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,  that I'd heard about yesterday. Owned by Sherri Gorelick and Wendy Weinberg, the cupcakes they had on display (at the Chef's Shop 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.

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

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.


Monday, April 12, 2010


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.