Blog Archives

Strawberry Nectarine Jam with Vanilla and Riesling

Last week, there were two pounds of strawberries left in the fridge, and we had a flat of nectarines that we could not eat through before they started going bad. I remembered a strawberry peach jam that I made a couple of years ago that the boys loved. So, I decided to put them together into a jam.

IMG_6989

Now, I don’t have a whole lot of pictures of the process here because we had a contractor in the house giving us a quote on some work we want done and it felt a bit odd to say, “Excuse me, I need to go take pictures of this for my blog.” Of course, I was in the kitchen working on the jam at the same time, so maybe it would have been ok.

Anyway, I think I like this jam better than the strawberry peach I made awhile back because you do not have to peel nectarines. Any chance to save a prepping step is good in my book. Plus, I added a vanilla bean which gives this jam an amazing aroma. Then, at the end, I added some sweet Riesling wine, which turned out to be a perfect compliment. Originally, I wanted to use champagne, but I never made it to the store to buy any and the Riesling was just sitting the in the fridge waiting to be used.

IMG_6988

This should be a slightly loose jam because there is not a whole lot of pectin in nectarines or strawberries. We are relying on the hefty amount of sugar and lemon juice to set the jam here, so do not be tempted to mess with the ratios or you will not get the same result. Besides, a loose jam is just perfect for stirring into yogurt or spreading on a cake.

Strawberry Nectarine Jam with Vanilla and Riesling
loosely adapted from Sarabeth’s Bakery
makes about 4 pints

3 pounds ripe nectarines
2 pounds ripe strawberries
2.5 pounds sugar
grated zest of 4 lemons
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 whole vanilla bean
1/4 cup Riesling wine or other sweet white wine

Sterilize your jars and lids and have them ready. Place a few teaspoons or saucers in the freezer for testing later.

Quarter the nectarines and slice them thinly. Toss them into your largest, widest pot with 1.5 pounds of the sugar and heat over medium high heat until the sugar is dissolved.

In the meantime, hull and slice the strawberries. Also, split the vanilla bean lengthwise and then halve them crosswise. You should have four pieces. Scrape out the seeds with the back of a knife.

Stir in the strawberries, lemon zest and juice, the vanilla bean (seeds and all), and the remaining sugar into the pot and stir until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbling nicely.

Lower the heat to medium and simmer briskly until the mixture is uniform in color and thickened. The strawberries will lose their color in the middle and look funny, but as the jam cooks, the color should become evenly pink. This will probably take awhile with this much fruit, at least 40 minutes up to an hour.

When you think it is done, put a few drops onto a frozen spoon. If it is slow to move when you hold the spoon up, then it is done. It should be close to the consistency of honey, maybe a tad looser, but it should not run down the spoon like water. If it’s not done, simmer the jam for 5-10 more minutes and test again. Do this until it’s ready.

Remove the pot from the heat and add the wine. Stir thoroughly. Transfer the jam to your jars and process them for 15 minutes.

The jam should keep for at least a year in the cupboard if stored in a cool place with the seals intact.

Advertisements

3 Cakes in 4 Days

We had a birthday in the family this past weekend.  When I was a kid, birthdays were not made much of and I think I was always a bit disappointed in that, so I try to make birthdays for my boys fun.  They get to choose a special activity for the day and I always bake a cake of their choosing.  This year, my younger son had a rare treat: two birthday parties!  We had a framily party on Friday and a pool party with his friends on Saturday.  This, of course, meant that I had to make two cakes!  Both cakes were recipes I had never made before.  This is what happens when you let the child look through the cookbooks and choose his own cakes.  I was not daunted, however.  I am no stranger to making cakes, so I was pretty confident that all would be well.  Unfortunately, this turned out to be not the case for one of them.

The first cake my beloved son chose was a fluffy looking cake from this book.  It consists of a chiffon cake layered with dulce de leche and topped with seven minute frosting.  I made the cake earlier on the week and should have known something was wrong with the recipe when I made it.  I am not too familiar with chiffon cakes, though, so I did not catch the problem right away, though I did think it was odd.  When I mixed the dry ingredients with the wet it was really stiff; more like biscuit dough than cake batter.  I forged on, however, and baked it up.  Unfortunately, it turned out terribly.  The dulche de leche was great and the seven minute frosting came out fluffy and beautiful looking, but the cake was dry and tough.  It was like trying to chew through a dry sponge.  It was sad for the birthday boy.  Not only did they not have his beloved mac & cheese at the restaurant he picked, but he couldn’t even finish his piece of cake because it was yucky.  We actually threw the remainder of the cake away.  I haven’t done that in ages.

Anyway, the next day’s cake was the opposite of the first cake.  This was a neaopolitan bundt cake.  It was a basic vanilla butter cake base which came together like a dream.  You put one third of the batter into the pan and divide the remainder into two portions.  Then, you add strawberry jam to one portion and chocolate syrup and cocoa powder to another portion.  See?

This cake turned out beautifully.  I wish I had a picture of the inside of the cake to show you, but when one is serving 15 kids, it is difficult to stop and take pictures.  When I was done serving, the cake was all gone.  In fact, the husband and I had to split the last piece.  It was chocolate in the middle with a layer of strawberry around that and the vanilla encased the whole thing.  Topped with a strawberry glaze and chocolate frosting, it was like eating a cake version of an ice cream sundae.  This recipe came from America’s Test Kitchen’s Summer Desserts magazine.  The birthday boy declared it to be much better than the other cake and he ate his whole piece, so I was happy.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure I would have the energy to make this week’s TWD recipe, Nectarine Upside-Down Chiffon Cake, after all the cake baking I had already done.  Plus, I was really hesitant after my chiffon cake disaster on Friday.  However, I had a couple of nectarines staring at me on the counter yesterday and I managed to find a pretty cheap ten inch springform pan to use.  I am sorry I have no photos of the process to show you.  It was a dim, rainy day and I was trying to get this cake together while playing a game of monopoly with the family at the same time.  I will say that this chiffon cake batter was totally different from the other one I made.  It was fluffy and not dry at all.  I had no problem folding in the egg whites.  The only problem I had was the pan was too small.  What is up with that?  I went out specially to buy a ten inch pan and it was still too small?  It had a little muffin top thing going on when I pulled it out after an hour and twenty minutes.

There was also a good bit of leakage from the pan.  Anyway, I just cut off the excess around the edges and it was fine.

I used two nectarines for the outer ring and one and a half pluots for the inner ring of fruit.  I could tell right away that this cake was moist, fluffy, and light.  I was a little worried that the center was still gooey, but is was not.

The boys loved it.  The husband thought it was too sweet, but then, he says that about a lot of things.  I loved the lemony chiffon cake and the almond streusel layer had a nice texture and flavor to go with the cake, though I would have eaten it and been happy without it.  This is probably my tenth upside down cake this summer and it was by far the most complicated.  I have to say that, even though I loved the chiffon cake, I am not sure I would use it for an upside down cake again.  The fruit sort of crushes the cake so that you lose a lot of the fluffy texture, though it is still super soft and moist.  The cake just doesn’t seem sturdy enough for the topping.

Still, I think it was worth the trouble.  It’s the sort of thing one might make for a special occasion.  I am especially glad I made this cake after the two previous cakes.  Finally, we have a yummy cake that we can keep all to ourselves!

To make this, you can visit this blog or this blog for the recipe.

Summer in a Pie

Every summer for the past 12 years I have made this pie.  It says summer to me more than any other dessert I make.  We all look forward to the time during the summer when fresh nectarines are plentiful, heavy, and flavorful.  Most of us in my family love nectarines more than peaches because there is none of that annoying fuzz.  Also, they seem to me to have more flavor.  Peaches can be bland, but nectarines, even the ones that are not as ripe are packed with flavor.  If a peach is not sweet, it’s almost not worth eating, but nectarines can be a little tart and still be really good, especially in this pie.

Blueberry Nectarine Pie.

I have blogged about this pie before.  It is the husband’s favorite pie and I make it several times each summer.  And we rarely share it.  If I make one to share, I have to make another one right after just for him us.  Over the years, I have adjusted the recipe according to our tastes.  The biggest change I have made is to use tapioca instead of flour and I no longer cook any of the filling ahead of time.  This saves oodles of prep time because you don’t have to wait for the filling to cool and we prefer the clean flavor of the tapioca.  You can find my recipe for the filling here.

This pie almost did not get made in time for Tuesday’s with Dorie this week.  I got a little bit of a cold after coming home from my friend’s house and have basically been sitting around and watching the Olympics any chance I can get.  Oh, all right, I’d be doing that anyway, even if I did not have a cold!  Anyway, I felt better today when I got up and decided to get it done (even if I had to give up watching a little of the Olympic action).

The first thing I did was look in the freezer to see if I had any spare pie crust disks in there.  I had one, but the recipe calls for two, and a one crust pie is not an option in my house, especially with this pie.  It has been some years since I have made the pie crust recipe out of Baking with Julia.  It used to be my go to recipe for pie crust, but I have since developed my own recipe.  This morning, though, I discovered that my buttermilk had to be thrown out, so I used the recipe in the book with a couple of changes.  I used 5 ounces of shortening and 12 ounces of butter.  We like our crusts with more butter around here.  Also, I substituted 8 ounces of the flour for the same amount of whole wheat pastry flour–this way I can say that it is healthy!

Have I said how much we love this pie?  I bet this pie will be gone within 24 hours.  If pie eating were an Olympic event, one of us (I won’t say which one) might win a medal.   If you want to try your hand at this event, go visit this blog and this blog for the original recipe from the book.  Or, you can follow my links above to my altered recipes.

Pie filling Recipe

Yesterday, after I published my post, it occurred  to me that, although I could not give you a piece of pie, I could give you the recipe for the pie filling.  I usually follow an already published recipe which I could not give you for copyright reasons.  However, I’ve changed this one so much from the original, that I think I can call it my own now.   So, if you’re interested in making the pie pictured yesterday, all you have to do is make or buy your favorite pie crust, put in the filling, and you’ve got my husband’s favorite pie all for yourself.  And I won’t tell if you choose not to share it.

Blueberry Nectarine Pie filling

1.5 pounds or about 4 cups of blueberries, rinsed and picked over for stems

3 yellow nectarines, slices thinly

1/2 of a lemon, grated and juiced

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup minute tapioca

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

Let stand for 15 minutes to let the tapioca soften up.  This is a good time to get your pie crust ready.

Pour into prepped pie crust and top with another pie crust. Trim and seal the edges.  Make sure you cut some holes in the top for steam to escape.

Brush pie with heavy cream or egg white.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake for about an hour or until the crust is nicely browned and filling is bubbling in the center of the pie.

Let cool at least until lukewarm before cutting.  This takes 2-3 hours.

Enjoy!