Thursday, February 25, 2010

Strawberry Balsamic Jam

My husband has a weird game that he plays where he looks at a person and names what they often eat. "He eats a lot of burgers." "She eats a lot of granola." It's kind of fun, and I have even found myself unconsciously deciding what other people eat when I'm out and about.

One day I asked him what I looked like I eat, and without hesitation he said "strawberries". Now I'm very picky about my berries, and because of that I probably don't eat that many. But I will say a big, ripe, red strawberry is one of earth's most succulent foods, and at the top of my list of favorites. So when he asked me to make a "real jam", (and it was on sale at the market) it was no question that I would make a batch of strawberry jam.

Mais je suis une cheffe! I couldn't make just plain ol' strawberry jam! I had to make it really special, so I consulted my foodie bible, the one I keep on my nightstand, as of late- Culinary Artistry. I spend hours engrossed in the extensive lists of ingredients, pairings, seasonality, menus and ideas in this incredible book.

Under strawberries two things caught my eye- balsamic vinegar and Beaujolais wine. Both captured my interest, but what I had in my kitchen was the balsamic. Also, I have a hard time imagining buying a nice bottle of Beaujolais, then dumping a good portion of it in jam, instead of drinking it.
Thus, Strawberry Balsamic it is:

6 1/2 pint jars
3 lbs. strawberries
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 box pectin

Sterilize jars, lids and rings. Get your canner ready and stove top set with everything you will need. Rinse strawberries in cold water, dry, cut off stems and cut in half. Add to a pot with water, sugar, salt and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and let cook, stirring occasionally (but not disturbing the foam that is forming on top) until strawberries are broken down and consistency is syrupy. Ladle off the foam. Add pectin and bring to a full boil for one minute. Let rest for five minutes then pack and sterilize jars.

The result is a sweet, tangy and totally addictive jam! The color, as you can see, is deepened by the balsamic to a seductive crimson. I think it could go either way with desserts or some bread and creamy cheese; however, I've only had it so far by the spoonful (and half the jar is gone..).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Carrot and Onion Sandwich Slaw

In a tiny town in Western Pennsylvania, amidst a paper mill, a rivet factory and hundred-year old houses, there exists a small pizza shop called East End Pizza. It is known throughout the world for it's hoagies, and the onion slaw with which they stuff each one of those amazingly addictive subs.

Now, if you are here to find the recipe for that onion slaw, this is NOT it. I would never commit culinary blaspheme by posting a recipe for that which you can only obtain at the revered shop itself. But it was the inspiration for my own canned slaw recipe. To cut down on the monumental onion-breath it causes, and because they are the subject of this month's canjam-

Click for tigress can jam food blog challenge

-I replaced much of the onion with carrot. Because I was canning my slaw, I had to add more vinegar than the original. Not sure about the dried spices, I used my own Italian Combination. And I also added fresh garlic, just because I like it. You could shred the vegetables, or use a mandolin, if you're not feeling up to the intricate knife work; but I find it to be an enjoyable pastime, akin to meditation. Here it is:

3 sterilized pint jars, lids and rings
4 cups matchstick carrots (this is how a Korean taught me to easily cut beautiful matchsticks with no waste)
2 cups julienne onion
3 cloves thinly sliced garlic
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 Tbsp. fine salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
16 oz. white wine vinegar

Toss carrots, onion, spices and salt. Bring vinegar to a boil. Pack veg into jars and fill with vinegar. Process for 10 minutes. (Follow all standard canning procedures- you can learn about them here.)

To consume, drain slaw and toss in extra virgin olive oil. Spoon generously onto your favorite deli sandwich.