27 January 2010

A Can Jam, Part 2: Orange-Onion-Coriander Marmalade

I wish I had pictures of this over cheese. It is SO GOOD with some brie and toast or crackers. Preferably with the brie all warm and melty...

So, here we go.

After I had the blood orange marmalade bubbling away on the stove top, I started this recipe. It's one of my own devising, meaning I did just what I do for most other recipes, I found some recipes as jumping off points (proportions, safety and such) and then just went off on my own tangent.

Let's talk about onions.

For some reason, I got it into my head that I had to make something with oranges, coriander, and onions. I just knew that it'd all go really really well together.

So, I started by cutting up a red onion.
I find it's easiest to just cut the thing in half first and then to peel it. Never cut off the root!

Then, lay the halves down and slice once down the middle. Then cut the onion into 1/4 moons.

You'll end up with around 1 cup of red onion, depending on it's size.

Next, grab 6 cara-cara oranges. Don't forget, pink is the new orange!
Zest them. I seriously ended up with 1/2 c. of orange zest.

Peel them.

Next, separate the segments and cut them into thirds.

I ended up with about 2 1/2 cups of orange pieces.

Then, you want to take about 2 T of coriander seeds and crush them with a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder. But I like pounding them. A lot.

Finally, dump the oranges, the coriander, the onion, some sugar and salt, and a bit of water all into a sauce pot. Cook until it reaches the consistency that you like. Add a shake of hot chili peppers that have been ground up. Can in a water bath.

I'll be honest, I live above 5,000 feet. I have a tendency to err on the side of over processing what I can. I think I processed this stuff for over 30 minutes. Probably a little overkill. But I want to be on the safe side.

This is just what I was hoping it would be. It's amazing served over cheese. Preferably something warm and melty and on a cracker.

I'd show you a picture, but we ate all the cheese this ended up on top of before I could get a picture.

I ended up with 3 pint jars.

Can Jam Round-Up

For those that are interested, here's the January Can Jam Round-Up over at Tigress in a Jam.

20 January 2010

A Can Jam! Part 1

I spent most of Sunday getting ready and working on my projects for the Can Jam. I went a bit overboard.

Let me show you what I ended up working with.

In the front we have some lovely and tiny blood oranges. I know, they don't have the usual skin color of the blood oranges I'm used to seeing. But, when I peeled them open they were just as beautiful and you'd expect.

In the bowl in the back we have Meyer lemons (about 18 of them!) and 6 Pink Cara Cara oranges. Their stickers said "Pink is the new orange!" I'm so glad I found out now! Can you imagine how embarrassed I would be if I was still wearing orange?!?!

Just because they were so beautiful, here's another picture.

The first thing I made was some blood orange marmalade. And oh my gosh is it perfect for Nate. He's got a love of all things bitter. He's also allergic to fun, but that's another story. This marmalade is perfect to me. It starts out sweet but ends up deliciously bitter. Not at all sad bastard bitter.

6 small blood oranges
1/4 c. water
3/4 c. sugar

This made almost a full 12 oz jar of marmalade. I know, 12 oz canning jar?!?! Nate got me 2 HUGE boxes of canning jars he bought from a guy at work. They ordered them from a restaurant supply company. I was wary about them 'cause they aren't from a source that I know. So, we busted out his handy dial calipers and measured the thickness of the glass and it is the same as that of my regular ball jars. So, with my, erm, wide knowledge of canning equipment I deemed these worthy. I decided to only try one jar to mitigate the damage if it cracked or blew up or what have you.

OK, enough about weird canning jars. You want to hear about the marmalade.

First things first: tie on your favorite apron. Trust me on this, it will make your day go MUCH better.

Then, we're gonna need some coffee. Or at least I am if I'm going to make it through the day.

The first thing I always do is get all of the ingredients and equipment and put them out on the counter. The last thing I want to do when I've got a giant pot of boiling water and a hot sugary mess is to have to scramble looking for something.

Um, yeah. I did decide that onions were necessary items for this. I'll tell you about that later.

Next up, grab your bowl of blood oranges and your microplane grater and zest them completely.

OK, so here's the deal. I know traditional marmalade, you peel the oranges, scrape all of the pith off, and then chop up the peels. That sounds like a LOT of work. So I took the easy way out and just zested the little buggers and used that zest in place of the peels. A lot LESS work. And that is a good thing. And I'm kind of lazy.

Next, peel all those oranges.

Aren't blood oranges gorgeous?!?!

Then we need to chop them up into bits. I just pulled the segments apart and cut them in 1/2 to 1/3rds.

I ended up with 2 cups of orange pieces.

Throw them in a pot and add the sugar.

Then I cooked it for about 45 minutes until the orange pieces broke down completely.

Not quite ready...

Ah, that's more like it!

I like my jams and marmalades to be pretty well set. If you like yours a bit runnier, please, don't cook it as long as I did.

I ended up with one 12 ounce jar of blood orange marmalade. AND these weird jars worked just fine! No explosions, no cracking. What a relief.
I'm thinking we'll probably use this for breakfasts. Either mixed into yogurt with granola, or on top of a bagel with cream cheese. Oh man that sounds good...

Stay tuned for the Meyer lemon extravaganza!

I have a problem. Every time I go to the store I want to buy more citrus to can.

17 January 2010

Black Bean Soup and Cheese Dip

This is an attempt as a nearly 100% local meal. The only things that aren't local are some of the spices, the flour, and the oil. If anyone knows a source for locally grown and produced oil and flour in the Denver area I'd love to hear about it.

Now, on to the recipes.

There is a lovely lady at the DUH farmer's market on Saturdays from Berry Patch Farms that I buy from every time I'm there. A few weeks ago I bought some of her heirloom black turtle beans. I don't know why. They were just pretty and I was excited about a local source of protein. So I decided to make a black bean soup. But to make it go farther I decided to also make some cheese dip with some local raw cheddar that was on it's last legs.

98.9% Local Black Turtle Bean Soup

1lb black turtle beans (try Berry Patch Farm's beans if you're in the area!)
1 red onion
5 cloves of garlic
HOT dried chili peppers (only a tiny bit!)

First off, soak the beans over night if you've got the time. For 6 hours if you're impatient and forgetful like I am.
Leave the beans in their water and dice up a red onion.
In the bottom of a large pot put some oil, olive or otherwise, and turn the heat on medium.
Add the onions and let them slowly cook and get all caramel-y.
While the onions are cooking, take your 5 cloves of garlic and place them on the cutting board. Then, one at a time, place the flat of your chef knife against the clove and WHACK it with the heel of your hand. Feel very satisfied. Then you can easily peel the clove. Repeat with all cloves and then give the garlic a fast chop and toss it in with the onions.
Next I add cumin, paprika, and hot chili flakes to taste. I go for a nice palm-full of cumin and the same for the paprika. This gives the final soup a nice smoky flavor. I went for a small-ish piece of the dried hot pepper. Oh holy crap. I bought them in the fall and they dried on my counter and the guy I bought them from told me at least 7 times that they were hot peppers. I was like "OK, thanks, I wanted hot peppers. That's why I'm buying them." Well, I think he called them Volcano Peppers. They live up to their name, they are awesomely hot. Just what this soup needed.
I like to let the spices get all nice and acquainted with the onions and the oil.
THEN, drain the beans and dump them into the pot. It'll sizzle. And finally cover the beans with a few inches of water.
Let the soup simmer for about 1.5 hours or until the beans are done to your preference.
Black bean soup just doesn't look all that great in pictures. Sorry. You'll have to wait.

While the soup is cooking, make some cheese dip to snack on and drizzle on top!

Nearly 100% Local Cheese Dip
Now, I know lots of people swear by Velveeta for cheese dip. But I have to say, this was mighty tasty and much more local, and probably much better for you, than Velveeta.

2 T butter
2 T flour
2 c milk
2 c shredded cheddar cheese (I used some raw local farmhouse cheddar)
hot chili flakes
dill seeds
chili powder
garlic powder
onion powder

OK, so the first thing to do is to make a roux. This is a very good skill to learn. So, here's how you do it.
First, melt the 2 T of butter in a sauce pan over medium low heat.
Next, when it's all good and melted, add in the 2 T of flour.

Whisk it all up nice and good.

Let it cook for about a minute.
That's a roux!
Next, I usually add in the spices. Here's a general idea of how I measure the spices:
First, the cumin.
Next, the paprika.

Then the garlic powder.

And the onion powder.

And then you realize you're out of dill seeds and you cry.
Dill seeds are pretty freakin awesome in this cheese dip.
So, yeah. It's about 1 teaspoon of each.

And this is not quite my normal cheese dip recipe. I was just trying to make it as local as possible so I cut out some of the usual ingredients. I'll share it sometime. If Pop gives his permission, that is.

Back to the recipe!
Let the spices and roux cook for about one more minute. Make sure the heat stays medium low, we don't want this yummy goodness to burn!
Next, add in the 2 c of local milk (we always get the cream top milk) and whisk around.

Now's also the time to dump in all of the cheese that you've shredded.

Whisk it all together and continue whisking until the cheese sauce thickens and the cheese is all melted and incorporated.

Don't forget to add some kick with hot pepper flakes!

Recruit your lovely assistant to help with the whisking, if you please.

Dip chips into the cheesy, spicy, goodness.

Now, your soup should be ready.
See, black bean soup just doesn't look pretty cooking.
Ladle some of that into a bowl and drizzle some of the cheese dip on top.

The leftover beans and cheese dip also make for awesome burritos the next day.

Note: non-local items included: chips, flour, and some of the spices.

Where I shopped:
Twin Mountain Milkhouse -- Farmhouse Cheddar
Morning Fresh Dairy--Cream Top Milk
Berry Patch Farms--Heirloom Black Turtle Beans, red onion, garlic

01 January 2010

Tigress' Can Jam!

It's official: I've signed up for Tigress' Can Jam!
Click for tigress can jam food blog challenge

Here's the deal: every month of 2010 we'll all be canning. Each month there will be a "secret ingredient" that everyone has to can with. It's like the Iron Chef of Canning! The 3rd week of the month is recipe week, so look for my recipe then. This month's secret ingredient is [drum roll, please]:


Only one thing, I try and do things as locally as is sanely possible. So, any one know if there are any local citruses in Denver? In January?

I really want to buy a dwarf Meyer Lemon tree, or maybe a kumquat tree, and grow it in a container indoors. But I haven't yet. I don't want to kill it. I'm working on my green thumb skills right now and my green thumb is a bit brown. I have 2 plants. One is thriving. The other hates me. I can't grow rosemary to save my life apparently. But I badly want to.

Back to the topic at hand.

Canning with any kind of citrus you can imagine. Anyone have a lemon tree in their house in Denver and want to share their lemons?

I'm leaning towards a marmalade just by my first instinct. I heart marmalade. The farmer's market is tomorrow. I'll have to see what they have and ask around. It may be that January is not going to be local for this challenge. Florida, California, you've got it easy with citrus.