Thursday, December 9, 2010

THE BEST INTENTIONS

February 27, 2011


Well, my intention was to write this blog at least once a month (having decided early on that my original intention of writing once a week was pushing things). And, not only have I not written monthly, I just noticed that the last time I did write was way back in September. When the leaves were turning and the birds were still singing. It is now (the end of) February. We have so much snow on the ground that, really....I feel like a soldier in Napoleon's army walking home from the Russian winter campaign. The icicles hang from the house like daggers, beautiful and dangerous. My booted feet scream for a sandy beach and warm surf. Alas, that is not to be.


Marmalade season is upon us. Seville and Blood Oranges are absolutely gorgeous this year and I am making the most extraordinary and juicy jam. The Moro Bloods are redder than last year and produce marmalade that is gem-like in color.  The Sevilles are as sour as last year, but are also amazingly juicy. It's good to be back in the kitchen.


I've been making lots of hearty soups lately. Yesterday I made one using left over roasted root vegetables, a bean soup mix, leftover vegetable broth and chicken stock, leftover baked ham, leftover spinach. Lots of diced onion, garlic, salt, pepper, leftover arugula pesto, leftover tomato sauce. It was fabulous.
 Today I made a fish soup using red snapper, salmon trout, grouper. I made a soup base using onion, carrrot, celery, garlic, bay leaf, parsley and basil. After softening the vegetables, I added a 28oz. can of pureed tomatoes, a jar of clam juice, 2 cups of white wine (because it was open, and the red wasn't), salt, pepper, a hot dried chili pepper, 1/2 tsp. of harissa, a good squirt of anchovy paste, a squeeze of lemon and I simmered it all for 20 minutes. Then I chunked the fish, added it to the soup, cooked it on  low for 10 minutes, added fresh parsley and served it over peasant bread. Yummy.


Leftovers and a little imagination (and onion and garlic) can make any meal an adventure.


I'm going to sleep now.



Oh, I almost forgot the most important things.....BERKSHIRE PRESERVES is being served at the restaurants of the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge http://www.redlioninn.com/rli/dining.html ,Nudel in Lenox. http://nudelrestaurant.com/ and The Old Mill in South Egremont www.oldmillberkshires.com/










Friday, September 24, 2010

VACATION TIME




will be closed for vacation until October 14th. All orders placed on this blog, by email or by phone will be filled after October 16, 2010. Thank you for your patronage. 


Barbara

Thursday, September 9, 2010

JAM PACKED

I was noticing the other morning how the sun that usually shines on a section of our deck at a specific hour now shines elsewhere at that time. Somehow, in the midst of summer, I never actually notice the movement of the earth around the sun, but come the late summer the hours seem to move more quickly and where sun once shone shadows now play. That and the most amazing smell in the early morning of dew and cool and soil. And the coming of autumn noticed by the flowers that finally stand erect without drooping under a humid blanket. The Berkshires give me joy in all their seasons and those times between seasons may be the most wonderful of all.   
We put in a screened porch this year and it's added an entirely new dimension to our lives. We duck in there when the heat of the day makes being in the sun intolerable. Or when the mosquitoes make eating outside after 4pm impossible. We eat meals in there and find it delightful to sit, virtually outside, while it pours. We've furnished it with cast-offs and found furniture and reclaimed things. Nothing matches, everything is worn and tired and no one cares. It is all about comfort, friends, calm, good food and strong spirits.

BERKSHIRE PRESERVES has been busy producing jams that will prolong the summer-fruit season. The Italian prune plums are in the market now and I've put up an Italian Plum Jam that has the earthy flavors of prunes and Armagnac and a hint of nuttiness from the pit. It is altogether amazing in both flavor and color. It is a grown up taste, as is my Intense Apricot Jam, and not for the sugar-addicted crowd. The local stone fruit has been so extraordinary this year that you need to eat it over a sink to keep the juice from dripping down your arm. Just like I remember eating when I was a kid. And the local berries are plump and sweet- tart - just as I like them. What a summer. I'd say that I hate to see it end, but the fact is that I've grown tired of gardening, pulling weeds, saying "hi" to fat worms, chasing off chipmunks and mulching. It's time to turn my attention elsewhere and welcome the falling leaves and cooler days. And soon, the return of exotic citrus fruits; Seville and Blood Oranges.


I saw two magnificent hawks today. We mush have disturbed them in their nest when we drove on a path into the woods. They flew low and large and I wish I had had my camera with me. 




SOME BRIEF RECIPE SUGGESTIONS
 
I've been making the most of the local fruits and tomatoes lately making a salad of sliced peaches and heirloom tomatoes with a lemon, olive oil dressing. Add a dollop of ricotta, some dressed arugula, spoon over a slice of grilled bread and that's almost a meal in itself. For a crunch, add a few sprinklings of pistachios. 


Make a grain salad of local sweet corn off the cob, red quinoa sauteed dry till it pops then cooked in chicken broth till absorbed, lime juice, cumin, a tablespoon or two of cocoa powder, chopped jalepenos, scallions. Toss and serve at room temperature. 

BBQ pork ribs, dry rubbed with garlic powder, salt, pepper, hot paprika...folded into a packet of heavy duty aluminum foil and baked at 275 for 2 hours. Open packet, drain off the fat, spread on your favorite BBQ sauce mixed with our Blood Orange marmalade and bake for another 1/2 hour. Out of this world.




The Old Mill restaurant just ordered an additional ten pounds of marmalade bringing the total to twenty seven pounds in just two months. They've been serving it in small pots along with croissant at their Sunday brunch. 

Taft Farms has put 60 jars of our jams on their shelf making our's the first such product, other than their own, to be on sold there. I'm honored! 

Oh, and we've been getting orders through the Product Page on this blog. How amazing is that??

Barbara







And, we continue apace at Guido's and Bizalion's.






















Tuesday, August 3, 2010

SWEET SEASONS ON MY MIND

BERKSHIRE PRESERVES thanks Paul at Taft Farms taftfarms.com  in Great Barrington for providing us with glorious local apricots and peaches and divine tart Italian Prune PlumsWhat a bounty! Tafts is a wonderful farm and garden (and fishing tackle stuff, too) store with their own fruit, corn, berries, greens, tomatoes, breads and muffins, healthy plants and a knowledgeable, friendly staff.

As I write this the apricots are giving up their juice to make my Intense Apricot Jam. It's a slow process - and a sticky one. There isn't a knob, surface or hand (not to mention clothing) that doesn't have a layer of fruit on it. Forget aprons. This stuff works its way under and over the damn things; splattering all surfaces, including my face. Thank goodness for the stainless steel of commercial kitchens. And my clothes washer.I look at the dried splatter on my face as a non-chemical peel. Watch out all you dermatologists, I've found a better way.

Sunday, July 25th was the Egremont on Parade town fair. BERKSHIRE PRESERVES took a booth and sold 46 jars of our finest jams and marmalade to a discerning crowd. So, thank you friends, neighbors and visitors who tasted and were converted to the finest preserves. Commercial brands, watch your backs, BERKSHIRE PRESERVES is so much better than you !

People are funny at times. There are those who ask if my marmalades are local. Well folks, I live in western Massachusetts and the nearest citrus trees are in Florida, so no, the fruit isn't local. The berries and stone fruits are, mostly. People also ask if I've cooked forever. Well, even though I admit to only 48 years on this planet, the facts are incontrovertibly against that notion. Certainly I haven't cooked all my life. I may have been a smart ass youngster but I wasn't precocious enough to stand at the stove when an infant. In fact, I didn't learn to cook until I was married which was sometime between the dinosaur and John F. Kennedy. And, I didn't learn it from my mother who was a decent enough provider of meals but had no particular flair for experimentation. I learned on the job. Here's the short story:

When I was first married and freshly home from our honeymoon, I went to the grocery story where we lived - in Washington, DC - and brought home food for dinner. Let it suffice to say that I had never before really been in a grocery store as anything other than a companion to the one who was actually shopping. I also had never, ever, cooked a meal other than to boil a few eggs. Somehow, miraculously, food always appeared on my table. So there I was, frantically searching for something for us to eat and I brought home the only two recognizable things....a box of Oreos for me and a box of Hydrox for him. And milk. Well, he thought I was adorable, but really? After a week the adorable part wore off and I was hungry. So, I bought the Time Life cookbook series and started in on my cooking lessons. If any of you are familiar with that old, now thankfully defunct series, you'll remember that every recipe was for a farm family of 24 people. The series came with a box or two of index cards with the recipes printed on them. The first recipe I made was for a beef stew. I made the grocery list, went shopping for the ingredients and a large pot and followed the recipe precisely. How was I to know that 8 pounds of chuck, 16 carrots, a head of celery, 3 pounds of green peas,16 cups of beef broth would make more than was needed for 2 urban people? I didn't get to that part until I turned over the index card and saw that it served 24. So, first lesson learned: read the recipe in its entirety before cooking. Second lesson: buy a real cookbook...which I did, The James Beard Cookbook. And from that bible, I learned how to cook.

Anyway, it is time to get back to the jam on the stove.

It's been a long time coming, and still not quite here, but products are now sort-of available for sale on this blog. The new labels are at the printer and once they're on the jars, the photos will be uploaded.

Friday, July 23, 2010

PERFECTLY PEACHY

I have, at this very moment, pots of BERKSHIRE PRESERVES' Peach Preserves with Cardamom cooking on my stove. It is a long, multi-step process that prolongs the payoff. As with so many things, the anticipation is worth the wait. I wish I could send the aroma to you, for it is astonishing. It has the sensual softness of sweet ripe peaches mingled with the sweet sharpness of cardamom, the heavenly spice of India. My nose is literally twitching. I've been waiting for the peaches to ripen sufficiently - but not too much - so that when cooked they don't taste like potatoes. They're at that point this week; blushing and dripping juice.
Not wishing to miss their ripe goodness today, in addition to the Peach Preserves with Cardamom I also made pots of Peach and Blueberry Preserves. They're a gorgeous mixture of colors and flavors and will simultaneously satisfy your craving for stone fruit and berries. These luxurious preserves, coupled with the BERKSHIRE PRESERVES' Intense Apricot Jam  and Pineapple, Mango, Lime Whatever are the icing on the cake of what's turning into a fabulous fruit season.
It's also tourist season here in the Berkshires which means that we can't get through town. And out-of-towners don't stop at the crossing zebras to allow pedestrians to cross the street. And the farmers' markets are mobbed (a good thing). And we can't get into any of the restaurants we traditionally frequent. Most of them don't accept reservations for groups smaller than 5 people and we're way too old and tired at the end of the day to dine at 9PM. So, like everyone I know, I'm doing a lot of home cooking and entertaining. The corn is almost good, but with a few more weeks of sunshine it will release it's milky sweetness. Greens are crunchy and delicious. My own little garden is producing leaf lettuce, small shoots of Swiss chard that I quickly steam before adding to salads. The oregano is spicy but not overpowering. The basil is redolent of licorice and almost as delicious as a fistful of Good and Plenty!
Last week Shelley and Elliott visited for several days from San Francisco with their grandson, Aaron. Dinner one night was an easy barbecue rib dish, corn, tomato salad with local chevre, a basil/oregano chiffonade, sea salt and a dash of olive oil. The sea salt went on at the very moment of service so as not to draw out the juices from the tomatoes and make them watery. Dessert was ginger ice cream and coconut sorbet topped with BERKSHIRE PRESERVES Pineapple, Mango, Lime Whatever. Here's the recipe for the ribs:
 BARBECUE RIBS
Place a side of pork ribs on a large layer of heavy duty aluminum foil. Rub with salt, pepper, a liberal dash of cayenne or chipotle chili pepper, garlic powder. Make a packet and close tightly. Place on large cookie sheet and bake in a 275 degree oven for 2 hours. Remove from oven, open packet carefully, drain excess liquid and brush on your favorite BERKSHIRE PRESERVES' marmalade or Intense Apricot Jam then your favorite barbecue sauce. (Mine is White Oak Farm, Pete's Bar-B-Que Sauce banjofred@fairpoint.net). Place on the grill for 15 minutes just till the sauce browns the tops of the ribs. 
Sunday July 25th is Egremont on Parade day. A volunteer group of Egremont residents and businesses come together to host the third annual Egremont on Parade, a community day celebration for and about Egremont that is free and open to the public. BERKSHIRE PRESERVES will have a table there. Please stop by if you're in the neighborhood - 11AM to 4PM.
I look forward to seeing you there.
Barbara

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

DINNER IN THE TREE HOUSE

We have a new screened porch attached to the house in the Berkshires. James calls it the "Tree house". I call it heaven. We dined al fresco (is it still al fresco when there's a roof over your head and screens on the walls?) with friends on Saturday and it was one of those gorgeous Berkshire nights where the air was cool and soft, ameliorating the heat of the day. Even better, no mosquitoes. Our friend Mary Ellen is a vegetarian so, since I'm always up to a culinary challenge, I made vegetables. My family have never really been heavy meat eaters, but neither are we that comfortable with veggie cookery, so I find myself learning new ways. Not just for Mary Ellen, but for ourselves as well. I'm enjoying it and, truth be told, I find it so much easier to digest my food when there's not a whole bunch of meat, poultry or fish on my plate. So, new challenges are fun....at least in this case. Getting me on a bicycle is quite another matter!

Dinner was roasted fennel with Parmesan and fennel fronds, Israeli couscous salad with sauteed English peas and asparagus served at room temperature, fresh yellow, orange, red and zebra striped heirloom tomatoes with fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced roasted and marinated eggplant, and chicken for the die hard protein eaters. Since I'm growing lettuce, Swiss chard, basil, oregano, thyme, mint, rosemary and chives, there was a snip of most of them in every dish. Fresh oregano is so different from the dried stuff that it might as well be on another planet. And the mint, which is in fact taking over the garden just as Natalie predicted, is so delicate that I munch on it like candy.

Not to be undone by the virtuous vegetables we had ice cream and sorbet for dessert with a drizzling (sizeable) of my Berkshire Preserves Mixed Berry sauce. That, good wine, great friends and the tree house made for a splendid night. The Mixed Berry sauce is nothing more than the Mixed Berry Jam thinned with a bit of juice or wine. Just a bit. Or let it sit at room temperature for a while and it will give up its juices and make it spoonable. Or, if you're lucky, you buy some from me that never quite "set" and is saucy all on its own.
THE NEWS

Berkshire Preserves Blood Orange Marmalade has been on the Sunday brunch tables at The Old Mill for the last couple of weeks and Terry called today to reorder. You know how there are some phone messages you love to get? This was one of them. oldmillberkshires.com

Berkshire Preserves is having a tasting on July 10th from 10:30 to 12:30 at Bizalion's in Great Barrington. This time we'll be serving my intensely flavored, thick and yummy, extraordinary summertime berry preserves. bizalions.com. Please join me there.

On July 25th "Egremont On Parade" will strutt its stuff at French Park from 11 AM to 4 PM. Berkshire Preserves will have a table there promoting our wares. Several local restaurants serve from their tasting menus; there are games for the children, crafts for all ages, neighbors whom you may not have seen since last year. It's a wonderful time to gather and I'm looking forward to manning my booth this year.

And, last, but not least...Jim Gop, the in-house chef at Guido's has a recipe published in the current edition of Rural Intelligence http://www.ruralintelligence.com/index.php/food_section/food_articles_recipes/ that uses Berkshire Preserves Blood Orange Marmalade. The recipe is posted on the site and it is easy and delicious.

Barbara

Saturday, June 12, 2010

WHY LIMIT LOVE?

I'm sitting in my Berkshire Preserves kitchen seeking warmth on a rainy, cold, almost-summer, Berkshire kinda day.  The blackberries and strawberries are in a strainer waiting to be made into my sensational Mixed Berry and Port Wine Jam.  Andy loves this one and says that I'm the "Queen of Preserves". Thank you, Andy, but you haven't yet tasted my Apricot Jam!  Although really, when it comes to love, why limit ourselves? 

With citrus season officially over, at least for the exotic varieties that go into my fabulous, on-the-way-to-being-famous Berkshire Preserves marmalades, I've turned my attention to the more seasonal berries and tree fruits. Let me first say this: you've never tasted jam as good as mine. Even little James can tell the difference between let's say, Smuckers, and grandma's Berkshire Preserves Strawberry Jam with Saba. When his mother tried to put one over on him recently (having run out of the good stuff)  James put down his bread and said "This IS NOT grandma's". Smart lad. 
My Mixed Berry Jams have nothing but berries, sugar, lemon and occasionally Port Wine. Although, often as not, I make it without the wine. The berry mixture depends on what's fresh in the market.  The Strawberry Jam sometimes has the addition of Saba, and sometimes not. Saba is the juice of the must of the grape, or the unfermented liquid from the first pressing, boiled down to make a syrup. It is not at all like balsamic vinegar which, for those of you who know me, know that I strongly dislike that stuff. Balsamic vinegar has become as common as those guys who wear their pants with their bums half showing crummy underwear, while Saba is smooth and elegant. 

Last week's experiment was Pineapple, Mango Lime Jam. I didn't chop the mango fine enough. I put in more lime than necessary and I probably need to add more pineapple. So, while it tastes divine - like a touch of the cool Caribbean breezes - it isn't quite a preserve. Neither is it a jam or even a salsa. It really is a "...whatever" and will be quite wonderful with the addition of a small amount of finely minced jalepeno served with grilled pork. Or as a jam on plain rye toast (no seeds and definitely no multi-grain bread). I don't think it'll work in yogurt because the pineapple will curdle it. It should be awesome on vanilla or ginger ice cream or any fruit flavored sorbet. So, it is definitely still a work in progress.

The Apricot Jam on the other hand is magnificent. It is everything an apricot jam should be: full of the apricot's tangy sweet goodness, thick with fruit, a splash of lemon for good luck and just enough sugar to hold it together. Nothing more than that.  The Apricot Jam ranks
up there with the marmalade in flavor, texture and pleasure. You should try some!

Life up here in the Berkshires is damn near perfect. Even with today's cockamamie weather. The book I was reading, Donna Leon's Death in A Strange Country, borrowed from my friend Mary Ellen, was outside and got so wet that I decided to just toss it into the compost heap. I'll buy her another copy. It is one of about 14 Leon books that I'll work my way through this summer. This is definitely not the time for heavy reading. 

Two weeks ago I planted lettuces, swiss chard, 3 kinds of basil, rosemary, chives, oregano and lemon thyme. Oh, and chocolate mint which my friend Natalie the gardener says I should rip out because it is an invasive plant and will soon be all over the garden. Last night I harvested the chives and basil to sprinkle on my room temperature pasta and sausage salad. And, I sprinkled some of the rosemary on a Castagnaccio that I'd made earlier in the day. Castagnaccio is a wonderful, very flat (one half inch), savory chestnut cake. It uses chestnut flour, milk, olive oil, walnuts, pine nuts and rosemary. Some recipes call for plumped raisins, but I don't use them.

We're heading off to a performance tonight of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers  which is a benefit for the Corridor Project, part of the Egremont and Sheffield Land Trusts. http://gailsez.org/2010/06/sheffield-egremont-land-trusts-bring-blue-hill-torupe-gondoliers-to-the-mahaiwe/. I love Gilbert and Sullivan, and this is a very worthy project, so tonight will be a success on both counts.

The really big news is that Berkshire Preserves is available for retail sales. Information will soon be posted on this site,(or on a website if I ever get around to creating one) but in the meanwhile, if you want to purchase directly from the factory, please contact me for price and availability. The phone number is 413-528-2824 and the email is berkshirepreserves@gmail.com


The available products are
Seville Orange
Blood Orange
Pink Grapefruit
Mixed Berry with Port Wine
Mixed Berry (thinner, can be used as a sauce)
Strawberry with Saba
Strawberry
Pineapple, Mango, Lime
Apricot

Barbara


Monday, May 3, 2010

PLEASE SAY IT'S ALMOST BERRY SEASON

OK, here's the story. Food making, like anything-else-making, can grow repetitive without variation and numb the brain. Which has happened to me here at BERKSHIRE PRESERVES. Now, I make the best marmalade probably anywhere in the known universe, at least east of the Mississippi and perhaps stretching farther west than that, but really, if I see one more pot of bubbling oranges and grapefruits I'll go crazy. I don't care how demanding my customers are. I need a break from the color orange. This said, please note that I have at least 50 pounds of gorgeous, ripe oranges in my chiller, direct from Sicily, waiting to be canned. Uh huh!

So, to break the pattern, I've been working on recipes using strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. I'm practicing on those woody, tasteless giants knows as Driscol's and those overgrown,hard bulbous things that pass as blackberries and figure that if I can make a wonderful jam using those ugly things, then I can make a wonderful jam using amazing fresh berries. So, in a short while, look for BERKSHIRE PRESERVES exceptionally marvelous Strawberry Jam with Saba and Mixed Berry Jam with Port Wine. My two severest food critics (Jessica and Andy) have claimed them a success.

I'm hoping to  be out selling my products at the Sheffield Farmer's Market (Sheffield, MA) starting on May 21 if I can get my application in on time, buy the canopy, outfit the table, have fliers ready, and produce enough of the preserves to sell to a voracious crown of locals, summer renters, tourists, restaurant scouts and friends. If you're up in the Berkshires this summer and if I can get all of this accomplished, please come and visit me on Friday's from 3:30 to 5:00 in Sheffield right on main street.

I've also just donated a "Special Edition" to the Egremont Land Trust to be auctioned off at their annual meeting in September. I'm hoping to create a preserve using one of the fine liquors from Berkshire Mountain Distillers. 

In the history department, BERKSHIRE PRESERVES had a very successful tasting last Thursday at Guido's in GB where, in just a few hours, I sold 39 jars and last Saturday at Bizalion's where I sold 36. My stock is way down and it would make sense to quit chattering here and go cook.

Oh, and Terry at The Old Mill, has created an amazing dessert for his special menu; BERKSHIRE PRESERVES and whisky bread pudding with creme Anglaise.  So, even if I'm determined to not eat sweets, how can I be seen turning down my own products?

Barbara

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Food Artisans in the Berkshires

One of the things that makes me so happy about living and working in the Berkshires is the level of commitment I find to producing good, fresh, wholesome food on the part of so many local food artisans. It is the reason that I named my jam company BERKSHIRE PRESERVES.  I celebrate the warmth and generosity of these artisans, often people who may be in direct competition with each other, and with me, for a place in the market.

Word gets around up here faster than lightening and by now everyone who eats has heard about the great success I'm having at BERKSHIRE PRESERVES. Today I received messages from two shop owners (directly across the street from each other) with requests to carry my amazing marmalade. In addition to that, Guido's in Gt. Barrington informed me that their Lenox/Pittsfield shop wants to stock it as well. And, I have scheduled two more tastings for later in April and early May. As we head into spring, then quickly followed by glorious summer, I look forward to bumper crop of berries and jars and jars of berry and stone fruit preserves. Pretty soon I'll need a change from the smell of orange, as intoxicating as it is.

I went into town earlier today to check out a new baking company, Barrington Bites, www.BarringtonBites.com  that I'd heard about yesterday. Owned by Sherri Gorelick and Wendy Weinberg, the cupcakes they had on display (at the Chef's Shop www.thechefsshop.net) are small and simply beautiful to look at. But, they're not just another pretty face. They're wonderfully tasty and fortunately, small enough to enjoy without feeling guilty. The one I had, chocolate with a salty creme caramel swirl on top was a rich chocolate cake base and icing with just the right amount of sugar that never overpowered the salt and caramel. Barrington Bites is new on the scene and I wish them great success.


This has been an exciting week for  BERKSHIRE PRESERVES since starting in our new (rented) commercial kitchen. It is so much easier to cook up batches of Marmalade on a 10 burner Vulcan range with gigantic natural gas output than it is on my 4 burner GE stove with liquid propane. I simply want to put my arms around that Vulcan and hug it. I'd take it home but it is way too large to fit in my car. Not to draw too fine  point on it, but it wouldn't fit into my home kitchen either.

So today I was in the commercial kitchen and was told to expect to share the space for a while with some children who had an appointment to cook a "pot of soup" for the local soup kitchen. Well, in came 13 strapping, large, gorgeous high school seniors, with their adviser, and more friends in tow and they spread out over the entire (quite spacious) kitchen and got busy making huge pots of vegetarian chili. Now, I like to experiment with food as well as the next guy, but sauteed onions flying into my BERKSHIRE PRESERVES sweet-sticky marmalade doesn't cut the mustard-to keep the references entirely food-related.... So, I quickly took my pans off the heat, covered them and ran out of the kitchen. When I returned hours later the place was quiet, very clean and all mine again.

Here's a recipe for a citrus glazed salmon that even a teenager might enjoy.
CITRUS GLAZED SALMON

Ingredients:
4 portions of salmon (6 to 8 oz each)
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
 1 tbsp. rosemary, finely chopped
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup BERKSHIRE PRESERVES Blood Orange Marmalade

Preparation:
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees 
2.  Mix vinegar, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, black pepper and marmalade in a large bowl.
3.  Marinate the salmon in the mixture, in the refrigerator, for 30 minutes.
4.  Remove salmon and place on baking dish.
5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness of the fish.

Barbara

Monday, April 12, 2010

SPRING THINGS ARE BREWING

Spring things are brewing here at BERKSHIRE PRESERVES in anticipation of a wonderful crop of berries this summer.I've been testing recipes for assertively flavored strawberry jam since I'm really tired of spreading pink sugary stuff on my crumpets. Problem is that all that's available in the market at this time of year are those Driscoll things that more closely resemble lumps of reddish coal than strawberries. And taste like wood. So, really, I can't get a completely accurate idea of what the taste might be when I use the divine local berries found on nearby farms. And then, if this season's berry crop turns out like last year's, there will be nothing available because of frost, hail and other goodies from Mother Nature's basket of disasters.

I've had requests from many people to create a yummy Apricot preserve and I'm up to the challenge, but the only tasty apricots I've had in the last decade or more are the dried Turkish ones and that's cheating. So, if anyone knows a reliable source for tangy, juicy apricots, please tell me. 

It is time to spread out on the shelves where BERKSHIRE PRESERVES is now found and add to the product line. My "marmalades are flying off the shelves" to quote the gourmet food buyer at one of our venues. But, the locavore movement is strong one in Berkshire County and really brings home the idea of eating local - which means buying and producing local. And, the fabulous Seville and Blood Oranges and Pink Grapefruits that so marvelously fill my jars are local only if I moved to California and Florida.


I'm starting in my new (rented) commercial kitchen this week and can't wait to wrap my arms around the 10 burner Vulcan range. If it would fit into my handbag I'd take it home.

I'm scheduled for another BERKSHIRE PRESERVES tasting at Guido's in Gt. Barrington on April 29th and at Bizalion's, also in Gt. Barrington, on May 2. As before, if you're in the neighborhood, please stop by.

Remember, marmalade marries well with Worcestershire Sauce and Soy Sauce. That salty/bittersweet combination is terrific. So, don't use it just on bread....try it on pork, poultry and even on vegetables such as butternut squash and cranberries.

Barbara







BERKSHIRE PRESERVES

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

MAKING A TZIMMES OF ART AND PRESERVES

This weekend my husband Lanny and I spent the weekend in New York City soaking in the sunshine and culture (with a capital "C") before heading back to the Berkshires and what remains of the squishy season. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art we saw, among other exhibits, the Bronzino drawings . As you might have guessed, the show has absolutely nothing to do with preserving fruits.To the best of my knowledge, Bronzino never painted the craft of making preserves in any of his allegories although he could have put jars of my marmalade in the hands of his multitude of cherubs. Nonetheless, since it is my job here to talk about BERKSHIRE PRESERVES™ and food, I can usefully segue into foods by telling you that the similarity between Agnolo Bronzino and yours truly is the attention we both pay to detail. (His being somewhat more profound than mine). What sets BERKSHIRE PRESERVES marmalades apart from every other marmalade commercially available is our attention to detail and I consider taste to be the first detail to attend to.

Our marmalades - to be followed this summer by other fruit preserves - are hand crafted to retain the distinct flavor and texture of each  fruit enhanced by sugar and not the taste of sugar past which an orange has walked. There are copious amounts of fruit peel in each jar so each spoonful gives you a sensational marmalade moment. We cook the fruit until the flavors are complex and rich and the color dark. . This is not your typical wishy-washy orangey stuff, nor is it for the faint-hearted.

Exciting things are happening this week. There's a terrific article about the launch of BERKSHIRE PRESERVES  featured in this week's issue of  Rural Intelligence .http://www.ruralintelligence.com/index.php/food_section/food_articles_shopping/. On Thursday I'll be giving tastings of our products from 11am to 2pm at Guido's on Rt. 7 in Great Barrington, MA.http://www.guidosfreshmarketplace.com/ Between times I'm finding new and tasty ways to incorporate the marmalades into cooking and baking. If you have any favorite recipes you'd like to share, I'd love to hear about them.

Passover will be celebrated in Jewish households next week. Food plays a quintessential role at Passover, not just a peripheral one as with most holidays. The celebration revolves around the prohibition of certain foods and the specific and ritualized eating of others. When the Seder portion is done and the actual dining begins is the time for my perfect tzimmes.

SWEET POTATO AND APPLE TZIMMES
Serves 8

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4" cubes
4 large apples, cored and roughly chopped
8 oz. pitted prunes
2/3 c. sweet wine (or orange juice)
1c. BERKSHIRE PRESERVES marmalade - any flavor
1/4 - 1/2c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger or 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Heat oven to 375. Grease a casserole large enough to hold the ingredients.In a bowl combine all the ingredients. Turn them out into the prepared pan. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil or the pan lid and bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour or until the sweet potatoes and squash are fork tender. Stir before serving.

I hope you have a sweet Passover and a happy spring-like week.

Barbara

Friday, March 12, 2010

Here in the Berkshires we at BERKSHIRE PRESERVES are fortunate to have some extraordinary restaurants that offer everything from exceptional pizza www.babalouiessourdoughpizzacompany.com, to comfort food in exquisite country settings like the Old Mill oldmillberkshires.com, to more austere surroundings like John Andrews www.jarestaurant.combut with dishes to compare with some of the best food in any major city. The many talented chefs in our restaurants constantly provide me with ideas for new products, or clever ways to use tried and true ingredients.

I'm thinking about the dinner we had last night at John Andrews. The chef, Dan Smith's technique and use of local produce, even in this winter season, is gratifying to all locavores, farmers and ranchers equally. I ordered the sauteed halibut on a bed of beet coulis and broccoli rabe. The combination of sweet beets and bitter rabe was beautifully paired with the slight crunch of the seared halibut. However, what really caught my eye on the menu was the lemon marmellata, an uncooked marmalade that Max, the maitre d' and man of a thousand hats was kind enough to bring over for this preserver to taste.

The marmellata was fabulous...tart, sweet, chewy, bright and while I must admit that I did leave over some of the halibut, I gobbled down that sweet-tangy marmellata. Now I'm on a mission to reproduce it, cooked, after which it'll join its cousins on the shelves in stores. Speaking of which, as of today WE'RE FOR SALE AT GUIDO'S AND BIZALION'S IN GREAT BARRINGTON. Front and center.



Marmalade Pudding *
Serves 6

Ingredients
1 c. sifted cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. butter
2/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. hot water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. BERKSHIRE PRESERVES ™ Seville Orange or Blood Orange Marmalade

Preparation
Heat oven to 400 degrees
•    Sift together the sifted cake flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
•    Cream the butter, add the sugar and cream these together until the mixture is light and fluffy.
•    Add the 2 eggs, beaten and beat until well blended.
•    Stir in the dry ingredients alternately with the milk and hot water beating the mixture after each addition until it is smooth.
•    Stir in the vanilla extract.
•    Heat the orange marmalade and turn it into a buttered baking dish. Pour the batter over the marmalade and bake the pudding in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is well browned and tests done. Serve warm with whipped cream.

* From the Gourmet Cookbook, Volume II
  Gourmet Distributing Corporation, Italy 1957

Barbara

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rediscovering the Pleasure of Citrus

I am rediscovering the pleasures of citrus through the amazing marmalades we’re producing at BERKSHIRE PRESERVES. I’m one of those fussy eaters who don’t appreciate a slice of orange and a cabbage leaf as a decoration on my plate of scrambled eggs and bacon. I don’t like oranges dipped in chocolate. I never drink orange juice or even eat an orange. However, I’ve discovered the old-fashioned flavor of oranges in our BERKSHIRE PRESERVESSeville Orange Bitter-Sweet and Blood Orange Marmalades. Because of the depth of flavor we create in our cooking process , the marmalades remind me of the fruits of my childhood. It was rare, in those days, for fruit to be shipped, unripe, from orchards across the country, not to mention from another continent. Fruit was a seasonal thing and we waited, with great anticipation, for all the seasons to arrive bearing their produce. Peaches hard as hockey pucks were never on supermarket shelves. In fact, there were no supermarkets. Fruit, then, had marvelous flavors and sensual aromas. Apples didn’t remain on the shelf for 8 months from picking. Oranges came in one or two, not ten, varieties. Everything was pretty local and exceedingly flavorful when we could get it. It spoiled quickly, which led to lots of canning of preserves.

At BERKSHIRE PRESERVES, we are determined to use local produce whenever possible and to bring you preserves that let you taste the heart of the fruit, not the sugar we use in the process. I hope you’ll enjoy our marmalades as much as we enjoy making them.

Last Saturday night I had a dinner party for six close friends. We began with a Carrot-Ginger soup with fresh grated ginger and a dollop of Erivan yogurt http://erivandairy.com/default.aspx on top. Then we had roasted Cornish Hens, cavities filled with a quarter of a lemon and a sprig of rosemary, salted and peppered. This was accompanied by a wild rice pilaf with sliced scallion for freshness and texture. There was a salad of baby arugula, grated Reggiano Parmesano and topped with a lemon vinaigrette. So, you’re wondering “Where was the marmalade”? It was part of the dessert. I served a New York style cheesecake from a recipe by Rose Levy Beranbaum www.realbakingwithrose.com/ topped with a citrus sauce made with our BERKSHIRE PRESERVESSeville Orange Bitter-Sweet Marmalade. Here’s the recipe for the sauce….

Orange Sauce

Ingredients

1/3 cup c

1/3 cup orange juice

2 tbsp. dark rum or Grand Marnier

Preparation

Heat till preserves melt and ingredients are blended. Do not let boil. Let cool on stove.

Delicious served with your favorite cheesecake, as a topping on ice cream, as a sauce to accompany roast duck. Or on a large spoon when no one’s looking.

Barbara

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Living in the Twilight Zone


When I awoke early today, in New York City, it was pouring rain. I immediately sat down at the computer to shoot a quick email to a daughter who’s flying in from the left coast and update her on the weather. No sooner did I sit down then the rain changed to a heavy snow. By the time I had finished my 2 line email, the snow changed back to rain. I was thinking that I must be the reincarnation of Rod Serling and live in the Twilight Zone. Anyway, now it’s all snow, heavy wet dense snow, which is making slush, rivers and squishy sounds beneath my boots. Yes, I did go out because, except for marmalade, the larder is empty and I need to feed said daughter some dinner. Beside which, while the snow never lasts here due to the heat of the pavement and the millions of folk trampling on it, it does, always, make me smile while it falls.

I spent the morning trying to learn about RSS feeds, widgets, FB groups, and joining social networking sites to position Berkshire Preserves because our products are too good to keep just to ourselves. Even before registering with these sites we've been getting wonderful interest in our products. The Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce is featuring us in it's monthly E-newsletter http://southernberkshirechamber.com/. We received an email from the Editor-in-Chief of the premier Berkshire magazine and hope to continue our dialogue and perhaps be featured in an article on locally produced foods. We've been approached by the Old Egremont Country Store who's proprietor wants to carry our preserves. We're HOT.


I've decided that for dinner we’ll have pork tenderloin with a mustard and Seville Orange Marmalade glaze, salad with lemon vinaigrette, bulgur with scallions and for dessert, Sharon's coconut sorbet http://www.sharons-sorbet.com/ with a topping of some Berkshire Preserves Pink Grapefruit Marmalade, just a bit.

Here are the recipes I'll be using. Try them in your home and let me hear your comments.


Pork Tenderloin with Orange Marmalade Glaze

A Dijon mustard and Seville Orange Marmalade rub flavors this roasted pork tenderloin. I use salt and pepper to season the meat before rubbing on the glaze.

Ingredients
2 pork tenderloins, about 1 ½ pounds each

salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup Berkshire Preserves™ Seville Orange Marmalade

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar*

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoon brown sugar


Preparation
:
Heat oven to 350°.

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Wash pork and cut away excess fat and silver skin if there is any. Season with the salt and pepper or grill seasoning. Sear on all sides, about 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to a baking pan.
2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Roast for about 12 minutes, brush generously with the glaze mixture, then continue roasting for 5 to 10 minutes longer, or until the pork registers 165° on an instant read thermometer stuck into the thickest part of a tenderloin. Reheat the remaining glaze and serve with the pork.

Slice in ½ inch slices and serve with the pan juices.

Serves 6

* For an Asian flavor you may substitute low sodium soy sauce for the balsamic vinegar. Just omit the salt in the initial seasoning, but do use the pepper.

I'm not a big fan of commercial balsamic vinegars, but prefer an older vintage balsamic that has a mellow, ripe flavor. True, these better balsamics are price, but a little really goes a long way and it mellows as it ages. Balsamic should be drizzled over food, not poured on it and, in a salad, it should be judiciously mixed with a good wine or cidar vinegar for an added dimension.


Bulgur Pilaf

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions, white and green parts
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
  • 1 scant cup fine bulgur (see note, below)
  • 1 cup boiling-hot water
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation

Cook scallions in oil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened a bit, 3 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, wrap coriander seeds in a clean kitchen towel and coarsely crush by pressing with flat side of a large heavy knife.

Add coriander and bulgur to scallions and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in hot water, then remove from heat and let stand, covered, until bulgur is softened, about 25 minutes. Fluff with a fork, then stir in almonds, salt, and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4

Barbara