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Posts Tagged ‘Edible Jersey’

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Marzipan is a pale cream color until you add gel paste. This is destined to be chick yellow.

I’ve been making marzipan from scratch for a good long time, and talked about it awhile back during a particularly gloomy time of year in order to get the grey out my mind. Used it in 2012 for my Traditional English Christmas cake, too. Big success there.

Around the same time, I had contacted local baker Marie Jackson to ask her for a couple of recipes for publication in Edible Jersey magazine. I’d been by a few days prior on a reconnaissance mission to try her croissants. She made them from scratch, which, as an 8-hour process, is not exactly something you can mail in. After poking huge crackly buttery wads of it into my face, I deemed them fabulous.

When I called Marie for recipes, she was champagne-bubbly and fun to talk to—easily as memorable as her croissants. I’ve reviewed her and her shop (theflakytartnj.com) a few times since.

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Future peas. They look a little blue here. Hm.

This year I approached Marie to have a taste of my marzipan, and was gratified to hear she liked it well enough to offer me a spot in her shop to display and—with any luck—sell it.

Today I gave The Flaky Tart a test drive of a dozen boxes of candy in springy pastels: cherry blossoms, lop-eared bunnies, pea pods, and chicks. The bunny and chick look like Weebles. I quite dig them that way.

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Chick assemblage.

I wrote the below awhile back as part of my promotion for the candy, and I think it sums up the spirit of this work…and play.

*

so whatever happened to that little kid who slurped popsicles until there was a ring of orange around her mouth that hung on for a day

?

who was unbeatable at hide and seek (something to do with not being creeped out by the spiders who lived behind the rhododendron)

who sat up straight at the dining room table while dreaming of revolution
and who never ever turned down an opportunity to be ludicrous?

is she gone? in hiding? or stuck in line again at the post office, late for the dishwasher repairman, up to her eyeballs in grown-up clutter?

so wendy from peter pan grew up. so you did too, maybe not even noticing until two years ago Christmas, when your upper arms started to resemble ed asner’s.

no need to panic.

the post office line, the leaky dishwasher, your upper arms…they’re just details. and details aside, you add up to a lot more now than you did back in the day. your youth became tenderness, your cleverness became smarts, and your sass became chutzpah. way the hell better off than wendy.

all she did was mourn the changes. you’ll avoid that at all costs. you’ll celebrate them (yes, even the changes to your arms) because they’re what make you delicious.

besides,
that fearless, sometimes hare-brained, always wildly creative, good-time-charlie kid is no further away than one of your belly laughs. treat her to one. treat everybody who hears, too. why not?

you’ve still got the edge on.

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One thing about having a blog is that people happily point out how deficient you are on the clue front. As a result, you acquire several more clues than you had before. This happened most recently when I posted about rhubarb.

Little Miss Food Authority: Oh boy! Try this marmalade!

Planet Earth: It’s COMPOTE, Genius.

At least I knew how to title this post.*

I have a mulberry tree branch that stretches right alongside my upstairs balcony. There is it above. The tree itself is in my neighbor’s yard. The rest of the branches hang over the no-man’s land between our properties and over the firehouse roof next door. All winter I looked forward to seeing the berries emerge, then turn green, then red, then inky purple.

In mid-June they did. Every morning for three weeks, I took a big plate outside to the balcony and reached over the railing to pick the mulberries. Once I had a handful, I dropped them on the plate I had put at my feet.

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When their season ended I had filled a gallon-size Hefty zip-up bag with berries, all from that single branch. Here they are below, immersed in water. Most are so ripe that they dye the water, as you can see. I also picked the occasional reddish berry. My readers pointed out that unripe fruit tends to have more pectin, which helps to gel the jam I planned to make. Or compote, fine.

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I had this loopy idea a few months back of making some sort of gooey concoction of mulberries and red wine and spices. I’m not much of a wine drinker—I mean, I can tell a quality wine from one I got at a wedding**—so I got some direction from Facebook friends and one very helpful blog reader/vintner from South Africa. I wanted something red, fruity and not dry. Settled on a Bogle Vineyards Petite Syrah, 2010, a California wine.

Yesterday, two hours before I had to leave to work a matinee performance, I decided to bite the bullet and make this. Dumped the whole bag of frozen mulberries into my old enamelware pot, turned the jet onto medium high, and stirred in 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar. I left the stems on, as you can see. But I’ve eaten these berries with their stems for years and I’m not dead yet.

Once the berries had defrosted and started giving up some of their juice, I poured in about 1 1/2 cups of the wine. I also have a huge crush on cardamom, so I threw in a tablespoon or two of that. I measured nothing. Then I turned the heat down to medium and stirred from time to time.

The result was somewhat runny, and then cooled to somewhat oozy and sticky. I didn’t taste it at all until it cooled a bit. And you would think a random recipe idea thrown together and stirred as I was zipping around getting dressed would either crap out on me or taste like nothing special. But it knocked me out.

A year or so ago in a blog post for Edible Jersey magazine I talked about fresh, local black raspberries. I said they tasted like a raspberry’s first cousin, who moved to the Left Bank in Paris and spent much of her days looking wistfully out of her parlor windows. This is similar, but the wine gives it an edge. In this case, it’s as if it also sings jazz at a half-empty nightclub in Le Havre. It’s dark and sweet and complicated, rich and addictive. No one was more surprised than me.

Now how to consume? You’d think a food person like myself would be more original and less lazy than just to eat it right out of the container with any available clean spoon, but I’m not. This time, though, chocolate called out as a worthy match. I had just made lots of itty bitty Nutella cupcakes, with homemade Nutella in the batter, for the cast of the show I’m doing. I sliced one of the leftovers open, filled it up with the mulberry goo, and popped it.

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It was a win, in the vernacular of today. In my own vernacular: I have a dozen more baby Nutella cupcakes in the freezer that have their fate spelled out for them pretty clearly.

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*Since you’re so curious: Marmalade is only made with citrus rind. My ‘marmalade’ had chunks of orange in it—the fruit—but that’s Not Good Enough. Someone decides these things.

For the extra curious: Jelly is made from fruit juice. Jam is made from macerated fruit. Preserves are made with macerated fruit plus big happy chunks of fruit as well. Compote is stewed fruit. It’s much looser than the others and good for ladling, etc. It’s one of the nicest things you can do to a pancake.

**Swell for scouring burnt caramel out of the bottom of a Calphalon 2-quart pan, or the tub, after you’ve washed your Bernese Mountain dog.

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