July 4 Picnic: The Wrap-Up

picnic table side view

Last week, the lovely Madame Fromage and I shared the various components of summery 4th of July cheese and preserve picnic we made. Our hope was to create something that would help inspire all of you to open up your pantries, buy a few wedges, and invite friends over to celebrate.

open spiced blueberries

I started the week with a batch of spiced blueberries. Preserved in a syrup spiked with just a bit of apple cider vinegar to cut the sweetness, these blueberries were lovely with cheese. They would also be nice spooned over vanilla ice cream or angel food cake, should you prefer a dessert-y pairing.

Oh, and in case you’re curious, you can replace the vinegar with a little lemon juice, if you don’t love the assertiveness of the vinegar.

sparklers

While I was writing about blueberries, Tenaya was sharing tips for making light, refreshing, cheese-friendly cocktails. The recipe she included was one that was made with gin and a bit of raspberry shrub, but could be made with any light spirit and tangy fruity syrup.

finished cherry chutney

The next day, my suggestion was to make a batch of sweet cherry chutney. This is a preserve I first shared last summer and is a very good one. When I’m not eating it with a slice of cheese, I like stir it into a bowl of warm couscous, chopped arugula, and a soft boiled egg.

graham crackers

One of the components that Madame Fromage made for our picnic was a batch of whole grain graham crackers. The recipe is one that Heidi Swanson first posted on her site more than a decade ago, but is well worth a revisit. These crackers are sturdy, slightly sweet, and once you eat one with a bit of crumbled blue cheese, you’ll never again be satisfied with a basic Ritz.

whole brittle

My final offering for this celebratory meal was a batch of spicy pecan brittle. Broken into shards, it was delicious with bites of cheese. In slightly larger pieces, it was eaten as a sweet treat at the end of the meal.

three cheeses

For her second to last post, Madame Fromage turned her attention to the cheeses. We made the choice to buy the cheeses for this series from Trader Joe’s, in the hopes of making our selections more widely available while also showing that there are some really great budget options available out there.

friends shooting the board

I hope you enjoyed our picnic as much as we did! Make sure to check out Madame Fromage’s wrap-up here. And once again, many thanks to Peg & Awl for lending us the gorgeous boards (I’m just sad we didn’t find a way to work this jar caddy into the shoot).

And now, a question for all of you. How are you planning on working your homemade preserves into your summer celebrations?

Comments { 3 }

July 4th Picnic: Spicy Pecan Brittle

side view picnic

Earlier today, Madame Fromage posted a little something about the cheeses she picked for this picnic. All three were from Trader Joe’s and our intention was to show that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to create an inviting spread.

whole brittle

The final thing I contributed to the picnic was a tray of spicy pecan brittle. This sweet, salty, and spicy slab was good to nibble on alongside a slice of the mini basque and we all found ourselves crunching on it throughout the afternoon.

broken brittle

The one thing I’ll change next time I make this brittle for eating along side cheese is that I will make it thinner. I used a quarter sized sheet pan because I was thinking about portability and it produced a rather thick brittle. For pairing with cheeses, a thinner brittle with a texture that shatters more easily would have been nice.

picnic spread

To add the spicy element, I stirred in some gochugaru. This is the Korean chili powder that’s typically used for making kimchi, but it works beautifully in this brittle. If you don’t have it in your pantry, Aleppo or ancho chili powder would also work. I’d stay away from cayenne, because you don’t want to overwhelm the brittle with heat.

brittle with cheese

I used pecans in this brittle because I had jar in the fridge that wanted to be used. Other seeds and nuts will work nicely as well. If you were planning on taking it to a potluck where a warning about food allergies had been issued, try making it with a blend of toasted sunflower and sesame seeds. It would be delicious!

Continue Reading →

Comments { 4 }

Industree’s Hail to the V Event

275 | 365

Next week, I’m participating in an event that’s a bit outside my regular sphere. It’s a panel discussion put on by Industree called Hail to the V and it features women in the food and beverage industry in Philadelphia. Topics of conversation will include building brands as females, professional and personal stories, lessons learned, building respect, cultivating loyalty, and kitchen life.

This event is on Wednesday, July 1 from 2 to 5:30 pm at the The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College. The moderators will be Madison Alpern and Jen Carroll.

  • Charlotte Calmels – co-owner, Bibou and Le Cheri
  • Phoebe Esmon – head bartender, Emmanuelle
  • Laura Frangiosa – chef-owner, The Avenue Deli
  • Monica Glass – executive pastry chef, Sbraga Dining
  • Chloe Grigri – general manager, The Good King Tavern
  • Joy Manning – editor, Edible Philly; recipe editor, Zahav cookbook
  • Marisa McClellan – writer, Food in Jars, Preserving by the Pint, and more
  • Erin O’Shea – chef-owner, Percy Street Barbecue
  • Valerie Safran – co-owner, Lolita, Barbuzzo, Jamonera, Little Nonna’s, and more
  • Marie Stecher – pastry chef-instructor, The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College
  • Heather Thomason – head butcher, Kensington Quarters
  • Alice Tran – general manager, Laurel

Tickets are $15 for students, $25 for industry, and $40 for non-industry. Use the code “JARSVIP” to get 20% off admission. Drinks and snacks will be provided. Get your ticket here.

Comments { 0 }

July 4th Picnic: Sweet Cherry Chutney

finished cherry chutney

I have spent the last couple weeks preserving my way through a sea of cherries. First came a 20 pound box of sweets from the nice people at the Washington State Fruit Commission as part of the annual Canbassador program. Then, just when I’d finished turning them into chutney, jam, kompot, clafoutis, and shrub, I picked up a flat of sour cherries from Three Springs Fruit Farm. I have one more pound of those to work through from that flat and then I’m done.

cherries for chutney

Happily, cherries were a perfect fit for this July 4th cheese board project. I made a fresh batch of sweet cherry chutney with some of the Canbassador fruit. Paired with a wedge of sturdy blue cheese and piled on those homemade graham crackers, it was pretty darn delicious.

chopped cherries

If you don’t have the time or desire to pit four pounds of cherries (admittedly, it can be a little tedious), I suggest you make a batch of pickled cherries. These can be preserved with the pits still in them and after a few days, they are ready to eat. These honey-sweetened cherries with fresh rosemary would also pair up nicely with that wedge of blue.

chutney in spread

Tenaya posted her tips for stirring up tasty summer sparklers to drink with cheeses today. Make sure to head over there and take a look!

Comments { 4 }

July 4th Picnic: Spiced Blueberries & Goat Brie

reflective spiced blueberries

Blueberries were one of the very first ingredients that Tenaya and I discussed when we first started talking about creating this 4th of July-themed cheese and preserve picnic. They typically come into season in our area in the last days of June and they can be transformed into all sorts of cheese-friendly preserves.

blueberries in a bowl

Instead of making jam, I opted to make blueberries in a highly spiced, slightly tangy syrup. I wouldn’t call them pickled blueberries, because they don’t pack a huge amount of pucker, but they have a small amount of apple cider vinegar in the preserving liquid to ensure that they taste zippy.

cooking blueberries

We paired these blueberries with a round of goats milk brie and it was an awfully good bite. They were also tasty gently mashed into the homemade graham crackers that Tenaya made. One of our friends who came over to help us eat the cheeses and preserves after our shoot was over was of the opinion that they would also make a very nice addition to a bowl of oatmeal. I wouldn’t disagree.

boiling berries

Like many of the recipes I post here, consider the listed spices as mere suggestions. You can change the flavorings without impacting the safety of the finished preserve. These would be equally good with vanilla beans, lightly crushed cardamom pods, or even some dried hot peppers if you like spicy things.

spiced blueberries and goat brie

You should get three pints of berries from this recipe, with approximately 8 to 12 ounces of liquid leftover. There are two really good things to do with this leftover goodness. You can store it in a jar in the fridge for adding to glasses of sparkling water. Or you can cook it down into a thick syrup that you can then drizzle over slices of toast spread thickly with fresh ricotta. The choice is up to you.

open spiced blueberries

More about our celebratory picnic tomorrow!

Continue Reading →

Comments { 14 }

Cheese and Jam for the 4th of July

cheese and preserve picnic

One of the things that I firmly believe is that my job here as the writer of this website is not just to offer up canning instructions and recipes, but also to offer up suggestions on how to use and enjoy the things you’ve made. After all, there’s no point in preserving seasonal fruits and vegetables if you never open the jars and empty them out again.

cucumber baguette raspberries

To that end, my dear friend Tenaya (aka Madame Fromage) and I dreamed up a little 4th of July picnic to share on our blogs that features a handful of cheeses paired up with preserves, crackers, and a slab of spicy pecan brittle. The cheeses are all from Trader Joe’s, so they’re quite widely accessible, and the preserves are mere suggestions. Feel free to take inspiration from what you already have on hand.

We know that we’re still a couple weeks out from Independence Day, but we figured posting this series now will give you the time to do a little preserving and make a plan for your own celebratory gathering.

three cheeses

All this week, we’ll be posting tidbits from our little cheese and preserve party. Over on her site, you’ll find the recipes for hearty whole wheat graham crackers and an easy shrub sparkler as well as tips on pairing cheeses with various jams, pickles, and other edible delights.

tenaya shooting the table

I’ll be sharing the recipes for the spiced blueberries and the pecan brittle, as well as pointing you to the cherry recipes that would best accompany this board (we used a jar of my sweet cherry chutney in the shoot and it was heavenly with all three cheeses). Make sure to check back all week long for all the celebratory fun.

Oh, and huge thanks to Margeux Kent and Peg & Awl for lending us all the pretty boards you see in the pictures above. I wanted to tuck one or two into my bag, but managed to keep my sticky fingers to myself.

Comments { 13 }