Food Swap Cookbook Philadelphia Events

cover of the Food Swap Cookbook by Emily Paster

Friends! Next week, Chicago-based food writer and cookbook author Emily Paster is coming to Philadelphia to promote her new book, Food Swap!. She’ll be making an appearance at our summer food swap on August 3 at the Awbury Arboretum (there are still spots available and you can register here) and will be teaching a class at Cook at 2 pm on Saturday, August 6.

Together, the two of us will be at the Headhouse Square Farmers Market on Sunday, August 7 from 10 am to 2 pm. We’ll both be sampling treats from our books and will have copies on hand for sale and signature.

Oh, and if you’re looking for me this weekend, I’ll be demoing small batches of honey-sweetened stonefruit jam at the Callowhill Whole Foods Market on Saturday, July 30 from 12 noon to 4 pm!

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Simple Apricot Jam Recipe

This simple apricot jam is made with just fruit and sugar. The recipe is calculated using a three to one ratio, so it can easily be scaled up or down, depending on how many apricots you have to start.

A vertical image of jars filled with simple apricot jam

This is the first summer in nearly six years that I’m not working on a cookbook. While this scares me a little bit (I like knowing that I have the next project locked down), it also feels totally liberating. Because it means that I am free to make whatever I want. What’s more, everything I make can eventually make it to the blog. I don’t have to hold anything back.

Apricots spread out to ripen on an old sheet tray

A couple weeks ago, I got about 22 pounds of apricot seconds from a local grower. If I was producing for a book, those apricots would have been earmarked for particular projects. I would have needed to have made interesting flavor combinations. What’s more, I would have been timing every aspect of the cooking process, to be sure that I could accurately represent the process in writing.

Pockmarked and scarred apricots in an old blue and white colander

Instead, I made three large batches of plain, unadulterated, totally simple apricot jam. Just apricots and sugar, measured by weight, macerated overnight, and cooked down into slightly runny, intensely tart, vividly orange jam.

Chopped apricots for simple apricot jam

Because, my friends, as much as I like apricot butter, apricot jam spiked with rosemary or thyme, and apricot chutney, this very simple apricot jam is one of my favorite things on the planet. And because I was canning only to please myself, that is what I made.

Apricots cooking down into a simple jam in a copper preserving pan

My whole sensory self was engaged as the jam cooks. I watched the bubbles, felt the fruit thickening as I stirred. The fragrance of cooking sugar rode up with the steam and the sound of the boil became more frenzied as the process neared completion.

Finished basic apricot jam in a copper preserving pan

This is not canning that easily fits into a book. It doesn’t bring anything new or novel to the table. It is, in fact, how people have been making jam for a very long time. But it brings me joy. It’s artful, creative jam making.

A cluster of mason jar filled with simple apricot jam

A note on working with seconds. Normally, when calculating recipes by weight, I measure out the fruit before I pit and quarter it, figuring that the loss will be minimal. However, when I’m working with seconds that require more trimming and culling than unmarred fruit, I wait until after I’m done with the prep work to weigh the fruit and calculate how much sugar to use. It’s this second approach that you’ll see reflected in the recipe below.

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Giveaway: The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving + Mason Jar Lifestyle

The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving

Friends, I had such a good time participating in International Can-It-Forward Day last week! Many thanks to all of you who took the time to tune in to ask questions, leave comments, and otherwise engage with my demo (if you missed it, you can see the video here).

Ball Book of Canning Basic Gear

This week, I’m hoping to keep all that good #CanItForward energy alive with fabulous giveaway. I have three copies of The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving to give away. This wonderful book came out back in May and is such an amazing addition to our collective canning libraries.

Ball Book of Canning Guava Vanilla Bean Jelly

The book features reasonably sized recipes across the food preservation spectrum. It digs into water bath canning, fermentation, pressure canning, freezing, dehydrating, curing, and smoking. Additionally, there is a liberal sprinkling of recipes designed to help you use up what you’ve put up. Oh, and did I mention all the gorgeous, full-color pictures? It’s truly a lovely book.

Ball Book of Canning Honeyed Apricots

In addition to giving away three copies of this book, our friends at Mason Jar Lifestyle also want to help continue the #CanItForward love and so are adding to the goodness. They’ve offered to kick in a set of regular and wide mouth stainless steel mason jar rings for each of the three winners. These rings are great for mason jar fermentation set-ups because they don’t rust.

The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving Back Cover

Want to enter the giveaway? Here’s how to do it.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me what your favorite food preservation method is these days. Are you fermenting more often than you’re pulling out your water bath canner?
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Saturday, July 30, 2016. The winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, July 31, 2016.
  3. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents (and is void where prohibited).
  4. One comment per person, please.

PS – Fellow #CanItForward presenter Malia Karlinsky had a bit of trouble with her livestream and so a lot of people missed it. If you want to see her demo as it should have been, watch it here.

Disclosure: I am a compensated Ball Canning ambassador. However, this blog post is outside our partnership. I’m simply featuring this book because I think my readers will be interested. Additionally, Mason Jar Lifestyle is a Food in Jars sponsor. As always, all opinions remain entirely my own. 

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Spicy Heirloom Tomato Chutney for International Can-It-Forward Day

Ball-Chutney-Animated-GIFs-3

Friends! The big day is finally here! It’s International Can-It-Forward Day (#canitforward)! All day today, there will be live demos on the Ball Canning Facebook page from chefs, bloggers, and home cooks. At 2 pm eastern time, I’ll be streaming live from my dining room, showing you how to make my Spicy Heirloom Tomato Chutney.

Today, I’ll be making this chutney with an assortment of small tomatoes, because that’s what’s currently in season in Philadelphia. As we get further into tomato season, I’ll make it with larger slicers and meaty paste tomatoes. It’s a great recipe to have in your resource file towards the end of the season, when you just need a handy way to deal with an abundant harvest!

You can get the recipe over on Freshly Preserved Ideas, the Ball Canning Tumblr page.

Can It Forward Day image

And don’t forget. Today isn’t just about live demonstrations. There’s also a charity component to the day’s events. For every like, share, reaction and comment on the Can-It-Forward Day Facebook Live videos on July 22, Ball Canning will donate $1 to the following local charities (up to $1000 per charity):

I chose The Food Trust because they are a Philadelphia-based organization that works to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and the information necessary to make healthy decisions. I have personally seen the positive impact they’ve had on Philadelphia in the years I’ve lived here and I’m really delighted to be able to help support them!

Let the fun being!

Disclosure: I am a paid ambassador for Jarden Home Brands’ Ball Canning brand. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

 

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Red Currant Jelly

Tart, sweet, and gorgeously ruby-hued, this red currant jelly is the perfect way to make the most of a relatively small amount of currants.

Six half pints of fresh red currants.

Over the years, I’ve canned nearly everything there is to be canned. I’ve done every stripe of stonefruit, all the common berries, and have pickled nearly everything I could. The list of things I’d not worked with was relatively short. However, there were a few notable things that had thus far avoided my jam pan. Chief among them, currants.

Red currants in a yellow colander

It wasn’t that I was disinterested in currants. The issue was simply that they were either impossible to find or cost-prohibitive when I did come across a small display. And so they remained on firmly on the list of things I wanted to experience but just hadn’t gotten to yet.

Happily, Ben Wenk of Three Springs Fruit Farm has started growing an array of hard-to-find fruits, including gooseberries and currents in multiple colors. A couple weeks ago, he cut me a deal on a mixed flat of currants so that I could finally see what all the fuss was about.

Red currants in a stainless steel pot on the stove.

I brought them home and promptly consulted Pam Corbin’s The River Cottage Preserves Handbook (like I mentioned in my gooseberry jam post, she is my first stop any time I’m working with unfamiliar fruit that is common in the UK). I followed her instructions for simmering the fruit in water until soft.

Three cups currant juice, soon to become red currant jelly.

Somewhere in my apartment, I have a jelly bag and draining rig, but I could not put my hands on it the day I started this jelly. I used a nut milk bag to separate the pulp from the juice and it worked nicely.

I also flouted the advice* in the book and squeezed the heck of out of the currant solids, trying to wrest out every last bit of juice (I only started with a little less than two pounds of red currants, so I wanted to get as much from them as was possible). I wound up with three cups of juice, when all was done.

Red currant juice in a pot, soon to become red currant jelly.

Once you’ve extracted the juice, the work of making the red currant jelly is quick. Currants are quick pectin-rich, so all they need is sugar and a few minutes of boiling and they’re ready to set into jelly. I used Pam’s ratio of 1 cup of juice to 1 cup of sugar. While I normally opt for lower sugar preserves, currants are so tart and tannic, that in this case, the sugar doesn’t feel at all overwhelming.

Red currant jelly in assorted jars.

Following Pam’s instructions, I brought the juice to a boil first and then added the sugar. Once combined, I noticed signs of setting within five minutes. The temperature was a gel-friendly 221F and the droplets hanging off the spatula were thing and viscous. In the end, I had four half pints of glowing, gorgeously red jelly.

*Both Pam and conventional wisdom says that if you squeeze the bag, you’ll end up with cloudy jelly. I don’t particularly care if my jelly isn’t perfectly clear, so I pressed and squeezed that bag. I got an additional 1/2 cup of juice for my efforts, so it was well worth it.

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Homemade Chickpea Flatbread

These homemade chickpea flatbread rounds are gluten-free, low carb, and high in protein. They’re also easy to make and quite delicious.

Finished rounds of homemade chickpea flatbread on a plate.

On Saturday, my cousin hosted a family gathering. It was a lovely evening with a generous spread of food. When it was all over, Scott and I had a large grocery bag full of leftovers to bring home. After two nights of salads topped with cold cuts, marinated vegetables, and cubes of cheese, we needed a change. And so I made chickpea flatbread.

Faced with a fridge full of sandwich makings, most people would just reach for a loaf of bread. However, we’ve been trying to cut back on carbs lately. This homemade chickpea flatbread, while not without some carbs, is a really great, high protein alternative to regular sandwich bread.

Cooking homemade chickpea flatbread in a cast iron skillet.

For those of you familiar with socca (and in fact, I adapted my version from the socca recipe in Clotilde Dusolier‘s The French Market Cookbook), this recipe will seem familiar to you. It’s a simple batter made of chickpea flour, water, salt, cumin, and a little olive oil. However, instead of pouring a large amount of batter into a skillet and transferring it to the oven to cook the way you do when you make socca, I treat it like crepe batter.

I heat a large cast iron skillet, grease it with a little refined coconut oil (it’s the highest smoke point oil I regularly keep around), and the pour a large serving spoon’s worth of batter into the pan. I use the back of the spoon to spread it out as thin as I can make it. They cook on the first side for two or three minutes, and then another minute or two on the reverse. A flexible fish spatula is my favorite tool for flipping.

Homemade chickpea flatbread wrapped around eggplant dip and vegetables.

I find that it’s a lot like making pancakes. The first one sticks and looks terrible, but as you get a feel for the pan and that day’s batter, they get easier. The end result are thin, flexible flatbread rounds that you can use for sandwiches or as a bread to dip in soup.

Tonight, Scott made himself a pair of deli meat wraps, while I stuffed mine with roasted eggplant dip and an assortment of veggies. They’re satisfying and delicious, particularly if you haven’t had a good loaf of sourdough in a while.

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