Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Pickled Strawberry Preserves - think goat cheese, venison...

Many of my preserving favourites have evolved from sweet jams to savoury "ish" fruit preserves best used with meat, cheeses and crackers or as bastes.

David Lebowitz's recipe intrigued me.  Think ripe strawberries, beautifully spiced and infused with vinegar.  Beautiful and perfect for the cheese and/or meat board.

This recipes makes five 250ml jars.

1           lemon, preferably organic or unsprayed
1 tsp     black peppercorns, plus additional for finishing the preserves
14        allspice berries
2          bay leaves
2 lbs    strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar (or consider champagne vinegar)
A few drops balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon butter, salted or unsalted


Juice the lemon and pour the juice into a small nonreactive bowl. (Save the lemon halves.) Put the seeds in a piece of cheesecloth along with the peppercorns, allspice berries, and bay leaves, and give it a few whacks with a hammer or rolling pin. Add the bag to the lemon juice.

Cut the strawberries into quarters, or if they are small, you can cut them in half. If you have a mix, cut them all so they are approximately the same size. You just don’t want them too small.

Toss the strawberries in a separate bowl with the sugar, vinegar, and salt. Cover and let sit at room temperature for a few hours (2-3), or overnight in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally.

Set a colander or large strainer over a wide, nonreactive cooking pot. Scrape the berries and their juices into the colander or strainer so the juices go into the cooking pot. Remove the colander with the macerated berries in it and set it aside.

Add the lemon juice, the spice bag, the reserved lemon halves, and the butter to the strawberry juices in the pot and cook over medium-high heat until the juices begin to thicken, about 6 or 7 minutes. Add the strawberries and continue to cook, stirring gently every so often, until the berries are plump and softened, but not bursting apart. It will take about 8 to 10 minutes. You want the berries to remain in fairly distinct pieces.

Remove from heat, then discard the spice bag as well as the lemon rinds. Grind a bit more black pepper into the strawberries and ladle them into jars and cover.

Storage: The pickled strawberries can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. If you wish to can them, check the guidelines and directions at the USDA website.

Finally- a Jam Using Red Currants, AND Raspberries!

I've been admiring those ruby red currants every summer at the Farmers' Market.  Finally, I have made a jam with them!  This recipe is rooted in Poland and chock full of winter busting vitamins.  I began my currant journey with a recipe from the "Joys of Jewish Preserving" by Emily Paster, adapted to make it mine.

The recipe makes four 250ml jars.


250 gr        red currants, de-stemmed
1/2 cup      water
750 gr        raspberries
1/2 cup      unsweetened grape juice (preferably white)
3 cups        sugar


Combine the currants and the water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower the heat and simmer until the currants burst, about five minutes, then mash them.

Strain the currants through a fine mesh sieve, into a bowl. Press to extract as much juice and pulp as possible.  Measure the pulp- you should have about one cup of solids.

Return the pulp to the saucepan and add the raspberries.  Crush the berries with a potato masher.  Add the sugar and the juice and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.  Turn the heat down to medium-high.  Boil the jam, stirring constantly for about 10-12 minutes.

Remove from heat when the thermometer reaches 220 degrees.  Skim off any foam.  Ladle the jam into the jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.  Wipe the rims with a damp cloth.  Place the lids on the jars and screw on the rings.  Process the jars in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.  Allow to cool in the water for five minutes before removing.  Store for up to one year.

WANNA PLAY?  You could change the proportion of red currant to raspberries to 50/50.  That would be 1 lb of each of the fruit.

Purple Plum Jam with Grand Marnier

The 2018 preserving season has finally begun!  A little late, it's August :-)  First out of the gate (really the kitchen) is a delicious purple plum jam with Grand Marnier.

The recipe originates in the most inconspicuous little cookbook titled The Good Stuff Cookbook by Helen Witty.  It offers probably the best collection of recipes for the pantry.  This is one book I have owned, consulted, cooked from over the past twenty years.

This rich, flavourful jam is enhanced by a "tease" of orange liqueur.

To make seven 250ml jars.

4 lbs        blue (or black, or Italian or prune) plums
2 cups      water
1/4 cup    lemon juice
4 cups      sugar
1/2 cup    Grand Marnier


Rinse, drain and pit the plums.  Put them in a large saucepan with the water, bring to a boil and simmer gently until they are very soft and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 30 minutes.

At this point, you can use a potato masher to break down the plums (still leave pieces) or press the plums and their liquid through a food mill.  Combine the pulp, lemon juice, and sugar in a preserving pan and stir the mixture over medium-high heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Cook the jam at a brisk boil, stirring often until it passes the jelly test (or reaches 220 on the thermometer), about 10 minutes. Add the Grand Marnier and cook the jam another minute or two.

Ladle the hot jam into hot, clean 250ml jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.  Seal the jars with canning lids and process 15 minutes in a boiling-water bath.  Cool, label and store the jars.  The jam will keep for at least one year in a cool cupboard.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Eggplant Parmesan- baked not fried- sooo good!

I love eggplant!  I really love eggplant parmesan... breaded eggplant slices, baked in the oven and cooked in a homemade marinara sauce, layered with assorted cheeses.  So good!

I make extra breaded slices of eggplant, freeze them, ready for a quick dinner.  Just add sauce and I am ready to go.

Eggplant parmesan, ready for the freezer, or ready for the oven .

This recipes serves 6-8.

White Bean, Kale and Roasted Vegetable Soup

This soup hit all my high notes: beans, kale and a medley of vegetables.  Lots of flavour and so easy to pull together.

I began with a recipe from and made it my own.  Half the batch I keep in the fridge and the other half is frozen in 500ml canning jars.  There are perfect for bringing to the office for lunch.  Or, for a quick, delicious supper.

White bean, kale and roasted vegetable soup.

Serves 3-4

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Jeon- Korean pancakes- this one is vegetarian

My first taste of a traditional Korean pancake was in a little Korean restaurant in Kelowna BC.  The Korean owners prepared their traditional dishes and were always ready with samples.  Delicious. Their jeon were made with shrimp and vegetables.

Jeon is easy to make.  You can include whatever vegetables you have on hand.  It is worthwhile making the dipping sauce, spicy or not, to serve alongside.  Can be served as an appie, a side dish or a main.

Thank you to Bren at for the inspiration for this dish.

Korean jeon served with a spicy dipping sauce and homemade kimchi.  

This recipe serves four.

Chickpea and Tahini Burgers

I am always looking for great vegetarian burger ideas.  This chickpea burger hits all the high notes- low fat, healthy ingredients and lots of room to play.  They are delicious served in a pita, slathered with spicy yogourt.

Makes eight burgers.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Korean Dak Kaiguksu- Chicken noodle soup

The Olympic Games are on tv and I am craving Korean food.  Thanks to a really informative Korean website called Korean Bapsand, I have a chicken simmering on the stove and a house that smells heavenly!  Hyosun Ro provides lots of information and some nice pics.

I am making this for friends and looking forward to their comments.  I couldn't find fresh Korean noodles.  Luckily Hyosun provides a recipe.  If you can make Italian pasta, Korean noodles should be just as easy.  Especially if you have a KitchenAid paster roller on your countertop.  And they will taste so much better than store bought.

You can be creative with the vegetables you garnish the soup with... check out the Asian produce section at the store.  T&T, in Ottawa, carries an amazing variety of Asian produce.

Homemade noodles and an amazing broth!

This recipe will serve 4-5 generously.

Korean BBQ Chicken

My ode to the PyeongChang Olympics- Korean BBQ Chicken!  Actually, I will confess that I actually baked it in the oven.  I promise to make this dish again in the summer when I can roll out the BBQ.

The main ingredient in the Barbecue sauce is gochujang.  A korean chili sauce that is sweet, spicy and thick.  Finding it was a bit of a mission.  T&T is the best place for finding any Asian ingredient you could ever wish for.  T&T on the eve of Chinese New Year is a crazy, amazing, "happening" place.  Despite the crowds, finding ingredients with names I can't pronounce was easy- the staff know their stuff and will gladly lead you to the right shelf.

Be sure to wander over to the produce section: Asian vegetables and fruits to discover.  Brought home lotus root (you will not find this at Farm Boy) to add to the Korean soup I am also making.  A lesser known ingredient for my guests to sample.

This recipe makes about four portions.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Chinese Pineapple Chicken

Looking for a quick, tasty and healthy dinner?  This is it.  The beauty of this recipe is that you can use most vegetables- carrots, squash, onions, celery, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes...

This recipes serves four.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Pineapple Turmeric Sauerkraut- worth a try!

Thanks to Fermented Food Lab's Danielle for this recipe.  Today is kraut and kimchi day at my house.  It is blistering cold outside and I know the seasonal flus are here.  Kraut and kimchi are powerful weapons in my arsenal against these "bugs".

This is a health powerhouse- turmeric, pineapple, apple cider, ginger... and cabbage and fermented hot peppers (optional).
I use a coffee filter to let the air circulate.

As with most sauerkraut recipes, this one is incredibly easy to make.


1 head      cabbage (shredded)
½              pineapple (chopped)
1 tbsp       ground turmeric
1 tbsp      fresh ginger (grated)
1 tbsp      sea salt

1 tbsp      Sea Salt
1 tbsp      Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
4 cups     purified water

1 tbsp      brine from fermented hot peppers and a few peppers- optional to add to the jar.


Shred the cabbage in a food processor, mandolin or chop with a knife. Add it to a big bowl.Chop the pineapple into small chunks and add it to the bowl with the cabbage.Add in the grated ginger and sea salt to the bowl.

Massage the cabbage mixture with your hands for 5 minutes or until it starts to break down and become soft. Let it sit for 15 minutes in the bowl.After the 15 minutes, the cabbage will become very soft and wet. If you squeeze it now, juice will come out.

Add the turmeric to the cabbage. You can either mix it with your hands or a spoon. The turmeric could stain your hands and fingernails orange so you may want to use a spoon.

Pack the cabbage halfway into the mason jars if you are using two or halfway into the large mason jar if you are using one.

Make the brine by combining 1 cup of hot water with the sea salt. Once the sea salt dissolves add the remaining water and the apple cider vinegar. Pour the brine into the mason jars, leaving about an inch from the top. Stir the brine and cabbage together in the jar so it's all combined.

Place a lid on the jar loosely so gas can escape as fermentation takes place.

Set on the counter for 4-7 days in a cool, shaded place.

During fermentation the sauerkraut will bubble a little and become cloudy. If scum appears, remove it with a spoon.  Every day or two, shake the mason jar up so the cabbage submerges under the brine and doesn't develop mold.  Place in the fridge and serve cold.

To make a gut shot: The extra brine from the sauerkraut is the gut shot. Pour the extra brine into shot glasses to share with friends. Cheers!

Update Jan. 2019- Added one lemon and one lime to the mix- each thinly sliced.  Will update in a few weeks once the fermentation has happened.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Oatmeal Banana Bread -

I have a great banana bread recipe, but I wanted to make it even healthier- so I added toasted oatmeal, maple syrup instead of sugar, and fresh blueberries.  Alton Brown's recipe introduced me to toasting oatmeal and I added my riffs... Enjoy!