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