’t like that!  [My gifting success average has been great so far when it comes to them. I pick items based on what I would like if I was a kid. Now what does that say about me?] Christmas reminds me of how fun it was to be very young and carefree, but then I’m glad I can sit back and appreciate the comfort of, and being with, family.

Living in a beautiful city–a prime winter destination at that–means getting a chance to repeatedly explore it like tourists whenever friends and family visit. The beau and his brother love skiing so a day trip to Whistler during their short stay was a no-brainer. Vancouver being Vancouver, it did take a bit of wrestling with weather scheduling, but in the end one should just go and prepare for the worst. It wasn’t a great snow day for our skiing companions, but the rest of us who roamed the village and took the leisurely gondola ride between Whistler and Blackcomb didn’t have much to complain about the view and the powder.

P1020809-600g

Whistler Mountain, by the Peak To Peak gondola

P1020852-600g

View from Blackcomb Mountain

 

P1020840-600g

It’s definitely a breathtaking and photo-worthy view.

 

P1020815-600g

P1020886-600g

Peak To Peak gondola that goes between Whistler and Blackcomb mountain.

P1020804-600g

Ah, the 2010 Winter Olympics…

 

P1030068-600g

There really is no lack of beautiful scenery when you go to Whistler. We were treated with a gorgeous sunset on the drive back to Vancouver.

 

After all the celebrations, we slowly got back into our routines, including baking. It’s one of the things we truly enjoy doing as a couple, plus it warms up the kitchen, fills our bellies, and leaves the whole place smelling like freshly baked bread, cake or pastry. We had a few lonely bananas that we were more than happy to save from their their misery, so it’s banana bread time. We changed things up and used the recipe from the Miette cookbook. My go-to recipe requires sour cream and this one doesn’t, so this saved us an extra trip to the store on the first day of the year. I’m glad Jens picked the recipe because it’s so yummy! Not that I expect anything less from Miette, really, but it’s a good reminder that it doesn’t hurt to try to recipes. I love the delicate crumb, surrounded by the firm and almost-crunchy crust. Essentially, this is a good, solid, banana bread recipe that tastes more sophisticated than most. And that’s all you need to know if you’re looking for something to bake this weekend. :-) If you have the bananas, I’m sure all the other ingredients needed would already be in your pantry.

You’ll also soon find out how baking this Miette bread snowballed into a baking trend for us this January. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you would already know the insane baking that ensued.

 

P1030245-600g 1

P1030201_1-600

P1030184-600

 

Banana bread with Pecan Streusel
Author: 
Recipe type: Bread, Baking, Snacks, Afternoon Cakes
Active prep time: 
Cooking/Baking time: 
Total hands-on & cooking/baking time: 
Serves: 12
 
Adapted from Miette: Recipes from San Francisco's Most Charming Pastry Shop
Makes four small 5-inch loaves or two standard 8-inch loaves.
Ingredients
  • Nutty Streusel
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) pecan pieces
  • ¼ cup (2 ounces( firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup (1½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

  • Banana Bread
  • 2¼ cups (11 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ cups (10½ ounces) sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 medium soft, but not black, bananas (about 1 pound total), peeled and roughly mashed
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) pecan pieces
Instructions
  1. Butter four 5"x3" loaf pans and dust with sifted flour. Tap out excess flour. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Make the Streusel
  3. Pulse all the streusel ingredients in a food processor until coarsely combined. Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate. If using immediately, just keep in the food processor bowl and refrigerate. The streusel can be kept for up to 5 days.
  4. Make the Banana Bread Batter
  5. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  6. Whisk sugar, eggs and vanilla on medium speed in a bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or in a medium bowl using a hand mixer. Mix until well combined and lighter in color, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce the speed and drizzle the oil until just incorporated, then add the banana mash and mix until combined as well. Add the dry ingredients and pecans into the batter in three additions; each time whisking until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.
  7. Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Generously sprinkle the tops with streusel. There would be enough for the two big loaves, and more than enough for the three.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes for the smaller loaves and 45 to 50 minutes for the bigger loaves, until the breads have risen nicely and a tester inserted in the centre of each cake comes out clean. Place pans onto wire racks and leave for 20 minutes to cool.
  9. Slide an offset spatula along the sides of each pan and invert the cakes onto the racks and allow to cool for another 20 minutes. Serve immediately or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Notes
Bread can be kept refrigerated for up to 3 days or kept in the freezer for up to 2 months if wrapped in a second layer of plastic and placed in freezer-safe resealable bag. Serve at room temperature.

 

Posted in baking, bread, brunch, cakes, coffee buddy, dessert, quick & easy2 Comments

Don’t Waste Those Bananas, Bake Banana Bundt Cake

I have this thing about bananas: I like to buy them. I anticipate that someone else would eat them if it’s available at home, but it’s really just me. I’ve been conservative with my banana purchases lately, but even so, I end up with 4 out of 5 bananas getting too ripe to fast before I can consume them. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m getting pretty tired of banana bread. Last week I looked for something else that’s fairly quick to make on a busy weeknight, because let’s face it–bananas won’t wait for you before they’re ready for the compost bin. And I really feel guilty throwing away food due to bad planning.

I turned to one of my go-to baking books, Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours, for inspiration. Sure enough, it saved the day (or evening) with an easy recipe for banana Bundt cake. It’s moist and light, almost like a teacake. The only ingredient change I made is with the sugar, decreasing it by a quarter of a cup. It was just the right sweetness for us.

Banana cake

All the ingredients for the recipe are readily available and you should be able to whip this up last minute. I used plain yogurt instead of sour cream (my preference of the two), which we almost always have except for that one evening. Oh, Murphy.

Making banana cake

If you are fast, you can get this in the oven in 15 minutes. I did it in 20, photography included.

Banana cake batter before baking

Once it’s done, the top will be shiny and moist, but a knife inserted in the middle of the cake would come out clean. Really try to control yourself from eating it right out of the oven.

Banana cake fresh out of the oven

We enjoyed this for breakfast, packed it for school and office snacks, nibbled on it while playing a board game and even gave a couple of slices to the out-laws. If you’re unsure of making this because of the size, I assure you, this will be gone in no time. Bring it to a party or to work and you will come home with an empty plate.

If you’re in Vancouver, baking this would be a great way to warm up the house and it’s a simple, yet delicious snack on this rainy weekend. I’d recommend it with a cup of tea and a good book.

Happy weekend!

Continue Reading

Posted in baking, cakes, fruits, quick & easy1 Comment

Peaches with Goat Cheese and Honey

There’s no getting around the too-lazy-too-cook-for-oneself bug when you’re at home for lunch on a hot summer day, or any day for that matter. I’ve heard it many times from friends who live alone: how do you get motivated to prepare a healthy meal or snack? Look no further than your local grocery store or farmer’s market and get what’s in season. That is my dirty little secret. I can admit to eating bananas or ants on a log (i.e. celery with peanut butter and dried cranberries) when I’m really pressed for time and need sustenance.

I had this for lunch last week and I felt much better about eating it than reaching out for a bag of chips. Hey, it happens.

This is as simple as it gets:

  • Peel and slice fresh peaches (or just slice nectarines)
  • Crumbled creamy goat cheese over the quarter moon slices
  • Drizzle with a tiny bit of honey
  • Eat!

Peaches with Goat Cheese and Honey

Posted in breakfast, brunch, cheese, cooking for one, dairy, dessert, fruits, gluten-free, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, raw, snacks, vegetarian, wheat-free0 Comments

Greek Yogurt Chocolate Mousse

This dessert-turned-quick-experiment was brought to you by Jens’ chocolate mousse craving and his Greek yogurt substitution idea. I’m always happy to oblige his sweet tooth and even more so because we were both feeling under the weather, with him suffering most of the flu symptoms. After a trip out of town combined with the exhaustion from cycling over 100 kilometers, neither of us had any sense to check our dairy essentials for expiration dates. It turned out our heavy cream had gone bad, so he suggested using the only alternative we had left aside from milk: Greek yogurt. A quick online search proved that it was doable, so I trusted my kitchen instincts and went with it. Experience has shown that I do get good results when we collaborate on food this way, plus we had a chocolate bar on standby in case this produced an inedible pudding. I knew I had to add more sugar to counteract the sour yogurt, but when I tasted the whipped chocolate and yogurt mixture, it didn’t really need any more than a touch. An additional tablespoon was just the right amount of sweetness boost it needed.

As much as I love Greek yogurt, it doesn’t necessarily go with chocolate and I did cringe at the thought of combining them. Thankfully, my fears dissolved with my first spoonful of the mousse. It had a deep chocolate flavor with hint a of orange and vanilla. We couldn’t tell there was yogurt in it at all, unless we really tried to look for the taste. We shared the rest of it with his folks for dinner the following day and it tasted even better then!

Chocolate Mousse with Greek Yogurt

A rich chocolate mousse goes exceptionally well with sweet blueberries. We’re lucky to be able to enjoy fresh ones in the summer and we take advantage of that as much as we can. The ones I took home from a BC Blueberry Council event were ginormous and almost as big as quarters! Mmm…I love the pop of fruit with the decadent mousse.

Chocolate Mousse with Greek Yogurt

I was a tiny bit concerned that the thick yogurt would weigh down the mousse, but it didn’t affect its fluffiness at all. It was still light and smooth, and ridiculously good as can be. Here’s to another successful experiment and dessert–thanks to the beau for yet another wacky and awesome idea!

Continue Reading

Posted in chocolate, dessert, experiments, fruits, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy3 Comments

Blueberry Smoothie Pops

When I’m not devouring fresh blueberries or baking them into pies to share, some of them make it into frozen treats like these. There’s nothing better on a hot summer day. Of course, there’s always the alternative of directly freezing fresh blueberries to pop into your mouth or crush into your favorite fizzy water or bubbly booze. ;-)

Blueberry Yogurt Pops

Blueberry Smoothie Pops
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Snacks
Serves: 10-12
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup to 2 cups fresh blueberries, washed (**use 2 cups if not adding jam)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt (2%)
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese (optional, adds smoothness)
  • ½ cup milk (2% or whole)
  • ½ cup blueberry jam (**optional)
  • ⅓ cup cold simple syrup, or more to taste (made by cooking 2 cups sugar in 1 cup water in medium heat until completely dissolved)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss blueberries and sugar in a bowl, then transfer and spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet/pan lined with aluminum foil. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Pour back into the bowl after roasting and let it cool.
  2. Using your blender or blender stick with a bowl, pulse together yogurt and cream cheese until uniformly smooth. Add milk, blueberries and jam (if using) and blend. Taste the smoothie, and add simple syrup according to your preference. As a rule, make it a bit sweeter than you would like your drinking smoothie. Freezing tones down the sweetness.
  3. Pour smoothie into popsicle molds and freeze for 30 minutes before inserting popsicle sticks. Note: soak popsicle sticks in warm water for half an hour before using to keep them from floating in the mixture while it freezes.
Notes
You can also use this recipe for strawberries (add balsamic vinegar for more flavor), cherries, raspberries, peaches, nectarines, and other fruits that catch your fancy. Alternatively, you can just put raw blueberries/fruits in the smoothie -- the roasting step takes out the raw tartness from some fruits.

Posted in dessert, fruits, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, snacks1 Comment

Quick Lunch: Tuna Pineapple Macaroni Salad

Chicken macaroni salad was one of my favorite party side dishes as a child. Back in Manila, it was dotted with raisins, which I’ve grown to dislike through the years. I’ve come to embrace it’s blushing cousin, the dried cranberries, which I simply adore in salads and use as often as I can. I love it with the tuna mac because it adds a touch of sweetness and tartness that complements the tuna and pineapple well.

Tuna Pineapple Macaroni Salad

Tuna is my preferred alternative to chicken in salads for convenience–just drain and voila, you’ll have flavorful protein to add. And thanks to that, you can make this salad in 15 minutes or less, not including the time to wait for the water to boil. To save time, I put the pot of water on maximum heat while I start chopping vegetables to make good on time.

This is a substantial lunch or a good snack to pack for work, but watch out for the tuna smell. The chicken would be less offensive to the olfactory senses for some, for sure. It keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days if you keep it in the coolest corner, so it’s a good make-ahead dish as well.

I’m making slow and steady progress on the eating-healthier-lunch front, and even smaller steps on blog posting, but I’m getting there. I’m almost ready to make this again for lunch, actually.

I’ve included meat and vegan alternatives in the recipe. Hope you enjoy!

Tuna Pineapple Macaroni Salad

 

 

4.0 from 1 reviews
Tuna Pineapple Macaroni Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Active prep time: 
Cooking/Baking time: 
Total hands-on & cooking/baking time: 
Serves: 4 to 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • salt for boiling pasta and to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 120-gram can tuna, drained of water or oil
  • ¼ cup and 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1½ tablespoon sugar
  • freshly ground pepper
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cook elbow macaroni in salty water according to the package directions for al dente pasta and drain. Transfer pasta into a large bowl and add all the ingredients except for the cranberries. Add salt and pepper as desired. Add cranberries last.
Notes
Meat Alternative: Chopped cooked chicken, especially if you have leftover rotisserie chicken. Vegan Alternative: You use "simulated" chicken meat sauteed with a little bit of chicken bouillon powder or cube to add some flavor. For the mayo, Earth Balance has a "Mindful Mayo" that is dairy free.

Posted in appetizer, make-ahead, nut-free, original Gourmeted recipe, pasta, quick & easy, salads, seafood, snacks4 Comments

Eating Real Food When Working From Home: Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

Scheduling lunch or coffee with friends during the week is a must for someone who works from home, not only does it save me from cooking and eating leftovers, it also provides my version of water cooler talk minus the awkwardness and abrupt Gotta-go’s. The fact is  here are only so many conversations I could have with the cat at home. We chat about her love of tuna soup, how she can’t wait to rub herself against the bottom of daddy’s pants when he comes back from work, and her deep belief that she really is a queen.

DSC_6357_2

Still, she is not a “co-worker” by any sense of the word. Her furry paws tend to step all over the keyboard and unintentionally sends emails that have not been edited. I can’t deny she is an eye candy when I do stay put to get things done for the day.

When I’m at home during lunch, I can’t possibly share her canned seafood delights and saltine-and-water “meals” can only get me so far in the day. I have been eating my fair share of the latter and it’s shamefully bad, that awful desktop diet. I’ve decided to put a stop to this and commit to cooking real food for myself. For lunch. Because I deserve it.

To motivate (and force) me to continue with this, I will be blogging the recipe of at least one meal I make during the week. Several friends are on the same boat, some subsisting on delivery pizza and Chinese takeout, so this series is for them, too. I hope this will inspire you all to take the plunge and be unafraid of making a little mess in the kitchen to prepare real home-cooked meals for one. It is worth the little time and effort put into them.

Here is last week’s easy lunch meal: Spaghetti Aglio e Olio. It’s a simple pasta recipe made with garlic, salt, olive oil, red pepper flakes and spaghetti noodles.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

There’s no excuse not to have all the ingredients at hand.  I made this for a get-together at the request of my best friend from high school and they all loved it. It’s one of the quickest dishes you can make and it’s a great alternative for tomato-based pasta. As you can tell, I’m a bit enthusiastic about this new endeavor that I took step-by-step photos to help even the beginner cook. The recipe was inspired by Lidia Bastianich’s new cookbook, Lidia’s Favorite Recipes: 100 Foolproof Italian Dishes, from Basic Sauces to Irresistible Entrees, which I found to be a great resource for easy Italian recipes.

 

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
Recipe type: Pasta, Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Active prep time: 
Cooking/Baking time: 
Total hands-on & cooking/baking time: 
Serves: 1
 
Here's a simple pasta recipe with ingredients that are often already in your pantry: olive oil, garlic and parmesan cheese.
Ingredients
  • 3 oz of dry (uncooked) spaghetti noodles
  • salt for pasta water and to taste
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 to 2 tsp of freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Instructions
Cooking Pasta
  1. Fill half a 2-quart pot with water and salt and bring to boil over medium high heat. **As a general rule, water needs to be as salty as seawater when boiling pasta.
  2. Put the spaghetti noodles in the pot and once the water returns to a boil, start timer for 9 minutes. Check pasta and cook until there is no white dot in the middle when you tear a noodle.
  3. Drain water from the pasta and leave about a quarter of pasta water.
Making The Sauce
  1. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic slices and cook until pale golden. Take off the heat and sprinkle red pepper flakes and salt to taste. Pour the remaining olive oil and the quarter cup of pasta water and put back on the heating element to boil.
  3. Transfer the drained pasta into the frying pan and mix together with the sauce. Cook for a minute before transferring into a bowl and tossing with grated cheese.
  4. Serve in a warm bowl.
Tips:
  1. For this recipe, I start heating the olive oil after the pasta has been cooking for 5 minutes. That more or less guarantees that by the time I need the pasta water, it's also the same time that the spaghetti needs to be drained.

 

Posted in cooking for one, Meatless Monday, pasta, quick & easy, vegetarian1 Comment

Blueberry Lime Jam

July. Summer. Fruit Season. Blueberries… {swoon} As someone who didn’t grow up with access to fresh ones, I’m grateful that I’ve been able to enjoy them as much as I can want for the past decade, call me a late blue-mer, if you wish. I bought close to three kilos of these plump indigo-colored berries last week: I ate them, baked with them, made smoothie pops with them, and made jam. Nothing says ‘I love you, fruit!‘ than consuming them in different ways every single day.

Homemade Preserves and Jams

One thing I haven’t posted on this blog are jam recipes and I have no good explanation for this. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that I make them late at night when food lighting sucks (and I couldn’t be bothered to shoot photos by the stove with its incandescent lighting), or early in the morning right before breakfast and I simply have no time (or brain power) to think about photos. I know, it’s all about the photos for us food bloggers. And Instagram.

Today I have good reason to be talking about jam because I recently received a copy of Mary Tregellas’ new cookbook, Homemade Preserves & Jams: Over 90 Recipes for Luscious Jams, Tangy Marmalades, Crunchy Chutneys, and More. It’s a beautifully designed paperback that’s just the right size and weight for bringing everywhere (I do this with cookbooks) — like grabbing it last-minute before going to the farmer’s market to get some ideas. I’m thinking of packing this on our next island trip to make full use of the fresh fruits we find.

The recipes are very approachable, clear and concise. Each recipe is laid out in a single page, with often short ingredient list on the left and the step-by-step instructions to its right. Most are accompanied by photos. The book contains a primer on equipment, ingredient notes, and preserving tips, which are very helpful. I appreciate that it doesn’t inundate you with too much information, but has enough to get you started. As you can guess from the title, it does have more to offer: pesto, salads, scones, breads (yes, bread), tarts, and infused liqueurs. Recipes are grouped according to: Luscious, Juicy, Crunchy, Tangy, Tropical, Wholesome, Aromatic, Wild, Intoxicating and Daily Bread. That’s the most part if you would like to know what you can make with the produce you have on hand. Thankfully, the index does its job of pointing you in the right direction.

All in all, it’s a well-rounded book that’s best suited for beginners and preserving enthusiasts like me. This is the perfect gift for friends who are interested in making jams and preserves, but are too intimidated by the process and perceived “complicated know-how” — I know, because I used to be one of them. While it is not a comprehensive reference, this is a great Let’s-Make-Something-Now book, which to be honest, is what you want while the summer fruits and vegetables last.

Because I’m all about the blueberry right now, I made half the recipe for Blueberry Jam with a dash of lime. It made enough for us to last for a few weeks, plus a jar or two give away.

Blueberry Lime Jam

toast + butter + jam = Love

The hint of lime becomes more pronounced after a couple of days. Next time I would even add some finely chopped Moroccan mint for the jar that we’ll consume right away. The jam just has that kind of blueberry mojito character.

Blueberry Lime Jam

BC Blueberry Facts: 1. We have a BC Blueberry Council, which sounds like a cool company to work for, just because of the name. 2. British Columbia has over 800 blueberry growers. 3. BC is the number one highbush blueberry-growing region in the world.

For those of you who are still undecided whether jamming is something you’d like, just invest about half an hour of your time to try this out. It really doesn’t require much effort.

Blueberry Lime Jam

Cooking the blueberries until they soften.

Trust me, you’ll be happy you made it. It’s great on pancakes and waffles, PB&J sandwiches, muffins, rolls, biscuits, what have you. I even added it to blueberry smoothie popsicles!

Blueberry Lime Jam

Cooked blueberries with sugar and pectin added.

Blueberry Lime Jam
Recipe type: Jam
 
Ingredients
  • 1.5 pounds (680 grams) fresh blueberries
  • 2 limes, juice and zest
  • juice of ¼ lemon
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1.5 pounds (680 grams) white sugar
  • 5 tablespoons liquid pectin
Instructions
  1. Mix the blueberries, lime juice and zest, lemon juice and water in a preserving/muslin pan or large heavy-based stainless steel pan. Cook over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, until the blueberries soften. Some will burst, while others will grow extra plump. Use a long wooden spoon to stir occasionally.
  2. Take the pan off the heat and stir in sugar until fully dissolved. Return the pan to the heat and boil. Allow to cook at full rolling boil for 4 minutes, then add pectin. Boil for another minute or two. Take the pan off the heat and proceed with testing for a set.
  3. Test for a set using the wrinkle test: Chill a saucer in the freezer for a few minutes. Place half a teaspoon of jam on the saucer and return to the freezer for a minute. Then push the jam with your finger -- it is set when it wrinkles. If it hasn't set, cook for a couple more minutes and redo the test.
  4. Ladle the hot jam into hot sterilized jars, filling them almost to the top. Screw the lid on tightly.
Notes
Makes 3 to 4 12-ounce jars of jam. Keeps for 12 months.

Posted in books and publications, fruits, quick & easy, reviews1 Comment

Triple Chocolate Cookies with Cherries & Cashews

Between us two, Jens & I consume a fair amount of chocolate on a daily basis. When they’re not in the form of bars, truffles or chunks, they are in something baked. These brownies have certainly been on rotation to help keep up with our quota, but there’s always room for more.

Triple ChocolateCookies with Cherries & Cashews

I had my heart set on this cookie recipe since I got Alice Medrich’s book last year. What’s stopped me from making them was the need to refer to another page in another section of the book for the chocolate wafer recipe. This stresses me so.

One evening a couple of weeks ago, the need to bake something chocolate-y overruled my cookbook pet peeve. I just wish it happened sooner. The original recipe called for pecans and sour cherries, but I stuck to what we had on hand at midnight: cashews and dried bing cherries. J would have preferred hazelnuts, but we were out of them, too.

DSC_1707

I debated about making my favorite homemade Oreos instead of trying something new–but this fruit and nut chocolate cookie might have just stolen my comfort cookie spot. Heck, they could even substitute for brownies.

Triple Chocolate Cookies with Cherries & Cashews

They keep well for 2 weeks, but tend to disappear. Just saying.

Give them a try this weekend. I already saved you the agony of having to go to another page to begin the recipe. [There must be someone else out there who doesn't like this.] I have it all right here. Ha.

This recipe was adapted from Alice Medrich’s “Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth-Cookies“. It’s my go-to cookie baking book.

Triple Chocolate Cookies with Cherries & Cashews
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookies
Active prep time: 
Cooking/Baking time: 
Total hands-on & cooking/baking time: 
 
These moist, chewy and brownie-like cookies with fruits and nuts make for an indulgent snack. Warm, these cookies go really well with vanilla ice cream. Milk “dunkability” tested, it will not get soggy and disintegrate. These pair surprisingly well with red wine, too.
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups (6.75 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (2.4 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (7.8 ounces) sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened, cut in 12 pieces
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut in small chunks (chocolate chips or chunks would work, too)
  • 1⅓ cups (5.25 ounces) chopped toasted cashews (toasted at 325°F for 8 to 10 minutes)
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) dried cherries, chopped (I used bing)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, with racks on the upper and lower third of the oven. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Add flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a food processor and pulse. Add butter and pulse several times. Combine milk and vanilla in a small bowl and add through the feed tube. Process until the thick paste clumps together on the blade or around the bowl. Transfer into a large bowl and fold in the chocolate pieces, cherries and cashews with a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon.
  3. Drop half dome mounds of dough using a tablespoon measure, about 2 inches apart, on the lined cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cookie tops look dry but are soft (not mushy) when touched lightly with a fingertip. Rotate pans after 8 minutes, top to bottom and front to back. Transfer the cookies on parchment paper on racks. Cool completely before storing. These cookies are best stacked with wax or parchment paper in between cookies; will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Notes
Notes: These cookies break easily when they first come out of the oven. They will become crispy on the outside and softer inside once they cool. This recipe was adapted from Alice Medrich’s book, “Chewy Gooey Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth-Cookies” [http://gourmeted.com/chewygooeycrispycrunchy]

Posted in baking, chocolate, cookies, quick & easy2 Comments