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Apricot Lavender Jam #1

  • 4# Apricots (Blenheim)
  • Juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • 3c sugar
  • 1 scant cup water
  • 1/4 cup fresh lavender flowers
  • kernels from about 1/2 of apricots

Combine all incredients, except for lavender flowers in a heavy pot and cook until nearly done.  Add lavender flowers to taste and cook another 5 to 10 minutes.  Add to jars, process and enjoy!

Milk Maid

3/4oz Nocino della Cristina
1/2 oz Galliano
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz citrus infused vodka
1 oz cream
1 egg white

Shake, with ice, serve in a cocktail class.  Maybe with a preserved cherry or lemon twist spritzed around the rim.

We’ve been searching for a cocktail to features Nocino della Cristina but haven’t had a lot of success until now.  That amazing walnutiness comes through clearly neither fighting with or overpowering the other spirits.  The Cointreau and infused vodka lend just a hint of citrus that peaks through the otherwise dark, herbally flavor.

We’ll try it with Grand Marnier and cognac next but I suspect the Cointreau and vodka keep it from becoming too heavy.

We’re looking forward to celebrating St. John the Baptist this year in addition to Emily’s birthday to the heady smell of black-end fingers and chattering of the squirrels by making our own Nocino.

Quince Butter

  • 5# Quinces
  • 2 Lemons (to taste)
  • Sugar

Cut quinces into small chunks and put into pot half about half covered with water.  Bring to boil and cook until the quinces are soft.  Mill, strain, measure and return to heat.  Add lemon zest and juice to taste.  Add 1/4 of puree’s volume in sugar.  5# quinices yielded 8 cups of puree and 2 cups of sugar.  Cook down until it’s reached the desired thickness – somewhere in the neighborhood of 220°F.  It can be helpful to do this in a 300°F over in a large flat pan rather than on a stove top where it is likely to burn.  In either case stir frequently.  When finished, fill 1/2 pint jars, seal and process for 6 minutes.

Quince Jelly, Yum!

  • Quinces
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Lemon

Cut up and slice the unpeeled quinces thinly and place in a large non-reactive pot.  Add enough water to cover.  Bring to a hard boil, turn down heat to a simmer.  Cook until not quite mushy.  Turn out entire contents of the pot into a large chinoise or strainer over a large pot and leave overnight to drain.  To keep the jelly more or less clear, don’t force the pulp through the strainer.  Just let it drip.

Measure the liquid and add 3/4 its volume in sugar and return to heat.  Add lemon juice to taste.  Boil and skim until the Jelly is ready – 220°F at sea level (8°F over boiling water) – or when it passes the spoon or plate tests to your liking.  Fill jars leaving 1/4″ air gap, seal and process for 6 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Three and a half pounds of quinces yielded 10 half-pints of delicious, floral, quince jelly.  Perfect for serving with pate!

Puzzle (Enigma, #2)

  • 3# San Marzano Tomatoes, milled whole
  • 7 small ripe Serrano Chillies, milled whole
  • 3 Shallots, minced
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2T red wine vinegar
  • 1T crushed red pepper
  • a couple of pinches of salt

Combine everything in non-reactive pot and bring to a boil.  Cook for about 30 minutes skimming the foam as it comes up.  Turn off the heat and let sit, covered, overnight.  It’s a good time to taste it and add more chillies if needed – this batch wasn’t spicy enough.  Bring back to a boil and reduce to a medium heat, skimming and stirring frequently, cooking until it passes the plate test.  Ladle into prepared jars and process for 6 minutes.

I like this batch with the shallots distinctly less than the batch with only tomatoes and chillies.


Tomato Serrano Jam

  • 2# San Marzano Tomatoes, peeled
  • 3 Serrano Chillies, sliced
  • 3 cups sugar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • a couple of pinches of salt

Puree half of the tomatoes and dice the rest.  Combine everything in non-reactive pot and bring to a boil.  Cook for about 30 minutes skimming the foam as it comes up.  Turn off the heat and let sit, covered, overnight.  It’s a good time to taste it and add more chillies if needed – three is a little short of where I’d like it but isn’t too spicy for my children to enjoy it.  Bring back to a boil and reduce to a medium heat, skimming and stirring frequently, cooking until it passes the plate test.  Ladle into prepared jars and process for 6 minutes.

Great with cheese, even better with peanut butter, bacon and bannanas.


So, I wrote a bit of a post about our adventures in bagel-making over here, but we’ve since made another batch and I feel that I should record the differences.

I used a recipe from The Fresh Loaf which appealed to me because it could be made in the evening and then boiled and baked in the morning.  The first time out we used 1/4 cup less flour in the last mixing because it was pretty dry and our mixer was having a hard time with it (we still had to alternate between kneading half by hand and the other half in the mixer) but this time we ended up adding the entire amount of flour plus almost a whole 1/4 cup.

Yes, head scratching ensued.

The only thing I can think is that we used a different brand of flour this time–last batch was made with Bob’s Red Mill bread flour and this time with King Arthur bread flour, and to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure which kind of yeast I used last time, but this time it was Rapid Rise.

The bagels cooked up about the same–maybe a little chewier this time, but I don’t really have any complaints.  They’re not bready which is a total plus, or this recipe would be a junker, but they’re missing a certain je ne sais bagelness that I can’t put my finger on.

Overall: not bad.  Pretty fair.  Will make again.

Mustapha Cocktail

  • 1 1/2 oz. gin
  • 1/2 oz creme de casis
  • 1/4 oz fresh lime juice (not syrup, please – it’s sweet enough already!)
  • 1 egg white
  • a generous dash or two of Tabasco Sauce

Shake with plenty of ice and strain, serve up.

This is a surprisingly tasty cocktail and has been featured  frequently since its discovery while trying to find something to mix with the bottle of Gabriel Boudier Dijon Creme de Cassis that we picked up.  We like it on the hot side.  The Tabasco balances out the sweetness of the creme de cassis which would otherwise be overpowering.


This year we almost had a strike on our hands. Amelia threatened to whine all the way through the holiday and Wiley…actually, Wiley didn’t seem to actually give a damn.

That’s my boy.

The problem? Our guest list for Thanksgiving. There isn’t one. A guest list, I mean. It’s just us. Us and Grandma and Roland but they don’t count as guests what with living under the same roof and all. To be honest, I just wasn’t feeling very Thanksgiving-y this year. Usually I can’t wait for November to roll around because:

A) Halloween is over!


B) I love Thanksgiving.

I love to think about menu possibilities, I love to look at glossy food porn magazines and imagine how delicious the stuffing will be this year and what I’ll do with sweet potatoes…yum. I love it. But this year I’m totally not into it.

That is, I wasn’t into it until we started cooking this morning. Then I got into it. It may be just the 7 of us, but we’re cooking like we’ve got a full house.

Thanksgiving 2007 menu

  • Best Way Brined Turkey from the San Francisco Chronicle. In the past we have used Alton Brown’s recipe but I couldn’t find it right off the bat, so I used this one.
  • Sausage Sourdough Stuffing
  • Cranberry Sauce #1
  • Cranberry Sauce #2
  • Cranberry Sauce #3
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Burbon Mashed Sweet Potatoes
  • Green Beans with Shallots
  • Pumpkin Pie

Recipes will follow for anything worth repeating.

Jalapeno and Serrano Hot Sauce #2

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 doz ripe red jalapeño chillies
  • 10 ripe red serrano chillies
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 tsp sel gris
  • 3 dried chipotles that have been hanging around in the back of the pantry for god knows how long

Simmer 20 minutes, or until you remember through your margarita fueled haze that there’s something cooking on the stove, hey, when did the buzzer go off?