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Archive for Jam-Peanut Butter

PRODUCT: Jam For Inspector Clouseau

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Jam in covert gift packaging. Photo courtesy Dept. Of Sweet Diversions.

 

With popular television franchises like CSI, Law & Order and NCIS, detective culture has finally seeped into specialty food.

The perps (actually, they’re the good guys) moved from Europe to Los Angeles to form their artisan jam agency (“a top secret covert organization”).

Agent Copperpot hails from France, where she learned the craft of small batch jam making from both of her grandmothers. Chester Pinkerton, born and raised in Switzerland, is a professional illustrator.

They created the Dept. of Sweet Diversions with a primary objective “to create delicious little diversions so you can treat yourself to something truly special.”

Otherwise stated, their goal is to elevate the art of preserving to inspire people to try new fruit and flavor combinations.

 

They source local organic and/or sustainably grown fruit in bountiful southern California, and make jams, jellies, marmalades and fruit butters. (Check out the different types of jam and other spreads.) Most of the ingredients come from farmers markets within a 12 mile radius of their kitchen.

The jam is made by hand in small batches using traditional techniques. Each flavor features organic ingredients and is completely free of preservatives. Nothing is processed (even the pectin is homemade).

The pair are quick to note that “Breakfast isn’t the only meal of the day that should feature jam, it’s just the first!”

Their jams pair exquisitely with fine cheeses, mixed into cocktails and served as a condiment with fish and meat dishes. But don’t stop there: Here are 20 of THE NIBBLE’s favorite ways to use fine jam.

 

The current line consists of eight choices, available plain or in “covert” gift packaging.

  • The Cocoa Caper: orange jam with dark chocolate. Enjoy it on a crêpe.
  • The Grand Scheme: strawberry jam with Grand Marnier liqueur. Pair it with brioche.
  • Master of Disguise: tomato jam infused with basil. Pair it with burrata cheese.
  • Mr. Bartlett’s Stepchild: pear jam with ginger and acacia honey. Pair it with Cheddar.
  • Operation Peppercorn: strawberry jam with balsamic vinegar & the refined heat of black pepper. Pair it with goat cheese or Brie.
  • The Return of Mr. Bartlett: pear jam with vanilla bean and chestnut honey. Pair it with blue cheese or top French vanilla ice cream.
  • The Sanguine Seduction: blood orange marmalade with vanilla bean. Enjoy it on toast.
  • The Suite Surprise: apple butter sweetened with agave. Enjoy it on a peanut butter sandwich.
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    We devoured the contents with a spoon! Photo courtesy Dept. Of Sweet Diversions.

     
    We received samples of Master of Disguise (tomato jam), Operation Peppercorn (strawberry balsamic), The Return of Mr. Bartlett (pear jam) and The Sanguine Seduction (blood orange). We’ll be ordering more of the delicious blood orange marmalade and tomato jam. We demolished the contents with a spoon!

    And we’ll be trying more flavors, too. A six-ounce jar is $12, or $14 with Top Secret gift wrap.

    Discover more at Dept.OfSweetDiversions.com.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Blake Hill Preserves

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    One of the exquisite marmalades. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Blake Hill Preserves is an artisan chutney, jam and marmalade producer based near historic Grafton Village in Vermont’s Green Mountains. There, a gifted duo traditionally crafts all-natural chutneys, jams and preserves with sophisticated modern, bright, fruit-forward flavors and marvelous textures. You can see the difference, even before you taste it.

    Each small batch is slow-cooked by hand, carefully layering the ingredients to concentrate intense, fresh flavors. All of the ingredients are top quality ingredients, many organic. The line is certified kosher by OU.

    One weekend in 2009, Vicky, a third-generation English preserve maker, turned a bumper crop of wild blackberries growing on Blake Hill Farm into 70 jars of glistening jam. A friend sneaked a jar to the local grocery store and returned an hour later with Vicky’s first jam order; Vicky and Joe Hanglin formed Blake Hill Preserves and have been pleasing demanding palates ever since.

    Joe, who grew up in Gibraltar with British, Spanish and Italian ancestry, brings his culinary heritage to the line of chutneys, some of which are made with fruits, vegetables and spices inspired by Moroccan tagines and the flavors of the Middle East.

     

    We were thrilled with the samples they sent us, and recommend them to all for personal enjoyment and gifting.

    The 200-year-old farm, purchased in 2004, came with meandering old stone walls, beautiful wooded trails and an abundance of wild blackberry and raspberry bushes. Vicky and Joeadded blueberries, gooseberries and blush-pink rhubarb, all of which are use to make the wonderful spreads.

    Since everything is made in small batches, so flavors can sell out. But today, you can purchase this cornucopia of exquisite products:

    CHUTNEYS

  • Apricot & Fresh Orange
  • Cranberry, Apple & Mulling Spices
  • Middle Eastern Date & Red Chile
  • Moroccan Plum & Fennel
  • Rhubarb, Apple & Ginger
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    JAMS

  • Blackberry & Rhubarb
  • Blueberries & Summer Plum
  • Perfectly Plum
  • Raspberry & Hibiscus Flower
  • Strawberry & Rhubarb
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    MARMALADES

  • Fresh Seville Orange
  • Grapefruit & Lemon
  • Lemon, Lime & Aged 100% Agave Tequila
  • Orange & 10-Year Single Malt Whisky
  • Orange, Lime & Ginger
  •  

    The products are completely natural, low sugar, low salt, gluten free and fat free. Beyond spreads, they are delicious with cheese plates, with grilled paninis and other sandwiches, as condiments for everything from barbecue to winter stews, as dessert toppings and much more.

     

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    Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    At $7.49 per jar, these are wonderful gifts—and when you gift yourself with a selection, you’ll be spoiled forever. Say the owners, “It takes up to 13 ounces of fruit and vegetables to fill every 13 ounce jar!”

    Get yours at BlakeHillPreserves.com.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Gakwiyo Provisions Jams & Jellies

    Gakwiyo means “good food” in the Cayuga Indian language. A few years ago the Cayuga Nation, headquartered in Seneca Falls, New York, began an initiative to can and preserve the fruits and vegetables that are grown on its ancestral lands.

    Patti Costello, manager of the initiative, explains that her goal was to make popular foods healthier. “There are approximately 500 members of the Cayuga Nation across the United States,” she notes, “and quite a few of them have problems with weight, diabetes and other heath issues.”

    Plus, members of the Nation “also love getting products that have been grown on their ancestral lands!”

    While they’re not reduced-calorie products per se, the ingredients are excellent. We tasted the samples that Patty sent, and particularly love the conserves, jams and jellies. Be sure to try the “sweet heat”—jams and jellies made with jalapeños.

    We’ve already laid in a supply for Mother’s Day party favors.

    The products include:

  • Conserves
  • Jams
  • Jellies
  • Pickled Vegetables & Fruit
  • Salsas & Sauces
  • Jams
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    Fruit and jalapeños combine to make exciting jams and jellies. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Everything we tried was delicious; the Green Tomato Raspberry Jam, an old-fashioned standard that is hard to find these days, is a knockout. We were so sad when the last drop was gone; but we can say the same about the Blueberry Rhubarb Jam, Strawberry Jalapeño Jam, and everything else we tried in the jam-jelly group.

    You can see the full line at GakwiyoProvisions.com.

     

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    It’s delicious on everything from bread to ice
    cream. Here, Habanero Gold Jelly. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    SERVING SUGGESTIONS

    If you need guidance on how to use “hot” jams and jellies, here’s how we enjoy them:

    1. Breads & Crackers. Use them on anything and everything: from toast and bagels to biscuits and muffins to flatbreads and crackers. Hot pairs well with dairy; the jams are terrific with cream cheese.

    2. Breakfast Foods. Dab some on pancakes, waffles and French toast; use as a condiment with eggs or in an omelet; mix into a spicy fruit yogurt.

    3. Sandwiches. Replace your regular jam—including on peanut butter sandwiches.

    4. Hors D’Oeuvres. Top a block of cream cheese or a log of goat cheese and serve with crackers or sliced baguette; top a baked Brie (optional: sprinkle with sliced or chopped toasted almonds).

    5. Savory Sauce Or Marinade. Add to marinade or basting sauce for meats or fish; deglaze the pan by adding jam plus water, stock or wine to make a sweet-and-sizzling sauce.

     

    6. Meat Or Fish Condiments. The jams are a delicious accent to pretty much any grilled or roast meat, poultry or fish. The first night we tasted them, we enjoyed them with a Certified Angus Beef strip steak, grilled outdoors over coals. Delicious!

    7. Dessert Sauce. Serve over ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt, cheesecake, or pound cake (with whipped cream).
     

    Gakwiyo makes some 35 different products, and have recently started to sell them online and at farmers markets and festivals, to a great response.

    Try some and you’ll see why!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Arrope

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    Arrope syrup. There’s also an arrope
    preserve with pumpkin (see photo below).
    Photo courtesy Miel de Palma.

     

    Arrope (ah-ROE-pay), a cooking and condiment syrup, is a product that few of us have in our kitchens. Yet, if you’re a serious cook (or eater), it’s an ingredient you should know about.

    If your parents are serious cooks/eaters, it’s an idea for a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gift—so much tastier than another scarf or tie.

    And if no one cooks, there’s a delicious arrope pumpkin preserve, a recipe that derives from the ancient use of arrope to preserve or stew fruits. The pumpkin is cooked in the arrope until it is candied. It’s delicious as a sweet-and-earthy bread spread or a condiment with creamy goat’s or sheep’s milk cheeses (see photo below).

    In fact, when you go to purchase arrope, you need to be specific. Otherwise, you can easily be sold the preserve instead of the syrup, or vice versa. Tip: If the word “pumpkin” appears, it’s the preserve.

    WHAT IS ARROPE

    A reduction of grape must, arrope is a condiment that dates to ancient Rome, where it was called defrutum or sapa. It survives as a gourmet Spanish condiment. The name comes from the Arabic word rubb, syrup.

     
    Arrope is closely related to saba (also called sapa, mosto d’uva cotto and vin cotto). This group comprises ancient precursors to “modern” balsamic vinegar, which appeared in the 11th century.

    So if you’re a balsamic vinegar fan, chances are good that you’ll be happy to discover arrope.

     

    Like honey* and saba, in the days before sugar was widely available arrope was used to add sweetness. Today it is used in everything from drinks to salad dressings to sauces to desserts (try it with fruit salad or drizzled over ice cream). We use it as a glaze for roast poultry and meats. It easily substitutes in cooking for sweet wines such as sherry and marsala.

    As civilization embraced massed-produced foods over artisan products in the latter half of the 20th century, the craft of making arrope—which involves carefully cooking down the must into a syrup over a period of weeks—has almost disappeared. It survives among a handful of artisan producers, carrying on family traditions. (Before modern times, arrope was made by the cook of the family.)

    In Spain, the few remaining artisans produce arrope syrup (grape must reduction) and preserved pumpkin.

    While it’s no leap to combine arrope in Spanish recipes, you can port it over to any cuisine—just as with Italy’s saba and France’s verjus.

     

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    A Spanish cheese plate with typical condiments: fig cake, fresh figs, and in the back, a bowl of arrope preserve with candied pumpkin.

     
    *Honey is sweet and syrupy straight from the hive (or straight from the hive and pasteurized). Arrope and saba are cooked to develop sweet-and-sour flavors including notes of cooked caramel.
     
    HOW ARROPE IS MADE

    It starts with a large quantity of grape must, freshly pressed grape juice that still contains all of the skins and seeds and stems. The must is very flavorful with high levels of sugar.

  • The fresh-pressed grape juice can be strained and sold as verjus, where it is used instead of citrus juice or vinegar.
  • Or, it can be cooked down into arrope or saba.
  • To make arrope, the must is boiled until the volume is reduced by at least 50%, and its viscosity is reduced to a thick syrup. There is no added sugar or pectin.
  • Saba is similarly boiled down into a syrup.
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    Ready to try it? Check at your local specialty food market or order it online:

  • Arrope syrup (grape must reduction)
  • Arrope with pumpkin (preserve)
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    FOOD FUN: Beer & Beer Nuts PB Sandwich

    Beer Nuts and PB Sandwich. Photo by
    Theresa Raffetto | Peanut Butter & Co. Food
    styling by Matt Vohr.

     

    For your St. Patrick’s Day consideration, how about a PB and Beer Nuts sandwich with your beer?

    Beer Nuts is a brand of peanuts with a sweet-and-salty glaze. They don’t contain beer. Rather, they were marketed as a more glamorous accompaniment to beer than the ubiquitous salted peanuts.

    In this concept, Peanut Butter & Co. founder Lee Zalben topped a piece of rustic whole wheat bread with his Smooth Operator creamy premium peanut butter, plus crunchy Beer Nuts.

    We prefer our PB with a kick, so we substituted his The Heat Is On peanut butter, blended with cayenne peppers, chili powder and crushed red peppers.

    The PB & Co. line is certified kosher by OU.

     

    MAKE YOUR OWN BEER NUTS

    Classic beer nuts are sweet and salty, but you can tweak the recipe to add additional flavors: cinnamon for sweetness or cayenne pepper for heat. You can use Beer Nuts on a PB sandwich, ice cream, salad, yogurt, as a soup garnish and in many other ways—including straight snacking, of course.

    Ingredients For 4.5 Cups

  • 4-1/2 cups raw, shelled peanuts
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 cup water
  • Optional spices: cayenne, cinnamon or other favorite
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    Preparation

    1. BRING peanuts, sugar salt and water to a boil in a saucepan. Continue to boil until all liquid is absorbed, about 25-30 minutes.

    2. PREHEAT oven to 300°F.

    3. SPREAD nuts on lightly greased jelly roll pan; sprinkle with salt and optional spices as desired. Bake 20 minutes.

    4. REMOVE from oven, gently stir and sprinkle with more salt as desired. Bake for 20 more minutes. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

      

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