Archive | holiday foods RSS feed for this section

How to Make Fromage Fort

Happy New Year, friends! For our first post of the year, Alex Jones swings by with a recipe for fromage fort. It’s a thrifty and delicious spread that is the perfect way to use up those scraps of cheese leftover from your holiday entertaining. -Marisa

Scrapes of cheese for fromage fort

For as long as I can remember, cheese has always been a part of my holiday celebrations.

Growing up, a hunk of sharp cheddar and a wedge of Brie were must-haves leading up to Christmas, and Christmas Eve with relatives in Quebec usually meant a festive spread of nibbles centered around a raclette machine, melting slices of pungent Alpine-style cheeses over potatoes, bread, and veggies.

After scoring a cheap raclette machine of my own at my local Aldi last January, I had friends over for an evening of melted cheese, hot cider, and parlor games just before the Christmas holiday. After the revelry, a few scraps of cheese remained — and rather than tossing them into the compost, I tucked them away in the fridge to make one of my favorite thrifty, easy, cheesy recipes: fromage fort.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 7 }

Mastery Challenge: Apple-Quince Fruit Cheese

Our intrepid contributor Alexandra Jones returns again, with a recipe for apple-quince fruit cheese. This homemade fruit paste (this month’s mastery challenge topic) is the perfect thing to make your holiday cheese board stand out from the crowd! -Marisa

Fruit for apple-quince fruit cheese

I confess that over the past few months, I’ve fallen off the Mastery Challenge train. The contents of my kitchen and the time I have to devote to preserving just didn’t add up. But I’m excited to finish out the year strong with December’s topic: fruit pastes, one of my favorite ways to preserve seasonal fruits.

I canned a spreadable version of the typically sliceable quince paste last month. I had a few more quinces than would fit in my Dutch oven when I made that recipe, and they sat patiently in my fruit bowl while I figured out what to do with them.

sliced fruit for apple-quince fruit cheese

Since I’ll be entertaining friends with a cheese-centric holiday party next week, I decided to combine my remaining quinces with a few apples and whip up a concentrated, sliceable apple-quince fruit paste that would combine both flavors, with this recipe as my framework. And since I’ll be serving this paste with cheese, I’m choosing to call it a fruit cheese, but it’s basically a pate de fruits.

The beautiful thing about fruit pastes is that they’re pretty forgiving. The thing you want to avoid when making jam and jelly — a firm, overly-set preserve — is exactly what you’re going for in this case. It’s also quite easy, as there’s no peeling necessary, thanks to a food mill or fine mesh strainer.

cooked fruit for apple-quince fruit cheese

But there is a trick to it: the goal is to cook down the milled fruit puree until it’s as stiff as possible while still being spreadable, but there’s even a trick for that — if you’ve got a programmable dehydrator or an oven that goes nice and low.

After cooking my fruit till it was thick and mounding, spreading the mixture into a pan, and letting it sit overnight, the paste was still soft and moist. Mine spent several hours in the dehydrator at 150 degrees F, which firmed up the surface quite a lot.

milled fruit sauce that will become apple-quince fruit cheese

However, because the paste wasn’t spread perfectly evenly, some areas were firm on top but soft underneath.  No problem: I put the pan in the fridge to firm up for a few hours, then simply pulled the block paste out of the pan by hand and flipped it over. The pan went back into the dehydrator for a few more hours until the paste achieved a more uniform consistency.

At this point, all that’s left to do is slice and serve with a wedge of something pungent. (You could also cut the paste into cubes or squares, toss them with sugar, and serve as a dessert treat.) I like to pair this paste a cave-aged cheddar, but Alpine cheeses, blues, tangy fromage blanc, and other cheeses will all work with its sweet-tart, slightly floral flavor.

cheese plate with heart shaped apple-quince fruit cheese

While you can simply slice the paste into cubes, batons, or squares, I think this recipe is a great excuse to bust out your cutest cookie cutter. It’s the holidays, after all.

Apple-Quince Fruit Cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 apples
  • 2 quinces
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Brush an 8" x 8" pan with a small amount of neutral oil and line with parchment paper. Brush the parchment paper with oil.
  2. Core and roughly slice the fruit. Place slices and water in a heavy-bottomed pot with a lid.
  3. Cover and cook the fruit over medium heat for 20 minutes. Uncover and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until the fruit is very tender and falling apart. (The quince will take a little longer to get tender than the apples will.) If the mixture dries out before the fruit is tender, add another splash of water and put the cover back on the pot.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat. Pass the mixture through a food mill or press it through a fine mesh strainer until skins are removed.
  5. Return the fruit puree to the pot and add the remaining ingredients. Simmer for an hour or more, stirring frequently to keep the bottom of the pot from burning. Keep an eye out for when the mixture begins to mound up. You want the mixture to be as sturdy and thick as possible while still being spreadable.
  6. Once the puree has thickened, spread it into the prepared pan, doing your best to achieve a smooth surface and uniform thickness. Allow to dry overnight.
  7. The next morning, gently touch the surface of the fruit paste. If it's still wet or tacky and the paste is soft, put the pan into a 150 degree F oven or dehydrator. Check every hour or so and remove the paste when the surface is dry to the touch.
  8. Press gently around the pan, especially on any areas that may be thicker than others. If the underside of the paste is still soft and spreadable, put the pan into the fridge to cool for an hour or two. Once it's cooled, you should be able to gently pull up the square of paste and flip it back into the pan, soft side up. Return the pan to the dehydrator or oven, checking every hour or so. Remove when the surface feels dry and the texture has firmed up.
  9. Cut into shapes using a knife or cookie cutters and serve with cheeses, or cut shapes, toss in granulated sugar, and serve immediately as a sweet. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
http://foodinjars.com/2017/12/mastery-challenge-apple-quince-fruit-cheese/

 

Comments { 0 }

Turkey Party Meatballs with Habanero Apricot Jelly Glaze

This recipe for turkey meatballs features the Habanero Apricot Jelly from Ball® Canning. This sweet and spicy jelly is the perfect condiment for all manner of holiday cheese boards, relish trays, and buffets.

Sweet and spicy glazed meatballs are a classic component of a holiday party spread. They’re reliable, easy to prepare, and are generally a crowd favorite. They’re also an excellent recipe to keep in mind if you’re a home canner. A half pint of pepper jelly, a couple tablespoons of butter, and a little lime juice is all you need to make a killer meatball glaze.

I often bring homemade party meatballs to gatherings when I’m asked to bring a dish. I know that they’ll typically be well-received and they satisfy one of my mother’s essential rules of potlucking*. That rule states that you should always bring a dish that can serve as the backbone of your own meal, just in case everyone else defaulted to bread, wine, and dessert. On more than one occasion, I have made a very pleasant meal out of these meatballs.

In general meatballs aren’t hard to make, but they do take a bit of time. I sometimes make a double batch on a weekend afternoon, bake them off, and freeze some for the busy holiday season. With a jar of homemade sauce and a big salad, they also make a terrific meal for new parents and neighbors who need a little extra care.

Now, for a equipment plug. If you make meatballs in any kind of quantity, get yourself a one tablespoon meatball scoop. I’ve had this one for the last decade (Amazon tells me I ordered it in 2007) and it is still going strong. It has scooped many thousands of meatballs with it and I believe it will continue to do so for many more years to come.

One thing that all meatballs need is a good sauce or glaze. It can be a simple dish of ketchup set alongside your platter or slow cooker, a jar of smoky tomato jam, a tasty oven-roasted tomato sauce, or a sweet, spicy, and sticky homemade glaze.

Lately, one of my favorite glaze builders has been the Habanero-Apricot Jelly from Ball® Canning. It’s a sweet, tangy, spicy jelly that is made with dried apricots, so it can be made any time of year (it’s also a good one for holiday gift baskets for just that reason).

I first encountered this jelly last summer while in Fishers, Indiana for the Ball® Can-It Forward festivities (you can see me making it here). In that demo, we shared how the jelly can be transformed into a glaze for wings, but I’ve kept it in the back of my head for meatball dressing ever since.

Whatever else you’re making for holiday gatherings, I bet these turkey party meatballs with the habanero-apricot glaze will charm your guests!

*My mother’s other potlucking rules are that you should always bring a serving utensil and your dish should be able to stand at room temperature for at least an hour without food safety concerns.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 11 }

Apple Cinnamon Caramel, Goat Cheese, and a Cocktail

Every so often, my friend Tenaya and I get together and build a cheese board. She brings the cheeses and I come bearing preserves and other treats. A few weeks ago, we had a little mid-afternoon party for two in which we paired a log of downy goat cheese with apple cinnamon caramel, cranberry caramel, and crunchy caramel popcorn.

The cranberry caramel is essentially a version of this strawberry caramel I made for Simple Bites many moons ago (8 ounces of cranberries cooked with 1 1/2 cups of water, and then pureed until very smooth). The only change I made was to cook the caramelizing sugar to 285F rather than 250F (for a deeper caramel flavor).

I made a batch of this oven toasted caramel corn to go along with the cheese and preserves. In our minds, this array would be a fun spread for New Year’s Eve, and that’s the perfect night for a sweet, crunchy treat.

Tenaya and her brother Andre have had two cocktail-centric books come out this year (The New Cocktail Hour and Turner Classic Movies: Movie Night Menus) and so she whirred up a creamy, nutmeg flecked cocktail. Make sure to check out Tenaya’s post about our board.

However you celebrate the arrival of the New Year, I hope it’s a very happy turn of the year!

Continue Reading →

Comments { 3 }

Honey Maple Cranberry Sauce for Thanksgiving

This Honey Maple Cranberry Sauce is sweet, tart, and perfect for serving with turkey on Thanksgiving!

honey maple cranberry sauce in jars

Let’s take a moment to talk about cranberry condiments. They are a Thanksgiving staple and are one of the easiest things to make rather than buy.

honey maple cranberry sauce in jars

I’ve made a number of different versions to serve with turkey over the years. There was my “canned” cranberry sauce in which I molded a homemade version in a tin can in order to achieve the classic ridges. Before that, I shared a simple cranberry jelly made with just a pound of berries for easy DIY-ing.

washing cranberries for honey maple cranberry sauce

I’ve also made a bunch of cranberry-centric jams that go well with the traditional Thursday meal. Spiced Cranberry Jam. Pear Cranberry Jam. Low-sugar Pear Cranberry Jam. Apple Cranberry Jam. Apple Cranberry Compote. Any one of these would be a natural addition to your menu. (And if you need more inspiration, each one of my books contains at least one Thanksgiving-appropriate cranberry preserve.)

cranberries in the pot for honey maple cranberry sauce

Despite the fact that I’ve got so many variations at my disposal, I couldn’t resist making this Honey Maple Cranberry Sauce. Initially, I was going to mold this naturally sweetened version in tin can like I did all those years back. But honestly, it felt like too much trouble and do we really need another gimmick these days?

cranberries in the food mill for honey maple cranberry sauce

I find that cranberry skins are often tough, so I typically work my finished cranberry sauce through a food mill when it’s finished cooking. That results in a sauce that it more uniform in texture and is an easier sell to the people who have only just graduated from the overly sweet canned cranberry jelly. It’s an entirely optional step, though.

close up of honey maple cranberry sauce in jars

The finished cranberry sauce is flavored lightly with lemon zest and a cinnamon stick and is sweetened with both honey and maple syrup. It’s appealingly tart and sweet, and I am looking forward to heaping a generous scoop onto my plate come Thursday.

Do you have a house cranberry sauce or relish? Share your tradition in the comments!

Continue Reading →

Comments { 20 }

My Imaginary 2016 Thanksgiving Menu

cookbooks-for-thanksgiving-inspiration

I’m cooking Thanksgiving this week. I’ve not gotten to make the whole meal since 2008, so I’m feeling pretty giddy about the whole thing. However, as I’ve planned the menu and made lists, I’ve realized that my fantasy Thanksgiving and the reality of the one I’m cooking are pretty far apart.

sriracha-pimento-cheese-recipe

In my fantasy, I’d make all sorts of fun, new things, taking inspiration from some of the new cookbooks I’ve gotten recently. However, I’ve come to realize that the classic are where it’s at for the crowd who will be gathering around my table. So I’m satisfying my urge for the new by sharing my dream menu here.

creamy-sunchoke-soup

For nibbling before the meal begins, I’d make the Sriracha Pimento Cheese from Kristin Donnelly‘s gorgeous book Modern Potluck. I’d serve it with baguette rounds and cucumber slices. And for the very start of the meal, the Creamy Sunchoke Soup from The Vegetable Butcher by Cara Mangini.

herb-roasted-turkey

For the main event, I’d use the recipe for Herb-Roasted Turkey with Gravy from Jenny Rosenstrach‘s book, How to Celebrate Everything (I love this book. There’s nothing that I like more than a good food tradition).

cranberry-and-persimmon-relish

I confess that I like a traditional cranberry sauce (we’ll have a honey-sweetened one on the table this year), but this one combining cranberries and persimmon from Vegan Vegetarian Omnivore by Anna Thomas speaks to me.

triple-threat-celery-mash

My husband would be very sad if I omitted traditional mashed potatoes, or did anything to them that made them “interesting,” but if I had my druthers, I’d make a batch of this celery root, potato, and celery stalk mash from the book Mashed by Holly Herrick.

roasted-sweet-potato-pudding

This roasted sweet potato pudding from Rebecca Ffrench‘s Whole Protein Vegetarian looks awfully good and might be something I make for Christmas at my sister’s house. I like that it’s minimally sweetened with maple syrup.

healthy-root-vegetable-gratin

If the table could hold one more root vegetable dish, I’d call on the Healthy Root Vegetable Gratin. It’s another one from Modern Potluck and is something that is on my to-make list this winter.

roasted-and-raw-sprout-salad

No meal is complete without a green vegetable (at least, so says my mother) and the Roasted and Raw Brussels Sprouts Salad from Modern Potluck looks a good, seasonal one.

normandy-apple-cake

For dessert, the Normandy Apple Cake Tatin Style from French Desserts by Hillary Davis. Served with vanilla ice cream, of course!

wild-rice-and-turkey-muffins

Now, a bonus recipe. This one for Wild Rice and Turkey Muffins, from Cooking Wild by John Ash and James O. Fraioli seems like a really great one for using up leftover turkey and would be far more inspired than my typical pot of soup.

I’m curious. What are you guys making come Thursday?

Comments { 9 }