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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Orange & Cranberry Jellies, Shortbread Cookies, Parmesan Chicken

The kitchen continues to be a busy place, filling the house with mouthwatering, tantalizing smells. I've been busy making holiday treats for the upcoming entertaining as well as gift giving. You would think with all the canning I do that I could take a couple of weeks off during the holidays. I could and I have but sometimes the spirit just moves me. So it is this year.

Orange and Cranberry Jellies

Homemade jams and jellies are ideal gifts from the heart, sure to please. Yesterday I made orange and cranberry jellies. Both of these jellies are used as condiments. The orange jelly goes nicely with whitefish, cod and haddock while cranberry jelly pairs with poultry. Both jellies can also be used as glazes by themselves or in combination with other ingredients.

Jelly making is quite easy and can be done year round using either homemade or purchased juices. What causes the jelly to gel is pectin. Many are familiar with pectins such as Certo® which relies on sugar to gel. This tends to make jellies almost too sweet to be used as condiments. I used Pomona's Universal Pectin that relies on calcium instead of sugar to gel. This means considerably less sugar or alternate sweetener is needed. In fact jams and jellies can be made with no sugar using this pectin! Pomona's Pectin can be ordered online from their website as well as purchased in some health food stores. Don't let the price scare you as per batch this pectin works out to be a lot cheaper than other pectins and it keeps indefinitely. This combined with the reduced amount of sugar used make the end product less expensive than jellies made with other pectins. The nice thing about using this pectin is you can easily create your own recipes. The basic directions and recipes can be found on Pomona's website. My recipes and method follow.

Cranberry Jelly

4 c prepared cranberry juice
4 tbsp lemon juice*
1 c sugar
4 tsp Pomona's pectin
4 tsp calcium water

Orange Jelly

3 1/2 c prepared orange juice with pulp
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 1/2 tsp Pomona's pectin
3/4 c sugar (can substitute ½ c honey)
3 1/2 tsp calcium water

Method:
Measure prepared juice into a large saucepan. Add lemon juice (optional for both) and calcium water. Stir well. Measure sugar or cold honey into a bowl then thoroughly mix the proper amount of pectin powder into the sugar or honey. Bring the juice to a boil. Add the pectin-honey or pectin-sugar and stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes or until the pectin is dissolved. Return to a boil and remove from heat. Ladle hot jelly into hot, sterilized jars leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe the rims. Adjust 2 piece lids. Process in boiling water bath 5 minutes. Let jars cool. Check for seal. Label and store.

Note: The pectin does not fully gel until the jelly in completely cooled.

*Lemon juice is required for low acid juices and fruits. I used it to increase the tartness a little.

Wilton Push 'n Print

The vast majority of the cookies I make are not decorated. They are simply cookies usually peanut butter or shortbread. Fancier cookies are sugar or spritz. I tend to avoid rolled cookies not because I can't make them just because they always seem like more work even though they aren't and because I don't care for the icing and decorating. Well, grandmas are supposed to make neat cookies with decorations and icing so I'm biting the bullet.

I found this rather interesting gadget from Wilton. Their products are quite lovely to work with so I bought it figuring I could have decorated cookies without all the extra sweet of icing. I also thought they would make very interesting cookies for ice cream sandwiches. Basically the ring cuts the round cookie shape then you press down on the plunger which presses a design into the cookie. It's dishwasher safe, easy to use and inexpensive.

Shortbread Cookies

I have a favourite shortbread cookie recipe that I've used for years. It takes three ingredients only (click shortbread link above). The Push 'n Print came with a shortbread recipe so I decided to try it instead.

This recipe looked a lot different and I have to admit being doubtful over using egg yolks. The dough was almost finicky to work with but that is to be expected with any high butter dough. The Push 'n Print was very easy to use and as you can see resulted in nicely decorated cookies. One of my kids thinks I should still add icing but I'll do a batch of sugar cookies with icing instead. The cookies pair nicely with Tim Hortons® English Toffee Coffee!

Shortbread Cookies
source: Wilton Push 'n Print insert, modified method by author

1 ½ c softened butter
1 c granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
6 egg yolks
2 tsp pure white vanilla extract
4 c unbleached flour

Cream butter, sugar and salt in KitchenAid® stand mixer setting 3. Mix in eggs and vanilla on setting 3. Mix in flour. [Wilton says to divide dough in half then refrigerate at least 2 hours. I omitted this step which is likely why the dough was a little harder to handle.] Preheat oven to 350ºF convection (177ºC convection). Roll dough ¼ inch thick. Cut dough then with cutting still in place press the plunger to imprint. Carefully transfer cookies to an ungreased cookie sheet leaving 1 inch in between. Bake 14 to 16 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove cookies from cookie sheet and cool completely.
Yield: about 2 doz [My yield was 3 dozen.]

Parmesan Chicken

The kitchen is a whirlwind of activity this time of year and more so as holiday activities draw closer. We have parties and entertaining every day Dec. 22 to 26 with us hosting three. That means cookies, candies, appetizers and meals so the kitchen is quite busy. This is where simple easy to prepare meals come in handy but that doesn't mean they have to be boring.

Sunday's dinner was baked Parmesan chicken in roasted tomato sauce (home canned) served with hot buttered egg noodles and salad. [I apologize for the glare on the picture. These are my new plates and are proving a tad difficult to get good pictures without a glare. I'm working on it!] Prep time for this meal was minimal.

Method: Sear 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a hot fry pan. Place into a baking dish. Sprinkle with ½ chopped small onion. Pour a 500 ml (2 c) jar of roasted tomato sauce or store bought sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle about grated 1/2 c Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Bake at 350ºF (177ºC) 20 minutes or until sauce is bubbly. Cook egg noodles. Drain. Stir with butter. Sprinkle fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano on noodles. Garnish with parsley.


2 food lovers commented:

DB4641 said...

What is Calcium Water? I have never heard of it.... Where do you buy it???? I tried to look it up on the internet and couldn't find anything ot at least nothing came up....
Debbi in Central Calif.

Garden Gnome said...

Unlike regular pectins that require large amounts of sugar to gel, Pomona's pectin is a low methoxy pectin that requires calcium to gel. A small amount of Mono Calcium Phosphate is added to water to make the calcium water. When you order Pomona's pectin it comes with the Mono Calcium Phosphate.

The beauty of using Pomona's pectin is you can create your own jam and jelly recipes something you can't do with regular pectin. Other advantages of using Pomona's pectin is you can use as little sugar as you want and you can use sugar substitutes including artificial sweetners, honey, etc. Pomona's does initially appear to be quite expensive at $48/lb. However, you only use 1/2 tp 3/4 tsp per cup of prepared fruit so it works out to be considerably cheaper than regular pectin.