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Sponsored Post: Growing Heirloom Tomatoes Class Giveaway from Craftsy

growing heirloom tomatoes

For most of my adult life, I’ve lived in an apartment without so much as a square foot of outdoor space. In the wintertime, it’s a boon because it means that I’m not responsible for shoveling snow, but during the summer months, I am keenly aware of the fact that I don’t have any place to grow a little bit of food.

Years ago, there was a brief but glorious period when I had a plot in a community garden and tended my own teeny time patch of land. Of course, when I started spending the bulk of my summers traveling to teach classes and promote cookbooks, it wasn’t something I could sustain and so I surrendered my little garden.

Click here to enter for a chance to win Growing Heirloom Tomatoes! 

heirloom tomatoes

Of all the things I grew, I got the most satisfaction from the tomato plants. Of course, my yields weren’t particularly great, but I loved doing it and playing a role in such a delicious miracle.

As I think ahead to next summer, I’m starting to wonder if I might be able to get my hands on a garden plot again (I’m really hoping to make next year a bit more mellow than this season has been). However, before I set plants to soil, one thing I would do would be to take Marie Iannotti’s Craftsy class, Growing Heirloom Tomatoes in order to maximize my success.

scooping heirloom tomato

Because they want to help spread the word about this most excellent class, the folks at Craftsy are offering up one registration for giveaway to a Food in Jars reader. Just click the link below to enter (it will take you over to Craftsy, where you’ll create an account with them in order to toss your hat in the ring).

Click here to enter for a chance to win Growing Heirloom Tomatoes! 

All photos in this post are printed here courtesy of Craftsy. I don’t have any tomato images that are nearly so beautiful.

For more about this series of sponsored posts and my year-long partnership with Craftsy, please visit this post.

Official disclosure statement: This is sponsored post from Craftsy. I was compensated for this post. However, all opinions remain my own.

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Sponsored Post: Homemade Lemon Curd from Craftsy

pint of lemons

Every winter, I order up a ten-pound box of Meyer lemons. I spent a week or two turning all that fragrant fruit into marmalade, syrup, preserved lemons, and creamy lemon curd.

I pack the curd into 4 ounce jars and stash most of them in the freezer* to keep it fresh. Then, throughout the winter and spring, I defrost one tiny jar at a time and stir a spoonful of curd into little dishes of yogurt as a sweet, tangy treat.

lemon curd mis

Recently, the folks at Craftsy asked if I wanted to take their lemon curd recipe for a spin. I nearly said no, because to my mind summer just isn’t curd season. But then I looked at the recipe and realized that their version used more lemon and less sugar, butter, and egg yolks. A lighter, more summer friendly curd, perhaps?

whisking lemon curd

The recipe works much like those I’ve used before. You combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, and sugar in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. This particular version does take a little more time to set up than the batches I’ve made in the past (mostly because the concentration of thickening egg yolk is less), but if you use a larger bowl and pan than I did, you should have perfectly good luck.

Click here for Craftsy’s Lemon Curd Recipe!

curd in skillet

I actually ended up giving up on the double boiler approach and turned my nascent curd out into a small skillet to speed the cooking. It eventually did firm, and once I added the butter, vanilla extract, and pinch of salt, I was entirely sold on this delicate version.

This curd is light and bright with unadulterated lemon flavor. Since I made it, I’ve been dreaming of dolloping a bit on a slice of angel food cake and topping that with a few fresh blueberries.

sieving curd

If you do make this curd, know one thing. It is inevitable that you will end up with small bits of cooked egg in your finished curd. For a perfectly smooth texture, make sure to run the hot curd through a fine mesh sieve to filter out any lumps or bumps. The recipe doesn’t tell you that, but truly, it should be done.

Click here for Craftsy’s Lemon Curd Recipe!

*I used to can my curd, but I’ve found that I prefer the texture when I skip the canning pot and preserve by freezing instead. Live and learn!

For more about this series of sponsored posts and my year-long partnership with Craftsy, please visit this post.

Official disclosure statement: This is sponsored post from Craftsy. I was compensated for this post. However, all opinions remain my own.

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Sponsored Post – Jam & Marmalade: The Blue Chair Way

apricot jam

This post is the next installment in my sponsored content partnership with Craftsy. This time, I took Jam & Marmalade: The Blue Chair Way, taught by Rachel Saunders.

I first met Rachel Saunders in the fall of 2010. It was in San Francisco, at the first ever Good Food Awards judging. Rachel and I were assigned to the panel that was judging the sweet preserves. We spent a day sitting around a table with a handful of other jam obsessives, tasting jar after jar, and talking about our impressions.

jam berries

All the judges had a deep understanding of what separated a good preserve from a great one, but Rachel was one of the few who could explain what was happening technically or scientifically that led to either good or great (as well as truly mediocre).

I left that day impressed with her expertise and ordered a copy of her beautiful cookbook (then brand new) as soon as I got home. To this day, I turn to it when I’m hunting for jammy inspiration and fresh flavor combinations.

cranberry apple jam

Recently, I spent a few hours immersing myself in Rachel’s approach to preserving when I took her class on Craftsy. Called Jam & Marmalade: The Blue Chair Way, it is an exhaustive introduction to the art of preserving with just fruit and sugar.

After a brief introduction to Craftsy and Rachel, the true meat of the class begins with a primer on equipment. For seasoned canners, this section might feel a little unnecessary, but there were several good reminders in this lesson, including remembering to make sure that when you prep your fruit, you take care to find a clean cutting board that has not been used for garlic or onions.

blood orange marm cooking

One thing to know about Rachel’s approach to jam and marmalade making is that she is devoted to the French-style copper preserving pan. These very beautiful and highly conductive pans are a joy to cook in (I treated myself to one some years back) but are very expensive.

Rachel’s alternative suggestion of an 8 quart or larger Dutch oven is one to consider, as it is still a very good vessel for jam making and will have many more uses in a regular home kitchen.

Enter to Win Jams & Marmalades: The Blue Chair Way!

The next two lessons focus in on jam making. First is a quick, simple blackberry jam and the second is a strawberry jam in which the fruit is macerated in sugar and lemon juice for seven days before cooking.

honeyed tomato jam

Lessons five, six, and seven are all focused in on marmalade making. Rachel’s technique is meticulous and produces a very beautiful product.

Part of her secret is that in addition to prepping, simmering, and softening the fruit that will go into the marmalade, she also simmers a second potful of lemons in order to create a flavorful, pectin-rich liquid to add to the cooking fruit. This ensures that she has ample jelly in the finished marmalade and is a technique I plan on using during next winter’s citrus season.

2+ cups of tomato mango jam

The final lesson in the course is the one in which Rachel shares her technique for processing the jars. She uses an oven method as opposed to the boiling water bath. This is a somewhat controversial method in canning circles, because while it is not approved for home use by the USDA, it is one that is commonly used in commercial production.

My feeling is that as long as the preserve being bottled is one that is high in sugar, the risks are minimal.

empty jam pot

Despite the fact that I’ve been making jam for most of my life and have written two cookbooks on the topic, I still felt like I gained something of value from this course. It was useful to hear the ways in which Rachel explained certain principles of jam making (I appreciated seeing her explain her frozen spoon method of testing for set, as I’d never quite understood it before) and I am so impressed by her marmalade process.

strawberry fig jam

Whether you’re looking for a thorough introduction to home preserving, or you want to brush up your skills, I wholeheartedly recommend Rachel Saunders’ course.

Enter to Win Jams & Marmalades: The Blue Chair Way!

For more about this series of sponsored posts and my year-long partnership with Craftsy, please visit this post.

Official disclosure statement: This is sponsored post from Craftsy. I was compensated for this post. However, all opinions remain my own.

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Sponsored Post: KitchenAid Classic 4.5 Quart Stand Mixer Giveaway from Craftsy

KitchenAid Mixer 640

When I turned 27, my friends got together and bought me a KitchenAid Stand Mixer. As birthday gifts go, it was one of the better ones of my life because it showed me just how well I was known and appreciated by the people in my life.

I’ve worked that mixer hard over the eight years that it has been in my kitchen and truly, it looks as good as the day it arrived on my doorstep. It is a tank of a machine and I am so glad to have it.

When the folks at Craftsy asked if I’d been interested in helping them spread the word about their KitchenAid Classic 4.5 Quart Stand Mixer giveaway, I jumped at the chance to share it with you guys. After all, I shouldn’t be the only one who knows the joy of getting a fabulous mixer as a gift!

This giveaway is a little different from the ones I typically offer here, in that you need to go over to the Craftsy site to enter your name (comments left on this post won’t get you entry this time). If you don’t have one, you will need to create an account on Craftsy in order to enter, but it shouldn’t take long and they are good citizens when it comes to user information.

The giveaway is open until May 23 and residents of the United States and Canada are both eligible to enter. The winner will be chosen at random and contacted by Craftsy.

Click here to enter to win a KitchenAid Classic 4.5 Quart Stand Mixer!

For more about this series of sponsored posts and my year-long partnership with Craftsy, please visit this post.

Official disclosure statement: This is sponsored post from Craftsy. I was compensated for this post. However, all opinions remain my own.

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Sponsored Post: Perfect Pizza at Home with Craftsy

finished pepperoni

This post is the next installment in my sponsored content partnership with Craftsy. This time, I took Peter Reinhart’s Perfect Pizza at Home course. It was amazing and changed my relationship with homemade pizza forever. Read on for more!

rising pizza dough

I’ve long been of the belief that even bad pizza can be good, if the circumstances are right. For instance, free pizza that appears in your workplace around lunchtime. It doesn’t have to be particularly excellent pizza in order for the ravaging hordes to descent and empty those boxes in record time.

risen dough

Also in this category is pizza eaten at the airport during a layover, pizza obtained in the late night hours after one too many drinks, and pizza provided by friends after you’ve helped them move.

And, until last week, this category included my own homemade pizza.

flattened dough

Years ago, I got myself a pizza stone and tried to up my homemade pizza game. However, every attempt yielded gummy, tough crusts and toppings that slide right off the slice with the first bite. I kept making it, because of my belief that even bad pizza could be good. In my heart, I knew it could be better, but I never took the time to make it so.

sauced pizza

Happily, it has all changed thanks to Peter Reinhart’s free Perfect Pizza at Home course. This is a class offered by Craftsy and it has totally changed my homemade pizza ways.

pepperoni pizza unbaked

The class is broken up into five sections. After a quick introduction, Peter goes into a primer on dough. I was interested to learn that you get far better dough incorporation if you use your mixer’s paddle rather than the kneading hook for the dough. I had always assumed that the hook was best.

sliced pepperoni pizza

I appreciated the variety of dough options that were offered in that section (hooray for the part whole wheat crust). I was also taken by instructions to pull and fold the dough every five minutes. It didn’t take any major kneading to create a light, perfectly chewy dough and I’ll be doing it this way from here on out.

bottom char

Next up was the segment on sauces and cheese. I’ll confess that I already have a favorite pizza sauce (the recipe is in Preserving by the Pint), but it was liberating to be told that a bit of cheddar cheese tossed with your mozzarella is perfectly acceptable.

mushroom pizza

I think I learned the most from the making and baking segment. There are so many good tips about shaping your dough into the pizza shape (make sure to let the dough rest in between stretching attempts, or it will keep bouncing back) and getting the pizza stone good and hot (crank the oven as high as it will go and heat the stone for much longer than you’d think).

mushroom crust

I was also encouraged by the gluten-free pizza unit. My sister can’t handle the gluten and I love the idea that I can still make her delicious, satisfying pizza.

If you want to take the Perfect Pizza at Home class, click here to register!

For more on my year-long partnership with Craftsy, head over to the first post in the series, all about my experience taking their free Knife Skills course.

Official disclosure statement: This post was sponsored by Craftsy. I was compensated for my time. However, all opinions remain entirely my own.

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Sponsored Post: WÜSTHOF CLASSIC 8-inch Cook’s Knife Giveaway From Craftsy

Cook's Knife

Photo courtesy of Wüsthof

My love of fancypants kitchen knives is well documented and one of my very favorite knife makers is Wüsthof. I have a number of their knives on the magnetic strip in my kitchen, and use them nearly every day.

The Wüsthof knife I reach for most often is WÜSTHOF CLASSIC 8-inch Cook’s Knife. It’s well balanced, stays wickedly sharp, and is a joy to use. The one that lives in my kitchen came with my husband when we combined our households back in 2008. He still refers to it as his knife, but I think we all know that it’s really mine.

A few weeks back, I wrote a post about Craftsy’s free Complete Knife Skills class and all the useful things I’d learned from it (along with a recipe for carrot and red pepper refrigerator pickles). In order to continue the knife skills love, Craftsy has kindly offered to give away one WÜSTHOF CLASSIC 8-inch Cook’s Knife to a Food in Jars reader.

This giveaway is a little different from the ones I typically offer here, in that you need to go over to the Craftsy site to enter your name (comments left on this post won’t get you entry this time). If you don’t have one, you will need to create an account on Craftsy in order to enter, but it shouldn’t take long and they are good citizens when it comes to user information.

There’s just one entry per person. The winner will be chosen at random. The giveaway closes at 11:59 pm on Saturday, March 22, 2014.

Click here to enter to win a WÜSTHOF CLASSIC 8-inch Cook’s Knife!

PS: All Craftsy food and cooking classes are up to 50% off through the weekend, so if you’ve ever wanted to learn more at Artisan Bread Making, Mother Sauces, or Vietnamese Classics, this is your chance to do so at a bargain!

For more about this series of sponsored posts and my year-long partnership with Craftsy, please visit this post.

Official disclosure statement: This is sponsored post from Craftsy. I was compensated for this post. However, all opinions remain my own.

 

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