Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ground Cherry Jam and Other Stories

Well this post was supposed to be about my adventures in Jamland (a principality of the Indepentant Republic of Confiture) but I had such an interesting day today that I had include that too. Firstly, I visited the Salon des Vins et Fromages and sampled some GREAT local wines and cheeses. Notably a selection of 4 goat cheeses and 2 goat sausages from La Chevriere de Monnoir. I bought a bottle of wine from Carone Wines, Bin33 it was called.

Unfortunately I lost 11 of my 30 coupon tickets so we left a little early. THEN we headed to the old port for oysters at Mechant Boeuf. It was my first time eating oysters, and frankly I was terrified! Although I didn't like the little sauces they gave me (Red wine vinegar and shallot sauce was fruity and a little cloying. Tarragon and Pernod was okay but nothing stellar) but with a little lemon juice and tabasco, they were decent.
Sure, sure, a little boogery, but not horrific like I have been told. And the flavour was really good, I will definitely re-try. I'm impressed with myself! Perhaps though, 13 oysters was a little much for a maiden voyage.

Okay on with the Jams and Jellies! I saw Aimée Bourque of Under the High Chair's Jam Swap and decided I wanted to participate, but I'm not a sweets person so I needed practice. I don't think this post really qualifies for the Jam swap, since it is a bit wobbly, but it was a great inspiration. I started with sparkling wine jelly, but not only did it not set well but I think I added too much sugar. I decided to add more pectin to help with the gelling, but I used the crystals and... well you can see what happened to it. Idiot that I am, I saw it in the fridge and thought the crystals were bubbles. I was all impressed that the sparkling wine kept the bubbles. Yeah, no....

Okay! Try #2 I will use fruit, and I will use liquid pectin (I'll save the Jam sans added-pectin for a more experienced effort. I.e. some other time). A few weeks ago it was ground cherry mania here in Quebec. I bought 3 containers and set about hulling them. Here below are ground cherries.

And these are the hulled specimens, 17 hours later. Okay not 17 but it took about 1/2 an hour to hull the little buggers.
I ended up with about 3 cups.

And 1/2 cup of sugar
(2 x 1/4 cup. I know, I know, the picture is of a 1/4 cup... geez!).
It really was enough, I can't imagine throwing 2 cups of sugar in there. We're making JAM here people, not candy!

The ground cherries went into the pot with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water, plus 2 tbsp lime juice.

And then it goes KERRAAZY with the boiling! Once they get soft and start swelling and/or bursting, go at them with a potato masher. I then added a pouch of liquid pectin and boiled for about 5 minutes.

Here is the final product. It is still a little loose, but FAR more successful than the wine jelly. Without adding anything really there's almost a creamy vanilla flavour to it.

I think Kyle seems to think that it is too precious to slap on some bread and munch on, but I have pursuaded him...

Cheers my dears! Please comment, and bring your friends :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Welcome to the gun show (she says, flexing) or are you CHICKEN?

Get it? Chicken?
Get it?
Enh? Enh?... I’m not funny

So um, yeah.
A little while ago, I met Caty (Not in person, on the twitterwebs). She is the master of Snack a very entertaining and informative blog that you should definitely check out. About 2 weeks ago, she challenged me to a blog showdown, a chicken showdown. I must say, I’m not feeling very competitive about this whole showdown, because a) I’m not sure how it will be judged and because b) I like Caty and I want us both to win, but I am very excited about the collaboration.
The recipe choosing process was a difficult one, I didn’t want it to be too elaborate to look like I was trying to show off and possibly set myself up for a horrific failure. I also didn’t want to go too simple and not really flex my guns. (hee hee) Tamales were a very close second choice, but never having made a tamale, the uncertainty got the better of me and I went with a braised lentil cassoulet thingie.

Ok so if I need to boost the competitive energy here, I’ll start off by saying ‘oh yeah New York, oh yeah?! Let’s go, you wanna go? Let’s go! I’ll wipe the floor with your chicken recipe! Montreal RUUUULES!!!’
Ok no, sorry, just kidding. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. We are both equally good. Please don’t be mad at me! (By the way, this is also how I discipline my cats.)

Speaking of cats, poor Olive thought that now that she's all famous, that there would be more fans knocking at her door

She's been looking everywhere! So I decided to throw a few pictures up on our blog of the littlest contributor.

Ok, the food. Right! Here's an unappetizing picture of 4 chicken legs marinating in buttermilk. And might I add that buttermilk stinks. Yum Yum. I marinated overnight.

There was a round of pancetta that I diced finely, I really don't need a reason to post a picture of pancetta, it's just a beautiful thing.

One diced yellow onion and a few (3-4) minced garlic cloves. There was also 2 carrots and 2 celery stalks that were diced, but not photographed.

I then browned the chicken legs in a hot, high-sided skillet, 2 at a time, and transferred them to a roasting pan and sprinkled with salt. I think next time, I'll remove the skins, they got a little too brown. At this point it's a good idea to preheat the oven to 400 - 375°F

Gratuitous shot of pancetta frying.

I then added the vegetables (onions & garlic first, then carrots and celery about 1-2 minutes later) After frying for about 5 minutes total, the vegetables start creating enough steam amongst themselves to start lifting the brown bits from the pan. At this point I added about 1/4 cup of white wine to help it along. Check out the gross stovetop. I really made a mess that night!

Once that was done and the pan was relatively clean under the veg, I mixed with 2 cups of green lentils (rinsed) and added to the roasting pan. Chicken on top, with many stalks of thyme. Then I added another 1/4 cup of wine and about a cup of chicken stock, enough so that the lentils are covered in liquid.

After about 45 minutes in the oven, it should look like this. Cook it until your lentils are tender.

And then I took it into a subterranean cavern to add creme fraiche... ok no, it's just a bad picture. We're still in the kitchen. The only thing left is to pick out the thyme branches.

And serve! It is is sublimely tasty and fortifying. I hope you can get that from the photo.

Well, that's my effort for chicken challllannngge. Hope you like! xoxox
Cast your votes... or something. (Nothing pointy though)