Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Champagne Preserves

June 18, 2013

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I don’t know what has gotten into me recently. I think it is just pure laziness. I haven’t posted for quite some time and don’t really have any good reason as to why I haven’t. I wish I could say it was because I had been whisked off to some exotic locale, or maybe that I had won an immense lottery jackpot and was busy out spending it all. But no. Nothing like that. Just lazy I think. It’s not like I haven’t been in the kitchen. Oh, believe me I have and I actually managed to get a picture or two. I just haven’t gotten around to writing any of it up. But I woke up this morning and thought perhaps I might want to get with it again, so I thought I’d start with this lovely Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Champagne Preserves recipe.

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Meyer Lemons aren’t available for long in this neck of the woods, so when I spied them in the store a couple of weeks ago I snapped them right up! Meyer Lemons, which originated in China, are a cross between a regular lemon and a Mandarin Orange. This results in a somewhat sweeter, really vibrant tasting lemon without the acidic aspect. They are a gorgeous golden-yellow colour, kind of like egg yolks and have a much thinner skin than regular lemons. I love them and have made quite a few yummy treats with them in the past during their window of availability, like Meyer Lemon Curd and Meyer Lemon Creme Mini Tarts. Now I’m sure you can make these preserves with regular lemons if Meyer Lemons aren’t around, but if you can get them, give them a try.

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These Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Champagne Preserves came out wonderfully! I don’t know how they wouldn’t have considering all of the delicious ingredients that went into them. I’ve told you how delicious Meyer Lemons are and hello?….Champagne?! We love LOVE Champagne in this house! And just think, this recipe only calls for one little old cup. Sooo…you’ll most likely have to finish off the rest of the bottle since Champagne is so difficult to store and you wouldn’t want it to go to waste. But back to the preserves… beautifully golden hued and flecked throughout with vanilla, we’ve been gobbling them up at an astonishing rate! Mostly spread on toast, but last night my husband warmed it up just a bit and put some over vanilla ice cream (YUM!) which got me to thinking about what other sorts of interesting things you could enhance by adding a bit of those preserves. Then I remembered a bar we went to in New York city that serves Jammy Cocktails. That’s right, you get your choice of vodka or gin on the rocks and then they give you a big spoon full of jam to stir into that drink. How refreshing! Now that the humid Virginia summer has kicked into gear, I think I feel a Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Champagne Cocktail coming on right about now…

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Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Champagne Preserves

recipe slightly adapted from: Jelly Toast

Yield: 2-3 1/2 Pint (8 ounce) jars

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 lbs of Meyer lemons (about 8 small) scrubbed
  • 1 cup of champagne
  • 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice (from about 4 lemons)
  • Granulated sugar (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 Vanilla Bean

Directions:

Thinly slice Meyer lemons removing seeds and stems.

Place a small plate in the freezer to test the jam’s consistency later if desired.

Fill a large pot with tap water. Submerge three 1/2 pint jars and their lids, making sure they are completely covered by the water. Boil the water.

In a non-reactive pan, place lemon slices and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Drain off water.Repeat this step one more time. Allow lemon slices to cool for several minutes.

Place lemon slices in a food processor and pulse several times to break up pieces. Leave the pieces as chunky or as fine as you desire.

Using a kitchen scale, weigh the lemon mixture. Return mixture to the large pot. Add the same amount of granulated sugar as you had lemon pieces (weigh the sugar to the exact same weight). Add sugar to the pot with the lemons.

Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice, and 1 cup of champagne and the seeds from one vanilla bean to the pot and bring to boil.

Allow to boil over medium/high heat (taking care that the heat is not too high or it will caramelized your preserves) until the preserves reach the gel point (220 degrees on a candy thermometer). This will take about 10-15 minutes. Watch the preserves carefully.

Gel point can also be tested by placing a small amount if the finished preserves on a frozen plate. (My preferred method.) If the preserves thicken and wrinkle when you run your finger through them on the frozen plate, it is done. If it remains runny, continue to cook for several more minutes.

When the desired consistency is reached, ladle the jam into jars. If your plan is to scarf down all of these preserves immediately, just put the lids on and place the jars in the refrigerator. If you would like to save one or both for later, screw rims onto jam jars. Using tongs, pick up the full jam jars and place them back into the boiling water for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, remove the jars and place them on the towel. As they cool, you should hear a ping type noise which tells you the jam jars are sealed. When you push down in the center of the top of the jar, there should be no click noise. Make sure the lids are sealed tightly.

If you are using Weck jars with a glass lid, once the jar has been filled you place the rubber ring and glass top on the jar and secure it with the metal clips. Process the jar in the hot water bath as described above. Let jar cool completely and then remove the metal clips. If a proper seal has been established you should be able to lift the jar by its lid and the lid should remain firmly in place. If the lid comes off, don’t despair. You’ll just need to store that jar in the fridge and eat it up much sooner than you thought you would be.
The preserves can be stored for up to one year.

Serve on toast, scones, English Muffins, over ice cream, stirred into yogurt or in a refreshing jammy cocktail!

Enjoy!

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Quick & Easy Meyer Lemon Curd

June 2, 2012

Meyer Lemon-palooza continues…As you all most likely know by now, after many months of searching, I finally came across some Meyer Lemons and bought a whole slew of them! I made Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes and Meyer Lemon Cream Mini Tarts. Both were stunning if I say so myself. And I still had some gorgeous Meyer Lemons left. (told you it was a really big bag…) So I went ahead and made up a batch of good old Meyer Lemon Curd.

I found the recipe on Craving Chronicles and it really did live up to its name. It  was very quick and easy and delicious to boot! It made about 1 1/2 cups of a delightfully sweet yet tart spread. Veritable sunshine in a jar I tell you!

Delicious smeared on scones, added to your morning oatmeal or yogurt, or simply eaten by the spoonful! I must admit, when I made up this curd, I did have another dessert in mind that uses Lemon Curd as one of its ingredients. I mention that just as a teaser, because I’ll be posting about that fabulous creation next time. Check back soon! In the meantime, get your jars of Meyer Lemon Curd ready to go!

Quick & Easy Meyer Lemon Curd

recipe from: Craving Chronicles

yield: about 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • zest of 2 Meyer lemons
  • 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice (about 3-4 large lemons)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces

Directions:

Add all ingredients except butter to a saucepan over Low heat. Whisk to combine. Add butter. Continue whisking gently but constantly, heating slowly, until curd thickens and reaches 160°F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from heat.

For the smoothest curd, pour through a fine mesh strainer. Transfer to a storage container. Cover and refrigerate overnight before use. Curd keeps up to 1 week in the fridge.

Enjoy!


Bourbon Bacon Jam

March 30, 2012

You heard me right….BACON JAM! Lord in Heaven above, Have Mercy! I’d seen various blogs about this mythic food. I heard there was a food truck somewhere on the other side of the country that was serving this stuff up on its burgers. I was seriously fantasizing about it, but I had yet to experience it firsthand and was dying to give it a whirl. I mean, really?!! Bacon. Jam. I finally decided that it was time to take action. The Lord helps those who help themselves, so I’ve heard. So I got busy with a recipe for this ambrosia that I found on Spoon Fork Bacon. (Fabulous blog, you should check it out!) With a name like that, I knew that they would know how to make a killer Bacon Jam. As an added bonus, their recipe made a Boozy Bacon Jam. Well I was very excited now. I hadn’t even dreamed that Bourbon would be on the all-star list of ingredients for this recipe. And be warned, quite a lot of ingredients go into this blessed concoction, but nevertheless it is still quite easy to prepare. There is of course, one pound of applewood smoked bacon, and bourbon – don’t forget the bourbon. (Knob Creek Kentucky Bourbon to be exact) Then there are the onions and the coffee, the ancho chili powder, smoky paprika, pure maple syrup, Sriracha Chili sauce, shallot, spices….Good Lands! And when you get all of these items combined just so, you let them sit a simmer for 1 1/2 hours, so that all that goodness can meld together. After one whirl in the good ole food processor, I swear the clouds parted and the light did shineth down. I had created it!  Bacon Jam! (insert maniacal laughter) I can tell you, I could hardly contain myself while it was bubbling away on the stove. But once it was finished and I got that first spicy, smoky, bacon-y taste I was doing a veritable bacon jig, which we really should have gotten film footage of, but I’ll just have to leave it up to your imagination. My husband started to laugh at me, but when a dollop of this magnificent creation landed square on his unsuspecting taste buds, his feet started to move on their own as well. Once you make your batch of this jam, you’ll know all the steps to the dance for sure! It’s instinctive. Involuntary. No instruction necessary. You’ll see….

What will I do with my Bourbon Bacon Jam now that I have it? Well, first of all I think I need to put it under guard, because the few folks that know it’s here are planning a heist to relieve me of my treasure. (By the way, a really big watch dog is in residence here…just saying in case you get any ideas…) So lets see, besides eating it right out of the jar…we’ve put it on our tender and tasty Cheddar Scallion Scones that I just posted about, we topped some deviled eggs with a dollop of that bacon-y goodness, we put it on burgers, we put it on egg breakfast biscuits. I tell you the possibilities are endless! Make up a batch for yourself and let your imagination run wild. You will not be disappointed!

Bourbon Bacon Jam

yield: Two 8 ounce jars

recipe from: Spoon Fork Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb applewood smoked bacon
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup sweet bourbon or brandy
  • 2/3 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons tarragon vinegar (I didn’t have this, so just used 4 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar)
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons Sriracha
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Fry bacon on medium-high heat for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside.

Drain all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from the pot, add butter and melt.

Add onion, brown sugar and a pinch of salt and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

Add shallot, garlic and spices and sauté for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Season with pepper.

Return the bacon to the pot and stir until well combined.

Pour the bourbon/brandy into the bacon mixture and cook the liquid down for about 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.

Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes.

Skim off any fat/grease that has formed at the top and discard.

Pour the mixture into a food processor and process until desired consistency is achieved.

Serve warm or store in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, until ready to use. Will last for up to one month (as if any of that bacon jam will be left around for 1 month. Ha!)

Enjoy!


A Tale of Two Apple Butters – Tipsy Sweet & Drunken Granny

November 14, 2011

Did I mention that apples were my favourite fruit? Yup, they sure are and they are now in season! My favourites are the apples that are very crisp. I really hate a mushy apple (sorry Red Delicious… you are right out! ) I prefer Honey Crisps, Jonagolds, Winesaps…. you get the picture.

There’s plenty to choose from at the markets now and I am in heaven! I have never made Apple Butter, so bolstered by my recent preserve making successes, I decided there was no time like the present and got to it. I read over the River Cottage Preserves Handbook and decided to use their recipe for Cider Apple Butter, but with a bunch of extra spices and some extra booze thrown in. No not Jack Daniels, but I can understand why you might have guessed that particular spirit. I used a bit of Calvados that I happened to have on hand. I also used Hornsby’s Cider which is a dry hard cider. The “dry” bit that I’m referring to means that in most of the natural sugar has been fermented out as the cider is made. Other brands of dry cider easily available include Woodchuck or Strongbow. If you wanted to use a non-alcoholic cider, remember that you will likely need to reduce the overall amount of sugar in the recipe, due to the sweetness of the unfermented cider.

For my first batch ( yes there will be a second…hence the tale of two butters thing in the title) of hard cider apple butter, I used my favourite Honey Crisp apples.The apple butter was very easy to make. The most difficult bit was all of the paring and coring in the beginning. I guess if you have a food mill or sieve to strain the cooked mixture through, you don’t even have to worry about doing that prep work and can remove the peels and seed etc. after cooking. I decided that it would be easier to just spend a bit of time with the apples beforehand. It was worth the effort. My Tipsy Sweet Apple Butter has a great flavour and perfect spreading consistency.

I must say though, this batch was really sweet. I know, I know…its Apple Butter, which is generally sweet. But I thought I might like a more tart version. Since the butter was so easy to make, I got to work straight away on my second batch, in which I used Granny Smith apples.

These apples are not an apple I would reach for if I was just eating one for a snack. But I knew they have the more tart flavour that I was looking for. I also reduced the amount of sugar from 2/3 cup per cup of apple pulp to 1/2 cup sugar per apple pulp. The only other change to the recipe was that I went a wee bit heavier with the cinnamon and upped it to a full teaspoon. This Drunken Granny Apple Butter was exactly what I was looking for. Great flavour, but not as sweet as my Tipsy Sweet variety. I decided to include both recipes since I know everyone’s taste varies and this will give you some options.

So I’m counting my apple butter making foray a success. We do have quite a bit of the stuff now (look out friends and family…there may be some Christmas Apple Butter coming your way), but we’ve been steadily using it up. We’ve been eating it on toast, in oatmeal, straight out of the jar.

And oh…I was inspired to make some lovely biscuits to spread it over.

Stand by for that Peter Reinhart biscuit recipe…it’s a winner. But I don’t know which one was the star of the show, the biscuit or the scrumptious apple butter. Hmmm….let me take a few more bites and I’ll consider. 🙂

Tipsy Sweet & Drunken Granny Hard Cider Apple Butters

yield: Five 8 oz. jars

ingredients for Tipsy Sweet:

  • 3 lbs. 6 ounces of Honey Crisp Apples, peeled and cored
  • 2 1/2  Cups Dry Hard Cider
  • 1/2 Cup Calvados Apple Brandy
  • Turbinado Sugar – 2/3 cup per cup of apple pulp
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

ingredients for Drunken Granny:

  • 3 lbs. 6 ounces of Granny Smith Apples, peeled and cored
  • 2 1/2  Cups Dry Hard Cider
  • 1/2 Cup Calvados Apple Brandy
  • Turbinado Sugar – 1/2 cup per cup of apple pulp
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Fill a large pot with tap water. Submerge five 1/2 pint (8 ounce) jars and their lids, making sure they are completely covered by the water. Boil the water.

Wash, peel and core the apples. Chop them into big pieces. Place in a large pan with the cider, 1/2 cup of apple brandy and 2 cups of water. Cook gently until soft, then remove from heat.

Drain liquid from apples. Place softened apples in blender or food processor to puree. Measure the volume of fruit pulp and return it to the pan. Add 2/3 cup sugar if you’re making Tipsy Sweet or 1/2 cup sugar if you’re making Drunken Granny (I used turbinado, but you can use granulated if you prefer) for every one cup of apple pulp. Add the cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, lemon juice and vanilla bean to the apple pulp and stir to combine.

Slowly bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Then turn the heat up to bring mixture to a rapid boil for 15-20 minutes, or until the mixture reaches your desired consistency. Remove vanilla bean prior to placing in jars.

Remove from heat and ladle apple butter into sterilized jars. Using tongs, pick up the full jam jars and place them back into the boiling water for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, remove the jars and place them on the towel. As they cool, you should hear a ping type noise which tells you the jam jars are sealed. When you push down in the center of the top of the jar, there should be no click noise. Make sure the lids are sealed tightly. Once jars have been opened, refrigerate.

Enjoy!


Vanilla Bourbon Blackberry Jam

October 10, 2011

Jay loves blackberries. And the blackberries have looked great this year.

I have been wanting to make him a delicious blackberry treat for some time now. I had planned to make him some blackberry cupcakes filled with blackberry curd and topped with a lime cream cheese frosting for his birthday. Sounds awesome huh? But alas…you know that thing about plans and mice and men? Well, his birthday came and went and it didn’t happen 😦 He was kind enough to give me a rain check on those cupcakes though, so I’m determined to make good on my promise. Keep your eyes peeled for  the recipe here when I finally am able to make them appear. In the meantime, I was able to make him some Vanilla Bourbon Blackberry Jam.

It has blackberries and bourbon, Jack Daniels to be specific, both things of which Jay is quite fond. And, with this jam, he will still have the fresh taste of blackberries stored away, long after their season is over. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway…You know, a good dose of justification to assuage the old guilt.

I’m happy to report Jay loves the jam. He’s been eating it on toast every morning since its creation and says its very tasty! I’ll have to take his word for it. I really don’t care for blackberries. Don’t like those crunchy seeds in them, which ironically is one of the things about them that Jay really likes. But this recipe wasn’t for me, it was for my fantastic, understanding and patient (still waiting for those cupcakes) husband. Lucky me!

Vanilla Bourbon Blackberry Jam

Recipe adapted from See Brooke Cook

yields: 2 Half Pint (8 0z) Jars

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs  blackberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice and the zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons of Bourbon – I used Jack Daniels – a favourite around here!
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp butter

Directions:

Wash the blackberries and toss them into a preserving pan, or any stainless steel pan you have. Lightly mash the berries with a wooden spoon to break them open, add the rest of the ingredients, but not the butter, and stir. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes. Place a small plate in the freezer to test the jam’s consistency later if desired.

Fill a large pot with tap water. Submerge two 1/2 pint jars and their lids, making sure they are completely covered by the water. Boil the water.

After allowing the mixture to sit, start cooking it over medium-high heat. At this point, add the butter which will keep the mixture from frothing. The mixture will bubble vigorously. Eventually, the boil will subside to larger bubbles, but still bubble vigorously. Begin gently stirring the jam frequently to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
After about 25 minutes you can begin testing the jam’s consistency if desired by placing a small amount on the cold plate, then allowing 30 seconds to pass. You can run your finger through it to see what the cooled consistency will be. Boil for a few minutes longer if you would like a thicker jam.

When the desired consistency is reached, ladle the jam into jars. If you’re going to gobble both jars up without delay, just place them in the refrigerator. If you would like to save one or both for later, screw rims onto jam jars. Using tongs, pick up the full jam jars and place them back into the boiling water for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, remove the jars and place them on the towel. As they cool, you should hear a ping type noise which tells you the jam jars are sealed. When you push down in the center of the top of the jar, there should be no click noise. Make sure the lids are sealed tightly. You’re done!

Enjoy!


Caramelized Pear & Rosemary Conserve

March 24, 2011

Both my husband and I love pears. They’re great anytime of the year really. So when I saw this recipe for a Caramelized Pear & Rosemary Conserve on The Serendipity Diary blog I just couldn’t resist! This recipe is fantastic for so many reasons. First and foremost is that it is very easy to make and tastes amazing! Furthermore, it really enhances whatever food you choose to pair it with. We have put it on toast, oatmeal, scones, served it with a cheese tray and used it as a spread on various sandwiches. Yum, yum, yum!

Jarlsberg and Smoked Gouda Cheese Tray with Pear Conserve

The hardest thing about this recipe is the pears themselves. Let me clarify that, catching the pears at the exact millisecond that they are ripe. You know what I mean. You buy some lovely pears at the market and can’t wait to eat them, but they are hard as little rocks. So you put them in your fruit bowl and remind yourself that patience is a virtue. You check them diligently for days, or even hours if you’ve dealt with these little devils before. Nevertheless, they seem to go from little rock, to ripe, to pile of mush in mere seconds! Makes you feel like you just can’t take your eyes off of them!

Me vs. Pear in staring contest

I’ve tried the trick where you put them in a closed brown paper bag to accelerate ripening, with mixed results.

It's a mystery!

I tell you it is maddening! But if you can catch them at just the right moment they can be absolutely dreamy! Once you have your ripe pears, you just throw them into the pot with some sugar, molasses, lemon juice, rosemary, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Ingredients ready to go!

Then you simply let them all cook down until you have this delicious concoction. So set out to make this conserve today. Or if you’d love to try some, but are not feeling particularly motivated, buy yourself a jar from Serendipity Jams, which they sell in their etsy store.

Caramelized Pear & Rosemary Conserve

recipe from  The Serendipity Diary

Ingredients:

1 1/5 lbs. ripe buttery Pears-like Bartlett or Warren’s

1/3 Cup sugar

1/8 Cup lemon juice

1 tsp. molasses

1 sprig of fresh Rosemary (approx. 4 inches in length)

Dash each of ground cinnamon and freshly ground nutmeg

1-2 Cups of water on hand to use during cooking

Directions:

Wash, core, de-stem and cut the pears into about 2″ pieces.

In a small to medium stock pot over medium heat combine pears, lemon juice, spices, and sugar and molasses. Give the mixture a good stir and let the pears begin to soften and caramelize. (Approx. 10-15 minutes)

Add about 1/2 Cup water and the rosemary to the pot, bring the pears to a gentle boil and continue stirring.

Continue adding water to the pears when most of the moisture has evaporated, continuing until the pears have broken down and are soft and spreadable.

Once the desired consistency is reached, remove and discard the rosemary.

Ladle conserve into clean, sterilized jars. Let the jars cool and then keep them in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.


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