Old-fashioned Blueberry-Basil Preserves

I love using descriptors like “old-fashioned.” They are completely undefinable (from the time of yore?), and conjure images of everything on the shelves at your local Cracker Barrel.

(In case you’re wondering, other adjectives falling into this category include old-timey, prairie-style, country — oftentimes spelled with a “k” — and grandma’s.)

But I’m coming up empty on finding another name for these preserves. Honey-sweetened, commercial-pectin-free, and lacto-fermented. Seems like the way our great-great-grandmothers likely had to make jam, yes? On the prairie or in the country, no doubt.

My motivations for making them this way should come as no surprise: I’m still not eating sugar, which leaves most jam recipes out of reach — and I’m totally into fermenting things these days. Give me a jar of just about anything, and I’ll stir a little whey into it, let it sit on the counter for a day, and let those good lactic acid bugs multiply (granted, the honey in this recipe probably halts that growth a bit, but they do still grow, according to what I’ve read in Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation — ahem, many thanks to Suzanne for the weekend book loaner! It’s now on my to-acquire list!).

Oh how I heart this jam. The high salt content helps with fermentation but also lends a delightful surprise flavor component to what we’ve come to expect from jam (read: candy-sweet). Simmering the berries with honey helps bring out their natural pectin — so once chilled, the jam really does jelly up (though some liquid does remain). I’ve recently been allowed one slice of Ezekial bread each day on my diet, and don’t think every one of those precious slices hasn’t included this jam, since the day it was ready.

Old-fashioned, somewhat near a prairie. I think I’ve found my kountry urban calling.

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Blueberry-Basil Preserves (lacto-fermented) on Punk Domestics

Honey-rosemary ice cream (dairy-free)

Remember my grain-free strawberry-rhubarb crisp from a couple weeks ago? The one that fooled people, in its grain-free-ness? Well, this is the ice cream that went on top. The ice cream that fooled people in its dairy-free-ness.

There was a lot of fooling going on that night.

I’m not just into culinary trickery for grits and shins — though it is all selfishly-motivated. I want to eat yummy desserts. And so I try my hardest to make them, using ingredients I can eat while on my wacky diet. Sometimes, it works out, and I actually make something amazingly delicious. Which of course I then want to hoard in a dark corner of my basement share.

I have no idea why this ice cream works so well — I’ve made other coconut-milk-based frozen concoctions that are good, but something about this one was simply near-perfect. Maybe it’s because the honey and rosemary don’t fight with the coconut, don’t try to overshadow it — they just dance with it. The texture is as creamy as you can get without including the milk from a cow.

It would go well over just about any fruit dessert — say, an Independence Day pie or fresh blueberry tart. Or, on its own, drizzled with a dark-chocolate sauce. How you eat it matters not — it only matters that you eat it.

Eat it, and tell me you are not fooled.

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Recipe: Honey-Rosemary Ice Cream (dairy-free, refined-sweetener-free))

: makes about 1 quart

If you don’t have coconut cream, you can use (1) 14-oz can plus one additional cup canned coconut milk. Use a full can in step 1, and the additional cup in step 4. If you use local, pastured eggs from a trusted source and prefer to use raw yolks, you can forgo heating the mixture to 165º in step 3 (simply heat the honey and milk until the honey dissolves, then whisk in your yolks).

Ingredients

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup (1 8-oz box) unsweetened coconut cream (see note for substitution)
  • 1/2 cup mild honey
  • pinch salt
  • 6″ sprig fresh rosemary
  • 5 egg yolks (see note)

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the can of coconut milk with the honey and salt. Bring just to a simmer (do not allow to come to a full boil). Turn off heat, submerge the rosemary sprig into the milk, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove rosemary sprig (discard). Return saucepan to medium heat, and warm the milk until hot to the touch.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly ladle the hot milk into the egg yolks while continuously whisking (a towel placed underneath the bowl helps keep it from moving). Pour egg yolks and milk back into the saucepan, whisking, until combined. If using grocery-store eggs, heat the mixture until it reaches 165º on an instant-read thermometer.
  4. In a large bowl, pour the cup of coconut cream (or more coconut milk). Set a strainer on top of the bowl, and pour the hot milk & egg mixture through the strainer into the cream.
  5. Stir the mixture over an ice bath to cool. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely before freezing according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.

Grain-free Blueberry Tart

Oh, how I miss pie.

I was looking back over some old blueberry recipes, and came across one for my first blueberry pie. Just looking at the (admittedly-average) photo made me salivate. I could hear the knife cut into the flaky crust, feel the crumbs stick to the corners of my mouth, smell the butter that lingered after the plate was licked clean.

Pie, the ways that I love it. If I mourn fruit now, my woes will shift to tomatoes come August.

‘Cause you know what? There’s no good way to make a grain-free pie crust. Nut flours just don’t behave for the likes of that.

My solution? Let us eat tart.

In researching this recipe, I combed through varieties involving cheeses, custards, pastry creams and jams. But since what I wanted was PIE, I went with a filling that is as close to that as possible. In fact, it closely resembles the filling for that delightful pie of yore, from Cook’s Illustrated. I wanted something that showcased the plump and sweet blueberries we picked last week (still happy in their bag in my fridge) — something fresh but also intense and jammy. Something in want of a dollop of whipped coconut cream (or whipped dairy cream, for the lucky among us).

After one miserable tart shell failure, I happily landed on a winner. The crust is mild and buttery with a good crumb, the filling simultaneously rich and fresh, scented with lemon, just-sweet-enough. So good, in fact, I’m filing this under recipes-I’ll-make-again-even-when-I’m-no-longer-grain-free.

Right after I make that pie.

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Recipe: Grain-free Blueberry Tart (refined-sweetener-free, optional dairy-free)

: makes (1) one 9-inch tart
Inspired by this recipe at Martha Stewart dot com and this recipe at Deliciously Organic.

This recipe is not GAPS-legal because of the starch thickener necessary for the filling. I have found that I tolerate small amounts of tapioca starch — an alternative would be using gelatin, but I’m not sure of the ratios. I do not recommend making the tart without a thickener, as the filling would be watery.

If you have sweet berries, you can likely use just 1/4 cup of honey — use up to 1/2 cup if berries are on the tart side.

Ingredients

For the shell:

  • 1 3/4 cups blanched almond flour
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp gelatin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter or cold coconut oil, cut into small pieces (plus more for pan)
  • 3 Tbsp honey

For the filling:

  • 5 cups fresh blueberries, divided
  • 1 Tbsp pearl or instant tapioca, ground to a fine powder in a coffee or spice mill (or use tapioca starch)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup mild honey (see note)
  • pinch salt

Instructions

For the shell:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Brush a 9″ tart pan with melted butter or coconut oil.
  2. In the work bowl of a food processor, add the flours, gelatin, and salt, and pulse to combine.
  3. Scatter butter or oil over top of the flour. Pulse about 8 times (1 second each), or until mixture resembles meal.
  4. Pour honey over the top of the mixture, and pulse a few more times until dough comes together.
  5. Spread dough evenly into tart pan, making sure to evenly cover the sides.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown (watch carefully during last minutes, almond flour burns quickly). Allow to cool to room temperature while you prepare the filling.

For the filling:

  1. Reserve one cup of berries for the top.
  2. Place 2 cups of berries into a small saucepan with 2 Tbsp water. Cook over low heat, mashing the berries with a potato masher until only a few remain whole. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Add tapioca, lemon zest and juice, honey, and salt. Return to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, or until thickened.
  4. Stir 2 cups of fresh berries into the cooked mixture, and immediately pour into the cooled tart shell.
  5. Scatter reserved cup of berries over the top of the filling, pressing gently so they adhere.
  6. Chill until set, about an hour.
  7. Serve topped with fresh whipped cream or whipped coconut cream.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.

 

Grain-free Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

The bad news? Strawberry season in Indianapolis is pretty much over (I bought my last quart a couple weeks ago, with nary a strawberry to be seen at this past Saturday’s market — though the raspberries were starting to appear, with blueberries imminent! silver linings abound!).

The good news? You can make this crisp with less-than-stellar berries (i.e., storebought), and it’s still good. And the rhubarb should be flowing freely for many weeks to come (especially if friends have given you an open-garden-policy on the stalks growing beside their garage).

Of course, with a recipe like a crisp, you can substitute whichever fruit or berry is currently in season. Simply adjust the sweetener to the natural sweetness of your berries, and experiment with adjusting herbs and/or spices.

This is one of those rare, delightful desserts that can be made grain-free, and almost no one will notice. It still ends up with the necessary buttery (or not! — dairy-free option is below), crispy topping over sweet-tart fruit. Begging for a scoop of ice cream — we donned ours with my favorite dairy-free version to-date — recipe coming in a near-future post.

Be sure an make this on a night you can share it — it tastes best the day it’s made (though I’ll confess to eating our leftovers the day after, with not a breath of complaint between mouth-fulls).

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Recipe: Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp (grain-free, optional dairy-free, GAPS-adaptable)

: serves 6-8, inspired by this recipe from A Couple Cooks

This recipe can be made legal for the GAPS diet by omitting the balsamic vinegar and starch thickener. The filling will lose a little flavor complexity (try substituting 1 Tbsp lemon juice for the vinegar), and will be very soupy without a thickener. One way to help alleviate this problem is to combine the filling ingredients, let the fruits exude juices, then drain the filling before pouring into the baking dish. After baking, you can also carefully pour off some of the excess liquid.

Ingredients

for the filling:

  • 2 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb (about 3/4 pound, stalks chopped into 1/2″ pieces)
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups hulled and sliced strawberries (a heavy quart, or 1 pound)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (omit for GAPS)
  • 6 Tbsp honey
  • pinch salt
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca or corn starch (omit for GAPS, see note)

for the topping:

  • 1/4 cup chopped shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 4 Tbsp butter (sub coconut oil for dairy-free)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Have ready an 8″ square baking dish, or pie plate.
  2. In a large bowl, combine fruits, lemon zest, optional vinegar, honey, and salt. Toss well to combine.
  3. In a separate, smaller bowl, combine the nuts, almond flour, and salt. Using a fork, stir in the butter (or coconut oil) and honey. The topping will be gooey.
  4. Pour the fruit into the prepared baking dish. Using your fingers, dot the topping mixture over top of the fruit, spreading as evenly as possible (some fruit will still be visible underneath).
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the top is golden and the fruit bubbly. Cool for 15 minutes, or to room temperature. Best served the day it’s made, topped with a scoop of ice cream.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, and the Strawberry Seasonal Recipe Roundup, via GNOWFGLINS.

Lemon honey pots de creme with mint-honeyed strawberries (dairy-free)

Cream, in all of its thick, decadent, buttery glory. It rises to the top of our milk jugs, this time of year a good 2″ layer of pale yellow richness (the color from the beta carotene, from the grass the cows munch to make the milk).

I miss cream. Heavy, whipped, frozen, or liquored.

There is no all-encompassing substitute for dairy cream — believe me, I’ve searched high and low to find it. The closest I’ve come is my beloved coconut cream — though it’s not entirely the same, especially in flavor. Rich, yes — but it lacks the depth of dairy cream. The buttery, almost salty, fragrant nose.

It just can’t be replaced.

But for some applications, you can come darned close. And one dessert I recently discovered held its own in the dairy-free department: pots de creme (pronounced po-day-crehm), or as we like to say in the low-brow, non-French-speaking world, baked custards.

Coconut milk (and/or cream) combines with egg yolks to create a thick, flan-like texture. Flavored with lemon and honey, the coconut almost disappears — especially when paired with tart-sweet, minted strawberries. A decadent, dairy-free summer dessert, with no refined sweeteners.

It’s enough to keep a dairy-lovin’, dairy-free girl placated for just a few more months, until my world includes cow’s milk again.

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Recipe: Lemon Pots de Creme (dairy-free, GAPS-ok*)

: makes 4-6 custards, depending on size of cups

Ingredients

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 cups full-fat coconut milk (or 1 cup full-fat coconut milk and 1 cup unsweetened coconut cream)
  • 1/3 cup mild honey
  • heavy pinch salt
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325º, and have ready 4-6 ramekins, oven-proof mugs, or jars, along with a baking pan large enough to hold them without touching (and deep enough to hold water halfway up the sides of the cups). Put on a pot of water to heat almost to boiling for the water bath.
  2. In a medium saucepan, warm the coconut milk (and cream, if using), honey, and salt until the honey dissolves.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. While whisking the yolks vigorously, ladle in some of the warm milk to temper. Return the milk and yolks to the saucepan, whisking thoroughly.
  4. Strain the coconut milk & egg mixture into a bowl or 4-cup measuring cup with a pour spout (straining is optional, but helps the final texture). Add the lemon zest and vanilla, and stir well.
  5. Divide the custard evenly among the cups in the baking pan. Place the pan in the oven, and pour hot (not boiling) water into the pan so that it reaches halfway up the sides of the cups.
  6. Bake 40-50 minutes, or until custards are set in the middle. Remove cups to a rack, and let cool completely at room temperature.
  7. Cover cups with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled. Serve topped with mint-honeyed strawberries, recipe below.

* Canned coconut milk can contain guar gum or other starch-based agents, use only if tolerated.

 

Recipe: Mint Honeyed Strawberries

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, and vanilla. Add the strawberries, and toss to coat.
  2. Let stand 5-10 minutes at room temperature, or until juices release.
  3. Add mint, and toss gently. Serve immediately.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.

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Honey simple syrup

Last week at the lake, where cocktail hour acceptably starts around noon, I watched with sadness as my husband and friends popped open local craft beers to drink with lunch. Or when the margarita pitcher passed me by during that pre-dinner guacamole hour, the salted rims of glasses sparkling jewel-like, causing a Pavlovian mouth-watering.

Uncorking that bottle of rosé to eat with my guac just wasn’t doing it for me.

When you are grain-and-sugar-free, you can’t drink beer. Or mixed drinks. The only alcohol that’s acceptable on the GAPS diet is dry wine, and that in limited amounts (*see note below).

In a move of desperation, I decided to make myself a wine cocktail. I had brought along some sparkling water, and cranberry concentrate, and realized I needed a sweetener. Sugar is out, and I’ve made the mistake before of pouring honey into a cold drink (it sticks like candy to the stirring spoon, refusing to dissolve in icy waters). So in a moment of desperate brilliance, I whipped up a simple syrup using honey instead of sugar. It worked beautifully — after refrigeration the syrup was cold and pourable, ready to add to my cocktail of choice.

If only my concoction hadn’t tasted like a back-woods version of Bartles & James.

But even though my cocktail was undrinkable (the rosé and guac started to taste a lot better together), I drove home with honey simple syrup in our cooler. And have since thought of more delightful uses for it (for the GAPS or sugar-free-inclined):

  • homemade “soda” (sparkling water, unsweetened cranberry or cherry concentrate, honey simple syrup)
  • iced coffee (cold decaf coffee, coconut or almond milk, honey simple syrup)
  • iced herbal tea (cold herbal tea, honey simple syrup)

And while cocktail hour won’t currently be improved (if the best things come to those who wait, I’ll be having the world’s most epic beer and margarita sometime later this year or early next), an afternoon pick-me-up of homemade cherry soda over ice is just the thing to get me through our own pre-dinner hour, at home, no guac, in a hot summer kitchen.

* newsflash: after the original posting, a concerned reader emailed to tell me that tequila, being grain-free, should be fine. A little research showed that it’s TRUE — small amounts of pure tequila are allowable on the GAPS diet! I see a margarita with tequila, fresh lime juice, and honey simple syrup in my future. Thanks, Belinda!

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Recipe: Honey Simple Syrup

Ingredients

  • equal parts honey and water, any amount

Instructions

  1. Combine honey and water in a saucepan. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring, until honey dissolves completely (no need to simmer).
  2. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Pour into a glass jar, and store in the refrigerator. Keeps for a really long time.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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This post was linked to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.

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Sweet & tart ginger-rhubarb jam (small batch)

chopped rhubarb in pot

Yesterday was a long day in my kitchen, but not one of those blissful, satisfying days where nightfall leaves you with a beautiful layer cake, or a cleaned-out pantry, or 30 sealed jars of something preserved. It was one of those days that happens, one where you’re really just getting caught-up, doing the un-sexy things that simply need to get done (hello, stock-making!), and scattered in there are a couple of botched experiments. By nightfall, after washing the 100th dish, it’s hard not to loathe the very sight of your kitchen.

Everybody has those days, right?

One of my failed experiments wasn’t a total bust — just a disappointment and therefore a lesson learned (optimism! it can be mustered!). I picked up a pound of rhubarb at the Broad Ripple Farmer’s Market last weekend, with hopes of making my first jam of the season — one that skips the sugar. You’d think that the whole no-sugar thing would be the challenge — but the recipe actually came together quite nicely.

It was the aesthetic realm in which I missed the boat. My rhubarb was mostly green, with just a couple inches of bright red at the very bottom of the stalk. I became concerned when I chopped it all up and noticed I had a pot-full of green. And then, when I cooked it, while the flavor was sweet-tart and punchy, the essence of coming summer, the color was a chilly autumn day.

rhubarb jam

I realized very quickly why rhubarb is often paired with strawberries: it’s not only for their sweetness, it’s for their color. When I think rhubarb, I expect pink. When I look at this jar of jam, my tastebuds expect something different, something maybe pear.

But, as is usually the case, we’ll eat it. And enjoy it. And make a note to try and buy the mostly-red rhubarb next time (or add a least a small amount of bright-red berries to punch up the color — this recipe utilizes this trick!).

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Recipe: Ginger-Rhubarb Jam (small batch, refined-sweetener-free)

: makes about 3/4 pint

Rhubarb is low in pectin, so while this jam with thicken up with cooking & cooling, it won’t set up  like a commercial jam. Feel free to add a little pectin to attain a thicker texture.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces (a heavy four cups, chopped)
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tsp grated or minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup mild honey (can sub sugar)
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Place the rhubarb in a medium non-reactive saucepan and add the salt. Over medium heat, cook, stirring occasionally, until juices begin to release (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add the ginger, cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is very soft and falling apart (10-15 minutes).
  3. Add the honey and cinnamon, and cook uncovered, mashing up big chunks with a fork. Cook an additional 5-10 minutes, or until thickened to desired consistency (it will thicken a bit once cooled).
  4. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. Let cool completely before transferring to a clean jar and storing covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks (freeze for up to a year).

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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