Sponsored: Fennel Gruyere Gratin + Anolon Vesta Baker Giveaway

The last couple of months have all been leading up to this week. The first draft of my next cookbook is due to my editor on Friday, just as the yearly conference for the International Association for Culinary Professionals begins. This is typically the only conference I attend each year, and it’s an chance to see friends and colleagues, as well as make new connections that will hopefully lead to more work and opportunities.

Originally founded in 1978 by a group of cooking school owners and instructors (including Julia Child, Jacques Pépin, and Anne Willan), over the last 40 years IACP has become a robust professional organization for food writers, cookbook authors, bloggers, editors, food tour guides, and others.

As part of the lead-up to the conference, I was asked by the folks at Anolon (they’re dedicated IACP sponsor) to dream up a recipe inspired by one of the organization’s founders. I chose to look at Anne Willan’s life and work as a starting place for my dish.

I met Anne briefly at my very first IACP conference in 2012 (just before Food in Jars came out!), when she was promoting her amazing book The Cookbook Library (if you love cookbooks, you must check out this book. It covers the four centuries of cooking and recipe writing that led us to the point of culinary literacy where we are today). I remember thinking that I would be incredibly fortunate to have even half the career that she has had.

Starting with the knowledge that Anne was the founder of the La Varenne Cooking School in Paris, I knew my dish would need to be grounded in French cooking. I took a wander through her website and paged through the copy of La Varenne Pratique that I inherited from my Aunt Flora, and decided I’d make a gratin.

The thing I love about a gratin is that it is versatile and relatively easy (a necessity as I approach my deadline!). We think of gratins as being heavy dishes that are full of cheese, but they can actually be relatively light. I only use three ounces of cheese in this particular version. For a side that feeds produces between six and eight servings, that’s not overly cheesy at all!

I used fennel as the primary ingredient because it brings a lot of flavor to the dish and I can almost always get really fresh, beautiful fennel at my local produce shop. However, you could apply this same technique to zucchini, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, or various root vegetables.

I used an assortment of Anolon tools while creating this dish that you’ll see pictured throughout this post. They sent me a trio of blazingly sharp and easy-to-handle knives, a sturdy teak cutting board, and the Vesta Stoneware 9 x 13 Baker in Umber. I was particularly excited to use the Vesta baker because I’ve been on the lookout for a good, deep 9 x 13 pan this one fits the bill perfectly.

Thanks to the folks at Anolon, I have one of these lovely Vesta Stoneware 9 x 13 Baking Pans in Umber to giveaway to one of you! Please use the widget below to enter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Anolon paid me to write this post and develop the recipe you see below. They sent me the baker, knives, and cutting board to feature in this post. And, they are providing the stoneware baker for giveaway. However, as always, the words and thoughts expressed here are entirely my own.

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Guest Post: Ginger and Turmeric Preserved in Alcohol with Heather Francis

Today’s guest post is from adventurer and home canner Heather Francis. She is originally from Nova Scotia, Canada but has lived and worked on the ocean for over a decade. A professional cook who’s worked on both land and sea, these days you’ll find her in the galley of Kate, the Newport 41’ sloop she and her Aussie partner, Steve, have been sailing since 2008. They are currently looking for wind in the Philippines. Follow their adventures on Yacht Kate.

Fresh ginger is something that I always have in my galley; it’s peppery, citrus bite a staple in the quick, Asian-inspired dishes that I regularly prepare. However, it is not really something have room for in my fridge. I know a piece of ginger isn’t all that big, but when your total cold storage space isn’t much bigger than the freezer section of a typical domestic refrigerator you tend to be picky about what goes into it.

Years I ago I discovered that you can preserve ginger, and other rhizomes like turmeric, simply by submersing it in alcohol. The method that has a two-fold result; fresh ginger/turmeric that is ready to add to any dish, and some delightfully flavoured alcohol ready to add to your sundown cocktail. And best of all, no fancy equipment or refrigeration required.

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Loaded Baked Potato and Cauliflower Soup from Healthyish and OXO

Back in January, before I entered the “all work, all the time” stage of my book writing process, I said that I would participate in a blogging challenge with OXO. This one featured the new cookbook Healthyish by Lindsay Maitland Hunt and an array of OXO tools. I opted to make the Loaded Potato and Cauliflower Soup and soon after, received a copy of the book and some of the tools necessary to make a batch.

I unpacked the book and the tools, took some pretty pictures, and then got swept away in my own book frenzy. However, with the post deadline approaching, I did the hard mental work of switching gears (I’ve been so singularly focused that I’m fairly certain that my brain made a loud, screeching sound as I opened the book) and planned to make some soup.

I read the through the recipe, made a grocery list, and walked to pick up the ingredients I needed. Back home, I chopped, stirred, and pureed. As I worked, I realized that making someone else’s recipe was exactly what I needed. I didn’t have to take notes, measure the size of my dice, or pay close attention to the exact duration of the cooking time (when I develop recipes, I often run a stop watch to ensure that I exactly capture the timing).

It was also a pleasure to have some new OXO tools to use. I’m been in such a rut with my gear that the new equipment brought a really pleasurable lift to the act of cooking.

Here’s what they sent:

  • The Pro 8 inch Chef’s Knife – Wickedly sharp right out of the package and the perfect weight for flying through vegetables.
  • The Swivel Peeler – Grippy, sharp, and put my stained Y-model to shame.
  • The Wooden Corner Spoon – Made of solid wood and carved to the perfect angle for getting into the corner of the pot.
  • The Kitchen and Herb Scissors – Perfect for slicing the bacon into slivers for garnish, and the blades come apart for easy cleaning.
  • The Coarse Grater – This grater laughed at my hard cheddar and reduced it to shreds with ease. It’s also far simpler to clean than my ancient box grater.
  • The 12 inch Tongs – They are now the longest reaching tongs in my kitchen. They’re good for flipping bacon, retrieving toast, and grabbing boxes of crackers from on top of the fridge.

We ate this twice for dinner and each time I was reminded of the importance of taking time to eat good food and relax a little, even during the most action packed times. I look forward to cooking more of the recipes from Healthyish (though probably not until the book is turned in).

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How to Make Crispy Shiitake Mushroom Snacks

Regular Food in Jars contributor Alex Jones drops by to offer a delicious DIY snack – crispy shiitake mushrooms! I wish I had a batch to nibble right now! -Marisa

bowl fo shiitake mushrooms

I consider myself incredibly lucky to work alongside sustainable farmers and food producers here in southeast Pennsylvania. This community has changed my life for the better in more ways than one: it’s given me work, purpose, inspiration, and an education around food and agriculture.

And, of course, there’s the ability to share in the bounty that comes along with running a CSA or working a farmers’ market.

I’ve written about my friends at Primordia Farm before — they’re a first-generation clan of mushroom farmers and foragers, growing beautiful fungi high on Hawk Mountain in Berks County, right near the Appalachian Trail. And with them as my farmers’ market neighbors, I’m lucky to have access to delicious, immaculately grown mushrooms year-round.

While there are a million recipes you can make with the mushrooms they grow — shiitake, maitake (also known as hen of the woods), royal trumpet, lion’s mane — my favorite preparations tend to be the simplest, making the most of the unique textures and flavors that these fascinating organisms bring to the kitchen.

Sure, you can sautée or roast up a batch of just about any mushroom in butter, olive, or coconut oil and it’ll be tasty. But I’m the only mushroom eater in my household — so if I don’t have a specific dish in mind for my fungi, I tend to turn them into one on of my favorite kinds of food: crunchy, crispy, salty snacks.

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February Sponsors: Cuppow, Fillmore Container, EcoJarz, Mason Jar Lifestyle, and CanningCrafts

Happy February, dear readers! I’m deep in the drafting process for my next book, so it’s been quiet around these parts lately. However, it’s the start of the month and no amount of writing frenzy is going to keep me from thanking the businesses that help make this site possible. Please do show them that you appreciate their support with your time and attention!  

In the top spot are our friends at Cuppow. They are the creators of the original mason jar travel mug topper and the BNTO, a small plastic cup that transforms a canning jar into a snack or lunch box. One of my goals for the new year is to drink 3 quarts of water a day, and my Cuppow lid helps me stick to that goal without spilling all over the place.

Lancaster, PA-based and family-owned Fillmore Container are next! They sell all manner of canning jars, lids, and other preservation gear. If you’re looking for a good seasonal recipe, try their recipe for Rosemary Grapefruit Jam.

Our friends over at EcoJarz are another stalwart sponsor. They make an array of products designed to fit on top of mason jars, including cheese graterscoffee brewers, and stainless steel storage lids. If you’re hoping to get into fermentation this year, their fermenting kit is a useful and affordable option!

Mason Jar Lifestyle is a one-stop shopping site for all the jar lovers out there. They sell all manner of mason jar accessories and adaptors. If you’re in the market for lidsstrawssprouting lidsfermentation weightsairlockstea light converterscozies,  and more, make sure to check them out. I particularly love their one-piece stainless steel lids, paired with leakproof silicone liners. They make it easy to transport soup to work without spilling a drop!

Next up is CanningCrafts. Shop owner Alison sells an array of ready made and custom mason jar labels for all your various preserves, syrups, and backyard honey. Make sure to subscribe to the CanningCrafts newsletter, because you’ll get a 10% off coupon code!

And if your company, shop, or family business is interested in reaching the food-loving and engaged Food in Jars audience, you can find more details here. Leave a comment on this post or drop me a note to learn more!

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Meyer Lemon Ginger Marmalade + Giveaway

One of the things that happens when I get close to a book deadline is that my life gets whittled down to the bare essentials. I work, I cook, I exercise, and I sleep. Things get very messy in my apartment, save for the moments of intense procrastination cleaning (the seams and edges of of my kitchen faucet have never sparkled so brightly).

Because the book I’m working on is not dedicated to preserving, my canning practice has really fallen flat in recent days. In fact, until I made this marmalade, it had been nearly a month since I’d canned anything. That’s the longest I’ve gone without firing up the water bath in the last decade.

However, no amount of book work is going to keep me away from Meyer lemon season. They’re only available for a short time each winter and since my order arrived from Lemon Ladies Orchard, I’ve been carving out little pockets of time to salt, dry, and preserve all that sunny lemon goodness.

For this batch of marmalade, I chose to boost the flavor with three ounces of finely grated ginger. I sometimes opt to add ginger flavor by juicing the ginger root, but because I’m short on time these days, I went for the quickest option that didn’t require cleaning another appliance.

I don’t mind having small bits of ginger flesh scattered throughout my marmalade. However, if you need the jelly component of your marmalade to be crystal clear, I suggest you make or buy ginger juice and use approximately 1/4 cup instead.

The other thing that got me excited to make this batch of marmalade was the fact that I had these snazzy Le Parfait 200 ml terrines in which to can it. I really enjoy using jars from Le Parfait because of their heft and sturdiness. They also make me feel instantly transported to Europe for far less money than a plane ticket.

Assembling Le Parfait jars for use is easy. Once you’ve given both the jars and the rubber gaskets a good washing with warm, soapy water, you fit the gaskets onto the lids, making sure that the easy-open tab is pointing off to the side of the jar (so that it doesn’t get in the way of the hinge or the clamp).

I warm them in my canning pot, and while filling take care to leave a little extra headspace, to ensure that there is plenty of space for the lids to close.

I’ve done a lot of writing about the art of making marmalade over the years, so I’m not going to rehash all those details here. If you’re coming to this post without ever having made marmalade before, I suggest you read these three posts before digging in.

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