Solidarity Sunday breads

the fifth Sunday of Lent is Solidarity Sunday here, which means that we focus on a particular issue in the world. This year’s theme is about feeding the world. To showcase this, they asked people to bring in an ethnic bread. I chose matzot and challah because I am trying to learn more about Jewish culture and I thought the best way to do that would be through the food. I am very happy with the pepper and honey matzoh recipe I found: http://www.annarbor.com/entertainment/food-drink/matzah/. I overlooked it, but I will make more tomorrow. I like the way the challah turned out, but I won’t get to taste it because I can’t attend the whole mass. We’ll see what the comments say when I get my plate back.

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Preserved lemons, Part 2

So, one thing (the first jar of preserved lemons) led to another (reading the comments about preserved lemons on Food in Jars), and I ended up making another jar using the Bon Appetit recipe (less salt, a bit of spice, something different). I used a 1L jar, and couldn’t use all of the brine the recipe called for (I put it into another jar to use on something else). I think it could be alright. Again, I’ll see in a couple of weeks.  I’m worried that we’ll either hate preserved lemons, meaning that I’ll regret using 2lbs to test this out, or we’ll love them, and I’ll regret not making more.

Preserved lemons

Mark got me seven pounds of Meyer lemons because I’m worried that the season will end before I’m done playing with them. It’s the first time we’ve had them here that I know of and the first year I’ve done any preserving. So, I’m making more marmalade, some Meyer lemon squash, and salt preserved lemons. Since the last one doesn’t require any waterbathing, I did it first. Although there are a lot of different recipes from places like Bon Appetit and the food network website — of all which looked good — I used the Food in Jars recipe because it was the easiest and because I’ve been admiring it for a long time. Here’s the start of it:

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I’ll see what happens in another couple of weeks!

Marmalade Cake

A few weeks ago, I found Meyer lemons in the grocery store — the first time I’ve ever seen them here. I couldn’t resist getting a few pounds and making marmalade. The only problem is that we don’t really eat much marmalade, or jam for that matter, so we gave some away as a thank-you-for-coming gift at a recent party, and have used it as part of a jam spread, but that’s only made a dent in it. So, I was super excited to find Melissa Clark’s marmalade cake recipe. Instead of the orange marmalade, zest, and juice, I used Meyer lemon marmalade, zest, and juice with some lime juice (because I didn’t have limes kickin’ around). I hope it turned out well — I’ll find out tonight when I take it to a friend’s party. It does look really good, though!

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I couldn’t resist cutting and trying it before the party:

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The crumb was a lot lighter than I expected and the peel offered some texture variation. Overall, it had a bright lemon flavour. I’m a little worried that it wasn’t quite done in the middle, but the slight sogginess may have come from the heavy concentration of icing. Overall, I think it’ll be a nice addition to the party and I’m looking forward to making it again!

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80 person feast

Tomorrow I start shopping for the 80 to 100 person feast I’m cooking for Saturday.  Troubles have already occurred — although I asked several times at my butcher shop if the capons they were selling for a high price were actually casterated roosters, when I contacted the company to find out how they were casterated (one of my guests have a problem with estrogen) I found out that they don’t actually sell roosters…  the shop was useless in their response to this (they – the manager and the owner) didn’t seem to think that it was their responsibility to know what they are selling). I’m very upset (especially since this is one of my favorite places).  I’m hoping that this is the last major challenge I face… although I still haven’t tested the bread recipes I’m baking on site (in site because I wanted the smell to waft through the hall through the day. ..). I’ll let you know how it all goes…

What does 8L of Chokecherries and 4kg of sugar get you?

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30 cups of chokecherry syrup.  

In a park near our house, there are several chokecherry trees.  I’d never really noticed them before, but, after our trip to Victoria during blackberry season and after watching people out picking the fruit which grew wild on the sides of the running trails and roads, I started to notice.  We finally managed to get out to the park to pick some of it.  Mark felt a little silly, but it really seems like a waste of fruit not to pick it, especially since I think that the city should start planning fruit trees in parks, rather than just decorative trees.  Maybe the people seeing us will pick other fruit in other parks.  

Anyway, we were out later in the year, so although most of the fruit this year was very plump, some was quite dry.  However, we managed to get eight litres of berries off just the branches that we could reach from the ground.  Image

Aren’t they beautiful?

It was my first time making chokecherry jam, so I mostly followed this recipe from Mennonite Girls can Cook: http://www.mennonitegirlscancook.ca/2010/09/chokecherry-syrup.html.  When I boiled them and juiced them, I ended up with 6L of juice.  This was turned into 30 cups of syrup.  I did add another cup or so of sugar (it had tasted a little flat) and a little bit of pectin (because it wasn’t thickening).  I then water bathed the jars for 15 minutes.  It turned out quite well.  We had some syrup from the jars that didn’t seal over ice cream.

Rhubarb Tart

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Mmm… Rhubarb tart… a rich almond crust, pastry cream, and candied rhubarb.  I made this a week (maybe?) ago, and have just had time to post it now.  I’ve never made pastry cream before.  It was very cool!

This is the cream and vanilla bean extract before cooking:

ImageI didn’t get a picture afterwards; I just thought this looked so pretty.

The rhubarb was a bit more difficult.  It deteriorated quite a bit, even though I didn’t cook it for very long.  I did like the syrup that was left over, though:

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Overall, when combined, it was very good, even if I didn’t have the correct pan.

Two notes: although I used the French Rhubarb Tart recipe from the BBC, I didn’t like the reviews of the cream, so I used a different flour-based one.  Also, it is very useful to have the tart pastry hang over the edges of the pan.  The edges got quite burned.  I left the burnt scraps on the counter after I cut them off; for a day, Mark kept trying to eat them even though they did not taste good at all.  

 

Rhubarb Curd and Other Adventures

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Rhubarb curd… Of all the things I never thought I’d do, juicing rhubarb was near the top of the list.  However, that’s how I spent an evening — forcing puréed rhubarb though a sieve and wishing that I hadn’t broken my french press.  The results, though, were worth the effort.  The rhubarb brightens the buttery curd and makes it a delight on blueberry waffles.  Next time, though, I will whisk the butter at the end of the cooking process, like I usually do.  Adding everything at the beginning made the butter start to separate near the end and then solidify on the top of the curd when it cooled.  Although I skimmed most of it off, it still has a bit of a grainy texture.  On a hot waffle, freshly toasted bread, or a warm muffin, this graininess is unnoticeable.

However, processing the rhubarb to extract the juice meant that there was an awful lot of rhubarb solids left.  Having been reading about the value of using the “angel’s share” from Well Preserved, I didn’t want these to go to waste, so I made rhubarb crumble muffins:

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Unfortunately, we ran out of eggs, so I used some left-over egg whites in the fridge with some oil to simulate yolk, and, in doing so, ran out of neutral oil, so I used butter… They are not as tender as one might expect… Oops.  I really should learn to check the fridge for all of the ingredients before I start making something.  The puréed rhubarb didn’t add as much flavour as I was hoping, but I found a solution for that:

ImageIt just seemed appropriate.  Stay tuned for more rhubarb adventures!

Rhubarb

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So, after the wedding, Mark’s parents trimmed back their rhubarbs (they use them for decorative plants and wanted them untouched until after the rehearsal supper which was in their yard).  Because they only use it for crisp and still have a lot in their freezer from last year, they gave me the stalks they removed.  They dropped the shipment off while Mark and I were at the pool, so we returned to find this in our kitchen:

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That, right there, is nine pounds of rhubarb — NINE POUNDS!  In looking for ideas about what to do with it, I found a variety of things: Rhubarb Vodka Jellies (a fancy jello shooter?), Rhubarb Curds, Rhubarb Muffins, Rhubarb Pies and Crumbles (with or without other fruits), Jams, Non-Alcoholic Jellies, Savoury Sauces, just for examples.  I think I’ve narrowed my list down to the following:
A French Rhubarb Tart
Vanilla Rhubarb Jam
Ginger Rhubarb Jam
Rhubarb Curd (maybe for a Rhubarb cake or trifle?)
Rhubarb Custard Pie
Rhubarb Muffins

It turns out that nine pounds is just enough to make everything I’d like to try.

October Feast

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I’ve volunteered to do another feast for the same group that I catered for in December, but this time for 80-100 people.  I’ll be able to cook at the venue this time, so I can do different things without worrying about transporting them there.  I was originally planning to have roast chickens for the main meat… that is, until I saw capons at my local butcher’s.  Actual capons, not just large chickens.  I brought one home to try out — the marbling in the breast meat was incredible, and, even though I cooked it too quickly, it wasn’t overly dry.  I’m looking forward to doing the feast.  Menu’s below!

October Feast Menu:
Salad with a berry vinegarette
Bread and flavoured butters
Vegetable barley soup (with capon stock, of course!)
Quiche
Roasted and stuffed capons with sauces
Roasted seasonal vegetables
Bread pudding with salted caramel sauce.