Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Shop til Whenever
What’s cooking? Beluga Lentils

In the hunting-gathering world, I know my place. I’m a gatherer-shopper. Whatever I’m looking for, I like checking out the options, evaluating the advantages or disadvantages of one choice over the other, noticing the nuances of color, texture, or taste. And I’m always up for the shopping experience, as long as I don’t have to try anything on. There’s something about the lighting (do I really look like that?), and the mirrors (do I really look like that?), and the need to get undressed and dressed and undressed and dressed.... So I’m okay with shopping for shoes and cosmetics and sunglasses and furniture, but not clothes, please.

Also food. Especially when I’m not pressed for time or have a specific list to fill, I enjoy just wandering the produce aisles to see what’s in season now, or stopping at the nibble stations in the cheese department or the bakery. In my search for new foods to write about, I’ve put real effort over the last couple of years into trying the unfamiliar. Not weird, mind you, just unfamiliar. The challenge is to make something of them before I forget they’re in my pantry.

So when I saw these cute little black lentils, I really felt compelled to buy them. They’re called Beluga lentils for their similarity to the caviar. Even cooked, they tend to glisten in the way that caviar glistens. But they still taste like lentils, so not weird – just different. They take very little effort (prep time plus cook time is less than an hour!), and they don’t get soupy – the desired texture is toothier than with most lentils, almost like a risotto – so they work well as a side dish for chicken or pork. I cooked them first as a vegetarian dish, with veggie stock and your basic onion-carrot-celery mirepoix – the holy trinity of soup flavoring.

The second time I made them, we’d just arrived in New Jersey for the summer and I forgot that I hadn’t stocked up on things like carrots and celery. But I had onion and some yellow bell pepper, so I sautéed those together and worked some Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage and a little brown sugar into the mix. Wow – very nice! And now I see that Whole Foods has a salad of Beluga lentils with feta, endive leaves, and tangerine segments. Looks like I have to head back to the store...

Beluga Lentils

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Serves 4.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup diced onion
½ cup diced carrot
½ cup diced celery
1 clove garlic (roasted if you have it), minced
1 cup Beluga lentils
3 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
6 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 rounded teaspoon dried thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes, until the onion softens. Add the carrot, celery, and garlic, and sauté another 4-5 minutes until the carrot and celery soften.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the lentils until they are well coated with the oil, about 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, thyme, and 6-8 fresh grinds of black pepper. Set the heat to a gentle simmer and cook the lentils, covered, for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally until they are tender and have absorbed almost all of the liquid.

Turn off the heat and, if you used fresh thyme, remove the stems from the mix. Stir in the vinegar and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Kitchen Goddess note: These little lentils are endlessly flexible. You can add meat, or not. You can stir in fresh spinach at the end, or not. Here’s what I’ve done:

For the meat-eater’s version, start by sautéing 1 package of Aidells sausage (sliced in ½-inch pieces), OR 1 pound of mild Italian sausage, OR 3 slices of bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces, in a 10-inch skillet or small soup pot. If you choose the Aidells sausage, you may want to add a tablespoon of olive oil. When the meat is done, remove it to a bowl and proceed with the onion-carrot-celery sauté. Once the lentils have cooked to the tender stage, add back the meat and continue cooking until the meat is warm. Then remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vinegar/parsley.

For my New Jersey version, start with the Aidells Chicken & Apple sausage. Then substitute ½ yellow bell pepper, diced, for the carrots and celery, and stir in 1 tablespoon brown sugar at the same time that you add the broth.

And let me know if you come up with any other great ideas!

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Power of Suggestion
What’s cooking? Molten Chocolate Cake

I’m so easily led. Our gourmet group met last week, and my course was the dessert. The theme was “something Asian,” which had me stumped for a while. Then an internet search yielded a recipe for a flourless chocolate cake with Chinese five-spice powder. That sounded good, and I figured I could serve some green tea ice cream with it.

Kitchen Goddess note: Five-spice powder is a warm and fragrant spice blend often found in Asian cooking, especially Chinese cuisine. Finely ground from fennel seed, Chinese cinnamon (milder than the cassia cinnamon generally available in the U.S), star anise, clove, and Sichuan pepper, the mix is most often used on all kinds of meats. But I’ve incorporated it in a breakfast dish of steel-cut oats, a fabulous cranberry sauce made with pinot noir, and this chocolate cake. The flavor is occasionally described as “haunting.” The Sichuan peppers are hard to come by [read: expensive], so they’re often left out of commercial blends. The mix from Penzey’s uses cassia cinnamon, and ginger instead of the pepper; Central Market in Austin offers five-spice powder in the bulk baking aisle, using cassia cinnamon and black pepper instead of the Sichuan.

I sent along the description of my dessert to our fearless leader, a highly organized guy who assembles the menu into a lovely document with photos and all. But I didn’t have a photo of what I wanted to do, and he really likes having photos, so he found one on his own – an individual-sized chocolate cake with a small scoop of ice cream next to it. (This guy isn’t just well organized – he’s resourceful, and relentless. Reminding me a bit of the Kitchen Goddess, only with better technical skills.) As it happens – and because I am the Kitchen Goddess – I could tell that the cake in the photo was a molten chocolate cake, which is a totally different texture than what I had planned to make. Ha! I said to myself. Then Hmmm... Then Mmmmm... The more I looked at his photo, the more I wanted what he had pictured. So I revised my plan, put the five-spice powder into Jean-George Vongerichten’s molten chocolate cake recipe, and that’s what I served.

This is why I often ask the waiter in a restaurant to take my order last. Unless I’m completely sure of what I want to eat, I’m very often swayed by what others at the table order. So if I say I’ll have the chicken, and the next person orders the filet of sole, I start thinking, Well, that sounds really good. Maybe better than the chicken. And before I know it, I’m saying, “Oh waiter, I’ve changed my mind. I’ll have the sole, too.”

And then I go through the same routine with each person around the table, unless someone orders steak, which I can usually pass.

The problem is that I mentally taste each dish, and if I start by tasting the chicken, well, then, by the time the next person orders the sole, I’ve pretty much done with mentally eating the chicken and am ready for something else. It’s a curse.

In the end, the molten chocolate cake with five-spice powder was extremely yummy. My good buddy, Jean-George (we’ve never met, but I just know we’d be friends if we did) – who is credited with inventing the concept – appears in a video on The New York Times website, in which he makes said cake faster than... well, pretty darn fast. And the concept is incredibly simple. No ball of chocolate truffle to insert into the dough. Instead, the trick is not to cook it long, and because there’s precious little flour in the mix, the uncooked insides are just rich, gooey chocolate. Also no icing, though you may want to sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Was it a success? Let me just say that the whole table went quiet as everyone cut gently into their cakes.

With only a few ingredients, the recipe is ripe for adding a bit of flavoring, as I did. But you could instead add cinnamon or candied ginger or espresso powder or orange liqueur or nothing – whatever strikes your fancy. Garnish with some fat raspberries or a sprig of mint, or whipped cream. Or green tea ice cream, which was a divine combo – as long as you like green tea. (My post with Green Tea Ice Cream will be coming up soon. Be patient.)

Today’s Brilliant Idea

One of the few issues you face in serving molten chocolate cakes is the problem of getting them out of the very hot ramekins and onto the plate. If you’ve adequately greased and floured the ramekins, all you have to do is put a plate on top of one and turn it over. But that means picking them up, and you can’t wait until they cool. The Kitchen Goddess has more than once burned her fingers in this process. But in my wanderings around the web, I came across Kitchen Conundrums with Thomas Joseph, on MarthaStewart.com. He suggests wrapping the business ends of tongs with paper towels, secured by rubber bands, at which point you can easily pick up a hot ramekin and invert it without hurting yourself. The internet is a wonderful place.

The Cake

With all these distractions, I don’t want you to miss the point of this post, which is to make this cake. OMG, you will not find another dessert that is simultaneously this mouth-watering and easy to make. It’s so popular in Jean-George’s restaurants, he says they make thousands each day. So even if you don’t trust the Kitchen Goddess (what??!!), you can trust all those customers. It’ll take more time on your first try, but on my third time making this recipe, the longest part of the process was waiting for my oven to get to 450º. Seriously. And then the little darlings cook in only 7-8 minutes!

Molten Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Jean-George Vongerichten, as seen in The New York Times.

Makes 4 cakes.

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
4 ounces unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the molds*
2 large eggs
2 yolks from large eggs
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, plus extra for flouring the molds*
Optional flavorings: 1¼ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder, or 1¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Garnishes (any combination of these): powdered sugar, mint sprig, raspberries, ice cream, whipped cream

Special equipment: four 6-ounce molds or ramekins, buttered and floured or sprayed with Baker’s Joy.

*Kitchen Goddess note: You can save yourself time and a pain in the neck by purchasing a can of Baker’s Joy, a calorie-free non-stick baking spray with flour. Spray it on the insides of your molds, and in seconds, you are ready to roll.

Start by melting the butter and chocolate together in a saucepan or medium-sized bowl. You can do this using a double boiler with hot water, or a bowl set over a saucepan of hot water, or you can melt the butter in the microwave and stir the chocolate into it until the chocolate is completely melted. Or if, like the Kitchen Goddess, you are blessed with an induction stovetop, you can put the butter and chocolate into a saucepan on the “Melt” setting and wait for technology to do its work. However you make it happen, stir together the melted butter and chocolate until well blended, and set aside.

Put the whole eggs and the egg yolks into a mixing bowl with the sugar, and beat or whisk the mixture until it becomes lighter and thickens. If you are using a stand mixer, this will take about a minute and a half on the second highest speed setting.

Stir the flour and any optional flavoring you choose into the chocolate/butter mix, and slowly pour the egg/sugar mixture into the chocolate, stirring or whisking constantly as you pour. Continue to stir the batter until the mixtures are well combined.

Pour the batter into the greased and floured molds, leaving a bit of room for the cakes to expand. At this point, you can bake them immediately, or you can cover the molds with cellophane wrap and refrigerate them for up to 3 hours. With the latter, just let them come back to room temperature (give them at least 30 minutes) before baking.

When you’re ready to bake, heat the oven to 450º. Put the molds or ramekins onto a rimmed baking sheet, and bake at 450º for 8 minutes. The Kitchen Goddess prefers to set the timer for 7 minutes, then check to see if the tops are set, and continue baking for another minute if they are not. It’s better to undercook these cakes than to overcook them, as they won’t be “molten” if they’re overcooked. The cakes are ready when the tops are barely set – that middle spot on the surface is no longer wet. The cake will still jiggle slightly.

Let the cakes sit for 1 minute before unmolding. To unmold, place a plate upside down on top of the mold, and invert the mold and plate together. Leave the mold in place for 10 seconds before lifting it off. Garnish with powdered sugar, whipped cream, ice cream, or a sprig of mint. Scatter raspberries around the plate. Serve immediately.

Coming up: Green Tea (Matcha) Ice Cream

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...
What’s cooking? Fusilli with No-cook Tomato Sauce

The first mystery of the day is what I named that file where I wrote the recipe for today’s post. I’m pretty sure I recall doing that, and I probably named it something clever and memorable.

Then there’s the question of where the time goes when I sit down at my computer. Because I made this pasta a week ago, took the photos, and planned what I’d say about it. That’s a mystery that haunts me daily.

But the mystery that started this train of thought was Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie’s classic novel. Published in 1934, it’s been adapted once as a movie (1974, starring Albert Finney), once for radio (1992-3 in a 5-part BBC series, starring John Moffat), and three times for television (2001 by CBS, starring Alfred Molina; 2010 by a British company and WGBH-TV, starring David Suchet; and 2015 by Fuji Television, with an all-Japanese cast). Another film version, starring Kenneth Branagh as Poirot, is expected out next year.

I’ve read it more than once, but most recently as my book group’s choice for the month of May. And even though I know the ending well, I always enjoy riding along with Dame Agatha as she unspools her clues. In fact, except for the Tommy and Tuppence Beresford books, I believe I’ve read almost all of Christie’s mysteries.

My fascination with mystery started with Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew, which I devoured in my preteen years. By high school, I’d graduated to Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason series, and when I finished that, I moved on to Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. I’ve since covered the landscape of Raymond Chandler, Colin Dexter, Elizabeth George, Sue Grafton, Dashiell Hammett, P.D. James, John D. MacDonald, Ross Macdonald, Ngaio Marsh, Robert Parker,  Dorothy L. Sayers, Rex Stout, and, of course, the delicious Arthur Conan Doyle. Whew! So I guess you’d say I like a good murder mystery.

Mostly what I think I like is the logic – the straightforward, linear storytelling with at least the chance that I might figure out whodunnit. And an unequivocal solution at the end.

A Cool Sauce on Hot Pasta

As the hostess for my book group’s mystery night, I wanted to serve something that wouldn’t require a lot of last-minute attention. In colder months, I often serve soup; but May in Texas isn’t soup weather. Then I remembered a dish that an Italian friend used to make in New Jersey – one that required only the heat of the just-cooked pasta to warm up the sauce. I found several variations on the web, and most of them credited my old favorite – The Silver Palate Cookbook – as the originator. So that’s where I started, too, and only added a couple of tweaks of my own.

The best thing about this sauce is that you need to assemble it hours before the guests arrive – so there’s really no way to run late. Allow however much time you need to heat the pasta water, and once the pasta is cooked, you toss it with the sauce and the dish is ready. It really couldn’t be easier. And my book group declared it “delicious!” No mystery there.

Fusilli with No-cook Tomato Sauce

Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook (Workman Publishing, 1982)

Serves 8 as a main course.

4 pints sweet cherry tomatoes
1 pound good Brie cheese
1 cup fresh basil leaves
½ cup oil-cured black olives, halved
zest of 1 lemon
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 scant cup olive oil
2½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus salt for the pasta water
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1½ pounds fusilli
garnish: freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

To make the Brie easier to slice, put it into the freezer while you cut up the tomatoes.

Cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters or eighths, depending on the look you want. (The Kitchen Goddess cut hers into eighths.) Place them in a large mixing bowl.

Trim the rind off the Brie and slice it into ½-inch dice. Scatter it on top of the tomatoes.

Make a chiffonade of the basil leaves: Stack 8-10 leaves into a neat pile. Roll the leaves into a fairly tight cigar shape, and slice across the cigar in strips about ⅛ inch wide. Sprinkle the basil strips on top of the tomatoes and Brie. Repeat with the remaining basil. [Kitchen Goddess note: For the KG’s demonstration of chiffonade technique, click here.]

The sauce after less than one hour.
Add the olives, lemon zest, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper to the bowl, and stir gently to combine the ingredients. Cover the bowl and set it aside for 3-4 hours at room temperature, stirring gently about once an hour.
The sauce after 4 hours.

Set a large pot of well-salted water on the stove for the pasta. When you are almost ready to serve, cook the pasta according to package directions. Once the pasta is tender but still a little al dente, drain it and add it immediately to the bowl of sauce. Toss well and serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Kitchen Goddess note: The KG has specified fusilli here, because she likes a pasta with some shape to it, to help trap the gooey cheese in the sauce. But other types of pasta will do as well, such as gemelli (twists), radiatore (radiator shapes), or farfalle (bow ties). 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Treat for Mom Any Day
What’s cooking? Pâté Maison and Strawberry Pâte de Fruit

Pétanque. It’s French. Rhymes with kebonk. The Kitchen Goddess was recently invited for an evening of pétanque. I know, I hadn’t ever heard of it either. It’s a French lawn bowling game, much like the Italian bocce, in which the object is to toss or roll heavy balls at a smaller, target ball. All these games – in the larger category of boules – are played in open-air rectangular courts made of flattened earth, gravel, or crushed stone, surrounded by wooden or stone borders.

Our friends have built a pétanque court in their backyard, and they invited a small group for a “friendly” tournament. I put that word in quotes, because it turns out that guys can get charged up over a game of tiddly-winks. We all know women are much more reasonable.

In any case, it was a fun idea, made even more so by the hostess’s choice of a country French theme to the food. Guests brought cheeses, fruits, various dry sausages, and liver pâté; the hostess provided a bakery’s worth of baguettes, a gigantic salad, more cheese, and dessert. And of course, everyone brought wine. A great way to spend an evening with or without the pétanque.

The Kitchen Goddess was asked to bring a chicken liver pâté. As luck would have it, she has a great one in her repertoire, a tried and true recipe adapted from the original Silver Palate Cookbook (which, thankfully, is still available). Even if you don’t like chicken liver, or think you couldn’t possibly eat a dish made from chicken liver, you should consider this one. The KG tried it the first time because the book’s authors claim to have sold some two tons of it in their shop, and that sounded like endorsement enough.

Creamy, smooth, and slightly nutty tasting from the blend of spices, with so much butter that it’s almost more butter than chicken liver. And, of course, that makes it irresistible. There’s also a hint of sweetness from both the Calvados and the currants. I have friends who can’t believe how good it is, and it disappears completely every time I serve it at a party. The recipe makes two small pots of the stuff, and the good news is that you can freeze it for the next time the boss or your mother-in-law or anyone else you’d like to impress will be dropping by for cocktails.

But the Kitchen Goddess has never been known to leave well enough alone, so she wandered onto the interweb to see what other kinds of pâté might be available. There she discovered a darling dessert that is also a pâté, known as pâte de fruits. [Translation note: pâté – pronounced “pa-TAY” is a meat dish; pâte – pronounced “pot” – is a fruit paste. Or so I’m told.] The bigger challenge: purse your lips together, and try to pronounce f-r-wee – the sound you must make to say “fruits” in French. It’s spelled the same way as in English, but in French, you need to let your upper lip curl up in that truly Gallic fashion.

Pâte de fruits is an elegant and gorgeously simple type of confection – a French favorite for hundreds of years. Tiny cubes of pure fruit gelée dusted with sugar, they’re pretty and light and a great dessert bauble. Also très easy to make. Put out a plate of them with coffee or champagne, and watch them disappear.

So what does all this have to do with Mother’s Day, you might ask? What nicer way to celebrate than with a tray of goodies and a glass of wine? Happy Mother’s Day!!

Kitchen Goddess timing note: The pâté maison takes less than an hour, but needs to set for at least 4 hours. The pâte de fruit will take about 2 hours. It sets up very quickly, but you’ll want to wait a few hours until it’s completely cooled before cutting it into cubes and rolling it in sugar.

Pâté Maison

Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook (1982), by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.

Makes about 3 cups pâté.

2 small celery ribs, including leaves, cut in 2-inch lengths
4 whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound chicken livers, drained, rinsed, and patted dry, and trimmed of stringy membrane bits
pinch of cayenne pepper
½ pound unsalted butter
2 teaspoons dry mustard
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg (freshly grated is best)
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ cup coarsely chopped onion (about 2 ounces or ½ small onion)
1 small garlic clove
¼ cup Calvados
½ cup dried currants
Optional garnishes: sage leaves, fresh raspberries

Put 6 cups of cold water into a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the celery ribs and peppercorns, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the chicken livers to the pot and simmer gently for an additional 10 minutes.

Drain the livers and discard the celery ribs and the peppercorns.

Into the bowl of a food processor, place the livers and the rest of the ingredients, except for the currants. Process until very smooth, at least a minute.

Transfer the paste into a small mixing bowl, and stir in the currants. The KG then divides the mixture into two 1½-cup terrines, but you could also use a single 3-cup serving dish. Smooth the tops with a spatula, then cover the dishes with cellophane wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours. (If you taste the pâté before it has had time to set, you won’t like it. It needs that time for the flavors to meld.)

When ready to serve, garnish (if you want) and allow the pâtés to stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Serve with water crackers or fresh or toasted baguette slices.

Pâté de Fruits

Adapted from Elizabeth LaBau at About.com.

Makes 64 1-inch squares.

1 pound fresh strawberries (can use frozen if they have no sugar added), hulled
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups granulated sugar, divided
2½ tablespoons liquid pectin

Special equipment: candy thermometer, 8x8" baking pan (glass or metal)

Spray your baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. (Ms. LaBau recommends first lining the pan with foil or parchment, but I sprayed a glass pan with PAM – no lining – and had no problem removing the finished gelée.)

Process the strawberries in a blender or food processor until very smooth.

Pour the strawberry purée into a large saucepan. Stir in the lemon juice and ½ cup of sugar. Stir well to combine. Set the pan over medium-high heat and attach your candy thermometer.

Kitchen Goddess note: The minutiae of these temperature instructions may seem anxiety-producing. Do not fret. The KG herself spent a few worried moments in adjusting the heat up and down, and the results were great. Just do the best you can. The KG found a similar recipe – for a pear-cranberry pâte de fruit at marthastewart.com, where the process was much more loosey-goosey; but I give you the directions I tried to follow.

Stirring the mixture constantly with a spatula to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, bring it to a temperature of 140°. Add the remaining 1½ cups of sugar and the pectin, and stir to combine.

Lower the heat slightly and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the temperature reaches 200°. Be patient – this part could take 30 minutes or more. Once it reaches 200°, adjust the heat to maintain that temperature for 2-3 minutes.

Return the heat to medium/medium high until the temperature of the mix reaches 225°, and let it cook at 225° – still stirring! – for another 2-3 minutes.

Immediately pour the liquid all at once into your prepared pan, using your spatula to scrape it all in. This stuff sets up quickly once the heat is off and if you pour it in stages, you’ll find that the second stage simply sits on top of the first.

Set the pan on a cooling rack for several hours, until the mixture has cooled completely. (If you have the time, you can leave it out on the counter overnight.)

Using a sharp knife, cut the pâte de fruit into 64 1-inch squares, and roll them in your choice of sugar: superfine, regular granulated, or large-crystal sanding sugar.

Pâte de fruit keeps best at room temperature. If you choose to keep it in the refrigerator, you may need to re-roll it in sugar before serving.

* * *

Kitchen Goddess note about strawberries: The KG has posted about the most fun and amazing way to quickly hull strawberries, here. But if, when you hull your strawberries, you simply throw away the hulls, you are missing out on a great treat: strawberry water.

To make it, add those hulls – leaves intact – into a mason jar of plain water. (You’ll need about a pound’s worth of strawberries to get the full flavor.) Refrigerate overnight, then drain out the hulls. You’ll be left with a truly wonderful, strawberry-flavored water – light and so refreshing, you’ll want to buy more strawberries just to make another batch.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Shroom Season!
What’s cooking? Mushroom Bolognese

The Kitchen Goddess hasn’t forgotten you – she’s cruising on the Danube, taking a crazy number of photos and tasting lots of nice white wine. She’ll be back next week with some fun recipes from her travels. In the meantime, here’s an earthy, flavorful pasta sauce that’s a snap to make and easy on the waistline.

It’s springtime, and a cook’s fancies naturally turn to...mushrooms!

I wish I had the nerve to go mushroom hunting on my own in the woods. I once signed up for a foraging outing in Central Park (NYC), but it got cancelled, for reasons I never quite understood. And I’ve read too many murder mysteries featuring poisonous varieties to be comfortable with picking any old variety I stumble across. If I were a Roman emperor, I could have my food tasters check out the differences. Instead, I go ‘shroom hunting at Whole Foods, where what they sell has already been tested.

As a category, mushrooms but simply macrofungi, or fungi that are large enough to be seen with the naked eye. They aren’t plants because they don’t develop through photosynthesis – they get all their energy and nutrients through their growth medium, via a process of decomposition. And, according to Wikipedia, there’s reliable evidence of mushroom consumption for nutritional and medicinal purposes as far back as several hundred years BC in China. Many of these varieties – e.g., chanterelles, porcini, morels, and truffles – are commercially cultivated, and Wikipedia lists more than 60 that are harvested in the wild.

Crimini mushrooms
Nutritionally, white and brown (crimini) button mushrooms are very similar. White button mushrooms are better sources of Vitamin C and iron, but criminis provide twice as much calcium, 50% more potassium, and three times as much of the mineral selenium. Criminis are lower in fat but higher in carbs. White buttons offer slightly more fiber and protein. Do you have a headache yet? I have even more information on buying and storing mushrooms on this previous post. And here endeth the lesson.

So the Kitchen Goddess was yearning for some meaty bolognese sauce, but her scales were telling her she should cut back on red meat. (There’s nothing like an upcoming cruise to remind a person about the need to slim down.) What better solution than to substitute mushrooms for the beef? You get all that great umami flavor and a meaty mouthfeel for lots fewer calories.

Shiitake mushrooms
For kitchen use, the button mushrooms (white and criminis) are by far the best buy. But the Kitchen Goddess is all about trying new things, so consider throwing in a few shiitakes, morels, chanterelles, or oyster mushrooms. Look for whole, intact caps – no major blemishes or slimy spots – and a plump, smooth, dry skin. They’ll keep in a paper bag in the fridge (or as Cook’s Illustrated recommends, in a partially opened zip-lock bag) for about a week.

Mushroom Bolognese

Adapted from The Mushroom Council and the Culinary Institute of America®

Yield: 6 Portions

Diced veggies for sauté. 
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds mushrooms, minced*
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
⅔ cup carrots, cut in ¼-inch dice
⅔ cup celery, cut in ¼-inch dice
½ cup dry white wine
¼ cup tomato paste
1 cup vegetable stock (mushroom stock, if you have it)
1 piece Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind, 2-3 inches long
1 large garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
2 fresh basil sprigs
1 bay leaf
⅛ teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons grated raw potato
1 cup cream (heavy or light)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 package pasta
½ cup pasta water, reserved
Garnishes: chopped fresh parsley, grated or shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Kitchen Goddess note on finely chopping mushrooms: The KG hates chopping mushrooms, so she uses a food processor to mince button mushrooms. To avoid ugly hunks of mushroom in the mix – you want the sauce to have a nice, even consistency – first cut them into quarters before loading them into the processor. Use the pulse button 8-10 times, or enough to get a mince that’s not mushy – remember that the end product should resemble ground beef. For shiitakes, first separate the cap from the stem. You can add the stems (cut into modest-sized pieces) to the processor, but the caps don’t process as well, so you’ll want to slice the caps into ¼-inch dice. Tedious, I know, but you don’t need to have more than a few to add flavor.

If you’ll be serving the sauce immediately when it’s ready, start a large pot of boiling, salted water for the pasta. Cook pasta according to package instructions.

For the sauce, in a large, straight-sided skillet, heat the olive oil on a medium setting until it shimmers. Add the minced mushrooms and sauté, stirring often, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the onions, carrots and celery, and continue to sauté on medium heat until the vegetables are soft, about 5 more minutes.

Add the wine, stirring to release any of the vegetable sauté that might have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook the mixture until the wine has nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes more.

Stir in the tomato paste and continue to sauté the mushroom mixture another 2 minutes. Add the stock and stir well, again making sure to release any of the mix that might have stuck to the pan. Add the next five ingredients (garlic, basil, bay leaf, nutmeg, and potato), stirring to mix well. Add the cream and stir well. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper, then taste and adjust seasoning.

Bring the mix to a low simmer if it’s not already there, and let the sauce continue to simmer, partially covered, another 5-10 minutes until it thickens. Stir occasionally. Add some pasta water or more stock if the sauce seems too thick as it cooks. You can toss it with your pasta now, or store it, covered tightly, in the fridge for as long as a week.

When the pasta is cooked to an al dente doneness, drain it well and toss it with the sauce – in the pan or in a large serving bowl – until the sauce is well distributed among the pasta. Garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano and parsley and serve immediately.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Hero Worship, and I Don’t Mean Sandwiches
What’s cooking? Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Spinach and Mushrooms

The Kitchen Goddess before... well, just before.

Aside from my grandmother, my first hero was Davy Crockett. Brave, principled, and handsome – assuming of course that he actually looked like Fess Parker. I was 8 years old in this photo, and thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

I moved on – wrestling bears and fighting wars not being my thing – to Nancy Drew, whose strength was more mental than physical, followed by Perry Mason, Holly Golightly, and eventually working my way to actual people: Anna Quindlen, Anne Lamott, and Nora Ephron. And while I developed an interest in cooking once I began living on my own, it wasn’t until my children were firmly into adolescence that I began elevating cooks like Julia Child and Ruth Reichl to rock star status.

Except on TV, I never got to see Julia in person; but Reichl is still actively cooking and writing, and she recently showed up in Austin to promote her latest book, My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life.

She’s as delightful in person as she appears to be in her memoirs (Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples, Garlic and Sapphires) – funny, relaxed, thoughtful, and completely unpretentious. In a charming profile last September, New York Times writer Kim Severson notes that Reichl has never been to culinary school, so her knife skills are “ridiculously bad.” That fact alone endears her to me.

“I love the physical act of cooking,” Reichl says. “There are all these little secret moments in the kitchen, and if you don’t pay attention to that, you’re missing so much in life.” I get that philosophy. Think about the moment when an egg white goes from clear and gelatinous to creamy white and solid; the intricate structure of an orange segment, with all those little sacks of juice held together by threads; the satiny smooth, jewel-toned skin on an eggplant that’s so alluring I want to buy one even though it’s the only food I actively dislike.

In the Q&A part of the evening, someone asked Reichl’s favorite recipe. “Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce,” she said without a moment’s hesitation. Then she proceeded to recite the recipe. This’ll take all night, I thought. And then it was done. Four ingredients. I was so amazed, I almost forgot to write them down. But I needn’t have worried – apparently this tomato sauce is legendary.

So I made some. And then, because I am, after all, the Kitchen Goddess, I played with it. Not the actual sauce – which by the way is insanely easy (total time = 1 hour) and extremely tasty with a lovely, rich tomato flavor – but the presentation. I wanted protein and I wanted something green, so I sautéed some mushrooms and bacon with some spinach, piled the whole thing on top of some pappardelle (½-inch wide flat noodles) with Marcella’s sauce, and presto! Dinner!! Yummmm...

Maybe I’m the only cook in the world who hasn’t already made this stuff. Maybe you’ve heard about it but were waiting for the Kitchen Goddess’s seal of approval. Wait no more. One batch will easily feed 4-6, with a pound of pasta. Serve it plain for lunch, with shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano and freshly ground black pepper. Or gussy it up like the KG did with bacon, mushrooms, and spinach before you add the shavings of Parm.

Kitchen Goddess note on tomatoes: Marcella apparently called for 2 pounds of fresh tomatoes (skinned and cut into coarse pieces) or 2 cups of canned whole tomatoes. Now, you may be shocked to hear this, but the KG has other things to do with her time than skin tomatoes, especially when the canned variety are a reasonable substitute. And while many food writers – including those at The New York Times – will swear by San Marzano canned tomatoes, the tasters at Cook’s Illustrated claim that Muir Glen Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes is the very best tasting brand, followed by Hunt’s Whole Plum Tomatoes, followed by Cento San Marzano Certified Peeled Tomatoes. Armed with this information, the KG nevertheless went with the San Marzano tomatoes. Call me a traditionalist. You should use your own judgment. The important news is that a full 28-ounce can is a perfectly acceptable substitute for the 2 cups, even though it’s closer to 3 cups. The quantities listed below are what the KG used, with outstanding results. Which just goes to show there’s more than one way to skin a cat, er, tomato.

Marcella Hazan’s Classic Tomato Sauce

Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Alfred A. Knopf, 1992)

1 medium onion (about 4 ounces), sliced in half through the root
1 28-ounce can San Marzano whole tomatoes, including juices
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
pinch of kosher salt

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook uncovered for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon, using the spoon to mash any chunks of tomato.

Remove the onion before using the sauce. (Eat it or toss it -- there are schools of thought for both options.) Sauce can be tossed with pasta or ladled on top. You should have enough sauce to accommodate one pound of pasta.

Pasta with Tomato Sauce, Spinach, and Mushrooms

Serves 2.

1 recipe Classic Tomato Sauce
6 ounces pasta (your choice -- KG prefers either a wide flat noodle like pappardelle, or a shaped pasta such as fusilli or farfalle)
3 slices bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces crimini mushrooms, quartered
10 ounces fresh spinach
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

KG note: If you’ve already made the tomato sauce, the rest of this dish shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes. If you haven't made the tomato sauce, finish reading then go back up to that recipe and get it done!

Remove bacon from the fridge 5-10 minutes before frying.

Start the pasta now, cooking according to package instructions. While you're waiting for the pasta water to boil,...

In a large skillet with a lid, cook the bacon (uncovered) over medium heat until crisp. [KG note: To keep bacon from scorching, always start it in a cold skillet.] Remove the cooked bacon to paper towels to drain, and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat.

Add the butter to the pan, and turn the heat to medium-high. Once the butter foam has subsided, add the mushrooms, stirring rapidly for 4-5 minutes. The mushrooms will at first absorb all the fat, then eventually will begin to release it as the mushrooms brown. Once they’ve begun to brown, add the spinach and stir, lifting leaves from the bottom of the pan and turning them to distribute the fat throughout. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan, and cook 5 minutes. Test the spinach for doneness at the end of 5 minutes, and turn off the heat. (If you want the spinach to be a little more done, just leave the lid on the pan for a couple more minutes. It’s important not to overcook the spinach.) Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

You can serve the dish in layers as I’ve done here – pasta then tomato sauce then mushrooms and spinach – or you can add the pasta and tomato sauce to the skillet and stir together over low heat until the mixture is evenly warm. In either case, garnish with shaved or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and the cooked bacon.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Have Fun – Play with Your Food!
What’s cooking? Milk and Dark Chocolate Dacquoise

Did your mother ever tell you not to play with your food? Mine certainly did. Finally, here’s your chance to let loose.

Whether or not you’re having an Easter egg hunt this weekend, you can have fun with this dessert. It reminds me of a project from my granddaughter’s pre-k school. So I don’t want you to be intimidated, in spite of its sophisticated name.

You may remember the Mocha Dacquoise the Kitchen Goddess posted about here. A most elegant dessert of rich mocha buttercream sandwiched between layers of almond meringue, and one I only trot out for a dinner party because of the work involved. And while it’s true that the ingredients are similar for today’s dessert, this version is way faster and easier to make, and the presentation is just F.U.N. You could even let your kids or grandkids help.

Not surprisingly, this version is yet another product of the young and energetic chef, Justin Warner, whose book, The Laws of Cooking, now has a prominent place on my shelf. Warner has reduced the calories and streamlined the process for both the meringue and the buttercream, and both can be made hours before you have to start worrying about dinner. Assembling the final presentation will take you all of 5 minutes, while someone else is clearing the table.

Warner includes this delightful dessert under his “Law of Coffee, Cream, and Sugar,” so I probably don’t need to add that the combination of chocolate and coffee flavors is a hit, along with the textural combo of crispy meringue, the buttercream, and the toasted salty hazelnuts. So I won’t.

Kitchen Goddess’s shameless plug for a friend: Speaking of playing with food, for those of you in the vicinity of Fairfield County, Connecticut, I should bring to your attention a terrific opportunity called Play with Your Food. It’s a unique program run by a ridiculously creative friend of mine, combining gourmet lunch, professional theatre, and insightful discussion -- all in an hour and a half. With performances in Westport, Fairfield, and Greenwich, this not-for-profit organization is now in its 14th season of providing a mix of plays that are intelligent, thought-provoking, and humorous. If you’re anywhere nearby and want more information, check it out here.

And now, back to the cooking...

Kitchen Goddess note: Except when I am feeling particularly obstreperous, I like to follow the directions at least the first time I make a dish. But you are under no such restrictions. Warner’s recipe calls for milk chocolate chips, and now that I’ve made it a couple of times, I plan to try the buttercream with semisweet chocolate, or maybe even bittersweet chocolate, both of which have a more chocolatey flavor. Also, be aware that milk chocolate (because of the milk solids it contains) can scorch easily, so if you’re melting it in a microwave, try zapping about 15 seconds at a time on the 50% setting, and stirring between zaps.

Milk and Dark Chocolate Dacquoise

Adapted from Justin Warner in The Laws of Cooking (Flatiron Books, 2015).

Serves 4.

For the dark chocolate meringue:
3 egg whites (room temperature)
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon instant espresso crystals
1 teaspoon water (room temperature)
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

For the milk chocolate buttercream:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ cup milk chocolate chips
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

For the garnish:
½ cup hazelnuts
½ cup fresh raspberries (optional)

For the meringue:
Preheat the oven to 200º. Line a half-sheet baking pan (18x13 inches) with a single sheet of baker’s parchment, or a silicone baking mat.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until they turn frothy. Increase the speed to high and add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, while the mixer is running. Whip the whites until stiff, shiny peaks form, about 4-5 minutes.

While the mixer is running, stir the water into the instant espresso until the crystals are fully dissolved. Once the whites have formed stiff peaks, stop the machine briefly and pour the coffee mixture into the whites. Turn the mixer back on until the coffee is fully mixed into the whites.

Remove the bowl and sprinkle the cocoa powder over the whites. Using a rubber spatula, fold the cocoa into the whites until it appears to be evenly distributed. Pour the whites into the parchment-lined pan and gently – again using the spatula – spread the whites in a thin, even layer as fully covering the parchment as possible.

Bake the meringue at 200º for one hour, without opening the oven door. At the end of the hour – again without opening the oven door – turn off the heat and leave the meringue in the warm oven for another hour.

The meringue stores best in the closed oven; so if, at the end of the second hour, you’re not yet ready to serve, leave the oven door open for just long enough that the heat dissipates, then close it again until time to serve.

For the buttercream:
In a clean bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the powdered sugar until the mixture lightens, about 5 minutes.

In the meantime, melt the chocolate chips in a small bowl using the microwave, working in 15-second zaps at 50% power. Stir well between zaps, stopping when the chocolate is smooth and fully melted.

Add the chocolate to the butter/sugar mixture a spoonful at a time, stopping the mixer then returning to medium-high speed to incorporate the chocolate each time. At each stop, use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Once all the chocolate is incorporated, add the cocoa powder and salt and mix well again.

If you’re not serving the dessert immediately, cover the buttercream and store in the fridge. Remove the buttercream an hour before serving, so it has time to come to room temperature. You’ll need it to be soft before you can plate it.

For the hazelnuts:
The skin on hazelnuts is bitter, so most recipes tell you to remove it. If you can buy hazelnuts without their dark brown skins, go for it. If you can’t, there are two ways to do so.

1. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 360º for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Immediately wrap them in a clean dishtowel and let them steam 5 minutes, then rub them vigorously in the towel to remove most of the skins. This method won’t get all the skins off, but that’s ok. Also, the dishtowel will get stained, so use one you don’t care about. With this method, you will have already roasted the nuts and can just toss them with salt before chopping them coarsely and using as garnish for the dessert.

2. For each ½ cup of nuts, bring 1½ cups of water to boil. Add the nuts and 2 tablespoons of baking soda (which will spit and boil furiously), and boil 3 minutes. Drain the nuts and rinse well under cold water, then use your fingers to remove the skins. This method is a bit painstaking but will remove all the skins. Then you’ll need to roast the nuts at 350º for 10 minutes and toss them with salt before chopping them coarsely and using as garnish for the dessert.

To Serve
Place a dollop of the milk chocolate buttercream in the center of each plate.

Slowly and carefully peel off the parchment from the meringue. Break the meringue into shards and arrange them like modern art sculpture in the buttercream.

Scatter roasted, salted, coarsely chopped hazelnuts around the plate. Distribute the fresh raspberries (if you choose) around the plate as well.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Nerd Alert! It’s the Earliest Spring in 400 Years
What’s cooking? Candied Kumquats, Candied Meyer Lemon, and Triple Citrus Marmalade

Kitchen Goddess note: I know I said this post would be up on Friday, but I forgot that the Spring National Bridge Tournament would be running, so instead of writing, I’ve been online watching the play in the prestigious Vanderbilt Knockout Teams. You heard me right – bridge hands. That’s how big a geek I really am.

When you finish reading this post you will know more than you thought possible about the vernal equinox, otherwise known as the First Day of Spring. If you’re not interested (what??!!), you can skip directly to the recipes for citrus. But then you may never know why spring doesn’t arrive on March 21st any more.

You probably already know the vernal equinox is the day when the sun rises exactly in the East and sets exactly in the West, so that daytime and nighttime are very nearly equal. The earth’s tilt on that day is 0º.

Now the wonky factor increases. You certainly know that we correct for minor flaws in the 365-day year by adding in a day to February every four years. So years divisible by 4 are leap years (in addition to being U.S. presidential election years – but let’s not go there today). What you might not know is that years divisible by 100 are not leap years. (Wait – most wonky coming right up.) So no February 29 in 1900 or 1800 or 1700. But if a year is divisible by 400, we get leap day back. That’s why we had one in 2000.

The point here is that solstices and equinoxes do a little bit of creeping ahead throughout each century, and then at the end of the century, the loss of leap day adjusts for the creep by pushing them back. But we didn’t lose the leap day in 2000, so the equinox has kept up its 100-year-old crawl forward. In 1947, for example, the vernal equinox was at 5:12 a.m. on March 21.

This year, depending on your time zone, the first day of spring begins sometime on either Saturday, March 19th (today!), or Sunday, March 20th. For the Universal Time Coordinate (formerly called Greenwich Mean Time), spring begins at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday. For us here in Austin, it starts at 11:30 p.m. tonight, and for my New Jersey daughter-in-law, who has been counting the days since some time in January, the shift happens at 12:30 a.m. on Sunday.

The bottom line? This will be the earliest First Day of Spring since 1896. (And I want to thank the folks at almanac.com, home of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, for all this great information.) Now, aren’t you glad you stopped by?

Citrus Delight

Another really great thing about March is that the season for citrus fruits is still happening. I was in my local fancy grocery store last week and was almost overcome with the fun variations on oranges, lemons, and limes there. Today’s collection includes Meyer lemons (thinner skinned and sweeter than regular lemons, and one of my all-time favorite dessert fruits), sweet limes (larger and thinner skinned than regular limes, and so mild you can eat the skin), and kumquats, which are completely new to me. But it’s my year of eating dangerously, so I decided to try them.

Do you know kumquats? Small, sweet-tart, and tender. Eat them whole, but watch out for the seeds. So I was thoroughly enjoying them raw, but was wondering what I could do to prolong the experience. Then I saw a recipe for candied kumquats. They looked so darling and jewel-like that I had to try it. My, my – they are yummy that way. Add them to your morning yogurt or cottage cheese, spoon them over vanilla ice cream, or add them to a smoothie. I’ve tried it all. And my goal of extending their life in my kitchen is failing miserably, as I keep sneaking into the fridge to spoon a couple out of the jar.

It was a snap to candy the kumquats, so I decided to candy some Meyer lemons, too. Candying citrus is like falling off a log – ridiculously easy. The candied lemon slices look like pieces of stained glass, and they’re terrific in all the same ways as the candied kumquats. And whatever you do, don’t throw away the candying syrup from either fruit. It’s a wonderful addition to tea or with a glass of seltzer, and it’s great in cocktails.

I didn’t candy the sweet limes, but I’m sure they’d be good that way, too. Mostly, I thought the three fruits would have a delicate beauty all together in a marmalade. Plus, I really wanted to add my French ginger liqueur into something. So that’s the third way I dealt with my bounty.

Get out there and – while the season lasts, which for most citrus fruits, is through the end of March – try one of these treatments. The fresh tastes are just the thing to bring spring into your kitchen.

Kitchen Goddess News Flash! Apparently Sam Sifton of The New York Times heard about this post in advance, and has put a piece on caramelized citrus in this week’s Times Magazine. He’s such a copycat. So if you want a slightly different take on candying your citrus, check out his piece. The Kitchen Goddess is quite the trendsetter, don’t you know?

Candied Kumquat Slices

Makes about 1½ cups, plus syrup.

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
15-20 kumquats, sliced and seeded (seeds saved if you plan to make marmalade)

In a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together the sugar and the water until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the kumquat slices and bring the mixture to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to simmer the fruit, stirring occasionally, until the syrup thickens slightly, 10-15 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, remove the kumquat slices to a jar and add enough of the syrup to barely cover. Save the remaining syrup separately. Cool the syrup and kumquat slices before storing in the fridge.

Serve on plain yogurt, cottage cheese, or vanilla ice cream, or try some on bruschetta with goat cheese or an aged gruyère.

Candied Meyer Lemon Slices

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
3 Meyer lemons, thinly sliced and seeded

Combine the water and sugar in a medium-sized (10 inches wide) skillet, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the lemon slices. Reduce the heat and simmer the fruit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally..

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the lemon slices to cool in the syrup to room temperature. Move the slices to a rack (sprayed with PAM) to dry somewhat. (The slices won’t actually dry, but you can layer them in a plastic container and store them in the fridge.)

Triple Citrus Marmalade

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, December 1999.

Makes 4-5 cups.

Kitchen Goddess note: This recipe needs a day of rest between assembling and cooking, to let the natural pectin in the seeds do their work.

1½ pounds citrus fruit (I used kumquats, Meyer lemons, and sweet limes)
4 cups water
4-5 cups sugar
1½ teaspoons French ginger liqueur (or whatever flavor you like)

Special equipment: small cheesecloth bag or a piece of cheesecloth with string

Slice the fruit thinly (about ⅛ inch wide), and save the seeds in a small dish. For the larger fruit, you may want to quarter the fruit before slicing it.

Put the fruit into a large saucepan with the water. Tie the seeds into a cheesecloth bag and submerge it with the fruit. Cover the pan and leave it for 24 hours at room temperature.

The next day, remove the bag of seeds and squeeze it to get as much of the pectin (that jelly-like substance you’ll find surrounding the bag – it’s what promotes the gelling in the marmalade) as you can into the fruit mixture. I used a lemon squeezer to press it.

Bring the water and fruit to a low boil over medium heat and cook it 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in a cup of sugar per cup of fruit/water, and continue to stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture back to a boil and cook another 15 minutes.

Test the readiness: While the fruit is cooking, stick a small saucer into your freezer. When the 15 minutes is up, dribble a teaspoon of the mixture onto the plate and let it rest for 2 minutes. If it gels, you’re done. If not, crank the heat back up and cook an additional 5 minutes.

Ladle the mixture into jars. If you want to keep them longer than a couple of weeks, process the jars as you would for any jam or jelly. Take a look here for the Kitchen Goddess’s modus operandi on preserving. Jam or marmalade in properly processed jars will keep at least a year.