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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Cooks' Books: 'Well-Preserved' is well-timed for spring

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  • “Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Food” by Eugenia Bone (Clarkson Potter, $24.95).
    Taking huge quantities of fruits or vegetables and turning your kitchen into one large water bath is a process called “putting up” batches. Spring begins the march through summer when a lot of this is attempted.
    Problem is, unless we’re full-time farmers, many of us don’t have the time or patience to “put up” with the procedure. That’s a shame since the flavor of home-canned food is often sumptuous.
    Cookbook author Eugenia Bone did a good deed in formulating standout recipes in simplified sizes in “Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods.” A long day at work or having to chauffer the kids from one activity to another? No problem. In the time it would take to prepare any quick meal recipe, Bone will have you expertly canning a few half pints of your favorite fruits or vegetables.
    Water bathing takes under 30 minutes. The finished batches then sit for six hours and are ready for use for up to a year. Bone will probably make good on her prediction that you’ll find lots of uses for her treats.
    Strategies like that are reasons why this is my favorite cookbook and guidebook on this subject. It’s also made me look forward very much to the publication in September of Bone’s upcoming “The Kitchen Ecosystem: Creating a Perpetual Pantry and Integrating Fresh, Preserved & Other Simple Recipes into Your Cooking.”
    In her classic “Well-Preserved,” for both the basic recipes and the fare that she suggests they be incorporated into, Bone has created unique modern recipes that put a new spin on what many often think of as plain jars of preserved produce. Her strawberry jam gets a zip from balsamic vinegar. A conserve is prepared with pears, port and thyme. Zucchini flowers are turned into a saffron-soaked, onion-tinged sauce.
    Batches like those are then cleverly included in easy add-in recipes. A three-citrus marmalade covers the tops of crepes like a coat of tasty paint. Preserved Meyer lemons rev up a risotto. Stewed onions perk up everything from soup to quiche to poultry.
    Perkiness might, in fact, be a side effect of these dishes. Instead of feeling drained from the usual insurmountable canning process, extra time to enjoy the treats and everything else on your to-do list is the payoff.
    STRAWBERRY BALSAMIC JAM
    • 8 cups washed and hulled strawberries (about 1 1/2 pounds), halved if large (see Note 1)
    • 5 cups sugar
    • 1/2 t unsalted butter
    Page 2 of 3 - • 5 T balsamic vinegar
    Yields 6 half-pints.
    Pour the strawberries into a large, deep, heavy pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once the strawberries are boiling, add the sugar and stir until it is dissolved. The sugar tends to burn on the bottom, so keep it moving until it is thoroughly dissolved. Bring to a boil and then add the butter. The addition of butter keeps the foam volume down. Turn the heat down to medium-low and boil the jam gently for 40 minutes, until thickened to a loose, soft jam. Stir in the balsamic vinegar.
    Bring 6 half-pint jars and their bands to a boil in a large pot of water fitted with a rack. Boil for 10 minutes.
    Remove the jars with tongs. Simmer new lids in a small pan of hot water to soften the rubberized flange. When the jars are dry but still hot, use a slotted spoon to fill the jars with the strawberries, leaving 1/2 to 3/4 inch of headspace. Wipe the rims, set on the lids and screw on the bands fingertip-tight.
    (You will probably have leftover juice. You can water bath the syrup the same way you do the jam — in a sterilized jar, then a water bath process for 10 minutes. Refrigerate it for around 3 days or discard it.)
    Place the jars on a rack in a big pot and add enough water to cover the jars by 3 inches. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to medium and gently boil the jars for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and then, after about 5 minutes, remove the jars. Allow them to rest on a dishtowel for 6 hours. Check the seals and store in a cool, dark place for up to a year. Refrigerate after opening.
    The jam is a good topping for cheesecake or as a condiment for goat cheese.
    Note 1: Avoid overripe fruit. If the strawberries are very juicy, you will have extra juice left over in the pot. The author either water bathes it the same way she does the jam (see recipe instructions) or keeps it in the refrigerator for a few days, as the juice is good for mixing into smoothies or as a fruit sauce for ice cream.
    Note 2: If you make the jam in pint jars, process them in a water bath for 15 minutes.
    RICE PUDDING WITH STRAWBERRY BALSAMIC JAM
    • 1 quart whole milk
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1 vanilla bean, split, with seeds scraped out
    • 1 1/2 T unsalted butter
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 cup riso Carnaroli or Arborio rice
    • 1/4 cup Strawberry Balsamic Jam, or more to taste
    Yields 4 to 6 servings.
    Warm the milk, sugar and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan over low heat. Do not boil.
    Page 3 of 3 - Place 1 cup water, the butter and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the rice. Cook until the water is absorbed, a few minutes.
    Add 1/2 cup of the warm milk mixture. Cook the rice, stirring often, until the milk is absorbed, about 6 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup of milk and continue cooking until the milk is absorbed. Continue adding milk, 1/2 cup at a time until all the milk is absorbed into the rice, about 30 minutes altogether, stirring frequently. The pudding is done when the rice is very tender and you can push the rice away from the bottom of the pan. Remove the vanilla bean.
    Serve the pudding with a dollop of strawberry balsamic jam on top of each serving. To chill, pour the pudding into a dish and cover with plastic wrap. Serve within a few hours.
    Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the author of seven food books, including “Mrs. Cubbison’s Best Stuffing Cookbook” and “The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook.”

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