Tomato Jam with Thyme

I did this post last week, though I thought I did.  But no one saw it, so I knew something was up.  In the meantime I upgraded to the premium plan so my site is now ourgrowingpaynes.blog.  As I was doing that I asked about this post.  Turns out I created a site page instead of a blog post!  Doh.  Hopefully now I can get this back on track.  🙂

I am really regretting removing our air conditioners.  Granted, it’s nice to have a longer growing season this year, but man, the humidity needs to go!  While we don’t like it the tomatoes seem to love this.  Which means we have to be creative is preserving all that goodness!

One of our favourite restaurants has a really good charcuterie plate and they very often have tomato jam as part of it.  It’s something my husband regularly orders there and he asked if I could make some tomato jam at home.  No idea how they make theirs but here is my version.

Tomato Jam 1 2017

I have to say, prepping the tomatoes is a messy endeavor.  But it needs to be done.  Cut the tops off the tomatoes and then cut a cross into the bottom.  Prep 2 1/2lbs/40ozs of tomatoes for this jam.

Tomato Jam 2 2017

Blanch each tomato for about 30 seconds in boiling water.

Tomato Jam 3 2017

Remove and set aside to cool.  Or you can dip in cold water.  I just let them cool.  Doesn’t take too long.  Remove the skins.

Tomato Jam 4 2017

Then it gets really messy!  Remove the seeds and coarsely chop up the tomatoes and add to a saucepan.  Add a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice and a big handful of fresh thyme.  I chopped up the thyme finely as I didn’t want large bits of herb in the jam.  Bring the mixture to a simmer.  Because I didn’t want a high sugar jam I just added 1 cup/8oz of sugar to start.

Tomato Jam 5 2017

Mix well and keep simmering.  I also use low sugar pectin to help thicken the jam.  I didn’t want to mask the flavour of the tomato with too much sugar.  I add a bit of the pectin at the time.  Hard to remove it if you go too far!

Tomato Jam 6 2017

This is really good with cheese and would be good with bread and butter.  It’s a nice alternative to the usual berry jam.  A reminder of summer when the cooler decides to finally arrive.

 

Rhubarb Ginger Jam

As anyone with a garden knows, you have some great successes and some disappointing failures.  Up until this year we have done really well with rhubarb.  This year they are very anemic.  We were able to freeze a few stalks but to do this jam I had to make a trip to the co-op to get more rhubarb.

When I made the Victorian Sponge in England this year I used my MIL’s rhubarb ginger jam.  It was absolutely delicious.  I couldn’t wait for rhubarb season.  Didn’t realise it wasn’t worth the wait.  So we will have to figure that out for next year.

Rhubarb ginger jam 1 2016

I had about 6 stalks.  Slice the rhubarb and add it to a saucepan.  Add about a 1/4 cup of water and a tablespoon of lemon juice.  Bring it to a simmer.  I wasn’t sure how much ginger I should use so I started with a piece about 1 1/2in/4cm by 1in/2.5cm.  Grate into the sauce pan.

Rhubarb ginger jam 2 2016

As the rhubarb starts breaking down start adding brown sugar.  To get the right balance with the heat of the ginger, the tartness of rhubarb, and the sweetness of the sugar, you need a lot of sugar.  I used about a cup and a half for this.  But add the sugar a bit at a time until the balance is right.  The heat and tartness of the ingredients will be different each time.  Simmer until the jam begins to thicken.

Rhubarb ginger jam 3 2016

This isn’t lasting long.  By the time the weekend was over there was just enough left to process one jar.  Guess I’ll be going back to the co-op!

Victorian Sponge and a Fabulous Trip

There is something really surreal about being in London in the morning and the Hannafords grocery store in NH at night on the same day.  It messes with your head.  But we had an amazing trip.  The weather was just gorgeous, we even got a bit of a tan!  I didn’t blog as much I as planned because I forgot the cord for my camera.  Like most people I always forget something.  At least it wasn’t something major like a passport.

A few years ago I had tried to make a Victorian Sponge and it failed.  The middle wouldn’t cook and it was heavy, basically the opposite of what it should be.  I wasn’t sure if my technique was off or the flour was just different enough.  So it was on my list to make it while visiting my in-laws.  My MIL makes a fabulous Victorian Sponge.  My son is a fan so I wanted to get this figured out.

My MIL is a great teacher as it came out perfect!  Enough that I will be trying this here at home with our flour.

The cookery book she had is called The Dairy Book of Home Cookery.  No idea who wrote it as it didn’t indicate.  Which is weird.

If at all possible use a hand mixer rather than the big mixers as you need to be delicate with the batter.  Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.  Prepare two 7in/18cm tins by greasing with butter.  Cut out circles of parchment paper to line the bottom of the tins.

Victorian sponge 1 2016

In a mixing bowl add 4oz of caster sugar and 4 oz of softened butter.  Cream the two ingredients together with the hand mixer.

Victorian sponge 2 2016

Now this is where I went a bit wrong the first time I made this.  I was about to move on to the next step when my MIL said I wasn’t close!  Keep mixing.  And be patient.  It needs to be pale in colour and fluffy.

Victorian sponge 3 2016

Weigh out 4 oz of self raising flour.  Take a tablespoon of flour to the mixture and add an egg.

Victorian sponge 4 2016

Mix well and repeat this step with another egg.

Victorian sponge 5 2016

Sift the remaining flour in and gently fold it into the egg and butter mixture.

Victorian sponge 6 2016

You want to keep it airy as you do this step, don’t crush the fluffiness!  Divide the batter between the two tins.

Victorian sponge 7 2016

Bake for 25-30 minutes until it is golden brown and is springy to the touch.

Victorian sponge 8 2016

Cool for a few minutes then turn out on cooling racks.  Once it is cool spread jam of your choice onto one of the cakes and top with the other cake.  We used my Mil’s amazing rhubarb and ginger jam.  I’ll have to try to recreate it.  Delicious!  Sift powdered sugar on top.

Victorian sponge 9 2016

Serve when ready.  Add a cup of tea and enjoy!

Victorian sponge 10 2016

So glad my MIL helped me with this because this is definitely a treat we love.  🙂

Tips: If the batter comes out a little dry because of the flour add a little milk.  For different flavours add a teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract.

 

Black Currant Blueberry Jam and Up Against the House

House 1 me 0.  Actually the score is probably more skewed than that if we look at the entire time I’ve lived here.  But this week I am definitely on the losing end!  And it’s all my fault.  Which is really annoying.

It’s time to redo the front porch so we began the project this past Sunday.  Parts of the old boards were being very stubborn in coming loose.  I tried pounding them up with a crow bar.  Really not the thing to do.  I reinjured my injury from the fall in January.  Each day I’ve brought the computer in bed with me in hopes I could sit up long enough to do a blog post.  Finally I can do it today.  Cooking this week has been pretty basic as well.  But I’m properly on the mend so I can blog!  Plus we need to do more on the porch this weekend.  I have a cunning plan as they say to not screw my back up again.  I feel optimistic.

I made this jam a couple of weeks ago and talked about it on the radio show.  I was inspired by a jam I had in France.  And we had a bumper crop of black currants so I had to do something with them all!  We froze quite a bit for later crumbles.  I wanted a jam that wasn’t overly sweet so I could easily use it for savory dishes as well.

Black currant jam 1 2015

I like to keep my jams on the rustic side, it’s less fussy that way.  In a saucepan put in equal amounts of black currants and blueberries.

Black currant jam 2 2015

On medium low heat bring the berries to a simmer.  Once enough liquid has been released from the berries turn up the heat a bit to continue a high simmer.  To start I added 1/2 cup of white sugar and incorporated it into the berries.  Then I added 1/2 a cup of brown sugar.  The tricky bit with black currants is that they are very tart.  But you don’t want to add so much sugar that the jam becomes stiff.  To offset this I added maple syrup.  Add a bit of a time until the jam has thickened.

Black currant jam 3 2015

Sorry about the quality of that pic!  Couldn’t use a tripod at this step!  Remove from the heat and can the jam.  I served this with homemade crusty bread and stinky French cheese.  The creaminess of the cheese balanced well with the tart jam.

Black currant jam 4 2015

Fingers crossed the porch doesn’t defeat me tomorrow!

Rhubarb Ginger Tart

As I suspected I was spoilt for Mother’s Day.   Saturday night they made me a wonderful meal of tapas from around the world.  My husband was thinking light and Spanish but the kids had other ideas!  My husband made a potato and swiss chard souffle and it was accompanied by mushrooms cooked in butter, chicken satay, and spring rolls.  Delicious all of it!  To finish off the meal they made me a pavlova which was decorated by mangoes spelling out MUM.  That was my daughter’s idea. 🙂

For the gift I was presented with the largest gift bag.  So either it was going to be a large gift or a small gift with lots of packaging.  After removing about a year’s supply of tissue paper I found a new tripod.  A much more sturdy tripod.  The other one, while a major help, would wobble and it made us nervous my good camera would tip over.  The lovely weekend was finished off by playing games with the kids.  My favourite way to hang out with them.  🙂

I did manage to fit in some baking.  Our rhubarb isn’t quite ready but the co-op had some so I thought I’d do a treat for our kids.  My son really loves rhubarb so I couldn’t resist.  For the pastry I used the same recipe as my apple pie.  Only make one batch as you would for a pie without a cover.

Rhubarb ginger tart 1 2015

I love fresh ginger in jams and I thought it would be great with the rhubarb.  I had three stalks of rhubarb for this recipe.  Slice the rhubarb in small slices so it cooks down faster.

Rhubarb ginger tart 2 2015

Add a tablespoon or so of fresh lemon juice and begin to simmer.  If the rhubarb is on the dry side just add a bit of water while it simmers.  Grate a piece of ginger about an inch/2.5cm square.  This needs to be finely grated so it incorporates fully.

Rhubarb ginger tart 3 2015

As the fruit softens and becomes jam like add 1/4 cup of maple syrup.  The real kind.  Do you know there was a poll done and a large percent prefers the fake stuff?  Shows how sad the state of our food has become.  Allow it to cook some more and add more maple syrup if needed.  While this is cooking preheat the oven to 350F/175C.  Spoon the mixture into the pastry.

Rhubarb ginger tart 4 2015Bake for about 25 minutes until the pastry is flaky.  Let them cool completely so you don’t risk burning yourself.

Rhubarb ginger tart 5 2015The kids loved these.  Our son says he could eat rhubarb all the time so it was a fun treat.  And on a hot day a quick thing to bake without bringing the kitchen to tropical temps!

Blackcurrant Bars – On The Tart Side Of Life

We are looking at a blow for freedom as my mum likes to say.  What is it you ask?  Why getting rid of cable!  The bane of many of us.  I’m sure many of you have heard loads of horror stories lately about what happens when customers try to cancel the cable.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that we won’t have issues.  But it’s time to cut the cord as they say.  We only watch a handful of channels so it isn’t economical to have it.  Today we’ve been testing a digital antenna all round the house to find the best spot.  Where we live, we only get PBS but that is fine because with Hulu Plus and Netflix, we are pretty much covered.  The dogs spent the day looking at us funny while we stood in different rooms seeing if there was any improvement!

This weekend we also had a fun date night and went to see the movie Chef.  I really liked that movie.  Aside from a display of fabulous food the music was outstanding!  It was hard not to get up and dance. 

All the blackcurrants have been picked now.  I froze a bunch for later in the year but I saw a link to blackcurrant bars.  When I went to pin it it said it was a spam link but it sparked an idea.  I used my mother’s date bar recipe for the bar portion of it and then made up an apple blackcurrant jam. 

I did the jam ahead of time because the week got a little nutty.  Okay, a lot nutty.  Thank goodness for weekends!  But you can make the jam just before you bake the bars. Either way is fine. 

Blackcurrant bars 1 2014

In a small saucepan add a cup to a cup and a half of blackcurrants and a diced apple.  Add about a 1/4 cup of water and a few splashes of lemon juice.

Blackcurrant bars 2 2014

Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer until the fruit breaks down while stirring frequently.  Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of brown sugar depending on your taste.  Some like it to be really tart. 

Blackcurrant bars 3 2014

When you are ready to bake preheat the oven to 375F/190C.  Melt 6 tablespoons in a small bowl.  In another bowl mix 1 cup quick oats, 1/2 cup sugar, 3/4 cup flour, and 1/2 tsp of baking soda.  This is half the recipe of the date bars as the jam amount for the black currant is about half of what the date bar has.  Add the melted butter and mix well.  Press half into the baking tin.

Blackcurrant bars 4 2014

Spread the jam over the oat mixture.

Blackcurrant bars 5 2014

Put the rest of the oat mixture over the jam and bake for about 25 minutes until golden.

Blackcurrant bars 6 2014

This was definitely tart!  But my husband loved it.  🙂

Wish me luck with the cable company! 

Apple Jam

When I did my daughter’s birthday cake I used apple jam for the filling.  My son immediately requested this for his cake.  Of course I used the last of it back in February.  Luckily this is really easy to make.  All you need is a half hour or so and presto!  You have jam.  🙂

I like to make my apple jam like apple pie.  The best part of apple pie are the spices.

You can also use up apples that might be nearing the “past it” stage, this way they don’t go to waste.  I chopped up 5 apples for this as it was only for a cake.  If I want to can I use a ton of apples.

Apple Jam 2 2013

In a medium sauce pan I simmered the apples with about a cup of apple cider.

Apple jam 3 2013

As it starts to reduce I add my spices.  This time I added some cinnamon and nutmeg with a bit of ground clove.   Add the spices you want as this if very much subject to taste.

Apple jam 4 2013

It needs to simmer long enough to break down the apples and to soften.  I do use a potato masher to help things along a bit.  Who said patience was a virtue?  🙂

Apple jam 5 2013 Apple jam 6 2013

It’s done when it has the rustic jam look and it has darkened a bit. Remove from the heat and cool.  This is also great in homemade tarts.  🙂

Peach Popovers

I was in the mood to bake but I didn’t have a lot of time so I needed a quick recipe.  I had some homemade peach jam to use so all I had to do was make some pastry.  I used the pastry from this quiche recipe.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Roll out the pastry so it is less than 1/8″ thick.

 

Ahem, yes there is a shortage of cookie cutters in our house!  But the glass works.  Take the round bit of pastry then roll it out further so it is elongated.

Place a dollop of the jam of your choice on one end and fold over.  Pinch the edges closed then do a couple of quick slices on the top for vents.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is done.  Serve and enjoy!