Monday, April 16, 2012

Orange-Anise Marmalade, Strawberry-Lavender and Blueberry-Cinnamon Preserve

Banana Nut Bread and Currant-Orange Scones (recipes below) served with
Orange-Anise Marmalade, Strawberry-Lavender and Blueberry-Cinnamon Preserve

When canning, there is no sound more beautiful than the “pop!” of the lid as it seals into place.  For a couple of days after canning preserves, I leave them lined up in the counter;  jar after jar of fruity-sugary-yummy-sticky goop.  I pretend that they are my personal army assembled for battle, the battle cry, “For the love of toast!”.

There are times when I ask myself why I go through all the trouble-- spend half of my weekend in the kitchen, when I can go to the store and buy the preserves for a fraction of the price, not even counting the lost opportunity cost.  Then I spread it in my toast and “Ahhh.. it is so freaking worth it!”.

Blueberry-Cinnamon Preserve
Makes six 8-oz jars

6 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups granulated sugar
2 t lemon juice
6 2” cinnamon sticks

Combine all ingredients in a large pot.  Cook to the jell point or until thickened (mine’s ready in 30 minutes, medium heat), stirring frequently.  Here’s a trick to determine if the mixture is done-- drop a large spoonful of the jam onto a saucer that has been put in the freezer. In two minutes, the jam should set at the consistency the batch will be when cooled.  Ladle into clean, hot jars leaving ¼ inch head space.  Be sure to add a stick of cinnamon in each jar.  Process for 15 minutes.

Orange-Star Anise Marmalade
Adopted from the Barefoot Contessa
Makes eight 8-oz jars

4 large seedless oranges
2 lemons
8 pcs. star anise
8 cups sugar

Cut the oranges and lemons in half crosswise, then into very thin half-moon slices. (If you have a mandoline, this will be quite fast.) Discard any seeds. Place the sliced fruit, their juices and star anise into a stainless-steel pot. Add 8 cups water and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Cover and allow to stand overnight at room temperature.

The next day, bring the mixture back to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 2 hours. Turn the heat up to medium and boil gently, stirring often, for another 30 minutes. Skim off any foam that forms on the top. Cook the marmalade until it reaches 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer. If you want to be doubly sure it's ready, place a small amount on a plate and refrigerate it until it's cool but not cold. If it's firm -- neither runny nor too hard -- it's done. It will be a golden orange color. (If the marmalade is runny, continue cooking it and if it's too hard, add more water.)

Pour the marmalade into clean, hot Mason jars; wipe the rims thoroughly with a clean damp paper towel, and seal with the lids. Store in the pantry for up to a year.

Strawberry-Lavender Preserves
Makes four 8-ounce jars

1 1/2 quarts red, ripe strawberries
2 T (organic) lavender
5 cups sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice

Wash and hull strawberries. Combine berries and lavender with sugar in a large stainless steel pan; let stand overnight.

Bring strawberries to a boil slowly, stirring occasionally. Add lemon juice. Cook rapidly until strawberry mixture is clear and syrup is thick, about 15 minutes.  Pour mixture into a shallow pan and let stand, uncovered, for 12 to 24 hours. Ladle strawberry mixture into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Process for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Fruits at a stall @ the Marietta Square Farmers Market
Currant-Orange Scones
Adopted from Barefoot Contessa by Ina Garten

4 cups plus 1/4 cup A/P flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
2 T baking powder
2 t kosher salt
1 T grated orange zest
3/4 lb cold unsalted butter, diced
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup dried currants
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
4 t freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn't stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners' sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.

Banana Nut Bread
Makes one 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf

1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 ripe banana, diced
2 eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour the loaf pan.  In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until blended. Beat in the banana and then beat in the eggs until completely mixed.  The batter will look lumpy and curdled. Stir in the nuts. Fold in the combined dry ingredients until just incorporated.  Pour the batter in the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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