Sunday, August 26, 2012

Gloden Raspberry Jam

Sunday morning / 9:15am / me and my 4 year-old daughter at Bishops Orchards / 20 minutes away from our home in the city of New Haven / sneaking past the dozens of rows of raspberries to the one lane of golden raspberries / hearts completely full and our picking bucket getting there.
Six years ago I left Brooklyn for my home town of New Haven, CT. I still miss some things about living in NYC, but all it takes to make me appreciate the simple pleasures of life in New Haven is the ease of a trip to a pick-your-own farm near by, and a pile of great fruit to enjoy and nourish my family. No traffic, no hassle, just good.

Bishops orchard has a ton of raspberries for picking, and I guess I'll let the cat out of box that they have one row of golden raspberries and two rows of're lucky if you get there when there are many of either of these berries left, as some passionate pickers clean them out good, but this was our lucky year.
My daughter announced that we should make jam, and I readily agreed. We didn't get too many berries, about a pound and a half of golden raspberries and the same amount of blackberries with a few red thrown in (that's just about all my 4 year-old had the patience for). Raspberry jam is super easy to make, just add sugar, boil, and pour into a jar. Done. The seeds have a lot of natural pectin in them which thickens the jelly. I noticed when looking up recipes that the golden raspberry jam seemed to have a ton of seeds, so I decided to add an apple to my recipe to reduce the number of seeds per square inch. Apples have a lot of natural pectin too, so no need to add anything else to the recipe. I cut the amount of sugar in half from the jelly recipes I found, and this jam resulted in a great texture and a sweet but tart flavor.  We cooked up the blackberries too, for the same lovely result (sans apple).

If you are going to eat this jelly over the course of a few weeks, you don't need to properly can and seal the jars, just keep them in the fridge and enjoy. If you want to can them for storage in your cabinet, look up canning instructions online.

Golden Raspberry Jam
makes 3 cups jam

1 1/2 pounds raspberries (about 4 cups)
1  large or two medium apples (or pears), pealed, cored and diced
2 cups sugar
optional: herbs or spices
  1. Put berries into a heavy bottomed pot, mash with the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula. 
  2. Add apples and sugar, and any herbs or spices you like (I threw in a few sprigs of lemon verbena, since I'm addicted to it)
  3. Put a plate in the freezer to use to test if the jam is done cooking.
  4. Cook on medium high heat until the jam starts to thicken, about 10 minutes. remove the plate from the freezer. Drop a small spoonful of jam on the plate to cool. Push it with your finger if it seems thick and "wrinkles" a bit when you push it, your jam is done. It will thicken up consideralbly when it is totally cool. If it seems very runny, just let it keep simmering until it thickens more, being sure to stir it so the bottom doesn't burn. Determining the thickness this way is not an exact science, as there is a wide range of acceptable thicknesses for jam, and if it is too thin, it will still taste great!
Don't stress over this, just throw some berries and sugar in a pot, boil, 
and enjoy the miracle of homemade jam!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Grilled Fish Slidders with Fennel Slaw

This season my mother purchased a share at Massaro Farm, a new local CSA farm that providess more than 100 families with weekly supplies of organic produce and donates thousands of pounds of food to people who needed it. My mother's weekly share includes a huge amount of greens, onions, herbs and loads of other delicious produce. There is more than enough for her and my stepfather, so she has been bringing me heads of cabbage, lettuce, onions, fennel and other yummy things (the benefit of living next door). I was planning a special dinner for my mother in-law (who was visiting from Brooklyn, and the cabbage and fennel inspired thoughts of a fresh vinegar dressed coleslaw, and proved to be a great inspiration for delicious grilled fish sandwiches for dinner.

We stoked up the grill, marinated some tilapia and wild salmon in a marinade of garlic, cilantro, vinegar, salt and oil. For simplicity sake the same marinade went on a large bowl of sliced peppers, onions, mushrooms and zucchini, which then got skewered and readied for grilling. The slaw was a combination of finely sliced white cabbage, fennel bulb and "leaves", basil, cilantro, tiny red onions, scallion, vinegar, honey and salt. The whole lot got tossed together to pickle a bit before the meal was served. A mock tartar sauce made of mayo doctored with a little vinegar, salt and honey added just the right embellishment to the fish, and tiny grilled brioche rolls from Judie's made the meal decadent. We topped off the dinner with some homemade pineapple mint sorbet; essentially a delicious smoothie poured into an ice cream maker to freeze while dinner was cooking. 

It was a great summer meal, one I'm sure will be repeated again before fall hits.
 Above: fennel slaw, Below: grilled vegetable kebabs, toasted mini brioche buns, mussels with garlic and tarragon (an extra treat), and marinated grilled tilapia.

 Pineapple mint sorbet:
Have you had any great grilled meals this summer? Please share!