There’s no need to wait until Thanksgiving to start enjoying chestnuts. The tree in my backyard is already shedding its little sea urchin-like shells. If I can beat the deer and squirrels to enough of them, I’ll be making my homemade chestnut spread to use for these crisps. Ready, set, go!
Crazy as it may seem, I found my cupboards sans baking powder this past weekend. Not willing to give up my plan to make pancakes, I took a moment to think my regular recipe through. Baking powder acts as the leavening agent to make pancakes rise nice and fluffy. I figured I could mimic that effect if I just separated the eggs, beat my egg white until it formed stiff peaks, and gently folded it into the batter. It worked like a charm! So, if you find yourself short on baking powder, or just forgot to add it to your shopping list, all is not lost if you’re craving some fluffy, hot pancakes for breakfast.
The other morning I woke up fully intending to just have some baguette with butter and jam for breakfast. Then I spied the apricots I bought at a farmstand sitting on the counter. My intention was to make preserves with them the night before, only to realize I was running low on sugar. I know, that sounds hard to believe, but all my summer vacationing has left my home pantry in need of restocking.
After an indulgent summer, and a few rounds of fried food between the OC Fair and the fish shacks along Route 6 in Cape Cod, this smoothie is the perfect energy booster. I can’t think of an easier, or tastier way, to get two cups of kale into my body in record time. Frozen blueberries are the trick to keeping this smoothie icy cold without watering it down, which is what plain old ice cubes would do. It does need a little liquid to help puree everything. I used some fresh squeezed OJ in an effort to keep it dairy-free, but you can use yogurt or milk if you want to add a protein punch to it. A spoonful of flaxseeds would be great too; I just didn’t have any in my vacation pantry.
If you want to make a vegan version, just swap in agave nectar for the honey. I’m thinking maple syrup might be nice too, but I haven’t tried that yet. I do recommend using some sort of sweetener, though, to temper the tartness of the berries and earthy taste of the kale. As-is, this blueberry kale smoothie was a homerun with my five-year old.
One last note—you don’t need a fancy high-powered blender to whip up this smoothie (though that’ll make the job faster, no doubt). I made this using a 350 watt Black & Decker blender I found in the vacation cottage we rented. No crazy motors, or bells and whistles. I did have to stop every minute or so, and push the ingredients down with a wooden spoon, but that didn’t discourage me in the least.
All you need are three ingredients to make this easy peach jam—peaches, sugar and lemon juice. A bit of patience is necessary too, but I’m taking that ingredient as a freebie, and not adding it to my count. A note about selecting your peaches—try to get freestone peaches, as the pits release easily with minimal coaxing from the tip of your thumbnail. Cling peaches work absolutely fine, but you’ll lose a little of the meat cutting the flesh from the pit. At this late point in the game, I say go with whatever peaches you’ve got, but thought I’d add that tidbit if you do have a choice when you’re at the market.
As for peeling the peaches, a very ripe peach usually sheds it’s skin easily. I get it started with the tip of a paring knife, and pull it away from there. If your skins are persistent, you can score them (cut an “X” in the bottom), and add them to a pot of boiling water for one minute, until the skins loosen. You’ll need to let them cool enough so you can handle them, before slipping the skins off. This means you’ll need more prep time for making your jam, but it’s not at all difficult—just plan accordingly.
The jams I’ve been making this summer, this one included, remind me a lot of Christine Ferber’s, in that they’re a little on the runny side when first made. They set up more, and thicken further once opened and chilled. I wanted to create a jam with a pure peach flavor, but feel free to experiment if you want to dress it up a bit. I can see vanilla bean, lemon thyme, mint, or a hint of cinnamon working very well.
Generally, I prefer pastries and baked goods the day they’re made, but decided to bake these muffins the night before, so we could wake up to a homemade breakfast. They held up perfectly, wrapped in parchment paper. All I had to do was get coffee brewing the next morning. This will no doubt be a go-to breakfast for us once school starts up again in a couple of weeks.
Makes a scant 1 cup / 95 grams
1/4 cup / 26 grams ground cardamom
1/4 cup / 34 grams ground cinnamon
1/4 cup / 18 grams ground ginger
1 tablespoon / 9 grams ground cloves
1 whole nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tablespoon / 8 grams freshly ground black pepper
Add all of the ingredients to a small bowl. Whisk well to combine. Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Store in a cool dry place for up to two months. Shake well before using.
We don’t eat out very often, and that surprises many people I know. They figure since I’m a food editor and recipe developer, I dine out frequently. I often use Virginia’s terrible two’s as an excuse, but really my mind works overtime, calculating the cost of a restaurant meal compared to what I could make it for at home.
That’s not to say that we don’t go out to eat. It just means when we do, it’s with careful thought and intention. I don’t need a four-star restaurant to be wowed or inspired. I just need reliably good food and service.
It turns out sometimes the most simple items on a plate leave the most lasting impression too. Enough to make you want to run home and recreate it, as I did with this salted molasses butter I had recently when out with friends for a birthday celebration.
It’s essentially a compound butter, and made with just three ingredients—two of which I guarantee you have in the pantry. And if you don’t already keep molasses on hand, then consider yet another reason you need it (this French Onion Soup is the other).
I love compound butters for their ease in preparation and ability to add layers of flavors with little effort. Dara just so happened to post about them on her blog Cookin’ Canuck too, which lit the fire under my butt to share this recipe with you I created for Cuisinart. In all honestly, it’s so easy to make, I told my friend Maggy it seems silly to even call it a recipe.
I’ll send you on your way to my Cuisinart blog to get the details on the ingredients and ratios, but in case you don’t have a food processor, I wanted to assure you this butter can easily be made with a whisk and a bowl too. Just make sure the butter is ultra soft—enough so that you can use your finger to swipe off a chunk. Then add the ingredients to a deep bowl and whisk until well mixed, like below.
Get the recipe for the salted molasses butter at my Cuisinart blog.
New at In Jennie’s Kitchen: homemade whole grain mustard.
Last week a lone tweet went out, and it filled me with excitement. Girl-school giddiness in fact. Rob Smart, an amazing Pro Food advocate wondered aloud if people would embrace a No Fast Food Friday pledge the same way millions have thrown support, one meal at a time, behind the Meatless Monday movement. The idea being small changes by many people can have a big impact on the planet and how our food is produced.