Thursday, August 03, 2006

Lime Jelly, Apple Butter, Pizzas, and Nut Butter

Every once in a while I go on a cooking spree in the kitchen. Today was one of those days. I started with some sweet stuff: Lime Jelly and Apple Butter. Lime jelly is “different,” and can be pretty refreshing on your English muffin or toast during the summer. It’s also one of the easiest jelly recipes to make. Jelly-making is really easy if you’re using fruit juice that you don’t have to strain. It’s when you start with fruit and have to cook and strain that it gets difficult. I like the easy ones. And though I have been cooking with Splenda these days, you have to use real sugar in jelly recipes. I’ve tried the storebought jellies made with Splenda, and don’t care for them at all.

Lime Jelly

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6 - 8 medium limes
1 3/4 c water
4 c sugar
Green liquid food coloring
1 3-oz. package liquid fruit pectin

Grate rind from enough limes to measure 2 tablespoons; set aside. Squeeze juice from limes to measure 3/4 cup; pour lime juice through a wire mesh strainer, discarding seeds and pulp. Combine rind, juice, and water in a 4-quart saucepan. Stir in sugar. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Add 1 or 2 drops of food coloring, if desired. Quickly stir in fruit pectin. Return mixture to a full rolling boil, and boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat; skim off foam with a metal spoon. Quickly pour jelly into hot, sterilized jars, filling to 1/4 inch from top; wipe jar rims. Cover immediately with metal lids, and screw on bands. Process jars in boiling water bath 5 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Makes 5 half pints. (Try serving this over a block of cream cheese with crackers as an appetizer; or use as a spread on toast or pound cake. )

I decided next to use up a bunch of apples that I’d bought and discovered weren’t as crispy as I like, and made a batch of apple butter. I bought an apple peeler/slicer a few years ago, and bring it out when I need to peel and slice a large number of apples. It makes short work of them. I really didn’t measure much when I made this, so everything below is just a rough estimate.

Apple Butter
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5 pounds cooking apples, peeled and thinly sliced or chopped
1 c apple juice
1 c brown sugar (I bet I could substitute Splenda Brown Sugar Blend here, but I didn’t)
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg

Place all ingredients in a large pot stockpot. Cook over medium-low heat about an hour, adding more apple juice if necessary to keep mixture from drying out. Once apple soften and get mushy, mash with a potato masher.
Continue cooking over low heat, stirring occasionally, another half hour or so. Don’t add any more liquid - mixture should darken and thicken. It will have the consistency of applesauce, not store-bought apple butter. Pour mixture into hot, sterilized jars, filling to 1/4 inch from top; wipe jar rims. Cover immediately with metal lids, and screw on bands. Process jars in boiling water bath 5 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Makes about 3 pints.

Once all the mess from the first round of cooking was cleaned up, I decided it was time to make a couple of things I’d posted about back in my “Note to Self - Cook!” post in June. I had made a list of other blogger’s recipes that I wanted to cook, and since I wrote them down and made them public, it became a commitment with a good incentive to make them. First was Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza from Albion Cooks . DH is a pepperoni/sausage pizza eater, and absolutely refuses to eat blue cheese, or even pizza with “stuff like that” on it, so I thought I’d make several small ones, freeze them, and then take them to the office for lunch. I have a refrigerator and a toaster oven at the office, and it’ll be much cheaper (and probably healthier!) to take my own lunches and stay away from all the nearby fast food places. Catherine used pizza dough from Trader Joe’s, and I was going to do the same, but I spotted 8-inch Boboli crusts when I did my commissary shopping Monday. I bought four, and set up a small assembly line. I followed Catherine’s directions, with one exception. I sautéed up two small onions with a pinch of sugar until they were nicely caramelized, and added them to the pizzas.

Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza with Caramelized Onions
(Original recipe from Catherine of Albion Cooks

IMG_0795this is an uncooked pizza, taken before I added the walnuts and put it into a Foodsaver bag

2 small onions, thinly sliced
1 c water
1 T olive oil
1 t sugar
4 8-inch Boboli pizza crusts
4 t olive oil
2 c shredded mozarella cheese
1 pear, thinly sliced and sprinkled with 2 t lemon juice
1 4-ounce package Treasure Cove blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 c coarsely chopped walnuts

First, steam the onions in the water in a skillet, covered, for about 10 minutes over medium-low heat, or until water has evaporated. Add olive oil and sugar, and continue to sauté until onions are lightly browned. Remove from heat. Brush each pizza crust with a teaspoon of olive oil. Top each with 1/2 cup mozarella, one-fourth of the pear slices, one-fourth of the blue cheese, and one-fourth of the chopped almonds. Bake at 450˚ about 10 minutes.

After the pizzas were all assembled, I vacuum-packed each one with my Foodsaver, and put them in the freezer. Once work starts, I can just take one out, put it in the refrigerator at the office to thaw, and then cook it for lunch!
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Next up was Catesa’s nut butter. When she wrote about it in this post , she said she “mixed 1 container peanuts & 1 container of roasted almonds, some groundnut oil, a pinch of salt & a pinch of sugar and blended till it was all creamy and decadent.” I changed her recipe just a bit, since I tasted some honey roasted peanut butter from Whole Foods.

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I used a 6 ounce can of Blue Diamond roasted salted almonds, an 8 ounce can of Fisher honey roasted peanuts, a teaspoon of sesame oil and about a teaspoon of vegetable oil (I didn’t have peanut oil). Since the nuts were already salted and honey roasted, I didn’t need salt or sugar. I blended them in the food processor until I had a creamy mixture that looked just like Catesa’s. It went into a jar, but not until I’d tasted it on a graham cracker. Yum! This will be so good when I need a snack. Sometimes I like to eat a heaping spoonful of peanut butter - nothing else - and take a long time to eat it. It’s pretty satisfying, and I learned from the labels on the cans that there’s no carb difference between honey roasted and regular peanuts. Don’t know why, but that’s good for me.

I’m going to take a break now. Maybe even a nap! Then I have to plan dinner. It needs to be something easy, maybe grilled steak. We’ll see.

4 comments:

Catesa said...

wow you certainly HAVE been busy! those honey roasted nuts sounds so good, it must have given an interesting element :) yumyum!

Catherine said...

Hi Cyndi,

Glad you liked the pizza! I've had good results with the boboli too!

Nerissa said...

Well that lime jelly caught my attention! how wonderful because I just LOVE lime!

PatL said...

So have you tasted one of the pizzas yet?