Saturday, July 13, 2013
Here's my theory. Remember how children used to receive an orange in their Christmas stocking? Oranges were rare and expensive back in the 1940s and earlier. But tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers? They were as plentiful as grass. So inventive cooks bought one or two oranges for flavoring, cut up mounds of the cheap vegetable ingredient, poured in sugar and boiled. Voila! Marmalade. Cucumber marmalade does not taste of cucumbers. It tastes of lemons. No more does carrot marmalade taste of carrots. It tastes of oranges.
Tomato marmalade is more of the same. I noticed a huge pile of plum tomatoes at Homestead Farm in Poolesville, where I stopped off after my riding lesson. I quickly called Bob and asked him to find out how many pounds of plum tomatoes I would need. We determined that we did not want or need 24 six ounce jars of tomato marmalade, so I cut the recipe in half. I bought four pounds of plum tomatoes, and a bunch of other stuff as well, including fresh corn.
I commenced the marmalade manufacture after lunch. I had to go to Safeway to buy more sugar, as the recipe calls for a cup of sugar for every cup of tomatoes, and of course, because it was a sleepy summer afternoon, I had to stop off at Starbucks. Once we had gotten all that out of the way, I filled up a pot with water and began boiling the tomatoes to peel them. That was easy. 1. Drop plum tomatoes in boiling water. 2. Leave them for a minute or so. 3. Fish them out with a slotted spoon. 4. If the skin hasn't cracked, pierce it with a knife. 5. The skin comes right off.
Then I chopped up two oranges and one lemon and threw it all into my soup pot, along with the chopped tomatoes that I had first drained and measured. Tomatoes contain a good deal of water, which, if you don't drain it off, you have to boil off.I had eight cups of tomatoes, so I needed eight cups of sugar. The sugar dissolved right into the tomatoes. After a few minutes of boiling, the tomatoes gave up their juice, so I had tomato and citrus solids floating in a sea of tomato juice.
The recipe says to stir constantly to prevent burning. If you set the gas on medium, and check it occasionally, you should have no problem just stirring it every so often. If you did stir it constantly, you would drop dead from fatigue because it has to boil for something like 4 hours.
I kept complaining about how long it seemed to be taking for the marmalade to jell. Bob responded that I was too impatient, and I should know that marmalade takes a long time to make, because I have made it before. It really did take about four hours.
If you want an explanation of "sheeting off the spoon," read the jams and preserves section of The Joy of Cooking. Irma Rombauer Becker has a diagram and everything.
This recipe has a considerable amount of cinnamon and cloves flavoring it. My husband says it tastes like Christmas. It is well worth the boiling time. You do not have to seal the jars in a boiling water bath. You seal the jars with melted paraffin, which is available in hardware stores and some grocery stores in areas where people can (as in preserve food in jars.)
8 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, approximately
8 sticks cinnamon
1 tablespoon whole cloves
sugar (lots of sugar. Buy a new large sack of the stuff.)
1. Dip the tomatoes, a few at a time, into a kettle of boiling water. Remove skin, chop tomatoes roughly and measure four quarts. (16 cups) Let stand while preparing the oranges and lemons.
2. Finely chop the skin and pulp of the oranges and lemons.
3. Place in a large kettle. Add the cinnamon sticks and cloves.
4. Pour off and discard most of the tomato liquid that has accumulated in the tomatoes. Measure the tomatoes and add to the kettle. Add one cup of sugar for each cup of tomatoes.
5. Bring to a boil, stiring until the sugar is dissolved. Boil, stirring, to prevent sticking, until the marmalade sheets off the spoon, registers 220 degrees on a candy thermometer or a drop chilled on a plate leaves a track when pushed by a finger.
6. Remove the cinnamon sticks and most of the cloves. Ladle the marmalade into hot sterilized jars. Top with two thin layers of melted paraffin. Allow to cool. Cover and store in a cool, dry place. Makes about 24 six ounce jars.
Monday, July 8, 2013
Someone named boyzoma on www.Chowhound.com also remembers his father burying brandied peaches in holes in the yard, so clearly I'm not hallucinating. Since my father's peaches were buried in either Massachusetts or Connecticut, he must have had to dig down pretty deep to put them below the frost line. If the jars froze, they would explode, right?
Well, rest assured, you don't have to bury these peaches. In fact, they are delectable immediately after they are canned. They are really good, and fabulous with cream. It's peach season. Buy some cheap bourbon, go to your local pick-your-own establishment, and get to work. You will need a case of wide mouth quart canning jars, rings and lids, a kettle called a boiling water bath, and a rack to lift the hot jars out of the water. The jars, rings and lids are probably available now, in July and August, at your local supermarket. The boiling water bath you can get from Walmart or Williams Sonoma, or a hardware store in a community that cans.
What you should not do is use the recipe as written in The New York Times Heritage Cookbook. If there was ever an instance where Jean Hewitt did not test her recipes, (and, as you constant readers of this blog will know, she didn't) this is one.
Hewitt starts out telling her readers to obtain about 80 good size peaches for 9 to 12 quarts of peaches, and then make a syrup using 4 cups of water and nine pounds of sugar. As anyone with even an elemental knowledge of mathematics or cooking would know, 4 cups of water is barely enough to moisten nine pounds of sugar. Also, twelve quart jars, even filled with whole peaches, would need at least two cups each to fill in around the peaches So that makes 24 cups or 8 quarts of water or at least two gallons. I say at least because the directions say to cook the syrup down to make it thicker.
Maybe today's peaches are bigger than those back in the day. I had 12 peaches, which made almost enough to fill four quart jars. If 12 quarts of peaches sound like too many peaches, 15 should be enough to make 4 quarts, and for 12 quarts you wouldn't need more than 60 peaches.
Make sure your peaches are ripe, especially if you buy them at the grocery store. I left mine in a bowl on the counter for a week, until Bob pointed out that they were definitely ripe and I had better can them soon before I would have to throw them away. At that point, if you put them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, they are easy to peel.
I actually got caught in the mathematics of reducing the recipe. I started out with 4 cups of water, and about three cups of sugar, mainly because that was all the sugar we had.. Then, I just dumped in the bourbon. I recognize that this is not particularly helpful for novices who wish to create an authentic recipe. I must have used about 2 cups of bourbon. I ended up having to make more syrup. About the muslin bag that is supposed to enclose the cinnamon sticks and the cloves. I didn't have a muslin bag, or the patience to make one, so I threw the cinnamon sticks in whole and put the cloves in a tea ball. You could just throw in the cloves too and fish them out with a slotted spoon before you poured the syrup into the jars. Don't get caught up in irrelevant details.
I did boil the syrup, do the math and discover what 222 degrees Fahrenheit works out to in degrees Celsius. The answer is 103 degrees Celsius. I probably boiled the syrup for half an hour and then filled the jars. At that point, I had to go back and make more syrup because I did not have enough.
At the end, the recipe says "Seal." Huh? Seal means boil your jars of canned food in the boiling water bath for a set amount of time. Different fruits and vegetables have to be processed for different times. According to the Ohio State University Extension Service, peaches in quart jars should be processed in boiling water for 30 minutes. So, put the jars in the water and make sure they are covered, turn on the heat, and when the water starts boiling, set the timer. This kills germs in the food and prevents botulism, a very unpleasant result of improper canning.
So, is this worth the effort? I think so, especially if you like peaches and bourbon. Read up on the canning process first.. There are many websites that can instruct you.
In case you are wondering why these are Bourbon Brandied Peaches, I am too. If anyone knows, please instruct the rest of us.
Bourbon "Brandied" Peaches
60 ripe peaches
9 pounds sugar
12 cups of water
4 sticks cinnamon, broken
2 tablespoons whole cloves
2 fifths bourbon
1. Scald the peaches, a few at a time and peel.
2. Dissolve the sugar in the water. Tie the cinnamon sticks and cloves in a muslin bag (or put the cloves in a tea ball and put the cinnamon sticks in whole. Bring to a boil. When syrup is clear, add the peaches a few at a time, and simmer until barely tender. Do not overcook.
3. Drain fruit on a platter, returning excel syrup to pan, and repeat until all fruit is cooked. Boil the syrup until it is slightly thickened. (222 degrees on a candy thermometer.) Cool slightly.
4. Stir in the bourbon. Place the fruit as it drains in hot sterilized jars. Cover with bourbon syrup. Seal. Store in cool, dark, dry place. Makes nine to twelve quarts of peaches.
Saturday, July 6, 2013
This is one of the recipes that is a mystery. Exactly what is it supposed to turn out as? I had never eaten, seen, or even heard of Danish cones, and so had no idea what I was producing. My Danish cones turned out to be pancakes filled with whipped cream. Very delicious, and received rave reviews from the guests at my friend Mary Alice's party for her daughter Ellen's college graduation. However, I couldn't shake the notion that what I was supposed to have was a crisp cookie like cone filled with whipped cream.
The Internet was not a lot of help here. Only one recipe for Danish cones contained a picture, and that showed a tube-shaped glazed doughnut sort of affair. The recipes were not markedly different.
There is one Danish cone that is produced with a patterned rolling pin, and produces a lacy cone, but that wasn't the recipe I had. If readers would be kind enough to send us their recipes for Danish cones, or merely their reminiscences on the topic, it would be much appreciated. I know you are out there. My hits have gone way up (for me), but y'all don't comment or write reviews, or tell us all about food in your childhood. Tsk.
It took about an hour and a half to make these. Like I said, they are pancakes. The cook makes the batter, spreads ovals of batter onto a "well-buttered baking sheet" (I used well-buttered parchment paper.) and bakes them in a 300 degree oven for 6 minutes.
|Cones, not cylinders|
Bob rolled the remaining pancakes into cones, and we ate the cylinders. The cookbook says to add a little strawberry jam to the center of the whipped cream in each cone. My genius husband took a fair dollop of raspberry jam and added it to the cream as he was whipping it. It was delicious.
One thing I did to the recipe was to add two tablespoons of milk. The first pancakes were thicker than they needed to be, so we diluted the batter a little.
As long as you are not a total klutz, and can enlist someone with nimble fingers to stand by, these are not difficult. Follow the directions about the well buttered baking sheet or parchment paper, or you will have a baking sheet full of adherent masses of pancake.
Danish Cones with Whipped Cream
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons of milk (or more if you want thinner pancakes.)
one cup heavy cream
strawberry or raspberry jam
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
2. Melt the butter and stir in the sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the flour and the milk.. Drop spoonfuls of the batter about four inches apart onto a well-buttered baking sheet. Smooth the batter into ovals. Bake about six minutes.
3. Remove the cookies with a spatual and quickly roll into cone shapes while cookies are still hot and flexible. (Gloves may be handy in doing this.) Let cones cool. Rebutter the baking sheet before each addition.
4. At serving time, whip the cream and fill the cones with it. Add a little strawberry jam (or at least 3 tablespoons of raspberry jam) to the cream as you whip it. Makes about 15.