Sunday, September 11, 2016

Homemade Canned Fruit in Light Syrup


I made a recent trip to BC to visit my Grandparents.  They live on Vancouver Island, so there is a huge abundance of fruit in their neighbourhood.  My Grampa is constantly finding me fresh, backyard grown fruits and vegetables whenever I visit him, and this trip was no exception.  I left with freshly picked blackberries, blueberries, apples, pears, peaches, cherries, 2 different kinds of plums,  not to mention pumpkins, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, and even banana quash!  Needless to say as soon as I got home, I had to process fruit, and I had to process it fast!  My favourite method this year was my Gramma's method for canning stone fruit.  We tried canning berries together this way and it worked out beautifully! 

Ingredients
- Fruit of choice (peaches, pears, berries, etc.)
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 cups water

Supplies
- Mason jars, lids, and rings
- Clean, dry cloth
- Baking sheet 
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Fill sink full of hot water, and place mason jars, lids, and rings in there until you area ready to use them.  It's important that the mason jars are as hot as possible (alternatively, you can put the mason jars through the dishwasher and use them immediately after it's finished running since they should be nice and hot). 

Bring sugar and water to a boil making sure sugar is fully dissolved. 
Rinse fruit, and peel/chop if necessary. 

Place fruit in mason jar leaving an inch or so of headspace (aka the ring portion of the jar). 
Pour boiling sugar/water mixture into jars, then wipe the rim of the jar and the seal making sure it is completely dry (this is really important or your jars won't seal properly), then place on jars. 
Place jars of fruit on a baking sheet and baking for 30 minutes (you want to see the liquid boiling in the jars). 

Carefully remove the jars from the oven, and allow them to cool on a flat surface.  You will hear the jars "pop" to seal if they haven't do so already.   Be sure not to force the seal on the jar, let it happen organically for a proper and safe seal. 

Once jars are sealed, they are ready to store!  If any jars didn't seal, be sure to put those jars in the fridge and use them within a couple of weeks. 

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Peaches & Cream Rice Cereal


A couple of days ago I purchased a case of peaches from our local BC fruit truck stand. 

The case was filled to the brim with absolutely gorgeous peaches so this week it's been peach-a-pooloza at our house!  We've made peach cobbler, peach jams (that's right, jamS), peach pie, and one of my person favourite recipes from this week - peach salsa (recipe coming soon!).   Just when I thought my menu couldn't get any peachier, I decided to throw this together with some leftover basmati rice we had from the evening before. 

One of my favourite hot breakfasts involves steel cut oatmeal, but there are a few people in my life that really hate oatmeal (I'm looking at you Gillian and Sarah!).  A couple of summer's back when Gillian was visiting I made rice cereal and she loved it.  I've been making it ever since, with different variations of fruit. 

This breakfast is also a great alternative to pre-packaged baby cereal and a wonderful way to use up leftovers! 

Recipes Serves 4
Ingredients 
- 2 cups pre-cooked rice (I prefer basmati or jasmine for this recipe)
- 2 cups milk (or water)
- 3 ripe peaches
- 1-2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp cream (optional)

Directions
Add cooked rice and milk (or water) to a saucepan and set over medium heat. 
 
Add 1 peaches, skinned and chopped, along with the brown sugar. 

Once mixture is warm and the peaches have cooked a little, use an immersion blender (or transfer to a blender) until smooth.  Return to saucepan. and add 1 more chopped peach.  Bring the newly added peaches to tempature, and spoon cereal into bowls.  

Top with remaining sliced peach, cream, and a little brown sugar to taste. 

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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Cheddar Biscuits/Scones


This recipe appeared as my September Column in my local newspaper, the Hinton Voice. 

One of the very first recipes I ever remember making were my Gramma’s baking powder biscuits.  Back in the 90’s my Grandfather gathered up all of Gramma’s recipes, typed them all out, created an index, and placed them into giant binders to ship out to all of their children and grandchildren. Throughout the last 20 years each binder has grown and become unique to it’s owner.  When I visit my Aunt’s house, she has little notes she’s made in the margins and added pages of recipes that have been passed onto her from friends, cut out of her favourite magazines, and newer recipes that have been personally passed on from Gramma.  My little cousin’s earmarked all of the jam recipes in her book and started up her very own jam business on Vancouver Island.   Though I adore all of the recipes I’ve tried from the family recipe binder, this recipe is hands down the most adored page in my book.

I’ve made these biscuits/scones probably hundreds of times throughout my life, in every variation under the sun.  In addition to this cheddar version, this summer alone I’ve made them into fire roasted jalapeno cheddar scones, raspberry scones, plain biscuits, and even dumplings.  This recipe could very well be the most versatile recipe in my entire collection!

Recipe makes 8 large biscuits/scones

Ingredients

- 2 cups flour
- 4 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 5 tbsp butter
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup whipping cream (or milk, though cream really is better for this recipe)

Directions

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Add dry ingredients to a large bowl, and cut in the butter with either a butter knife, pastry cutter, or your hands (I prefer the hands on method).  Add grated cheddar.

Beat eggs until frothy, then mix them with the whipping cream. Add this liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring as little as possible.

For a traditional scone shape:

Pat the dough into a pie shaped piece (again handling the dough as little as possible).  Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 separate pieces (just like you would a pie) and pat each piece into shape.  Place on a greased baking sheet being careful to space out so they don’t stick together as they bake.

For rolled bicuits:

Gently roll the dough onto a floured surface, using a well floured rolling pin.  Cut the biscuits using a pastry cutter or glass with a sharp rim, then place on baking sheet.

For rustic looking biscuits:

Separate the dough into 8 equal pieces and drop onto baking sheet.

Bake for preheated oven for approx. 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes, then remove from baking sheet and place on a wire rack to cool further.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies and a New Adventure!


I have been on a bit of a cookie making spree lately. 

I've been working on a really big CWJ project with my town for the past couple of months, and as a result, I obtained all of the necessary food licensing and permits in order to legally sell all of the food that I make without having to be at a Farmer's Market.  

Since I'll be testing recipes for this event all month long (and there are only so many things that fit in my freezer!) it made sense to sell some of the trial batches to help re-coop the cost of all of the ingredients. If you're local to the Hinton/Edson/Jasper area, be sure to check out my new food sales venue at https://www.facebook.com/groups/cookingwithjaxsales (please note this group is only open to locals at this time - if I ever figure out how to safely/legally ship food, I'll be sure to post it here as well!). 

For now, I'll share the recipe for these Triple Chocolate Cookies that I made last week.  So far, cookies have been my best seller in this new adventure! 

Ingredients

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped Lindt (or other fine chocolate)

Directions


Pre-heat oven to 375.

Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.

Beat in vanilla and eggs.

Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt). 

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir until just combined.

Add chocolate chips.

Refrigerate dough for at least at hour (this ensures maximum cookie puffiness - if the dough is too warm, the cookie will fall flat). 

Measure 2 tbsp of dough into a ball and place on an un-greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges of the cookie are golden.  Remove from baking sheet and cool.


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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Old Fashioned Creamed Corn




I've had this recipe for creamed corn in my head for awhile - over 5 years in fact.  Every time I have enough fresh corn it crosses my mind to make this, but I somehow end up using the corn for something else instead. 

Last week Marc and I were in British Columbia visiting my Grandparents, and on the way back we stopped at a corn farm in Chilliwack.  We grabbed 2 "farmers dozen" bunches of corn, leaving me with more than enough to make this recipe, and every other corn recipe my heart desired. 

5 years is an incredibly long time, and in the process I managed to perfect the recipe in my head long before I ever made it.  This was one of those sweet recipes that turned out perfectly the very first time I made it. 

Recipe makes 8 cups or 4 x 500 ml mason jars.

Ingredients
- 8 cobs of corn
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 small onion
- 2 bunch garden chives (optional)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 cup of cream
- 1 tbsp sugar
- salt & pepper, to taste (optional)

Directions 

Shuck corn and rinse free of any silk strands.  Using a sharp knife, remove the corn from the cob.  Using a spoon, remove any remaining pulp and add to corn.  Discard cob. 

Finley mince onion and chives, then saute in butter in a large pot over medium for 2-3 minutes until onions are translucent. 

Add corn and water to pot, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until corn is tender.  Add cream and sugar to pot and simmer for an additional 6-7 minutes to thicken cream.

Using an immersion blender, blend corn until 3/4 blended (you still want the corn to have some texture). 

Season with salt and pepper and serve! 

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Parmesan Potatoes


If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you’ll know that I have a special place in my heart for baby potatoes.  They cook quickly, cut perfectly, and make for a great appetizer or side dish, giving them endless recipe opportunities.

This recipe happened directly after last month’s column using baby potatoes for hot potato salad.  I had a ton of leftover parmesan cheese, chives, and potatoes so I  threw these into the oven to have next to barbecued steak and corn the following evening – I could not have been happier with how they turned out.  The parmesan cheese created a perfect crust for the potatoes, and the hassleback style of cutting them (see below) created the perfect French fry level of crispiness, all the while preserving the centre of the potato for a classic baked potato feel and taste. 

This style of potato is truly the best of all the potato worlds combined into one dish and is sure to satisfy and potato craving that you might have.

Recipe makes 4 servings

Ingredients

- 2 lbs baby potatoes
- 1 cup real parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tbsp butter (or oil)
- ¼ cup chopped chives

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line baking sheet with tinfoil shiny side up (this will help reflect the heat making the potatoes even crisper).

Cut potatoes hassleback style (sliced thinly from the top to the centre but left joined at the bottom – picture cutting a potato for homemade chips only leaving the bottom portion of the potato intact so it all stays together).

Place a small amount of butter on top of the potato, getting as much between the layers as you can (this is harder to do with baby potatoes, but is achievable).  The butter is necessary not only to achieve crispiness, but also to bind the parmesan cheese to the potato in the next step.

Finely grate parmesan cheese (if you don’t have a parmesan specific cheese grater, use the smallest grate side on a regular cheese grater).  Mix cheese with finely chopped chives.

Roll the buttered potato top in the parmesan cheese, pressing the cheese on top of the potato flat. 


Bake in pre-heated oven (with rack in the middle position) for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through and cheese is golden brown.

Great served on their own, or with a little bit of sour cream on the side for dipping.

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Warm Roasted Potato Salad

 
I tend to give people homemade treats whenever they help me out with something.  Recently a friend did just that, and came through in a really big way for me.  I wanted to make her something really special, so I asked her BFF what her all-time favourite dessert was.  She replied “if you really want to make her something she’ll love, make her a hot potato salad”.  She went on to tell me that our friend always ordered this exact dish at her favourite restaurant in Jasper.  I always love a good challenge, so I was on a mission to re-create it for her.

It’s not often that a recipe comes through exactly right on the very first attempt, but this recipe happened that way.  I made it once, and it was ready to take over to her house.  I was barely out of her driveway when I received a text from her saying “THAT’S SOOOOO GOOD!!!!!!!!!”.  I’ve made it a few times since and it never seems to last long enough to try cold, though I imagine that would be pretty tasty as leftovers too.

Recipe makes 6 side servings
(recipe easily doubles for a crowd)

Ingredients

- 1/2 lb bacon
- 1 kg baby creamer potatoes
- 1 ear of fresh corn
- 3 small shallots (the equivalent to a large onion)
- 3 cloves of garlic

For dressing:
- 1/3 cup real mayonnaise (not miracle whip)
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup real parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
- fresh pepper to taste
- fresh chives, for garnish

Directions

Place bacon on a silpat (or parchment paper) lined baking sheet being careful to not overlap.  Place bacon in oven, then turn oven on to 425 degrees.  It’s important not to preheat your oven for this step – bacon cooks much better when starting in a cold oven).

Cook bacon for approximately 15 minutes, or until desired crispiness.  Pause to marvel over how awesome it is to cook bacon this way, then vow to make it this way for breakfast from now on if you don’t already.

Once bacon is cooked, remove it from the pan to cool, reserving the bacon grease.  Without wiping the pan, add chopped potatoes, corn, shallots, and whole cloves of garlic (you’ll be removing these at a later step).  Toss ingredients in bacon grease, adding more if necessary until potatoes are lightly coated throughout.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes are crispy.  Be sure to stir halfway through cooking time.

Remove whole gloves of garlic, and mash.   Combine dressing ingredients, and toss in the mashed garlic.   Coat the potatoes with the dressing while the potatoes are still warm.

Serve salad immediately. 

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