Blood Orange Curd

blood oranges

A couple weeks ago, I was walking through Reading Terminal Market when I spotted a bin of blood oranges. They were relatively small, but the sign said they were just 4 for $1 and so I picked up eight. I had no plan for them beyond making something delicious. I buy produce like this far too often.

juiced blood oranges (and one lemon)

I considered making marmalade, but I still have one jar left from last year (and I’ve been working on a few varieties with Meyer lemons and Cara Cara oranges). As I thought over my other options, it occurred to me that it’s been far too long since I had a jar of curd in the fridge. And so the decision was made.

blood orange juice

The nice thing about making blood orange curd is that it only needed half of my oranges (so I may just make myself a batch of blood orange shrub). I added the juice of one lemon to the mix to up the pucker a little and had a very generous 1/2 cup, which is exactly what I needed.

eggs

Whenever I make a curd, I always make sure to search out the very best eggs, because they contribute both color and flavor to the finished product. The only problem with that in this particular curd is that the yolks were so vividly orange that they muddied the ruby color of the blood orange juice. Happily, the resulting salmon color doesn’t impact the flavor, it just looks a little funky.

blood orange curd

Let’s talk briefly about canning and curds. In my first book, I included three curd recipes. Because of differing acid contents, two are deemed safe for canning and one is not (I take my cues from the National Center for Home Food Preservation).

These days, I don’t can my curds at all, even when working with those that are higher in acid (which this one is not). That’s because I find that the texture often firms up unpleasantly in the boiling water bath canner. Curds will keep a couple weeks in the fridge and up to six months in the freezer.

blood orange curd in yogurt

Let’s talk a little about what you can do once you have a batch of curd in the fridge. You can use it to fill a layer cake. You can smooth it into a tart shell. You can dip berries into it. You can dollop it on scones or biscuits. Or, you can do my favorite thing in the whole world and stir it into a bowl of Greek yogurt. The combination is sweet, creamy, and just a bit tart. Truly, it’s the best thing ever.

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Giveaway: New Blue and Green Lids From Ball

boxes of lids

Several years back, I had a small stash of red and white checked lids and rings that I’d picked up at a close-out sale. I rationed them carefully, using them on preserves I planned on giving as gifts or featuring her on the blog. Every time I posted a picture, someone would comment to ask where I’d gotten then. I hated always having to disappoint people by telling them that they weren’t available anymore.

colored lids

Happily, Ball recently released a new option for those canners who are itching to dress their jars up with something other than a basic silver lid. Called the Design Series, these new lids come in either metallic blue or green and are sold with matching rings. They come in boxes of six and currently retail for $5.95. Just like their silver siblings, they are BPA-free and are good for a single trip through the canner.

colored rings

I realize that these lids and rings are a bit pricier than the regular ones. If you can many hundreds of jars a year, they might not be the ones you reach for. What they are is a fun option for people who focus on small batches, are canning for an event (a wedding, perhaps?), or just want to give a few select jars a little extra sparkle. They also match up really nicely with the limited edition blue and green jars.

lids on colored jars

Thanks to the nice folks at Ball, I have five sets of these lids to give away. Each winner will get one of the green ones and one of the blue (each box holds six lids and rings, so each winner will receive a dozen lids and rings in total). Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me one thing you’re looking forward to canning this season.
  2. Comments will close at 12 noon on Sunday, March 2, 2014. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog later that day.
  3. Giveaway open to US and Canadian residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Ball gave me a set of these lids for photography purposes and are providing the giveaway units as well. No money has changed hands and my opinions are, as always, my own. 

One Month Until Preserving by the Pint

Preserving by the Pint

Exactly one month from today, Preserving by the Pint will be released. I am thrilled (and only just a little bit terrified) to share this new collection of recipes with you all. There will be a number of blogger giveaways to celebrate the book when it is available (including one here), but if you don’t want to take your chances with lady luck, you can always pre-order a copy from AmazonPowell’sBarnes and NobleIndigo, or your local, independent bookseller.

I’m also going to be traveling a ton this spring and summer to share the new book in person. I’m updating the Classes and Events page on a near-daily basis, so please do make sure to check it often for news.

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Links: Citrus Salt, Winter Squash, and a Winner

February 12

The past few days have been glorious. For the first time in weeks, the weather has been well above freezing and the sun was shining to boot. The cold is coming back, but this temporary  reprieve has left me bolstered and feeling like I’m better prepared to handle whatever the meteorological gods plan on throwing our way (including, from what I hear, more snow later this week). Now, links!

you are unbeetable

Many thanks to everyone who shared their note writing memories in the League Street Press giveaway last week. The winner is #106/Terry.

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Sponsored Post: Complete Knife Skills with Craftsy

pickled carrot set-up

Friends! Welcome to my first-ever sponsored post. I’ve teamed up with Craftsy for a year-long series. See more about our partnership at the end of the post! Enjoy!

I am a self-taught home cook. I’ve never been to culinary school and I haven’t taken a cooking class since I was seven years old and my mom enrolled me in a “Kids in the Kitchen” series at our local community center. When I was young, I learned by watching my mom, my grandma Bunny, and my great-aunt Doris.

trimming and slicing carrots

During college, I picked up a few tricks from my roommates and discovered a lot through trial and error. And when I was in my early twenties, the Food Network was my guide (people may knock Rachael Ray, but I learned a lot from her in 2002).

I’ve done pretty darn well in this vein, but there’s always been one area where I knew I could do better. Knife skills. For years, I meant to take a class on the subject, but first the budget was too tight and then in later years, I couldn’t find the time.

red pepper

So, when Craftsy asked me to try out their free Complete Knife Skills course, I was a very willing pupil. Taught by Chef Brendan McDermott, the course consists of four components and takes just over an hour and 45 minutes to complete.

Chef McDermott starts out with an introduction to the necessary knives, moves into the four basic cuts, offers an array of tricks and short cuts, and finally gives you the details necessary to maintain your knives.

all ingredients prepped

You’ll also learn fun tidbits, like how to sharpen a knife using the bottom of a ceramic mug, how to quickly open a bottle of beer with a chef knife (!), and even how to split a handful of grape tomatoes with a single knife stroke.

I was particularly impressed by how easy he made it look to cut a carrot into gorgeous julienned strips. I’ve long struggled to create uniform matchsticks and so always opt to use a mandoline slicer when prepping a cut like that. However, inspired by his example, I decided to make thin-cut carrots and red peppers for a refrigerator pickle, sliced up with nothing more than my mighty chef knife.

zest confetti

Here’s how to do it. First, prepare the brine. Mix one cup apple cider vinegar with one cup fresh water, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Heat until the salt and sugar dissolves.

Grab two hefty carrots that weigh about a pound in combination. Trim the ends and cut the carrots in equal lengths. Trim away the sides of the carrots so that you end up with a neat orange rectangle. Carefully cut the carrots into slim planks. Stack two or three of the planks and cut them into matchsticks.

building pickles

Set the carrots aside and prep one red pepper by slicing off the ends. Cut the pepper into two equal halves and trim away the interior pith and seeds (Chef McDermott demonstrations this beautifully in Short Cuts component). Thinly slice the red pepper so that they roughly match the size and shape of the carrots.

Take a small lime and trim off both ends. Using a sharp paring knife, carefully slice away three or four strips of zest. Switch back to a chef knife and mince those strips into confetti.

cilantro

Using a clean, wide mouth quart jar, begin to build your pickles. Place 1/2 teaspoon each black peppercorn and crushed red chili flakes in the bottom of the jar. Add two garlic cloves (crushed or sliced, depending on your preference) and the lime zest confetti. Add a layer of fresh cilantro leaves and stems (about half a cup packed).

Then, gather up a handful of your carrot and red pepper matchsticks and place them in the jar. I like seeing them upright, but you can pack them in any way you’d like.

pouring brine

Once all the carrots and peppers are in the jar, carefully pour the warm brine over the vegetables. It should be enough liquid to fully cover the veg, but since this is a refrigerator pickle, it will be okay if there’s a bit uncovered. The carrots and peppers will act like straws and sip up the brine even if they’re not entirely covered.

Place a lid on the jar and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours before eating.

finished pickles

Note: For a spicier pickle, consider adding some fresh jalapeño pepper rings. I actually intended to do this, but managed to leave my jalapeño at the grocery store (truly, I know I put one in my basket, but it just didn’t make it home with me).

Sign up for Craftsy’s free Complete Knife Skills class to learn how to make these great cuts for your own batch of refrigerator pickles.

Sponsored content like this is virgin territory for me. I’ve not done anything like this up until now because I’ve never felt like the opportunities presented were the right fit. However, I’m working with Craftsy because I feel like their mission aligns with the things I try to do here. Over the next year, I’m going to be working with Craftsy on a series of sponsored content pieces and I’m excited to see where this partnership goes. I hope you enjoy the ride along with me!

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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Cookbooks: Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits

Homemade Liqueurs

Despite the fact that I don’t drink a whole lot, I love making little batches of infused booze. They make really great gifts and are always hugely popular at food swaps. My repertoire is fairly narrow, most years featuring just cherry bounce, rhubarb liqueur, and honey sweetened limoncello.

tools for infusing

This season, it’s going to be different. Thanks to Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits by Andrew Schloss, I plan on significantly upping my game. The book includes both a vast amount of interesting flavored concoctions as well a goodly number of recipes to help you use them up.

Elderflower Blush

The book breaks down into three main sections. The first is all the information you need to get started. Next comes the recipes, which are divided into fruits, vegetables, herbs & spices, nuts & seeds, florals, beverages & chocolate, creamy sippers, caramel & butterscotch, and finally infused syrups. Truly, there’s something here for every possible boozy situation.

Homemade Liqueurs back

The thing that I find most useful in this book is that if a recipe is designed to mimic the flavor of a commercial liqueur, that detail is indicated prominently under the recipe name. That way, if you long to make your own Frangelico, just turn to page 138 and start a batch of Toasted Hazelnut. It’s a good way to start playing around if you make liqueurs that can replace what you typically keep in your liquor cabinet.

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