jellies, jams & preserves… oh my!

red grape & rum jam, perfect for the morning toastI have a question for you all….

How many of you can tell me the difference between a jelly, jam & a preserve?

Anyone?

Yea, that’s a tough one. I’ll admit, I had to google it to find the answer. It’s true, I’ve existed 28 years on this earth without knowing the fundamental differences between these spreads. A little appalling, but brutally honest.

Here it is in a nutshell (so to speak)…
1. Jelly: made using the juice of the fruit
2. Jam: made using the pureed flesh of the fruit
3. Preserves: made using either whole pieces or large chunks of the fruit.

There you have it! Pretty easy once you know. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t, however.

What we have here today is a JAM made using red grapes. I’ve gone ahead & thrown some red apples in there too since apples are just chock full of pectin which will eliminate the need for so much sugar.

The whole reason I find myself making jam at all is because I seem to have a wicked craving for a PB&J. I know traditionally these are fixed with jellies & not jams… but I’m not all that traditional.

Try this recipe out. I threw in a little dark rum & lemon zest to give it a nice little edge. Let me know what you think xxx

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lemon layer cake, dressed to impress

There are cakes… & then there are CAKES.

gluten free lemon layer cake with a strawberry cream cloud filling & white chocolate ganache exterior. Ruffle cake.

Unfortunately, it would seem that any time I invest a large amount of time in decorating a cake, I become completely uninspired to photograph it properly.

There’s a correlation here. The more time & effort something takes, the worse the photograph.

I don’t know how I manage to do this to myself every time, but it may be time to just accept it as a fact & move on.

I will say this though, there were four layers of delicious gluten-free lemon cake. Each layer was filled with a smooth, light, strawberry cream cloud filling. Then the whole cake was encased in a creamy white chocolate ganache.

Yea, talk about your layer cakes!

I love layer cakes. They always look so impressive when sliced up & served. Like, seriously impressive.

My photos don’t do this justice.

gluten free lemon layer cake with a strawberry cream cloud filling & white chocolate ganache exterior. Ruffle cake.

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blueberry cheesecake tartlets

mini gluten-free blueberry cheesecakes

At some point at about 04:00am last night when I was laying in bed wide awake, I started wondering what on earth I could bake using the ingredients I had in my house.

It’s not that I’m against buy other ingredients, it’s just, well, grocery stores are shut on Sundays & there’s been a strike on the boats since Wednesday so even if the grocery store was open, chances of it being stocked with everything are slim to none. Joy of joys.

I remembered I had some leftover pastry dough in the freezer from an attempt with some blood oranges a week ago… & some blueberries stashed somewhere in the back corner. In the fridge there was sour cream, cream cheese & lemons… doing the math it seemed like cheese cake was the only appropriate response.

I’ve done chocolate cheesecakes before, and a brandy pecan cheesecake too. Why not a fruity one this time round? I mean sure, I made them more like mini cheesecake tartlets since I’ve conveniently run out of cupcake wrappers… but I really don’t hear any complaints about my methods.

What the hell, it’s Sunday & I’m going to improvise! Not too shabby for an unplanned bake session.

x

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fish baked in aromatic parcels

We are always excited to be in the kitchen and cook… for us, for other people, or even for our dog. Even making fried eggs makes me happy. However, there are some cooking sessions that stick with me for a long time and put a smile on my face. It can be for a number of reasons, like the first time I was hired to cook alone for 20 people.

This recipe is in my special list because of the way I incrementally acquired the ingredients without having planed it at all.

So the story starts with our standard, twice a week trip in to the town center which is at the port where we stock fresh fruit and vegetables from the farmers market. Depending on the weather there are sometimes, early in the morning, a few small fishing boats docked along the pier which is exactly next to the road we drive on. So when we spot them we always check them out. This time, one of them had three, nicely sized fish that we bought right away. This doesn’t happen very often because the Aegean is not like the big oceans… it’s a lot warmer and shallower and the fish mainly caught are small to medium size from sardines to red snappers. So having bought the fish along with our weekly shop, we head home.

The island we live in has an abundance of two things growing everywhere in the wild: Caper berries and fennel. Both go well with fish, but because caper berry season is over, I chose to use the fennel seeds. I cannot describe how much more fragrant the fresh un-dried seeds are compared to the store bought, and you get them in various stages of maturity… I even use some of the flowers from the fennel plant. So off I went for a walk in the fields with the dog to cut some stems, and 20 minutes later I was back with a handful of seeds. Now, all that was left was some lemons from the lemon tree. Ohh and because i was watching a Jamie Olive episode a few days before, I was a bit influenced by his obsession with chillies and added some chili infused olive oil that Lauren made.

The smell that came from that parcel was amazing, and I recommend this recipe especially to people that don’t like fish very much.

– Mel

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creamy lemon & thyme pasta bake

Ahhh… back to our favorite combination, cheese & a starch. Before we went gluten free, I had a favorite italian pasta place I used to eat at where I always ordered the same ravioli dish time & again. It had an amazing cheese & lemon filling, with thyme & a creamy sauce. However the place fell victim of the curse that seems to be plaguing me… the very same curse that is causing all my favorite places to close down. I need to stop picking favorites it would seem.

…I don’t want to get into making homemade ravioli with gluten free flours just yet, I’m lazy & it’s going to take a lot of experimenting. So I’ve taken a different approach to get a similar result & this is what I came up with.

– Mel

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