Monday, September 30, 2013
I love that you can tell I took these three photos over the course of a day. Fresh grapes in the morning, grape jam by midday, and by evening there were grape hand pies fresh and warm. I've written about my love for concord grapes on this here blog a couple of times, but this year was the first time I went all of the way and made myself a proper batch of grape jam to (hopefully) last the year.
I preserved a lot less this summer than I have in years past. Partly because I was busier than usual and partly because I wanted to make sure that I was only putting up things I really wanted to eat later in the year. Judging by the fact that we ran through an entire pint of this jam in about a week I think I stumbled upon a winner.
Once you've put the jam together, the hand pies are really a cinch to put together. Just roll out a pie crust, cut it up, dot it with jam and bake until golden and crisp.
Concord Grape Jam
adapted from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook
yield, 5-6 half pints
4lbs stemmed Concord grapes
2 1/4 pounds sugar
3 ounces lemon juice
1 ounce orange juice
1. Separate the flesh of the grapes from the skins by gently pinching the flesh from each grape, being careful to catch all of the grape juices. Reserve the skins. Add the grape flesh to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until the seeds start to separate from the flesh. Force as much of the grape pulp through a fine mesh sieve as possible and discard the seeds.
2. Add the grape pulp, skins, sugar, and juices to a large non-reactive pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook the jam, stirring occasionally, until it comes to 220º or passes the wrinkle test, 20-30 minutes. Test the jam after 20 minutes to prevent overcooking. Ladle the finished jam into clean jars and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.
Concord Grape Hand Pies
yield 6 hand pies
One batch of your favorite double-crust pie dough: See my favorites here and here
3/4 cup concord grape jam
1 egg for egg wash
2 Tablespoons coarse sugar
Preheat oven to 400º
Roll the dough into a rectangle roughly 12 inches by 16 inches and 1/8''-1/4'' thick. Use a knife to cut the dough into even rectangles roughly 3 inches by 4 inches. Brush the edges of half of the rectangles with egg wash (these will be the bottom crusts) and top each rectangle with about 2 Tablespoons of jam. Top each pie with another piece of dough and crimp the edges with a fork. Move the pies to a baking sheet and refrigerate 15 minutes or until firm. When you are ready to bake the pies, brush each one with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar then cut a vent into the top. Bake the pies for 20-25 minutes or until deep golden brown.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
And just like that, Fall has arrived. This time of year makes me feel so happy and refreshed that I don't even care that everything in my kitchen is covered with a light slick of oil from making these donuts.
Apple Cider Donuts
yield, 10-12 donuts and holes
The dough for these donuts is very soft and sticky, almost like cookie dough. I rolled my dough out on a generously floured piece of parchment paper so I could transfer it easily to the refrigerator if the dough got too soft while I worked with it. I highly recommend this method.
1 cup apple cider
2 3/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons non hydrogenated shortening or lard if you have it
1 egg plus one egg yolk
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 1/4'' and 1 1/4'' round cookie cutters
canola oil, for frying
1/2 cup sugar, for topping
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, for topping
1. Bring the apple cider to a boil over high heat and cook it until it has reduced to 1/3 cup, 7-10 minutes. Set aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the donuts.
2. Sift the cake flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the shortening and sugar together on medium speed until sandy. Add in the egg and egg yolk and mix on high until light and thickened, about 5 minutes.
4. Mix the reduced apple cider and buttermilk together. Then add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk mixture to the mixer in three additions mixing until just combined. The dough will be soft and sticky much like cookie dough.
5. Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour or overnight.
6. When you are ready to roll and fry the donuts, heat a large pot or dutch oven with at least 2 inches of oil over medium heat until the oil reaches 370º on a candy thermometer. Gently roll the chilled dough out onto a generously floured board or piece of parchment paper into a circle about 1/2'' thick and about 8'' wide. Cut as many donuts and holes as possible, making sure to flour the cutters before each cut. Gently reroll the scraps and cut more holes. If at any time the dough becomes too soft to handle, just put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes. Place the cut donuts on a parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes until they are slightly firm and easier to handle. While the donuts are chilling, stir together the cinnamon and sugar for the topping in a shallow, wide bowl.
7. Brush off any excess flour and fry the donuts for about 1 minute per side, being careful not to crowd the pan. When the donuts are deep golden brown on each side, remove them from the oil, gently blot off excess oil and toss immediately in the cinnamon sugar.