Apple Lemon Marmalade

Gather Ye Rosebuds while Ye May. Or Apples

Canning season is here with a vengeance, and it’s time to get it done. This could just as easily be called preserves, but the whole lemon adds some punch to it. Jane Grigson, in her great Book of European Cookery says the word marmalade comes the Assyrian and Babylonian word for quince, which she spells as marmahu. Quince preserves were a staple of my childhood, so I will call this a marmalade. This recipe would work well with those as well, if you can find any. And no, I did not grow up in Babylon.

Ingredients

5-6 tart Apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

1 Meyer Lemon

Juice of 1 Key Lime

1 1/2 cups Sugar

1/2 cup Water

The five big apples I used cost a whopping two bucks at the Festhalle Farmer’s Market. Use all the lemon, except for the zest and seeds, but definitely include the pulp. The lime is optional, but I have bags of them, and they add some more zing.

Combine the sugar with the lemon and lime combo, and heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the sliced apples and water, and cook for ten to fifteen minutes. I don’t want either applesauce or baby food, so I end up on the shorter time line.

The option is to mash this or not, so I used a less aggressive potato masher on this batch. No extra fruit pectin is needed, so just put the fruit into jars and run through a hot water bath.

Technology that Works

This concoction could be served at any meal, and I will try it on both biscuits and pork tenderloin. I may save some for filling my Linzer Augen (Linzer Cookies, though the literal translation is Linzer Eyes) at Christmas. I could even go all out, and have some cookies filled with apple, some filled with peach, and some filled with fig, preserves.

Peach Marmalade

Peaches Marry-nating before the Magic Happens

Most people in the South would call this recipe “preserves,” but the amount of lemon in it gives it some punch. I also came up with the idea of adding some lemon pulp to the mixture.

Ingredients

5-6 Fresh Peaches

1 Meyer Lemon

1 cup Sugar

Why Meyer Lemon? It’s something of a cross between a lemon and an orange. And check out the size.

Lemon v. Peach

My wife Melanie Jane grew the lemon, and the peaches came from an orchard a couple of mountains away from here. Time for some process.

Place the peaches in a colander or strainer in a sink, along with the jars, flats, and rings. Crank up the old teakettle and soak them all with scalding water. You’ve just done two steps at once.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar and lemon juice/pulp in a non-reactive pan. Lemons pulp easier if they are frozen first, and then thawed. Peel the peaches, and compost the peels (I fed mine to my chickens. They’re experts at composting.) Cut into eights, and add to the lemon sugar mixture. Let that marry-nate until the sugar dissolves.

Action time! Slowly bring the mixture up to a boil, and then turn it down to low. Sing the refrain from “Lady Marmalade” a few times–that’s the part that’s in French. When the peaches are soft, mash them into small cubes with a potato masher. Cook for another five minutes, at a higher temp, and then you have two options.

Can at this point, if you want a juicy spread. Add pectin, if you want a firmer marmalade. I use Certo, because it’s quick, and available everywhere. Pour the mixture into jars, and boil ten minutes in a water bath. Here’s the result:

Strangely enough, the diva Patti LaBelle, who recorded “Lady Marmalade,” is also an accomplished cook, and has a number of cookbooks in print. I don’t know if she has a marmalade recipe in any of them, but she is welcome to try this one.

Fig Preserves

First Figs of the Year

Fig preserves are a staple of Southern breakfasts, and good figs are not easy to come by anymore. I get them whenever I can, and sure enough, a farmer at the Festhalle Farmer’s Market had some this weekend. It was time to make some preserves.

Ingredients

4 cups Figs, halved

1 cup Water

Organic Sugar to taste

1 tablespoon Lemon Juice

That’s it. Just be prepared to simmer these things for at least a couple of hours. The amount of sugar needed depends on how ripe the figs are. These were dead ripe, so I didn’t need that much sugar.

After about an hour and a half of cooking, I resorted to my wife’s medieval looking antique potato masher, to speed things up. It’s a mashing machine.

Three Eight Ounce Jars of Preserves, Brought to You by this Masher

After about two hours of total cooking, I added a package of Certo liquid pectin–not required, but it does speed things up. The three filled jars then went into a hot water bath for ten minutes, and sealed almost as soon as I took them out. Into the pantry now, and onto some English Muffins or Drop Biscuits, eventually.

Soft Scrambled Eggs

A DIY Scrambled Egg Kit

Seriously, a post about how to scramble eggs? I would have thought the same thing a few years ago, before the great English food writer Elizabeth David caught my eye. Jane Grigson, an equally talented writer, gave me my first account of David, in what has become one of my all time favorite books, published under various titles, but now sold as Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery. There, Grigson discusses several of David’s recipes from her book French Country Cooking. I immediately bought a three books in one collection of her work, published by the appropriately named Biscuit Books. I now own four of her books, each better than the last.

David hated overly complex and pretentious food, and instead focused on the real thing, such as perfectly scrambled eggs. Her method is superb, taken from a French country cook. The secret is to cook the eggs at the lowest temperature possible, which is something of an antithesis to the more common get your stove as hot as a flamethrower approach. Here’s my paraphrase. This is a two person version.

Ingredients

2 Eggs, Beaten

Salt and Pepper

Heat up a skillet coated with olive oil–I like these Lodge carbon steel ones. Turn the stove down to minimum temp, and let the skillet cool off for a bit. Then pour in the seasoned eggs, and do nothing. Wait until the egg begins to set, and s-l-o-w-l-y stir the eggs with a fork. I always prefer wood utensils, so I made my own.

The eggs should cook slowly, so it is much simpler to serve it at the soft, creamy stage that is the goal of using this method. After a couple of tries, cooking this way will become second nature. It doesn’t hurt any to begin with quality pasture raised eggs, either.

Morel Omelette

Breakfast is Served

I may be the only person in North America who puts dried mushrooms on my Christmas list every year. First on the list are Morels, as they are something of an extravagance, and are five times more expensive than dried Porcini mushrooms.

I always get Morels from the Left Coast, from Pistol River Mushrooms in Oregon, and the quality is always superb. My two favorite Morel dishes are Turkey Breasts in Morel Cream Sauce, and this Morel Omelette. As it was a holiday this July 4th, why not go for the gold?

Ingredients

2-3 large Morels, rehydrated and chopped

Morel Water

1 sweet Pepper, chopped

3 Scallions, chopped

3 Eggs

1/4 cup diced Ham

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese

Parsley

Salt and Pepper

Diced tomatoes are also great in this, but I forgot to add them. Begin by cooking the pepper and the white part of the chopped scallion in olive oil. Then add the morels. In the meantime, mix the rest of the ingredients together, including the green parts of the scallion. When the veg is cooked, pour in the egg mixture, and have a 400 degree F oven ready. No omelette folding or flipping here.

After the egg mixture has started to set up, throw the whole thing in the oven. Have a cup of coffee and chicory, and listen to Beethoven or Wagner. Then take it out when it’s firm, and serve a couple of people with this. An English muffin goes well with it.

I never use all of the Morel water, as it is always full of grit from the wild harvested fungi. I should start using the method described by Marcella Hazan in the priceless Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. There she describes how Italians will filter dirty mushroom soaking water through paper towels or a fine strainer, and save it for soups and stocks. Now that’s what you call a food culture.

Taters, Precious

New Potatoes, Precious

We have bought new potatoes three weeks in a row at the Festhalle, our local Farmer’s market, and they really don’t resemble supermarket potatoes in taste, even expensive organic ones. So don’t cook them like supermarket potatoes. Those in the picture are regular Red and Yukon golds.

My favorite cooking method for these: frying. Shocking to hear that from a Southerner. Cut into small cubes is best. These are especially good in the classic Farmer’s Omelet.

Next in line is the classic boiled new potatoes, served in a giant pool of butter and salt. For god’s sake don’t peel these–cook them as is.

In another week or two, I may turn into Mr. Potato Head.