Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mayree's Deep South Cakery with a Side of Life...


Vanilla Bean-Pear Jelly. Not pear jam, pear butter, NOR preserves. Jelly...

Ping!  There went the third jar of jelly sealing.  I've made vanilla bean-pear jelly this afternoon.  It's a departure from the normal processing of one of the South's favorite fresh fruits this time of year:  the pear.

 Most folks down here put up pear halves for classic pear salad, pears in light syrup for cobblers and pies, pear butter, and pear preserves.  They're all canning endeavors worthy of the praise they'll reap when the weather gets cold and late-summer days are long forgotten.  But me being me and all, I had to put a spin on normal and went looking for another use for pears.  Pear jelly.  I found several recipes, and along with the one for apples in the Sure-Jell box, kind of developed this one.  If you have this exact recipe and call it yours, rest assured it is a matter of happy coincidence.  You're going to have to kiss my grits share the claim 'cause I've LOOKED for it and couldn't find it anywhere except scrawled on the back of the bank envelope it was written on.

Pear juice?  Did I buy it?  Why no, Silly!  The pears drove up to the back porch last week via a cousin.  I cooked the pear juice from the peels and cores of a grocery bag full of pears.  I didn't weigh them.  I know I should have but winging it aka guesstimation, is one of those things this Southern gurl does best.  I saved the pear flesh for Pineapple Pear Spread (Preserves).

That's the compost bucket in the bottom left hand corner.  And that porcelain on steel pot was too small so I used the canning kettle instead.

Cover the pear peels and cores with water.  Don't ask.  I don't know how much water;  as much water as is necessary to cover the peels and cores by 'bout an inch.  Cooking really isn't rocket science.  If you use lots more water, you'll have lots more juice but it won't be as flavorful.

Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 30 minutes or so, until the cores have turned mostly translucent.

Pour off the pear juice.  I didn't put this through the Foley food mill.  Sometimes when seeds aren't involved, I will.  Mashing seeds often releases some kind of bitter something or another.  It'll make the nastiest jelly you've ever wasted sugar on.  Be careful with seeds.

I like jelly to be clear, free of any fruit particulates.  It takes clear juice to do that so I strain it through a double thickness of cheesecloth.  PPppfffft!  Not really.  Cheesecloth is too sophisticated for this kitchen.  I use a doubled over birdseye diaper -- never used on a baby's bottom and perfect for straining!

See... I had enough pears for THREE posts!  Isn't that exciting?  I'll be making Ms. Mona's pear honey and her recipe like Aunt Selma's for Pear Pineapple Spread.  

Put the diaper in another jug or deep dish of some sort and pour the juice in.
I know you're impressed  surprised with the action shot and that I've enough strength in the left hand to hold a gallon of juice while photographing with my right hand.  It's all those fry line maneuvers during WORK work.  I got skills!!  Who knew?

I like to squeeze every last drop of juice out of the diaper.  There wasn't much pulp in it, but it doesn't take much to cloud the jelly.  And it does look like a baby wore the diaper after all, doesn't it?

Finally.  Jelly time.  Split the beans and scrape the seed into the juice.
I made an "M!"  Go ahead and put the beans on in there too, adding the box of Sure-Jell and stirring until it's dissolved.  The vanilla seeds will be kind of clumpy here, but don't worry -- they'll soon cook apart.  Mama tells me I ought not add the pectin until it's in the pot but I've found, using these big measuring cups, that I can see that it's all dissolved and not have any pasty surprises on the bottom of the pot.

Make sure everything else is together:  jars sterilized, bands and lids ready, sugar (7 cups) measured out, canning funnel and everything all in one spot.

I like putting the jars in the microwave with hot water in them, keeping the microwave running on medium power.  It keeps the jars hot and sterilized and right where I need them.  OOOoo... Don't forget the clean damp cloth to wipe the rims of the jars with before sealing either!

Also, don't get so overzealous you forgot you moved the dog's food and water.

From this point on, proceed like any other jelly, bringing the juice with added pectin to a boil.

Add sugar.  Time for one minute after rolling boil has been reached.

Take out vanilla beans and skim foam from jelly, eating foam immediately on the softest white bread with every unhealthy additive imagined available at your local Piggly Wiggly.  There wasn't any foam this time!  How'd that happen??  There's a rule written somewhere stating that no batch of jelly is complete without eating a sampling of it on white sliced bread.  Quality control or something or another.  I ate jelly this evening.

Pour hot jelly into jars, wipe rims, put on lids and seal!  Tadadaaaaa!

That's eight, almost nine, half pints.  Or four and a half pints.  That jelly in the pint jar is mine.

So there you have it, Ms. Mary!  Vanilla Bean-Pear Jelly.  If you're a jelly maker you'll want to do this.  If you're NOT a jelly maker,  you'll want to do this.  It is thestar of the gift basket.  Unless crabapple jelly is your favorite.  And then you'd have to talk to Mama...

Those ingredients again for Vanilla Bean-Pear Jelly are:
5 cups of pear juice
7 cups of granulated sugar
2 vanilla beans
1 box of Sure-Jell.

Y'all saw it getting put together so carry the laptop to the kitchen and try it yourself.  You'll be glad you did!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Milk Jam Chocolate Tarts with Toasted Hazelnuts

How come people don't snack on hazelnuts?

Peanuts, almonds, cashews, even Brazil nuts are definitely snackable. But hazelnuts kind of get left by the wayside.

I mean....they're definitely delicious. No doubt about that. Maybe if they were salted they'd be more snack-worthy?

Or, maybe it's because everyone wants to save them to make these tarts. Bingo.

Hazelnuts pair with chocolate as well as Will Ferrell pairs with stupid comedies. Hazelnuts pair with chocolate as well as my Mom pairs (or puts up with) my Dad. It must be fate.

Let's put some brain cells on this combo...

Nutella. Win!

Ferrero Rocher. Uhh....yes. Put them in my mouth please.

Perugina Baci. I read your little note and then I eat you. Or maybe I eat you first...then read the little note. So what.

How about Chocolate + Hazelnut + Milk Jam.

Whaaaa? Did I just say milk jam?

Basically you combine milk with sugar and baking soda and cook it down very carefully and slowly until it gets all thick and jammy. The baking soda makes the mixture more basic (less acidic) or alkaline which promotes the Maillard Reaction. This is a delicious reaction between proteins and sugars that creates really tasty caramel flavours. Think dulce de leche. Mmm. Yep. Now we're talkin'.

This tart really is like eating ice cream sundae toppings from a pastry shell.

Love it. Make it. Share it.

Share it especially with your partner, spouse or significant other because I'm dedicating this decadent dessert to my crrrrazy parents who are celebrating their 33rd anniversary today!

I truly believe that it is sharing delicious food which has kept them together so long. Unconditional love might play a role biggie.

Happy Anniversary you old married farts! I love ya. You deserve a metal for putting up with me this long, but I hope you will just settle for pretty pictures of delicious tarts.

Milk Jam Chocolate Hazelnut Tarts
Makes six 4-inch tarts
Inspired by Sweet Tartelette

For the crust:
1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
6 tbsp very cold butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 large egg yolk
2-3 tbsp cold milk

For the milk jam:
1 ¾ cups 2% milk
2 tbsp 35% whipping cream 
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

For the chocolate ganache:
5 oz dark chocolate (minimum 54% cocoa solids), finely chopped
pinch of salt
1/3 cup 35% whipping cream
2 oz (about ½ cup) whole hazelnuts

To make the pastry, whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and toss to coat in flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or your clean fingers, cut or rub butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. The butter should be mostly dispersed with some larger, pea-sized pieces remaining. Whisk egg yolk well with water in a small bowl and drizzle into flour mixture while gently stirring with a fork. Continue to stir until dry ingredients are moistened and it holds together in clumps. Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and bring it together in a ball with your hands, turning it frequently and pressing in loose bits until it is cohesive. Shape dough into a disk, wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

To make the milk jam, place milk, cream, sugar and baking soda in a heavy bottomed 5-quart saucepot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Watch it carefully as it will bubble up and boil over quickly and uncontrollably if it gets too hot. When the mixture is boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer until thick as jam, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. When it begins to get thick, stir often. Remove from heat, stir in salt, pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool completely.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to just over 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out six 5-inch circles and fit each round into a 4-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. You can either use a 5-inch round cookie cutter or trace the circumference of a tart pan with a knife keeping about ½-inch extra all the way around. Refrigerate until firm.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Prick pastry all over with a fork and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack. 

To toast hazelnuts, spread them on a baking sheet and bake at 375°F for 7 minutes, shaking pan half-way through.

To make the ganache filling, place chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Combine cream and salt in a small saucepot over medium-low heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour over chocolate. Let stand 2 minutes and then slowly stir using a rubber spatula until completely melted and smooth. If chocolate is not completely melted, place bowl over a double boiler and heat gently until melted. 

When ready to assemble, spread about 2 tablespoons of milk jam on the bottom of each tart. Scatter about 6 or 7 hazelnuts over the jam and then spoon warm ganache over it to cover completely. Coarsely chop the reserved hazelnuts and sprinkle on top. Server immediately or let cool until ganache is set and serve chilled!

Cinnamon Caramel Blondies

Sometimes in my kitchen I stick to the predictable. You know- recipes directly from the Martha Stewart website that are tried and true and reliable. Other times, I take those predictable recipes and decide to add a twist to it. One in awhile it works well and I feel like a culinary magician- other times I ruin everything and wish I never messed with Martha.

I have to say that this one was culinary magic. These blondies are some of the most delicious things I've ever tasted. They are gooey, chewy, and sweet with a crispy top and crust. The caramel filling is a perfect surprise and the cinnamon sugar is extra special.  I made a huge batch of these and took them to the offices of my new agency. I think they like me a little more now. (I swear, baked goods make EVERYONE like you.) :)

These are basically the child of my Snickerdoodle Blondies and my Caramel-stuffed Snickerdoodles. I had originally envisioned the caramel oozing out all gooey like, but that didn't happen. The batter is VERY thick, so I ended up having to almost swirl the layers together. Needless to say it turned out so much better than I could have imagined. Everyone loved these and I know this is a recipe I'll keep case I want more people to like me :)

PS- Anyone live in Maine? I just booked a role in a play at The Maine Public theatre later in the fall! Very excited. I hope they have a well-stocked kitchen. :)

Cinnamon Caramel Blondies
Print this Recipe
Yield: 24 blondies
2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 14 oz bag of caramels unwrapped
1/3 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan; set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl; set aside.
3. Beat together the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla. Beat, scraping the bowl, until thoroughly combined. On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture until just combined. Give the dough a final stir with a spatula or wooden spoon to make sure the flour is incorporated.
4. Spread half of  the dough evenly into the pan (It is going to be a thick batter so you may need  greased spatula to help with this).
5. Heat the caramels and cream in a saucepan over medium-high heat until thick and melted.
6. Pour the caramel sauce over the batter.
7. Distribute the remaining batter as evenly as possible over the caramel. (I found I needed to get my hands dirty for this. I grabbed pieces of dough and flattened it out over the caramel. Do the best you can! If there are areas that aren't totally covered it's OK. It makes it look swirly and fancy.)
8. Combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the surface springs back when gently pressed. Cool completely before cutting. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


italian picnic sandwich
30 minutes   40 minutes plus set time

i large focaccia, sliced the length of the middle
Mezzetta Home-Style Basil Pesto
olive tapenade, made with Mezzetta Kalamata Olives and Mezzetta Marini Olives
1 lb. cappacola
1  lb. dry salami
1  lb. sliced mozzarella
Mezzetta Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Mezzetta Roasted Bell Peppers
Mezzetta peperoncinis, on the side, Mezzetta Artichoke Hearts, or both!

Open focaccia and spread with Mezzetta Home-Style Basil Pesto on both sides. Spread a generous layer of tapenade over pesto.   Layer cappacola, salami and mozzarella over face of bread.  Evenly layer Mezetta Sun-Dried Tomatoe and Mezetta Roasted Bell Peppers over meat and cheese layer.  Place top of focaccia on sandwich and wrap tightly.  I like to wrap with parchment paper and then with plastic wrap.  Alow sand wich to sit 1/2 hour or more to allow flavors to blend.  Leave wrapped to cut.  Travels well and makes plenty.

Tapenade -
place equal amounts of Mezetta Kalamata Olives and Mezetta Martini Olives (you can use a flavored olive if you wish) in food processor and pulse until evenly chopped and blended.

You can also use your favorite Italian salad dressing as a dipping sauce, or to make a wetter sandwich.

I usually serve this sandwich cold, if your feeling frisky or it's cold outside and you want to serve this with soup, instead of pasta, or potato salad, pop in in a hot (400 degree) oven for 15-20 minutes.

Curried Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup

This thick and hearty soup is packed with spicy flavor. Get it going, then call a friend or spend some time with the kids while it simmers.
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 12 ounces each), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 large stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large onion (12 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon grated, peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 package (16 ounces) dry lentils, rinsed and picked through
6 cups water
Yogurt, toasted coconut, lime wedges (optional)
1. In 6-quart Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add the sweet potatoes, celery, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, curry powder, ginger, cumin, coriander, salt, and ground red pepper; cook, stirring, 1 minute.
2. To vegetables in Dutch oven, add broth, lentils, and water; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Serve with yogurt, toasted coconut, and lime wedges, if you like.
Serve as a side to Barbecue Pork Sandwiches.

Read more:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Converting Recipes to Metric Measures...

Converting Recipes to Metric Measures

The instructions and tables presented below will walk the reader through converting a recipe to metric measures. It is important to note that these conversions only work with U.S. recipes. Customary measures like cups, pints, quarts, and gallons mean different things in different countries. For example, if you try to convert a British or Australian recipe to metric using these instructions, it may flop.
For the sake of keeping things simple, I have slightly rounded off the measurements stated below. All conversions should be sufficiently accurate for all recipes. For exact conversions, see the Appendices.

Liquids (and Herbs and Spices)

Liquids can be converted to liters or milliliters with the following table. Small volumes (less than about 1 fluid ounce or 2 tablespoons) of ingredients such as salt, herbs, spices, baking powder, etc. should also be converted with this table. Do not use this table to convert other non-liquid ingredients.
Volume Conversions: Normally used for liquids only
Customary quantityMetric equivalent
1 teaspoon5 mL
1 tablespoon or 1/2 fluid ounce15 mL
1 fluid ounce or 1/8 cup30 mL
1/4 cup or 2 fluid ounces60 mL
1/3 cup80 mL
1/2 cup or 4 fluid ounces120 mL
2/3 cup160 mL
3/4 cup or 6 fluid ounces180 mL
1 cup or 8 fluid ounces or half a pint240 mL
1 1/2 cups or 12 fluid ounces350 mL
2 cups or 1 pint or 16 fluid ounces475 mL
3 cups or 1 1/2 pints700 mL
4 cups or 2 pints or 1 quart950 mL
4 quarts or 1 gallon3.8 L
Note: In cases where higher precision is not justified, it
may be convenient to round these conversions off as follows:
  1 cup = 250 mL
  1 pint = 500 mL
  1 quart = 1 L
  1 gallon = 4 L


Weights can be converted with the following table. Note that the ounces referred to in this table are not the same as fluid ounces.
Weight Conversions
Customary quantityMetric equivalent
1 ounce28 g
4 ounces or 1/4 pound113 g
1/3 pound150 g
8 ounces or 1/2 pound230 g
2/3 pound300 g
12 ounces or 3/4 pound340 g
1 pound or 16 ounces450 g
2 pounds900 g

Other non-liquid ingredients

Non-liquid ingredients specified in American recipes by volume (if more than about 2 tablespoons or 1 fluid ounce) should be converted to weight with the following table. If you need to convert an ingredient that isn't in this table, the safest thing to do is to measure it with a traditional measuring cup and then weigh the results with a metric scale. In a pinch, you can use the volume conversion table, above.
Weights of common ingredients in grams
Ingredient1 cup3/4 cup2/3 cup1/2 cup1/3 cup1/4 cup2 Tbsp
Flour, all purpose (wheat)120 g90 g80 g60 g40 g30 g15 g
Flour, well sifted all purpose (wheat)110 g80 g70 g55 g35 g27 g13 g
Sugar, granulated cane200 g150 g130 g100 g65 g50 g25 g
Confectioner's sugar (cane)100 g75 g70 g50 g35 g25 g13 g
Brown sugar, packed firmly (but not too firmly)180 g135 g120 g90 g60 g45 g23 g
Corn meal160 g120 g100 g80 g50 g40 g20 g
Corn starch120 g90 g80 g60 g40 g30 g15 g
Rice, uncooked190 g140 g125 g95 g65 g48 g24 g
Macaroni, uncooked140 g100 g90 g70 g45 g35 g17 g
Couscous, uncooked180 g135 g120 g90 g60 g45 g22 g
Oats, uncooked quick90 g65 g60 g45 g30 g22 g11 g
Table salt300 g230 g200 g150 g100 g75 g40 g
Butter240 g180 g160 g120 g80 g60 g30 g
Vegetable shortening190 g140 g125 g95 g65 g48 g24 g
Chopped fruits and vegetables150 g110 g100 g75 g50 g40 g20 g
Nuts, chopped150 g110 g100 g75 g50 g40 g20 g
Nuts, ground120 g90 g80 g60 g40 g30 g15 g
Bread crumbs, fresh, loosely packed60 g45 g40 g30 g20 g15 g8 g
Bread crumbs, dry150 g110 g100 g75 g50 g40 g20 g
Parmesan cheese, grated90 g65 g60 g45 g30 g22 g11 g


Lengths may be converted with the following table. Keep in mind that 1 cm = 10 mm.
Length Conversions
Customary quantityMetric equivalent
1/8 inch3 mm
1/4 inch6 mm
1/2 inch13 mm
3/4 inch19 mm
1 inch2.5 cm
2 inches5 cm
3 inches7.6 cm
4 inches10 cm
5 inches13 cm
6 inches15 cm
7 inches18 cm
8 inches20 cm
9 inches23 cm
10 inches25 cm
11 inches28 cm
12 inches or 1 foot30 cm


The following converter (below) will convert back and forth between °C and °F. Just enter a number in either field, then click outside the text box. Round off the results appropriately.

Finishing up

Now that you've converted all measurements to metric, you may want to consult the style guide before sharing or publishing your recipe.