food amongst family and friends

Goat Cheese Cheesecake in a Jar August 27, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Cakes,Canning,Desserts,Make Ahead — blisteringlydrunk @ 1:51 pm
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No matter what way I attempt to start this post, I feel like I am in confession. “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It’s been two weeks since my last post . . . ” I will try and do better, but I promise this recipe was worth the wait. This was very much an experiment, and a mix mash of a few recipes (here and here were the main inspiration). The idea for the granola topping came from a visit to the Boxwood Cafe here in Calgary, but the granola recipe came from ELS, followed almost exactly (I left out the raisins and chopped the almonds; best granola ever, I especially love it with dried tart cherries mixed in) and the berry topping was simply taken out of a jar of these canned blueberries. That said, not to toot my horn, but the whole was way more than the sum of the parts. This was really lovely; creamy and sweet, but slightly tart, beautifully contrasted by the crunch of the granola and all tied together with a thin layer of treaty amaretto blueberries. Yummy. And, honestly, not that difficult. The cheesecake portion only took 20 minutes to put together (not including cooking and cooling time) and then you could use whatever fresh or canned berries you have kicking around and same goes for the granola. The presentation is fun and we actually all layered up our own; I just set the jars of granola and berries on the table so everyone could dress it up the way they wanted.

1, 8 oz package of cream cheese

10 oz chevre

1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

zest of 1/2 a lemon (or an orange)

I tripled the recipe and had to use my turkey roaster to fit them all in.

1. Preheat oven to 325. Find 6 clean 250 ml jars and arrange them in a roasting pan.

2. Using an electric or stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, chevre, and sugar until well combined and smooth.

3. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing very well in between each addition, then add in vanilla and zest, mixing one more time to combine.

4. Divide the mixture evenly between the jars. Add boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches about 3/4 of the way up the side of the jars.

5. Bake for 25 minutes or until set at the edges, but still slightly wobbly in middle when shaken. Turn off the oven and open the door, allowing the cheesecake to come to room temperature (an hour or so) before putting the lids on and placing in the fridge. Let set at least an hour in the fridge, but overnight is best. Top with granola and berries and serve.






Mom’s Dilled Carrots August 13, 2011

Filed under: Canning — blisteringlydrunk @ 10:24 am
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Sundays growing up were always church in the morning, followed by Mom putting a stack of grilled cheese sandwiches on the counter with a big bowl of dilled carrots. It’s possible (probable, even) that we didn’t have this every Sunday after church (and that we didn’t go to church every Sunday for that matter), but that’s the joy of nostalgia and it’s ability to skew our memories to suit our purposes. These are a favourite in my house now, and as soon as a jar is opened, it’s gone, so I try to make a lot of them. That said, the joy of this recipe is that you can make as many or as few as you would like and the amount of work is directly proportionate to the amount you want to make. Feel free to adjust this to suit your tastes; throw in a jalepeno if you like spicy pickles; use as much or as little dill as you like; up the garlic if you like that, or leave it out altogether; some mustard seeds in there might be nice. I would recommend using fresh from the garden carrots (farmer’s markets are great for this); it makes a huge difference in how these taste. And if you’ve never had carrot pickles before, this is so worth a shot.

Per 1/2 Litre Jar:

3 cloves garlic

handful fresh dill

1/2 lb (approx) baby carrots, scrubbed and trimmed

Brine (for 8-10 1/2 Litre jars):

4 cups vinegar

12 cups water

1 cup pickling salt

1. Place garlic and half the dill on the bottom of each sterilized jar.

2.  Stuff with carrots, and I mean really stuff them in there. Top with remaining dill, making sure there is still sufficient head space for the lids to seal (some carrots may need to be shortened).

3. Make the brine by combining all ingredients in a large pot and bringing it to a boil.

4. Get your lids ready by placing them in a bowl and covering with hot (I use boiling) water. Pour the hot brine into the jars leaving about 1/2″ head space, one at a time, covering with lids and rings as you go.

5. The jars should seal as they cool, but make sure to check them all before storing. If there are any that haven’t sealed you can either keep them in the fridge (they will be fine for a couple months because of all the vinegar, the same way an open jar of pickles would be) or pour the brine back out, bring it to a boil, wipe the rim of the jar, double check that carrots and dill are not too close to the lid, and try again. Usually mine don’t seal if a stray piece of dill gets on the rim or I have a carrot that is too long and is sitting against the lid.

6. Let sit for at least 2 weeks before eating. The longer they sit, the better the flavour.




Easy Peasy Canned Berries August 7, 2011

Filed under: Canning — blisteringlydrunk @ 8:44 am
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I ran into a neighbour the other day who has lived in our neighbourhood since inception in the late 60s, so naturally she proceeded to ask me about the raspberry bushes that she transferred to my yard 20 years ago. I mentioned that they were having a good year and we started trading recipes. She mentioned raw packing the berries in a light syrup, which I hadn’t heard of, but sounded incredibly easy and tasty. So, I went home and did a little research and decided to give it a shot. This recipe is based mainly on Wilda’s advice. I had a few cups of both blueberries and raspberries so I thought I would try some different kinds, and, just to add my own twist, I added liquers (Amaretto to the blueberries and Grand Marnier to the raspberries). The result looks fantastic, but I haven’t actually busted into them yet, the  taste test still being a few weeks away. What I will say is this; easiest fruit canning experience of my life and they look beautiful and, I think, would make a great gift. Worth a shot for sure if you have a few berries kicking around. Other flavour suggestions would be to add some fresh lavender or mint to the jars; use what you have.

Berries (Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, saskatoons, etc.)



Various liquers or herbs to taste (optional)

1. Sterilize as many jars as you need. Fill the jars just to the neck with berries and make sure to really pack them in there or your jars will end up looking half empty (I made this mistake with the blueberries). If using fresh herbs, I would pack them in the bottom of the jars.

2. Make a light syrup by using a 2:1 ratio of water to sugar. For three 1/2 pint jars I used 2 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar. Put in a saucepan and just bring to a boil until all traces of the sugar have disappeared. Meanwhile place the lids of your jars in a bowl and cover with boiling water.

3.  Pour a tablespoon of liquer (if using) into each jar of berries, then fill just to the neck with the syrup (over filling will result in an overflow during the water bath; I found out the hard way). Place the lid on top and screw on the ring.

4. Process the jars in a boiling water bath (the top of each jar should be covered by at least an inch of water) for 10 minutes (start timing when the water returns to a boil).

5. The jars should seal as they cool. I would give them a couple weeks before busting into them, just to give the flavours a chance to mingle.




Rhubarb Chutney June 28, 2011

Filed under: Canning — blisteringlydrunk @ 2:34 pm
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It’s rhubarb season, and I am the proud new owner of a giant rhubarb plant that I inherited from a neighbour last year (thanks, Ren!), so its time to put this stuff to use. I’ve only recently become a chutney fan, but now that I’m in, I’m all in. This is a good one, very tart and spicy, perfect for serving with a pork roast or tourtiere. We had it on the weekend with some fresh baguette and goat cheese, which was really lovely as well. I’ll hopefully come up with a pork roast recipe for this one over the next few weeks and post it here, as I’m really wanting to taste test it that way as well.

As far as the canning part of this goes, just make sure your jars and lids are sterilized ahead of time, either in the dishwasher or boiling water, then keep them all hot (I use sinks full of boiling water) while you are filling the jars. Keeping the chutney at a gentle boil while you are filling will help as well, and this way they should seal without a boiling water bath, but if you are worried they won’t seal, a water bath never hurts anything. Just put them in a pot of boiling water, upright so the lids are covered in water, for 10 minutes. Then let them cool on the counter top. They should seal long before they hit room temperature and you can tell by the popping sounds that it’s working. Once everything is at room temperature, test the seals by pressing on the top of each lid, the sealed ones are stuck down, any unsealed ones will pop up and down with pressure.

Now, if my super casual instructions have you concerned, please go here (which is also where I got this recipe from) and read up on canning procedures, but remember that the biggest thing is to have everything really clean before you start and while you are doing it, and that all the jars seal.

8 cups diced rhubard

6 cups chopped onion

2 cups raisins

7 cups light brown sugar (and you really do need it all)

4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 Tbsp salt

2 tsp each, cinnamon and ground ginger

1 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp cayenne (this did not make it at all spicy, so if you want it a little spicy, I would at least double that)

1. Combine everything in a large, heavy bottomed pot. I used my enamel lined dutch oven, which was perfect. Bring to a boil and then let simmer about 45 minutes, or until slightly thickened, making sure to stir often to avoid scorching, especially near the end.

2. Pour into jars, wipe the rims, add the lids and proceed to hot water bath if you so choose.  Makes about 5-6 pints.




How to make everything taste better, or, Pear Vanilla Jam May 3, 2011

Filed under: Canning,Make Ahead — blisteringlydrunk @ 8:41 am
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I’ve been meaning to post this for a while now, and consequently, since making it I have had the opportunity to try this with almost everything I can think of. It never fails to make whatever it is I am eating exponentially better. I saw the recipe for this over at Food in Jars months ago, and was immediately intrigued. I’m not usually a huge jam person, but occasionally something catches my eye, and this looked like exactly what I needed to serve with a cheese board (which is something that is put out at every function -bookclub, playdates, Christmas, any time a wine is opened -at my house). This didn’t disappoint. It pairs perfectly with a creamy brie or camembert, but is also an excellent foil to a sharp old cheddar or gruyere. In addition to serving this with cheese, I have found that it is excellent with yogurt or ice cream, fantastic on a pancake or waffle, and can make a boring old turkey sandwich sing. This was fairly simple, whether or not you have made jam before, and definitely worth the effort. If you haven’t done any canning previously, check out Food in Jars, she has some fantastic how-to’s posted that will make you much more comfortable with the process and jam is an easy place to start.

8 cups chopped, ripe, thin skinned (like Bartlett) pears, don’t worry about peeling

2 vanilla beans, split and scraped (this is a necessary splurge, you will not get the right flavour with an extract, just trust me)

4 cups sugar

1 package (85 mL) liquid pectin

1. In a large, heavy bottomed pan, combine everything (including the scraping from the beans) but the pectin. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the fruit can be mashed easily with the back of a spoon.

2. Remove the vanilla bean solids and either mash or use an immersion blender to smooth everything out a bit. I like mine to have the occasional chunk of pear so I used a masher, but adjust it to fit your tastes.

3. Add in the pectin and bring to a full, rolling boil. Let boil for a good five minutes to activate the pectin.

4. To can, start with clean, sterilized jars and lids; this will make about 7 half pint jars. Place the lids and rims in a bowl and cover with boiling water. This will soften the rubber on the lid to help ensure a good seal. Fill a jar to about 1/4″ from the top, then wipe the rim clean so a seal can form. Place a lid on top and then screw on the rim. Repeat with remaining jars and jam. If you end up with a not full jar of jam, just put it in the fridge and count that as the first one you are going to eat.

5. Process jars in a boiling water bath (the water should cover the jars completely) for ten minutes, starting when the water returns to a boil after adding the jars in.

6. Remove jars from bath and let cool on counter top for at least two hours. All jars should have a good seal at this point, which you can test by pressing in the centre of the lid – there should not be any give. If something did not seal, store in the fridge and consume within a month.

7. Taste test as soon as possible, preferably with some good brie or, if you can find it, St Andre triple cream cheese which is amazing. Have it on a nice fresh baguette slice or a homemade raincoast crisp.