Crabapple jelly

There are a few crabapple trees that grow behind my parent’s house. Harvesting the fruits for this recipe barely made a dent in the small red crabapples hanging in the branches. They make for a nice sweet and sour jelly, that goes great with cheese.

Ingredients :
7 lbs crabapples
7 cups water
7 table spoon lemon juice
1 vanilla bean
6 cups sugar (approx, see notes below.


1. Working in batches, rinse the fruits. Discard any peduncles, leaves, dirt or other particulates. Look over the fruits and discard any bruised or overripe ones.

2. Quarter the crabapples, seeds and skins on, and throw into a large pot. Check the flesh as you cut them and discard any that have insect damage.

3. Repeat until all the fruits are in the pot. Add the water, the vanilla, and the lemon juice.

4. Simmer without boiling for 30-40 minutes, until all the crabapples are falling appart.

5. Line a sieve with several layers of cheese cloth. Put it over a large bowl. cheese-cloth

6. Laddle the warm apples into the sieve and allow the juice to drain, without pressing the fruits. Add more fruit as the juice drains down.

7. Leave to drain for 2 hours. You should have a mostly dry mass. Discard this mass, keeping the juice.

8. Measure out how much juice your crabapples yielded (mine gave me 7 cups total).

9. In the original, clean, pot, affix a candy thermometer.

10. Pour the juice into the pot.

11. Add the sugar. Count 3/4 cup of sugar per cup of juice (so for my 7 cups, I used 5 1/4 cup)

12. Stir to dissolve.

13. Bring to a boil quickly, stirring until the liquid reaches 219F. Skim as you go, it will form a very pink foamy scum as it cooks. Pour into prepared half pints jars. It will be very hot and liquid at this point.

14. Process for 10 minutes. Allow to cool fully. The jelly will set as it cools.

Blueberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberries were not quite out when I started tinkering with this. This is the edited version, as the test version came out a bit too sweet and too heavy on the cardamom.

1 pie dough recipe
8 stalks of rhubarb
4 cups blueberries
1 cup sugar
2 green cardamom pods
1/2 tea spoon vanilla seeds
2 table spoon cornstarch
2 table spoon instant tapioca
pinch of salt
zest of a lime and half the juice
egg and coarse sugar, for the top


1. Roll the bottom disk of the dough and line a pie plate. Put in the fridge so it stays cold.

2. Slice the rhubarb stalk lengthwise into halves or thirds depending on the stalk then dice finely and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

3. Add the blueberries to the bowl.

4. Add the sugar.

5. Grind the cardamom pods. Discard the husks.

6. Add the cardamom and the vanilla to the blueberries and rhubarb.

7. Add the cornstarch, the tapioca, and the salt.

8. Stir gently to coat evenly. then put in the fridge for later.

9. Roll out the top of the pie in a squarish shape. Cut into 8 strips.

10. Retrieve the pie and filling from the fridge. Pour the filling into the pie shell.

11. Put 4 strips of dough horizontally across the pie.

12. Fold the top and middle strip of dough from the right toward the middle and add a vertical strip. Unfold the dough. Fold the other two bands and add the second band. Unfold and repeat on the left side (starting with the middle and bottom strips). Put the whole thing back in the fridge for 20 minutes for the dough to firm up.

13.Pre-heat the oven to 375F

Beat an egg in a small bowl and brush the strips with the eggwash. Sprinkle coarse sugar.

Put the pie on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. The juices will bubble up and spill and you don’t want them on the bottom of the oven.

14. Bake for 55-60 minutes. The spilled juices are awesome over ice cream.

15. Allow to cool fully.

16. Slice and serve.


“Snapdragon” preserve

Delicious and boozy. Notes and quantities here, recipe of at the spicetrekkers’ website here.

1 cup dark rum
1¾ cup dried apricots (370g)
2 cups dried figs (460g)
2 cups raisins (300g)
1¼ cups cane turbinado sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
zest and juice of 1 orange
½ cup whole almonds
5 cm cinnamon
1 vanilla bean


  • Cut apricots in half
  • get large dried figs and cut in 6ths

Bourbon Cherries

These are succulent and decadent. Good over ice cream. Good in sauces. In cocktails. On their own with a spoon and a straw to get every last bit of the boozy syrup.

3 lbs cherries
2 1/4 cup bourbon
3/4 cup Grand Marinier
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 bourbon vanilla bean
pinch of salt



1. Cut the cherries in half and remove the pits.

2. In medium-large sauce pan combine the water, sugar and vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer to dissolve the sugar and allow the bean to infuse for 5 minutes.

3. Add the bourbon, grand marinier and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine then bring back to a boil.

4. Scald 7 half-pint jars. Stuff full of cherries.

5. Pour the hot syrup over the cherries, leaving as best you can 1/4″ headspace. Process for 10 minutes.
These vented quite a bit, so the next time I’ll let them cool slightly in the water before removing them.

Spice Poached Pears

A delicious, light desert. Also easy to make and can be made in advance. The pears will keep for well over a week if kept in the syrup.

8 Bartlett pears
1/2 cup honey
1 Yunnan pepper
13 black peppercorns
1 vanilla pod, sliced in half
Zests of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lemon
2 star anise.
4 cup of water + enough to fill a large bowl


1. In a large soup pot, combine 4 cups of water with the honey, spices, orange peel and the juice of half a lemon. Warm gently and stir until the honey is dissolved.

2. Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the juice of half a lemon.

3. Peel the pears, slice in half and remove the core.

4. Put the pears in the water with the lemon juice. This prevents them from changing color.

5. Once all the pears are ready transfer them to the spiced liquid. Try to keep them in an even layer.

6. Using the lid of a smaller pot, push them into the liquid. Bring to a simmer and cook until the pears are tender when poked with the toothpick but still holding their shape.

7. Allow to cool in the syrup, then cover the pot and cool completely in the refrigerator.

8. When ready to serve, heat about 1 cup of the syrup and reduce to about 1/3 cup.

9. Transfer the syrup to a double boiler and melt some chocolate into the syrup.

10. Spoon the warm chocolate sauce over the cold pears.

Vanilla and Ginger Pear Butter

This week-end was all about cooking preserves, so many recipes of things in jars to come! Here is a teaser picture.

First recipe : Vanilla and Ginger Pear Butter.

Not quite jam, not quite compote, but incredibly delicious and easy to do.

The vanilla and ginger make a great aroma as it cooks, and taste even better than is smells. You can add more ginger if you want, just taste as you go.

14 lbs of pears
1 /1/3 cup of sugar
2 vanilla beans (I used Mexican vanilla)
2 tea spoons freshly grated ginger
1/4 tea spoon kosher salt
Juice of 2 lemons


1. Peel and cut the pear into rough dice. Cut the vanilla bean in two. Put the pears in a large soup pot with the juice of the lemons, salt, sugar, vanilla and ginger.

2. Cook at medium heat until the pears start to render juice and to soften. Turn the heat down a bit and simmer until the pears are tender enough to be crushed by a wooden spoon.

3. Remove the vanilla beans. Mash the pears with a potato masher or blend with a stick blender until no chunks are left. Simmer until you reach a nice thick texture.

4. Pour into sterile jars, seal and process for 10 minutes.

Crème Brûlée

Classic vanilla Crème Brûlée. Figuring out how to do this at home has completly spoiled me… Most of the restaurant made ones don’t seem to measure up. Consider yourself warned!

If you can’t get your hands on the torch, you can set your oven to broil and put the rack as high as it goes. Then carefully use the element to broil the sugar crust. It heats up the custard a bit too much, but still yields tasty results.

Special hardware :
Ramekins (6-8)

1/2 cup of sugar
6 eggs yolk
1 liter cream
2 liters boiling water
1 vanilla pod or 3/4 teaspoon vanilla caviar
Maple sugar, to taste


1. Pre-heat the oven to 325F

2. In a thick bottom pot, combine the cream and the vanilla.

* If using a vanilla pod include the husk, not just the seeds as it adds a ton of flavor.

3. Over medium heat bring the cream and vanilla to a boil (not a simmer!). This is called scalding the cream and is important for the final texture.

Once boiling remove from heat and allow to stand for 15 minutes.

* Remove the vanilla pod husk at this time.

4.  While the cream is cooling, combine the eggs yolks and sugar in a large bowl.

* For an even stronger taste of vanilla you can use vanilla sugar instead of plain sugar.

5. The yolks and sugar will turn into a lumpy paste. Keep whisking until it becomes smooth and light.

6. While whisking continually add the cream to the eggs mixture. If you stop whisking you will end up with vanilla scrambled eggs, so don’t be shy to ask for help for this step!

7. Transfer into the ramekins. If you are not sure of how well you did with the previous step or if you want absolute perfection you can strain the custard into the ramekins to remove any lumps.

Place the ramekins into a cake mold and add boiling water up to the middle of the ramekins.

8 .Put in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the sides are set but the middle are still slightly woobly.

9. Cool the custard in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours. They will keep for 3 days, so you can do these steps ahead of time.

Take the ramekins out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving and allow to come back to room temperature.

Then add maple sugar in an even layer on top of the custard.

10. Heat the sugar with the torch until it melts and becomes a cracking caramel layer.

* Different sugar will give different results. Try with brown sugar, white sugar or vanilla sugar!