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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Little Late To The Party - Mint Jelly Done Right

Last weekend I made mint jelly. Not that bright green overly sweet kind you find in the grocery store, but the kind that's meltingly sweet and acidic at the same time, and an honest golden glow-y color that comes from combining only mint, vinegar, apples and sugar.

I made four jars and I'm already worried that's not enough.

I found the brilliant recipe on Simply Recipes, with great instructions and photos, and what drew me to it was the opportunity to create Apple Pectin, something I had been considering for all my jams this year.

the mush that becomes pectin

wow a lot of pectin!

luxurious texture

If you're a lamb lover, and if you grew up with mint jelly on the table, give this recipe a try. It's dead easy and a great introduction to jelly making and working with all-natural pectin.

this is a great boil - what you want for jelly.

cool 2-3 min. then skim & boil again


Yes, late to the party again, I just discovered the Tigress Can Jam and this is my contribution to the April Can Jam - canning with herbs. And can't wait to play with all the other canners via the Tigress' fun Can Jam this season.

And while I'm joining things, I'm also signing up for the Canvolution - a rockin' great group that collects great information about canning and last year posted stories from all across the country of CANNING PARTIES! I am so into this. Anyone else? I'm thinking August 15th? Are you in?

If you're not able to be in DC, you could host your own party. We could even Skype it.

Summer's coming. Let's Can.

Monday, April 26, 2010

In The Spotlight

I am delighted and overwhelmed to be featured on Food52 today. Here's the link.

Thanks, Amanda & Merrill - for putting together such a wonderful community of home cooks. I feel like I've got a bunch of great new friends and it's been ages since I turned to a cookbook for inspiration. I'd much rather click over to Food52.

Monday, April 19, 2010

More About Bake Sales

Saturday morning, 8am: I left the house with a car-full of goodies I'd baked for the DC Food Bloggers Bake Sale. A few local bloggers gathered resources and baked away - all for a wonderful organization called Share Our Strength. Read all about the fantastic results here, on this great blog from Colleen, our first-rate organizer.
Hard working DC food bloggers early Saturday morning!

It felt great to put my energy into baking for a cause. This is the first time I've participated in an event like this. I don't have kids, so never had to make cupcakes for a kindergarten class, or offer brownies to the soccer team. I've gotta say - I liked it a lot. And then, I got email and a comment here from folks who bought the granola. Talk about a great feeling. Affirmation! Is there anything better?

So, when Phoebe and Cara, the brains behind the brilliant Big Girls, Small Kitchen - asked me to participate in their Virtual Bake Sale for The Valerie Fund - supporting research for pediatric cancer - I was ready and willing to do what I could.

Phoebe & Cara have collaborated with Baking for Good to raise funds. (BFG is a fantastic site that sells yummy artisan-made baked goods, and returns 15% of every purchase to the cause of your choice.) So, help us out - it's easy and delicious - Phoebe & Cara's mouthwatering Peanut M&M Blondies are available for sale now. I'm thinking they'd be great snacks for your kids in college - after all, exam season is coming up.

And, in the meantime, if you're called upon to bring something to a bake sale, might I suggest these easy recipes:

Granola - I made this nutty mix, as well as pecan, cranberry, crystalized ginger; walnut, blueberry; and, dried cherry, chocolate chip, and toasted almond. I used Chinese take out boxes from The Container Store for a 12oz package.
crummy photo - it was late at night!

Puppy Biscuits - These are Dylan-approved. And little mini-dog bones are a great giveaway! Lure the dog owners!
Fregolattas - I adore this cookie/tart. It's a recipe from Gourmet that I've made for years. For the Bake Sale, I made 6" tarts in paper pans. Tripling the recipe made 12 tarts. I used my homemade raspberry jam, which I think made all the difference.

Here's the embarassing part. I forgot to take a picture of the finished product.

from Gourmet, 2002

equipment: 10" tart pan with removable bottom

6 oz butter, softened
1/3 c sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 c flour
1/3 c raspberry jam
1/3 c sliced almonds

Beat together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Beat in extract and salt.
Add flour and mix until just combined.
Reserve half the dough, wrap in plastic and chill. Press remainder into the pan, evenly across the bottom and up the sides. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350·
Spread preserved over the bottom of the tart shell, then crumble the reserved dough over the preservse.
Sprinkle with almonds.
Bake in the middle of the oven until golden brown, about 40 minutes.
Cool tart in the pan, on a rack, then remove the side of the pan.

Serve warm, or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream.

"Where do you think you're going with all those dog biscuits?"

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Updated Class Schedule

Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Kitchen Cooking Classes
Summer Schedule

Class size is limited to six.

Saturday, July 10 12 - 3 Basics of Canning: Pickles
Dilly beans, Kosher dills, Sweet Pickle Chunks
Students will take away canned goods they have made.

Saturday, July 17 12 - 3 Basics of Canning: Jams & Chutneys
Students will take away canned goods they have made.

Sunday, July 25 12-3 Main Dish Salads
Salade Nicoise, Bistro Frisee Salad, Arugula Salad with Sliced Steak

Sunday, August 8 12 - 3 DINNER PARTY: Indian Flavors
Samosas, Saag Paneer, Vegetable Curry, Chicken Masala, Jasmine Rice, Dessert TBD

Tomato Canning classes will be held in late August or early September.

Please email to make a reservation.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bake Sale! Bake Sale!

I'm running around in typical Mrs. Wheelbarrow fashion. It's landscape season, so I'm crazy busy with garden design and installations.

But this weekend's Share Our Strength Bake Sale, to be held at Eastern Market on Saturday, April 17th, has me setting aside time to do some baking.


I'm thrilled to be joining so many DC Food Bloggers in supporting this important organization. I'm making granola, dog biscuits and some other things, too. I promise to post recipes or links as soon as I've finished the baking, the bake sale, the class I'm teaching on Saturday, and a few thousand other things.

Come down to Eastern Market on Saturday morning and try some of the goodies all the bloggers are baking.

Until then! xoCathy

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mexican Bean Soup

Goodness, Spring has come on fast. It's crazy hot here, suddenly (90°!) and every bulb in my yard is open at the same time. It's so abundant.
I'm swamped with landscape work, barely cooking and when I am cooking, I'm relying on the old standbys like Vegetable Pie and Roast Chicken. Laundry is piling up. Messages on the voicemail, stacks of unopened mail, unanswered emails... this is what Spring brings.
My Kitchenaid stand mixer died. Here's my new baby. Isn't she pretty?
The first thing I did was make these gorgeous macarons.
Then I made some raviolis (I don't have the ravioli attachment, but I do have the pasta roller, which makes ravioli a snap.)
But really, the best thing I made lately was Mexican Bean Soup. When we were in Mexico in February, we fell in love with the bean soup served at 100% Restaurant in Playa del Carmen. I'm not sure this was anything like that soup - after all it's been a few weeks - but it was so delicious, I made it again two days later.

For this particular batch, I used Rancho Gordo's Sangre de Toro red beans, smaller than pinto beans, and a little firmer. Pintos would also work perfectly. I took a hint from the Borrachos I love so much from LastNightsDinner, adding beer and Mexican oregano to the soup.
It's easy, filling, and oh so tasty. Since the beans are already cooked, this whole dish comes together in about 40 minutes. Some warm corn tortillas make a nice addition for a simple meal.
I'll be back in a few days. I've got two classes coming up, a few landscape designs to finish, and my own yard to tend, but before long, it's going to be time to make rhubarb strawberry jam. CanORama! Start looking around for local, farm market rhubarb and little local strawberries. You'll need 2-1/2 lbs. of each. And six 1/2-pint jars, lids and rings.

Playa del Carmen Bean Soup

3 c cooked red or pinto beans
1 onions
1 garlic cloves
1 lime - zest and juice
1 ancho chili
1 chili arbol
2 t dried Mexican oregano
1 dark beer (I used Guinness, but Negra Modelo would be better)
2 T tomato paste
4 c chicken broth, preferably homemade

Garnishes: avocado, creme fraiche, toasted poblano strips, squeeze of lime, scallions, sriracha, pickled jalapeno

For this recipe, your beans should be already cooked. I've written about my method here.
Toast the poblano and arbol chilis very quickly. Do not burn, just slightly warm and soften.
Remove seeds and stem and rough chop both peppers. Set aside a few strips of the poblano.
Add everything into the soup pot and cook, covered, for about 30 minutes at a low simmer.
Puree in batches in the blender. Reheat and serve.
Garnish as you see fit.