Doves and Figs Cranberry Fruit Mustard was the inspiration for this beautifully simple salad with dressed with cranberry mustard vinaigrette and topped with dried cranberries and crumbled goat cheese. I love dishes that span the seasons and this salad would be perfect for a hot Summer day lunch but would also be delightful as part of a Thanksgiving diner.
For the greens, I like to use Boston lettuce or other tender head lettuce. Rinse the lettuce and instead of tearing the leaves, turn the head upside down and cut out the stem/core carefully. You can now place the whole head in a shallow bowl. It will look like a flower.
To make the dressing take a mason jar and add two teaspoons of Cranberry Fruit Mustard. Pour in 1/2 cup of good olive oil and 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Shake well and pour over greens (It is fun to do that step in front of your guest at diner). Sprinkle dried cranberries and crumbled goat cheese and serve right away.
This is a story of family and food and love. My father’s mother, my grandma Julia, had five sisters; my great aunts Jenny, Anna, Helen, Mimi, and Lulu. My Dad learned to cook, bake and preserve from the wonderful women in his family and from my grandfather, who was a butcher.
As a very young girl, I spent the early mornings while my mom and brother slept, with my daddy. In this quiet time he shared the secrets of the kitchen; separating eggs, mixing the lightest batter, transforming ordinary berries into glistening preserves and syrups, or stuffing a sausage and corning a beef brisket. I was enchanted and have never wanted to leave this magical world.
Dad told me that my Aunt Jenny taught herself to make pickles because my Uncle Bill hated garlic and all of the pickles at the market had garlic. Also Jenny made an amazing spread that everyone loved from simple ingredients of dried and canned fruit.
At some point years later we noticed that Dad’s hand began to shake. I remember the awful day when my mom and dad told me that dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. We all spoke of treatments and how we were sure that it would all be OK. However over time this cruel disease robbed dad of his joys of working in my parents antique business, roller blading, photography, and cooking.
As dad’s health declined, we spent a lot of time talking about family stories and recipes. There was something very calming and familiar for him to talk about things like his mother’s huckleberry pie (it was so good that it made him come home early from vacation when he heard she was baking one) and my Aunt Jenny’s delicious apricot and pineapple jam. When I asked him for the recipe for the jam he was not sure how to make it but said he would know it when he tasted it.
Experimentation and tidbits of information; “they must be California sun dried apricots” he remembered her saying, helped us recreate the recipe. I made a few jars and dad took one bite and declared it a success. We recruited my cousins, Aunt Jenny’s children as taste testers and got a rousing approval.
My Dad, Sidney Cohen, was taken from us a little over a year ago and I miss him terribly. He was not the sort for a big fuss and would not have liked any kind of grand celebration or some award done in his name but I wanted honor his memory.
We have made a special vintage recipe version of our Aunt Jenny’s Jam for sale online and at our markets. I will be contributing 10% of the total sales for this jam for the rest of the year to Parkinson’s research. I hope this bright sunny spread will be a delight for my family to share with yours and the money raised with help in some small part to reduce suffering and lead to a cure.
Purchase Aunt Jenny’s Jam
After all the indulgences of the holidays, many people turn to lighter and healthier dishes. For me it is too hard a transition from rich, spice-filled baked goods to salad for dinner and an apple for dessert. After the decorations were put away and the New Years toasts were over, I kept thinking about making a delicious baked treat that carried over the flavors of the holidays in a healthier package. Finding a use for one lonely left-over roasted sweet potato was my inspiration for a dense, moist, low-fat Sweet Potato Fruit Cake that fit the bill. I hope you will get some sweet potatoes at the farmers market soon and roast them for supper and save a few for making a delicious dessert.
Sweet Potato Fruit Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup roasted sweet potato (skinned and mashed)
2/3 cup skim milk
2 eggs (or egg substitute)
1/2 cup canned crushed pineapple (drained)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon minced candied ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground star anise
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Roast two medium sweet potatoes until tender (about 45 minutes)
Peel and mash potatoes
Potatoes can be prepared a day ahead
Set oven to 350 degrees
Spray a 9″x5″ loaf pan with non-stick spray
Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and spices
Beat together eggs, milk, and vanilla
Stir wet ingredients into dry and mix until just combined
Blend in pineapple, dried cranberries, raisins, candied ginger
Add walnuts if desired
Pour into prepared loaf pan
Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown
Running a company is hard work and filled with both frustrations and delights. Watching something you have created and nurtured grow is an exhilarating feeling. Building a team of talented, fun people is rewarding. Doves and Figs has brought me much joy along with tired feet and berry stained, dish pan hands. One thing it has not given me is much time to blog. Even though I am still squeezing in hours for cooking, baking, and pickling; I have not been writing much and I have missed it.
So I am back-with a super simple snack and I hope to steal a bit more time over the days to come to share all the delicious things coming from my little jam (and other treats) kitchen. No matter how busy you are-tonight take a few minutes to pour yourself your favorite craft beer or a glass of local wine, put your feet up, and nibble some of this quick and easy snack mix. You deserve it!
Herb Roasted Cashews with Dried Cranberries, and Dried Cherries
3 cups of cashews
1/3 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1/3 cup dried cherries
several sprigs of fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, and a few sage leaves
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread the cashews on an ungreased cookie sheet. Distributed the herbs on top of the nuts and roast for about 10 minutes until hot and fragrant but not too brown. Toss in a pretty bowl with the dried fruit and sprinkle with kosher salt. Snack Away!
The mid Winter jam kitchen crew is juicing, peeling, zesting, and simmering as fast as we can. The season for Seville oranges is a special time that is over in the blink of an eye. Even though we were making a traditional style marmalade, we had to add our own New England twist by blending in dried cranberries.
Once all of those bitter oranges and tart cranberries were cooked into tangy/sweet marmalade and poured into jars, it was time for a reward. It would seem to some that after weeks of making marmalade, we would be sick of it but instead we were longing to delight in the fruits of our labors. A cup of Earl Grey tea (yes even more citrus) and a slice of sticky marmalade cake was just the thing to enjoy during a break from all that hard work.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
pinch of cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup marmalade (we used our Garnets in the Grove-orange cranberry)
4 eggs (lightly beaten)
1/4 cup buttermilk (or whole milk)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup marmalade
2 Tablespoons orange juice
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a round 8″ glass pie dish or square pan generously. Toss the dry ingredients (except sugar)
and orange zest together in a bowl and set aside. Cream butter and sugar by hand or in a mixer. Add eggs, juice, marmalade and milk and blend well. Stir in the dry ingredients and blend until combined but not over mixed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30-40 minutes. When the cake is done, stir 2 Tablespoons of orange juice into 1/3 cup marmalade and warm in a small saucepan or in microwave. Pour over cake and enjoy warm or room temp with ice cream, yogurt, or traditional custard.
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
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.