Natural Cherry Pie Filling–For Hamantaschen!

Natural Cherry Pie Filling--For Hamantaschen!

I love hamantaschen season, but every year when it’s time to make them, I feel terrible opening up the can of artificial cherry pie filling. I keep trying and failing to avoid it. Last year’s use of cherry jam was a sticky, overly-sweet disaster. But last week, in what can only be characterized as fateful timing, I noticed that Trader Joe’s had stocked bags of beautiful frozen cherries. I felt inspired to re-attempt making my own cherry pie filling, and this time, success is ours.

Natural Cherry Pie Filling--For Hamantaschen!

To make it, get 1 pound of pitted, sweet, red cherries. I used frozen cherries, but fresh would be fine too. Add them to a pot.

Natural Cherry Pie Filling--For Hamantaschen!

Cover the pot, and warm the cherries over medium heat until they have lost a lot of their juices and are able to simmer.

Natural Cherry Pie Filling--For Hamantaschen!

In a separate container, whisk together 1 cup of cold water and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Pour the mixture into the cherries and stir.

Natural Cherry Pie Filling--For Hamantaschen!

Cook the cherries, uncovered, at a rapid boil for about 5 minutes until the liquid has thickened into a medium-bodied syrup. If you use a metal spoon to scoop out some of the syrup and put it into the freezer to chill for a few minutes, the syrup should solidify into a gel. Once the cherries have thickened up, remove them from the heat, and stir in 1/3 cup of sugar (or sugar to taste) and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. You could also add in some vanilla extract if you like. Allow the cherries to cool in the refrigerator. As the cherries chill, they will continue to thicken. Once cold, use them in your pie or hamataschen. Because the cherries do not cook for too long, they stay whole and provide a nice texture. Enjoy your less artificial but still delicious hamantaschen!

Shopping list:

  • Sweet cherries- 1 pound
  • Cornstarch- 2 tablespoons
  • Sugar- 1/3 cup
  • Lemon juice- 1 tablespoon
Print Friendly

Marble Tea Eggs and Global Supper Club: Chinese New Year

Marble Tea Eggs and Global Supper Club: Chinese New Year

One of my long-standing favorite places to relax in DC is a Chinese tea house in Georgetown that is bright, peaceful, and full of delicious offerings. Their marble tea egg is as beautiful as it is tasty, and it was the perfect thing to serve at this month’s Global Supper Club celebrating the Chinese New Year. Marble tea eggs are made by cracking the shells of hard boiled eggs and letting them soak in a flavorful black tea bath that seeps through the shells and stains the egg whites in a veined, marbled pattern. Once peeled, the eggs are beautiful to look at and absolutely delicious to eat. A delicate and special treat.

Marble Tea Eggs and Global Supper Club: Chinese New Year

To make them, hard boil 6 eggs. Bring a pot of water to a boil, lower the eggs in gently, reduce the heat, and allow the eggs to simmer lightly for 8 minutes. Once that time is up, remove the eggs from the pot, run one under cool water, and open it up to make sure the yolk is solid. If so, run the remaining eggs under cool water until you are able to handle them, and then tap them with the back of a spoon to crack them. Whack them firmly, but keep the shells intact.

Marble Tea Eggs and Global Supper Club: Chinese New Year

In the pot that the eggs boiled in, keep 1 cup of the hot water and pour the rest off. Add to the water 3/4 cup of low-sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of loose leaf black tea (or 2 tea bags), 2 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick, and 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns.

Marble Tea Eggs and Global Supper Club: Chinese New Year

Add the eggs into the pot, making sure they are fully submerged. Put the pot in the refrigerator for at least one day, but two is best. Most recipes I saw suggest simmering the eggs in the tea mixture, which explains why marble tea eggs (at least the ones I have had) are always overcooked. A longer soak at a lower temperature achieves the same marbleization but keeps the yolks supple. When you’re ready to serve the eggs, remove them from the refrigerator for about an hour to let the chill come off of them.

Marble Tea Eggs and Global Supper Club: Chinese New Year

Then, peel the eggs, taking care to admire the marble pattern on the egg white and on the inside of the egg shells. Give them a quick rinse to get rid of any rogue pieces of egg shells.

Marble Tea Eggs and Global Supper Club: Chinese New Year

Slice the eggs into quarters and arrange them nicely in a dish. Drizzle a teaspoon of the tea mixture over each piece of egg, and serve them at room temperature.

Marble Tea Eggs and Global Supper Club: Chinese New Year

After whetting our appetites with marble tea eggs, we feasted on vegetable dumplings, warmly spiced short ribs, ginger steamed whole fish, spicy chicken with greens, and seasonal citrus. Until next month!

This recipe is adapted from Steamy Kitchen.

Shopping list:

  • Eggs- 6 (yields 5)
  • Soy sauce- 3/4 cup
  • Black tea- 2 tablespoons
  • Star anise- 2
  • Cinnamon- 1 stick
  • Peppercorns- 1 teaspoon
Print Friendly

Kumquat Jalapeño Marmalade

Kumquat Jalapeño Marmalade

This marmalade is an amped up version of orange pepper jelly. It’s tangy, sweet, and spicy all in one, and it is fantastic with cheese. I want to spread it all over a wheel of brie, wrap it in puff pastry, and bake it until it’s crispy, melty, and full of complimentary flavors. You could even use this marmalade as a kind of chutney, perhaps as part of your Chinese New Year celebration. What’s most amazing is how easy it is to make without using any fancy or annoying ingredients. Grab up some kumquats while they’re fresh and in season, and have at it.

Kumquat Jalapeño Marmalade

I have never been a kumquat lover. Most of my family can’t get enough of their tangy sharpness and have fun eating them whole. For me, I’m still trying to acquire a taste for orange peels. Obviously, chocolate covered orange peels are an excellent starting point. As is this marmalade, where the orange intensity is significantly mellowed but not completely absent.

Kumquat Jalapeño Marmalade

To make the marmalade, get 1 quart (approximately 1 pound) of kumquats, and slice them thinly cross-wise. As you slice them, your knife will get slowed down by small seeds that hide in the center of some of the kumquats. I opted to flick these seeds out and discard them. But because my family eats kumquats whole, seeds and all, you could choose to leave them in your marmalade if you’d like.

Kumquat Jalapeño Marmalade

Transfer the kumquat slices to a bowl, and fill it with 2 cups of water. Some kumquat seeds might float to the top, and you can skim them off and discard them if you like. Put the bowl of kumquats in the refrigerator overnight to allow the skins to soften.

Kumquat Jalapeño Marmalade

The next morning, you’ll notice that the kumquat mixture will have thickened and jellified somewhat. That’s from the natural pectin being released from the kumquats- it’s like magic! Transfer the kumquats to a pot. If you want your marmalade to be spicy, slice up some jalapeño and add it to the pot as well. I used one whole jalapeño, seeds and all, and found it to be a bit spicier than I would have liked. I’d recommend either de-seeding a jalapeño or using only half. Stir 1.5 cups of sugar into the pot.

Kumquat Jalapeño Marmalade

Bring the kumquat mixture to a boil. Once it starts foaming up, give it a good stir. Reduce the heat slightly, but keep the mixture at a boil. Stir it occasionally to prevent any bits from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.

Kumquat Jalapeño Marmalade

When most of the water has cooked out of the marmalade, the marmalade will have reduced down significantly. As soon as the marmalade starts to turn golden, remove it from the heat to prevent the sugar from burning. The marmalade should also have a jelly-like consistency. Time estimates are inexact and depend on the amount of water in your marmalade, the intensity of your boil, and the width of your pot. With 2 cups of water (plus whatever juices were in my kumquats), an intense boil, and a pot measuring about 7.5 inches in diameter, my marmalade took about 30 minutes to reach this stage.

Kumquat Jalapeño Marmalade

Transfer the marmalade into jars to cool. You could sterilize your jars for proper canning, or just store the marmalade in the refrigerator. Enjoy your delicious beauty!

This recipe is adapted from White on Rice Couple.

Shopping list:

  • Kumquats- 1 quart (approx. 1 pound)
  • Jalapeño
  • Sugar- 1.5 cups
Print Friendly