Category Archives: Fruit

Strawberry Freezer Jam

strawberry jam jar

If you read here often, you know that my favorite recipes aren’t really recipes at all. They are methods that are easy to adapt to what’s seasonal or craved, or both. They don’t have a lot of specific ingredients or steps, because I find those tedious to write up, and it’s not how I cook. There are many wonderful chefs and home cooks who do this assiduously and beautifully. Just not my thing.

BUT, this jam is awesome and you should make it. Up to you whether you share it with anyone else. I made it with some gorgeous litte Earliglow strawberries from New Morning Farm in Pennsylvania, who come to the Dupont Circle Farmers Market every Sunday. It’s called freezer jam because instead of going through the whole canning process, you can just freeze it. In this case, I only made one jar, so I’m just keeping it in the fridge.

You could easily use this same method with any of the berries that will come our way this summer — blueberries, blackberries, raspberries. The last gasp of the strawberries if you’re lucky enough to still have them around you. I think even peaches.

What have I been doing with my jar… dipping coconut popsicles into a little dish of it, spooning it over chocolate sorbet, smearing it on toast with salted butter, eating it with a spoon.

But I felt it’s highest calling would actually be it’s most humble — a peanut butter and jelly (jam) sandwich. Remember how much I love bread.

peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich

I only wish I had made more.

Strawberry Freezer Jam
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Cranberry Walnut Buttermilk Bread

So, it’s not remotely cranberry season, but do you know how long those suckers last in the refrigerator? A really long time! Six months and counting! A half-full carton of cranberries had been haunting the back of my fridge since Thanksgiving, and inspiration was just not hitting. A quickbread seemed like the obvious choice, but many of them call for dried cranberries, and well, I wanted to find one that called for fresh. I finally frankensteined a recipe for Cranberry Nut Bread from Simply Recipes to the point that it’s barely recognizable, and what resulted is a barely sweet rustic loaf with a tender crumb and crunchy crust, studded with cranberries and walnuts. Perfect for slathering with butter, peanut butter, and my most recent favorite, nutella. I even melted some shahp cheddah cheese on a piece last night and it was divine.

So, if you’ve got some old cranberries knocking around in your fridge or freezer, here is your vehicle. If not, well, forgive my insensitivity for seasonality, and make a mental note to come back to this one in November.

Cranberry Walnut Buttermilk Bread
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Healthified Apple Muffins

You’ll notice a lot of apple goodness on this blog. Counting this post, 28.5 percent of my posts, as of today, are apple-related. This is not a coincidence, my friends. In my opinion, apples are one of nature most impressive and hard-working creations. Despite being hybridized or GMO-ed into all sorts of pathetic excuses for fruit like some of the mealy mush you get at the grocery stores these days (I’m looking at you, Red Delicious), pick your apples carefully and you will be rewarded with a crisp bite, balanced sweetness, and a hit of tartness that you can keep on your counter or in your backpack or purse for many moons to enjoy.

I find quickbreads and muffins to be excellent vehicles for apples, exemplified by this made-over recipe for apple muffins from King Arthur Flour. I have one friend who does not like baked fruit anything. No blueberry muffins, no apple pie, no peach cobbler. I contemplated ending our friendship, but he has too many other good friend qualities, like helping me stuff and truss a whole leg of lamb a few years ago for Easter. So he stays, but he won’t enjoy these apple muffins, healthified or not. My other (former) friend who didn’t like mangoes, however? Done. History. There are some lines I will not cross. But I digress.

I believe in butter, sugar, and real eggs. That fake stuff really freaks me out in fact. Eggs in a milk carton? With who knows what else mixed in to ‘preserve’ and ‘stabilize’? No thanks. But sometimes it’s good to lighten things up a bit. With this guiding idea, I’ve tweaked King Arthur’s recipe to trim the fat, so to speak, although I can attest that the original muffins are also quite delicious. But around the holidays, when I’ve made this and eaten it with ice cream and whipped cream, and want to make this and these, well, it’s good to find a few places to cut back.

This recipe works for muffins or mini-loaves. Didn’t try it with a full-sized loaf pan, but I imagine it would if you adjust the baking time and bring the baking temp down to 350 or 375. If you overmix the buttermilk and it curdles, don’t worry. It will come back together during baking.

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins
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Simple Apple Tart

So, ideally I would have posted this before Thanksgiving, so my legion of readers could use it for the big meal… but I’m not so on top of it, and frankly was looking for the perfect recipe right up until the big day. So here it is ex post facto, you can make it for the next Big Holiday, however your religious or nonreligious preferences construe it.

The original version is meant to be brushed and drizzled with caramel sauce, but frankly I thought the tart was more elegant on its own. If you choose to gussy it up with the caramel sauce, do as many of the reviewers on Epicurious suggest and cut the caramel sauce recipe down so it makes 1/3 of what is called for, and that will be plenty.

Simple Apple Tart
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With a pile of apples that big, you had to know it was coming. This recipe for applesauce almost isn’t a recipe at all, since it only has three ingredients, one of which is water. But I really really like its simplicity, as well as the taste of the final product.

For this batch, I used honeycrisps because that’s what’s available here right now in large quantities, but a mix of apples (such as Empire or Jonagold, with a Granny Smith or two thrown in for tartness) would also work. I made a very large quantity, but you can make it with 6-8 apples in a regular saucepot, or 25-30 apples in a huge stockpot. I also leave the skins on, which I like, but you may prefer to core and skin them before cooking (see recipe for photos of an easy way to core without an apple-corer).

As always, there are a few other things you could throw in if you choose. In the past, I have enjoyed the addition of a few twists of fresh black pepper and/or a spring of rosemary or thyme. Neither of these additions, nor the salt in the recipe below, make the sauce taste savory, but they do enhance its natural flavors, and make it more versatile. Such as if you want to eat it with a pork loin or something along those lines.

I also recommend striking up a conversation with a grower at your local farmers market, and asking if he or she would sell you seconds (perfectly good apples that aren’t quite pretty enough to sell for full price from having a few bruises or dark spots). This will make your applesauce endeavor vastly more affordable.

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Peach-Buttermilk Sherbet

Ice cream is restorative. I don’t mean that in a curl-up-with-a-pint-when-you’re-feeling-bad-about-yourself kind of way (not that there’s anything wrong with that), or in that obnoxious Dove Chocolate commercial “this is your moment” kind of way. I mean in the process of blending and freezing flavors, wonderful things happen. And when you sit down to eat the fruits of your labor, especially when the fruits of your labor actually contain delicious seasonal fruit, that first cool sweet bite is just so satisfying.

This recipe for Peach-Buttermilk Sherbet has five ingredients, but only the first three are vital to your ice cream success. The last two are wonderful additions, but if you don’t have them on hand, don’t worry about it (although the booze will help smooth your final product). I’m not sure whether to call it ice cream or sherbet, but let’s not worry about semantics. Just make it.

We are at the tail end of peach season here, people. If you haven’t seized the peach yet, now’s really your last chance.

Peach-Buttermilk Ice Cream/Sherbet
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Speak now or forever hold your peach

SORRY! For the long delay. I was in Africa all summer. I was on the moon… with Steve!  No really, I was in Africa doing research for my masters thesis.  It was a wonderful adventure and research experience. And they actually do have peaches there, at certain times of the year. And mangoes and pineapples and bananas that will change your life. But I think the good old US of A takes the peach crown. So let’s forget about those clementines from May, they are out of season anyway. It is time to seize the peach!

I have been getting delicious peaches from my local farmers market.  Tart and sweet and perfumey. To be honest, with most of them I have been slicing them in half and just eating them, or dicing them into thick Greek-style yogurt. But cobblers/buckles/crumbles are the perfect stage for stone fruit like we have right now. The simpler the better to let the fruit really shine.  But some sugar, flour, and butter certainly aren’t going to hurt anything.

I served this Peach Buckle at a dinner with some friends earlier this week. One berated me the next morning for making her go to the gym, and the other asked me whether the damage would be irreparable if he just ate the whole thing. I just ate a slice for breakfast smothered with plain yogurt as you see above… god bless american peaches.

PS: Is it a coincidence that Frank is back in our apartment this week?  I don’t think so.  I think he is the guardian snortling football-shaped dog of this blog.

Peach Buckle
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