My friend, Jenny (the one who loves to can the food she grows in her Napa garden) brought me a jar of her plum preserves, along with a jar of her calamondin jam. Plums you know about. Calamondins are tiny orange-looking fruits. They are citrusy tasting, but not necessarily sweet like an orange. To make calamondin marmalade, Jenny has to seed each little globe, cut them into quarters, and fill a huge soup pot. She saves the seeds and ties them in cheesecloth. These, too, go into the pot with sugar and other secret ingredients! The seeds create the pectin that gives the marmalade its viscous texture.
In case you’re curious, here’s a collection of homegrown calamondins!
I switched up between a spoonful of plum jam, and a spoonful of calamondin marmalade on my toast each morning…and then it happened! While sipping coffee and gaining consciousness, I accidentally put both the jam and the marmalade on one single piece of toast. Strike up the brass band and fireworks! The taste was delicious” a merging of tart and sweet with a twangy aftertaste. It was phenomenal.
I came across an old cookie bar recipe that called for strawberry jam and said to myself,
“‘Self, what the heck… let’s get this fusion of flavors going!”
And here it is a recipe for an oatmeal bar, filled with both calamondin marmalade and plum jam. It’s pretty delish!! Now, if Jenny is not your friend, you might just have to go to the store to look for the proper filling. There are plenty of marmalades and jams on the shelves of your local grocer. If you venture to your local farmer’s market, you’ll find even more varieties. The lesson here is to experiment with new flavors in your traditional recipes to create a new, fresh taste. You can’t go wrong!!
Oatmeal Bars With Jam Filling
Yield about 16 (2-inch) bars
45 Minute Cuisine
Simple to make and crumbly to eat, these bars are the perfect after-school snack or grab and go breakfast for that picky little eater.
1 cup butter, cut into pieces, 2 sticks
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups your favorite jam
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray and line with parchment paper.
Place the butter, flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until coarse crumbs form and the dough begins to clump together, about 3 to 4 minutes of pulsing.
Spread half of the dough into the bottom of the pan, pressing down to form a layer. Spread the jam over the top. Place the rest of the dough onto the top of the jam. Press down lightly.
Bake until the bars are golden brown on the top, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool to room temperature, and cut into squares.
I have a new puppy, Brownie (obviously a food name…) who likes to wake up early! I find myself walking her at zero dark thirty in freezing temperatures wrapped in a long coat, gloves and scarf sweetly recommending that she “hurry up, good girl”. Flashback to that early Dunkin’ Donut commercial of that sweet, balding, old man waking up in the dark because it is “time to make the doughnuts!”
Doughnuts are a process. Make the dough, let it rise, cut out the circles, not forgetting the holes and frying them up in batches. Well worth the effort, yes, but what if we could short cut the procedure and have similar results?
Say, “Hello” to DOUGHNUT Muffins! I ran across a recipe in a recent issue of Fine Cooking magazine. I am a fan of their recipes because they explain the why behind the steps. It is almost a scientific approach to baking, which really helps the novice cooks. Of course I tweaked the recipe, just a bit, and will continue to do so, but for now these results are worth posting.
With the holidays upon us it is great to have an easy, go-to baked treat to start the morning off, or in my case to serve at my granddaughter’s Christmas tea party.
Let me know what you think and how you would tweak your doughnut muffins. Remember, Dunkin’ has seventy varieties and still counting!
Sugared Doughnut Muffins
Close your eyes and take a bite of this sugary, warm, light-as air treat and convince me you are not eating a doughnut! Then again, try a second one and convince yourself!
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature, 1 ½ sticks
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups milk
¼ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon cinnamon
¾ cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoon butter, melted, 3/4 stick
Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable oil spray and dust each cup with flour. Use an electric mixer to cream together ¾ cup softened butter with 1 cup sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and stir in the vanilla. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and baking soda into a bowl. Do this by putting all of the ingredients into a fine sieve colander and shaking it over the bowl. It works!
Stir together the milk and buttermilk in a third bowl.
Use a wooden spoon to stir ¼ of the flour into the butter. Stir in 1/3 of the milk. Stir until the ingredients are just combined, taking care not to overwork the batter. Continue this process until all of the ingredients are combined. The dough will be thick and sticky.
Use an ice-cream scoop to fill each cup in the tin. Bake the muffins until firm to the touch, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the muffin tin from the oven and allow the muffins to cool slightly. Carefully lift each muffin from the tin to a rack to cool for at least 5 minutes.
Stir together the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Brush each muffin all over with melted butter. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the tops, sides and even the bottoms of the muffins. Serve warm!
Brush warm muffins with maple syrup and dust with granulated sugar.
Add chopped blueberries or other fresh fruit to the batter before baking.
Add peppermint extract in place of vanilla. Brush the tops of the muffins with butter and sprinkle with crushed candy canes or peppermint candies.
Get everyone into the act when making these doughnut muffins. Little ones can brush the warm butter and sprinkle the toppings. Older kids can stir the ingredients together and wash up the bowls!