Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cherries in Red Wine

Cherry season is well under way here in San Diego, and the farmers' market has been selling wonderful juicy bing cherries for over a month now. The season in San Diego lasts for several months starting in mid-late May, so now is the time to buy them at their best.

As the cherry season is short in most areas, preserving them is a great way to prolong the season, and they can be used in sweet and savory dishes. This recipe for cherries in red wine can be done safely using a hot water canner, as the cherries have high acidity, as do the wine and orange juice. You will need 4 Ball or Kerr pint jars, together with lids and bands to make this recipe. Alternatively, if you do not wish to hot water can the fruit, simply make the recipe and refrigerate the fruit, but use within 2-3 days.

Recipe for Cherries in Red Wine
Ingredients (makes 4 pints)
  • 2 quarts red wine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 24 whole cloves
  • 16 3-inch strips orange zest
  • 4 pounds Bing cherries, pitted (about 8 cups)
  1. Place the wine, sugar, orange juice, cloves, and orange zest in a medium pot. Bring to a low boil over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Have ready 4 scalded pit jars and their bands (to scald, dip the jars in boiling water. You don't need to sterilize the jars, as you will be processing them for more than 10 mins).
  3. Simmer new lids in a small pan of hot water to soften the rubberized flange.
  4. Add the cherries to the wine, simmer for 10 minutes, until they are soft but not collapsed.
  5. Remove the cherries with a slotted spoon, and ladle them into the hot jars.
  6. Reduce the wine mixture to about half its volume.
  7. Strain the wine mixture, and pour over the cherries in jars, leaving 1/2 to 3/4 inch headspace.
  8. Wipe the rims, set on the lids, and screw on the bands fingertip tight.
  9. Place the jars in a big pot with a rack in the bottom and add enough water to cover he jars by 3 inches.
  10. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to medium and gently boil the jars for 20 minutes.
  11. Turn off the heat, allow the jars to rest in the water for 5 minutes, and then remove.
  12. Allow the jars to cool, untouched, for4 to 6 hours.
  13. Check the seals, and store in a cool, dry place for up to a year. Refrigerate after opening.
This fruit is amazing drizzled over pound cake, cheesecake, or served in tall glasses with whipped cream, ice cream, or yogurt. It makes an elegant dessert in minutes, and looks stunning with the dark fruit.

It can also be served with savory dishes, if you heat it first. More recipes can be found alongside this one in the book, Well Preserved by Eugenia Bone, a great book for anyone interested in home canning.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Growing Grapevines from the Mercato

As Gourmet Fusion is a vendor at the Little Italy Mercato on Saturdays on Date Street, San Diego, I am often able to go and see what some of the other vendors are offering for sale. This week I was talking to Lissy Keily with Maness Vineyards about growing grapevines in San Diego, and could not resist buying some to try out.

Maness Vineyards of Jamul is selling a selection of grapevines at the Mercato for you to grow at home yourself and are happy to give you information about growing the vines, the wine these grapes produce, and the tours and products offered at their winery.

I live by the coast and have a container garden with many different kinds of plants which thrive all year round, but as every gardener knows, there are also the plants that simply don't make it, so I am keen to see what happens to these three plants.

The vines we chose were Nebbiolo (red), Sauvingon Blanc, and a red Zinfandel. I planted them on Sunday and am trying to find a sunny spot for them, as they like plenty of sun, but also like cool evenings, so the marine climate by the beach may work. Grapevines also like a climate that has more sunny days than rain, so that is not a problem in San Diego county. They apparently don't need a lot of water (also good), and according to the Sunset Western Garden book the vine can grow unchecked for the first summer, and the more leaves the better. They are pretty small at the moment, just 12 - 18 inches tall, but I'll keep you posted on their progress.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mediterranean Olive Oils & Vinegars at Gourmet Fusion

The Gourmet Fusion store is now offering specialty olive oils and vinegars through its online store. These delicious oils and vinegars are perfect for summer salads, pasta, and grilling (the lemon oil is especially good with fish).

We have three types of Spanish extra virgin olive oil - mandarin orange, Spanish lemon, and rosemary, as well as a natural extra virgin olive oil.

Our two vinegars are a rich, dark Vindaro Rioja Balsamic vinegar, and a 12-year reserve Moscatel semi-sweet vinegar.

If you are looking for a simple salad that is a little different, this mixed spring greens salad takes minutes to make, and is sure to be a hit at any dinner party or barbecue.

To make the salad we used Mallafre Catalonian extra virgin olive oil pressed with mandarin oranges and the Sotaroni white Moscatel vinegar.

To make this delicious salad, all you need is:

1 packet of mixed green salad
1/2 can of small mandarin oranges
2 tablespoons Mallafre mandarin oil
1 tablespoon Sotaroni white Moscatel vinegar

Rinse and pat dry the mixed salad, and place in a salad bowl. Mix together the oil and vinegar and pour over the greens. Toss together to distribute the dressing, and place the mandarins on the top. Serve as a light main course, or as a side dish with crusty bread.