Roasted Strawberry Refrigerator Jam

I bought 8 pounds of beautiful, ripe, organic strawberries the other day at Costco. Because I have some serious fruit lovers in my house the berries disappeared pretty quick, almost before I could set aside what I needed to make this jam.

My plan was to make a simple standby recipe from Cooking Light for refrigerator jam – no canning or sterilizing required – but I had some other things to do and didn’t want to stand watch for the better part of an hour over a pot of simmering strawberries.

So I let the oven do the work, a technique I employ a lot in my cooking. Hands free is a great thing in the kitchen.

I usually make this jam with red wine or balsamic vinegar instead of brandy, but this time I used the last drops from a bottle of framboise (clear raspberry liqueur). Strawberry-flavored vodka would be fun to try, too.

There’s an inspiring feature in the April 2011 O Magazine on women food entrepreneurs, Seven Women Who Turned Their Passion for Food into a Career. I found a few of the food products mentioned in the story during my many shopping travels.

I spread Belle Chevre Honey Breakfast Cheese on Effie’s Homemade Oatcakes, then topped with some jam. Delicious!

Roasted Strawberry Refrigerator Jam

Yield: About 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  1. 4 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons clear fruit brandy (raspberry, strawberry, cherry) or strawberry-flavored vodka
  4. 1 vanilla bean pod, split, plus scraped seeds

Instructions

  1. Toss the strawberries in a bowl with the sugar, brandy, vanilla pod and scraped seeds. Let stand 10 minutes. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet or small roasting pan.
  2. Roast in a 250 degree oven for about 2 hours, until the berries are very soft and shriveled. Mix around once or twice as they cook.
  3. Let the syrupy berries cool. Remove the vanilla pod. Pulse in a food processor or mash by hand with a potato masher to a chunky consistency.
  4. Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/04/roasted-strawberry-refrigerator-jam/

Simply Roasted Beet Salad with Fresh Mint

Roast some beets for a jewel-box salad
Let’s talk about beet love.

The thing about beets is this: People tend to either devour them with joyful greed, like a dog might Hoover up a hunk of smoked turkey bacon off the floor, or spit them out in disgust after mistaking their glistening, jeweled beauty for some kind of exotic fruit. There’s no middle ground, no room for wishy-washy ambivalence when it comes to loving beets.

In the history of me, there was a time when I belonged to the latter camp. I found the curiously earthy nature of beets overwhelmingly and distractingly….dirty. Because let’s face it – along with the surprising sugary-sweetness of beets is the underlying, penetrating flavor of the earth in which they grow.

That combination of dirty-sweetness is kind of what I imagined a wad of mud rolled in honey might taste like.

It wasn’t until I worked the salad station in a restaurant kitchen that I became attached to beets in a more sensory way. One of the dishes I was responsible for was a salad topped with goat cheese and balsamic marinated roasted beets. I roasted, peeled and chopped umpteen pounds of beets, staining my hands a startling shade of magenta. I tossed and tasted all those beets to make sure they were cooked and seasoned just right.

Maybe it was that day-to-day intimacy with beets that converted me in the end, but I came around. I crossed over to the world of beet love.

I still prefer roasting to any other method of cooking beets; probably because it’s so easy to wrap them up and stick them in a hot oven, where they pretty much take care of business all by themselves. And I can’t resist beets that are colored vivid orange or the gorgeous candy-striped Chioggia varieties.

Beets have a particular affinity for things tangy; like fresh soft goat cheese, mild vinegars and citrus juices, making them perfect for salads.

I hesitate to call the following a recipe. Consider it more of a method, to ready your beets for a simple toss with olive oil, some fresh herbs, and your tangy ingredient of choice.

Simply Roasted Beet Salad with Fresh Mint

To roast your beets, trim off the greens (save those if they are in good shape and chop some up for your salad) and place them on a sheet of aluminum foil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little drizzle of olive oil.

Roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. You’ll know they’re just about done when the kitchen takes on a pleasing aroma and the beets offer no resistance when you poke a sharp knife into them.

Let them cool a bit before slipping off the skin and slicing.

Toss the beets with some of your best olive oil, salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon or orange juice. Sprinkle with chopped mint, some crumbled goat cheese and serve over salad greens.

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