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Bartlett Pear Chutney with Dried Cherries and Ginger

pear chutney with dried cherries and ginger

I am a little bit obsessed with the new Bi-Rite Market cookbook. A review copy arrived last week and I haven’t been able to keep my hands off it. I get a lot of cookbooks, so for one to capture my attention so thoroughly is a sure sign that it is an absolute winner.

pear chutney with dried cherries and ginger

I plan on showing you more photos from this magical volume in my weekly cookbook post tomorrow, but earlier today I made a pear chutney inspired by it and I just couldn’t wait to tell you all about it. Made from fresh fall pears, dried cherries, freshly grated ginger and a pinch of ground cardamom, this chutney is heady and intensely flavored. As it was cooking, I couldn’t keep myself from nipping small spoonfuls from the pot. I’ve been craving fall in the worst way and it tasted so deeply autumnal. It was just what I needed.

pear chutney with dried cherries and ginger

Now, I say that this chutney is inspired by the Bi-Rite Market cookbook because while there is a chutney recipe in there that calls for these same main ingredients, halfway through cooking, I veered fairly wildly off course.

pear chutney with dried cherries and ginger

I like my chutneys to be a little bit sweet, strongly flavored and quite acidic. As it’s written, the Bi-Rite version just didn’t give quite me what I want from a chutney (though I adored their choices in fruits and flavors). I pumped up the amount of vinegar, sugar and grated ginger, added quite a bit more liquid and quadrupled the cooking time, so that it could simmer, thicken and soften without running dry.

pear chutney with dried cherries and ginger

As you can see from these final pictures, my finished chutney is deep and dark. The pears give it clean, fruity base. The cherries (as well as a splash of apply brandy) add a boozy element. The pinch of cardamom makes for good fragrance. And the ginger, mustard seeds and vinegar lend edge and pucker. It has a lovely texture that is spreadable without being runny (I cannot abide a watery chutney).

pear chutney with dried cherries and ginger

Please don’t judge it by its tar-like appearance. I promise, when it’s inspected in light slightly more friendly then the overhead fluorescent bulbs in my kitchen, it is nuanced and appealing to the eye. Had I not finished it moments before dinnertime, I would have unearthed the hunk of fancypants clothbound Cabot cheddar we bought this weekend and gone to town with cheese and chutney.

pear chutney with dried cherries and ginger

Truly, I am so pleased with how this chutney ended up. I’ve been feeling uninspired by the kitchen lately and so it was such a joy to find a recipe that captured my attention and motivated me to chop, cook and improvise. Any cookbook that can motivate me to gather ingredients and dash to the stove is one that is worth its space on the shelf. Don’t you agree?

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Cookbooks: We Sure Can!

We Sure Can!

In the last few years, a wave of new canning books have been published and each has its individual charms.  Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It is an amazing resource for fun, DIY foods (like homemade corn flakes!). Putting Up More is just the thing for the home canner who wants to move beyond the standard array of preserves. Tart and Sweet is perfect for creative folks who want to impress at the holidays or at their local food swap.

We Sure Can!

Like these other volumes, Sarah B. Hood’s new book, We Sure Can! also has a very distinct reason for being. Part cookbook, part story of this most recent food preservation movement, it will lend confidence to new canners and remind seasoned preservers that they are not alone out there.

We Sure Can!

One of the most glorious things about We Sure Can! is that it is written from a place of sharing and generosity. So many new cookbooks seem to be crafted in isolation, without acknowledgement of the community from which they draw inspiration. Sarah’s book is a celebration of the many chefs, cooks and bloggers who have played roles in the energy that has gathered around canning in the last few years.

We Sure Can!

Bloggers like Audra Wolfe from Doris and Jilly Cook and Joel McCharles from Well Preserved are featured prominently. Images from Shae Irving of Hitchhiking to Heaven and Leann Locher of Lelo in Nopo are included in the many gorgeous photography spreads.

And the recipes! Tucked among Sarah’s many prize-winner recipes are preserves from Gloria Nicol (author of the blog Laundry Etc. and the book Fruits of the Earth) and pickles from Julia Sforza (she writes What Julia Ate) to name just a couple of the contributors.

We Sure Can!

For those of you who like a bit of dependability in your recipes, this book should go on your shelves. There’s not a single preserve in this book that isn’t tested and beloved by the recipe contributor. If you’re a regular reader of canning blogs, you’ll be happy to see many of your favorite bloggers have offered up their best preserves for inclusion.

If you’re looking for a book to give to a friend to help then on the path towards home food preservation, this is one you should most certainly consider. In addition to all the things I’ve gushed about already, you should also know that the front section of this book is an approachable, unfussy introduction to everything you need to learn before firing up your canning pot.

I am so delighted to add this volume to my collection of canning books (you should know, I did receive a free review copy, but I’d have gladly paid for it). Well done, Sarah!

Comments { 9 }

Cookbooks: Homemade Soda

Homemade Soda

If I’d been really on top of my game, I would have written about this book back in June, when summer was full of possibility and there were still plenty of long, warm evenings ahead for sipping cool drinks. Instead, it’s late September. October will be here in a blink. What on earth makes me think it’s a good time to feature a book about Homemade Soda?

Homemade Soda interior

Well, for one thing, the holidays are starting to loom. If you’ve got a devoted DIY-er on your list, this might just be the perfect book to wrap for them this year (paired with a soda siphon if you’re feeling really generous). What’s more, there are plenty of recipes that work all year round, like the Vanilla Pear Sparkler (page 158) or the Effervescent Jasmine Honey Tea (page 191).

Very Cherry Cola

What makes this book so cool is that there are a number of ways you can use it. Many of the recipes can be made as syrups that you can stir into sparkling water. If you want to take it up a notch, there are also instructions on how to charge the entire concoction with bubbles for a more authentic flavor. There are also recipes for naturally fermented sodas tucked into the book, for those of you who want your carbonation to come the old fashioned way.

fruity recipes

The other thing that makes Homemade Soda stand out from other books about infused syrups and home brewed soft drinks is the third part of the book, which is devoted to recipes that incorporate sodas into the ingredient list. From Ginger Beer Chicken Curry (page 272) to Chocolate Root Beer Cheesecake (page 292), these recipes will have you on your feet and headed to the kitchen in no time.

Comments { 14 }

Canning Cookbook: Home Made by Yvette Von Boven

Homemade cover

My cookbook collection is out of control. Just like the jars, they are in every room of our apartment (oddly, except the kitchen. There’s no room in there for anything other than food, cookware and me). I’ve tried to go cold turkey and abstain from new books entirely, but occasionally, there’s one that is so beautiful and alluring that I can’t resist giving it a permanent place on the shelves. Home Made by Yvette Von Boven is one such book.

Homemade spine

Yvette Von Boven is a European food stylist, freelance writer and restaurant-owner who’s work regularly appears in a variety of magazines and other publications. Home Made was published first in Dutch and was named the Dutch cookbook of the year in 2010.

Homemade - Making Jam

One of the things that most charmed me about this book right off the bat was the tone it takes. Chatty and confidence-inspiring, after reading her instructions, you’ll feel like you can take on any one of these projects. However, before you dive in to any of her preserving project, I would recommend that you also acquaint yourself with current USDA standards. This book recommends the inversion method for sealing jams and also gives instruction on how to reuse canning jar lids, both ill-advised according US standards.

Homemade - Duck Ham

The pages are filled with lovely, useful illustrations like the ones you see above. I love a recipe that’s written with drawings instead of simply typed in the conventional fashion. There are also a number of recipes I’ve bookmarked, like the butternut pickles (a refrigerator pickle, not a processed one) on page 162 and the rose tea marshmallows you see below.

Homemade - Rose Tea Marshmallows

And just so I don’t give you the impression that this book is only a preserving and food crafting one, you should know that the pages are also bursting with recipes for delicious-sounding things like Chicken Kebabs with Honey, Prunes and Walnuts (page 253), Salad with Celeriac, Goat Cheese, Pomegranate & Tarragon (page 176) and the Vanilla Fritters with Zabaglione (page 330). Who’s ready to eat?

Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book. However, my thoughts and opinions are, as always, entirely my own.


Comments { 27 }

Homemade Living with Ashley English Winner

Homemade Living with Ashley English

Goodness. There sure were a lot of you hoping to win Ashley English’s Homemade Living series! Deservedly too, as these books are truly excellent resources. Sadly, I have but one set to give away and has selected #927. That’s the comment left by Shelagh, who said,

“I am in the process of transforming green beans (purchased from a friend’s tiny  organic farm) into dilly beans, which will get us through the long, cold Maine winter. “Canning and Preserving” would be welcome reading material as I plan next year’s garden.”

Shelagh, here’s hoping that these books help you plan your plot for 2012! For the rest of you, I do encourage you to seek out Ashley’s books going forward. Whether you were interested in Canning & Preserving, Keeping Chickens, Home Dairy and Keeping Bees, treat yourself to a copy or request one from the local library. They are most definitely worth reading!

Comments { 2 }

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It + Giveaway

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

It is stunning to me how much the world of information around canning, preserving and  DIY food arts has expanded in the last couple of years. When I first started this blog in early 2009, it was so easy to be familiar with the canon of books on the topic. I had them all and they took up about 18 inches of space on the bookshelf.

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

Then suddenly, a new wave of books started to flow onto the market. One of the best of this first round was Karen Solomon’s Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It. It offered instruction on canning, easy home dairy items and a variety of other projects that were universally welcomed by home cooks who wanted slightly more control over their food.

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

Karen recently published a follow-up volume called Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It that is just as delightful as her first book. It includes a handful traditional preserves, as well as instructions for homemade cereals (cornflakes! puffed rice!), miso, rice milk, smoked nuts  and so much more.

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

For those of you who were intrigued but overwhelmed by Charcutepalooza and its many meaty challenges, you’re going to want to take a peek at the Hunt It section of the book. Karen has included a series of accessible, easy to follow recipes for corned beef, pastrami and hot dogs (as well as instructions for how to transform those hot dogs into corn dogs.

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

Every time I sit down with this book for more than a few minutes, I start to itch for the kitchen. The urge to cook become irresistible. My apartment has seen her Sesame Rosemary Granola, the Basic Barbecue Sauce and the Pickled Grapes (so good).

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

Last fall when I was in San Francisco, I got to meet Karen. We were both judges at the Good Food Awards and during a break in the tasting, she bought me a cup of coffee and we shared tales of obsessive preserving and cookbook writing. Somehow, that led to a request that I write a blurb for the book’s back cover. Entirely flattered, I was thrilled to do it.

All that said, here’s the point I really want to make. Even if I’d never known the first book, never met Karen and never spent hours pouring over a xeroxed galley copy trying to concisely say why I thought it was so good, I would still like this book. The recipes are super solid. The head notes are full of personality. And the pictures are pretty. It’s definitely a buy it, use it, love it book.

So, all that said, let’s get to the good part. I have a copy of Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It to give away to a Food in Jars reader. Here are the details…

  1. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post and share a kitchen project that you’ve been wanting to tackle.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Tuesday, August 9.
  3. Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (apologies to my more far-flung readers).
  4. One entry per person, please.

Disclosure: I received two copies of this book for free. I’m keeping one in the hopes that I can get Karen to sign it for me someday. The other I’m offering up here. However, despite the copies, that cup of coffee and my unconcealed admiration for Karen and her writing, my opinions are still all my own.