The most magical recipes for me are not multi-day production numbers that require precise techniques or special equipment nor are they filled with unusual and expensive ingredients; but they the joyous process of turning a few simple items into something sublime.
A visit to my parents house used to involve long conversations of what we will cook, bake, and drink. Their house was always filled with family and friends and FOOD. Now the menu includes a lot of take-out meals and simple suppers. Illness and the exhaustion call for streamlining and shifting priorities but there is still always love at the table. Dad still likes to bake but his energy does not always hold out through the entire project so we decided to work together in the tiny kitchen. I also promised my Mom that there would be no huge mess to clean up nor as she used to call it when we were kids “a production number”.
The hot weather made me think of the Summer days to come and warm ripe peaches so I decided to make some peach muffins. The new crop of California peaches would have to do until later when the orchards in New England bring forth their sweet stone fruits.
The recipe we used is the muffin recipe I keep in my head which only requires one bowl, a measuring cup, and a few minutes of work. It is perfect for making a quick batch before work or school or for last-minute brunch guests and fruit can be changed to match the season. They came out delicious but the real treat was cooking with my Dad who taught me how to bake. Dad points out with sweet peaches the sugar should be cut down a bit which is reflected in recipe below.
Peach Preview Muffins
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
5 Tablespoons butter (melted)
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or a few drops of almond extract
dash of cinnamon
2/3 cup peaches peeled, pitted, chopped in small chunks
Sliced almonds to sprinkle on top (optional)
Extra butter or cooking spray for muffin tin
Heat the oven to 350 degrees
Grease a muffin tin with butter or cooking spray
Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon in a medium bowl
Melt butter in microwave in a 2 cup measuring cup
Add buttermilk, vanilla, and then eggs to the melted butter and blend with a fork
Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined
Stir in the peaches gently
Scoop into muffin tin and bake for 15 minutes until risen and golden
Makes 10 small muffins or 6 jumbo muffins
I started this blog to share recipes from my kitchen and mostly that is what I will still be doing here. Once in a while I will share news about my little jam company, Doves and Figs and perhaps a few other places and products that I love. Our website is www.dovesandfigs.com and I would love to have you visit anytime but it will be even more exciting in a month or so when we add our online shop! We have been getting wonderful notices in the press most recently from the Arlington Advocate and the Improper Bostonian. In the meantime, you can order jam by emailing or calling us and check out our Jam Nest for prices, flavors, and contact info.
This June we will be exhibiting at the Fancy Food Show in NYC for the first time. I attended this huge food business show last year and so I know what we are in for and will be bringing plenty of delicious jams for buyers to sample.
In July it will be just two years since we sold our first jar of jam at the Winchester Farmers Market. I made a big stack of 12-jar cases (much more jam then I had ever made at one time before) and hoped to sell them over the course of the summer at Winchester and Arlington markets. I remember saying to my hubby that I hoped to sell a least 6 jars at that first market. He advised me to bring every single jar I had made; I advised him that he was nuts. We did not bring any jars home!
A great market season led to getting a wholesale license and selling in wonderful stores from cheese and gourmet shops to produce shops to boutiques and gift stores with more exciting places coming on all the time.
I would love to know any ideas you have for places that should carry our jam, flavors that we should make, or recipes you have made with our jam that you would like to share. Please leave us a comment here or on Twitter @dovesandfigs or on our facebook page. Thanks and keeping on spreading the local jam love!
We now return to our regularly scheduled blogging from my kitchen for more recipes…
With Passover coming early, I thought I would try out a few recipes in advance. This one is not so much a recipe as an idea. It was inspired by a several pretty creations I saw on the Internet.
Make any Passover friendly recipe for deviled eggs (I added a bit of horseradish to mine) and then arrange them with green onions, watercress, dill, and radishes to form flowers and buds. What a lovely dish this would make for a Passover (or Easter) brunch!
We eat a lot of fish in our house and we are always looking for ways to make this dinner staple more interesting. As an artisan jam maker the one thing we always have plenty of in our house is a large selection of tasty preserves. So I began pairing some of our sweet and savory Fall and Winter conserves and fruit mustards with seafood and came up with some delicious combinations.
When I heard there was going to be a seafood throw down contest at one of the local farmers markets where we sell our jam, I had to share my recipes. One of our flavors, a spicy orange marmalade called South Beach Sizzle was even selected by one of the competitors to be used in their dish. So here are a few pairings you might like to try and I will post more ideas when the summer flavors arrive:
Coat a boneless cod filet with Cranberry Fruit Mustard and a sprinkle of panko breadcrumbs. Place in a lightly oiled shallow baking dish and roast at 350 degrees until the fish is cooked through.
Falling Leaves fig, apple, cranberry conserve fills baked trout with a rich earthy flavor. Take 2 cleaned and prepared whole trout and lay each on a lightly oiled square of foil. Slice and saute a medium sweet onion in a little olive oil until tender. Spread about a tablespoon of Falling Leaves on the inside of each fish. Layer in the sautéed onions. Add a small sprig of rosemary and drizzle with some lemon juice. Wrap the foil around the fish and cook at 400 degrees until cooked through (about 15 minutes).
Make a delightful appetizer by serving grilled shrimp with a dipping sauce of South Beach Sizzle – our spicy orange marmalade.
Salmon and orange marmalade are a match made in heaven. Mix a few tablespoons of Orange Blossom Express blood orange and Meyer lemon marmalade with some dried dill and a teaspoon of hot water. Sear the salmon in a very hot pan, turn the heat to medium and add a splash of white wine. When the salmon is nearly done, glaze with the marmalade and cook for a few minutes and serve.
With the delicious flavors of horseradish and dill, our Spring! conserve makes a great topping for grilled swordfish and other grilled fish steaks. Simply grill the fish until done and top immediately with a few spoons of Spring!.
Sea scallops get a warm smoky heat when paired with Evil Apple our spicy apple and chipotle conserve. Sear Scallops in a mix of butter and oil a very hot pan. Serve imediately over fresh greens with a dollop of Evil Apple on each scallop.
Poor brown-spotted banana sitting all alone in the big produce bowl in my kitchen. What can I do with such a sad little fellow? We always seem to leave a banana behind as everyone grabs for one a the peak of their favorite ripeness and then my family grows sick of that fruit and moves on to oranges, apples, or whatever graces the fruit bowl. For a time, I skinned and wrapped the leftovers and tossed them in the freezer in hopes of collecting them later and making a recipe. The only thing I ended up doing later on was throwing out freezer-burnt bags of mush of unknown vintage. So I had this one banana and I was hungry for breakfast so I made Lonely Banana Walnut Muffins.
Here is the recipe and it should be mixed by hand with a fork (no need for the heavy machinery here!). If you like whole wheat flour that will work fine. If you would rather use brown sugar-go ahead. No buttermilk-no problem use whole milk. Keep this recipe handy and honor the lonely banana!
Lonely Banana Muffins
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 very ripe banana
1/2 Stick butter
1/4 cup butter milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
pinch of ground cinnamon
6 cup muffin tin and no-stick spray or a bit of butter to grease the pan
Melt butter in a two-cup measuring cup or a small bowl (measuring cup is great because you can use it to gather all the wet ingredients and pour into the dry later). In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon and stir with a fork. To the melted butter add buttermilk, egg, banana and mash the mixture together with a fork. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry and stir with (you guessed it) a fork. If there are little lumps and no flour showing when you finish mixing, you have done it right. Stir in the walnuts gently. Pour into muffin tin and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until risen and nicely brown.
My friends are beginning to worry. My family is grows more concerned each time they hear the mixer running. They long to call someone for help but all that comes out of their mouths is nommmmummm because they are stuffed with fluffy marshmallows. I made the first batch of marshmallows a few months ago and now I can’t stop. I am even turning others on to my obsession by sharing the recipe. The vanilla marshmallows were ever so tasty but then came pink swirled peppermint, followed by mocha,chocolate-dipped, zesty lemon and orange, cocoa, marshmallow cream, mallomar-like cookies, marshmallows shaped like ducks and pigs, and geese, and for Valentine’s Day tart and sweet raspberry marshmallow hearts.
There are many recipes available in books and on-line for basic marshmallows but I was interested in making the type that uses egg whites and I wanted to try to make them without corn syrup. I tried substituting golden syrup, which is made from cane sugar, and it worked perfectly. I share the recipe below but I warn you; yo may not be able to stop making them…
Lightly spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
Place 2 cups sugar, 3/4 cup water, and 1 tablespoon golden syrup in a heavy bottom pan. Heat gently and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Raise heat to medium and stop stirring. Place a candy thermometer in the pan and heat to 255 degrees.
In the top of a double boiler (or a bowl over a pot of water), pour 3/4 cup water. Sprinkle the contents of four envelopes of unflavored gelatin over the water and allow to stand for a few minutes. Heat until the gelatin liquefies.
In a stand mixer, beat 2 egg whites with 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar until stiff but not dry
Once the sugar syrup reaches 255 degrees, combine the warm gelatin mixture with the hot sugar syrup and pour into the beaten egg whites while beating on high. Add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Beat for about 10 minutes until the mixture begins to get very thick. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and allow to stand at room temperature for at least three hours.
Mix 1/2 cup of confectionery sugar with 3 tablespoons corn starch. Dust a cutting board with the mix and turn marshmallows out onto the board. Cut in strips with a sharp knife or pizza cutter and dust each cut side with the sugar and corn starch mix. Cut the strips into pieces and dust the cut sides. Store in an air tight container.