Friday, November 2, 2018

Fig Jam - 2 ways

One of the perks of living in Oregon is the local fruit. Starting from late spring to the fall it is a parade of tasty local fruit.  Hood Strawberries, Raspberries, Marionberries, Tayberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Plums,Peaches, Nectarines and Figs. Our little neighborhood is home to Plums of 2 varieties, apples, pears and Figs. None in our house; but the neighbors are super friendly and have gotten used to the batty lady that rescues fruit and presents them a bottle of jam.
My latest project was a rescue of some Figs.  Some creative harvesting and I hauled home almost two and half kilos of super sweet figs. These are the green skinned figs with the fruit inside being an amber colour.
The last time I made Fig jam; I used jaggery as the sweetener and added some ginger to it. It was a good jam; the husband liked it but I was disappointed.. all I could taste in the jam was the jaggery and the lime juice I had added to counter the sweetness.  This time I decided to use white sugar  for its neutral taste. The other technique that i used was to cook the jam long and low so that the flavor of the fruit was preserved.
I am very happy with the results - the jam evokes the delicate aroma and taste of the figs. When I eat it in winter I know I will be reminded of the crisp fall day I picked it.  I made 2 batches. The first batch was flavored with lemon and orange peels. The second batch was stewed with a small quantity of whole spices and finished with some orange flower water.

On to the recipe
This recipe will make about 4 8 oz jars of jam

1kg - 1.2 kg  figs - prepped ( 2.2 to 2.6 lbs)
200 gms white sugar  ( 1 cup/0.44 lb)
1/4 c lemon juice

Prepping the figs
Wash the figs and dry them. Take off the stock and break the fig into 2 pieces and add to a bowl. Weigh out the prepped figs. Weigh out sugar equivalent to a fifth of the weight of the figs.   I had close to 1.2 kgs and I chose to use 200gms of sugar because the figs were really sweet.
If you are flavoring with citrus peel; zest the lemons before juicing them.
Mix the figs and the sugar and all but 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice in a large bowl. Stir it all up and allow to macerate at room temperature for 4 hours or overnight or 2 in the fridge.  Once the sugar has dissolved; use kitchen shears and chop up the figs in the bowl to small pieces. Do as I say and not as I did - this is important.. the fruit doesn't break up when it is cooking (as I found out)

For the citrus peel flavored version
Zest 2 lemons in wide strips and then zest an orange the same way. I use a vegetable peeler to do this being careful not to get the pith. Stack up the strips on a cutting board and cut into matchsticks. Put the peel in a saucepan that has a lid and add enough water just to cover the peels. Simmer on a low flame until the peel is tender.

For the spiced version
6 . pods of cardamom
6 peppercorns
2 bay leaves

To make the jam
Wash and prep 4  jam jars (8 oz or equivalent). If you are planning to can it; simmer the lids and get the canning pot going.
Once the fruit has turned syrupy and the sugar has dissolved; tip the contents into a wide skillet with sides. Set 3 spoons on a plate in the freezer (this is to test the set).  Add the spices or the cooked citrus peel to the skillet and bring to a boil  over medium heat; stirring every once in a while.  Your kitchen should be filling up with the heavenly scent of cooking fruit.  The jam is ready to test when the liquid in the pan starts to sheet from your ladle rather than flowing in little droplets. Or if you create a path with the ladle; the gap doesn't get filled in instantly..  Put some jam on a frozen spoon (turn off the stove) and put the spoon back in the freezer. Check after 2 minutes. If you push the jam with your finger and it doesn't flow back immediately; it is done. Otherwise cook the jam in  3 to 5 minute intervals and keep testing. Once it looks done, taste and the last tablespoon of lemon juice. This brightens up the jam.

Once the jam is done; fill it into your prepped bottles, wipe the rim, put on the lids. If you are water bath canning - i put it in for 15 minutes.
If you are not canning; let the bottles completely cool on the counter and store in the fridge or freezer.

As for  how to eat the jam; here are our favorite ways
- warm it and use as an  ice cream topping
- stir it into yogurt
- Almond butter and fig jam sandwich
- As part of a cheese board with a tangy cheese
- Use as a filling in a jam tart.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Mung beans and Miso walked into a dip

  I imagine this is how successful food bloggers work on their recipes. Source your ingredients carefully, think about what flavors will play together. Test the recipes, iterate until you get it perfect.  Take beautiful photographs along the way in natural light .And then play on the name.. I am definitely not in that camp. My MO is - open fridge, see what you have in there, decide what needs to be used up first and then look at the other things you have in your pantry/fridge and make something together. O it is 10 at night..why bother with a photo; the light is bad anyway.

If it turns out good - write down the rough recipe at least- Rough because yours truly is literally eyeballing everything and then trying to decode — was that a cup? A teaspoon , 2? 

So people, this is a flexible recipe. Play with it and make it your own. The nuttiness of the mung bean, and the slight sweetness from the ginger make this a very special dip. The Miso adds the heft

Mung dal and miso dip

This assumes you have cooked Mung beans on hand (the green kind with the skin)

1 cup - cooked Mung beans
8 stalks cilantro 
1 bunch of scallions 
About 6 slices pickled ginger- the kind you use for Sushi
1 tablespoon red miso
Juice of 1 lime  (about 2 tbsp)
1 Jalapeño  seeds and all
1 tbsp of neutral oil
Salt to taste

Wash the cilantro and the scallions and just shake off the water. Trim the ends of the scallions; ; fit the cilantro(stalks included) and green onions into the bowl of your food processor. Add the jalapeño, ginger and Mung beans. Run the food processor till you have a homogenous but grainy  paste. Now add the Miso, lime juice and oil and  blend till you get a really smooth consistency.  Add a splash of water if you need a smoother paste. Taste, add salt if it is needed (I needed just a tad).  

Keeps refrigerated in an airtight container for 5 days. It is best served at room temperature.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Of cross country races and roasted Tomato Jam

We have become the cross country groupie parents. Those parents who go to their kids races and are ever prepared. we have the layers, the big umbrella and the rain boots on the ready. Those parents that spend an entire weekend driving back and forth for 300 + miles to watch their kids race for all of 15 minutes. We know the names of most of the kids and the other groupie parents too. Did I know we would come to this - no; but I tell myself only 2 more years before they go off to college and have to make every minute count.
Seattle was one of the more pleasant excursions. We managed to meet friends and family and had breakfast at this place called Morsel. The biscuits were huge and light and flaky all at the same time. We had a goat cheese sandwich on a tomato curry biscuit, The highlight of the sandwich was for me; a confection that they called roasted tomato jam. It was tomato heaven in winter - bright, tart and a tiny bit sweet. 
The jam gods smiled on me because I came home to a tray of ripe Roma tomatoes that were sitting unused on the kitchen counter.

Roasted tomato jam - technique adapted from the Kitchn

12 or 13 roma tomatoes ( they were smallish)
3 cloves garlic
1 big nub of ginger, grated skin on
3 hot green peppers, chopped (Serrano)
black pepper
olive oil, sugar, salt.

Heat your oven to 350 deg F on a roast setting
Quarter tomatoes, smash and peel the garlic, grate the ginger and chop up the peppers. Coat 11x13 glass pan with olive oil and arrange  tomatoes in  a layer( they will not all fit). Scatter the  green chi,lies garlic and ginger over the tomatoes. Grind a generous amount of black pepper over the tomatoes and  shake salt over. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of  sugar and lightly drizzle Olive oil. Cover with the rest of the tomatoes and season again with salt, pepper, sugar and olive oil.

Roast @ 350 for 90 mins, stirring a couple of times in between. The tomatoes should extruded their juices and collapsed but still be slightly liquid like a pasta sauce.  Raise the temperature to  450 and bake  for another 20 to 30 minutes till the tomatoes have thickened into a nice gooey jammy consistency.

Scrape into bottles. Cool on counter. Lasts for 2 weeks in the fridge and can be frozen, Great as a sandwich spread or stirred into yogurt or to boost your pasta sauce.