Manchego Jam Twists

Welcome to cooking school…Ready for a crash course? Temp me please with jam and cheese! But first, a little history lesson; so pull out your notebook. Manchego (used in this recipe) is a semi-hard cheese from the sheep of the central province of La Mancha, Spain; remember the windmills in Don Quixote? That’s the place. Back in November of 2004 (yep, that long ago far away time) Brenton was studying in Spain, so we all ventured over to enjoy a Spanish Thanksgiving. We hopped the train from Seville to Segovia one day to see that charming town, which is adjacent to the region of La Mancha. Needless to say, they served cheese on every corner and every café in between! That was my introduction to the wonderful world of Manchego. Let the games begin…I’ll take cheese for $1000 please.

The image above was captured by Brenton (with an authentic 35 mm camera, waaaay before the iPhone camera). This is the Alcázar of Segovia (Castle), dating from the early 12th century. The town is in the unpictured foreground, with the view of Castile and Leon region in the background.

Enough brain infusion for today. Now on to the recipe. My platters are always on call for hors d’oeuvres!

This is all you’ll need:

All purpose flour for dusting
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 Tbs strawberry jam
1 cup grated Manchego
1 egg
*Remember please that I am an unapologetic messy baker; evidence follows!

Here are the particulars:

Preheat oven to 400°.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
On lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to 12 x 14 inch rectangle.
Cut dough in half at center of short side.
Spread one half of pastry with jam.
Sprinkle evenly with cheese, reserving 2 Tbs.
Top this with other piece of pastry.
Press gently to adhere.
Cut with pizza cutter into 1/2 inch wide strips, about 18 pieces.
Twist each piece 4 to 5 times, pinching ends tightly.
Place on baking sheet.
In small bowl, mix egg with 1 t water.
Brush onto twisted pastry.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake until golden, about 12 to 14 minutes.
Let cool slightly before removing from parchment.
Serve immediately.

Makes “18ish”.

Quick and Easy Biscuits

Start to Finish in Less that 20 Minutes. And That’s a Promise! This is life in abundance, as we neither bake nor eat biscuits in this household often. But when we do, we do it right baby! I paired this wonderful bread with homemade pimento cheese, cilantro butter, and homemade blueberry jam. That was for Sunday brunch. Sunday Supper saw us making tiny turkey sliders and topping them again with yummyness. The Don enjoyed his with pimento cheese and jam; and I enjoyed mine with cilantro butter and jam (and plenty of it)! I made it just to share with you excellent people who follow along on this joint journey. Southern know how people! Shine Bright Like a Diamond.

2 cups all purpose flour 
1/4 cup sugar
2 t baking powder 
1/2 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
1 cup whole milk 
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbs melted butter

Preheat oven to 450°.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.
In separate bowl, whisk together milk and mayonnaise.
Stir milk mixture into flour mixture until just combined.
Spoon level scoops of dough onto parchment paper, spacing them an inch apart.
Spread with melted butter.
Bake until golden, about 12 to 14 minutes.
Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Apricot Caprese Toasts

Spreading a little joy to jump start this short week! The combination of flavors in this treat are like every section of the orchestra is playing in harmony and on key. This recipe just may become famous! So drop everything and head to the market straight away; then come home and savor the deliciousness!

4 oz fresh mozzarella
3/4 cup apricot jam
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4 t olive oil, divided
2 t white wine vinegar
Italian baguette, sliced
1 small ripe avocado, halved, pitted, and peeled
1/2 lemon
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Torn fresh basil*

With fingers, pull mozzarella into shreds.
Combine mozzarella, apricot jam, and tomatoes in small bowl.
Drizzle with 2 t olive oil and vinegar.
Toss to coat.
Spread bread slices with remaining 2 t olive oil, salt and pepper.
Toast bread slices.
Smash and spread avocado on toasted bread.
Sprinkle with lemon juice.
Spoon apricot and tomato mixture over avocado.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Top with torn basil.*

May also enjoy for brunch.
Note: This is also delicious on a bed of butter bibb lettuce.
*I was out of fresh basil when I made this, so I substituted fresh mint and it was wonderful!

Lemon and Pepper Jelly Shrimp

The great Rocco DiSpirito was on The Drew Barrymore Show a couple of weeks back and I was blown away! Rather than totally freak out when I researched his life as a chef, I decided to Keep Calm, Munch On, Try his Recipe, and Order a Couple of his Books. No recipe hunting for you this weekend good folks; I’m just handing it out to you. Just enough spice to make you happy but not ring the fire alarm! This is so full of ease and joy to prep, that you will be cooking it quite often. Add a simple salad or asparagus (to my version) and you have a totally balanced meal, nutritious, and calorie conscious. This food is pure art; and…we’re off!

This is what you need:
1 lb large, cleaned shrimp
2 Tbs olive oil
1 t coarsely ground black pepper
1 t coarse ground salt
2 Tbs butter
Juice of a lemon
3 to 4 Tbs Pepper Jelly, to taste*
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

*I used Jammit Jams Garlic Pepper Jelly, so I omitted the 2 garlic cloves.

And this is how you do it:
Blot shrimp dry with a paper towel.**
Season with salt and pepper.
Heat large skillet over medium high heat.
Add 2 Tbs olive oil to skillet.
Add shrimp, seasoned side down, and sauté for 2 minutes.
While this is sautéing, season the “upside” of the shrimp.
Flip shrimp over with tongs and cook second side 2 minutes.
Immediately remove shrimp to separate bowl.
In hot skillet, add lemon juice, butter, and pepper jelly.
Stir until jelly is meted and all is combined, about 2 minutes.
Toss shrimp back in skillet and stir to cover with sauce.
Serve over cooked rice.***

**I blot most things dry before placing in a skillet…shrimp, scallops, chicken, beef, and pork fillets. It improves the texture during cooking if the protein is dry when added to the pan. Trust me!
***Rocco’s recipe calls for sautéed broccoli rabe to be served with this shrimp, which really cuts down on the calories. Unfortunately, that’s not one of my favorites, and honestly, I really like a little starch. OOPSIE !! I think we have a winner here; and speaking of winners, Super Bowl LV is in 8 days…who’s going to win?
P to the S. I have a favorite! TB for history, just saying.

Apple Art ~ Apple Conserve

JPerry Apples by the Window

Apples by the Window ~ Acrylic on Canvas Jaquelin Perry ~ Private Collection

Just thumbing through my copy of Look Who’s in the Kitchen and happened upon this delightful image of a painting by my friend, artist Jaquelin Perry. Sprinted to phone my favorite grocer. YES, he reported…the Honey Crisp apples are IN! Making my Apple Conserve tomorrow. Yes I am. Reaching for replay of last fall’s yumminess. It’s simple, and that’s a guarantee. I mean, you don’t even have to peel those sweet apples! Try it; you and I both will be happy you did.

Blueberry Jam

It’s blueberry season people! And since Hurricane Arthur is showing his ugly face to us coastal folks, run out and get your berries now. It’s going to be ugly tonight and tomorrow…perfect time to get your jam on. All you need are berries, lemons, and sugar. This is pectin free people!Sauces Blueberry Jam

3 pints blueberries
3 1/2 cups sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon

In large bowl, crush 3 cups berries with potato masher.
Pour in to soup pot.
Crush remaining berries in bowl.
Pour in to soup pot.
Add sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice.
Bring to boil over medium-high heat.
Boil 15 to 20 minutes stirring often.
Skim off any foam from time to time.
Ladle hot preserves in to hot jars, with 1/4 inch head room.
Prepare canned preserves in boiling water for 10 minutes.
Remove from water and make certain that lids “pop”.
Allow to rest for at least a day.
Good in cool, dark pantry for up to a year.

Makes 6 half pint jars.Blueberry Jam II


Apple Conserve

Sauces Apple Conserve II FINALLY, it’s cooler than 80+ degrees out. AND the local grocers are show casing fresh delicious Honey Crisp apples, perfect for making all sorts of yummy things to dance on your taste buds. So I made this fly me to the moon Apple Conserve over the weekend. Since I don’t believe in packaged pectin, I added a bit more sugar. Now who “da heck” can fuss with that?! And ya don’t even peel the apples. Keeping it simple, yes I am!

6 cups honey crisp apples, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
4 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup water
5 1/2 cups sugar

Place apples, cranberries, lemon juice, and water in stock pot.
Bring to boil.
Simmer 20 minutes.
Stir in sugar.
Cook 3 to 4 minutes until sugar is liquid.
Transfer to prepared jars.
Fill, leaving 1/4″ head space.
Place lids and rims on.
Boil for 10 minutes in water bath.
Remove and wait to hear pop to insure a healthy seal.
Allow to stand undisturbed 24 hours.
Place in cool, dark pantry.
Allow to rest 1 week.

Makes 6 half pint jars.

Mango Chutney

Ingredients just pored in pot, totally uncooked.

Ingredients just poured in pot, totally uncooked at this point.

Put this one in your Trapper Keeper. Mangos (may also be spelled mangoes) have been grown in India for an amazing four thousand years. Right?! Mangos were introduced to the tropics of Florida in 1863, with the first successful variety commercially grown being the “Haden”. Other popular Florida mangos are the Tommy Atkins, Keitt, and Kent. Their peak seasons are mid June to late August, making this a perfect time to can Mango Chutney to blast you through the winter and spring. Uhhh, I think I’ve also just completed my non-shopping Christmas shopping with all of this canning I’ve been up to (don’t end a sentence with a preposition!). Yes Ma’am. Go for it. Enjoy it with pork, chicken, potato salad and so forth!

Here ya GO!  Task Complete.

Here ya go! Task Complete.

10 mangos, peeled and cubed
2 small onions, chopped
2 cups golden raisins
4 Tbs ginger paste (in refrigerated produce section)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 t mustard seeds
1/2 t red pepper flakes
5 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar

Combine sugar and vinegar in large pot.
Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.
Add remaining ingredients.
Bring to boil, and then simmer, uncovered, stirring every 5 minutes approximately 45 minutes, until thickened and syrupy.
Pour in to clean, prepared mason jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space.
Close jars with lid and lightly placed rim.
Process in boiling water 15 minutes.

Makes 11 to 12 half pint jars.

Do NOT double this. Make additional separate batches if desired.

Blueberry Preserves ~ Pectin Free

Blueberries I

I suppose this is what you do when retired?  I’d surely never done this previously…medical care needed?!

You will need:
Complete canning set
Canning jars…I like half pint size
6 cups blueberries
3 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 t lemon zestBlueberries II

Prepare jars and lids (not rims) by boiling in canning pot for 5 minutes.
Keep jars in water while preparing berries.
In large bowl, crush 3 cups berries with potato masher.
Pour in to soup pot.
Crush remaining berries in bowl.
Pour in to soup pot.
Add sugar, lemon zest and juice.
Blueberries IIIBlueberries IVBring to boil over medium-high heat.
Reduce heat to medium low and boil 15 to 20 minutes stirring often.
Skim off any foam.
Remove jars and lids from hot water.
Line them up on counter.
Ladle hot preserves in to hot jars, with 1/4 inch head room.
Place lid and lightly screw on rim.
Prepare canned preserves in boiling water for 10 minutes.
BLueberries VRemove from water and make certain that lids “pop”.
Allow to rest for at least a day.
Good in cool, dark pantry for up to a year.

All of this while wearing my trusty brace.  Thank you Jacob Bosley!

Arthritic Thumb Brace!

Arthritic Thumb Brace!