notes on canning

Today I went to the Early Spring Canning (boiling water bath canning) class at Marcel’s in Glen Ellyn.
Here are a few of my takeaways:

• Jars should always be pre-heated to 200 degrees in an oven for 15 minutes before starting boiling water canning.
• Gaskets should be boiled separately from the lids.
• After canning, rings or clips should be taken off the jars so the glass doesn’t explode if the food was not processed correctly.
• The course instructor said that I can use my large stock pot as a boiling water canner as long as I place a silicone trivet on the bottom to keep the pans from touching the steel.
• The jars we used in class were Weck jars (German company). There are special precautions for the gaskets. You can read about these here: http://weckjars.com/canning_safely.php
• The course instructor really liked the look of these, but said she uses Ball jars for home canning herself.
• Low acid foods always need to be canned in a pressure cooker. The one that was used for the rhubarb-beer jam was a Fagor pressure cooker.
• High acid foods in jars with lids will last for pretty much forever as long as they are in the refrigerator.
• High acid foods in jars don’t need special lids with gaskets or special canning practices as long as they are kept in the refrigerator.
• Three days after canning, you can check the pH of your pickle with pH strips.
• Any cloudiness in jars is probably due to the dried spices that were added.
Introduction
• I did some research on canning a week before this class. Here is the best source of free information that I’ve found. I actually printed it off and put it in a binder. http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html
• The instructor told all students to do additional research on the acidity levels in different foods. Below is a chart that I found.
Acid levels of food

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artichoke and spinach al forno

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This is the modified recipe for the first dish I created at the Italian American Dinner pop-up class I took at the Cooking Skills Academy in Itasca on 4/10/2015 for $35 /per person (pop-up deal through e-mail). I made a lot of changes when I made this at home. The price of Gruyere is outrageous around here (about $15.00 for a tiny slice; I would rather spend my money on cooking classes instead of expensive cheeses), and I already had a lot of cheese in the fridge to use. I also substituted beer instead of wine, because I am more of a beer person than a wine person. My modified recipe is intended for two very hungry adults.

The original recipe calls for 1⁄4 cup Gruyere cheese, 1⁄4 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded, 1/8 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded, 1 tsp flour, 1 tbls white cooking wine, 2 cloves garlic, minced, 1⁄2 cup chopped baby spinach, 1⁄4 cup artichoke hearts, drained and chopped.

Supplies:
Large mixing bowl
Chef’s knife
Bread knife
Cutting board
Wooden or nylon spoon
Toaster oven
Two 5×5 inch ceramic bakers (You can also use ceramic ramekins)

Ingredients:
1 small Italian bread loaf, sliced into 1-inch pieces
8.5 ounce can artichoke hearts
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup Mexican cheese mix
1/2 cup parmesan/romano cheese mix
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
2 cups spinach
2 tablespoons beer (I used a plain German pilsner – what I was drinking at the time)
Salt to taste

Directions:
1. Chop spinach, mince cloves of garlic, chop artichoke hearts, and place all into the mixing bowl.
2. Add in all of the cheeses except for the mozzarella, a few pinches of salt, and about two tablespoons of beer to the mixing bowl.
3. Mix everything together very well, then spoon out into the ceramic bakers.
4. Top the mixture with mozzarella cheese, then place the bakers into the toaster oven for about 30 minutes at 375 degrees F.
5. When the cheese is finished baking, slice the bread and toast the slices for a few minutes.
6. Serve the artichoke and spinach al forno on top of toasted bread immediately.

cheese tortellini with italian sausage and portobello sauce

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I made this last night! It smelled delicious.

Supplies:
Large stainless steel chef’s pan or skillet
Chef’s knife
Cutting board
Wooden or nylon spoon

Ingredients:
12 ounce bag of cheese tortellini
28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
2 large portobello mushrooms
1 Italian sausage (uncased)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Chop garlic into very small pieces, then dice portobello mushrooms into 1/2 inch cubes.
2. In the chef’s pan, brown Italian sausage on medium heat with olive oil and a pinch of salt.
3. Add minced garlic into the chef’s pan with crushed tomatoes, and add 1 teaspoon of salt.
4. Add fennel seeds and Italian seasoning to the sauce and cook for 5 minutes.
5. Add cheese tortellini to the sauce and cook for 5 minutes.
6. Add portobello mushrooms to the sauce and cook for 5 minutes.
7. Serve and enjoy.

greg’s sauerkraut

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This is the modified recipe for the sauerkraut that Greg created during his Edible Alchemy class in Chicago on Saturday, 4/11/2015.

Supplies:
2 one-quart clean mason jars with lids
Chef’s knife
Mandoline (optional for slicing veggies into very thin pieces)
Meat tenderizer for pounding vegetables
Cutting board
Large mixing bowl

Base Ingredients (2.5 pounds of a combination of the following):
Green cabbage
Red cabbage
Red onion
Carrot
Turnip

Flavor Ingredients:
Caraway seed
Dill seed
Mustard seed
Fennel seed

Preserving Ingredients:
1.5 tablespoons of non-iodized sea salt or non-iodized preserving salt
About 1 quart of dechlorinated water

Directions:
1. Chop all vegetables into small pieces with a chef’s knife or a mandoline.
2. Squeeze and pound vegetables with your hands or a meat tenderizer to bruise them. This releases water to create a salty, watery brine solution, which will provide the Lactobacillus bacteria with nutrients to grow.
3. Mix vegetables and seeds with 1.5 tablespoons of sea salt or preserving salt. Do not use table salt because it contains iodine, which can kill off the microbes that are a part of the fermenting process.
4. Pack salted vegetables and seeds into clean mason jars, and close with lids.
5. In a mixing bowl, add 1 quart of tap water. Leave to stand overnight so that the chlorine evaporates out.
6. The next day, open up the mason jars and add the dechlorinated water to them so that the vegetable/seed mixture is submerged in salty water.
7. Leave mason jars alone to ferment for 2 days to 6 months.
8. Enjoy when ready.

baked ziti with italian sausage and san marzano tomatoes

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This is the modified recipe for the third dish I created at the Italian American Dinner pop-up class I took at the Cooking Skills Academy in Itasca on 4/10/2015 for $35 /per person (pop-up deal through e-mail).

Supplies:
Large stainless steel chef’s pan or skillet
Medium sized casserole dish
Chef’s knife
Cutting board
Pasta colander
Wooden or nylon spoon

Ingredients:
3 cups of ziti pasta
3 cups of San Marzano tomatoes
1 cup of Italian sausage
2 cloves of garlic
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Boil water in the chef’s pan, and add a pinch of salt.
2. Chop garlic into very fine pieces.
3. When water begins to boil in the chef’s pan, cook ziti pasta in the chef’s pan until firm.
4. Drain pasta in colander and rinse with cool water to prevent pasta from sticking.
5. Rinse out chef’s pan with hot water.
6. Add chopped garlic and Italian sausage to the chef’s pan, and brown the sausage on MEDIUM heat.
7. Stir in tomatoes, ricotta cheese, and pasta to the chef’s pan, and top with salt and pepper to taste.
8. Transfer contents of the chef’s pan to the casserole dish.
9. Top pasta with mozzarella cheese.
10. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes until the top of the ziti casserole is golden brown.

rigatoni with vodka sauce

This is the modified recipe for the second dish I created at the Italian American Dinner pop-up class I took at the Cooking Skills Academy in Itasca on 4/10/2015 for $35 /per person (pop-up deal through e-mail).

Supplies:
Large stainless steel chef’s pan or skillet
Chef’s knife
Cutting board
Pasta colander
Wooden or nylon spoon

Ingredients:
3 cups of rigatoni pasta
3 cups of San Marzano tomatoes
1 slice of pancetta
2 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup of vodka
3 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Boil water in the chef’s pan, and add a pinch of salt.
2. Chop garlic into very fine pieces.
3. Slice pancetta into 1/4 inch cubes.
4. When water begins to boil in the chef’s pan, cook rigatoni pasta in the chef’s pan until firm.
5. Drain pasta in colander and rinse with cool water to prevent pasta from sticking.
6. Rinse out chef’s pan with hot water.
7. In the chef’s pan, render pancetta until crispy.
8. Add chopped garlic and olive oil to the chef’s pan and stir.
9. To deglaze pan, SLOWLY add the vodka. (Try to stand as far away from the pan as possible)
10. Add tomatoes and pasta, and cook for about 3 more minutes.
11. Stir in mascarpone cheese and top with salt and pepper to taste.

seared duck breasts with thyme and tarragon

This is the modified recipe for the third dish I created at the Cooking in Paris pop-up class I took at the Cooking Skills Academy in Itasca on 4/6/2015 for $35 /per person (pop-up deal through e-mail).

Supplies:
Large cutting board
Chef’s knife
Cast iron skillet

Ingredients:
2 duck breasts
1 slice of pancetta
1/4 cup olive oil
Fresh thyme
Fresh tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Score the fat on the duck breasts (slice fat to make diamond shapes).
2. Chop pancetta into small cubes.
3. Fry duck breasts in olive oil with pancetta, and render out the fat.
4. Add fresh tarragon and thyme when duck is mostly cooked.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve.

pommes purée with compound butter

This is the modified recipe for the second dish I created at the Cooking in Paris pop-up class I took at the Cooking Skills Academy in Itasca on 4/6/2015 for $35 /per person (pop-up deal through e-mail).

Supplies:
Medium sized sauce pan
Large mixing bowl
Potato masher
Plastic wrap
Chef’s knife
Wooden or nylon spoon

Ingredients:
2 large russet potatoes
1 stick of butter
1 tablespoon of whole grain mustard (with visible mustard seeds)
2 teaspoons of fresh tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Leave butter out at room temperature for several hours.
2. Boil water in sauce pan, and boil potatoes until fork tender.
3. Once butter is at room temperature, add to mixing bowl with mustard and chopped tarragon.
4. Mix butter, then form into a log shape.
5. Roll up butter inside of plastic wrap to form a small tube.
6. Place tube of butter in the freezer.
7. Mash potatoes in mixing bowl.
8. Top with butter to your taste.

frisee, kale, and warm bacon salad

This is the modified recipe for the first dish I created at the Cooking in Paris pop-up class I took at the Cooking Skills Academy in Itasca on 4/6/2015 for $35 /per person (pop-up deal through e-mail).

Supplies:
Cutting board
Chef’s knife
Stainless steel whisk
Large mixing bowl
2 serving bowls
Cast iron skillet
Medium sized sauce pan
Salad tongs, or salad fork and spoon

Ingredients:
1 cup baby kale
1 cup frisee lettuce
2 large eggs
1/4 cup champagne vinegar (for vinaigrette dressing)
1/4 cup champagne vinegar (for poaching eggs)
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1/4 cup of honey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cooked and crumbled bacon (about 2 slices)

Directions:
1. Fill the sauce pan 3/4 full with water and add in 1/4 cup champagne vinegar and turn burners on HIGH.
2. Finely chop garlic and add to mixing bowl.
3. Slowly add in and whisk the following, one at a time: mustard, honey, champagne vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil.
4. In the cast iron skillet, fry the bacon and let cool.
5. When the sauce pan begins to boil, poach the eggs. If you are new to poaching, like I was, make sure you don’t just crack and throw the eggs in the pan. Be gentle when you add them to the water.
6. In the mixing bowl, mix the frisee lettuce and kale with the vinaigrette.
7. Place 1 poached egg at the bottom of each serving bowl.
8. Place salad mix on top of poached egg in each serving bowl.
9. Top salad with crumbled bacon.