Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Low Sugar Blueberry Jam in Bread Maker

My copied recipe for low-sugar strawberry jam in a breadmaker has become my most popular and most internationally visited post.  (link is here for reference)

After weeks of harvesting blueberries off our seven bushes (yes, seven - they came with the house) I've been experimenting and making blueberry jam.

I've expanded and altered the original recipe I found with the bread machine.

I wanted to add even less sugar than the low-sugar recipe.  So, I decreased the sugar, increased the lemon juice, increased the low-sugar pectin and have been getting tasty results.  I found that my altered recipe makes the low-sugar jam gel better.  Plus, I found that doubling the recipe works just as fine in the breadmaker as the single recipe I was using before.

And, I find I'm saving money on my Greek yogurt obsession.  Instead of buying the tiny cups with fruit on the bottom, I'm buying larger and more cost-effective containers of plain or vanilla; making my own swirly fruity goodness.

Four things I feel I should remind you:

1) Only use lemon juice from a real lemon.  Most bottled lemon juice is diluted with water, and no bottled lemon juice will aid the flavor or aid in gelling as much as the real thing.

2) Only use pectin specified for low or no sugar recipes.

3) This is not a recipe for jam to sit on shelves.  This will last in the fridge for up to a month and can be frozen for 6 months.

4) Tasty in yogurt, oatmeal, on toast, in smoothies and delightful on ice cream or frozen yogurt after a quick warm-up on the stove or in the microwave.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the recipe!  I'm making NO SUGAR CHERRY JAM tomorrow, so stick around for my next experiment and post.

Low Sugar Blueberry Jam in a Breadmaker
makes 1 pint

3 cups blueberries, crushed by two fingers or slightly chopped in processor
Crushing with fingers leaves a bit more texture.  Plus, it's fun for kids to be allowed to smash blueberries between their fingers while you measure the rest of the ingredients.
The blueberries only need a pulse or two in a processor.  Easier and quicker than doing by hand.  Leaves less texture, but produces more of a jelly instead of a jam.  My personal preference has been finger-crushing one cup and slightly processing two cups.
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons of low-sugar fruit pectin
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients into bread pan
Select Basic setting

Press "Start/Stop" Allow to mix 5-6 minutes, scraping sides of the pan with rubber spatula.
Press "Start/Stop" to cancel
Select Bake setting
Press "Start/Stop"
When Unit signals and display reads "0:00," press "Start/Stop"
Using hot pads, remove bread pan
Pour jam into glass jars
Cool for 15 minutes
Cover with tight fitting lids. Refrigerate to set at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Great Grilling and Summer Tastiness

My husband and I have had a great summer so far, enjoying family, friends and food in warm sunshine!  What more can we ask for?

Here's a quick rundown of what we've been enjoying.  Best wishes to all for a fun season!
Grass-fed and grilled Fillet Mignon rubbed with garlic, salt and coarse pepper.  Grilled baked potato with olive oil, salt, pepper, fat-free Greek yogurt, fresh basil and chives. 

Fresh baby lettuces from our deck, with fresh tomatoes and homemade buttermilk ranch dressing.  Dressing made with Penzey's Ranch Dressing Mix, 1% buttermilk, fat free Greek yogurt and Smart Balance Light Omega-3 mayo.  More decadent and healthier than processed bottled dressing.
Homemade cinnamon and blueberry pancakes with blueberry/strawberry jam and honey.   Bacon on the side.

Grilled baby peppers, green beans and zucchini tossed with olive oil and smoked paprika. 

Boneless pork chops grilled and sauced with Honey Chipolte Mojo,  perhaps my favorite grilling and dipping sauce for ANYTHING (even bread).  This incredible sauce is just a taste of what made Chef Eric William's 'Mod-Mex' Momocho restaurant so popular in Ohio City.  The easy 5 minute recipe can be found in Maria Isabella's cookbook, "In the Kitchen with Cleveland's Favorite Chefs," as well as my guest post on her blog.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Hungarian "Bruschetta"

I don't know how to explain this mandatory appetizer at past family cookouts.  I'm calling this 'Hungarian Bruschetta' so most can get a quick concept:  crusty bread, fresh tomatoes and onions; but, instead of the delicious and popular Italian way of adding olive oil and perhaps a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, we did it a different way.  We did it with bacon. . . a special bacon.

Our family cookouts were an anticipated tradition.  On the West Side of Cleveland, under the summer flight paths of low planes landing into Hopkins Airport next to the Ford plant where Grandpa worked, across from the railroad tracks and the Chevy plant (now GM), behind the UAW hall, I grew up with the men in my family guarding the grill cooking the special Hungarian bacon to drizzle it onto the bread.

I wish I knew the exact name of this.  Since my great-grandparents and grandparents did not teach my mom or uncle Hungarian, my brother and I didn't learn it, either.  If I knew the exact spelling I'd tell you, but I've only heard its 'proper name' as "Giddush Kenya."  My family also calls it "Greasy Bread."  The Hungarian bacon we use was pronounced "Sul' en ah."  Basically, it's smoked salt pork, only better, in my opinion.

All grandparents have not been with us for a while.  Since they have been gone, having this appetizer has become rare, but often discussed when we are together bringing up past memories.

For the Fourth of July weekend, Mom and I decided it was time to bring it back.

It's a bit time consuming, as you can only serve one or two at a time.  And, sometimes it's best to make it with two or more people.  When we were young, our uncle manned the grill while my brother and I were the runners, serving the slices to the the rest of the family talking at the picnic or kitchen table.  We served in a hierarchical manner.  Grandma got hers first as the Matriarch and the chef who prepared everything.  The grandfathers got their bread next when they were with us, then Mom and Aunt, adult cousins, then the kid runners, then my uncle who enjoyed his slice or two last with the crispy cooked bacon on top as he loaded the grill with Kolbaz (Hungarian Sausage) for dinner.

My husband and I had my uncle and aunt over with my mom and brother for a steak bbq this past holiday weekend.  Only in a Hungarian home like ours do families anticipate Greasy Bread just as much as grilled steak, especially after seven years or more since we've had it.

I has happy to take over the honors of Grill Master this year, and my husband was my runner.  This was the first time he's tried it after hearing about it for years.  His eyes just about rolled back into his head as he swallowed and said "That's right up there with the Hit Parade of Life," his expression when he really likes something.

I was proud to give my uncle the first slice.  And the last.  And all the cooked bacon.

You will need:

A 4 to 5 inch slab or 'brick' of salt pork or Hungarian bacon sliced in 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices.
   Locals in the Cleveland area can find the kind that we have bought for years at Dohar Meats in the West Side Market (stands F1 and F2 in one of the corners).  Entertainment Book owners can almost always find one of their coupons.

3 medium tomatoes chopped and seeded
2 medium onions chopped
1 teaspoon salt

12 slices of medium-sliced bread (Texas toast will be too thick, thin slices will be too soggy and messy).  Our favorites were crusty, fresh baked Italian and rye.

A seasoned Pie Iron

A hot grill.

Toss onions and tomatoes with salt and spoon onto bread.

Add sliced bacon.  Four slices should be enough for 2-4 slices of bread, depending how much fat you want to drizzle on each one.

Set on high flame.  Close lid if possible.

Once the bacon starts to sizzle and create drippings, carefully turn the iron sideways to drizzle onto the bread.  Then, press the hot iron down to heat through for about 10 seconds.

Release the bacon when it's crispy, charred and is producing no more drippings, then enjoy!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Blueberries Bring Love

This past week has been busy keeping up with the explosion of blueberries from our seven bushes.  Our first home came complete with a blueberry patch off the deck.  That was an added bonus.  I look forward to this time each year when my first duty of the day is picking the largest, juiciest berries at sunrise before the birds get the best.  Since there are plenty to go around, I leave the smaller berries for our feathered friends to enjoy.

I feel so decadent with all the blueberries.  I'm eating them all the time: in yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, salads, pancakes, and just by the bowlful like popcorn.  It's also a great reason to invite family and friends over for berry picking.

Looking forward to my mom, aunt and uncle's visit on Sunday.  We plan on a cookout with ribeye steaks, corn on the cob, my aunt's highly demanded and delicious French onion chip dip (my husband's favorite ever, so he says) and Mom's heavenly creation of baked apples on puffed pastry.  I plan on adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a handful of blueberries and calling it a great day.  We will also be doing a traditional Hungarian appetizer on the grill that I can't wait to share.  Hint: it has bacon in it.

I also can't wait for two beloved friends who will both be bringing their adorable toddler daughters over here this week to pick berries and make jam.
What a wonderful season!