Uncategorized

Further Adventures with Jackfruit…Canning in Syrup

Fresh Jackfruit. ripe.

Fresh Jackfruit. ripe.

When I got this jackfruit, I went through quite a learning experience to get the fruit separated from the husk. For that adventure, see my previous post. With some of the fruit, I decided to make a Jackfruit Cider. For that adventure, you can follow his link to my brewing and fermenting blog:

https://mmmbrews.wordpress.com/2015/06/02/jackfruit-cider-well-see/

With 2lbs of fruit left, plus the seeds, I needed to finish up before things started going bad. First, the seeds. I boiled the seeds for 15 minutes and then roasted them for another 15 minutes at 400F. The skin covering the outside is a little bit of a pain to remove. The seed itself is like a very dry, firm potato. Not bad, though. A nice snack.

Jackfruit seeds. Boiled and then roasted.

Jackfruit seeds. Boiled and then roasted.

Now, for the fruit.

2lbs fresh jackfruit.

2lbs fresh jackfruit.

Canned Jackfruit in Syrup

2lbs fresh, ripe jackfruit

3 cups white sugar

3 cups water

Directions:

Combine the water and sugar in a large pot or saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar over high heat. Bring to a boil and add the jackfruit. Boil for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare 2 pint jars, lids, and screw rings for canning. Prepare pressure canner.

Boiling jackfruit in syrup.

Boiling jackfruit in syrup.

Add fruit to jars and cover with syrup, leaving approx. ½” headspace. Clean rims with damp cloth. Place lids and screw down rings to finger tight.

Jackfruit ready for jars.

Jackfruit ready for jars.

Place jars carefully into prepared pressure canner and close lid. Purge according to manufacturer’s recommendations (10 minutes, in my case). Place weight and bring pressure to 11lbs.

11lbs for 15 minutes, after 10 minute purge.

11lbs for 15 minutes, after 10 minute purge.

Process for 15 minutes. Allow to cool in canner until pressure is zero. Remove jars to cloth-lined counter and allow to rest for 24 hours to seal. When cool enough to touch, snug down screw rings. After the rest period, check seal, remove screw rings, and store in cool, dark space.

Canned jackfruit in syrup, just out of the pressure canner.

Canned jackfruit in syrup, just out of the pressure canner.

Note: I had excess syrup…about 2/3 of a pint jar. I let it cool and refrigerated it. Not sure what I’ll do with it yet.

 

 

 

 

 

Standard
Uncategorized

Jackfruit: What You Need to Know Before You Buy a Fresh One!

Fresh Jackfruit...oh boy!

Fresh Jackfruit…oh boy!

Through a little twist of fate, I wound up the proud owner of  a large, fresh jackfruit today. It was just going to be tossed, if I didn’t accept the offer, so I took it. I had visions in my head of making a jackfruit mead or a jackfruit cider. I also am considering canning it in syrup…could be an NC State Fair prize winner! But I have no idea how to use it. I’m ruling out mead, because I would need six pounds of honey and I’m not willing to invest $36+ on a project that may not work out. Other options are open and more research is going to take place shortly.

The reason for this post is to let people know, who may be intrigued by this large fruit, normally found in Asian grocery stores (in my area),  what you are about to get into if you make that leap.

First, it is big. My kitchen scale goes up to eleven pounds and this exceeded that. Second, it is hard. I used a 10 inch chef’s knife and did okay cutting it in half and then each half into quarters. Imagine cutting through a very large butternut squash.

Half...then quarters.

Half…then quarters.

When you open it, you will see orange pods held in place by stringy internal fibers, and a core. I cut the core away, like I would from a quartered pineapple. Some of the pods had their single seeds exposed and a few cut through. So, the trick now is to separate the pods from the rind and the fibrous stuff. I decided to cut between the rind and the pods like I cut cantaloupe away from the rind. Then I would pull up a pod, remove the sticky, clingy strands from it. Next, cut a piece from the top and bottom, releasing the seed from its attachment to the pod. The seed, which looks like a large garlic clove is slippery and will pop out of its sheath, which should be removed and discarded.IMG_20150531_162438878

It is at this point that you realize that your hands and knives are becoming more and more sticky and it isn’t rinsing off…not even with soap. The sap is coming from the core and stringy fibers and it feels very much like what I would imagine the sap from an actual rubber tree would feel. So, at this point, I decided just to get it done. *(Update: I later learned through my research that cooking oil keeps what others refer to as the “latex” from sticking. Coat your hands, work surfaces, and knife blades with it prior to beginning. Personally, handling oily knives with oily hands sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, in my opinion. Perhaps I would try it for clean-up.)

This is AFTER I tried to wash my hands with hot water!

This is AFTER I tried to wash my hands with soap and hot water!

This took some time…I wasn’t watching a clock, but it was over an hour, I’m sure. Once I had everything separated, most of the peels, cores, etc. went to the composter. I kept the seeds, pending research. Some seed covers and a fair amount of string/sticky fiber went into the disposer. I would not recommend this…looked like sinks were backing up, but cleared a few minutes later, after running the disposer and some hot water. I had to clean my hands and knives with a solvent!*(see update above)

Yielded about 4lbs fruit.

Yielded about 4lbs fruit.

With all said and done, I have 4lbs of Jackfruit and about a pound and a half of seeds. As I said, I’m not decided yet on what to do with the fruit and I doubt the seeds are useful, but after all that work, I’m going to figure out something!

As for the flavor and texture, fresh jackfruit is hard to pin down, except for banana. Banana is definitely there, but there’s some other stuff there that I don’t really know how to describe. Floral? Peach/mango/pineapple? But with absolutely no acidity. It’s not juicy or lush; the texture is kind of like biting into a slightly limp slice of yellow squash. It’s hard to say I really like it. I would nibble on some, but I would not eat much. Canned in syrup or as the main ingredient in a cider? I don’t know yet…could be fabulous. But before you buy one, if you read this first, you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into! Enjoy!

Standard
Uncategorized

Awesomest Cookie Ever?!

IMG_20150521_182525393

I love cookies. For health reasons, I generally avoid buying any cookies that I like, to eliminate the temptation. Unfortunately, my wife brought home some chocolate chunk cookies recently and I reaquainted myself with love! They came from Chik-Fil-A and I don’t really know anything else about them…I don’t even know how much they cost. I just know that they were GOOD! (If Chick-Fil-A would like to send me free chicken sandwiches, I’ll be glad to stop by my local location to pick them up!)

So, now I’m at home, following a minor surgery, and can’t drive while on pain meds…and I’m craving cookies! My first choice would be white chocolate/macadamia  cookies, but I don’t have those ingredients on hand. After some research, I found a chocolate chunk cookie recipe by reknowned New York chocolatier, Jacques Torres. Now, Mr. Torres would probably be horrified, but; despite my “foodie” status, I’m not a big fan of most dark chocolates. I like the sweet/creamy flavor of milk chocolate. And, since I have some other ingredients that I want to use before they go stale, I’m also thowing in some butterscotch chips and pecan pieces. One other change: I’m substituting whole wheat flour for the pastry flour, because I don’t keep pastry flour on hand. The texture probably won’t be as light, but I like the nuttiness of whole wheat flour. So, with all due repect to Jacques Torres, could this be the awesomest cookie ever?!  Well, they are darn good!!! (I still love me some macadamias, though!) I got 2 dozen BIG cookies and 10 smaller ones. Here’s the original recipe* with my changes…so you could try it either way! Or do your own thing! Enjoy!

Jacques Torres’ Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes twenty-six 5-inch cookies or 8 1/2 dozen 1 1/4-inch cookies

Ingredients

Ingredients

Ingredients

1 pound unsalted butter

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar

4 large eggs

3 cups plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour (substituting whole wheat flour)

3 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (substituting 11.5oz milk choc. Chips, 11oz butterscotch chips, and 6oz pecan pieces)

Directions

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats; set aside.

– In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars.

Creaming butter and sugars.

Creaming butter and sugars.

– Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Always break the eggs into a bowl...so you can make sure no shells go into the cookies.

Always break the eggs into a bowl…so you can make sure no shells go into the cookies.

– Reduce speed to low and add both flours, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and chocolate; mix until well combined. (I was able to add the pecan to the mixer, but I had to add the by hand. This is a pretty large recipe!)

Mixing in the chips.

Mixing in the chips.

– Using a 4-ounce scoop for larger cookies or a 1-ounce scoop for smaller cookies, scoop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. (I used a #12 disher/ice cream scoop, which is 2-2/3 ozand I only got 6 per 1/2 sheet pan)

Big balls ofcookie dough!

Big balls of cookie dough!

– Bake until lightly browned, but still soft, about 20 minutes for larger cookies and about 15 minutes for smaller cookies.

Out of the oven.

Out of the oven.

– Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

*I found the original recipe on someone else’s Pinterest site and do not know if it has ever been published elswhere or has copyrights established, so I am making every effort to give Jacques Torres credit.

https://www.mrchocolate.com/

Standard
Left: Pickled Pineapple w/Basil; Right: Pickled Muscadine Grape Leaves and Yellow Squash with Dill and Lime Wedges
Uncategorized

Pineapple Pickles

Pineapple pickles, left.  Grape leaf experiment, right.

Pineapple pickles, left. Grape leaf experiment, right.

I recently was playing around with trying to pickle some muscadine grape leaves. I think it was successful, but the muscadine leaves are so small, and they are difficult to handle after blanching. I wound up adding some yellow squash slices to fill the jar, plus some lime wedges and fresh dill. I doubt I’ll ever do it again, and I have no idea what I’ll do with the leaves. Maybe the squash slices will be good? Anyway, I had some leftover brine; so I decided to use it with some fresh pineapple that I had in the refrigerator.

The brine was a one to one ratio of apple cider vinegar and water, plus kosher salt. I used a cup each of the liquids and 1/8 c. salt. The pineapple was in large wedges, so I removed the core and cut into “spears”. I put the pineapple into a jar, added a few fresh basil leaves, and then covered with hot brine. I sealed the jar and processed in boiling water bath for 15 minutes. If these turn out to be good, I’ll probably experiment more and do some larger batches.

Update 5/22/15: Tasted the pickled pineapple and it was pretty good! Definitely has a sweet/sour thing going on. I’m not sure if I get the basil. I put the rest in the refrigerator  and will try it again chilled. I bought another pineapple and removed the peel and core to make tepache, a fermented Mexican pineapple drink. I only use the peel and core for the tepache, so I decided to pickle the fruit. I went with 1-1/2 cups each water and apple cider vinegar with 1/4 cup kosher salt and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Added a stick of cinnamon and boiled. Removed from heat and tossed in a couple sprigs of rosemary. I packed the pineapple into 3 pint jars, divided the cinnamon stick and rosemary between the jars, added brine to a headspace of about 1/4″ and sealed. I processed the jars for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. I went back and tasted the brine and it was EXTREMELY salty. It may be okay for pickling…but maybe not. We’ll see. Hey, it’s just a pineapple!

Update 5/24/15: I opened a jar of the pineapple pickles that I made with the rosemary and cinnamon. Definitely strong on the salt! Then it’s sour and the rosemary comes through. I think rinsing the brine off helps with the saltiness, but it IS a pickle! It’s not pineapple in juice or syrup. I think I would warn folks and not surprise them with this one! In the future, I think I would try to back off the salt and increase the sugar (being careful to make sure the brine is still appropriate for safe pickling). The rosemary and cinnamon are good.

Standard
Uncategorized

Sauerkraut, Batch #2

Ready to fill jars with kraut.

Ready to fill jars with kraut.

Sauerkraut, batch #2 is ready to eat! First, I’m providing a link to my original sauerkraut post, in case you are interested in the recipe/process:

https://mmmfoodies.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/oh-come-on-make-and-eat-sauerkraut/

The end of the post in this link also includes the beginning of the current batch of sauerkraut. There’s also a link for the end of the first batch and how I prepared a dish utilizing it:

https://mmmfoodies.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/sauerkraut-is-ready-lets-cook-some-brats/

As I noted in the previous post, when I began the current batch, this batch was sliced thinner. It looks really good and is just a few days short of processing for 2 months. I try to make sure that I have enough jars ready ahead of time. I washed and sanitized four 1 qt jars and only needed 3. I also sanitized clean tongs, funnel, lids and rings.

IMG_20150506_110402223

I packed the jars a little less than full and topped off with remaining juices. Lids were put in place and screwed down finger-tight. Jars went into the back of the refrigerator and will last almost indefinitely. Ready for some keilbasa!!!

Standard
Uncategorized

Pesto Bechamel Lasagna with Artichokes and Pine Nuts

Pesto Bechamel Lasagna with Artichokes and Pine Nuts

Pesto Bechamel Lasagna with Artichokes and Pine Nuts

I decided to create this lasagna after having seen similar ingredients used in a different dish. I thought,”Ooh, that would make a great lasagna!”. So, I picked up a few ingredients at the grocery store that I didn’t already have on hand and I sat down and wrote the recipe.

Most of the ingredients for the lasagna.

Most of the ingredients for the lasagna.

As I worked my way through the recipe, I tweaked it to follow what I actually found while making the dish. A couple of observations: I had three layers and no problems. I used an 11″x13″ baking dish and I had to break a few noodles to fill in some space where whole noodles would not fit…no problem. You could use a smaller dish and make more layers, but make sure you leave some room at the top, so that the sauce won’t bubble out while cooking. Also, I started with 8oz of mozzarella and upped it to 12oz, because I ran out and opened another bag. On the other hand, I didn’t quite use all of the parmesan cheese. Cheese should be to your liking. Additionally, I used cottage cheese, instead of ricotta, because I don’t care for ricotta. To me, it’s just to dense and pastey. The cottage cheese is lighter and creamy. I bought a one pound container and used a little over half. The toasted pine nuts were a terrific addition. You could skip them…I know that they are expensive, but a few tablespoons really make a big difference!

So good!!!

So good!!!

Toasting pine nuts...carefully!

Toasting pine nuts…carefully!

I also made some fettucine alfredo for my kids and had a little extra alfredo sauce, so I drizzled a little on the top of my serving. It wasn’t really necessary, but it looked nice. I didn’t have any leftover pesto bechamel, but if I had, I would have used it for a little drizzle. Finally, I chopped whole artichoke bottoms into a medium dice.

Chopping canned artichoke bottoms.

Chopping canned artichoke bottoms.

You could use hearts, if you like, but sometimes you get a fibrous leaf or two…no big deal, but maybe not the best idea for guests. And I don’t think you would want to use “marinated” artichokes…just plain, canned. My wife thanked me for leaving out mushrooms…she has lost her taste for them recently, for some reason. But, in my head, I was thinking how good some sautéed mushrooms would have been! I hope you’ll try this recipe! If you do, leave me a comment on what you think of the recipe…and enjoy!

Pesto & Artichoke Béchamel Lasagna

(Using “No Boil” Noodles)

Ingredients:

1 box “No Boil” Lasagna Noodles

1 small jar prepared Pesto

1 12oz bag shredded Mozzarella (or more, if you like)

1 8oz bag shredded Parmesan

1 container small curd Cottage Cheese (or Ricotta)

1 can Artichoke Bottoms, drained and chopped medium

2 T. Pine Nuts, toasted (for garnish)

For the Béchamel:

2 c. Half’n’Half

1 c. 1% Milk

1 small Shallot, chopped fine (or sub. sweet onion and a garlic clove)

3 T. Butter

3 T. all-purpose Flour

2 c. Vegetable Stock

Pinch of Salt

 

Directions:

Make the béchamel. Melt butter over medium-low heat in a sauce pan. Sauté shallot for 2 minutes, whisk in Flour, whisk until the Flour and Butter are well combined. Add Half’n’Half and Milk. Increase heat and bring to a simmer and allow to thicken/reduce for a few minutes. Add vegetable stock and continue to simmer for a couple more minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in jar of Pesto.

Roux

Roux

Bechamel

Bechamel

Pesto Bechamel

Pesto Bechamel

Assemble the Lasagna: Cover the bottom of an 11”x13” baking dish with Béchamel. Cover the béchamel with Lasagna Noodles and cover with Béchamel.

IMG_20150302_164220871

Start with pesto bechamel.

Dot the surface with small spoonsful of Cottage Cheese (or ricotta). Next, spread a layer of Mozzarella Cheese and follow with a light layer of Parmesan. Evenly sprinkle chopped Artichokes. Repeat with another layer and then finish with Béchamel and Cheeses.

Lasagna noodles and toppings.

Lasagna noodles and toppings.

Ready to bake.

Ready to bake.

Cover tightly with foil and bake at 375F for 50 minutes.

Baked for 50 minutes, covered.

Baked for 50 minutes, covered.

After another 10 minutes, uncovered.

After another 10 minutes, uncovered. Garnished with pine nuts.

Remove foil and put under a broiler for a couple of minutes to brown a bit and bubble the cheese on top (or bake additional 10 minutes). Allow to set up for a couple of minutes while toasting the Pine Nuts in a small frying pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes…move frequently and do not burn! Sprinkle Pine Nuts evenly over the lasagna, cut into squares and serve.

Standard
Uncategorized

Caribbean Crock Pot Pork with Mango

Crock Pot ready to go!

Crock Pot ready to go!

Inspired by my sister, who is married to a native of Trinidad, I came up with this Crock Pot dish.  The main ingredients  are Country Style Ribs, Badia brand Sazon Tropical seasoning, Matouk’s West Indian Hot Sauce, Chief Green Seasoning and a mango. The seasoning and sauces can be found in some grocery stores in the Latino section or at Mexican or Caribbean specialty stores.

I started by adding some of the Green Seasoning and West Indian Hot Sauce to the bottom of the Crock pot and set the pot on “low” to begin heating. The hot sauce is potent…use sparing! And adjust to your preference.

Sauces in the bottom of the Crock Pot.

Sauces in the bottom of the Crock Pot.

The Sazon seasoning is sprinkled liberally on all sides of the meat. The tumeric in the seasoning will color your hands, if you touch it…you could use tongs or wear food handling gloves, if you like.

Seasoning the meat.

Seasoning the meat.

Brown the meat on all sides in a preheated frying pan with a little hot vegetable oil. Remove the meat and deglaze the pan with water or a little apple cider.

Browning the meat.

Browning the meat.

Begin layering the meat into the Crock Pot and add fresh mango pieces, more hot sauce and green seasoning. It doesn’t require a lot…maybe a teaspoon of hot sauce and a couple of tablespoons of the green seasoning (I just did it freehand).

Layering in the Crock Pot.

Layering in the Crock Pot.

Put the top on the Crock Pot and cook on low setting for about 6-ish hours, until very tender. (see top photo). About halfway through, I moved the meat around to ensure even cooking. When done, take out the meat and strain the juices.

Separating the fat/liquid/sediment.

Separating the fat/liquid/sediment.

Straining the juices.

Straining the juices.

I actually refrigerated mine overnight and let the fat harden, the juices gelatinize, and the sediment drop to the bottom. The next day, I removed and discarded the fat. I took out the gelatinized juices and discarded the sediment. I put the meat into an oven-safe dish, distributed the jellied juices over the top, and covered with a disk of parchment paper (optional) and sealed with foil. I reheated the meat in a 350F oven for about 45 minutes.

When the meat came out of the oven, I separated it from the juices again, broke it up to serve and moistened with the juices, as desired.

Out of the oven.

Out of the oven.

And plated:

Serving suggestions.

Serving suggestions.

Left: with simple rice and corn; Right: with quinoa and a lentil, tofu, tomato curry. This dish is really very adaptable and easy. I have also made it with the meat marinated in sour oranges juice and the hot sauce and green sauce,  and no mango. You could serve right from the crock pot, but I would still remove the meat, strain the juices and skim the fat. Enjoy!

Standard