Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sasha's Kitchen: Strawberry Rhubarb Jam & Challah French Toast

I made this delicious jam and preserved six jars using the boiling water method.  This was my first jam of the season and was a huge success for my second time making jam overall.  I just love the combination of strawberry and rhubarb this time of year, so I couldn't resist making some strawberry rhubarb jam.  Yum! My jam cam out perfectly using the Pomona's Universal Pectin recipe on their website and the instructions for preserving in Sherri Brooks Vinton's book Put Em up.  I took her class on preserving last year at the Brooklyn Kitchen. My jam had a little bit of fruit float, which isn't a big deal but a place to improve.  To correct for that, I should crush the fruit a little better next time, which may mean using a potato masher instead of my own hands!  At any rate, I have enjoyed using this delicious jam, both jazzing up some goat cheese on crackers as an appetizer and with challah french toast.  It's the best jam to start the canning season!  Please note, I multiplied the original recipe by 1.5 to make six conventional sized jam jars rather than four. Also, the recipe from Pomona's gives a sugar range, so what I used is below.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
3 cups rhubarb, cooked and crushed
3 cups crushed strawberries
1 1/3 cups of sugar
3 T lemon juice
3 tsp calcium water
3 1/4 tsp pectin

Combine the sugar and the pectin in a small bowl and set aside.  Heat the jars (minus the lids) in a large pot covered with two inches of water.  They just have to be hot, not reaching a boil.  You are not truing to sterilize at this point. Add some rhubarb (cut up) to a little water an cook until soft.  Then (after cooking!) measure three cups of rhubarb.  Mash two pints of strawberries using your hands or a potato masher and then measure three cups of the mashed strawberries.  Transfer the fruit to a large, reactive saucepan and slowly bring to a boil over low heat, stirring frequently.  Stir in the calcium water and lemon juice.  Then slowly add the sugar-pectin mixture.  Slowly return to a boil and heat to ensure the mixture is heated thoroughly.  Then turn off heat and allow to rest for five minutes.  Skim off any foam.

Using the boiling water method of preserving, ladle into half pint jars that have been prepared, leaving a quarter inch of headspace.  Release any trapped air and lightly place caps on jars.  Process for 10 minutes (once the water reaches a hard boil, set timer for 10 minutes).  Allow to stay in water for five minutes before removing.  Then allow to cool at room temperature.  Will stay good for one year!

To make the french toast, follow the recipe below.  This jam is amazing on the french toast.

Sasha's Challah French Toast
1 small-ish Challah
5 eggs
1 1/4 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
butter or canola oil for cooking

Whisk together the eggs, milk cinnamon and vanilla.  Slice the challah into thick slices.  Heat a large pan with either butter or canola oil.  Quickly dip the challah to soak up the batter, and then cook in the pan until nicely browned.  Serve immediately with strawberry rhubarb jam.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sasha's Kitchen: Cod with Slaw, Salsa Verde and Plaintains

Palo Santo is one of Park's Slope's delicious restaurants that my husband and I always enjoy going to.  I adapted this delicious and healthy fish restaurant from the New Brooklyn Cookbook, where the recipe hails from Palo Santo.  I wasn't able to get bluefish, so I adapted the recipe for cod.  It was still delicious and I really loved the salsa verde, plantains and slaw with the fish.  This take a bit of time to make, but not as long as you would think.  The end result is a beautiful, colorful and healthy display - a perfect meal for cheering up on a gloomy day!

Cod with Slaw, Salsa Verde and Plantains
1/2 head small red cabbage, cored and shredded
1 scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T red wine vinegar
2 T extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Salsa Verde
10 oz green tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1/3 cup minced chives
1 cup minced cilantro (original recipe called for two but I used less)
juice of one lime
1 T extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

3 very ripe plantains (I used two)
1 T melted butter

two 8 oz cod fillets (original recipe called for 6 8oz bluefish fillets)
1/4 cup canola oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425.  To make the slaw, combine the cabbage, pepper, garlic and vinegar and olive oil in a large mixing bowl.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside to marinate.

To make the salsa, use a paring knife to make an X on the bottom of each tomatillo.  Blanch in boiling water for a few seconds until the skin starts to split and then plunge into an ice bath.  Peel, discard skins and seeds and chop the tomatillo.  Combine with the other ingredients above for the salsa verde and set aside.

Roast the plantains on a rimmed baking sheet at 425 for about 20 minutes until they begin to puff and burst.  Then cut them and coat with the melted butter.  Bake until golden brown, another 5-10 minutes.

To prepare the fish, season with salt and pepper.  Prepare an ovenproof saute pan and add the canola oil  and heat.  Cook 2-3 minutes, and then place fish in oven to finish cooking about five minutes until it is opaque in the center.
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