Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Canning with Grandma: Caramel Apple Jam

My backyard at home  
Due to my low-budget lifestyle I am making canned goods for Christmas presents this year.  Hopefully no one reads this, and finds out their Christmas present early! So far I have 6 pint-sized mason jars with bread and butter zucchini pickles.  So the next thing I decided to do was make a sweeter treat, like jam.  Luckily, I went home to the beautiful Sonoma Valley for a few days, and there I utilized the bounty of the harvest in my own back yard.  My family enjoys gardening so I can find anything from habaneros to raspberries there.  Basically our backyard at home is a small farm.  

I used about ten pounds of granny smith apples, a ton of sugar, and an 85 year-old woman to successfully make 12 half-pint sized jars of carmel apple jam. The jam has more of a apple pie filling flavor than carmel apple, but who wouldn't want to wake up and eat apple pie on toast?

Caramel Apple Jam (makes 12 8oz jars, plus a little extra)

18 cups of diced, peeled, granny smith apples
1 cup water 
1 Tb butter
2 (1.75oz) packages of Pectin
6 cups white sugar
8 cups brown sugar
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1tsp nutmeg. 

Wash jars, and place jar, mouth side up on a baking sheet.  Place in oven, bake jars at 275 until jam is prepared. Place lids in a sauce pan with water, cook over medium heat until it starts to boil, then turn to low or off, lids need to be very hot when put on the jars.  Begin to heat a large dutch oven, or large pot filled with at least 6 inches of water (enough to fully submerge standing jars).

In a large pot, combine apples, water and butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  The apples are going to soften and lose quite a bit of water.   Once the apples are soft, add pectin and bring the mixture to a boil, this is an important step to set the pectin.  Add sugars, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and allow the mixture to boil again, stirring constantly.  If the mixture appears a little watery allow it to boil for about 5 minutes so more water is lost.

Using a wide-mouth funnel ladle hot jam into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 headspace.  Make sure that the mouth of the jar is jam-free! If there is jam present, wipe it off with a wet paper towel, then place hot lids on jars and seal with the outer ring, somewhat tightly.  Once the jars are shut place them in the dutch oven full of water.  Boil the jars for ten minutes, then remove from the water and allow the jars to seal.  

Enjoy it on some sourdough toast, a personal favorite.  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Beef Sambusa (An African Egg Roll)

I was introduced to Sambusa in sixth grade.  A friend and I made it for a sixth grade project and since then is has become a staple of our friendship. It is a wonderful comfort food that will leave your mouth watering! It's origins are African, perhaps the Islamic community.


1lb ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 Jalapeño, minced, seeds removed
1 Tb tomato paste
1 cup oil, for frying,
1 tsp water
1 tsp flour
1 package of spring roll wrappers

Add beef and cumin into a skillet and sauté over medium heat until brown.  Once cooked remove the beef from the pan, retaining as much of the beef fat as possible in the pan. Add the onion, garlic, carrot and jalapeño and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.  Then season with salt and pepper.   Take off the heat and in a medium sized bowl combine meat, vegetables and tomato paste. 

Mix the water and flour in a small bowl.  Heat oil in a medium sized sauce pan.  Place 2 tablespoons of the beef mixture in the center of the spring roll wrapper, then wrap the roll according to how it is shown on the package, or more more instruction...   Use the flour mixture to seal the roll.  

Fry the roll in the oil, turning over every 20 seconds until the entire roll is a golden brown.  Remove from oil and place on a plate containing paper towels.  Allow some of the oil to come off and the rolls to cool, then enjoy!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Ultimate Bagel-wich, (aka the Max)

I recently started working at this great bagel shop in Isla Vista, known as bagel cafe...

I am allowed one bagel per day to pack with as much salmon, avocado, tomato, cream cheese (every flavor) and lemon pepper to my hearts desire.  Unfortunately, I made this bagel and took these photos prior to getting hired at Bagel Cafe.  So there are many other much other bagel sandwiches to come, although this one will always be my favorite.

The Max (named fondly after my boyfriend)

You need:
Bagels, I enjoy the everything bagel, ("galaxy" at Bagel Cafe)
Red Onion
Chive Cream Cheese, or Chives and Cream Cheese
Salt, Pepper, Butter, and
a little milk or cream

Slice onion thinly, cut and toast bagel.  Meanwhile, beat eggs (I normally do two at a time) with a pinch of salt and pepper, and a tsp of cream.  It is important to beat the egg lots!  Next, add a tablespoon of butter to a small skillet over medium heat.  Add egg, and cooked until moist, yet not too runny.   Spread a generous amount of chive cream cheese and/or chives on to the toasted bagel, then top with lox.  Finally add onion, and egg, and you have a wonderful breakfast!

Fish and Cookies? (Onion/Dill baked Salmon and the BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies)

Yay! Fish and cookies sounds horrible, but I'm really not eating them together.  I just had a craving for cookies and wanted to use the salmon in our freezer. And it's college, so there are few rules in the kitchen.  For example, my current housemate eats hot dogs at 8 am, and it is socially acceptable.

The salmon recipe is a favorite of my very Polish mother.  I was hoping to use fresh dill, but unfortunately my dill plant went on an LA vacation for a week, partied too hard and decided not to come back to SB.  So dried dill works as well.

Dill Baked Salmon (aka my favorite way to eat the delish fish)

4oz piece of salmon (I used frozen wild coho from trader joes)
3 Tb of dried dill weed (more if using fresh)
2 Tb butter
1/4 small red onion, sliced thinly
Dash of salt and pepper
A little lemon juice

Rub the butter all over the salmon, salt and pepper the fish, lay in a pan coat with dill and top with onions, and perhaps a little more butter.

Bake salmon at 375 for about 15 minutes covered, then 5 minutes uncovered.
and enjoy!

Obviously I'm doing my favorites to begin with so...

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER (adapted by America's Test Kitchen)

It's disappointing that the Nestle chocolate chip cookie recipe has dominated all other recipes to follow.  For example, the Americas Test Kitchen Recipe has formulated an innovative way to make the most flavorful chocolate chip cookies.  I am a strong endorser of the lesser known chocolate chip cookie  recipe, so if you've got a good recipe that doesn't fit the generic Nestle cookie cutter, show it off!

Regardless, these are amazing chocolate chip cookies, and there are tons of amazing chocolate chip cookie recipes out there so be open minded.

Why this recipe is so good? It's all about browning the butter...

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces) 
teaspoon table salt
teaspoons vanilla extract
large egg
large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks 

Preheat oven to 375.
Mix flour and baking soda in medium bowl, set aside.  In s small skillet brown 12 TB of butter,  it normally foams a crazy amount before it browns properly.  From experience, the darker the butter, the richer the flavor, although there is a very fine line between dark and delicious and burnt, so proceed with caution.  Once the butter is brown, pour into a medium six bowl and add the remaining butter, vanilla, and the egg and egg yolk.  Mix, until well blended, then allow the mixture to rest for 3 minutes.  After the 3 minutes has elapsed, whisk the mixture 30 seconds, repeat this process two more times.  After the final whisking, add the flour mixture and chocolate chips, and mix only until all flour is moist, and dough-like, don't over mix.  

Finally, add heaping tablespoons of dough onto a cookie sheet and bake until brown on the outside, and chewy on the inside,  about ten minutes.  And enjoy, you will forever be converted to browned butter cookies.  My boyfriend was responsible for converting me!