Thursday, January 21, 2010
CanJam Episode 1- Citrus Fruit!
Colette and I were overjoyed to learn that our first challenge was to make something with citrus fruit and for us the choice of fruit was a no brainer- we love our lemons! Local grown citrus is not a possibility here in the Great White North but organic lemons abound so we stocked up.
What to do with them was less obvious. We spent a fun evening earlier this month checking out many different options and it came down to two possibilities. Colette's first choice was a Lemon and Quince chutney but we quickly realized that we'd missed the boat on quinces, a truely seasonal fruit. We had thought of trying another recipe but in the end time ran out and we went with my first choice - Spiced Lemon Pickles.
We found the recipe in one of my favourite cook books, Madame Benoit Cooks at Home published 1978. Decades before the plethora of celebrity chefs, Jehane Benoit made a name for herself as one of Canada's most prominent food experts. She studied at the Cordon Bleu in Paris and graduated as a food chemist from the Sorbonne in 1925 - 25 years before Julia Child! Although she never attained the worldwide recognition of Child, Madame Benoit was a fixture on Canadian television from the 1960's to the mid 80's and wrote numerous books. Most of her recipes were based on traditional French Canadian dishes and her section on preserves contains many recipes that have fallen by the way side and deserve to be brought back. Spiced lemon pickles seemed like a good place for us to kick off the Canjam!
The recipe is simple and straight forward:
9 large lemons
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
1 small ginger root
4 or five whole cloves
Wash and thoroughly dry the lemons.
Cut them, without peeling, into crosswise slices one-quarter inch thick.
Combine the sugar, salt, spices, water and vinegar in a saucepan.
Boil five minutes.
Drop the lemon slices into the boiling syrup and boil one minute.
Pack the lemons into hot sterilized half-pint jars.
Cover with the boiling syrup, leaving 1/2" headspace.
Process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.
The recipe claims to make 6 250 ml jars but either our lemon were small or our jars were big because we got 3. ( One jar each and one for trading!)
The pickles should sit at least 3 weeks before opening but we miscalculated the date so ours were 2 weeks old when we open them. No matter, they are absolutely delicious! According to Madame Benoit these make "an ideal gentleman's gift" and per her suggestion we tried them with some aged cheddar and a glass of port- Heavenly!