Friday, September 28, 2012

At Home with Rebecka is moving to Word Press - Please stop by my new site and follow


Italian Escarole Soup with homemade orecchiete




Dear At Home with Rebecka Followers,

I'm moving to Wordpress!

I've been toying with the idea of moving my blog to Wordpress for about a year.  I have finally taken the plunge and I'm now the proud owner of www.athomewithrebecka.com.   Please take a moment to visit my new site and follow me via RSS feed or email.  You can also follow me via all my social networks, Pinterest, Linkedin, Facebook, Google+, LinkyFollowers and Twitter.
In a few short days, all Blogger visits will be re-routed to my new site.

Your faithfulness and your continued support is priceless! Thanks you!!

I've created a delicious and heart warming soup to commemorate my first Wordpress post, Italian Escarole Soup with homemade Orecchiette Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Canning Fig Preserves





 Canning Fig Preserves




Figs, plump and naturally sweet are one of my favorite fruits to preserve.  I used Totato, Mission and Turkish figs this year and found the combination delivered a superbly flavored preserve with a round velvety texture.  I opted to forgo the pectin since figs are loaded with it naturally. 

Pectin is used in canning jams, jelly's and preserves and acts as a thickening agent.  Mainly extracted from citrus fruits then reduced into powder form.  It can also be purchased in a condensed liquid form and used for canning in the same manner as powder pectin.  I used less water in the recipe and reduced the mixture down by almost half, so there was no need to add pectin.




I've also been reading up on food photography and investing in a few items to help control the light, while reading my camera's owners manual to get the best possible settings for the shot. I've found that I need a better lens to capture a crisper/sharper image, up close or in macro setting.  I'll be saving my pennies while I begin my search for a higher quality camera and lens. In the meantime, I'll be doing my best to take a higher quality photo with the camera I'm currently using.


Fig Preserves Recipe 
Makes 5-6, 8 ounce jars
prep time 35-40 minutes

 
8 cups whole fresh figs
2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon minced ginger
zest from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 cups hot tap water

Method 

  • Dissolve the baking soda in about 2 quarts hot tap water, and immerse the figs in the treated water in a large bowl. Gently stir to wash the figs, then drain off the water and rinse the figs thoroughly with fresh cool water.  
  • Slice figs in half, if you prefer a whole fruit preserve, skip this step
  • In a large stock or canning pot, combine figs, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, ginger and 1 cup hot tap water
  • bring to a boil stirring frequently, if using whole fruit gently stir in order no to break fruit
  • reduce heat and continue cooking until mixture is thick and gooey.  Watch closely in the last few minutes to keep bottom from burning
  • fill sterilized jars with hot preserves leaving 1/4 inch head space and cover with clean tops and rims
  • cook in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.  
  • Follow links for detailed canning instruction.
Open jars can be kept up to 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator.  Spread a generous helping of fig preserves onto a crusty French bread and savor the flavor!




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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Homemade Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise




If you haven't already tried making homemade mayonnaise, today is the day to get out the egg yolks, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil to whip up a batch.  It's just that simple.  Throw in a pinch of salt and pepper and you've taken your every day mayonnaise to spectacular heights.  

The flavor is beyond any store bought version and the health benefits of making your own out shine the store bought version by a mile.   Packed with protein, minus the preservatives as well as the health benefits of using olive  oil, this is a must try recipe.

Emulsion Facts: Mayonnaise is classified as an emulsion.  An emulsion is made up of two or more liquids that when blended together slowly become a stable cohesion.   Culinary emulsion can take two different forms; fat dispersed into water and water dispersed into fat. Common fat in water emulsifications include hollandaise, mayonnaise, aioli, milk, cream, and pan sauces. Water in fat emulsifications are most commonly found in the form of vinaigrettes and whole butter.  

Amazing Eggs Facts: Egg yolks have a natural molecule called lecithin and when added to lemon juice and olive oil, the lecithin acts as a stabilizer. Without the addition of the egg yolk, the oil and lemon juice are unable to create an emulsion and will eventually separate.

Let me be clear, I'm not claiming to understand emulsions in a scientific manner, or profess to be an expert in the area, all I know is that when you mix egg yolks, oil and lemon juice, you get a delicious, creamy condiment called mayonnaise.  


Safety Issues: The recipe calls for raw egg yolks which can carry the risk of salmonella, so it's vital you purchase the freshest eggs possible.   Food science experts say that citrus juices and olive oil kill bacteria but you can elevate any worry by using pasteurized eggs. 

Pasteurization: is the process of heating food to a specific temperature for a certain duration and immediately cooling.  Pasteurization slows the process of microbial growth which in turn slows spoilage.   

Safe Storage: To store homemade mayonnaise safely; keep any unused portion in an air tight container and keep refrigerated up to 42 hours

Personal Note: I've never had a "bad" batch of homemade mayonnaise in all the years I've been cooking.

Other considerations: I use a pure olive oil or a mixture of safflower, and corn oils to insure the mayonnaise will not break after being refrigerated.  Extra virgin olive oil has a tendency to break after refrigeration.  

Fixing a Broken Emulsion: If your mayonnaise breaks after being refrigerated it doesn't mean you have to throw it out.  Just beat a room temperature egg yolk in a medium bowl and slowly whisk in the leftover mayonnaise.



Roasted garlic imparts a nutty flavor to the rich and creamy texture of this homemade condiment.  Other options for flavored mayonnaise; add a pinch if chili powder, chopped green chilies, fresh herbs such as basil or tarragon; the sky is the limit when making your own mayonnaise. 

Homemade Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise
makes about 1 1/2 - 2 cups
preparation 15 minutes

Recipe
 
2 raw egg yolks
3/4 cup pure olive oil
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt and white pepper
1 whole head garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil 

Method

Preheat oven 350 degrees
  • slice through the top off the garlic bulb as shown in the photo above.  Place the bulb on a square piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

 
  • Wrap foil around bulb, twist top closed and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.  If roasting just one garlic bulb use a toaster oven  to save energy.
Mayonnaise
  • using a blender or hand held blender wand, mix egg yolks, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and pepper for a few seconds
  • with mixer running on medium speed, slowly drizzle a thin stream of olive oil into egg yolks
  • mayonnaise will begin to thicken after about 1/4 cup oil is added, at that point adding a faster stream of oil is fine and will make the process go faster
  • continue to add oil until mixture is thick, it's possible that not all of the olive oil will be used to complete your mayonnaise, you may also add more lemon juice to thin the recipe if it becomes too thick
  • remove roasted garlic from oven and allow to cool slightly 
  • hold garlic bulb by the back end and squeeze the roasted flesh into a small bowl, you may need to use a paper towel to hold the bulb if it is still to warm to handle
  • add garlic to mayonnaise and blend until incorporated
  • taste for seasoning

Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise is the essential flavor component in my Veggie Sandwich, made with Homemade Sandwich Rolls
 
Thinly slice fresh squash, zucchini, sweet or red onion, cucumber, tomato, avocado, lettuce and a handful of spicy sprouts. Enjoy!



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