Jelly Doughnuts (from For the Love of the South)

Amber Wilson's Blackberry Jelly Doughnuts recipe | photo by Zoë François

Amber Wilson’s new cookbook is a delight. It is one of the most strikingly beautiful books I’ve seen recently. The photography and recipes are romantic, sultry, so Southern and yet, they are entirely approachable. When I first flipped through the pages, I wanted to make everything, but these jelly doughnuts grabbed me most. I adore a great doughnut and she delivers. Her dough is scented with lemon zest, then filled with blackberry preserves, but there are a number of other homemade fillings to choose from. You really need to pick up this book.

You can watch me make Amber’s jelly doughnuts on my instagram page (check the highlights) and she’s generously allowed me to share the recipe with you here.  (more…)

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Rhubarb-Orange Jam with Ball Canning Jars

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It may come as a surprise to you that I have never made jam before. I’ll give you a moment to absorb that fact…. It is sad, but true. I have been in the presence of many friends and colleagues who have made jam, but I hid behind my camera. I’ve had the Blue Ribbon Queen of Preserves, Barb Schaller, take me by the hand and show me the ropes, but I was slow to follow, and that is how, all these years later, I’d never gotten around to making my own. So, when the Ball jar company wrote to me and asked if I’d participate in their CAN-IT-FORWARD event, I said YES. I knew if I didn’t do it now, it may never happen. They were willing to send me everything I’d need, and more, to make jam. No more excuses.

Well, I am happy to tell you that it was WAY easier than I could have ever imagined. I feel even more ridiculous for putting this off for so long. I simply followed the instructions in the Ball Blue Book for rhubarb-orange jam. Next time I will go my own way, but for my virgin run I wanted to do it exactly as they suggested and I wasn’t disappointed. Ok, maybe I added a bit more zest than they said, because I adore it, but that was my only modification. I’m hooked.

If you’ve never canned before, or if you’ve been doing it for years, here is a giveaway from Ball that you’ll love. See the bottom of this post for more details… The giveaway is finished, but recipe to follow. (more…)

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Red, White & Blue Berry Cheesecake for 4th of July

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I’m not sure anyone would describe me as a perfectionist? My house is neat enough, but it is clearly lived in.  I’ve always wanted to be the kind of person who irons my sheets, my table clothes or even my clothes, but so far it’s just a fantasy. The only place I admit to being really obsessive is my work. I’ve been known to make a recipe over and over and over, until I am happy. It also has to pass the test of the François family, which can often feel like an episode of Chopped. They are neither shy, nor sparing with their criticism (and praise), but it seems they enjoy the criticism even more and I’ve come to trust and rely on their opinions. So, when I cut into the first round of this cheesecake, they didn’t hesitate to tell me it was “WAY TOO SWEET!” None of us are a big fans of cloyingly, teeth-on-edge, sweets.  We prefer to taste the vanilla, the berries and even a touch of sour cream in cheesecake.  After a bit of adjusting and a lot of testing, I’ve got it “Just right!”

Red (raspberry), white (vanilla bean) and blue (blueberry) layers of distinct flavors, all work beautifully together in this 4th of July Cheesecake. The fresh blueberry topping is held together with just enough gelatin to give it a gorgeous, glossy look and makes it easy to cut. In order to achieve the clean layers you’ll need to have some time to let each one set, so it isn’t a recipe for a last minute dinner party. It’s super easy and completely worth the extra time to present such a fun dessert at your holiday party. (more…)

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Homemade Jam, Jelly and Preserves!

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It is nearly August and I am almost settled in my new house. By settled I mean the boxes are thinning out and I can find my toothbrush, but there is a long road ahead of construction and plaster dust. I seem to remember my husband saying, some many years ago, that he would never live in an old house again. So, today, when I write to you from the living room of our new- very old house, built in 1902, I have to smile at what lies ahead and what a patient man he is. The house we bought was broken up into apartments and there is no way to get to the bedrooms on the second floor without leaving the house…at no point did we stop to think this was a bad idea. Instead, we moved in and figured we’d have a staircase built eventually. Then there is the matter of having 3 tiny kitchens on 3 different floors, which on paper seems luxurious, but in reality you really want all your kitchen equipment on one floor. So, we are faced with ripping out the kitchenS and starting new. This may strike the casual observer as being stressful, since I still have 3/4 of my kitchen “toys” in boxes and no certain plan. But, I remain convinced this was a good idea. Then it occurred to me that it is nearly August and I haven’t fulfilled a promise to myself…this was to be the summer I started canning and making jelly, jams and preserves. It just isn’t going to happen for me this year, but that shouldn’t stop any of you from doing it. In fact, it would be almost as good to live vicariously through your adventure with jars. And, if my friends and jam mentors Barb, Suvir and Jennifer, care to give me some of their bounty as house warming gifts, I will have my spoon at the ready, as soon as I find that box.

For their recipes to make Blue Ribbon Jam and Canned Blueberries… (more…)

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