There’s nothing like bread and jam. Homemade. I was recently inspired by a plum preserves recipe I found in an old issue of Food Network Magazine. I’m not typically a huuuuuuge fan of this magazine, but when I travel, I seem to indulge in more entertainment-like magazines. While doing some spring cleaning I came across this recipe, and with the plethora of plums available in my town at this time, I got super excited and inspired to create my own plum jam, which in the end, I called Spiced Plum Jam, mainly because it’s quite different from this original recipe.
Aaaaaaaand, With the lack of good, whole grain breads here in Costa Rica, I have taken to making my own. I wanted something beyond the typical whole wheat sorta flatbread bread that I always fall back on. I was craaaaaaaving a rustic, crusty-on-the-outside, holy-and-light-on-the-inside kinda bread. So I went with Ciabatta. Ciabatta is often called “Italian Slipper Bread” because it is a fairly wet dough and hence why it creates a slipper-like shape. I did not realize that making ciabatta took so many steps, but it did, and in the end it was completely worth it. Crispy, artisan bread and homemade sweet, fresh spiced plum jam. Pure, simple goodness.
Spiced Plum Jam
6 cups sliced plums
1 cup sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice
Juice of one lime
Place the plums, sugar, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and allspice in a large, wide saucepan. Squeeze the lime through a strainer into the pan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, and the mixture boils, about 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer registers 220˚F, about 25 minutes. (To be sure that the mixture has reached the gel point, spoon some onto a chilled plate and put in the freezer until cool. The liquid should set; if not, continue to cook and retest after a few more minutes.) Remove the pan from the heat and let cool 30 minutes.
Enjoy fresh, and store in the refrigerator up to 10 days (if it lasts that long)! Otherwise, prepare for canning procedures, which can be found here.
As for the bread recipe, I used this one, and the only difference I did was substitute the last 25 ounces of bread flour for whole wheat bread flour. The rest I followed to a T. And it turned out great.
Enjoy the bread toasted with cream cheese and jam, or butter and jam! Also sliced bananas on it tastes great also!
The other day I found miso paste in my refrigerator. I obviously forgot about it because normally I use those type of things right up! It was unopened and something I picked up from an Asian market not too long ago. Instead of making ol’ traditional miso soup, I cooked up this asian inspired sauté with miso broth. It was so delicious, I ended up making it the very next day for a dinner guest. It’s quite fast, healthy, and tasty! And no really obscure, hard-to-find, asian ingredients required.
Japanese-Style Chickpeas and Vegetables in Miso Broth
2 Tbsp oil
1 very large green onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
I large carrot, sliced diagonally
1 large bell pepper, cut in 2-inch strips
1 16-oz can chickpeas
2 heaping Tbsp miso paste
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tbsp Five spice powder*
Couple dashes of hot sauce
¾ cup white wine
½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cups water
In a medium stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the green onion and garlic, sauté 3-5 minutes over medium-low until the onion is soft. Add the carrot and bell pepper, sauté another 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas, sauté another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the miso paste, hoisin sauce, dried basil, five-spice powder, hot sauce, white wine, and salt and pepper. Simmer on low until the wine reduces to about 1/3 of a cup and the mixture is coated in a thick liquid, but not too liquidy (the carrots and bell pepper should be slightly crunchy and al dente). Add the water and simmer on low uncovered 15 minutes or until steaming hot. Add more salt and pepper if desired.