Tag Archives: balsamic

Balsamic Red Pepper Jelly

If you read this blog, you know that, for me, a big part of growing up is learning to accept – nay, enjoy – the foods that I hated all my life. I chalk many of my food aversions to up bad pizza. I can’t tell you how many sleepovers, after-soccer pizza parties and trips to the zoo included pizza topped with horrible bell peppers, olives, mushrooms and old sausage. How would younger me know that these things can be splendid, when treated properly?

Older me is here with you today, eating a delicious balsamic red pepper jelly dripping over a soft smear of brie on a cracker.

As you may know, one of my favorite things is a sweet or savory jelly over brie, goat cheese or cream cheese. What a lovely snack that makes! This jelly is special because A) I made it myself! B) it’s so rich and almost smoky tasting, from the balsamic vinegar and the toasted peppers. I recently went to Lowe’s for more Ball jars, so I can make more of this and gift away for Christmas.

Adapted from my Ball book of home preserving.

Balsamic Red Pepper Jelly

Ingredients (makes four 4-ounce jars):

  • 5 medium red bell peppers, stemmed and seeded
  • 3 medium jalapenos, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 c. red wine vinegar
  • 3 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 package powdered fruit pectin (I used 1-2 T, which wasn’t a hard jelly)
  • 3 1/4 c. sugar

Finely dice 1/2 c. red peppers and set aside. In a food processor, puree remaining peppers and garlic until smooth. Transfer to damp cheesecloth set over bowl and let drip, 30 min. (you can speed this up by pushing the juice through with a spatula, and by adding up to 1 c. hot water to the puree to help it drip). You’ll want 1 1/2 cups of pepper juice.

Meanwhile, prepare your jars and lids (boil jars and lids to sanitize); keep large pot simmering for processing.

Transfer pepper juice to large stainless steel saucepan. Add reserved peppers, vinegars and lemon juice. Whisk in pectin until dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Add sugar all at once and return to full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard, always stirring, 1 min. Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam.

Quickly pour hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of space from the top. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar, screw on ring to finger-tip tightness.

Place jars in canner, covered in water, and boil 10 min, with canner (pot) lid on. Remove lid, boil another 5 min., then remove jars and cool until they seal.

Here’s mine on the left, along with some of my hot pickled okra and chow-chow.

I recommend serving with a salted cracker, or just sprinkling some coarse salt over it to make the flavors pop.

The bits of diced red peppers look like little rubies. Fantastic. Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Focaccia with balsamic onions and rosemary

A couple big differences exist between this homemade focaccia and the focaccia you buy at the store. Whereas those I’ve purchased are thick, spongy and oily, this homemade recipe yields a thinner bread with a crunchy crust. It still tastes delicious, but it is definitely different than I was expecting.

I’ve made this recipe before, and this time, I added onions caramelized with balsamic vinegar and fresh rosemary. Very tasty, especially when dipped in garlic-infused olive oil and more balsamic vinegar.

Focaccia with balsamic onions and rosemary

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages active dry yeast ( 5 tsp)
  • 1 3/4 c. warm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 c. EVOO
  • 5 c. flour, plus more for kneading
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 2 T EVOO
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • balsamic vinegar

Dissolve yeast in warm water, whisk in sugar and let stand until foamy, approx. 5 min. Pour into large mixing bowl and add 1/2 c. olive oil, flour and kosher salt. Mix at low speed with dough hook (or wooden spoon) until dough is smooth and elastic, 7 min.

Turn dough out on floured board and knead for another 5 min., adding flour to keep it from sticking. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Put in warm place to rise – it should double in size (I put mine by the fire). If you are making this ahead, punch it down after it rises and place in fridge. Bring to room temperature before shaping.

Pour remaining 1/4 c. olive oil on half-sheet pan. Turn dough into pan and press evenly to all sides. Cover the pan loosely with a dry kitchen towel and let rise again in warm spot, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, thinly slice 2 yellow onions and add to hot frying pan with olive oil, over medium heat. Saute until dark brown and caramelized, about 12 min. Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic and 1 T fresh chopped rosemary. Add 1-2 T balsamic vinegar and stir until everything is thick and caramelized. Season with salt.

Preheat oven to 450.

Sprinkle onion mixture over dough and dimple the surface with your fingers. Sprinkle sea salt over the top.

Bake until golden brown, 20-30 min. Transfer to wire rack and let cool in the pan. Cut into squares and serve warm. For a soft bread every time, microwave leftover slices for 20 seconds.

For anyone who is interested in a great baking book that has beautiful pictures and instructions, here is the book I’ve been using, and loving, “Essentials of Baking” from Williams-Sonoma:

Enjoy the weekend, friends! Do you have your Superbowl menu planned? I know I do…xoxo

Spicy grilled chicken with stone fruit and balsamic glaze

Grilled nectarines and barbecue chicken!

Grilled nectarines and barbecue chicken!

He didn’t believe me. He had his doubts. I was defrosting some chicken thighs that have been in the freezer for a year. I said I also wanted to grill stone fruit. But not peaches. My boyfriend was dubious. Later, he would be pleasantly full.

But I knew this R-Ray dish would be insanely good because I’ve made it twice before and always to great effect. The chicken (thighs or breast) is marinated in Dijon mustard, paprika, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil and garlic. Then it is infused with the smoky heat from our charcoal grill. Then, a drizzle of rosemary-balsamic syrup….it’s yummy. I served it with some parsley-parmesan couscous, another invention made to use up our cupboard items.

This meal is perfect for celebrating a beautiful summer day, such as the one we had for the Deschutes Dash!

In a large bowl, combine:

1/4 c. EVOO

4 cloves garlic, pushed through a press

2 T Worcestershire sauce

2 T Dijon mustard

1 T paprika

1 T Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

Toss 2 pounds of chicken with the marinade and let chill for at least 15 minutes. Then grill them about 5 minutes per side, or until just done.

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When you turn the chicken the first time, add the nectarines to the grill (4 nectarines, halved and pitted, drizzled with EVOO). Grill the fruit until dark grill marks appear, about 6 min.

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Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar, 2 T brown sugar and 2 T chopped fresh rosemary to a boil. Lower heat and reduce, about 7 min., until syrupy.

To serve, I spooned cooked couscous mixed with chopped parsley and grated Parmesan on a plate. Then, add chicken and fruit, then drizzle with the balsamic glaze.

This dish is smoky like barbecue, but with an added extra bite and sweetness from the fruit and glaze. Everyone for whom I have made this has loved it. You must try. Enjoy, friends!