Saturday, August 26, 2006

Oh – To Live in a Jelly World! SHF 22

I’m not so much of a tradition-oriented person. Much more of a try everything new type. Which leaves little time for keeping up traditions.

It may be because I don’t have much tradition to reach back to. My childhood had more to do with can openers and TV dinners than canning and preserving.

So I didn’t fully appreciate the task at hand. That of making some sort of preserve for Sugar High Friday #22, sponsored by Nicky, of Delicious Days. As noted, I don’t have a source of tradition to reach back to. No family recipes were handed down. And I haven’t focused on jellies and jams. For the above mentioned reasons.

But as I got into the task, I realized the error in my ways. The scales fell from my eyes. The light shone down. I get it!

The jelly world is a total do-over world.

If you overcook your egg yolks when making a custard, well, you’re screwed. It won’t come back.

If you burn the roast, it’s not going to get less burned. No matter what you do.

That was my mind set as I started on the jelly making. Careful. Any mistake, and you’ll either have Koolaid, or colored cement.

I started by cooking down some sweet cherries. With a touch of lime juice. As I had had cherries and lime juice before. A nice balance.

And I was reading about pectin (of course in mid procedure). When the invaluable tip caught my eye.

If you blow it, if you totally screw up, if all is lost, just reheat, adjust, and try again!

Wow! This pectin stuff jells over and over. And if it is a little weak, just toss in some more!

The jelly world is a totally do-over world!

After two hours of gently simmering the cherries and lime juice, I had a cup and a half of strained juice (you can see what a novice jelly maker I am!). I added the chilies, cooked a bit longer, then I added the pectin, and let it cool. The flavor was so intense, almost too much cherries, and the texture a bit too firm, that I decided to do a do-over! Back in the pot! Something to cut it – champagne!

I did this about a dozen times. Adding a bit more of this or that. Tasting. Adjusting. Melting it back down. Doing it over until it was just right. Right flavor, right heat, right texture.

Nice balance. Not too sweet. Good cherry flavor. Just a gentle hint of heat. Wonderful!

And what a concept! The jelly do-over!

If the real world was like this, there would be no country music at all. Pain and agony? No need to get out the guitar and sing, just do it over!

Dog died? Hey, just melt him down and make another!
Truck broke down? No problem – melt it down. Another, better one is there in no time!
Fired? Great! Melt that job down to a better one!
Wife left? Good riddance! Melt her down to a better one!

War? Heartache? Pestilence? No problem in a jelly world! Just keep doing it over until everything is just perfect!

Man – I want to live in a Jelly World!

Cherry Champagne Lime Jelly with a Kick
Recipe by surfindaave
Makes just 2 cups of jelly, but I think you could double or triple the basic recipe

6 cups cherries, pitted, cut in half
1 lime, juice, peel reserved
½ cup agava nectar, or sugar
1 ½ Thai chilies, seeds and membranes discarded, minced very fine
reserved lime peel - all pith removed, and sliced into very thin, long pieces
1 to 1.5 cups champagne
1 tbsp pectin (mine required some calcium solution to activate the pectin)

Add cherries, lime juice and sugar (nectar) to a heavy pot, and bring to a boil. Simmer over very low heat, covered, stirring occasionally for 2-3 hours to release the juices. Strain the cooked cherries through a fine mesh strainer, pressing hard on the solids, into a clean bowl.

Return the cherry juice to the cleaned pot, and add the chilies. Bring to a boil, and simmer for a few minutes. Add the lime peel slices and the champagne.

Prepare the pectin according to package instructions (note – with my pectin, I had to add some calcium to the juice earlier in the procedure). Add pectin.

At this point, you can either do the whole canning jar processing procedure (boil jars, lids, etc.), or simply pour the jelly into a convenient container and eat it in the next few days (believe me, it will go fast!) Delicious on toast with a big dollop of butter!

Another thing you can do is to pour the jelly into ramekins to create the top layer of a custard, or in my case a panna cotta.

Crème Frâiche Panna Cotta with Cherry Champagne Lime Jelly
Recipe by surfindaave

8 ounces Crème Frâiche
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup milk
3 tbsp agava nectar (or 4 tbsp sugar)
1 packet flavorless gelatin (1.8 ounces, about 2.5 tsp)
2 tbsp cold water
Cherry Champagne Lime Jelly (recipe above) – cooled, but before it has set

Oil 4 one cup molds with olive oil. Spoon some of the warm jelly into each of the molds. Place in fridge, and let set for one hour. Remove from fridge 10 minutes before filling with panna cotta.

For the crème frâiche panna cotta, soften 1 packet of gelatine in the 2 tbsp cold water. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the crème frâiche, cream, milk and nectar just to a boil, stirring to combine. Remove from the heat and set aside keeping warm. Transfer the softened gelatin to a medium bowl, place over a hot water bath, and stir until dissolved. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dissolved gelatin and crème frâiche mixture until well combined.

Let the panna cotta cool, but don’t let it set. Pour the cooled panna cotta into the four molds until ¼ inch from the rim. Cover with plastic wrap. Let cool completely, then refrigerate over night.

Run a knife around the rim of the mold, and invert onto a plate. Garnish with lime peel curls.

I served mine on a chocolate sauce, with while chocolate sprinkles – cherries chili and chocolate go perfectly together. Delicious!


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank goodness and just in time. Captain Northstar is under control, but Miss Morency, our 2nd cherry tree, is showering us in more cherries than we can deal with. One cannot live by pie alone.

7:45 PM  

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