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Sponsored Post: Craftsy’s Free Class Creative Ways with Whole Grains

quinoa and kale salad

This post is the next installment in my sponsored content partnership with Craftsy. This time, I took Anna Bullett’s Creative Ways with Whole Grains. It was an entertaining and highly useful class that reminded me of how wonderful and easy whole grain cooking can be. Read on for more!

I believe that every home cook should have at least one hearty grain salad in his or her culinary repertoire. They keep well, are customizable to nearly every food allergy and preference, travel well, and they make really excellent leftovers.

barley, cucumber and feta salad

Back in the days when I was working in an office full time, I would often make a big batch of barley, cucumber, red onion, parsley, and feta salad, and eat it for lunch all week. In addition to being a tasty and simple way to eat a good lunch, those bowls of grain salad really helped keep my grocery budget in check.

The only trouble I have with my beloved grain salads and side dishes is that I easily fall into a rut and make the same three dishes on repeat. To combat my tendency to combine the same flavors over and over again, my eyes are always peeled for fresh grain inspiration.

brown jasmine rice

A few days ago, while on the road and far away from my kitchen, I took Craftsy’s free class, Creative Ways with Whole Grains. It offered up a wealth of fresh ideas and had me itching to get back home and into the kitchen to try some of Anna Bullett’s recipes.

She starts the class with an introduction to a variety of whole grains, offers tips on how to cook them, and then makes a wheatberry salad with goat cheese that looks positively delicious. Later, she shows how to make a wild rice pilaf that would work wonderfully on a potluck or holiday table, cooks up quinoa porridge for breakfast, and turns onions, mushrooms, and farro into a creamy risotto.

quinoa in a jar

As we head into autumn (deny it all you want, it is coming), consider adding a couple of warm grain dishes to your regular rotation to help keep bellies full and satisfied.

If you want to take the Creative Ways with Whole Grains 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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Plum Cardamom Jam and a Anolon Advanced 11-Piece Cookware Set Giveaway [sponsored]

finished plum cardamom jam

The first homemade jam I ever tasted was made with homegrown plums. I was just four or five years old and the trees in our backyard were having a bumper year. My mom picked enough to fill her yellow enamel colander, gave them a good rinse under the tap, and turned them in sweet, slightly drippy preserves. We ate those plums over pancakes and with oatmeal every chance we got.

syrupy plums

Though I will often tell people that blueberries are my foundational fruit (and they were the star in my very first solo batch of jam), there is something about the flavor of plum jam that makes my brain go, “ah yes, THIS is what homemade jam should taste like.”

finished plum jam

I recently made my first batch of plum jam for this season (I was asked by Anolon gourmet cookware to develop this particular recipe), from the same kind of sturdy black plums that used to grow in our southern California yard. I added a little ground cardamom for extra depth and I cooked the whole thing in the 7.5 quart wide stock pot from the Anolon Advanced line. Though I don’t normally gravitate towards non-stick cookware for jam making, the width and low walls of the pan made it irresistible.

Get the recipe for Plum Cardamom Jam! 

Currently, Macy’s is offering 20% off all open stock of Anolon Advanced cookware through the month of August, so if the idea of a low, wide, large, non-stick stockpot floats your boat, make sure to check it out!

I also have one Anolon Advanced 11-Piece Cookware Set to give away to one Food in Jars reader. Anolon is hosting a number of giveaways this month, so make sure to follow them on social media (Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest) to stay in the know. Here’s how to enter my giveaway.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your favorite piece of cookware. Skillet? Dutch oven? Stock pot? Random fish pan you got at a garage sale?
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, August 16, 2014. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, August 17, 2014.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post (hopefully that was clear before you got to this disclosure statement). Anolon has compensated me for the creation of the plum jam recipe. They sent me the stockpot in which I made the jam (I did really like it, though), and they’re providing the cookware set for the giveaway. The thoughts and words are still all entire mine. 

 

Sponsored Post: Marcella Hazan’s Butter, Tomato, and Onion Pasta Sauce Recipe from Craftsy

tomatoes for craftsy post

As a canner, the next three or four weeks are the pinnacle of my preserving year. While it’s true that there are good things to can all year round, there is nothing better than the moment when local tomatoes are in season, available from local farmers, and sold by the 25 pound box. And that moment is now.

Over the years, I’ve developed a tomato strategy. Sometime in August, I get my hands on about 100 pounds of sturdy paste, roma, or plum tomatoes. I lay a tarp out on my dining room table and I arrange the tomatoes on top. The ripest tomatoes are positioned closest to the kitchen and the least ripe ones get a few days to redden up on the far end.

I then proceed to make somewhere between five and seven different preserves. Whole peeled tomatoes take up the lion’s share of my work, with about 40 pounds going into jars after being cored and peeled. The rest are divided between basic sauce, roasted corn salsa, pizza sauce, tomato jam, and a few precious jars of oven roasted tomato paste.

The reason that so many of my tomatoes go into jars whole and peeled is that they are my most versatile pantry ingredient. I add them to stews, I turn them creamy soups, and I make Marcella Hazan’s Butter, Tomato, and Onion Pasta Sauce.

If you’ve never cooked down tomatoes with butter and a bit of onion, you are in for an absolute treat. The onion is cut in half, so it expresses its flavor into the sauce without overpowering the earthy marriage of tomato and butter. The resulting sauce is magic with pasta, but my favorite way to serve it is with braised kale and these chicken ricotta meatballs.

While I wish I could can the finished buttery sauce and have it ready to go at a moment’s notice, dairy products don’t do well in the canning pot. However, having my own home canned tomatoes on the shelf means that the finished sauce is never more than 45 minutes away.

Get the recipe for Marcella Hazan’s Butter, Tomato & Onion Pasta Sauce Recipe here!

This weekend, Craftsy is also having a sale and all Food and Cooking classes are up to 50% off. If there’s a class you’ve been wanting to take, now’s the time!

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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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