Monday, February 28, 2011

That's a Spicy Marmalade!

Okay, so no one here in Sacramento really took the prediction last week of snow flurries very seriously. But the threat of a hard freeze was another matter. We threw sheets over delicate plants in the yard and moved some flower pots into the house. Now, what to do with the fruit on our citrus trees? We certainly didn’t want to have citrus-cycles come morning! And although we have eaten lots of the oranges and lemons and given
bags full to our friends there was still quite a bit of fruit on our trees. Somehow I am always surprised at the quantity of fruit a healthy citrus tree can produce! At any rate my husband donned his farm worker garb and headed out to clean off the orange and lemons trees. I even took all the fruit of the kumquat!
Now, what to do with the bowls and bowls of fruit…there’s of course orange juice, more bags to friends, eating them until your mouth can’t take any more…and then…canning! I launched into canning overdrive. First there was some lovely lemon curd. Next, Meyer lemon marmalade, but what to do with all those oranges… I wasn’t really up for a big batch of traditional orange marmalade. Now as some of you know I sort of have a thing for fruit with some sort of Chili pepper…Chili Blackberry Syrup, Ancho Chili Apple Butter, Pepper Pomegranate Jam…so what’s the most obvious answer here?
Orange Chili Marmalade…da-a-a!

Orange Chili Marmalade

2-1/4 LBS Oranges (unpeeled), seeded and thinly sliced
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
6 C Water
6 Dried New Mexico red chilis
9 C Granulated sugar

In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan, combine oranges, lemon zest and juice and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes. Add chili peppers, partially cover and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until fruit is very soft, about 30 minutes. Remove and discard chili peppers.
Meanwhile, heat canning pot, add jars to heat, put lids in a small sauce pan of water and heat…

Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Maintaining boil, gradually stir in sugar. Boil hard stirring occasionally, until mixture reaches gel stage, about 15 minutes. Skim off foam.

Ladle hot marmalade into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary. Wipe rim. Put lids on jars and tighten to finger tight.

Place jars in canner. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and wait 5 minutes, then remove jars.

The chilis made the marmalade a wonderful red orange and the amount of chili produced that wonderful heat that works so well with the sweet of fruit. I tested my concoction out at a party we went to, serving it with goat cheese and crackers and I am pleased to say it was a success!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Yummy Winter Soup to Keep You Toasty!

Ah Mother Nature, what a funny gal…a real comedian…I think the transition from winter to spring must be her favorite time for comic relief. Gray, gray, gray, rain, rain, cold, cold cold…then long about February, she presents us with that wonderful day of beautiful sunshine! We warm ourselves in it’s wonderful glow. Start to root around in our gardens, cleaning up the remains of winter. Our minds start fantasizing about what we will do on the next beautiful warm day…HA, HA, HA! Mother Nature can hardly contain herself…got those silly humans yet again! They fall for that spring fake out every time! Well, we have had some beautiful days lately, and yes, we fell for the old Spring fake out, but perhaps Spring is just around the corner…However, on this, cold, windy, rainy, day, we are reminded that yes, it is still winter! For that, winter soups are still a nice thing to have on hand! Root vegetables are still in abundance at the market and what better way to get some good veggie vitamins than in a nice soup! Several weeks ago I canned up some vegetable stock and since then it has been longing to be used, so I set about whipping up a batch of Barley Soup with Seasonal Vegetables, adapted from ‘How to Cook Everything - Vegetarian’ by Mark Bittman. It’s a hearty soup that with a nice salad on the side makes a good meal! And with leftovers in the fridge it can be a hearty meal for several days!
The prep time on this one is a little lengthy what with all the pealing of the root veggies, but otherwise it is quite simple, and really yummy. I used it in a canning class I gave last week as an example of what to do with the vegetable stock we had just made. It was a big success!

Barley Soup with Seasonal Vegetables
Adapted From ‘How to Cook Everything - Vegetarian’ by Mark Bittman
Recipe for 6 cups


2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1Med Onion, chopped

1 TBS Garlic , minced

Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

1 C Pearled Barley

6C Vegetable Stock

About 2 LBS Root Vegetables - Turnips,
Parsnips, Carrots, Celery root, Yukon Gold Potatoes - peeled and cut into ½” dice.

1 TBS Fresh Sage Leaves, chopped
1. Put the oil in a deep skillet or broad saucepan or casserole over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the barley and cook, stirring constantly, until the barley starts to toast and stick, about 5 minutes. Stir in the stock and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat so the liquid simmers, cover and cook until the barley begins to soften, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the root vegetables. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer again, cover, and cook until the vegetables and barley are very tender, another 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the sage and cook for another minute or two.

3. Taste and adjust the seasoning

Serve the soup with a nice green salad, a glass of wine, get cozy and wait for the next sunny day!