Yum Peaceful Cooking: September 2013

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Curried Apple Chutney

It's canning season. Summer is ending today and fall begins tomorrow.

August 12th was Can it Forward Day. What an exciting day that was. Really...fun, informative, and inspirational. Ball had a fun filled day of live online canning seminars....FREE!! With lots of giveaway opportunities.

It was through one of those many opportunities that I won a Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit from Debby over at A Feast for the Eyes Thank you so much Debby!!!

Can I tell you how thrilled I was? That cool little basket was the biggest score for me. I don't have any special tools or anything for my canning adventures so having this basket that gets submerged into the boiling water along with the jars was a huge plus! No more dropping jars into the water cuz they slipped from the tongs that I've always used that aren't for holding jars. No more spilling near boiling water on me as I take the jars out cuz there's always just a little bit of water on the lid. And it's not like the basket is a pricey item, far from it, but I just don't shop online much. Soo...my lovely kit came with all this stuff in the picture...plus a coupon for a free case of jars! Talk about inspirational! How can you have all this cool stuff and not want to can something!

As I browsed through my newly acquired Blue Book Guide to Preserving, I spotted a lovely sounding recipe for Chutney. The ingredients were handy. I think all I had to do was buy enough apples and raisins. Everything else was already in my pantry.

I'm going to share just the recipe with you, not much of the whole canning process. If you're not experienced in preserving and canning (or you need a refresher), I highly highly insist recommend browsing through Ball's website, Fresh Preserving where you'll find instructions on how to get started, along with video tutorials, recipes, products, and an online community with discussion boards.

Canning and preserving is not difficult but there are important precautions and procedures that need to be followed.

This chutney was made using the boiling water method. Besides the jars, all you really need is a large, deep stockpot. One that's deep enough to be able to cover the jars with about 2 inches of water, once submerged. You don't need anything fancy. Of course if you have fancy, or you want fancy....then go for it. It does make things a little bit easier.

One more thing before I get started....this was suppose to yield about 10 pints. I don't know what I did...but I got a little more than 5 pints out of it. I'm thinking....maybe I cooked the chutney down too much before canning? Who knows....its fine...because 5 pints of chutney will last us quite a while. I think. hmmm...maybe not, because this stuff is so very good. It's only been a week and I've already gone through 1/2 a pint.

Curried Apple Chutney
Yields about 10 pints

2 quarts of chopped, peeled, cored apples (about a dozen large or 16 medium)
2 lbs raisins
4 cups brown sugar
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped sweet pepper
3 TB mustard seed
2 TB ginger
2 tsp allspice
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp salt
2 hot red peppers, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups vinegar

In a large saucepan, combine all of the ingredients. Simmer until thickened, stirring frequently.

I let this simmer for a good hour. I wanted the chutney to be on the soft side, yet chunky. I didn't want a relish type consistency....ie: crunchy.

Ladle the hot chutney into hot jars (this prevents the jars from possibly cracking), leaving about 1/2" headspace (this would be the measurement from the top of the jar to the top of the food).

Using a nonmetallic spatula, run it around the inside of each jar, pressing slightly to remove air bubbles.

Using a clean cloth, wipe the edge of the rim and side of each jar. Place the two-piece lids on the jars and process in boiling water for 10 minutes.

Turn the heat off and let sit for 5 minutes before carefully removing the jars from the hot water.

Repeat as necessary until you have processed all of your jars of chutney.

Allow to sit at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. Test the lids to make sure they have sealed (the center of the lid should be concave).

At this point you can should remove the outer band. Actually, I highly recommend it. You see, I learned something on that special Can it Forward day. Since its the flat lid that seals and keeps your newly preserved vegetables and fruit fresh, if the canning process has failed at any level, bacteria begins to grow inside the jar causing a build-up of gases. These gases will break the seal and mold will form...thus warning you that what's inside is not edible. If the bands are left on, the seals are forced to stay shut, despite the havoc inside and there will not be that easily defined visible warning.

Store for up to a year.

Need a little idea on what do use it for? Try one of my new favorite dishes:

Pork Tenderloin would also be wonderful. Or just spread it on a cracker with some cream cheese. Maybe a bagel? You could just lick it off the spoon...I won't tell. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chutney de Poulet

Who wants a quick, easy, bursting with flavor to the point of almost being gourmet, meal that can be made during the week?


Well, we're in luck because this just so happens to be one of those dishes.

Chutney de Poulet
Printable Version

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 TB butter, plus more for parchment paper
Juice from 1 lemon, divided
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1/4 cup Extra Dry Vermouth
1 pinch poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup of your favorite chutney (I used curried apple chutney....recipe will post this weekend)

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

Drizzle half of the lemon juice over the chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place chicken in the skillet and cook for about 1 minute per side.

Cut a piece of parchment paper slightly smaller than the pan. Rub some butter on one side. Place parchment paper, butter side down, over the chicken, roughly, carefully, tucking in the sides. Cover the skillet with a tight fitting lid, or tin foil. Cook over medium low heat for 10 minutes or until chicken is done.

Remove chicken from skillet and place on a warming platter, or a plate covered with foil.

Turn flame off and add the vermouth. Turn flame back on to medium. Stir the vermouth into the butter left over from the chicken, scraping the bottom to deglaze. Add in the poultry seasoning, paprika and garlic. Cook for about 1 minute.

Stir in the chicken broth and chutney. Continue cooking until warm, stirring often, about 3 minutes.

Return chicken to skillet to reheat.

Serve with a side of veggies and rice if desired.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mt.Gleason Junior High Home Ec. Coffee Cake

I went to school in a little town on the outer fringes of the Los Angeles County. Tucked into the foothills is a (what was called back then) junior high school named Mt. Gleason. I spent 7th, 8th and 9th grades there. Elementary school ended at 6th grade in those days. High school was a 3 year program and started at 10th grade, not 9th like it does now. In fact, if you were in high school for 4 years, it was because you screwed up and you'd get teased for being in the "four year program".

Anyways, back to jr. high. I loved the selection of electives....art, choir, play productions, stage crew, typing, drafting, etc etc. As in introduction to these electives, us 7th graders got a "sample" version of our chosen 4 classes throughout the year. I spent several weeks in each...Cooking, Sewing, Agriculture and Play Productions (or was it drafting? Maybe play productions came later). What fun! These were the classes I looked forward to each day. They made history, English, math, science, and geography bearable (although marine biology was pretty cool! especially when we went on a whale watching field trip).

But I'm here to talk about the cooking class in the home economics building (imagine that...a "middle school" with a whole building just for home economics). I can still picture the class room with the various cooking stations. And yes, there were boys in the class. Lord, I would not have wanted to be that teacher! Can you imagine a classroom full of 7th grade boys and girls....in the kitchen, with knives and FLAMES!! Amazingly enough, my class didn't experience any catastrophes. No fires, no amputated appendages. No food poisoning.

What we did experience that I can remember are Silver Dollar Pancakes and Pumpkin Bread. This is where I learned the proper way of measuring ingredients. I learned that brown sugar is packed. Flours are sifted. Liquids are measured on a flat surface...not in your hand, with the measuring cup held at eye level. This is where I learned that eggs are cracked into a separate bowl, individually, before adding to the ingredients in case it's bad. I truly believe that cooking should be a requirement for all students. Male and female. It's a basic life tool. Without this skill, if they don't learn it at home, they will initially rely on fast food and microwavable dishes until they decide to learn on their own....IF they decide to ever learn on their own. It breaks my heart to see families who eat out every night. Which means...those kids are growing up on fast food. (Don't get me started!!)

This recipe for coffee cake is one I don't remember actually making in class. Not that it didn't happen....it's just that my memory, for some reason did not retain the coffee cake. Which is weird. Everyone else that I went to school (with whom I'm currently still in contact) remembers making coffee cake. Someone, somewhere, shared the recipe that they still had (and I'd think that in itself was weird, except I still have the pumpkin bread recipe assignment, on the gold paper with the purplish ink...awww...memories of the ditto paper).

Its a wonderful recipe. Not only because of the history....but it truly is a delicious coffee cake. I made mine in a square dish. I had to bake it longer than if it were made in a tube pan (as instructed...I hope the teacher doesn't dock my grade) because the center took longer to cook. Even though I extended the cooking time...it was still (here comes one of the worst words used in the cooking world.....) moist. It's not stingy with the streusel topping either. Aaaaand....it's easy enough for the kids to make. I wonder...how many kids signed up for the cooking class...just to make this coffee cake.

Mt. Gleason Home Ec. Coffee Cake
Printable Version

1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans)
1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350' F, grease and flour a 10" tube pan.

For the topping; mix together the flour, brown sugar, salt and walnuts. Add in the butter and with your hands, rub into the ingredients until crumbly. Don't over do it...you don't want a paste. Set aside.

For the cake: in a medium bowl, mix together the flours, baking soda and baking powder.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and and sugar until fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix well. With the mixer on low, add in half of the dry ingredients and mix just until blended. Add in the sour cream, mix until just blended then add in the remaining dry ingredients and once again, mix until just blended, scraping down the sides as needed.

Spread half of the batter into the pan. Sprinkle half of the topping on the batter. Carefully spread the rest of the batter over the topping and then top it all off with the remaining topping.

Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

(note: the lack of salt in the cake ingredients is not a mistake)

Correction! Apparently I was wrong about where this recipe came from (no wonder I don't remember making it.) It's not from the home ec. class....it's from the cafeteria! The rest of the story stands true :)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Grilled Leeks with Leek-Tomato Salad & Citrus Dressing

Here's a recipe that uses all of the leek...(except the little scraggly roots of course). The whites are grilled and the darks are braised. Brought together with a tangy, zesty, simple dressing.

This is another wonderful recipe from the August 2013 issue of Food and Wine magazine. Brought to you, in part, by my youngest child (who's not really a child at the tender age of 21 but she will always be my child). We spent an afternoon in the kitchen preparing a vegetarian meal and this was one of the dishes. The other dish was the Crabless Cakes I posted not long ago.

The ingredients are simple and few. 

Grilled Leeks with Leek-Tomato Salad & Citrus Dressing
Inspired by the August 2013 addition of Food & Wine magazine
Printable Version

2 large leeks, roots trimmed
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tsp lime zest
1/2 tsp orange zest
2 TB lime juice
2 TB orange juice
1 TB soy sauce
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (I grilled the corn before cutting the kernels off the cob)
1 cup cherry and or grape tomatoes, halved

Heat grill.

Cut the dark green tops off the leeks. Cut the white bottoms in half, length wise and run under cold water to remove an dirt.

Slice the greens crosswise 1/2" thick (toss out the top inch). Wash well. I actually let them soak in a bowl of water then scooped them out with a strainer.

Pat the white leek halves dry. Brush with EVOO and sprinkle with salt. Place on the grill (medium low heat), cover with a heat resistant dome such as a bowl or deep lid and grill until tender. This should take about 18 - 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the zests and juices, soy sauce and 2 TB EVOO. Set aside.

Heat a skillet with 2 TB of oil and the red pepper flakes. Add the leek tops and cook for about 6 minutes over high heat, stirring constantly, until tender.

Add in the corn and continue cooking for 2 more minutes (still stirring). Pour in half of the citrus dressing and continue cooking until the liquid has evaporated.

Remove from heat. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool slightly. Once cooled a bit, add the tomatoes.

Place the grilled leeks on a plate, drizzle with the remaining citrus dressing and top with the leek-tomato mixture. Serve warm.