As family and friends gather to enjoy the holidays, entertaining takes center stage. Susan L. Ebert, author of The Field to Table Cookbook, shares seven of her regionally inspired recipes, perfect for your next dinner party
American Beauty Berry Jelly
Makes 6 (½-pint) jars
- 4 cups beautyberries, washed and stemmed
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 4 teaspoons Pomona calcium water, mixed according to package directions
- 2 cups organic cane sugar (buzzed in a food processor until fine)
- 4 teaspoons Pomona pectin (do not substitute)
In a 5-quart stockpot over medium heat, simmer the berries in 4 cups water for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and use a potato masher or immersion blender to crush the berries, then return to medium-low heat and simmer for another 20 minutes.
Line a strainer with a layer of cheesecloth, place over a medium pot, and strain the berries through, pressing gently with a wooden spoon to release the juice.
Prepare a water-bath canner and bring it to a simmer (180° F) over medium heat. Heat 6 (½-pint) jelly jars in the canner, either upside down or on their sides. In a saucepan, add enough water to cover the lids and bands, bring to a simmer (180° F) over medium heat; do not boil. Keep lids hot until you’re ready to apply them. Into a large pot over medium-high heat, pour 4 cups of the strained juice mixture. Add the lemon juice and the calcium water and bring to a boil.
While this is coming to a boil, mix the pectin thoroughly with the sugar. As the juice begins boiling, slowly sprinkle in the pectin-sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Return the mixture to a boil and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, then remove the jelly from the heat.
When the water in the canner begins to simmer, use tongs to remove the jars. Ladle the hot jelly into the hot jars, leaving a ¼-inch headspace. Using a bubble remover or plastic utensil, remove any air bubbles, then wipe the jar rims clean and apply the lids and bands. Return the jars to the canner, with enough water to cover the tops of the jars by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Uncover the canner and turn off the heat. After 5 minutes, remove the jars and let them cool. Allow the jelly to sit untouched for 24 hours, check the seals, remove the bands, and store in a cool dry place for up to a year. Once opened, store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Crusty French Baguettes
Yields 2 loaves
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- ¼ teaspoon organic cane sugar
- 3 cups organic unbleached bread flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 egg white
- Coarse salt, for sprinkling the loaves (optional)
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in ¼ cup lukewarm water and set aside until the mixture foams. Measure the flour and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a dough blade. With the motor running, add the oil and the yeast mixture. Continue to add lukewarm water a little at a time, until the dough pulls cleanly away from the sides but is still soft. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 hour. Punch down the dough and divide into two equal portions. Roll each portion out to an 8 x 14-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface, then roll the dough up jelly-roll style, tucking the ends underneath. Place in a French bread loaf pan and cut about 12 diagonal slashes with scissors, each about ½-inch deep, down the top of each loaf. (Note: The dough does not deflate as much if snipped with sharp scissors instead of slashing with the knife.) Cover with a lightly oiled sheet of plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 425° F. Just before baking, beat the egg white with 1 teaspoon water, and brush the tops of the loaves with it. If desired, sprinkle with salt or sesame seeds. Bake for 18 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped. Let cool on a wire rack.