Poached Pears

Poached Pears

This is another recipe I borrowed from Caroline over at The Wanna be Country Girl, who in turn got it from David Leibovitz, one of my favourite chefs.  I may have borrowed a few of his recipes myself on a few occasions.

Poached Pears

Fall is the time for apples and pears, and delicate pears lend themselves well to a gentle poaching. So cut up 4 firm, ripe pears.  These are Bartletts, I think — I got them at Costco.  They could be Anjou. There was a big pile and they were all messed around, and I’m not that good at fruit identification. Quarter, core, and peel the pear pieces and plop them in a large saucepan.

Poached Pears

Slide in 1 sliced lemon, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar. Pour 1 quart (1 litre) water over the fruit.

Poached Pears

Cut a square of parchment paper, fold it into quarters, and cut a hole from the centre.

Poached Pears

So when it’s unfolded you have a hole in the middle.  This will let the steam out.

Poached Pears

Tuck the parchment paper into the saucepan and bring the fruit to a simmer for 25 minutes.

Poached Pears

Then I removed the fruit to cool slightly and turned up the heat on the remaining liquid to reduce it to a syrup.

Poached Pears

As we had clafoutis for dessert that night, we let the pears cool and had them for breakfast the next day, with their own syrup and a daub of whipped cream.

Poached Pears

Amazing on top of pancakes!  Try the pears in sandwiches and salads, too.

Poached Pears

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Kumquat Marmalade

This recipe was so STUPID.  SO STUPID, in fact, that it took me two tries to get it right, and I only got it right after ignoring all the previous instructions.  So in fact I will not even link you to this stupid recipe that I used for fear of it tainting me with its idiocy.  I take full credit for this, seeing as I had to fix it.  MANY TIMES.  What I present below is the CORRECT way to do it, and should produce about 4 pints of marmalade.

If you’ve never had a kumquat, you should try one.  Sweet and bitter at the same time, it’s definitely an experience.  I like to think of them as tasty breath-fresheners.  Your first bite will be sweet, then as you crunch through the skin, the citrus oils will clear out your palette.  Quite refreshing, actually.Make sure you pick kumquats that are firm and don’t have any squishy spots.  Use them soon after you buy them because they go quickly.

Wash and remove the stems from 24 fresh kumquats

Slice them thinly across the middle, and remove the seeds.

Make sure you keep the seeds.

This is where all the pectin-y goodness is. 

There’s pectin in the pith as well, but not as much.

Slice 2 oranges across the middle as well. 

I used Navel oranges.  This seedless fruit is neat because it reproduces by growing a new orange in its belly button (or navel), which is that thing you see at the opposite end to the stem.

This orange reproduced another whole orange inside.  How cool.  I bet it would have been confusing to eat had I peeled it normally.

I found it was easier to can the marmalade if you make cuts in the orange peel so it breaks apart and is therefore smaller.

Toss the orange slices and the kumquat slices together in a measuring cup and see how much you have.

Chuck them in a large bowl and add 3 cups of water for every cup of fruit you measured.  I had 5 cups of fruit so I added 15 cups of water.  Leave that to sit overnight.

The next day, pour your fruit and water into a large saucepan (this is why I love our maslin pan so much).  You may find some jelly-like stuff at the bottom of the bowl.  I’m not sure what it is but I think it’s important, so scrape that stuff off and put it in the pan as well.

Bring the stuff in the pan to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer it until the rinds are very tender and you can squish them with your spoon.

Juice 2 lemons.

Pour that lemon juice, together with 9 cups granulated sugar, into the maslin pan.

Tie up your seeds in a bit of cheesecloth and add that to the pot as well.

Bring the mixture to a boil again, then simmer on low for a couple of hours.

The mixture will cook down, reducing in size, getting thicker and darker.  Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn, and keep stirring it.  When it starts to foam, you are nearing your gel point.

You can tell if your mixture is ready to gel by putting a plate in the freezer for a few minutes.  Remove the plate and drip some of the liquid across the plate.  Once it has cooled, give it a push with your finger.  If it wrinkles up, your marmalade is ready to go into the jar.

When you have reached the stage where your foamy marmalade goo is wrinkling on your cold plate, you can can it according to your canner’s instructions.  Check out our tips here.

Macaroons with Plum Jam

Welcome to Newfoundland, Freshly Pressed visitors!

This recipe comes courtesy of the lovely and talented Tes (and her adorable son Yaseen) at Tes at Home.  You can see how she did her version here.

I LOVE macaroons.  Like, there’s serious ♥ going on when it comes to me and macaroons.  So to find out that they’re as easy as Tes made them out to be was totally awesome.

I found a box of Ontario plums at Belbin‘s, and because I missed the quality of fruit from my adopted province, I snatched them up.

Preheat your oven to 325°F.

In a bowl, whisk together 2 egg whites, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla until it’s all nice and frothy.

Stir in 2 cups dessicated coconut.  I thought mine was a little mushy still so I added a bit more.  Maybe I didn’t whisk my whites enough?

Spray a baking sheet and make little balls, about 2 tablespoons’ worth, and then make a little well in the top of each one.

Mine kind of fell apart a little but I think I need more practice.  They were certainly goopier than Tes’.  Maybe the coconut was too coarse.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.  I put mine on a rack and let them cool.

While those are baking you can start on your jam.  I used slightly more than 500g of plums, because I figured the pits would take away the weight when I threw them in the compost.

I peeled my plums before I cooked them, and I think that’s why my jam didn’t thicken as much as I wanted it to — a lot of the pectin is held in the skins.  Anyway, it still tasted great.

My mother-in-law Mrs. Nice and I decided that to peel a plum you would go through the same process you go through for peeling tomatoes, which is, you scald them.

Take a pot of boiling water.

And a bowl of ice cold water.

Plop the plums in the boiling water for about 30 seconds, then scoop them out and drop them in the cold water.

Tada, your plums practically peel themselves.

Now, of course, because I’d peeled them, they were super slippery and really hard to cut, so I more or less just squished them to get the pits out.

Plop them in a saucepan with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water

Bring the mess to a nice foamy boil, then simmer on lower heat for about 20 minutes or until it starts to thicken.

Remove from the heat and cool it down.  If you spread it out it will cool faster.

I ended up with just over two cups of tart and sweet plum jam.

Spoon drops of jam into the wells in your now-cooled macaroons and serve.

Thanks, Tes!

Peeling and Pureeing Kiwi

I bought a box of kiwis a while back.  With the stress of getting the second draft of my research proposal out and starting my new transcription project, I kind of forgot all about them and they got a little over-ripe.

Not to worry.  I decided to purée them and freeze the purée for later use.  Easy peasy.

Now we all know that Kiwi is one of those super-foods, loaded all sorts of good stuff, including more vitamin C than an orange.  They’re handy things to keep around.  What you may not know is that the kiwi originated from China in the 14th century, and only slowly made its way to New Zealand, where it was renamed from gooseberry to kiwi, after the fuzzy bird it so resembled.  What you may not also know is that there is something called the Arctic kiwi that comes out of Nova Scotia.  It’s kind of like a cross between a gooseberry and a kiwi, and it’s about the size of a grape.  It’s green and missing most of the fuzzy stuff, but tastes pretty much exactly like a sweet bite-sized kiwi.  I think they’re cool.  So does some one else.

This is an interesting fact for you: I am allergic to kiwi skin.  No joke.  If a little hair from that fuzzy stuff touches my tongue it swells up and it’s exceedingly painful.  I have to be very careful about how I prepare kiwi so that I can avoid that discomfort.

To make sure I get all the skin off at once, I first slice off the top and bottom of the fruit.  Then I take a teaspoon (a tablespoon if it’s a bigger kiwi) and insert it in between the skin and the fruit. I run the spoon all the way around to separate the skin from the fruit in one piece.

Then you can simply squeeze out the fruit and compost the peel.

I popped my little kiwis in my blender.

Look at them whir away.

Then I poured the pulp into some novelty ice cube trays for freezing.  I plan to add them to smoothies, drinks, and even soups later on.  When you pop them out they look super cool.  Hen told me this is how she makes baby food, as well.

Fun fact: you can use kiwi purée as an antioxidant exfoliator.  Simply rub a few tablespoons of purée onto clean skin.  Leave 7 to 10 minutes, then rinse and pat dry.  Blamo kablam: a kiwi facial.