Summer is in full swing which means we have oodles of delicious summer fruit to gobble up! Get out your pails and get picking! Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk! Strawberry season is just about wrapped up, and blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and peaches are just around the corner. One of the best ways to keep delicious Maine fruits in your kitchen all year long is to cook and store them as a jelly, jam, or preserve. But what is the difference? Let’s find out!

The Basics

Jelly, jam, and preserves are all made from cooking fruit mixed with sugar and sometimes pectin. Pectin is naturally found in fruit and is what makes jams and jellies firm up. You can add powdered pectin to get a firmer texture.

Jelly

Jelly is clear and firm and made from the juice of fruit. Once the fruit is cooked it is strained so that only the juice ends up in the jelly. Many people prefer jelly since it doesn’t have any seeds in it. Typically pectin is added to a jelly to give it that nice bouncy firmness.  Jelly doesn’t always have to be sweet…here is one of our favorite recipes for a savory Pepper Jelly:

Ingredients

6 Large Peppers, the color of your choice
6 Cups Sugar
1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 1/2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Packages  of Pectin

Instructions

1. Blend half of the peppers and half of the vinegar.
2. Combine the pepper/vinegar mixture with the sugar, salt, and pepper in a saucepan.
3. Bring to a boil.
4. Add Pectin.
5. Continue to boil until thickened, stirring all the while.
6. Pour into warm, clean jars.

 

Jam

Jam is essentially a chunkier version of jelly. It is made from the entire fruit, which has been crushed and cooked into a pulp. Pieces of fruit end up in the spread and it’s not a uniform consistency like jelly. Think about a nice strawberry jam on your morning toast!

 

Preserves

Preserves are similar to jam but contain more fruit—often whole pieces. They do not have the firmness of a jelly. How about some tasty Peach Preserves with a scoop of vanilla ice cream…YUM!  My recipe:

Ingredients

7 Large Peaches
5 Cups Sugar
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract

Instructions

1. Peel and cut the peaches in to chunks.
2. Add the chunks, lemon juice, and sugar to a saucepan.
3. Bring to boil until the sugar is dissolved, stirring all the time.
4. Reduce heat to a slow boil.  Fruit will become clear and thick after about 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Remove any foam that develops (the liquid will be clear).
5. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract.
6. Pour into warm, clean jars.

Whichever option you prefer, having some yummy Maine fruit to spread on your morning toast all year long is a real treat! If you are new to canning or preserving, here is a great visual guide to get you started!

 

*Images courtesy of:

www.justapinch.com
www.recipethis.com
www.southernliving.com

When I think of grilling, I can’t help but think of the flavor of smoking. In the past, smoking meats was a way of preserving. Now, it is more about taste and texture. Brisket is a prime example of this; it needs extra love and care…long and low. Smoking adds tons of flavor and actually tenderizes this meat in the process. Our smoked beef brisket is the main item requested at all of our BBQs and has been really popular for weddings. Throw in BBQ chicken, hearty baked beans, potato salad, Coleslaw, corn muffins and strawberry shortcake and you are good to go! YUMMMMMM

While preparing dinner on Sunday for Father’s Day I decided to have Smoked Deviled Eggs as an appetizer.  I mean, really, what screams BBQ better than deviled eggs?! OMG, how good were they! Chuck and I have a small smoker in our backyard next to our grill, and we at CVC Catering Group have a large one that can handle 75 to 100 pounds of brisket! The good news is you do not need a special smoker or a smoke gun (though these are fun tools) to smoke your food. You can use your own charcoal grill! So, why don’t you get into the swing and prepare these eggs and Chuck’s Smoked Brisket along with your BBQ favorites…you will be in BBQ heaven!

 

Nancy’s Smoked Deviled Eggs

Ingredients

  • 4 large Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Mayonnaise (I prefer Hellman’s)
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
  • A few drops of fresh Lemon Juice (optional)
  • Pinch of Ground Mustard
  • Smoked Paprika

Instructions

  1. Place the eggs in a saucepan with cold water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat, cover and let the eggs sit exactly 13 minutes. Immediately move saucepan to the sink run eggs under cold water until cold, then peel.
  2. Smoke the eggs:
    • Smoker method:
      Set up your smoker for smoking and preheat to 150 degrees. Place the eggs in the smoker and smoke until covered with a light brown film of smoke for 1 hour. Transfer to a plate and let cool
    • Indirect grilling method:
      Set up your grill for indirect grilling by moving the coals to one side of the grill and preheat to medium-low. Toss the wood chips (after being soaked in water for ½ hour) on the coals. Or, wrap the wet wood chips into a foil packet and make 3 slits on top and place on the coals. Place eggs on the side of the grill opposite the coals and smoke until covered with a light brown film. The cooking time will be about 1 hour. Transfer the eggs to a plate and let cool.
  1. Halve the eggs and carefully remove the yolks, preserving the white “cups.” Coarsely chop the yolks and then add in the mayonnaise, ground mustard, and salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Fill a pastry bag with the yolk mixture and carefully squeeze into the egg “cups” until full.
  3. Garnish by sprinkling the smoked paprika over the top

 

Chuck’s Smoked Brisket

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs. Beef Brisket
  • 2 cups of Beef Broth
  • Liquid Smoke (optional~if you like the really good smoke!)
  • Chuck’s Dry Rub:
    • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
    • 1/4 cup of each of the following:
      • Granulated Garlic Powder
      • Granulated Onion Powder
      • Ancho Chili Powder
      • Chipotle Chili Powder
      • Smoked Paprika
      • Ground Mustard Powder
      • Celery Seed
      • Dried Cilantro

Instructions

Prepare the meat as follows:

  1. Brush the brisket with liquid smoke and let sit for 1 hour. Then rub the Chuck’s Dry Rub mixture all over the brisket and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  2. Place meat on a rack in a pan. Add the beef broth to the pan. Smoke as follows:
    • Smoker method:
      Set up your smoker for smoking and preheat to 225 degrees. Place the brisket in the pan onto a rack in your smoker.
    • Indirect grilling method:
      Set up your grill for indirect grilling by moving the coals to one side of the grill and preheat to medium-low. Toss the wood chips (after being soaked in water for ½ hour) on the coals. Or, wrap the wet wood chips into a foil packet and make 3 slits on top and place on the coals. Place the brisket in the pan onto a rack in your grill opposite the coals.
  1. Cook for about 6 to 7 hours, adding more coal as necessary. Make sure you test the meat and cook until the temperature reads 185 degrees.
  2. Let the brisket cool and then refrigerate over night. This makes it easier to slice. Rewarm in a pan with your favorite BBQ sauce.

Happy smoking!

 

In April, we were lucky enough to help Mercy Hospital honor their nurses with a special event at Cellardoor Winery. We put together a big spread of some of our favorite dishes. Here are two that were the most popular…perfect for any springtime event!

 

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 oz Feta Cheese
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 3 Eggs
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 2 tbsp Parsley
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • 12-14 trimmed Asparagus Spears
  • Pre-cooked Savory Shortcrust Pastry Shell

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place feta and cream cheese in a food processor and beat to soften.
  3. Whisk in eggs, cream, lemon zest, herbs, and seasons until smooth.
  4. Arrange asparagus spears in a single layer in a cooked pastry crust.
  5. Pour cream and cheese mixture over asparagus.
  6. Bake until set, about 30 minutes

 

Banana Curry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp Curry Powder
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 2 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Dry Mustard
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 3 tbsp Red Curry Paste
  • 1 1/2 cup Coconut Milk
  • 2 Bananas

Instructions

  1. Heat coconut oil in sauté pan.
  2. Stir in onion and cook until transparent.
  3. Add in garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.
  4. Sprinkle in curry powder, brown sugar, cumin, coriander, turmeric, dry mustard, salt, cinnamon, and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Add curry paste and coconut milk. Simmer for ten minutes.
  6. Slice bananas and add to mixture.
  7. Best served with seared scallops!

“My experience cooking began at a very young age and continues to this day. As a traveler, I have been blessed with cooking lessons from natives in Portugal, Iceland, Morocco, Canada, and, most recently, Cuba. I began my culinary career training with a well-known Portland chef. As Head Chef and Manager, I developed skills in both the front and back of house. I loved the pace and energy that it required. Eventually, I opened a small café with an emphasis on upscale Mediterranean cuisine. I was beginning to experience success when a curveball was thrown my way. Unwilling to risk everything I had worked for, I decided to close the café. After a few weeks of soul-searching, I was hired at Preble Street as an ‘as-needed employee,’ and was quickly promoted to Food Programs Assistant, then to Kitchen Operations Manager. I ran the Preble Street Soup Kitchen for almost 8 years. After years of working in local restaurants, it was quite a switch to run the largest soup kitchen in the state of Maine, yielding over one thousand hot meals per day. My work at Preble Street was meaningful and important and helped me gain confidence and skills that stretch well beyond the kitchen. When I decided that I needed to make a change, I took some time to really weigh what I wanted to do for my next chapter and I was immediately drawn to finer cooking. I then transitioned to Cellardoor Winery, where I have worked for the past two years. There, I had the pleasure of hosting Food and Wine Pairings, cooking for private parties, serving as a Wine Educator, and developing my skills in the fine art of connecting gourmet food to wine.

Personally, I am the proud mother of an organic farmer. At home, farm-to-table dinners, local produce, house-smoked meats, and gorgeous food presentation is very much a part of our lives.

I stumbled upon the job of Executive Chef at CVC Catering at the perfect time and I feel happy to be a part of such a well-established team. Already, I am treated like family and am excited for my future with CVC Catering. I cannot wait to add my talent and creativity to such an esteemed company to make your event a dream come true.”

Ughhh, as I write this we are snowing, sleeting, and icing. It is mid-April…where is spring?!

My twin sister lives in Appleton, Wisconsin and she had 20+ inches of snow in the last week. To keep our sanity, Chuck and I have decided that we are going to ignore the landscape out there and prepare for spring nonetheless!

To put us in a spring-y mood, we decided to make garlicky dill pickles, BBQ sauce, and a twist on baked beans. Winter is over in our minds… so bring on spring and summer! Even Cappuccino tried to help!

 

These pickles are great on sandwiches or for snacking or frying. YUMMMM.

Chuck’s Dilly Garlic Pickles

Ingredients
1 whole cucumber
½ cup white vinegar
1 cup water
6 cloves of garlic
½ tbs. black peppercorns
4 tbs. dill
¼ cup salt
2 tsp. crushed red pepper

Directions

  1. Slice the cucumber. I used a mandolin and sliced them to about an ¼ of an inch.
  2. Slice the garlic thinly.
  3. Place the cucumbers and garlic together in a bowl with the salt. Cover with cling wrap and let sit for 4 hours. This will crisp up the cucumbers to make a snappy pickle.
  4. Rinse well and drain four or five times to completely remove the salt.
  5. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, and seasonings over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil.
  6. Fill a jar with the rinsed cucumber-garlic mix. Pour the boiling brine into the jar. Cool, then cap and place in the fridge. In one week, they will be perfect to eat!

 

This is my twist on our family’s baked bean recipe. My favorite addition is sautéed bratwurst, although I have used ground beef. Add a side of vinegary cole slaw to make a hearty meal!

Nancy’s Baked Beans

Ingredients
½ cup BBQ sauce
½ cup chili sauce
½ cup water
3 tbs. dry mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. Liquid Smoke
2 tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 ¼ lb bratwurst, casings removed
2 onions, chopped
2 (28oz) cans baked beans
2 (15oz) cans pinto beans, drained
2 (15oz) cans cannellini beans, drained
¼ cup molasses
6 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 1in. pieces

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Whisk together the first nine ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Sauté bratwurst in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up into small pieces, until fat begins to render, about 5 minutes. Stir in onions and cook until sausage and onions are browned.
  4. Transfer bratwurst mixture to the bowl with sauce. Stir in all beans and molasses. Transfer bean mixture to 13x9in baking pan and place on rimmed baking sheet. Arrange uncooked bacon pieces in a single layer over top of the beans.
  5. Bake until beans are bubbling and bacon is rendered, about 1.5 hours. Let cool for 15 minutes and serve. Serves about 15.

YUMMMMM!

 

My family has been making our own BBQ sauce for generations. It is really easy to make and much better than any bottled sauce I have found. I have made changes over the years and this is my latest version. Try it on all types of meat!

Nancy’s BBQ Sauce

Ingredients
4 slices bacon
½ cup onion, grated
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup chili sauce
2 tbs. hot sauce
½ to 1 tsp. of Liquid Smoke

Directions

  1. Sauté bacon in a medium pan until it begins to brown.
  2. Add onion, salt, and pepper.
  3. Stir in vinegar while scraping all the bits on the bottom of the pan to incorporate.
  4. Cook for about 5 minutes, whisking often.
  5. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 more minutes.
  6. Remove the bacon and taste the sauce, adding more salt and pepper as necessary.

Need to feel like spring has sprung?! Test these out at home and let us know how they turn out!