Apricot Honey Butter

Have I possibly mentioned the Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving?  Of course I have.  It is responsible for the dozens of jars of jams and preserves that have taken up residence in our basement.

It is my go to source for recipes that can be made any time of year.  For instance, that lovely apricot honey butter you see above?  I made that in May with dried apricots.  And it was spectacular.  I can’t even imagine what it would be like with fresh apricots.  I also used some special Saw Palmetto honey that my dad shipped up from Florida.  If you can get your hands on some fancy pants honey, use it.  If not, what you get from the grocery store will do you just fine.

I hope to move into the chapters with pickles and relishes this summer.  Until then, I’ve still got a ton of jams and jellies tagged that I want to try.

Apricot Honey Butter

Adapted from the Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving

BAH Note:  To be honest, I used about 1/2 cup honey and then I added enough agave nectar to get me to 2/3 cup of liquid.  I was really pleased with the flavor but I’ve made it before with all honey and it is equally enjoyable.  Do not overboil the mixture once you add the honey.  My notes on this recipe remind me that this set rather firm in the fridge and overcooking it results in a rather thick apricot honey butter which might be a formidable match for your toast.

  • 2 cups dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cups honey

Combine the dried apricots, lemon zest, crystallized ginger, water, and lemon juice in a dutch oven.  Bring to a boil over high heat, cover and reduce heat.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 35 minutes until the apricots are tender.

Transfer the apricot mixture to a food processor and process until smooth.  Return the mixture to the dutch oven, add the honey, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Ladle the jam into heated jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space, and process for 10 minutes.

Let the jars cool for 24 hours before checking the seal and storing the jars. Any jars that have not sealed should be refrigerated or immediately reprocessed using new lids.

{printable recipe}

Food Memories – Grandmother’s Dinner Rolls

I met Jen Schall last year at Big Summer Potluck.  And then we both found ourselves attending the IFBC conference a month or so later.  One thing led to another and before I knew it we were tweeting back and forth and leaving comments on each other’s blogs.  Let me tell you something about Jen, she creates amazing things in the kitchen. Go.  Look.  Here’s the link.  Her talent isn’t limited to the sweets and savories.  That’s only half the story.  Her pictures are sublime.  Knowing that she’s only about 90 minutes away from B’more, I’m tempted to show up on her doorstep one day and request a private tutorial in how she sets up these shots.

I had asked Jen after IFBC if she had a recipe that I could include in my Food Memories Project.  She said she thought she did and then life got busy in the way it often does.  Later we were chatting about my challenges making bread and she mentioned that she had this great dinner roll recipe that she was going to post in her bread baking series.  So imagine my surprise when I read her post about her grandmother’s dinner rolls.  It was as though I had hit the trifecta….grandmother story (and I’m a big sucker for those), food memory, and a flawless roll all in one.

Thanks to Jen and her generosity, I now have perfect dinner rolls in my freezer and a food memory to share with you.

The following appeared on My Kitchen Addiction on 3 May 2011.

Light and Soft Dinner Rolls

If you ask anyone in my family, they will tell you that these are the ultimate dinner rolls. But, I can’t really take credit for them.

These are my grandmother’s famous rolls…  Whenever we would have get togethers with the whole family, she would make a big batch of these rolls. They were a holiday staple for years. My brother and cousins would fight over them, and I’m pretty sure that there were times where they each had more than 10 rolls in one meal. They really are that good.

My grandmother was a great cook and baker. Though she passed away a few years ago, I often think of her when I am in my kitchen. I am fortunate enough to have many of her recipes, and though I can’t prepare them quite the way she did, they always remind me of her.

Until recently, the recipe for her rolls was one of the few recipes that I didn’t have. In December, my mom and I were putting together a book of family recipes for my brother and his new wife.  When we asked around for recipes, one of my cousins happened to have the recipe for the rolls. We put it in the book (especially since my brother was one of the biggest fans of the rolls), and I set out to learn to make them myself.

Perhaps my grandmother is looking down on me, because there’s just something about these rolls that always amazes me.  They really are quite simple to make, and they always turn out beautifully.  They are the lightest, softest dinner rolls I have ever made. They’re also pretty adaptable. I have swapped out the all purpose flour for whole wheat, added flax, used oil in place of the butter, and even made them with herbs and cheese. The rolls also make fantastic buns for hot dogs and hamburgers… You’ll want to keep the recipe on hand this summer!

Light and Soft Dinner Rolls
(Makes 18 dinner rolls or 12 sandwich rolls)

Adapted from Jen Schall

BAH Note: I’ve made these as cloverleaf rolls with success.  After the second rise, portion the dough into 18 rolls. Divide each roll into three equal pieces and roll them into three small balls.  Place the group of three dough balls in the buttered cavity of a muffin tin so that it looks like a pyramid.  Brush the tops with melted butter,  cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise just until it reaches the top of the muffin tin.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes.  I’ve also frozen the cooked rolls and let them thaw at room temperature or warmed them in a 350 degree oven.

  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
    (or cut it into small chunks and microwave for about 15 seconds)
  • 3 – 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Begin by combining the milk, sugar, yeast, and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk together until the yeast and sugar are mostly dissolved.

Add the butter and egg.  Stir to incorporate and break up the egg.  Add 1 cup of flour and beat vigorously to fully incorporate the flour and any lumps of butter that may have been remaining.

Gradually, add the remaining flour, stirring until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough with your hands, adding just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.  Knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth, but still light and soft.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in volume (about 1 1/2 hours).  Punch the dough down, reshape into a ball, and let rise a second time until the dough has doubled in volume again (an additional hour).

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Shape the rolls and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon liner. Let the rolls rise while the oven preheats, until they are a bit puffy.  If desired, brush the tops of the rolls with some egg wash (to make them shiny) and sprinkle with sesame seeds (I usually do this for the hot dog and hamburger buns).  Bake for about 12 – 14 minutes, until the rolls are golden on top.

Let the rolls cool for about 10 minutes on the baking sheet, and then transfer to a wire rack. The rolls are best served warm, but they will keep for a few days in an airtight container, or wrapped in plastic.

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 11/19/08 at Exit 51.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

That endearing phrase is something that SFC says, usually as he’s shaming me in some card game or other.  But today I’m the big winner.  How’s that you might ask?  Because I just won an autographed copy of Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook.  No fooling.

The Free Ranger’s over at washingtonpost.com had a copy to give away during today’s Food chat.  So my Ina-centric post was this:

Barefoot Contessa: Where HAS Ina been? She didn’t have any new BC shows on Food Network for ages.

Thanks for posting her Mustard Roasted Fish recipe today. Will we be getting previews of any other items in her new book?

Bonnie Benwick: She was just here 2 weeks ago, signing books at Sur La Table in Arlington. She does a new cookbook every 2 years. She renovated her barn/now kitchen. Be sure to read the Home section tomorrow for more about Ina.

I can tell you that the Brownie Pudding in that book is really, really great, and that Jane Black did a version of the turkey roulade she liked as well. Beseech Joe for that AUTOGRAPHED copy we’re giving away today!

And at the end of the chat, THAT post was the one they chose to get her book.  How freaking awesome.  Guess I will be looking for ways to South Beach the Brownie Pudding recipe that Bonnie mentioned.

Good thing I’ve been clearing out the cookbook collection at home.  I wouldn’t have had any room for her otherwise…..as if.

Bluebarb Jam

There ought to be a PSA for home canners – This is your kitchen on bluebarb jam.

Note to self, the next time you want to make seedless jam, try and think about it before the jam is cooked.  Because I bet it would be a helluva lot easier to put the berries in the food processor and then push that through a fine mesh sieve than the way I did it…which was to cook the jam and then spend an hour trying to force it through the sieve.  Yes, I know Ball says not to use the Cuisinart, that it can impact the gelling of the jam.  I know and I am willing to take my chances. In fact, I used the Cuisinart to make a mostly seedless version of this jam since the unfortunate incident pictured above.  And it worked just fine.

I’ve given this jam away to friends, neighbors, and family.  Most recently, I sent my father in law back to Florida with a 4 ounce jar when he was visiting this spring.  He called me a few weeks later to say it was his favorite jam ever and he might have to schedule another trip in order to get resupplied.

In case you were wondering, this is the other half of the lemon/blueberry sauce combo.

Do you really need another reason to make this?

Bluebarb Jam

Adapted from The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving

BAH Note: I got a solid 6 cups out of this recipe.  Please note that you should have your water bath at nearly a full boil and all your jars and supplies prepped and ready to go before you start the jam because this jam is super quick to cook.  I got a little creative when I realized the jam would not cook long enough for the fruit to really break down and I chose to ignore the instruction to roughly chop my blueberries (as if).  Once I had added the blueberries, lemon juice, and pectin, I gave the pot a good turn or two with my immersion blender.  If you’re a stickler for the rules, ignore that suggestion and go ahead and chop your blueberries…just don’t ask me to wash your cutting board.

  • 3 1/2 cups fresh or frozen rhubarb, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 box dry fruit pectin
  • 5 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

Place the rhubarb and water in a large stainless steel pot or enamel dutch oven over high heat and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add the blueberries, lemon juice, and pectin to the pot.  Stir to thoroughly combine.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Using an immersion blender, carefully blend the mixture to smooth out the texture and break down the fruit.

Add the sugar and bring the jam to a boil, stirring constantly, letting it reach a hard boil for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat, ladle the jam into heated jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space, and process for 10 minutes.

Let the jars cool for 24 hours before checking the seal and storing the jars. Any jars that have not sealed should be refrigerated or immediately reprocessed using new lids.

{printable recipe}

Gingered Rhubarb Jam with Honey

Once I finally bought a pot large enough to boil more than seven quarts of water at a time, I wanted to jump into canning.  The problem was that in our teeny, tiny house, there’s not a lot of room to store the stuff we already have, let alone the stuff that I want to can.  I convinced The Mistah to clean off a shelf in the basement for the canning supplies to live on.  But I still don’t have a great place to store the jars that are filled and sealed.  I see a trip to IKEA in my future to add another shelf to our IVAR system for the exclusive use of jams, pickles, and chutneys.

Fortunately, I made no promise to The Mistah that canning would ever save us any money.  But when he asks why I need to go out and buy a new shelf, especially since we got rid of a bunch of them just a few years ago, I’m going to hand him a jar of jam without saying a word.  The jam speaks for itself folks.

Gingered Rhubarb Jam with Honey

Adapted from The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving

BAH Note: This book has been my canning salvation.  The recipes are all geared towards small batch production which suits my style perfectly.  I thought the Gingered Rhubarb came out tasting more strongly of honey with a gingered undertone.  It was a great addition to my steel cut oats in the morning but could also be used with pork, chicken, or biscuits.  I use a 5.5 quart dutch oven to make my jams and wouldn’t recommend using a pot any smaller than that.  I was able to get seven 4-ounce jars out of this recipe which is as close to the 3 1/4 cup yield stated in the book as I could hope to get.

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely diced

Place the rhubarb, apple, water, and lemon zest into a large stainless steel pot or enamel dutch oven over high heat and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the fruit is tender.

Add the sugar, honey, ginger, and lemon juice.  Raise the heat and boil uncovered, stirring frequently, until the mixture gels, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Ladle the jam into heated jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space, and process for 10 minutes.  Let the jars cool for 24 hours before checking the seal and storing the jars. Any jars that have not sealed should be refrigerated or immediately reprocessed using new lids.

 {printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Some Assembly Required

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 11/19/08 at Exit 51.

Some Assembly Required

That phrase has gotten such a bad reputation thanks to our collective experiences putting together Barbie Dream Houses or Huffy Bikes or anything bought at IKEA.  I will admit that just seeing those words sends an icy chill through me…do I want it enough to figure out how it goes together?  Often, the answer is no.  But sometimes, not only is it worth it to say yes but the assembly is actually easy. I’ll give you an example.

I have a recipe for foolproof Shrimp Salad from Cook’s Illustrated.  From start to finish the whole thing takes maybe thirty minutes.  But I was feeling a bit lazy one day and didn’t even want to do that much cooking.  So instead of cooking the shrimp myself, I let the nice man at the Wegman’s seafood counter take care of that for me.  He didn’t seem to mind one bit.  And really, they know how to do shrimp.  I highly recommend using their court bouillon (plain) shrimp and their garlic/old bay shrimp.

All I had to do then was introduce Wegman’s shrimp to Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe.  It only took a few moments for everyone to be mixing and mingling in my big glass bowl.  They got along great and I was sad to see them go (onto other people’s plates that this).

Don’t think that you have to use fancy schmancy store cooked shrimp though.  Whether you cook your own or outsource it like I did, this is some assembly that you won’t mind.

Foolproof Shrimp Salad

From Cook’s Illustrated

CI Notes:  This recipe can also be prepared with large shrimp (26/30); the cooking time will be 1 to 2 minutes less. The shrimp can be cooked up to 24 hours in advance, but hold off on dressing the salad until ready to serve. The recipe can be easily doubled; cook the shrimp in a 7-quart Dutch oven and increase the cooking time to 12 to 14 minutes. Serve the salad on a bed of greens or on a buttered and grilled bun.

Serves 4

1 pound extra-large shrimp (21-25), peeled, deveined, and tails removed
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice plus 1 additional tablespoon, spent halves reserved
5 sprigs fresh parsley leaves plus 1 teaspoon minced parsley leaves
3 sprigs fresh tarragon leaves plus 1 teaspoon minced tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns plus ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
Table salt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 small shallot , minced fine (about 2 tablespoons)
1 small stalk celery , minced (about 1/3 cup)

1. Combine shrimp, 1/4 cup lemon juice, reserved lemon halves, parsley sprigs, tarragon sprigs, whole peppercorns, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt with 2 cups cold water in medium saucepan. Place saucepan over medium heat and cook shrimp, stirring several times, until pink, firm to touch, and centers are no longer translucent, 8 to 10 minutes (water should be just bubbling around edge of pan and register 165 degrees on instant-read thermometer). Remove pan from heat, cover, and let shrimp sit in broth for 2 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, fill medium bowl with ice water. Drain shrimp into colander, discard lemon halves, herbs, and spices. Immediately transfer shrimp to ice water to stop cooking and chill thoroughly, about 3 minutes. Remove shrimp from ice water and pat dry with paper towels.

3. Whisk together mayonnaise, shallot, celery, remaining tablespoon lemon juice, minced parsley, and minced tarragon in medium bowl. Cut shrimp in half lengthwise and then each half into thirds; add shrimp to mayonnaise mixture and toss to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and serve.