Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Curried Pineapple Ginger Chutney (which is as good as it sounds)

Julia Erickson and Annette Grant at Preserves Swap

I'm pleased to report that the first annual Berkshire Grown Preserves Swap was a huge success. The most fun was to seeing the wide variety of jars and cans that people brought--tall ones, short ones, fat ones and skinny ones, too. Jars filled with bright red or dark green or orange or yellow goodies, some with tags and others with labels. Lots of people showed up, some disappointed because they didn't realize it was a swap, not a sale. There was enough enthusiasm to let us know that this was aptly named "first annual" preserves swap--we'll be back next October so think ahead.

In the run-up to the swap, I was busy making more and more jars to swap, including a most excellent curried pineapple ginger chutney. After making the first batch, there was some leftover, which I poured over Israeli couscous (my latest fad). Wow! Practically inhaled it.

Last night I threw a jar of it into a cast-iron skillet with a pile of seared shrimp and then tossed them with more Israeli couscous.  Talk about a winsome combination!  Luckily there's some left over so I can eat a delicious lunch.

If you want to try it, here's the recipe.  It makes a lot, so I put it into half pint jars which then went into a hot water bath.  If you're not going to do that, you might want to cut the recipe in half.  Whatever the portion, you'll eat it up quickly.

Curried Pineapple Ginger Chutney (from Salsas, Sambals, Chutney and Chow Chows by Schlesinger and Willoughby)

1/4 c veg oil for sauteeing
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2" squares
1 green bell pepper, ditto
1 red onion, peeled, halved, and cut into 1/2" squares
1/4 c minced fresh ginger
1 T minced garlic
1 T minced poblano pepper
3 T good quality curry powder
1 large pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2" chunks (about 4 cups)
1/2 c raisins
1 1/2 c white vinegar
1/2 c oj or pineapple juice
1 c brown sugar

In 4-qt saucepan, heat oil over med-high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add bell peppers and onions, and saute, stirring constantly, until onions start to become translucent, about 5-6 minutes.  Add ginger, garlic, poblano, and curry power and saute a minute.  Add all remainig ingredients except s&p and bring to boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until liquid has thickened slightly.  Season w/s&p to taste.  Remove from heat and cool to room temp if not putting through hot water bath. 

Will keep covered and refrigerated for about 2 weeks.  Super duper with rice, couscous and the like.  Or probably almost anything else.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The most versatile cake imaginable

I hope you'll like the idea of this cake as much as I do.  Its versatility appealed to me immediately, but now that I've made it, it's become a dear friend because it's just so delicious.  And easy!  Embarrasingly easy.  Probably easier than using a cake mix.  Really.

My friend Annette Grant, she of the endlessly quirky recipes, passed this on from her friend Natalie Boyce, to whom I am indebted for the favor.  This is one of those recipes that can be as varied as your imagination allows.  Listed below is the "master" recipe, which should be used as a starting point.  And because it uses olive oil, it can remain almsot forever moist.

Natalie Boyce's Olive Oil Cake as Delivered by Annette Grant

1 1/2 c flour
1 t baking soda
1 c sugar
1/4 c cocoa
1/2 t salt

2 T vinegar
1 t vanilla
1 c water
1/3 c olive oil

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter a suitable cake pan.

Whisk dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Mix in liquid ingredients. 

Bake 40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.  Cool on rack and remove from pan after about 20 minutes.  You can drizzle some simple syrup over it or frost it or just leave it as it is.

Now, here's the fun part.  If you don't want a chocolate cake, eliminate the cocoa and substitute 1/4 c flour. 

Don't bother with the water--use something sexier.  I used black cherry juice the first time--whoosh!  Pear or peach juice would be fun, too. 

Next time I'm going to use a cup of coffee for a mocha cake. 

You can add nuts or coconut or dried fruit....you get the idea? 

The basic recipe is the blank canvas.  The rest is up to you and your imagination. 

Have fun!