SMORGASBORD: Preserving creativity . . . Knots of fun . . . Plum additionalFigure a million or so cookbooks have been written on home food preservation since self-sealing Mason jars debuted 150 years ago. Few contain recipes as creative as those packed into chef Paul Virant’s new book, "The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking With Pickles, Preserves and Aigre-Doux."
By: Herald Staff and Wire Reports,
Figure a million or so cookbooks have been written on home food preservation since self-sealing Mason jars debuted 150 years ago. Few contain recipes as creative as those packed into chef Paul Virant’s new book, “The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking With Pickles, Preserves and Aigre-Doux” (Ten Speed Press, $29.99).
Few have recipes such as smoked apple butter and beer jam, pickled fennel and cherry bomb peppers or sauerkraut made with Brussels sprouts or turnips. These are not your granny’s preserves.
But those are just some of the recipes in Virant’s book and part of the volume’s first half, which is dedicated to preserving methods, from marmalades and salted produce to the sweet-sour French aigre-doux and the piquant condiment from Italy called mostarda.
In the book’s second half, Virant shows how to incorporate preserves into dishes and cocktails: Pickled and fresh fennel transform panzanella salad, beer jam subs for vermouth in a Manhattan. Such creativity shows up often on menus at his Michelin-honored Chicago restaurants.
Recipes may appear fanciful, but Virant and his book are serious about preservation methods, detailing water-bath processing, equipment and why it’s important “not to play around with quantity or variety of vinegar, alcohol or lemon juice” which could compromise a product’s pH level (a measure of its acidity).
Knots of fun
When you don’t have time to bake fresh bread for dinner, par-baked breads can come to the rescue.
Such as the fist-sized New York Brand Hand-Tied Garlic Knots from Marzetti. The fluffy, garlic-perfumed knots are a guilty treat and 130 calories each.
The suggested retail price, for a box of six, is $2.79. The bread is available a grocers nationwide; for a store locater, go to marzetti.com.
Sunsweet has developed yet another way to package prunes. This week’s new prune product is Plum Amazins, which are raisin-sized diced prunes, in a pry-off-lid canister. They join Sunsweet’s regular prunes; bite-size prunes; Ones (individually wrapped prunes); D’Noir prunes (packed without preservatives); cherry, orange and lemon flavored prunes; and premium prunes.
The package notes that Plum Amazins have more fiber, less sugar and fewer calories than raisins or cranberries. At one store, where a 9-ounce bag of regular Sunsweet prunes was $2.49, the same size bag of diced Plum Amazins $2.79 — 12 percent more per ounce.