Crabapple Jelly

Crabapple Jelly

I think I just finished making a jar of crabapple jelly. I guess I will find out if it worked out tomorrow once it has had time to set up. In the meantime, however, it looks very pretty. And sometimes, in this world, being pretty is enough.

It is, ostensibly, cranberry jelly with rosemary and juniper; although I’m not sure that the resinousness particularly shines through, from what I have tasted so far.

Take your crabapples, cut in half, get rid of the flowery endy bit, and the stalk. Place in a pot. Add enough water to cover by a little bit (although they do float. so I guess enough water so that there’s a little underneath). I had not much more than a single layer in a large pot. Then, forget to add juniper berries and rosemary. If I was doing this again, I would attempt to not forget the juniper berries and rosemary.

Cook the crabapples until they’re soft, then squish them up a bit. My kitchen is woefully under equipped, so I used my wooden spoon. A potato masher, or anything with more of a flat edge than a wooden spoon would work much better, I am sure.

Then, place the mashed up fruit along with all of the water into a jelly straining bag. I bought a jelly straining bad because it seemed important. In retrospect, a piece of cloth in a strainer would have probably worked fine. Leave it to strain for a while, until it stops being drippy.

Once that’s done, put the drippies into a pot, along with the same volume of sugar. If you forgot to add juniper berries and rosemary earlier, add these too. I had about 8 juniper berries, along with a stalk of rosemary.

Heat it up until it starts to boil. When it’s looking like it’s getting close to boiling, start hauling out berries and rosemary; because it gets harder the more everything is moving around (p.s. this is why you should try and remember to add the juniper/rosemary at the start).

Boil it until it reaches the “gel stage”. I’m a little fuzzy on what the “gel stage” really entails. However, I dutifully placed a puddle of the jelly on to a cold plate and placed it back in the freezer. After a minute or so, when you push at the edge of the puddle, it should get wrinkled. I had the requisite wrinkling, but I’m not sure if it was okay that the wrinkles dispersed. Oh well, I guess I’ll find out if it sets / turns into candy / is a liquid, tomorrow.

Once you’re pretty sure you’ve made it to the gel stage, transfer to a jar. I am a preserves cowboy, so I make no attempt at making these sorts of things shelf stable, and leave this kind of thing in the fridge; but I hear there are more steps you should take. This is not the place to find them.

I Will Miss Summer When It Ends

Celebration

I usually buy one of these when I’m at the markets. At Jean-Talon, at least, there are usually several vendors who sell them (and at least one at Atwater, also. Although the one I got from there cost twice as much. Ouch). Having a selection of all sorts of berries is such a marvelous thing, indeed.

In New Zealand, I am accustomed to a punnet of raspberries or blackberries costing around about NZ$5 (blueberries and strawberries are much more reasonable; and there aren’t a lot of gooseberries about). So it’s completely amazing to be able to get so many delicious berries for so little money – That tray was a whole CA$4.

I’ve probably eaten more raspberries and blackberries in the past two months than I have in, gosh, probably the past eight years; and quite possibly longer.

Unrecipe: Rhubarb and Strawberries

Rhubarb&Strawberries

I had rhubarb in my fridge, and I had strawberries a little past their prime in my fridge; so I made rhubarb and strawberries!

The unrecipe is to chop rhubarb (about 5 stalks, in my case) into bits and put at the bottom of a saucepan and give it a sprinkling with a couple of tablespoons caster sugar (Normal sugar would probably work just as well; but I perceive the colour of rhubarb being nicer when I use caster sugar). Add just a little bit of water – a couple millimeters deep, so that the rhubarb has a chance to let go of it’s juice before burning becomes a problem.

In unrecipe land, I put quartered strawberries on top; and everything worked out fine.

In hindsight land, give the rhubarb a head start (over medium heat) before adding quartered strawberries.

In either case, cook the fruit over a medium heat until it’s pretty and pink; and the rhubarb has softened up.

Yum yum yum.

Ginger Poached Pears with Vanilla Custard and Walnut Praline

Pears w/ custard and praline

This was dessert last night. It is pears, halved and poached in a simple-syrup with ginger; sitting on vanilla custard with walnut praline in the cored holes of the pears. I served it in wide Martini glasses (they’re oh so pretty, but so easy to spill your drink out of); and it tasted even better than it looks.

For The Pears
I halved and cored four pears (handy hint: use a melon baller to do the coring); and put them in a wide saute pan with one cup of sugar and about four cups of water (enough to cover most of the pears), along with a finger of peeled ginger sliced up. The pears were then cooked over a low heat for an hour, being flipped over every twenty minutes or so.

For the Custard
I have a favourite custard recipe (: It’s nice and reliable, so I haven’t investigated others. I use the custard part of this recipe for Mille Feuille; but instead of orange blossom water, I added vanilla essence (I use the Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon pure vanilla essence. It’s..magical..when the bottle is opened).

For the Praline
I covered the bottom of a small saucepan with sugar, and added just enough water to dissolve the sugar. Before you start cooking the praline, it’s important to have somewhere to put it when you’re finished (: Usually, I’d use a silicon baking sheet; but alas, my one has seen better days. Instead, I used a sheet of baking paper inside a roasting pan. This is the caramel cooling zone.
I heated the sugar+water over medium heat until it turned amber; then added a handful of walnut pieces. Next, jiggle the syrup around so all of the walnut pieces are covered. Then, pour the caramel on to your caramel-cooling-zone.
Give the praline 10-15 minutes to cool down and solidify. Once it has hardened; break it into smaller pieces, then use a pestle (pounding stick from a mortar and pestle) to reduce it down to little pieces.

To Assemble
Place the custard in the bottom of glasses. Put the pear halves on top of that. Fill the cored holes with praline.

Woo!

Consumption

We had great delivery food for dinner! It does produce a lot of garbage, though.

We ordered in pizza and tiramisu (for me, at least) from Pizza Pomordoro. Last time, we ordered a Carne off the menu; this time, we opted for what was effectively a Pollo without avocado but with pepperoni.

Pizza was delicious – they are cooked in a manuka-fueled wood oven; and the tiramisu was also gorgeous.

Yum.

Pastry Cushions

Cushions.. Made from pastry! Genius.

This evening, we had pies for dinner. Round pies. Cutting round pie-lids from square pastry involves pastry offcuts. Delicious pastry offcuts.

This is the edges, cut into squares, placed into a woven lattice arrangement, brushed with butter, sprinkled with sugar; and baked in a 200C oven for about 15 minutes.

It’s a little bit on the bland side, though; but well suited to eating with ice-cream.

Melting Moments

Mmm. Delicious baked goods.

200g butter, creamed with 3/4 cup icing sugar; then add 1 cup cornflour, 1 cup ordinary flour and a 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, and mix to combine.

When the flour is being mixed in, it seems to get a little bit clumpy, then it gets all grainy; but keep on mixing, because it’ll come back together again.

Roll into little balls, squish with a fork, and cook for 20 minutes at 180C. Once cool, smoosh two biscuits together with icing.