Small Batch Apple Cranberry Compote

apple cranberry compote side

On Monday night, I did a canning event at the Mullica Hill Library in Gloucester County, NJ. When I was planning out the event with the librarian many months back, I suggested I demonstrate a recipe for apple cranberry compote. It seemed like just the thing for mid-October, what with Thanksgiving and the gifting season rapidly approaching.

The only trouble was at the time, I didn’t actually have an apple cranberry compote recipe in my personal preserve arsenal. I had jams, sauces, and chutneys, but no compotes.

So, with the demo rapidly approaching, I spend a little time over the weekend working one up. It starts with 4 large apples (peeled, cored, and diced), 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries (rinsed and picked over), and 1/2 cup water. You combine those three things in a saucepan, set them over medium-high heat, and simmer them until the cranberries pop and the apple chunks soften.

apple cranberry compote top

Once the fruit is tender and most the water has evaporated, you add 1 cup of granulated sugar, a teaspoon of cinnamon, and the zest and juice of a lemon. You cook for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the compote looses its watery look and the apples can be easily crushed with the back of your spoon.

When you like the consistency, you funnel it into jars, wipe off the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process the closed jars for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. When the time is up, pull the pot off the heat, remove the lid, and let the jars cool gradually for a bit. Depending on how much sugar you use, the yield will be between 3-4 half pints.

This is a highly flexible preserve. You could sweet it with honey instead of sugar (use 2/3 cup). To add a bit more flavor from the start, cook the fruit down in apple juice or cider instead of water. Add some freshly grated ginger, or a bit of cloves for an even more autumnal flavor. As long as you don’t add any low acid ingredients like onions or garlic, you can tweak the spices and liquids as much as you like.

However, even the most simple version is quite delicious.

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Giveaway: Morinaga Make-Your-Own Tofu Kit

tofu kit gear

This week, I’m giving away Morinaga’s new Make-Your-Own Tofu kit. The kit includes 6 packages of soy milk, 6 pouches of nigari (it’s the coagulant), 1 momen tofu press, and cheese cloth for lining the press. The soy milk is made from non-GMO soybeans and is preservative-free.

tofu press

Tomorrow, I’ll have a post up, walking you through how to use the kit to make a batch of pressed momen tofu (you can also watch a video from Morinaga here). I found the kit incredibly easy to use and the results were really delicious. This would be a really fun project to do with kids, particularly if you’re trying to convince of the deliciousness of tofu!

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me a tofu story. Do you love it? Hate it? Have you ever made it on your own?
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, October 24, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, October 25, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Morinaga sent me a tofu kit to try and are also providing this unit for this giveaway. No additional compensation was provided for this post, I just though it would be a cool thing to share. 

Links: Apple Butter, Vegetable Broth, and Winners

roasted butternut cubes

This past weekend was a relatively quiet one. I taught a jam making class on Saturday morning at the Morris Arboretum’s Bloomfield Farm. After the class was over and I was outside, loading up my car, I took a moment to stand and listen to the wind blowing through the trees. I love so much about my high rise life, but whenever I hear it, I’m reminded how much I miss the sound of that leaves and branches being moved by the breeze.

The Homemade Kitchen

Time for the winners in The Homemade Kitchen giveaway. The winner of the big prize pack is #361/Jen. The winners of the two books are #98/Dan and #130/Kim.

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Thoughts on Potlucks + Baby Arugula and Oregon Berry Salad

baby arugula and berries

This post is sponsored by the folks at the Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission. Nobody grows berries like Oregon does!

All week now, I’ve had potlucks on the brain. It’s in part because I’ve been reading potluck-centric comments all week on that The Homemade Kitchen giveaway (have you entered yet?). However, it’s also because with fall-like weather finally here, it just feels like the time to make a shareable dish, and gather with friends to eat.

Stahlbush Island Farms berries

Whenever I plan a dish to bring for a potluck, there are a few things I keep in mind. First in my mind is to make something flexible, that could make up the bulk of a meal (if offerings are sparse) but that can also be comfortably eaten alongside a wide array of other items. To me, that means that I want to make something that includes both a vegetable and a protein, but that isn’t too strongly flavored.

Oregon berries

I also want to plan something that can travel well, needs minimal assembly, holds up well at room temperature, doesn’t take up too much space on the table, and can be eaten with a fork (there’s also a subset of things I consider when taking food allergies into account).

What this typically means is that I often opt for either sturdy salads, a whole grain bake, or if I’m rushed for time, a multigrain baguette, a log of goat cheese, and a jar of jam or chutney (what good is a homemade pantry if you don’t use it?).

berries to defrost

When it comes to building a salad to take to a potluck, I have a steadfast formula. First, I pick a tasty green base (young kale, baby arugula, chopped romaine hearts, or a combination of all three). Then I choose something sweet (berries, apple slices, slivers of pear, or roasted beets are some favorites).

Finally, I choose a protein source (cheese, nuts, tofu, or chicken), something creamy (cheese or avocado, mostly), something crunchy (slivered onions, nuts or seeds, cucumbers, or carrots) and a dressing (homemade vinaigrettes made with fruit shrubs are the best).

defrosted berries

This time of year, most of us think that we have to wave goodbye to berries on our salads, but thanks to the clever folks at the Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission, I’ve learned a trick for defrosting frozen berries that keeps them whole and perfect for tossing into salads.

Essentially, you spread the berries out on a lined plate (paper towel or clean kitchen rag), and the use the defrost setting on your microwave in short spurts, until the berries lose their frostiness. It’s impressively effective and the berries keep their shape beautifully.

tossed berry salad

I wasn’t on top of things enough this summer to freeze local berries, but have been employing this microwave trick to prep frozen Stahlbush Island Farms berries for my salads. As a former Oregonian, I love knowing that I’m eating berries from my beloved home state.

The salad you see above included baby arugula, slivered almonds, sliced shallots, raspberries and Marionberries, crumbled feta, and a dressing of blueberry shrub, olive oil, salt, and pepper. While it was big enough to take to a potluck, this was one I didn’t share. I ate the whole thing for lunch instead.

For more information about Oregon raspberries and blackberries, look for the commission on Facebook, Twitter, or by searching the hashtag #ORberries.

Disclosure: The Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission is the sponsor of this post. They provided the berries, the OXO salad dressing shaker, and covered ingredient costs. All my opinions are my own and I’m honored to shine a spotlight on the berries grown in Oregon. 

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Pumpkin Pie Spiced Applesauce for October Unprocessed

chopped apples

It is apple season, which means that no matter where I go or what errand I’m running, inevitably a sack full of arlets, honeycrisps, or jonagolds comes home with me. I’ve been working my way through the bounty, making jam, butter, and sauce (hopefully more than enough to last what is predicted to be a very cold winter).

finished applesauce stack

Today, my technique for super-easy (no peeling or coring necessary) pumpkin pie spiced applesauce is up on Eating Rules, as part of October Unprocessed. Now, I know that we’re currently in the midst of a pie spice backlash, but truly, there’s nothing better than sweet sauce spiked with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice. Try it in your next batch of applesauce. I’m certain you’ll be convinced.

Get the Pumpkin Pie Spiced Applesauce Recipe!

Also, for this applesauce post, we’ve teamed up with MightyNest to offer a snazzy canning giveaway. Head over to Eating Rules to enter.

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CSA Cooking: On Using a Giant Head of Curly Endive


Time for another installment of CSA Cooking, where I write about how I’ve used, prepped, eaten, or preserved items from my monthly Philly Foodworks rolling farm share. Use the code FOODINJARS to get $10 off your first Philly Foodworks order.

I didn’t manage to take a group picture of all that came in my share this month. However, the box was a season-spanning collection of fruits and vegetables. I got sweet potatoes, garlic, a hefty eggplant, a small of kale, a big red bell pepper, a quart of plums, and a giant head of curly endive.

chicken soup

Heating soup leftovers on the second night. The original batch was far larger.

There was so much of the curly endive that it made an appearance in two different dishes. The first was a pot of chicken soup that stretched across four days, two dinners, a breakfast, and a lunch (when it’s available, I do love a warm bowl of soup for breakfast).

The soup was made using my standard technique. I pulled the meat off leftover chicken, piled the bones in a pot, added vegetables, and made stock (this time, I used a pressure cooker, which was amazingly speedy). I sauteed chopped onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, and garlic in some olive oil, added the roughly chopped greens, poured the hot stock over the top, and stirred in the leftover chicken.

Seasoned with salt, pepper, a little Better than Bouillon (to round out the chicken-y flavor), a couple tablespoons of vinegar, and a splash of soy sauce for depth, it was done when the carrots were tender. As with all soups, it was good the first night, but far better the second and third days.

beans and greens

The second curly endive dish was based on one I ate while in Pittsburgh a couple of weeks ago. My friend Cindy lives near an Italian place called Legends of the North Shore that is particularly well-known for their beans and greens (they also sell them out of a food truck). We ordered a small spread from Legends the first night I was in town, and I so loved that dish that I dug around online until I found a recipe that the chef had shared with their local CBS affiliate.

What’s so interesting about this dish is that it doesn’t actually depend on traditional cooking greens they way you might think. Instead, it uses spring mix, chopped romaine, and spinach. Adapting it to my needs, I made my version with the other half of the curly endive, one romaine heart, and the very end of a bag of baby arugula. This is going to be my approach from now on when I have an abundance of salad greens that need to be used, because it is fantastic.

Essentially, you heat a bit more olive oil than feels reasonable and heap your greens into the pan. While they wilt, you mince/press/grate several cloves of garlic, rinse off some white beans (I used a jar of these), and measure out a little grated parmesan or pecorino. Once the greens have wilted, you add the garlic, beans, cheese, and a splash of water or broth. With just a couple stirs, the cheese melts and the liquid in the pan magically transforms into a lush, creamy sauce. Salt and pepper to taste and you’re done.

We ate our beans and greens alongside some scallops, but you could easily turn this into the main event by tossing in some pasta or a bit of cooked and crumbled sausage. I can already tell, this is a dish that is going to be in heavy rotation this winter.

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