Blog Archive

Saturday, October 31, 2009

French Macarons

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Dating back to the 18th century, the macaron is a traditional French pastry, made of egg whites, almond powder, icing sugar and sugar. In the 1830s macarons were served two-by-two with the addition of jams, liqueurs, and spices. The double-decker macaron filled with cream that is popular today was invented by the French pâtisserie Ladurée.

I have only once had french macarons in my life. My friend Janice brought a bunch to my house-warming party a few months ago and we had fun trying to figure out the different flavors. The lavender was strange. The hazelnut with chocolate filling was my favorite. I decided on a Fall flavoring... something nutmeggy, cinamony, pumpkiny... These pumpkin-safron macarons looked fabulous... But then I forgot to put the saffron in... and the safron was replaced by turmeric... and the pumpkin-cream cheese filling was replaced by pumpkin buttercream... So the end result was completely different. Oh well.

As you can probably tell from the picture, my macarons didn't quite turn out. They didn't rise and didn't form that nice foot and that slightly crunchy crust good macarons have. They just kind-a baked and sprawled a bit. I think my egg whites were too small and the batter ended up too dense. But they still ended up being nicely chewy and the pumpkin buttercream was fantastic so everyone loved them and most of them promptly disappeared at the pre-U2 dinner last weekend. I would love to make them again, with bigger eggs and probably a different recipe.

French Macarons

2 1/4 C Icing sugar
2 C almond flour
2 Tbs granulated sugar
5 egg whites at room temperature
+ 1 tsp turmeric for color

Sift icing sugar and almond flour together. Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Slowly add granulated sugar and keep beating till hard peaks. Sift sugar/almond flower mixture in 2-3 parts and fold gently with the egg whites. Line baking sheet with wax paper. Pipe into 1-inch mounds 1-inch apart. Bake for 5 minutes at 200 F then turn the oven up to 375F and bake for another 8 minutes. Let them cool in the pan before removing.

Pumpkin Buttercream

1/2 C butter (1 stick)
1/2 C pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 C confectioner’s sugar (more or less)

Mix. Beat. Eat.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Treats to Share with Mr. Dog

I am sure you have noticed it - the showing of pictures, the discussion of minor habits, the constant retelling for funny (and not so funny) stories and of course, the inevitable attribution of human moods, feelings and intentions. Yes, people with pets have this specific kind of obnoxiousness and I am certainly very much guilty too. Now that I have admitted that I can indulge in a whole post dedicated to my dog, complete with pictures and all.

Atlez, my dog, turned 4 years old this past week and like any self-respecting dog parent (yes, parent, not owner) I organized a week-long celebration, complete with cake (carrot cake from Three Dog Bakery), two visits to the dog park, fancy food, manicure, and today  - a hike with a friend's dog and home-made dog biscuits for a snack. I am sure the whole shabang did not register with him in the least  and that all my care was wiped clean from his memory by the bath I just gave him, but it was nice to do it all the same. 

I have been meaning to make some treats for him for the longest time, ever since I actually ate one of the dog treats I bought for him and found out why he refused the eat them. They taste like cardboard, that's why. To the best of my knowledge he doesn't like to eat cardboard. He likes cheese, and lamb, and beef, and chicken, but above all cheese. Meeee toooo. So I made him biscuit that we can share. They are technically dog biscuits but nothing in them is dog-specific and I have been nibbling on them as much as he has. They are tasty. We both think so. 

Cheesy Dog Biscuits

1/2 lb. cheese, grated
1 egg
1/4 C butter, soft
1/4 C corn meal
1/3 C oatmeal
1/2 C hot water
1/2 cube chicken bouillon
~ 3 C flour
a bit of salt

The flour can be all purpose or whole wheat. I used unbleached all purpose. I used mozzarella cheese, because I know that Atlez likes it, but any other cheese can be substituted. The mozzarella yielded a very mild cheese taste. I think cheddar would be better.

Dissolve the bouillon in the hot water and set aside. In a bowl beat butter until creamy, add the cheese, egg, corn meal, oatmeal and the bouillon, while beating. Then start adding the flour. Add just enough flour to make soft dough, still a bit sticky but not wet sticky. Separate the dough in 2-3-4 balls. Knead each ball with a bit of flour and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with a knife or cookie cutters. I like the heart-shapes because they can be easily broken in two. Ummm... this was really not a statement about broken hearts.... Bake at 375F until rosy, 25-30 minutes. Cool. Share.

For more dog treat recipes check out the following links:
Gourmet Sleuth
Cheese Dog Treats

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cream Puffs

Cream puff aka profiteroles have been on my to do list for a while. Actually ever since James sent me the table of ratios for different types of doughs from Michael Ruhlman's book "Ratio". I didn't even know how to pronounce "pate au choux" ... not sure I do now. But I know how to make it! After two batches of cream puffs based on two different recipes and two batches of pastry cream in less than a week I can confidently say cream puffs are my new favorite thing to make.

Pate au choux is a light pastry dough used to make not only cream puffs but also eclairs, croquembouches, beignets, gougeres, etc. According to its history on Wikipedia, the pastry was invented in 1540 by a chef of the Medici family, shortly after they all fled Florence. The name came much later, in the 18th century, when a patissier by the name Avice invented the Choux Buns and the name of the dough became pate au choux because the buns resembled little cabbages - choux in French. They really look like miniature cabbage heads, don't they?

The first recipe (let's call it Recipe A) came form Brown Eyed Baker's fantastic tutorial:

Pate Au Choux

2 large eggs + 1 large egg white (1/2 C eggs)
5 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs milk
6 Tbs water
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C flour, sifted

The second recipe (Recipe B) comes from Michael Ruhlman's ratio approach:

Ratio Pate Au Choix

1/2 C butter
1 C water + milk
1 C eggs (3 large, ~5 medium eggs)
1/2 C flour, sifted
1 Tbs sugar
pinch of salt

The process of making the pastry is soooo simple. Heat butter, milk, water, sugar, and salt in a pan over medium heat, stirring until the butter is melted the mix starts to bubble. Take off the heat and immediately add the flour, stirring briskly, until a paste is formed. Return to low heat and stir until the batter is glossy and easily separates from the sides. Take off the heat, stir briskly to cool a bit. Then slowly pour in the eggs while stirring until smooth. The batter will be sticky, but thick. To make the puffs, transfer the batter to a pastry bag with a plane tip and pipe 1 to 1 1/2 inch mounds on a wax-paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 min @ 415F + 8 min @ 375F. Then turn off the oven, crack open the door and let the puffs cool in the oven. More detailed instructions can be found here.

Now, for the comparison. The two recipes actually had very different ratios of ingredients. The first recipe was 1:1:5/8:1 of liquid:egg:butter:flour, so almost 1:1:1:1. Michael Rulman advocates a very different ratio - 1:2:2:1, so the batter has a lot more egg and butter. In the end however, I was surprised at how similar the batters looked. They had almost the same consistency with B being sweeter and just a bit more runny and unable to hold height when piped. The baking results however were quite different. The puffs from Recipe A held their shape pretty well, puffed a bit but not too much and at the end of the baking were quite sturdy. The puffs from Recipe B puffed up like little balloons and even some of them merged together. They became huge! But at the end of the baking they were still quite moist and some of them collapsed as soon as they were out of the oven. Meh. I personally prefer the first batter though I would increase the sugar to 1 Tbs next time. Ruhlman's ratio works but it the result was not all that satisfying.

Now for the filling:

Pastry Cream

2 C whole milk
1/2 C sugar, divided
5 yolks
3 Tbs corn starch
2 Tbs unsalted butter

Additional for chocolate pastry cream:
3 Tbs cocoa
2 oz quality semi-sweet chocolate

Again, for more elaborate instructions check out Brown Eyed Baker's tutorial. Here is my brief summary: beat yolks + 2 Tbs sugar; add corn startch and beat until mixed well; heat milk + 6 Tbs sugar until boiling; over low heat add the yolk mixture to the milk in a thin stream while stirring well and keep stirring until the mix thickens and begins to bubble; take it off the heat and stir in the butter. For chocolate pastry cream, add the cocoa to the yolk-starch mix and add the chocolate with the butter at the end. Straining the cream is not a bad idea, because there are always lumps. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Honestly, I don't know what cocaine tastes like but I can imagine it tastes like pastry cream. This stuff is so tasty it can be addictive. I am adding pastry cream to the list of foods I love, love, love, right next to Thai yellow curry, Monica's lasagna, James's risotto and the 9-grain bagels at Bentley's, among other things.

To finish thinks off, I recommend leaving the puffs uncovered overnight (to dry them even further) and the pastry cream in the fridge also overnight (to thicken and cool). Make little holes on the sides of the puffs and pipe the cream in, slowly and gently so that the cream doesn't come out squirting from the side. Eat as soon as possible - the longer they sit the soggier they get. Cream puffs week is over.

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Puff Pastry! Wow!

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

As with some of the previous challenges, I was absolutely convinced this was not going to work. Not on the first try at least. Maybe on the second, most likely on the fifth try, but not on the first. The dough was a bit gummy, the day was hot, and I was covered in butter up to the elbows, watching Michel Richard roll out his pastry with unbelievable grace while I was huffing and puffing over mine. I have always thought that making puff pastry was the Holy Grail of baking. I love using it but never thought I would ever attempt to make it myself. So this challenge was really challenging. Long story short, my puff pastry turned out great, the Vols-au-Vents were fabulous and promptly disappeared at the party later that night, accompanied by "uhs" and "ahs" and marriage proposals.

I used Michel Richard's recipe, though I actually halved it (in case of complete failure I didn't want a pound of butter to go to waste):

Puff Pastry

2 1/2 C unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 C cake flour
1 tbsp salt (half for sweet preparations)
1 1/4 C ice water
1 lb very cold unsalted butter

extra flour for dusting work surface

I am an impatient reader when it comes to cooking technique or I get lost halfway through (I also hate reading instruction manuals... don't ask how I put together my IKEA couch) so I loved watching the Julia Child + Michel Richard video instead. In fact I watched it a few times. Not only is it very informative, it is also very entertaining:

Michel: Do you like garlic?
Julia: Oh yes.
Michel: Me too. Of course it's hard to kiss your boyfriend after you've had garlic.
Julia: Unless of course he's had some too.

As a matter of fact I made the Tort Milanese last weekend and it turned out FAN-TASTIC!

If you are more of the instruction reading type of person though, here is a site you might enjoy: Baking911 (but beware of the crazy web design).

For the filling I improvised with what was available in my fridge. Considering I had just come back from a 12-day trip and was to be gone for another 5 day the following week, the choices were pretty slim - a peach, butter, cream cheese. So... how about peach cooked with sugar and cognac... topped with cream cheese frosting? Voilla!

Moral: Puff pastry is not as hard to make as most people think.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Temporary Suspension

As of today this blog is suspended. Hopefully this will be temporary, but I am not sure. I have been trying to do a good job at this blog but it is unfortunately taking too much time and CPU, which I really need to devote to other matters such as working and writing proposal, hiking, hanging out with my dog and actually cooking. I am trying to simplify my life and I decided that actually doing the things that I enjoy is much more enjoyable than writing about them. I am not closing down completely - I might continue doing the Daring Baker's challenges (which will be much more pleasant once the temperatures go down) and I might still post a picture or two, but don't keep your hopes high. Adeu!

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Dobos Torte

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

I sure hope that starting the Monday morning with a piece of cake is a good sign for the week. It must be, especially if the cake is fantastically delicious like this one turned out. I am craving a second piece now... The Dobos Torte is a 5 to 12 layer sponge cake filled with chocolate buttercream and topped with wedges of caramel. From the Darling Baker's site: "It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was a secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners' and Gingerbread Makers' Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely."

I must admit I procrastinated on this one. Big time. It is August in Southern California and in my 1940's house with no central air-conditioning August is the month you give the oven a break. It has been so hot and with the wild fires raging just miles away, my enthusiasm to make a cake kept waning as the days of August kept slipping away. Also, I must admit, I found the recipe a bit intimidating. With all the measurements in grams and the equipment list as long as the Torah, my kitchen felt ill prepared for the challenge. But in the end, it all turned out well to my utter surprise, nothing was too hard to handle, the sponge was great and the cake is amazingly delicious. Maybe I'll go home for lunch and have another piece...

I only made half the recipe and cut the layers in rectangular shapes to simplify things. However below I am including the full recipe. The elements can be made separately and then assembled. Store the layers in the fridge between layers of parchment paper.

Dobos Torte

For the layers:
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 1/3 C powder sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 C + 2 TBS sifted cake flour
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 400F. Beat the yolks with 2/3 C of sugar and the vanilla until the mixture is pale yellow and thin ribbons form when the beaters are lifted. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and then gradually add the remaining sugar. Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture, not stirring completely. Sift in the flour and salt, a tablespoon at a time and incorporate very gently. None of that vigorous stirring here - you need to be very gentle. If you do not have cake flour do not despair - mix 3 Tbs corn starch and 13 Tbs regular flour and sift to combine.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. For the rectangular layers I spread the batter all over the sheet, not quite reaching the edges. I you want circular layers, then trace the circles (bottom of a spring-form pan) on the reverse side of the parchment paper and then spread 3/4 C of the batter very thinly to just fill the circle. Bake at 400F for 4 minutes. Once you start smelling the sweet aroma of the baked cake, the layer is ready. Repeat to make the rest of the layers - you need at least 6 of them. Cool very well. Once the layers are cooled, you can peel the parchment paper (carefully!) and trim them to the desired size and shape (I used a pair of scissors though they pinched the dough a bit at the edges).

For the buttercream:
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 C sugar
4 oz bakers or dark chocolate, chopped
1C + 2 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature.

Beat the eggs and the sugar in a bowl until well mixed. Place the mix in a double-boiler or improvise one with a bowl nested in a pot and cook the mixture over water at a rolling boil for a few minutes until the mixture is hot to the touch, stirring constantly. Once hot, take the egg mix off the burner and stir in the chopped chocolate until it is all melted. Let cool. Beat the butter in the chocolate mix piece y piece and finish off on high until the mix is smooth and no butter lumps are visible. Refrigerate to thicken.

For the caramel:
1 C sugar
12 Tbs water
8 tsp lemon juice
1 tablespoon neutral oil

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and oil it lightly. Place the best-looking layer on top (the layer better be at room temperature) and cut as desired - sections or strips or whatever. In a small pan combine the sugar, water and lemon juice. Heat at low until the sugar is melted and then crank up the heat and bring the syrup to boil. It will foam - that's ok, just make sure the heat is not so high that the syrup will boil out. Occasionally turn the heat down and check the state of the syrup. Eventually it will turn thick and brown. At that point pour it over the cut-up layer, using a spatula to distribute it evenly all over. You must be pretty quick because the caramel will start setting quite fast. Do not spread the caramel over the edges of the cake layer because that will make removal difficult. Let the caramel set and then peel the pieces off the paper.

Assembly: This should be pretty obvious. Layer-cream-layer-cream and so on till you run out of layers, frost the sides with the remaining cream, arrange the caramel pieces on top. Optionally, decorate the sides with chopped hazelnuts (I put some hazelnuts between the layers as well).

I would love to make this cake again! It looks very sophisticated but in the end it was not all that difficult to make. Next time I would probably skip on the caramel on top. I thought it really was not worth the trouble - it looks interesting but my caramel pieces were the dentist's nightmare and not really edible. The butter-cream was a bit on the soft side but maybe I did not cook the eggs enough. Anyways it was so delicious I licked the bowl twice. And finally, the hazelnuts were a great addition, on the sides and the top. If you would like to put them between the layers then they must be really finely ground - mine were a bit too chinky. All in all, a fantastic cake. Thank you, Daring Bakers!

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Fig Bounty

A few weeks ago I was taking my car from the work parking lot when I noticed a large fig tree overhanging the lot, heavy with unripe figs. I thought how fabulous it would be when the figs started getting ripe. The roots of the tree were on the other side of the fence so the tree technically belonged to the house next door. So am I allowed to pick the figs or not, I wondered. My friend Jane was kind to inform me (after I had already done the deed) that according to an ancient Greek law, the fruit overhanging your property belong to you; besides, no one else (except the squirrels) were making use of them and these luscious, juicy black Mission figs were just falling to the ground. So I proceeded to harvest them quite regularly over the past two weeks.

After the first bowl of figs appeared in my fridge I realized I could not possibly eat them all. What to do with a boatload of figs? They are such delicate fruit with very subtle flavor, the best thing is to just pop them in your mouth, close your eyes and sink into heaven. They are best fresh and there are very few things that you can cook with figs. I browsed by cookbooks, I surfed the net, I was restless until I lined up 4 (yes, four!) recipes which I wanted to try.

First came the fig tart. I was responsible for buying food for the Friday social hour at work. If I make a pie just for the sake of making a pie, the poor pie will spend a month in my fridge. But if I bring it to Happy Hour, there will be 15 volunteers to take care of it. Muahahaha. The recipe came from Epicurious. Just read the name and you will be seduced: Fresh Fig Tart with Rosemary Cornmeal Crust and Lemon Mascarpone Cream. Oh, doesn't it just sound delicious?

Mascarpone-Fig Tart

For the crust:
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C yellow cornmeal (not stone-ground)
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 Tbs finely chopped fresh rosemary
3+ Tbs ice water

For the filling:
1/4 C plain yogurt
1 C mascarpone cheese (8 oz)
1/4 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp finely grated fresh lemon zest

1 1/2 lb fresh figs

This is made just like your regular tart. Mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and butter, and rub between your hands until the mixture turns into pea-sized crumbs. Add the rosemary and start adding the water one Tbs at a time, until the dough can be collected into a ball. Don't knead. Press the dough into a pie pad and line the walls and sides with a thin even layer. This recipe produced a bit too much dough for my pie pan so I used the leftovers to line a little ramekin for a mini-tart. Poke the dough with a fork and line with foil...or don't - opinions are split on whether you should do that. Bake at 350F for ~25 minutes, until the rim of the tart starts getting golden. Cool well on a rack.

Make the filling: beat the mascarpone cheese, yogurt, sugar and zest together in a bowl for ~30 seconds until fluffy. To assemble, pour the filling into the cold crust, arrange the figs on top. The picture here shows the figs sliced, but I cut them into wedges and it worked just as fine. I didn't brush them with glaze either, but got no complaints.

The tart was fantastic! Everyone loved it and I got thanks for it even 4 days later. So it must have been good. Or people were just really impressed that I baked something. What I really loved about this recipe is how versatile the element are. I'd never thought of putting herbs in the pie dough, for example. I was not a big fan of this particular crust recipe (and will make sure I post my favorite crust recipe at some other point) but including rosemary, basil or thyme in the crust, especially for a quiche or a savory pie would sure be fabulous. Also the filling was to die for! I couldn't get enough of it! (By the way, Trader Joe's carries mascarpone cheese, which is like cream cheese but better). It can be paired with any other fruit - Andrea suggested fresh raspberries, I also think peaches, strawberries, blueberry compote would go just fine on top of this filling. Ah, just more ideas for tasty things to bake!

Following the tart, I proceeded to make two types of fig jam and one type of fig preserve. Woah! That was a lot of work, but the results are so delicious, I can't wait for the winter to come so that I can start opening the jars. (Yes, I have a rule that no jams should be eaten if fresh fruit are available.) First I made the Spiced Microwave Fig-Orange Jam by Elise on Simply Recipes. I know, jam in the microwave?!? It worked great but if you want to boil it on the stove in the spirit of tradition, then go for it. Then I made the preserve with whole figs, which turned out very much like the fig preserves my mom used to make. Finally I made the spiked fig jam (spiced, spiked, I hope I don't get them confused in the cupboard). To prepare the figs for jamming, cut off their tails. I found two different suggested methods on washing the figs - pour hot water on them or wash them with cold water and baking soda. I used the former for the jams and the latter for the preserve.

Spiced Microwave Fig Jam

2 C (well packed) diced fresh figs
1/2 C seeded, peeled orange, diced
2 C sugar
the zest of 1 lemon
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cloves (which I forgot to pull out at the end... or ground)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 8oz jars & 1 4oz jar

Combine all the ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl, stir and let sit for ~30 min. Place in the microwave and set on high for 20 minutes. As soon as the mixture starts boiling (after 6-7 minutes), stop and stir. Keep stirring every 2-3 minutes and keep an eye on it so it does not boil over. It is ready when it has boiled down to 2/3 of its original volume. You can also check for done-ness using the wrinkle test shown here. Don't just rely on the thickness on the jam because it will thicken as it cools.

While the jam is making (and this is true for jam and preserve recipes), sterilize your jars in a large pot with boiling water. Just let them simmer. They should be well covered with water. Sterilize the lids and bands as well. Once the jam is done, pour it into the hot jars (use a towel or oven mitts), wipe the mouth clean with a paper towel, place the lid on top and screw on the band as tight as you can. Place the jars in a pot of hot water (yes, you can use the same pot of hot water) and bring to boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Maybe this double sterilization is an overkill - sterilize the jars and then boil the jam too - but I'd rather be safe than sorry. Pull the hot jars out of the water and let them cool on a towel (don't place the hot jars on the cold counter-top - they might crack!). Count the pops.

I liked the jam. The spices were very light. On first taste they still seemed to overpower the figs a bit, but things improved when the jam cooled The orange was hardly noticeable. The consistency was fantastic - the vigorous boiling the the microwave made for a very smooth jam.

Along a similar line comes the Spiked Fig Jam. I love adding alcohol to food - it imparts fantastic flavors even if a small quantity is used.

Spiked Fig Jam

1 lemon
4 1/2 C fresh figs, chopped and loosely packed
2 C sugar
1/3 C brandy or Cognac
2 Tbs lemon juice (from the same lemon)
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

3 8 oz. jars

Peel the lemon (thinly, with a potato peeler) and chop the rind into matchsticks. Combine all ingredients in a pot and let them sit for ~1 hour. Bring to boil over medium heat. Turn heat to low and simmer for ~30 minutes, stirring frequently and mashing the fruit. After the 30-minute mark, start checking for done-ness. Again, the jam will thicken when it cools. When the test comes out positive, turn off the heat and pour the jam into sterilized jars. Put on lids, screw on bands and boil the jars for ~10 minutes to finish off sterilization.

This jam turned out sooooooo incredibly good. I barely had the will power to leave some for James to try. I could have easily polished it off.

Finally, the fig preserve. I've always been befuddled by the differences between preserves, jams, marmalades and such. I am learning my way around them as I am making them - while jams are basically purees, preserves keep the fruit whole submerged in a sugar syrup. This old-fashioned fig preserve reminds me of the one my Mom used to make. It takes a long time to boil down so arm yourself with patience.

Fig Preserve

4 C whole figs
2 C sugar
3 lemon slices, seeded
1 C water
pinch of salt

2 8oz jars and 1 4 oz jar

Combine all ingredients in a pot, stir well and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for at least one hour. Continue simmering until the syrup passes the wrinkle test. Pour into sterilized jars, cap, screw the bands on and boil for 10 minutes.

Phew, that was a huge adventure! So much jammin' my head started spinning. And as if that wasn't enough I had another bowl of figs left. In a final act of desperation I decided to dry them in the oven. It took two nights with the oven turned on the lowest setting, probably 100F, to get most of the moisture out, to get the figs all dry and shriveled. All right, that's enough. I'm done.

And if that was not enough for you, here are a few more fig ideas:
Pizza with Figs, Prosciutto, Gorgonzola, Balsamic, and Arugula
Candied Fig, Hazelnut and Orange Cheesecake with Port Sauce
Warm Black Mission Fig, Walnut Crunch, and Blue Cheese Tartlets
Fresh Figs with Goat Cheese and Peppered Honey
Fig-Sesame Jam

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