We met two years ago, and my love borders on the obsessive. It’s apparently called a “doughnut peach” or a “Saturn peach” in English (or a “squashed peach” as I affectionately called it until I learned its real name).
I feel compelled to buy a bag at least once a week during the summer because I know come fall, I will go through withdrawal when they disappear from the markets.
But this year I’m planning to enjoy a little bit of summer in the middle of December. I made a small batch of simple paraguayo preserves and canned them for a rainy day.
I used paraguayos because they’re my current fave. But regular peaches would follow this same approach.
Brian and I have experimented with different kinds of homemade preserves over the last few years, including cherry and fig, but we usually add a lot less sugar than is called for in traditional jams. Sugar helps jams gel and act as a preservative, but the 1:1 ratio of sugar to fruit is too sweet for my taste. We haven’t had any issues with our jams going bad before we open them (but we generally eat them within a few months anyway).
This summer we’ve been adding pectin to our jam to give it a bit more gel without adding a ton more sugar; it’s still on the softer, preserve-like side, but I like that consistency. We couldn’t find any packaged pectin at our neighborhood grocery store, so Brian made some with this recipe; basically by boiling down tart green apples, water and lemon juice, then straining out the solids. We canned a few jars of it and froze an ice cube tray of it as well to use later.
This is a loose recipe because our process is pretty low-key and unscientific; cook, taste, add a bit of pectin and sugar, see how it coats a spoon, adjust.
To can the preserves using heat-processing: Ladle preserves into hot, sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch space at the top. Poke a chopstick around between the food and the inside of the jar to release air bubbles. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth. Screw on a hot, sterilized lid until you get medium resistance. Place the filled jars on a canning rack in a pot full of hot water. Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a full boil. Boil for 10 minutes, then remove the lid and let jars sit for 5 minutes. Remove jars with jar-lifting tongs and let them cool on a towel for 24 hours. You’ll hear the jars pop as they seal; the next day, check the jars (a sealed lid will be concave and won’t move when you press down.)
If you don’t have canning equipment, you could make a smaller batch of this recipe and eat it within a few days (or freeze half).
Yield: Makes about 2.5 to 3 cups of thick preserves
2 kg (about 4.5 lbs.) very ripe fruit (yields about 7 cups of chopped fruit)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup homemade liquid pectin or 1 package commercial pectin
¾ cup sugar
Use your fingers (and a sharp paring knife to help, if needed) to peel fruit.
Remove cores and roughly chop, cutting off any bruised pieces. Set fruit aside, coating with the lemon juice to prevent browning.
Put fruit, pectin and sugar in a large pot (adding a little water if the mixture looks too dry), breaking the pieces of fruit up with a potato masher.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
Cook down until it reaches the consistency you like (anywhere from 30 minutes to more than an hour – because I keep the heat on the conservative side and use very little sugar, I end up with a longer cook time, closer to 1.5 to 2 hours).
One thing Americans – and New Orleanians in particular – do exceptionally well is brunch. Long, leisurely, mimosa/cocktail-fueled, this-is-my-only-plan-for-the-day brunch.
Say what you will about our excess and indulgence… in this case, I support it.
We have recently started hosting meals through EatWith – a website that allows you to share meals in people’s homes all over the world. It’s basically Airbnb for dining, and when we first moved to Barcelona, being a guest was a wonderful way to meet new people and eat delicious food. And since we pretty much already do this kind of thing on our own (two extroverts who really love food and parties), it made perfect sense for us to become EatWith hosts.
Last weekend, we hosted our first New Orleans brunch and made one of my all-time favorites: grits and grillades. I had never had grillades (or grits for that matter) until I moved to NOLA. It’s a slow-cooked meat dish – made with beef, veal or pork – in a thick, flavorful gravy, served over creamy, buttery grits. So a light, healthy breakfast.
It’s easy to make, but it does take a long time to cook, so I advise making it the day before. The flavors are even better the next day, and all you have to do is reheat it and make the grits before people come over (you’re going to want to have people over: it makes a ton). We made our own chicken and beef stock, but you can also use store-bought.
Our last CSA included five wee little potatoes, which were not quite big enough to make mashed potatoes or tortilla. So I turned them into a quick brunch using a few other ingredients we had in the house. We live on the third floor, which is actually the fourth floor European/ fifth floor American, so I try to avoid unnecessary stair climbing when I’m hangry.
I used the Pioneer Woman’s breakfast potatoes recipe as a guide and added a couple of poached eggs on top (plus a healthy serving of ketchup). My poached eggs never turn out quite as pretty as I’d like, but they were perfectly runny and delicious, and I’m working on new techniques to improve their aesthetics.
Cut the potatoes, peppers and onion into medium chunks.
Add garlic and toss with a good glug of olive oil and a bit of softened or melted butter. (I find it's most effective to mix the ingredients with clean hands.)
Season liberally with spices.
Bake at 425 degrees F/ 218 degrees C for 25 minutes, gently turning them once or twice.
Turn the oven up - in my case, as high as it will go to 250 degrees C (482 degrees F) - and bake for another 20 minutes. Check on the potatoes occasionally to turn them or take them out if they're starting to get scorched.