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March 19, 2010

RHUBARB FENNEL CHUTNEY









For Tigresses in a Jams March CAN-JAM the directive was alliums. Wandering through the Santa Monica farmers market I had a vague idea of a ramp and fennel pickle, but sadly there where no ramps to be found. But with spring in full swing the market was bursting with irresistible produce, asparagus, fennel, strawberries and rhubarb all beckoned me. Impulsively, and without a plan, I grabbed whatever struck my fancy and came home with rhubarb, fennel, spring onions, tarragon and blood oranges. Voila, Rhubarb Fennel Chutney.

chutney |ˈ ch ətnē|
noun ( pl. -neys)
a spicy condiment made of fruits or vegetables with vinegar, spices, and sugar, originating in India.



What defines chutney I wondered? Concerned that technically this recipe was not a chutney as it lacked raisins, I poked around on line searching for a definitive definition. I found no concrete answer and somehow, as is oft with the Internet, I knew both more, and less. Raisins I learned are not essential. In India the term chutney covers a panoply of condiments: sweet, spicy, fresh, cooked, and herbal, every cook and region has their own.  Chutney is to India as salsa is to Mexico, and then some. To me it is defined by sweet and sour characteristics which pungent rhubarb lends itself perfectly too.  I have added to that onions, tarragon, Pernod and fennel, typically French flavors that result in hybrid, which I am happy to call chutney.
YIELD:  
3-4 PINTS

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 11/2 cups brown sugar
  • 11/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 lbs rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 cups chopped fennel
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons fresh ginger minced
  • zest and juice of 1 large orange
  • (blood orange if available)
  • 4 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cups Pernod

                                      METHOD

  1. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
  2. In a large pot heat vinegar and sugar over low heat until sugar dissolves. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 35-45 minutes stirring occasionally until the mixture thickens.
  3. Fill jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace . Seal and place jars in canner covering with more hot water to submerge the jars. Bring to a boil and process hot water bath for  10 minutes for 1/2 pints and 20 minutes for pints. Remove canner lid and wait 5 minutes before carefully removing jars. Place jars on towels or a cutting board and let cool undisturbed for 24 hours.
  4. Label date and enjoy!

March 3, 2010

Lemon Rosemary Vodka



What's the expression, make lemonade out of lemons? Well I say make Rosemary Lemon Vodka out of lemons.  
My fine friends at Food Forward blessed me with a ton of lemons after our last canning class. They arrived at my house armed three huge cases of delicate and fragrant meyer lemons which we promptly transformed into 36 quarts of preserved lemons.  I have been power canning all week trying to finish the case before the mold set in. I preserved them, curded them, marmaladed them and just when I thought I couldn't can another thing I realized I had a  case of vodka in the garage. Lemon Vodka sounded just right and even better it didn't require firing up the stove.
I recommend experimenting, try two kinds, or invent one to suit your own tastes and then have a tasting with lots of mixers so everyone can make their own cocktail. I would like to try a  grapefruit rosemary combo.
Please post your results in the comments section and let me know how it came out.



NOTES:

  •  Purists will probably shoot me, but I did not sterilize the jars. I washed them in HOT water and figured the vodka would kill anything in there. I used Ball 1/2 gallon jars.
  •  I highly recommend filtering through coffee filters; this is sure to remove any solids and give you a clearer product.
  • You can easily substitute another lemon variety.
  • Feel free to leave out the rosemary or perhaps try another herb.
  • This recipe has two tablespoons of sugar. I find that this small amount doesn't quite sweeten the vodka, but it does somehow round out the flavor. You could omit the sugar or you could increase it if you like a sweeter product.



MEYER LEMON VODKA


INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 MEYER LEMONS
  • 2 TABLESPOONS SUGAR
  • 1 LARGE OR 2 SMALL SPRIGS ROSEMARY
  • 8 CUPS GOOD QUALITY VODKA
METHOD:
  1. With a paring knife or a vegetable peeler carefully,remove the peel from the lemons. Try to remove only the yellow zest, avoiding as much of the white pith as possible. Save the lemon for another use.
  2.  Put lemon peel, sugar and rosemary into clean ½ gallon jars (I used Ball).
  3.  Cover with vodka and seal jars
  4.  Store in a cool dark place for one to two weeks weeks
  5.  Filter, discarding solids. Keep refrigerated