grape jam

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This is such an easy jam to make and you can use any grapes, not just Concord. For this jam I used a blue-black variety called Moon Drop grapes, shaped somewhat unusually like a torpedo. They are seedless, sweet, and I did not peel them. I used sugar in a 1:2 ratio or half as much sugar as the weight of the grapes so you can adjust up or down as you need to. And instead of using pectin I put in one whole chopped green apple seeded with the peel.

Grape Jam
makes 3 cups jam

800 grams grapes
400 grams granulated sugar
1 medium green apple, chopped, seeded, with peel
Juice of 3 small limes
1 cup water

Boil a kettle of water. Wash and rinse jars and fill to the brim with the boiling water. Set aside. Put lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside. Put 2 small saucers in the freezer for testing the jam.

In a large pot, put the grapes, water, sugar, apple, and lime juice. You can throw in the lime halves too. Bring to a boil over medium low heat and stir occasionally. Mash the fruit as it softens. Boil until the jam reaches a temperature between 217 degrees F and 220 degrees F, about 10 to 25 minutes. Take a saucer out of the freezer and drop a spoonful of jam liquid in it. Return to the freezer for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes take out the saucer and drag your finger through the jam. If it separates, the jam has set. If the jam runs back together it is not yet set. Boil the jam for a few minutes more and test again.

Fish the lime halves out of the jam and discard. Tip the water out of the clean jam jars and fill with jam, leaving 1/4 inch headspace at the top. Screw on the covers and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate 12-24 hours to allow the jam to set before eating. After that it can even be frozen.

brazilian fish and shrimp stew with pepper sauce and rice and peas

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This fish and shrimp stew cooks up very quickly, and is light, piquant, and full of the fresh flavors of coconut milk and peppers, both sweet and hot. I served it with the coconut-flavored Jamaican rice and peas that I had put up in the freezer. Rice and peas is a robust accompaniment that holds its own with spicy main courses such as this stew.

Fish and Shrimp Stew/Moqueca (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

Pepper Sauce
2-8 Thai chili peppers, or to taste (pickled hot cherry peppers in original recipe)
1/2 small red onion, chopped coarsely
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Large pinch sugar or to taste
Salt to taste

Stew
1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
1 pound skinless white fish fillets about 1 inch thick, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces (e.g. cod)
3 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
1 small red onion, chopped coarsely
1 (14.5 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 leek, both white and green parts, sliced into thin rounds
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
Juice of 2-3 small limes, or to taste

Make the pepper sauce: Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Season with salt to taste and transfer to a separate bowl. Rinse out processor bowl.

Make the stew: Toss shrimp and fish with garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

Process onion, tomatoes and their juice, and 1/4 cup cilantro in food processor until finely chopped and mixture has texture of pureed salsa, about 30 seconds.

Heat oil in large Dutch pot over medium high heat until shimmering. Add red and green peppers and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5-7 minutes. Add onion-tomato mixture, leeks, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until puree has reduced and thickened slightly, 3-5 minutes. Pot should not be dry.

Increase heat to high, stir in coconut milk, and bring to a boil. Mixture should be bubbling over the entire surface. Add shrimp and fish with lime juice, and stir to evenly distribute seafood. Make sure all pieces are submerged in liquid. Cover pot and remove from heat. Let stand until shrimp and fish are opaque and just cooked through, 15 minutes.

If desired, gently stir in 2 tablespoons pepper sauce. Be careful not to break up the fish too much. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rice, passing the remaining pepper sauce separately.

Cook’s Note: I did not add the pepper sauce to the stew, instead, I served it at the table with the remaining chopped cilantro.

massaman curry grilled chicken sandwiches

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Massaman Curry Grilled Chicken Sandwiches–I forgot the cilantro!

This recipe was inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe for grilled chicken baguettes. I used a store-bought massaman curry paste by Blue Elephant, a famous traditional Thai restaurant in Bangkok. Massaman curry is a Thai Muslim dish;  a rich brick-red curry sauce spiced with cardamom and star anise. Though I used chicken thighs, this recipe can also be made using chicken breasts but I happened to have two chicken thighs on hand. It makes for a quick lunch or light supper for two.

Massaman Curry Grilled Chicken Sandwiches (inspired by Martha Stewart)
Makes 2 sandwiches

1 tablespoon Massaman Curry paste, e.g. Blue Elephant
Seasoning salt
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/3 cup cucumbers sliced on the diagonal
Zest and juice of one small lime
1 tablespoon red onion, sliced thin
2 tablespoons salted peanuts, crushed
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
3-6 sprigs cilantro
Cooking spray
1/2 a baguette

Pat dry the chicken thighs. Season the chicken thighs with seasoning salt then spread the curry paste into both sides of the chicken, pressing it into the meat. Set aside for at least 20 minutes or overnight.

Put the sliced cucumbers and onions into a small bowl. Add the lime juice and toss. Set aside. In a small bowl, add the mayonnaise and the lime zest and mix well. Set aside.

Heat the grill pan over medium high flame. When the pan is hot, remove it from the flame and spray it with cooking spray. Return it to the flame and add the chicken thighs. Cook on one side 3-4 minutes or until grill marks appear on the chicken. Flip and cook for 3 minutes more on the second side. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and slice into 1/4 inch slivers. Set aside. Don’t wash the grill pan.

Split the baguette in two and toast the sliced sides in the grill pan until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and generously spread the lime zest-mayonnaise mixture on both toasted sides. Spread the chicken on top of the mayonnaise. Top with cucumber and onion, some cilantro sprigs, and sprinkle with crushed peanuts.