Homemade Maple Almond Butter

finished almond butter

My friend Shay adores almond butter. She has the ability to eat it day after day, smeared on toast or straight out of the jar with a spoon. And honestly? I never quite understood why she liked it so much. I always found it a bit stodgy and without the smoothness of some other nut butters I’ve tried.

1 1/2 cups almonds

But lately, the urge to make a homemade nut butters took hold and I couldn’t shake it loose. I was a little concerned that my 30+ year old food processor wasn’t up to the job, but I decided to give it a shot anyway. The motor did smell slightly overheated, but kept on chugging throughout the processing. I chose to make a roasted maple almond butter because I had all the ingredients needed. Plus, I figured that if I didn’t like it, I’d always have an appreciative audience in Shay.

roasted nuts

I took my primary inspiration from this post on the Edible Perspective and tossed 1 1/2 cups of raw almonds with 3 tablespoons of maple syrup on a baking mat. I sprinkled a bit of sea salt on prior to roasting, because I like my nut butters to have a salty side.

after 2-3 minutes of processing

After 20 minutes of roasting, the almonds took a little cool-down prior to their trip through the processor. Truly, I could have eaten the entire baking sheet just as they were (I must remember to do more with maple roasted nuts. Maybe I should make these again).

after 5 minutes

Once they were cool enough to handle, it was just a matter of running the processor, scraping down the sides and adding a bit of walnut oil to help things get moving. After six or seven minutes of processing, those roasted almonds had transformed into the most luscious nut butter I’d ever seen or tasted. Suddenly, I understood Shay’s love of almond butter. It’s creamy, nutty and just a touch sweet thanks to the maple syrup.

So far, I’ve eaten it with apple slices, spread on toasted millet bread (a friend gave me half a loaf, the recipe is from Moosewood) and straight out of the jar with a spoon. When this jar is gone (and it will be soon, I only got a little more than half a pint), I’ll be making more.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 58 }

Open Jars: Blue Cheese Savories from Mostly Foodstuffs

As anyone with a canning habit the size of mine knows, finding ways to incorporate jam into nearly every meal of the day is really the only way to control the tide of preserves. Happily, a new twist on jam use has come into my life and it’s divine. It came to my attention through Deena at Mostly Foodstuffs, who found it over at Food52 (the original recipe comes from The Runaway Spoon). I’ll just let Deena tell you about it.

I test drove this recipe earlier in the week, after lusting over it since Food52’s post a month ago. And it did not disappoint — these are amazing. Truly. The cookie itself is salty and savory, piquant with blue cheese, and counterbalanced with a dollop of tart jam. And, as an added bonus, it has a delightfully short and flaky crumb (and is easy to make, with just a handful of ingredients). It’s like the most elegant Cheez-It ever, the best of a cheese plate (cracker, cheese and preserves) all in one tiny little mouthful. This is a recipe that practically screams “I am your New Year’s Eve party appetizer!”

We’ve missed the boat for New Year’s Eve, but these little suckers truly should be kept in mind next time you need a delicious, slightly fancypants tidbit. Deena’s tried them with a variety of jams, all to great success. I had them with fig jam and felt compelled to dance a little jig of joy while they were in my mouth.

Comments { 14 }

Canning 101: Why You Shouldn’t Double Batches of Jam

jam bubbles

If you’ve been canning for any length of time, one of the warnings you’ve probably heard is that you shouldn’t double jam recipes. However, no one ever really explains why it’s not a good idea. Let’s change that, shall we?

First off, it’s not recommended practice because if you double the amount of jam in the pot, it just won’t cook as well or effectively. Most jam recipes already call for you to use the widest pot you have, for maximum surface area. This large surface area leads to faster evaporation of water. Fast cooking leads to the freshest tasting, best textured jam.

However, if you double the amount of jam in your pot, you greatly increase the cooking time, because there’s so much more product in the pot that needs to be cooked down. This can lead to rubbery batches, burning and jam that doesn’t set. It can also as much as double the amount of time you spend cooking the jam.

It’s far better to make two smaller batches than it would be to try and double a recipe (unless you have an industrial stove and an absolutely massive pot).

Big thanks to Susie for her email, which made me realize I’d never addressed this issue.

Comments { 61 }

A Few Shots from the Food in Jars Flickr Pool

I’ve done a few little things in the kitchen today, although I’m still struggling to feel confident at the stove when I still haven’t quite regained my sense of smell (it’s really hard to cook when your sniffer is on the blink). While we wait for me to get my act back together (just to give you a hint of things to come, I’m planning on doing a batch of herb-infused honey to help with cold season healing), here are a few lovely photos from the Food in Jars Flickr page. Please join the group and add your photos!

This image was taken by Kimberly at The Year in Food. Back in late December (feels so long ago, doesn’t it?), she cooked up a batch of orange marmalade that looks like the perfect thing to brighten a dreary morning.

Holiday Home Tour

Not preserves, but still, so perfectly festive and appealing. Plus I love Mama Urchin‘s way of seeing the world.

Orange Liqueur

I keeping meaning to do one of these fruit infused liqueurs (although the truth of it is that I barely drink and turn bright red after half a beer). Pam at Sidewalk Shoes has done a couple this season, including this gorgeous orange variety.

Spiced Crab Apples

Lastly, check out these glowing spiced crab apples from Putting Up With the Turnbulls. Those two are some of the hardest working canners on the internet. Truly, their output is impressively prodigious.

Comments { 17 }

Welcome 2011!

233 | 365

Yikes. I didn’t actually intend to take a full week off from blogging. But around the time we got all the Christmas dinner dishes cleaned and put away last Saturday I was feeling a little off and when I woke up the following morning I had a full blown cold, a gift from my sister. I spent the second half of my vacation in Portland dragging around my parents’ house, blowing my nose a lot and sleeping.

I managed to get back to Philadelphia on Wednesday, but was so wiped out by the time I stumbled through our front door that I was nearly weeping with exhaustion. I’ve spent the last few days laying low, watching bad television with Scott and eating take-out. We had a few friends over last night for a very low-key new year’s eve celebration, but aside from that, I barely seen anyone or left the apartment in the last three days.

However, I have a couple of freelance deadlines rapidly approaching, as well as a potluck brunch to attend tomorrow, so I’ll be back in the kitchen soon, cooking up a whirlwind.

I hope everyone has had a good holiday season! Happy new year!

P.S. This site got a nod from Fine Cooking, in their year-end Best of the Blog round-up. If you have the time, you can head over and give a vote!

Comments { 7 }

Merry Christmas

holiday greeting

Comments { 10 }