Archive for May, 2017

Rhubarb Ginger Jam

May 19, 2017

As I heaved yet another heavy load of weeds from my community garden plot, Elizabeth stopped by to say hello. She noticed the lush rhubarb plant in the front corner and asked if I’d tried Rachel’s rhubarb and ginger jam. ‘It’s lovely with a bit of aged cheddar; I’ll send the recipe,” she added and set my mind whirling. I’ve poached, stewed and roasted rhubarb. Baked it into pies, tarts, muffins and braised it with meats for Persian Khoresh. My sister sent a similar rhubarb ginger jam recipe a few years ago but then I had only the old fashioned green pie plant so my jam wasn’t rosy. Now that I have this healthy clump of red rhubarb, it was time to revisit the jam.

Rhubarb may be one of our most ancient cultivated perennial vegetables, though we use it as a fruit. It’s thought to have originated in Siberia and has long played a major role in traditional Chinese medicine. As we learn more about natural plant healing properties, rhubarb offers benefits for our bones, eyes and brains; it’s claimed to fight cancer, memory loss and tummy troubles At its very best right now, pick rhubarb for a healthy, delicious treat.

A fruit conserve goes nicely with cheese for dessert or a course on it’s own. The quince paste, membrillo, is trendy while in winter, little fig and almond cakes with fennel add that holiday touch of sweetness. This tart rhubarb jam fills in at any time and the punch of ginger makes it a perfect complement for crumbly cheddar, soft goat cheese or creamy Brie. It’s equally good on toast or biscuits or baked into pastry for jam tarts. If your rhubarb plant needs stalks pulled to prevent bolting and to keep it going through the summer, now’s the time to put up a few jars of jam. This small batch recipe will take only a few minutes to prep and about 15 minutes to cook, so in very little time, you’ll have something special to enjoy now or hold for later.

Rhubarb Ginger Jam

 16 oz. sliced rhubarb (4 cups)

15 oz. sugar (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons)

tiny pinch salt

4 teaspoons grated, peeled fresh ginger (use microplane)

grated rind ½ lemon

2 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon finely chopped candied ginger (optional)

Remove leaves and end bits from rhubarb and weight 16 oz. clean stalks. Cut into ½ inch slices.

Cover cut rhubarb with sugar; add pinch salt, grated ginger, lemon rind and lemon juice. Mix well and allow to stand an hour or overnight until the juices start to run. Bring the mixture to a slow boil stirring occasionally. Increase heat and continue a steady boil, stirring occasionally, for approximately 15 minutes or until the mixture is jam thick. (test by watching jam drop thickly from a spoon, or place a blob on a small, ice cold saucer to check for the set.)

Have ready 2-3 sterilized jam jars and lids heating in a small pot of simmering water. Ladle the hot jam into the hot jars, wipe any drips from the jar rims and tightly pop on the lids.,Jam should seal as it cools. If you are uncertain of a seal, store in the fridge. Makes about 2 ½ cups jam

 

 

 

Advertisements

Spring Asparagus with Eggs and Linguine

May 2, 2017

Poached Eggs with Asparagus and Pasta

Last Saturday of April: local Farmers’ Market opens. Rain, bitter cold, fierce wind. . . Nevertheless, I’ve been waiting weeks for fresh eggs and hoping for first asparagus, so I’m early in line. With freezing fingers I fork over cash for precious pullet eggs, and tender purple asparagus. “What do you do with pullet eggs,” asks my friend who opted for the large instead. In actual fact, pullet eggs may be the best eggs a hen will ever lay, and I buy as many as I can early in the season. The yolks are usually larger in comparison to the white; they are richer and very tasty. Pullet eggs are perfect for small batches where you might need half an egg. Children love them for their cuteness and they make perfect companions for an egg added here or there as a garnish.

With my treasures in tow, I set about an asparagus and egg supper. Cooking for one the pullet egg yolk will be perfect for a couple dollops of Hollandaise sauce, and two poached pullet eggs atop a swirl of linguine with fresh asparagus will be gorgeous. I’ll add a sprinkle of shaved Parmesan or some diced smoked ham and send a drift of garden chives over the top. The rain continued to beat down as darkness fell, but I found Spring on my plate.

A little note on Hollandaise Sauce: remember this is an emulsion of egg yolk and butter. The yolk is whisked with a little water in a heatproof glass bowl and warmed over a simmering bath. Once the egg yolk is warm and still liquid (take care not to let it get so hot it scrambles) whisk in butter a slice at a time. The butter will melt and thicken with the egg yolk. Once the thick sauce comes together, season with a few drops of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and thin with a little hot water if needed. There it is in just a few minutes, elegant sauce.

Asparagus with Linguine, Poached Eggs and Hollandaise

8 oz. fresh asparagus, purple recommended

2 oz. linguine or spaghetti

3 pullet eggs

1 teaspoon water

1 ½ tablespoons good butter

½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

salt to taste

2 tablespoons diced smoked ham and/or shaved Parmesan

olive oil

Fresh chives or parsley

Trim asparagus and diagonally slice into bite-sized lengths. Set large pot of water on to boil.

Make Hollandaise: Choose a small saucepan half filled with water that will hold a heatproof glass bowl on top. The bowl base should not touch the water underneath. Bring the water to a simmer. Slice butter onto a saucer. In the glass bowl whisk (a tiny whisk is good here) the pullet yolk with teaspoon water and place over the simmering saucepan. (Save the white for meringues.)   Stir the egg mixture as it heats. When it feels warm to your pinkie, begin to whisk in the butter a slice at a time. As the butter melts and is absorbed, the sauce will thicken. Remove the bowl from the water bath; season the sauce with lemon and salt. Set aside in a warm spot.

Generously add salt to the larger pot of boiling water. (The boiling water should taste as salty as seawater.) Add prepared asparagus to the rapidly boiling water and cook for 2-4 minutes depending on the size of the stalks. Once the asparagus is tender, fish it out with a Chinese spider or a slotted spoon. Hold in a warm bowl. Add linguine to the boiling water and cook according to package directions.

Meanwhile break each of the remaining two pullet eggs into small cups, and warm the diced ham in a little butter or oil in a small skillet. Once the pasta is cooked fish it out with the spider, a strainer or slotted spoon, add to the warm bowl of asparagus. Drain any excess water and toss with a little olive oil. Swirl the boiling water with a spoon and drop in the eggs. Reduce the boil to a simmer and poach the small eggs about 2 minutes. As the eggs cook, mound the asparagus and linguine on a warm plate. Sprinkle with ham and/or Parmesan. Lift the cooked eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel before setting atop the asparagus and pasta. Lighten the Hollandaise with a teaspoon of the boiling cooking water and spoon the luscious sauce over the eggs and pasta. Sprinkle with chopped chives.   The best Spring Supper for One.