Friday, July 31, 2015

Cherry Vanilla Balsamic Shrub Recipe

Once again, I’m a Canbassador. That means I receive a couple shipments of stone fruit, more than enough to preserve, and I share my results and recipes with you. I already received a large box of dark red cherries and will be working on peaches next. Dark red cherries have an intense flavor, they hold up well with other strong flavors and with that in mind I made two different recipes--Bourbon Cherries and Cherry Vanilla Balsamic Shrub.

I’m afraid I didn’t pay as much attention to the recipe for Bourbon Cherries as I should have, and they will need four weeks to “settle" so I will not be trying them for bit longer. I also froze some cherries, which is very easy to do. I just washed and pitted them and put them in the zip top bag, and froze it as flat as I could. The cherries don’t seem to have stuck to together. And I dried a small batch of cherries in my toaster oven, but it took a very long time and I’m not sure I’d do it again.

By the way, if you have a large amount of cherries to pit, I highly recommend this pitter that cleanly and easily pits 6 cherries at a time! It's a bit pricey, but definitely worth it to avoid the mess and hassle when you have lots of cherries to pit. 

The other recipe I made was a shrub. As you may recall, shrubs are vinegar based drinks, often made with fruit. Making shrubs is a great way to use fruit that’s not perfect. The riper the fruit the better. Basically you combine fruit with sugar and water, then let it sit for a while then add vinegar. You can also add aromatics. This was my first experiment and it turned out rather well.  Once you make a shrub the easiest way to serve it is with bubbly water, but it’s good in cocktails and to flavor hard sparkling cider. 

The cherries leftover from making the shrub have a kind of pickled flavor since they were sitting in a vinegar solution for a full week. They are great as an accompaniment to cheese or in green salads. I recently made a salad with hot smoked salmon, red onions and avocado and the shrub cherries added just the right tangy note. 

The Sweet Preservation website has some preservation basics as well as recipes for canning stone fruit, if you're looking for more ideas. Also check out the community site, Punk Domestics. 

Cherry Vanilla Balsamic Shrub 


About 4 cups washed and pitted cherries 
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 cups vinegar--I used a pleasing combination of balsamic and Champagne vinegar
1-2 vanilla beans, sliced open, end to end


Place the fruit and sugar in a large wide mouthed glass jar and smash it with a muddler or a wooden spoon. Add the water, stir until the sugar begins to dissolve, then cover and let sit for 24 hours. Add the vinegar and vanilla beans and stir again until the sugar is dissolved. Let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for a week. Strain the cherries out of the liquid and filter through a fine mesh strainer. Store in the refrigerator and mix with bubbly water, sparkling cider or use in cocktails.


Disclaimer: I received stone fruit as part of my Canbassador role, I was not monetarily compensated for this or any other post on Cooking with Amy. This post includes an affiliate link. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Monet's Palate Cookbook: The Artist & His Kitchen Garden at Giverny

Years ago I wrote about Monet’s Palate, a charming film narrated by Meryl Streep. It delves into the life of Monet at his home in Giverny. Monet’s passions were painting and gardening, but he also clearly enjoyed the pleasures of the table—eating, drinking and entertaining guests. A new book, Monet’s Palate Cookbook is less about historical and sometimes antiquated and inaccurate recipes left behind by his cook, and more about his life in Giverny. It covers his approach to gardening, eating and entertaining with plenty of recipes of course. 

The book begins with his passion for good food, then moves seamlessly into his kitchen garden and many of the fruits and vegetables that were grown at the time, as well as the specific ones that were grown in his garden and details about how they were propagated. But the majority of the book is dedicated to recipes. The recipes are inspired by Monet’s kitchen garden at Giverny, but fresh and modern. Some of them refer to favorite dishes served to artists of the day—like bouillabaise for Renoir and others are from places he traveled to such as the Yorkshire Pudding from the Savoy Hotel in London. Finally there are recipes from famous chefs like Michel Richard and Anne Willan, inspired by his kitchen notebooks. 

The recipes include notes about their connection to Monet, and bits of trivia that Monet fans are sure to relish such as the fact that he brought back seeds for zucchini from Italy or that he imported bananas for ice cream to be served on Christmas. Recipes I’ve bookmarked include Roasted Cod with Fresh Corn, Red Peppers, Onion and Caper Salad, Roast Pork with Cherry Sauce, and Mocha Layer Cake. The book like the film extends the experience of visiting Monet’s home in Giverny. If you’ve been there it’s something you won’t likely forget and if you haven’t, it should be on your bucket list. 

Disclaimer: I received this book as a review copy, this page includes an affiliate link. I was not paid to compensated monetarily to write this or any other post. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Can-It-Forward & Canning Jars Giveaway!

Cherry Vanilla Balsamic Shrub, Bourbon Cherries & Pickled Cherries
Once again I’m participating in two events that dovetail rather nicely. This Saturday is Can-It-Forward day hosted by Jarden Home Brands and they have generously sent me some canning supplies and are offering a giveaway of a coupon for a case of Ball jars (see the end of the post for how to win). I’m also a “canbassador” for Sweet Preservation, helping to share the joy of preserving fresh fruit from Northwest Cherries and the Washington State Fruit Commission. Fresh fruit and canning supplies! It’s a match made in heaven. 

Jarden is the maker of Ball, my go to brand for canning supplies. I use their jars, labels, lids, bands and pectin. They are now making some additional colorful stuff like mix and match lids and bands and Sip & Straw lids for wide mouth jars. I’ve always been a fan of Ball canning supplies, they are readily available, well priced and the brand also offers some great resources, in particular their Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving

While preserving is an ancient craft, there's new information practially every year. The guidebook is a resource I turn to frequently for technical information and tutorials as well as for recipes and inspiration. The current efition has 200 pages and over 500 recipes. Another resource is their canning website, Fresh Preserving
So what is Can-It-Forward day? Think of it as a reminder to go ahead and plan on preserving your favorite fresh produce in peak season. There will be a webcast with experts where you can submit home canning questions to be answered in real time. There will be recipe demos, a behind the scenes look at recipe testing and development and the science behind ensuring safety in home canning recipes and more. Tune in to the live webcast from 11:00am – 4:00pm EST.

As you can see, I've already done some preserving! I made Cherry Vanilla Balsamic Shrub, Bourbon Cherries and Pickled Cherries. I also froze some fresh cherries to use later in the year. In my next post I’ll be sharing my recipe for Cherry Vanilla Balsamic Shrub. But today I received my second batch of fruit, peaches. So...

...If you’d like to enter the giveaway, let me know how you would preserve peaches to enjoy later—jam, sauce, in syup. the comments section. You must be a US resident to win and have a US mailing address. Include your email in the comments form, only I will see it. Contest ends August 1, 2015. 

Good Luck! 

Disclaimer: Jarden Home Brands supplied this giveaway and sent me canning supplies and Sweet Preservation sent me fresh fruit. I was not monetarily compensated for this or any other post on Cooking with Amy. 

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

The Joy of Writing a Great Cookbook: Interview with Kimberly Yorio

If you want to be a food writer, I highly recommend that you read Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob, but if writing a cookbook is your goal, you’ll also want to check out The Joy of Writing a Great Cookbook by Kimberly Yoirio. This no nonsense book takes you through every step of the process with tons of examples. Yorio has been a cookbook publicist, agent and co-authored several books, so she speaks from personal experience. From building your platform to proposals to social media this book really covers it all. 

Ready to go? Use the book as your guide, then enter to win a cookbook contract, sponsored by Page Street Publishing Co. Contest ends 8/1/15

I spoke with Kim about cookbook publishing and here’s what she had to say:  

Is it just my imagination, or is cookbook publishing experiencing a boom right now? 
It’s not your imagination at all.  Cookbooks are selling really well right now and more and more publishers want to get into the business of making them.  Cookbooks are one of the few categories (like illustrated children’s books) that aren’t impacted by digital books.  Although there have been some brilliant e-cookbooks produced (I like Nancy Silverton and Tyler Florence’s), most people still want to buy and own (and occasionally cook from) real books, hard or soft-cover.  Also, cookbooks can sell for years—so they make a good business for publishers.

What trends do you see in cookbook publishing at the moment?
Oh you mean outside of the zillion or so Paleo cookbooks on the New York Times bestsellers' list?Celebrity chef cookbooks continue to sell well, baking books are a safe bet, as are cookbooks written by bloggers with big followings.

What is the best advice you can give to first time wannabe cookbook authors? 
Work hard to develop your unique voice.  What makes you and your cooking different and special?  Just because you take pretty pictures and your friends like your recipes, doesn’t mean you will be a best-selling cookbook author.  In addition to your voice, you need to develop a platform to prove your marketability. 

How long does an author typically have to turn in a manuscript once the contract is signed? 
Delivery times TOTALLY vary depending on the author.  An average is one year, but it can be as short as three months if you are a hot commodity and the publisher wants to get your book into the marketplace as soon as possible.

What are the best reasons to write cookbooks? 
They can be validation of a life’s work, a snapshot of a great moment in culinary time or even a historical record.  They can be highly personal or highly academic. Folksy or scientific.  At the very least they should be a fantastic collection of recipes that work time and time again, in every kitchen around the country. 

Disclaimer: I received this book as a review copy and this post includes affiliate links. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post on Cooking with Amy.