Browsing Category

Winter

Winter

Tis the Season!

Tis the season for wonderful food! As an avid preserver, a large part of the fun is putting the fruits of my labour to work in creative food applications. At this time of year, our celebratory meals always involve dessert so I’m going to raid the pantry for items to put into a traditional French tarte.

Every patisserie in France offers tartes frequently made with fruit and often with an almond cream base called frangipani. Tartes are open faced ‘pies’ so to speak made in pans that have removable sides and bottoms. It is possible to use a typical pie pastry for the tarte but I like to use a pate brisée which is a butter based pastry with excellent flavour and enough turgor to stand up once the pan is removed.

Pate Brisée
2 ½ cups unbleached white flour 1 tsp. salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter cut in small pieces ½ cup ice water
I use my food processor but you can use a pastry cutter to cut butter into salted flour. Gradually add ice water until the pastry starts to come together. It might be less than ½ cup. Put out on lightly floured surface and bring the pastry together with your hands. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thick. Press the dough into the tarte pan. Let it hang over the sides. Take the rolling pin and roll lightly across the top of the pan which will cut the pastry off to exactly fit the pan. This pasty freezes very well. For each filling below, add it to the pastry lined pan and bake at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes for a 9 inch or 40 minutes for a 6 inch pan. To ensure a crispier bottom crust, bake on the lower shelf.

Pear Mincemeat
In the Fall I made Pear Mincemeat (Bernardin). I used a small 6 inch pan and about ¾ of a cup of mincemeat. I cut a snowflake out of the pastry to add to the top and brushed it lightly with melted apple jelly.

Double Apple
This tarte, adapted from a Ball recipe, uses preserved apple sauce (one 250 ml jar) combined with 1 cup chopped, peeled apples. Put the sauce mixture into a 9 inch tarte. Thinly sliced one to two apples and place them in concentric circles around the tarte as illustrated. Brush with melted apple jelly and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Pear with Frangipani Filling
Blend ½ cup soft butter, ½ cup sugar, 1 cup ground almonds, ½ tsp. almond extract, 1 TBSP flour. Spread the almond cream into a 9 inch tarte pan. Slice the preserved pears decoratively and place them around the tarte pressing slightly. Brush the pears with melted apple jelly.

Voila, you have three French tartes made with home-made preserves ready for the holiday table.

I wish you all a joyful and safe season and look forward to returning in the New Year. If you have any topics you would like me to cover, please send me a note at:
preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

Winter

The Festive Platter

Recently in Fine Cooking, it said “if you aren’t familiar with the cheese board trend gone wild, you must have been actively avoiding Instagram and Pinterest for several years”. Yup, creating boards is a huge trend even if, like me, you’re not addicted to social media. Creating a board is fun, creative, and beautiful to look at not to mention delicious to consume.

Last week I was asked to prepare a Festive Platter for staff at one of our hospitals. I anchored the platter with a jar of Thyme-Infused Red Wine jelly (pantry item). I think the key to a great platter is contrasts – colour, texture, and taste (sweet-salt). For this platter, I used three cheeses of various textures, cured salami, cranberry-orange sweet bread, prosciutto pinwheels, Provolone snowflakes cut with Christmas cookie cutters, baked olives, spiced nuts, mandarins, pomegranate, dried apricots, crostini, and crackers (GF). The options are endless. It’s fun to share as an appetizer or even as a light meal.

For more information and resources:

Preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

Winter

Teas and Tisanes

Herbal teas are technically not teas at all because they do not include “true teas” such as green, black, white or oolong. The term “tisane” refers to decoctions or infusions made from herbs, spices, bark, roots, fruit or seeds. Infusions are used for herbs that are steeped in hot water as we normally do with tea. Decoctions are reserved for woody, tougher spices, seeds, roots and barks that require a start in cold water and a 15 – 25 minutes simmer. For example, mint is prepared as an infusion whereas ginger or turmeric would be prepared as a decoction. Either way, they are both tisanes.

Tisanes have a very long history dating back to 2700 BC in China and 1550 BC in Egypt where herbal teas were enjoyed for pleasure but also used for medicinal purposes. For instance, chamomile was used centuries ago to support relaxation and sleep. In America, following the Boston Tea Party ordeal, drinking tea was considered unpatriotic so people turned to herbal teas as a pleasant substitute. In recent years, our attention to natural, unprocessed foods and drinks has brought a resurgence in the consumption of tisanes.

Although I have always dried some herbs for the purposes of tisanes, this past year I started a “tea garden” to intentionally expand my tea-making. I planted lemon and orange balm, bergamot, various mints varieties, and German chamomile to complement my other herbs and flowers. Along with these, I dry lavender, oregano, rosemary, rose hips, as well as orange and lemon slices to augment flavour. I sometimes use my dehydrator for herbs and flowers, but I mostly air dry the old-fashioned way. I find the oven, dehydrator and microwave can be a touch too hot for drying herbs.

There are an endless number of possible tisanes from simple chamomile, mint, lavender, or lemon balm to combinations that are delicious. This combination of herbs and spice is one of my favorite recipes that comes from an older book by C. Costenbader.

½ cup dried rosemary
½ cup dried lavender flowers
½ cup dried mint leaves
¼ cup dried chamomile flowers
¼ cup dried cloves

Combine and store in air-tight container. Use 1 tsp. of the mix to 6 oz. of boiling water. Steep for 6-8 minutes.

As our gardens head for their winter sleep, the herbs, flowers, bark, roots, fruit, and seeds along with spices can add to our comfort in the chilly months ahead

For more information and resources:

Preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

Preserving Know-how/ Winter

Preserving Lemons

Preserving Lemons

January always makes me think about citrus. It is the time of year when we find Clementines, Meyer lemons, Seville oranges, blood oranges and fruits from Florida. The colours, aromas and tastes of citrus brighten up cold winter days. This month I will focus on citrus beginning with Preserved Lemons.

Preserved lemons are central to North African cuisines. They add a bright, salty, tang to Moroccan tagines, roast chicken, pasta, labneh, salads, grain bowls, vinaigrettes and sauces. Technically speaking, preserved lemons are fermented in a brine created with salt and lemon juice. It takes about a month for the lemon rinds to soften to a desirable texture through the fermentation process. Once this is achieved, the lemons will last in the fridge for up to a year. Although it is possible to use the entire preserved lemon, it is more typical to use only the rind, thinly sliced or minced.

Any well-scrubbed lemon is fine to use, but I prefer Meyer lemons that have a thin skin and a gentle flavour. Some older recipes use far too much salt, but updated recipes have addressed this issue achieving the right ratio of salt to acid. I like the recipe from “The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving”.

After thoroughly washing 8 to 10 lemons, place each with stem-side down on a cutting board. Cut through almost to the bottom making an X pattern. Open the lemon like a flower and massage in 1 tsp.(5ml) of pickling salt. Close the lemon and put into a 1 litre jar pressing down to release juices. Repeat with lemons packing tightly into the jar leaving a 1 inch headspace. Squeeze juice from remaining lemons and pour into jar to cover the lemons. They must be kept submerged to keep them safe so add additional lemon juice as needed. Cover the jar with plastic wrap and screw on lids and rings. Leave on the counter for 3 days to kick-start the fermentation process. Then move to the fridge.

Let your imagination run wild with applications of the preserved lemons to your cooking. Whether adding to soups, sauces, vegetables, meats, grains or pressed yogurt, it will brighten the dish in taste and appearance. Preserving lemons is a simple, quick way to capture the sun in a jar during the winter months.

For information: preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

 

Preserving Know-how/ Winter

Kimchi Making

Kimchi

Last week I facilitated a Zoom workshop for Agriculture Grey-Bruce on fermentation. I chose a focus on Kimchi because it’s so popular and is easy to make. Kimchi is a Korean fermented pickle that is primarily made with cabbage but not always. It’s said that there are as many Kimchi recipes as there are families in Korea. After fermenting, Kimchi has a salty-tangy taste with a touch of heat and slight miso finish.

In a recent issue of Cooks Illustrated, several stages of Kimchi fermentation were explained from an unfermented crisp salad-like Kimchi (Geotjeori) to the Kimchi we are used to with a short fermentation, to one more intense called Shin Kimchi used for cooking, to finally one that is very pungent after a 6 month fermentation. In Korea, Kimchi is eaten with almost every meal. It is a great accompaniment to rice bowls, fried rice, vegetables, meats or eggs.

Pictured here is Baechu (cabbage) Kimchi using a 2 lb Nappa cabbage with julienne of carrots and leeks. You can add onions, radishes, Asian pears if you like. I cut the cabbage into 2 inch strips but Koreans often leave the cabbage in large quarters or sixths. The cabbage and vegetables are massaged with 2.5 tsp of pickling salt (or sea salt). The salt extracts juices from the vegetables. Let rest for 2 hours. Add 3 TBSP fish sauce and/or ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce (your choice). Two TBSP of grated ginger is a must and Kimchi always has garlic. I used one large clove but I read recipes that had as many as 22! The unique flavour of Kimchi comes from ½ cup Korean chili flakes or powder (Gochugaru). There really isn’t a substitute so order online or find it in a local Asian market. Use gloves to mix in additions to prevent chili burn. Once mixed, push cabbage into a crock or 1 litre Mason jar. Press down very firmly to remove air. The juices will rise above the cabbage which is what you want. Place a cabbage leaf on top or parchment as a barrier and weigh down the cabbage. It must stay below the brine to be safe. I have used a weight and silicone top from Lee Valley, the latter allowing for the release of carbon dioxide as fermentation happens. You can also use a 4 oz mason jar filled with water or double freezer bags, one filled with water. Top with cheese cloth, cotton or a fermentation lid with air release. Check daily. Skim if necessary. In about 9 – 11 days the fermentation should be complete. At this point you can move the jar to the fridge to halt fermentation. Serve as you wish.

Enjoy Kimchi and other fermented foods. For information: preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

Kimchi

Baechu (cabbage) Kimchi

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...
Serves: 6
Cooking Time: 1 hour

Pictured here is Baechu (cabbage) Kimchi

Ingredients

  • 2 lb Nappa cabbage with julienne of carrots and leeks.
  • Onions, radishes, Asian pear
  • Pickling Salt or Sea Salt
  • 3 tbsp Fish Sauce and/or 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsps Grated Ginger
  • One large clove of garlic
  • 1/2 cup Korean Chili Flakes or Powder(Gochugaru)

Instructions

1

Using a 2 lb Nappa cabbage with julienne of carrots and leeks. You can add onions, radishes, Asian pears if you like. I cut the cabbage into 2 inch strips but Koreans often leave the cabbage in large quarters or sixths. The cabbage and vegetables are massaged with 2.5 tsp of pickling salt (or sea salt). The salt extracts juices from the vegetables. Let rest for 2 hours. Add 3 TBSP fish sauce and/or ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce (your choice). Two TBSP of grated ginger is a must and Kimchi always has garlic. I used one large clove but I read recipes that had as many as 22! The unique flavour of Kimchi comes from ½ cup Korean chili flakes or powder (Gochugaru). There really isn’t a substitute so order online or find it in a local Asian market. Use gloves to mix in additions to prevent chili burn. Once mixed, push cabbage into a crock or 1 litre Mason jar. Press down very firmly to remove air. The juices will rise above the cabbage which is what you want. Place a cabbage leaf on top or parchment as a barrier and weigh down the cabbage. It must stay below the brine to be safe. I have used a weight and silicone top from Lee Valley, the latter allowing for the release of carbon dioxide as fermentation happens. You can also use a 4 oz mason jar filled with water or double freezer bags, one filled with water. Top with cheese cloth, cotton or a fermentation lid with air release. Check daily. Skim if necessary. In about 9 – 11 days the fermentation should be complete. At this point you can move the jar to the fridge to halt fermentation. Serve as you wish.