Monday, July 26, 2010

(Blueberry+Rhubarb)-Recipe=BLUEBARB JAM

This was my first solo jam making experience, and to kick off the whole ordeal I decided to immediately break a commonly heard rule of canning, which is that you should not double a recipe. Maybe it worked because I did not follow a recipe to begin with. I had extra pulp from canning blueberry juice, and some rhubarb from work, so the solution was obvious: Cook that shit up!

First off, I have been skeptical of making jams, on account of the insane amounts of sugars that are called for in most recipes. Fruit is already sweet and tasty, why would I want to make it too sweet and less tasty? Then I met low-methoxyl pectin. Basically, this type of pectin gels through a reaction with calcium, not sugar, so your jam may have as little or as much sugar as you please. This pectin comes with a calcium powder which you mix with water and add to the fruit. If you need it to gel more, you add more calcium water, if it is too gelled, add more fruit. Breakin' it down simple style.

What you need:

4 Cups chopped rubarb
4 Cups smashed blueberries (pulp from steam juicer is le bomb)
1.5 Cups Honey ( More or less depending on your taste buds)
1/2 Cup Lemon Juice
4 tsp. low-methoxyl pectin
4.5 tsp. calcium water

What to do:

-Heat rhubarb in a sauce pan with one cup of smashed berries and lemon juice, to let the rhubarb cook down a little bit.

-In a separate bowl, combine honey and pectin, stir well, and set aside.

- When rhubarb is soft, add the rest of the berries and calcium water, then let mixture slowly come to a boil. Once boiling, add honey/pectin mixture and stir well. Test gelling by placing a small drop on a cold plate and putting it in the freezer for a minute. This will show the consistency of your finished product once it has cooled. If it is an acceptable gel, remove jam from heat. If unacceptable gel, add more calcium water or fruit to increase or decrease gel.

-Fill jars (mine filled approximately 4 pints) to 1/4 inch from top, and make sure lip of jar is clean. Place sterilized lids on jars, and process in a boiling water bath for about 10 minutes.

-Remove from water bath and place somewhere to cool. Listen for the tings of success to ensure you have a nice vacuum seal! If it fails to seal, just eat it right then and there, with a spoon on your porch.

This jam is perfect for curing peanut butter's loneliness, just introduce the two on some sliced bread and let them mix it up. Also, it is good pals with chocolate ice cream and is probably still on speaking terms with vanilla ice cream. I hear it kinda has a thing for biscuits, but you didn't hear that from me.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Show us yer Bluebs!

I've got the berry blues for blueberries. These days, I am knee deep in gleaned blueberries, and there are so many ways to use them, how do I decide? If I bake a pie tonight, that is one less batch of turnovers I can make. If I make scones, then what would it have been like if I had made a pie? When I am president, I promise to add one day to the week, devoted solely to turning raw berries into tasty baked goods. One of the best methods I have experimented with this year is simply juicing the berries, and canning the juice. This makes a thick, rich, not overly-sweet, deep purple juice.

This process is a heck of a lot easier if your housemate happens to come across a steam juicer at goodwill. If you have no such luck, you could always order one online, or pick one up at your local supplier of canning goods. The steam juicer is very efficient at removing juice from fruits and vegetables,and it works like a double boiler, or like a giant coffee percolator for berries. There is a water basin in the bottom, the steam from which passes through a hole in the second layer and up to the basket of fruit. The fruit swells, bursts, and the juice falls down to the second layer, not mixing with the boiling water below. A rubber hose with a clamp make it easy to fill mason jars.

Wash your blueberries, and load em' up in the basket. Fill the water basin 3/4 full, and set that business to a-boiling. It should take about one or two hours to steam all of the juice out, and you are left with a great bit of pulp which you can use to bake all sorts of blueberry treats, or you may can it. You will want to pour one of the first glasses of juice back over the fruit, this helps the berries break down and release more juice. Make sure your water basin does not run dry during the juicing process, or else maybe you will burn a bit of escaped juice and your fire alarm will go off at 11:00 PM.

Steamed juice does not need to go in a water bath to be canned, but you still want to sterilize the jars. I needed four quart jars and one pint jar. After washing jars, place in the oven at about 240 F, and boil your lids. When juice is ready, fill jars up to about 1/2 inch from the top. A pair of channel locks helps if you find the hose clamp is a bit too much for your fingers to handle. Make sure the rim of the jar is free of juice and debris, place the lid on, and gently secure with a screw top. The heat from the hot juice will seal the jars if you set them aside overnight.

Done! If you wish to use the pulp, which you should, you can freeze it in smaller packages, or make blueberry applesauce, or scones, or muffins, or cake, or pie, etc., etc. Your canned blueberry goods will be in some fat stacks in no time!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

S'ghetti Fritters > Cold, Leftover Spaghetti

You know how ever time you make spaghetti you make too much? It's okay, just admit it. Everyone does it. There's nothing wrong with you and there's certainly nothing wrong with having too much spaghetti. Cold, leftover spaghetti can, however, get monotonous. We gots the soluntion: S'ghetti Fritters yo!

You will need:
leftover spaghetti
veggies (we used carrot, mushroom, hot peppers, eggplant, and onion)
an egg or so
frying oil
spices (try paprika and various Italian spices)

Chop it! All of it! Mix it together. Then, in a separate bowl, beat your egg and add flour until you have a nice batter. Blend this into the other ingredients. Add flower until the mix becomes cohesive. Your goal should be to make these into patties. After you've formed patties, coat them in flower or breading. At this point, I recommend putting them into the refrigerator to give the patties more integrity. Then, fry that shit! We deep fried them, but just a regular pan fry would be fine. Deep frying is your best bet though. Nothing ever tastes bad deep fried.

This whole process worked out much better than I had thought it would. The hot peppers we added to the mix really made the dish. They spiced it up and made it seem like an entirely new dish made from scratch.

When you're done they should look something like this -------->

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blueberry Turnovers > getting kicked in the pants

The other day I was fortunate enough to spend my evening picking pounds of free blueberries. I've been making a lot of things with them since, but mostly just eating them by the handful. then, yesterday, I saw a picture of some blueberry turnovers and felt obligated to make them myself. They're just so damn good looking. The way the blueberry filling oozes out is a beautiful thing.

You will need:
2 1/4 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cups butter or shortening
1 tsp salt
5 Tbs cold water
2 heaping cups of blueberries
2 Tbs cornstarch
2 Tbs honey
lemon zest to taste (1+ tsp)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg beaten w/ 2 tsp water
sugar for toping

For the filling: mix the cornstarch, honey, and lemon zest together. Then, blend in the blueberries and vanilla extract. Feel free to smash a few berries.
For the crust: mix the salt and flour together. Add the cold water. Cut in the butter with two knives or a pastry knife until the pieces are small pellets.

Preheat the over to 400. Place half the crust batter and place it between wax paper. Roll that shit out. I couldn't find anything to roll it with and ended using a frozen pint glass from the freezer. This ended up being a great substitute since it kept it cold. Spread it real thin and cut it into 4 squares. Place a big spoonful in each and then fold them over into triangles. Pinch the edges with forks. Brush each with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Cut lines on the surface for ooze ventilation and throw em in on a greased cooking sheet. Mine baked in about 14 minutes.

Sprouted Spelt/Whole Wheat Bread > Whole Wheat Bread

This is the first bread baking blog post of what I hope will be many on 9 Inch Meringue. Paul and I are both really jazzed about experimenting with bread and hope to some day have a whole catalog's worth of bread recipes available for you here. With this experiment we decided to make two different loafs of bread: one using mostly sprouted spelt flour and one using entirely whole wheat flour.
You will need:
1.5 cups of lukewarm water
3/4 Tbs of dry active yeast (real cheap in bulk at a food co-op)
1/8 cup of a sweetener (we used molasses. you could also use honey or sugar)
1/2 cup of milk
1 pinch of salt
1 40oz of Malt Liquor (we used Camo Naturally Brewed Silver Ice xxXxx high gravity lager)
3.5 cups of flour (for one loaf we used 3.5 of just wheat, the other 2.5 spelt & 1 wheat)
1/6 cup of oil or butter (we used sunflower oil and were really happy with our results)
additional flour for kneading (and probably a lot of it)

-First things first. open your 40oz and take a sip. you have a lot of baking ahead of you and this will really come in handy during those long waits.
-Make the yeast sponge. Dissolve the yeast into the water and add the molasses and milk. if you are using actual milk (and not soy or almond, etc.), you must first scald the milk and let it cool down before you add it to yeast. after you put all this stuff in you should beat the shit out of it until it's like a thick pancake like batter. Let it rise a while, maybe even 45 minutes. it will grow and get real bubbly
-Add the salt and oil (or butter) and then another 1.5+ cups of spelt flour (or whatever). Add just enough flour so you can get it out of the bowl in one piece.
-Drink your 40oz
-KNEAD! this is the fun part. Do it for ad least 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary until it is smooth. flatter it out, dust it with flour, and let it rise for 50+ minutes (or until double in size). do this step twice for an even fluffier bread.
-Drink your 40oz
-Punch it down to get all that dank air out, form it into a loaf, place it on a greased pan, and let rise for 25+ minutes. Preheat the over to 350 F
-Drink your 40oz
-Cut sweet designs on the bread and then put it in the over for about an hour.
-(optional) take the bread out partially through and brush it with an egg wash (beaten egg whites and water and/or salt). Paul recommends putting the egg yolk into your 40oz
-Drink your 40oz
-Eat dat bread
It might look like this when your bread and 40oz are done. These loaves came out HUGE. The spelt loaf had a lot of flavor compared to the wheat. However, the wheat loaf did have a better consistency and made better toast.

What we learned:
-Camo was a bad choice. That 5th "x" was really too much. We had planned on writing this post immediately after baking, but found ourselves at 2AM entirely way too drunk to do so. After my first few sips I was already making mistakes. Baking is a science. As such, it requires a certain level of care and consideration in order to bake effectively. Camo is NOT a good choice of 40oz to bake with. The egg yolk in the Camo actually made it better.
-Wheat bread tasted better with honey
-Sunflower oil and Molasses were good choices.
-Sprouted spelt flour ruleZ.

(click on the image to enlarge it)

BEETZA > pizza

Remember the last time you tried to make a nice tasty pizza, but your homegrown tomatoes were wiped out by midnight scavengers, and those pesky tomatoes in the store were just too expensive to make a sauce out of, and canned sauce was all sold out in every store in town, and you had just used your last jar of homemade sauce last night on a mediocre pasta dish, and you were facing a pizza apocalypse?

: Beta vulgaris. Beetroot, table beet, garden beet, etc. Take them out of your root cellar where they have been happily hanging out, laughing at other vegetables who rot more quickly and making pun jokes like "hey tomato, when it comes to shelf life, nothing beets us!", or "hey DJ, drop those beets!". Beets make a wonderful savory neon purple sauce, and the creaminess of the boiled root adds a pleasant texture to your beetza. The best thing to happen to beets since sliced beets, or at least since my fellow Prussians invented the sugar beet in 1747.

The method:
Start your favorite pizza dough recipe. Select a bunch of beets, I prefer the dark red Bulls Blood but I am sure golden beets would make an equally vibrant sauce. Peel the beets if they are bitter, or leave the skins on, cube them, and boil until you can easily stab them with a fork. Transfer the beets and a little bit of the beet water into a blender/food processor, and blend until smooth. Now you will have a dark red beet puree. Stir in some tahini, enough to satisfy your sesame craving but not too much that you crowd out the beets. Tamari/soy sauce/Braggs is also good to add in a smaller amount to give it a little salt base. A few pinches of thyme mixes well with the earth taste of the beets, and really, nobody ever has enough thyme for anything (zing!). Now it is ready to step in for tomato sauce and save the world. It may look something like this:

We topped it off with some kalamata olives, green peppers, mozzarella cheese, sun dried tomatoes, red onions, fresh basil, and sliced tomatoes. Other good top additives would be blue cheese, caramelized onion, chopped kale, roasted garlic and anything you want.

If you were to place a crotch near a baked beetza, this is what you may expect it to look like, and if you were to then enjoy a beetza on a second floor porch, it may resemble what you see here, but obviously results may vary depending on crotch and porch.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Banana Muffin < Banana Bread

banana bread.

Totally boring, old news.
Who would want to start off an epic culinary blog with a post about banana bread?

Good thing Jared and I really mixed things up, and made banana muffins.

We used a recipe from Edward Espe Brown's
Tassajara Bread Book, which has been a source of obsession and inspiration for breadmakers,
breadlovers, and whole-wheat-weirdos for a long time now.

The taste was about the same in muffin-form as it was in loaf-form, but the texture was a bit different. Chewier, baked-through, firmer, generally
less delightful than the classic loaf.

we learned:

1. Etta James is the right soundtrack for banana muffins.
2. Cooling racks are elitist.
3. Teatree toothpicks taste funny with 'nana-dough on them.