Sunday, August 14, 2011

Homemade red & white currant jello

My local produce market had red and white currants (and gooseberries!) the other day.

I've never had fresh currants before - have you?
They are tart - but have a distinct flavor, kind of like ume (Japanese plum).

Since they were a little too tart to eat as is, and I didn't want to adulterate it with tons of sugar or cream, I decided to make them into a simple jello.

Fresh currant jello

1 6oz pack of fresh currants
2 cups of water
3 ~4 packets of Splenda or 1/8 cup sugar (adjust to taste)
1 7g packet of unflavored Knox gelatin


Reserve 1/3 cup of the water and sprinkle gelatin little by little into it. Let stand.

Pluck the currants off of the branches and place into a measuring cup. It should yield about 1 cup of fruit.
Place the fruit and the rest of the water into a small pot, bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes or until the fruit is soft enough to mash with a spatula. Strain juice into a bowl.

Add Splenda/sugar and softened gelatin to the hot juice. Mix well.

Pour into individual cups or container. Chill in the refrigerator for 2~3 hours.

You can use the above recipe with any kind of berries or grapes.
If you have more (or less) fruit than the specified amount, just make sure that the amount of water is twice as much as the fruit, and you're using 7g of gelatin per 2 cups. (So if you have a quart of fruit, simmer in 2 quarts of water. You'll need 4 packets of gelatin to solidify it all.)

If you want to make pretty jello layers, place the cups with the first jello in an ice bath until mostly hardened. Then carefully pour in the second jello on top using a spoon. The red currant jello is a brilliant pink color, so layering it with some yogurt mousse would make a great combination too.

To make jello using cold juice, just heat half of the juice and dissolve sugar & gelatin in it. Then add the rest of the juice. Alternatively, you can melt the water + gelatin mixture in the microwave for 30 seconds, then add it to cold juice.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Recent obsession: chutney!

Ever get a huge pineapple at Costco, and then have the cut-up fruit sitting in your fridge for ages?

A couple weeks ago, this was the case.
The pineapple HAD to go. Of course, I didn't have the heart to chuck it in our 1 horsepower garbage disposal.

How to utilize all this pineapple at once..pineapple chutney!

I hadn't made chutney before, but a google search brought me to this awesome blog by Crazycupcakes.

I adapted her recipe to create a spicier chutney, but feel free to adjust to your preferences.

Pineapple Chutney 

4 tbs cider vinegar (rice or malt vinegar works too)
1/2 heaping tsp of crushed red chili (or 1/2 fresh chili minced)
8 whole cloves (or 3/4 teaspoon ground clove)
6~10 peppercorns (I use a blend of red, white, green, and black)
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup raw agave syrup or sugar*
1/2 large pineapple or one whole small pineapple
2 inch piece ginger
2 cloves garlic

* If your pineapple is very ripe and sweet, 1/2 cup of sugar/syrup should be enough. If the pineapple is tart, up the sugar to 3/4 cup.


Lay the pineapple on it's side and chop off the top and bottom. Stand it up, and cut the skin off in strips. Rotate it as you go, until all the skin is peeled. Cut into 4 pieces lengthwise, and trim off the core. Now chop the pieces of fruit into small chunks, about 1/2 by 1/4 inch.

Mince the ginger and garlic, set it aside with the pineapple.

Place all the spices, sugar and vinegar in a small pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10~15 minutes.

Add the ginger, garlic, and pineapple. Simmer for another 20~25 minutes stirring every now and then until the pineapple is translucent and most of the liquid is absorbed.

 Pour into a glass jar or air-tight container and you're done!

For some reason every time I make this, I can't get the liquid to evaporate within the 20 minute time frame. Maybe the pineapple is too juicy? It took at least 30 minutes to get the liquid down to half.
But if yours turns out liquid-y, it's no big deal.

This chutney goes great with some grilled pork chops or cheese, especially Red Hawk from Cowgirl creamery (pictured above). The pungent cheese pairs so well with the vibrant fruitiness of the chutney.