Thursday, August 28, 2008

Snooty's Divine Spiced Peach Jam

This time of year the peaches are ripe and literally the size of softballs, which is the ideal time to make some peach jam. So, let's get her going.

Preparing The Peaches:

To me, the hardest and most time consuming part is having to parboil, peel, and pit the peaches. If they are really ripe, par-boiling might not even be necessary. If not overly ripe they need to be par-boiled for one minute.

If they aren't quite all the way ripe, you should cut a simple crisscross pattern on the bottom of each peach. Boil each peach around 4 to 5 minutes. This makes them much easier to peel.

That done, set the peaches aside and allow them to cool to the point you can handle them. I also use surgical gloves for the peeling and pitting part. Now, I do as many as 12 to 18 pounds of peaches at a time, since it's such a major pain in the ass neck.

Once you have run each batch through the food processor (I only use the pulse button so there will be small chunks), batches can be stored in large containers in the fridge for up to 4 days. It won't matter if the top layer turns a bit brown, just stir before using. It's fine. I also sometimes go ahead and add the lemon juice, which helps. You can also cover it with cling wrap and see that the wrap makes contact with the pureed fruit, then refrigerate. This will help to reduce the darkening effect. Now, you're done with the preparation process.

Preparing The Jars:

I always, without fail, run all the jars and lids through the dishwasher first. However, just to be absolutely certain they're all santized, I also boil RO water in a large stockpot and boil each jar for 15 minutes.
Use a smaller pan to accommodate the lids and rings. All you have to do is pour boiling water over them and let sit until you're ready to use them. I place a large area of clean paper towels out to turn the lids and jars onto when I'm ready to use them.

Preparing The Jam:

4 Lbs. of large peaches, peeled, pitted and pureed (which come to about 4-1/2 Cups)

1/8 Teaspoon allspice (optional)

1 Package of Sure-Jell Reduced Sugar Pectin

3 Cups granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 whole lemon)

1 Teaspoon real butter (to reduce foaming)


1. Pre-measure 4-1/2 Cups of pureed fruit into a large pot.

2. Pre-measure the 3 Cups of sugar.

3. In another bowl mix about 1/3 of the sugar in with the Sure-Jell powder. Set this and the other bowl of sugar

4. If you haven't already added the lemon juice, do so now. You can also add the butter and the Allspice and mix together thoroughly.

5. Heat the mixture over a medium-high flame or med-hi setting on electric stove.

6. When mixture begins to bubble all around the edges, add the remaining amount of sugar, turn the burner to high, stirring constantly.

7. When the fruit comes to a full rolling boil, cook for exactly one (1) minute, stirring constantly. Turn off burner.

8. Begin filling jars with jam, making sure to wipe the tops & threads of the jars with a warm, wet cloth.

9. Immediately put the lids on, screw down the rings, and turn over the jars of jam for 15 to 20 minutes. Don't screw the rings too tightly or it may have an effect on the seal. Just make it firmly tightened, not over tightened.

10. When the time is up, turn the jars back over (upright) and listen for the pops, letting you know the seals have worked. Trust me when I say people will vie for your friendship once they have tasted this jam. It is absolutely amazing, but you might want to refrain from sitting down to eat an entire jar. There is usually a little amount left over from each batch, so I just put it in a refrigerator container for our own personal use.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Black Bean And Roasted Corn Salad

This has always been a popular dish at our house. Its versatility allows you to use it as a salad, a side dish, or a relish. Since the recipe is big enough to feed 6 to 8 people, we normally have it on two separate nights. For the second night I add chopped avocado and diced tomato, which really makes it a whole new dish. It's easy to make and lasts up to five days in the fridge. Besides, it happens to be really pretty with all its color.

Black Bean And Roasted Corn Salad:


4 ears of roasted corn, shucked

1 12 ounce can of black beans, drained

1 large red bell pepper, chopped (or use 1/2 each of yellow & red peppers)

1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

1 medium red onion, peeled and chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped

2 limes, to be squeezed over salad

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

salt and pepper, to taste

1. Clean the ears of corn, being sure to keep the husks on. Tie small pieces of kitchen twine at the top and bottom of each ear of corn, then allow to soak in water for at least 30 minutes.

2. Prepare your fire, being certain to add hickory (or your wood preference) chips just before placing the ears of corn on the grill, in order to give the corn a nice, smoky flavor.

3. I usually cook them over medium heat for 15 minutes, then turn them over for an additional 15 minutes.

4. When the corn has cooled enough to be handled, scrape the corn off the cob and place in a large bowl.

5. Add the drained black beans, red onion, bell pepper, garlic, cilantro and jalapeno to the corn in the bowl.

6. Next, add the olive oil, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper.

7. Finally, squeeze the two limes over the contents of the bowl and toss until thoroughly mixed.
This truly goes with just about every entree I can think of. Sometimes I use it as a relish over fish. You can come up with an amazing amount of different ways to use it. As I said above, the second night I add chopped tomato and avacado, which makes it a meal in itself.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Grilled Lamb Chops With Rosemary

There was a time when I refused to eat lamb. No, not because I couldn't bear to eat "Lambie Pie". It was because every place I'd ever been that served it, you could smell it the minute you walked through the door. And not in a good way.

I later came to learn that only mutton has the overbearing gamey odor. A friend who lives out on a ranch and raises sheep convinced us to come to dinner one night to have some real baby lamb and I've been a huge fan ever since. So, I'm going to share my recipe for those of you who THINK you don't like lamb. It's taste is basically like a steak, only much more tender.

Grilled Baby Lamb Chops With Rosemary:  


4 Baby Lamb Chops

1 Bottle of Ken's Lite Caesar Dressing

Dash of Garlic


Ground Pepper

Fresh Rosemary, Chopped  


1. Allow the fresh baby lamb chops to come to room temperature before grilling.

2. Coat both sides of the chops with the dressing about 20 minutes before grilling.

3. Salt and pepper both sides of the chops.

4. Cover both sides of the chops in the chopped rosemary.

5. When the coals in the grill are ready, place each chop directly over the fire. (I also like to add large hickory chips to the coals for a smokey flavor.)

6. Grill each side of the chops for approximately 4-5 minutes.

7. The Hand Method for testing doneness. Make your hand into a fist with the thumb inside. Push the fleshy part of your skin. When the meat feels like your hand, it should be medium rare.