Thursday, February 16, 2017

Sauerkraut Made Easy!


I am participating in the year long Food in Jars Mastery Challenge and February was salt preserving. While there are many ways to use salt in preserving, from lemons to herbs, egg yolks and flavored salts, I chose to salt preserve some sauerkraut.

My husband enjoys sauerkraut, and I must admit while I like the flavor, store bought sauerkraut doesn't always agree with me, but salt preserved sauerkraut is teeming with "good for you" healthy bacteria, which is an excellent way to boost your gut health, and it's so easy to make ...  much easier than I anticipated.

What do you need? A small'ish head of cabbage a tablespoon of salt, a mason jar and a weight. That's it, that's all there is to it. Well, that and time as the sauerkraut must ferment on your kitchen counter-top for approximately 3 weeks. The ideal room temperature for making sauerkraut is 65-72 degrees, no warmer, which is why its typically made in the cooler fall and winter months, and not in the summer. After it's fermented, it can be stored in your refrigerator for months, some say up to a year.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Deep Dish Pecan Pie


One of my favorite pies elevated to deep dish decadence!

Smooth and creamy caramel chock-full of fresh pecans, this dessert is worthy of any special occasion, or bake one just because ... you know just because you want to! Sooo good!

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar

16 ounces (2 cups) light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
4 large farm fresh eggs, lightly beaten
4 farm fresh egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 tbls vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups pecan halves

To make the Crust:
Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan in aluminum foil (don't skip this step as the pie has a tendency to leak a bit while baking). Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually add the flour and sugar, and beat well. Shape the dough into a flat disc. Cover and chill 15 minutes.

Roll the dough into a 13″ circle. Carefully transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of pan. Cover and chill while preparing the filling.

To make the Filling:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together the corn syrup, brown sugar, and melted butter. Add the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and salt, and stir well. Stir in the pecans. Pour the filling into the crust.

Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Bake 2 hours and 15 minutes or until set. If necessary, shield the pie with foil to prevent excess browning.

Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill. Remove the sides of the springform pan before serving.

Recipe slightly adapted from Bake or Break and Southern Living


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Steam Canning


The use of Steam Canners for SAFE home canning was approved by the National Center for Home Food Preservation in September 2015 after the University of Wisconsin, under the leadership of Dr. Barbara Ingham, conducted research on appropriate use of atmospheric steam canners for home canning in collaboration with the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP). Atmospheric steam canners are used for processing naturally acid or properly acidified foods with natural or equilibrated pH values of 4.6 or below. They are not pressurized vessels used for processing for low-acid foods. Read the complete study here

steam canner with rack and temperature gauge showing "zones" on top

Naturally I was very excited to hear this news, and very anxious to try a steam canner, so I recently purchased the Victorio Steam Canner and set about to try it out.

I chose my Pickled Heirloom Tomatoes as my first project since I had some cherry tomatoes readily available in my refrigerator.

water filled to just barely above the rack; heated and jars added to process

Several things to note right away: 

  • It only uses 2 1/2 quarts of water so no more filling a water bath to 2" above the tops of the jars. With a steam canner the water just barely covers the rack.
  • Naturally this means the water heats up more quickly.
  • The steam canner is easier to handle because you warm the water up to 140 degrees before you add the jars. This process can be happening as you finish up with your canning project, filling jars, adjusting head-space and covering with lids and rings.
  • It's FAST! The water warmed up in a matter of minutes, I added my filled jars, put the lid on and waited for the gauge (conveniently located on the top of the steam canner lid) to get to the desired "zone" - zones are pre-set based on your altitude.
  • As soon as you reach your "zone" the processing time begins. At that time you also turn down the temperature to maintain a low, but steady boil, keeping the gauge within your zone. I literally started on "high" and ended on "simmer" during the processing time.
  • The processing time is the SAME as it is for water bath canning, so if your pickles are 10 minutes in a water bath, they are 10 minutes using a steam canner. The difference is the time is takes to get your water up to heat; since the steam canner uses much less water, the processing time is much quicker.
  • The steam canner is great for small batch canning holding 7 quart jars or 8 pint jars.
Jars processed, lid removed, let sit 5 minutes

Jars cooling 

My overall assessment and experience with a steam canner is I LOVE IT! So much faster, very energy efficient, works exactly like they say it will, and definitely exceeded my expectations. 

I see me using the steam canner a lot more in the future. So easy I wish I'd bought one sooner.

Disclaimer - This is not a paid endorsement. I received no compensation for this post and all the opinions expressed herein are my own.


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sunshine Jam {Pina Colada}


Sunshine Jam is a tropical paradise just waiting for you to indulge in. It's a Pina Colada in a jam and is absolutely delicious.

Open a jar of this on a cold and dark fall or winter day and you'll immediately be transported to the islands, sitting on a beach in the hot sunshine with a nice cold beverage in your hand.

Sunshine Jam is amazing over cream cheese on crackers, but be sure to try it with grilled shrimp or chicken for a tasty tropical treat.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Chocolate Cobbler


When I first saw this recipe on Bake or Break I just knew I wanted to make it. I mean who wouldn't want some ooey gooey chocolately goodness?

The best thing about this recipe is IT'S EASY! So simple to do, with just a few ingredients, but wow, what it delivers is something like a molten lava cake meets brownie and fudge sauce.

Decadent, delicious, tantalizing and amazing ... yep! It's all of those things and more.

(original recipe from Bake or Break)

Friday, January 27, 2017

Drunken Fig Jam


This  jam is equally at home topped on toast or English muffins, on a cheeseboard, or as an accompaniment to grilled meats. It would be amazing with a pork loin roast!

It's versatile and flavorful. The sweetness of the figs shines through the boozy Brandy element, and the touch of cardamom enhances all the flavors.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Cherry Port Jam


Oh my goodness, this jam is so darn delicious. It can be used a multitude of ways from savory with cheese, sweet with dessert, or as an accompaniment with roasted or grilled pork, ham, lamb and poultry.

Pairing the sweet cherries with the Port wine was a match just meant to be, and the hint of ground cloves just put it over the top. After my first taste of this Cherry Port Jam, I knew I had a winner.

Port is a sweet, red, fortified wine from Portugal. Port is most commonly enjoyed as a dessert wine because it is rich and sweet. There are several styles of Port, including red, white, rosé and an aged style called Tawny Port. Port wine pairs wonderfully with richly flavored cheeses (including blue cheese and washed-rind cheeses), chocolate and caramel desserts, salted and smoked nuts, and even sweet-smoky meats.

I used Benjamin Tawny Port, a product of Australia, which is a tawny port that's described as a nutty wine with brilliant fruit, made in a lighter tawny style. The wine, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Muscat, has a medium finish with a touch of dark plum at the end.