Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rose Petal Jelly

Here is a deliciously simple recipe to use locally available produce! 

Rose petal jelly tastes like spring in full bloom. It has a sweet  light lemon flavor followed with a gentle floral note from the rose petals. It is quite simply one of the most delightful jellies I have tasted. I have been eating it straight out of the jar (with a spoon of course :p) until I can get around to using it in a cake. YUM!  
You will need to use organic roses that have not been sprayed with any chemicals. I found these in my friends yard. Use the most fragrant roses you can find for the best flavor.
This recipe will easily adapt to any herb or edible flower. Lemon balm, violets, or nasturtiums would be wonderful.
Rose Petal Jelly
3-4 cups of packed rose petals - free of bugs
4 cups of water
4 cups sugar
Juice of one lemon
 1 box of pectin
 Sterilized jars (I got 4 and 1/2 8oz jars)
1.  Place rose petals in a large sauce pan, cover with water. Bring to boil, and simmer for 5 minutes.  Turn off heat and cover with lid. Allow to steep for 60 minutes. .
2.  When rose water has steeped, strain and press out liquid.
3.  Add the juice of one lemon and watch the murky brownish-pink water turn bright pink Its Magic!
4.  Pour back into sauce pan and turn heat on high.  Stir in pectin and stir until dissolved.
5.  Add sugar to boiling mixture. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring continuously.
6.  Transfer the jelly to hot, sterilized glasses and seal according to manufacturer’s suggestions.

I use a water canner. Fill the canner with enough water to cover your jars of jelly by at least one inch and start heating the water. Place your sealed jars of jelly in the canner and bring to a boil, close the lid, and boil for 10 minutes. Remove from the canner and place on a kitchen towel to cool. You should hear "PING" from each of the jars indicating a vacuum seal.  You can also press a finger on the lid to see if it gives to the pressure. If it does you can either reprocess the jar of put in the refrigerator. Theses should keep up to 2 years in a cabinet or up to two week refrigerated once opened.
This jelly would be great as the filling for a cake or macaron. You can also make a syrup by omitting the pectin and use that for a Rose Petal Martini - dressed up with sugared rose petals. For those of you who do not drink martinis the syrup can be used in carbonated water for a home made soda.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Chickens can fly!

I have some sad news to share today.
I lost one of my chickens- Amanda.
She escaped her chicken yard by flying over a 5 foot fence.
Scout was on hand and... well.
Chickens sound and look a lot like squeaky toys. 
Once she stopped squeaking he came and got me with a worried look.
After talking with a friend who has raised chickens I found out chickens can fly. She had chicks escaping a 10ft fence! 
Dewella and Ezmeralda marmalade are a little depressed. I clipped both of their wings this afternoon and gave lots of treats to cheer them up. I had no idea chickens could get so sad. They really have so much more personality than I expected.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chicken update 7 weeks old.

Chickens go through a gawky teenage phase. Hen's are people too I guess! My birds have gotten so big so quickly. They were only little peeps for about 2 weeks then I moved them from my horse's 5 gallon water bucket to an old feed bin twice the size. The coop upgrade only lasted a week and they started jumping out giving my dog, scout, the thrill of his life! Luckily I was on hand to toss them back in before he recovered from his enthusiastic dance and got a  taste of fresh chicken. It was a close call.

So after searching around for a larger chicken containment system I decided on a small kiddie pool enclosed with cut up cardboard boxes about 4 feet high. This has worked until this morning when I went in to check on the ladies to find them all merrily perched on the cardboard wall.  At 7 weeks they have most of their feathers but, the night temps are still down in the 40's so they spend their days out in the chicken yard but, I bring them in at night. The buff orpington (Ezmerelda Marmalade) has not changed color.  She is mellow. If you pick her up and place her on your friends shoulder she sits contentedly and twitters.

The spotted Sussex (Dewella) has really changed color!  She is gorgeous with red, cream,gold,  and black colors and little white spots. She is easily motivated with worms and is always the first to run up for a treat. If no food is involved she is the most standoffish. She flaps her wings and squawks to no end when you try to cuddle her.

I am still hoping I have all hens. Time will tell.
Hopefully the nights will get warmer and I can get these chickens out of my spare room in the next week or so.
Did you know that chickens love cake? and cranberry scones ;)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

And the winner is!

Thank you to everyone who entered the give away for my 100th blog post!
I used to generate the number 24 for Smitten Sugar! 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Raw Milk Part 2 and Whipped Cream Cake

This is a continuing post about my journey with raw milk. Hopefully you are thinking about processed milk and beginning to question some of the decisions food safety experts make where your food is concerned. I am not against safety measures to protect me from food born illness. I do believe the animal producing the food should be part of that safety and quality process. Happy cows = happy cheeses and milk!
So you think you might like to know your local dairy farmer? Maybe set up a cow share with your neighbors? Awesome! Here is how my set up works!
I pick up 1/2 to 1 gallon of milk each Saturday from a family dairy with 3 Jersey Cows. It is self service. I put my cash in an envelope. I mark down the number of jars I am returning and place them on a rack. The envelope has my name, amount paid, jars returned, and any other comments I need to leave such as change in amount of milk I need or vacation dates. My milk is placed in the milking parlor refrigerator into a mason jar with my name on it. The milk looks like this.
Raw or fresh milk looks different. The color is buttery yellow. If the milk has had a chance to sit a couple of hours the cream begins to rise to the top. It is a thick yellowish layer. Being the city slicker I am I had not idea why my milk was so Chunky. So I would vigorously shake it up. Boy do I regret that now!
Now I know the awesomeness that is fresh cream! You can get pasturized milk and still have cream. It is the homogenization process that gives a blended milk. Homogenized milk will not separate to give you a cream top. Now each week when I buy my fresh milk I pour off the cream.
See! The container on the left is milk and the right is all cream! Fresh cream is lightly sweet, buttery and sooo creamy. There are no cooked milk notes, no sour lactic notes, and no cardboard flavors. It tastes fresh and clean. This is the first time I have really had fresh cream. I use it in coffee and baked goods.
The first recipe I tried it in blew my mind! I made Rose's Whipped Cream Cake.
The cake used no butter just cream. The flavor and texture are reminiscent of pound cake with a lighter crumb closer to an angel food and (I am not sure how this is possible) a strong butter flavor. I have made two of these in the last 3 weeks! yikes! It is a quick cake to put together and disappears equally as fast.

Whipped Cream Cake by Rose Levy Beranbaum "Heavenly Cakes"
Serves: 8 to 10
Baking Time: 25 to 35 minutes
This unusual old-time recipe was sent to me by chef Anthony Stella, a restaurateur in Delaware, who asked if I could perform a makeover on it. What intrigued both of us about the recipe was that at first glace it seemed to contain no butter or oil. But on closer analysis, I discovered that the butterfat contained in the cream was more than equal to the usual amount of butter added. My makeover involved a nip and tuck, decreasing the sugar and baking powder and increasing the salt to compensate for the saltiness previously provided by a higher amount of baking powder. I also increased the overall yield by one and a half times and baked the cake in a fluted tube pan to give it an attractive appearance and more center support. The result is a perfectly even and exceptionally moist and tender cake.
Batter Ingredients
Cake Flour or bleached all-purpose flour, sifted (2 1/4 cups/8 ounces/225 grams)
Baking powder (2 teaspoons/2 teaspoons/2 teaspoons)
Salt (3/4 teaspoon/3/4 teaspoon/3/4 teaspoon)
Heavy cream, cold (1 1/2 cups/12.3 ounces/348 grams)
3 large eggs, at room temperature (1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons/5.3 ounces/150 grams)
Pure vanilla extract (1 teaspoon/1 teaspoon/1 teaspoon)
Superfine sugar (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons/8 ounces/225 grams)
Special Equipment
One 10-cup fluted metal tube pan, coated with baking spray with flour
Preheat the Oven
Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C (350°F/175°C if using a dark pan).
Mix the Dry Ingredients
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt and then sift them together to make the mixture easier to incorporate.
Mix the Liquid Ingredients
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, whip the cream, starting on low speed, gradually raising the speed to medium-high as it thickens, until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla just until lightly combined. On medium-high speed, gradually beat the egg mixture into the whipped cream. The mixture will thicken into mayonnaise consistency (unless high-butterfat cream is used). Gradually beat in the sugar. It should take about 30 seconds to incorporate it.
Make the Batter
Add half the flour mixture to the cream mixture and, with a large silicone spatula, stir and fold in the flour until most of it disappears. Add the rest of the flour mixture and continue folding and mixing until all traces of flour have disappeared. Using a silicone spatula or spoon, scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Run a small metal spatula or dull knife blade through the batter to prevent large air bubbles, avoiding the bottom of the pan. Smooth the surface evenly with a small metal spatula.
Bake the Cake
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted between the tube and the side comes out completely clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.
Cool and Unmold the Cake
Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. With a small metal spatula, loosen the top edges of the cake and invert the cake onto a wire rack that has been coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Cool completely. The cake requires no adornment, but I love to serve it with a light dusting of powdered sugar or a large dollop of lightly sweetened Whipped Cream (page 115).
Notes: Do not chill the bowl and beaters for the heavy cream because the eggs will not emulsify as readily if the whipped cream is too cold.
High-butterfat (40 percent) heavy cream produces a finer, more tender crumb. This cream is generally available only to bakeries and restaurants, but it is certainly worth asking your local baker to sell you a container.