Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lost and Found
What’s cooking? Raspberry Rosé Jam, Vinaigrette, and Shortbread Cookies

I’m wondering if I should feel old. I spend at least half my time these days looking for something – if not the iPad or the cell phone or my glasses, it’s something else entirely necessary for my existence.

I used to be the one who found things. When my kids were young, I was the only one who could locate their shoes, their jackets, their lunch tickets,... on a moment’s notice. I was always amazed at the ability of the men in my life – and now I would also be including my husband – to walk through a room and see... nothing. Perhaps it’s a female thing – that women are just more detail-oriented than men. Which is a good thing when someone has to find the pacifier or the birthday party invitation or the other glove on a cold, snowy day.

Remember that game in which someone would put a group of things on a tray, and you got to look at them for maybe 10 seconds, and then you had to write down what they were? I so rocked that game. And then later, in my career as first an editor and then a corporate communications consultant, I was a master at proofreading – so good, in fact, that even on a typeset page, I could spot those places where there was an extra space between words.

So have these talents left me? Surely not. Maybe I’m just not paying attention. Maybe there’s just more clutter in my life. Back in those days when my life was about finding stuff instead of losing stuff, I didn’t have glasses or a cell phone or an iPad. After all, I can find the phone on the land line. And I’m still the only person who can locate the remote. Maybe things aren’t as bad as I thought.

Rosé and Raspberries 

I first saw this recipe on Tastingtable.com, an online food/cooking newsletter, in July. I like rosé wine, and I like raspberries, so I printed it out and put it... somewhere. Periodically, over the next couple of months, I’d find it and swear to get the raspberries, then the phone would ring, or I’d realize I hadn’t finished unloading the dishwasher, or the clock would remind me it’s time for lunch,... And before you could say “Wait a minute!” I had put that sheet down... somewhere else.

So about a week ago, my grocery store had a sale on raspberries, and I thought about that jam made with raspberries and rosé wine – sounds good already, doesn’t it? I got the raspberries home, secured the rosé, and couldn’t remember where I’d seen the recipe or where the printout was. I finally found it – four days later, at which point the raspberries were looking sad and sprouting little black hairs. Which took me back to the store. The moral to this tale is: locate the recipe first, then the wine, then the berries.

This jam is not only gorgeous and elegant – there’s a gem-like quality to the color – but delicious, not too sweet, and amazingly flexible. I’ve done the thick, crusty toast thing with it – comfort food for any time of day – but here’s what else:

■ A sweet-tart vinaigrette (recipe below), perfect on fruit salad or a nice contrast on a traditional spinach salad (or arugula, as shown here);

■ A syrupy topping – warmed or not – for vanilla ice cream or lemon sorbet or – shown here – lemon-buttermilk sorbet (recipe below);

■ Filling for the best shortbread cookies (recipe below) that I think I’ve ever had. Rave reviews on Food.com, so it’s not just me.

So let’s get started. This is about as easy as jam can get, and takes less than half an hour to make. You can process the jars and hope to have enough for the next six months; but I’ve enjoyed it so much, and have even given some away, that just yesterday I went out and bought more raspberries. Also, it’s a great excuse to open a bottle of rosé wine. Rosé is enjoying a surge in popularity right now, with stores everywhere offering a range of choices.

For the winos among you – and surely there are a few – we opened a 2013 Mulderbosch Rosé from South Africa. (The one in the photo at top is Kim Crawford from New Zealand.) The Mulderbosch is fruity but dry, and my resident wino says we paid $10-12. Wine.com describes it as a nice “picnic” wine, which is great because I am always having picnics in my kitchen. Might even have one today, if you get my drift.

Raspberry-Rosé Jam

Adapted from Tastingtable.com, who adapted from Saving the Season (blog and book), by Kevin West

Fills 4 half-pint jars.

36 ounces fresh raspberries (six 6-ounce containers)
2 cups granulated sugar
¼ cup dry rosé wine

Pick over the raspberries to remove any bruised or moldy ones. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, and use your hands to mash the raspberries to a thick, soupy texture. Toward the end, you may want to enlist a potato masher to finish the job. As you know, the KG is not one for putting her hands in goop, so she wore a clean pair of rubber gloves. You should work in whatever way floats your boat.

In a 4- or 5-quart saucepan (I used a
5-quart Le Creuset French oven), bring the raspberry mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to medium-high and let the mixture bubble, stirring often, until the jam thickens, which will take about 20 minutes. To test for “doneness,” pour a teaspoon of boiling jam on a cold plate, and put it in the freezer for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the rest of the jam from the heat. If the jam on the plate seems to be gelling (i.e., it’s no longer runny), it should be done. If not, return the jam in the pot to a boil for a few more minutes. Kitchen Goddess note: Getting the water out quickly is key to a good jammy texture, so use as wide a pot as you have that still has high enough sides to let the jam boil hard. More surface area means faster evaporation.

Spoon the jam into airtight containers and let it cool to room temperature before storing it in the fridge for use within a month. Or process it for preserving, to have it last months without refrigeration. Or give some away – your friends will love you for it!

Raspberry-Rosé Vinaigrette

Makes almost 1 cup.

¼ cup Raspberry-Rosé Jam
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup olive oil
5-6 good grinds pepper

Whisk together the first five ingredients well. Add the olive oil slowly, whisking constantly to emulsify. (Or add the oil all at once and use an immersion blender.) Stir in the pepper. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Lemon-Buttermilk Sorbet

Makes just short of 1 quart.

⅓ cup water
⅔ cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
2 cups buttermilk
¼ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice

In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar and the lemon zest. Heat at medium temperature, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar dissolves, remove the mixture from heat and pour into a small, heat-proof bowl. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and chill well in the refrigerator.

Whisk the chilled syrup into the buttermilk. Add the lemon juice and continue to whisk until the liquid is well mixed.

Process in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Once processed, the sorbet works best if put in a covered container and stored in the freezer for 2-3 hours before serving.

Thumbprint Shortbread Cookies with Jam

Adapted from LB in Middle Georgia on Food.com

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies.

1 cup butter, slightly softened
⅔ cup sugar
½ teaspoon almond extract (pure almond extract, please!)
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup jam (I, of course, used Raspberry-Rosé Jam)

In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add almond extract and continue to blend.

Reduce the speed and mix in flour, about ½ cup at a time, until it is thoroughly incorporated into the dough. Turn out the dough onto Saran Wrap or other cellophane wrap and seal. Refrigerate one hour.

Pinch off dough to make 1-inch balls, and set 1-2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

Using the back of a ¼ teaspoon measuring spoon, make an indentation in the top of each ball, and fill with jam. (The indentation will only hold a scant ¼ teaspoon of the jam. Do not overfill.)

Refrigerate the cookies again while you preheat the oven to 350º. This extra round in the fridge will help the cookies to maintain their shape.

Bake at 350º for 14 minutes. The cookies do not need to brown. If you leave them in long enough to brown, they’ll spread.

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