Fourth of July is such a great time to celebrate our Nation's independence. Beyond the parades and fireworks, it is fun to create some red, white and blue dishes in celebration. One of my favorite breakfast ideas is to create pancakes with red, white and blue fillings of strawberries, blueberries and bananas . A yummy, yet rather easy dinner dessert is to make a Gallette or French Tart with half blueberries and half strawberries-- half on one side and half on the other or in two layers. Then serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. ( recipe follows.)
I came home from Oaxaca to our apricot tree just loaded with ripening apricots. We just love apricots almost all different ways from jam from the landfalls to tarts, pies coffee cakes and other desserts. This year is the first year since 2012 that we have had a crop--so it is very special. But we have so many, we have been giving them away like crazy. They are one of the easiest fruits to work with as you don't need to peel them, just cut them open and remove the seed.
For the landfalls, which are always the ripest, as they fall to the ground due to their ripeness. We cut off any bruises or bad spots and cut them into quarters or smaller pieces and place them in a quart or 4 cup measure. My favorite way to work with them for freezing is to just stir in Fruit Fresh or Ascorbic Citric Acid into each 4 cup measure of fruit--allowing 2 teaspoons Fruit Fresh to 3 Tablespoons water. Then I stir in 1/2 cup sugar and mix well. For jam making I add another 2 cups of fruit, prepared as above, cutting the Fruit Fresh and water and sugar in half. Then I place the sugared fruit into a heavy freezer weight bag and freeze or make jam right away. If making jam right away, skip the Fruit Fresh.
Sunday, I made 2, 6 cup batches of jam. One I made with just the apricots--the other, I added about 2 Tablespoons lavender blossoms. I used fresh lavender blossoms right off our bush. The yield for each batch was 7, half pint jelly jars, which will probably be enough for gifting and our use.
To make the jam, I placed 6 cups of the apricot and sugar mixture into a heavy, deep pot. I added 3/4 cup sugar for each cup of fruit. If making jam from fruit you prepared in advance with Fruit Fresh and sugar, then you subtract the 3/4 cup of sugar added during the preparation.
I used a large metal loaf pan to place the jelly jars in upside down in about 1 inch of water. I placed 2 terry towels nearby, then I turned the heat to medium high under each pan. I stirred the apricot mixture until the sugar was all dissolved. Then when it began to boil, I lowered the heat to maintain a boil, stirring frequently.
In the meantime, I placed a large metal spoon nearby and a saucer. After the jam boiled almost to the top of the pan, while stirring, then receded--I continuously stirred. When the bubbles became large, I started the "sheet test:" which I think is the most accurate for getting just the right texture for jam. To perform the sheet test, lower a large metal spoon into the mixture and raise it up to about 6 inches above the surface of the jam and tilt the spoon back slightly. If the jam has drops that come to the bottom middle of the spoon and join together--this is the sheet test. If the drops just drop off, without forming a "sheet" , then the jam must simmer some more until the test "sheets". Another test is the saucer test. To do this test, place a small spoonful of jam at one end of the saucer , then turn the saucer 90 degrees and if the jam slowly makes a long dribble--it is done.
When the jam is done, stir well and allow to sit a few minutes until the fruit is evenly dispersed. Place about 2 or 3 lid inserts, rubber side down in the hot water and have a table knife nearby for fishing the inserts out of the hot water. Then, using a canning funnel, spoon the hot jam into each jar. A hint is to turn another sterilized jar right side up for placing the funnel in when the first jar is full. When full, using a clean towel, dip a corner into the hot water used for sterilizing the jars and use the moistened corner to run around the top of the jar as well as to rub inside the jar above the jam. Then place the rubber side of the lid insert centered down on the jar of jam and immediately screw on the ring of the lid and tighten. Set aside and repeat.
Our next day class is always a very popular one--"Chile and Chocolate...Perfect Culinary Companions" set for July 8 at 5 PM. We still have a few places left in this class where you will learn the history of chocolate and how even the ancient Aztecs paired chile with chocolate when no cinnamon was available. The Aztecs created the first chocolate drink, which was reserved as a warrior's drink and called it chocolate, which in their native tongue meant bitter water. In the class, we will create such yummy dishes as Hot, Hot Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Truffles , Hot Fudge Tacos, Chocolate Mousse and more.
The next day class will be July 29, 2021 featuring innovative grilling recipes.
Our next traditional New Mexican weekend cooking class is set for July 16-18, 2021 and our next week long Class is set for October 25-29, 2021.
Recipe for Gallette--
This recipe is credited to Jacques Pepin and is typically French for a single crusted tart or gallette. Be careful to follow the instructions about the correct size of butter pieces in the dough. I prefer to use more fruit than pastry. Use 1 cup blueberries and 1 cup sliced strawberries, sprinkled with 1/2 cup sugar or to taste for the Fourth of July tart. Other times of year, use about a pint of fresh or frozen fruit for a perfect proportion. I make the pastry just before using it and it works quite well without chilling. You may freeze half the pastry, if making only one tart for up to 6 months.
Yield: 2, 4 serving tarts
Temperature: 400 F
Baking Time: 25 to 30 minutes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
6 ounces or 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
Combine the dry ingredients and in a large, shallow bowl. Divide the butter in half and cut each into ½ inch cubes. Add half of the butter to the dry ingredients and work with your fingers until the texture of cornmeal.
Add the rest of the butter and working quickly, until the butter pieces are all flattened and about the size of a dime. Starting with ½ cup cold water, add a small amount at a time in several stages, working it into the dough with your hands until a rough, textured dough that will cling together results.
Divide the dough into two equal sized balls and cover tightly with plastic wrap. You may chill the dough for several hours up to 2 months in the freezer or roll it out immediately. When rolling it, roll into a 14 inch circle that is rather thin—slightly thinner than 1/8 inch. Place the pastry on a baking sheet—with a silpat cover if possible.
To create a tart, place the fruit in the center of the pastry, allowing about a 2 inch margin around all the edges. Fold the pastry in about 2 inch sections, making each section overlap the previous one. Brush the pastry with milk or cream and sprinkle with sugar before baking in a pre-heated oven.