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Sunny Citrus

19 Jan

While it’s important for me to shop and buy local, I realized after last year’s 100 Mile Challenge that it’s a long time without citrus, especially over the winter. There’s something inherently cheery about citrus, that sweet pucker that puts a smile on your face and reminds you that somewhere in the world, some place is enjoying warm enough weather to grow these round cherubs of goodness (and that you don’t live in such a place!).

Armed with grapefruits, lemons and limes, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to try out some new recipes and a new style of preserve I’ve never conquered.

Behold…

Vanilla Cupcake with Grapefruit Curd

Last winter, I kept seeing recipes for really beautiful curds and I vowed that the following winter, when we weren’t participating in the 100 Mile Challenge, I’d give them a try. I used this recipe, from Confections of a Foodie Bride and what I especially liked about her recipe for Grapefruit Curd was that it was a smaller batch of curd and that it used whole eggs. Right now, I don’t have time to use up 6 egg whites in another recipe, like angel food cake or meringue and I feared they’d get wasted. I also wasn’t sure how I’d feel about a curd and how quickly I’d use it up. According to the National Office of Home Food Preservation, curds can be canned, they be frozen up to a couple of months (just insure lots of headspace because they’ll expand) and they’ll also hang out in your refrigerator up to a week, so there are plenty of options. I opted for the easiest method since my time is very limited by chosing a smaller recipe.

The recipe results in a creamy, delicious and decadent curd. The one thing I noticed was the recipe didn’t state to use unsalted butter. My curd, while delicious, is a touch too salty and so the obvious butter tastes is more prominent than I’d like. Still, it’s a great recipe for beginners like me!

My next citrus project is this:

The Beginnings of Cointreau

I use a lot of Grand Marnier because I love the orange flavour and depth it adds to preserves. However, it’s pricey and if I can make it cheaper, I will. Again, since this is the first time with this liqueur, I quartered the original recipe found at Foodista. I took a very cheap, 375 mL bottle of brandy, a lime and two oranges. I’ve microplaned the citrus and will let it sit for a month, as per the instructions. Hopefully, I’ve made something delicious!

It All Starts Here

Thinking Outside the Jar: Repurposed Marroni Al Liquore

3 Feb

Back in December, I made a batch of Marroni Al Liquore and I was so excited to try it. I waited a couple weeks to really let the flavours mellow and give the chestnuts a chance to soften and eagerly tucked into my winter treat.

Maybe it’s me, but it really didn’t float my boat. The brandy liquor was delicious, as the vanilla beans, cloves and cinnamon had made for a delicious drink, but the chestnuts were mealy and too boozy for my liking. So my poor jars sat in the fridge, getting pushed to the back as new preserve jars made their way to the front of the line. So today I had an idea, a way to repurpose those chestnuts into something useful, delicious and still decadent.

I present you with:

Chestnut and Apple Bread Pudding with Brandied Honey Caramel Sauce

Chestnut and Apple  Bread Pudding with a Brandied Honey Caramel Sauce

Bread Pudding:

1/2 lb loaf of day-old bread, cubed

1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored and diced

4 eggs

1 cup of pureed sweetened chestnuts*

1 1/2 cups milk

2 tbsp maple syrup**

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Brandied Honey Caramel Sauce

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup honey

2 tbsp Marroni Al Liquore brandy

Steps:

1. Beat eggs and combine the rest of the ingredients. Combine apple and cubed bread and place in greased and wide casserole dish. Pour egg/milk/chestnut mixture over top, stir to combine and let sit for 1 hour at room temperature until bread has soaked up the egg mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour, or until tester comes out clean.

2. While pudding is baking, make your caramel sauce. Combine milk and honey and bring to a boil on medium heat, swooshing your pan frequently. When colour begins to turn golden remove from heat, about 8-10 minutes. Don’t be tempted to reduce as it will thicken once its cooled. Let cool for 5 minutes or so before adding brandy. Warm sauce before serving on pudding.

* To make chestnut puree, combine jar of chestnuts with roughly 1-2 tbsp of brandy and grind in a small food processor until smooth. Add more brandy liquid if necessary.

** This is a 100 Mile Challenge friendly recipe, so feel free to substitute 1/4 cup brown sugar if you prefer a sweeter bread pudding. The recipe as printed is on the less sweet side, which suits our preference.

Marroni Al Liquore

22 Dec

Marroni Al Liquor

My lovely friend and blogger Alyson at Dates and Quinces made this a few weeks back. The photos and descriptions made it irresistible. Basically, it’s chestnuts in brandy. Once the chestnuts are roasted and prepared, it’s actually a breeze to make. I scored the flat side of an Italian chestnut, roasted at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. Give it a toss every 10 minutes or so and once cooled, peel. In case you’re confronted with options,  Alyson explains the difference between Korean and Italian chestnuts.

One of the best parts of this liquored-up chestnut preserve is that the high alcohol content gives it a long fridge life. So if your life is hectic and preserves tend to kick around for a while, this one will feel right at home!

As for the taste,  I’m sure after the two weeks marinating process, it’s going to taste like heaven. I can attest to enjoying the dregs. Yum!

If you need a last minute holiday gift, this and the vanilla sugar make an excellent combo. Happy Holidays!

Marroni Al Liquore
Copyright: Canadian Living

Ingredients

    1-1/2 cups (375 mL) granulated sugar
    1 cup (250 mL) water
    4 whole allspice
    2 cloves
    2 bay leaves
    1 half vanilla beans, split lengthwise
    2-1/2 cups (625 mL) prepared chestnuts
    1 750 mL bottle brandy

Preparation:

In wide saucepan, bring sugar, water, allspice, cloves, bay leaves and vanilla bean to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Stir in chestnuts; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. 

Stir in brandy and bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Skim off any foam. Discard allspice, cloves, bay leaves and vanilla bean. Using slotted spoon, divide chestnuts among six 1-cup (250 mL) canning jars. Pour syrup over top. Seal jars with lids; let stand in cool dark place for 2 weeks before using. (Make-ahead: Store for up to 2 months.)

 

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