low sugar no pectin strawberry preserves (or jam)

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Strawberry Preserves
2 quarts strawberries, hulled
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
rind of 2 lemons

Put 3 metal tablespoons in the freezer. Fill 6 half-cup jars with boiling water and set aside. In a large bowl, pour boiling water on the lids to cover and set aside. Put the bowl-end of a soup ladle in the bowl too.

In a large pot combine strawberries and sugar over medium-low heat. Add lemon juice and the rind. Crush the berries being careful not to crush the lemon rind.
Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and mixing in the froth that forms. Continue cooking 15-18 minutes until set.

To test, take a spoon out of the freezer. Dribble a few drops on the spoon and run your finger through the drops. If the liquid separates and doesn’t run back together, the strawberries are set. Taste, and add more sugar to taste or more lemon juice to taste. Cook until the sugar is dissolved.

Carefully drain the water from a jar. Remove the soup ladle and drain. Using the ladle, spoon strawberry preserves into the drained jar. Using a pair of tongs, fish a lid out of the bowl of hot water and carefully cover the jar of preserves. Set aside to cool. Repeat

When the filled jars are cool enough to touch, put them in the refrigerator to finish setting. Eat within 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator, or freeze for 3 months.

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Ina Garten’s gluten-free flourless chocolate cassis cake

 

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I’ve wanted to try Ina’s recipe for sometime now, but finding creme de cassis in Bangkok was a challenge. Then I found cassis syrup. Cassis, pronounced ka-CEESE, is made from blackcurrants. While creme de cassis is a liqueur, and thus alcoholic, the syrup is not, thus making it an acceptable substitute.  This recipe is flourless but I’ve also made it gluten-free by using cocoa instead of flour to dust the pan. The cake has a dense fudgy interior, lightly sweet with a delicate taste of blackcurrants.

Chocolate Cassis Cake (adapted from Ina Garten)
Prep time: 40 minutes
Baking time: 35-40 minutes

For the Cake:
170g plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter for greasing pan, room temperature
284g unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup cocoa powder plus extra for dusting pan
6 tablespoons cassis syrup (can substitute creme de cassis)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Glaze:
170g unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
2-3 tablespoons cassis syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the cake, Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C. Grease a 9-inch round springform pan with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper then butter it. Dust with cocoa powder. Tap out the excess powder.

Melt the 170g butter and chopped chocolate together in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in the 1/2 cup cocoa powder, cassis, and 1 teaspoon vanilla and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer), beat the eggs, sugar, and salt on high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until pale yellow, thickened,  and triple in volume. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and carefully but thoroughly fold them together with a silicone spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until just barely set in the center. Allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes and then release the sides of the pan. Invert the cake carefully onto a flat serving plate, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely.

Cake Baker’s Note: At 35 minutes, the entire cake seemed to be not set yet. So I gave it 5 more minutes. The cake was level with the top of the pan when it came out of the oven. After 15 minutes, the volume fell 50% as it cooled. In my experience, this is normal for flourless cakes.

For the glaze, melt the chocolate and cream together in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Turn off the heat, then whisk in the cassis and vanilla. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and spread just over the top of the cake. Let the topping set as it cools.

Serving Suggestion

  • Whip 1 cup whipping cream with 2 tablespoons sugar and serve a dollop with a wedge of cake.
  • Add sliced fresh berries on top of the cake. Glaze berries with melted apricot jam.
  • Serve with a strawberry coulis. About 1 cup crushed strawberries with juice, 1/4 cup water, and cornstarch to thicken, will make a divine strawberry coulis. Spoon it on the side and scoop it up with some cake.

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Dog Island, Phutthamonthon

This puppy in the lower right corner climbed up on my knee when I knelt down to say hello. He had just gotten down when I snapped the picture. I think he was disappointed that I didn’t have any food to offer him. Our Save the World Club visited Dog Island in Phutthamonthon park last week. They have over 300 dogs, say the caretakers but we saw only about 50 in the big cage. Most are semi-wild. It costs about Baht 2000 per day to feed the dogs. We are going to discuss fund-raising in the coming weeks–the students bantered about some ideas, such as having a bake sale. We want it to be fun.

cooking when company’s coming

If a hurricane named Sandy counts as company.  Sandy has forced me to take stock of the pantry and the fridge. I went out to the market this morning to pick up onions, bread, bananas, and a barbecue lighter. If these seem odd choices when a hurricane is imminent, well, I suppose it’s because I’ve either gone into survival mode or I’m mad. Or both. Last night I made a kaeng a Thai coconut curry soup–its spiciness was bracing, perfect for a near-stormy night. Tonight should have been our burger night-out but we will be eating in. I think I will make quinoa patties.

leek potato soup

I’ve been so busy lately, too busy to blog. What sacrilege. But I’ve a good excuse;  I’m writing a final paper for my summer reading teacher course. I was very ambitious and started a new course at the same time I started a new job. The course is almost over and I can breathe easier now that summer academy is over. So I whipped up this soup from a recipe courtesy of Irene Phaksuwan. I love my new soup bowl! I bought it in Chinatown because I needed some deep Chinese soup bowls to replace the shallow soup plates that I have. You have to dig into a soup, if you’re Chinese because Chinese soups are hearty and full of noodles, meat, and vegetables; we don’t skim soups delicately with a spoon. This Leek Potato Soup is hearty–and it’s all vegetarian.

Leek Potato Soup

Ingredients
2 leeks, washed, and outer leaves removed, chopped into 1 inch lengths
2 1/2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup celery, chopped with leaves
3 small carrots, scraped and chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
1 sprig thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Head the oil in a large dutch pot over medium heat. Put leeks, potatoes, celery, carrots and garlic in the oil and stir-fry until tender about 3 minutes. Add the broth, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Cook 20 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through.

If you wish, thicken the soup. Spoon half the vegetables into the work bowl of a food processor and process until the vegetables are the consistency of thick soup. Return processed vegetables to the soup. Serve hot with a salad on the side or a hot crusty whole grain bread.