Thursday, June 30, 2011

Recipe for a Traditional, Old-Fashioned Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam

The fragrance of a hand-picked, perfectly ripe strawberry is enough to make you swoon.

We try to preserve that strawberry goodness for cold winter days, to comfort ourselves with biscuits, toast or peanut butter sandwiches.

Some friends love strawberry jam so much that they recently put up 71 jars in the freezer. It is a much-loved summer ritual for mom and the kids. They need a lot of jam because, on a typical day, this family of 6 can easily go through one half-pint jar in a single sitting.

When asked how long she expects this arsenal to last, my friend replied, “I hope until spring.”

My freezer isn’t very spacious, so a couple years ago I started making strawberry jam in the traditional, old-fashioned way, without pectin.

I did this primarily because I decided the old-fashioned style tastes better. It has a deeper, more concentrated strawberry flavor.

The other reason is that a package of pectin is yet one more thing to forget at the supermarket.

The “open kettle” or “long boil” method is neither difficult nor time consuming. I made three jars of strawberry jam in about one hour.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rose Bakery’s Chocolate and Banana Cake

Chocolate and Banana Cake
I recently came home with a haul of bananas. An estimated 15 to 20 just-ripe fruit were in the paper sack, and they were mine for 99 cents because the supermarket was letting them go for reasons I’m not quite sure. I stood there, weighing whether to take them or not, and the thought of desserts and smoothies tipped the balance.

The first thing I made was this chocolate and banana cake from the cookbook Breakfast, Lunch, Tea: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery. The book features recipes for soups, vegetable tarts, pizettes, little salads and sweets — a selection of dishes offered at the Paris bakery.

Briton Rose Carrarini launched the bakery with her French husband in 2002. Before coming to Paris, Rose and Jean-Charles ran Villandry in London. Villandry came about after the couple realized their passions ran toward food instead of the knitwear business they’d been engaged in for many years.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Five Days to Chocolate Ice Cream St. John

Chocolate Ice Cream St. John (or Five Day Ice Cream)

Do you remember how Darren would call Samantha at the last minute to say he’s bringing Larry Tate over for dinner? And there the pretty Samatha would be, not worrying about dinner itself, but rather how to get one or more odd relatives to (literally) disappear.

Dinner would be ready when Darren walked through the door, alone or with guests.

Today’s world finds us scheduling social occasions as far in advance as dental visits. It’s only now that I am away from an office job that I have the luxury to plan for dinner guests.

One thing to be said for planning is that you can spend a lot of time kvetching about what to eat. Early notice also allows you to serve, for instance, a chocolate ice cream that takes five days to prepare.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

From Paris Sweet: Punitions

Butter cookies based on a recipe from Boulangerie Poilâne via Paris Sweets
These are elegant cookies.

But they are not expensive cookies. Indeed, they are comprised of kitchen basics: butter, sugar, flour and eggs.

Their elegance is the simplicity of ingredients, the lack of unnecessary adornments, that combine to highly satisfying affect. Cookies that are enjoyed for themselves, not for extras thrown in or an icing on top.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Asparagus-Chèvre Tartine

Asparagus-Chèvre Tartine

Asparagus season doesn’t last forever.

To enjoy the bounty, I purchase three or so pounds at a time — a lot for two people, but we don’t consume that in one sitting. Rather, what isn’t used for the first meal is steamed and stored in the refrigerator for the future.
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