Making Passion-fruit Mead

Is fermenting cooking?  At any rate, it's food related.  Wine or mead is something I make with excess fruit.  And right now it is passion-fruit, known in Hawaii as lillikoi.  Lots of it around here, some of which I've given away, some made into sorbet, or syrup.  Jam is good.  But, I have to say the easiest way to deal with large quantities of fruit is to dump it all into a nylon straining bag and ferment.  Yea, no worries about the seeds.  The bag will be pulled out at the end of the week, with only seeds left in it.

This tested out with high acid content (yes there is an acid test for wine), so I had to add some food grade calcium carbonate.  Since I added mostly honey with a bit of sugar, I'm calling it mead.  Technically fruit wine made with honey is called melomel, but most people have never heard of that before and the response would be, "you're making what??"  I call it Passion-fruit Mead.  Simpler.


So, now it's bubbling away in the primary fermenter - a 5 gal. plastic bucket with air-lock on top for the escaping gases.  After about a week I take another PA (potential alcohol) reading with my handy hydrometer and see if it's about done.  A cessation of active bubbling is also a clue.  The initial reading was 13%, so that will be what the finished mead is.  After another week or so, I will rack (siphon) it into a glass carboy (3 gal. jar).  There it will age for a few months before needing to be racked off the sediment into another clean carboy.  Wine 101.  Simplified version.  I also added things like tannin, yeast nutrient, champagne yeast and some pectic enzyme (you don't want cloudy wine caused by pectin in the fruit).

So, a few rackings down the line over at least a 2 year aging period and we'll have something that should be nice and drinkable.  It will  join the others (jaboticaba mead) in there.  The empty bottles will have to be moved to make room.

If you're at all interested in making your own wine or mead, I highly recommend Terry Garey's The Joy of Home Winemaking.  Wouldn't do without it.  I'll share this little fermentation overview with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event, coming up.


Pineapple, Pepperoni Pizza with Mint

Fresh mint is fabulous with fresh pineapple, so why not on pizza, I asked myself, rhetorically speaking.  And if ham and pineapple go on pizza, why not pepperoni and pineapple?  And yes, as things turn out,  it was a fabulously yummo pizza.  What can I say?  When you're right, you're right.

First, let your dough double.
Turn up the oven to 450 - 500 F or however high it goes.
Get a small, ripe pineapple peeled, and diced.   I'm thinking maybe 2 cups?  Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small skillet and saute the pineapple until a lot of the juices have cooked off.
Slice up some pepperoni and stir it into the pineapple.
Slice 2 cups or so of smoked mozzarella, and Monterey Jack,  and grate up about 1/3 cup Parmesan.
Now tenderly push that dough into an oiled cast iron skillet (2 or so tablespoons of olive).
Lay on your cheese slices, and sprinkle on the Parmesan.
Distribute the pepperoni and pineapple over the pie
Pop into the oven for 15 minutes
Pick some lovely mint to sprinkle on when it comes out.
I could have picked more.

I served it this evening with a small salad and some red with ice in it.  By the way, don't bother with canned pineapple - it just won't be the same.

We absolutely loved this pizza, and I'll share the goodness with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking  event.  If you have a food related post, link up or just visit to hear about some good cooking.


Salmon en Croute and Scarlet Feather for Cook the Books Club

Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy has been our June/July book pick for Cook the Books Club, as well as my first hosting experience there.  I was pretty sure I had read this novel sometime in the past, but to be honest, once I got (re-)? reading it, the story was absolutely new to me.  Maeve Binchy was the starting point however.  Knowing that I wanted us at Cook the Books Club to feature one of her wonderful novels, I selected this one for the culinary connection.  And it does indeed contain lots of foodie inspirations

The book concerns a pair of friends from cooking school who have the dream of opening their own catering business.  An engrossing story, covering the process of getting Scarlet Feather (named for the duo - Tom Feather and Cathy Scarlet) the perfect premises, funded and established, including the connections and interesting personalities of all the various relatives, friends and, unknown to them, enemies, with lots of humor and understanding.
Binchy is well known for her delightful and humorous depiction of unique  and memorable characters, both good and bad, and this novel has plenty of them.  I especially loved the funny, precocious, abandoned  twins who come to stay and end up living with Cathy and her family.  Tom and Cathy face almost insurmountable odds both in their personal lives as well as with their business.  But, are a fictional illustration of what can be overcome and be the impetus for growth in life.

Among many treats mentioned in the book was Salmon en Croute, which called to mind some wonderful meals we enjoyed in Ireland featuring salmon.  A fish which also brings to mind an old Irish legend about the "Salmon of Knowledge."  Perhaps eating salmon makes you wiser?


Quick and Easy Chilled Gazpacho


You Say Tomato, I Say Tomahto!

We're rockin' out with tomatoes this week at IHCC and chef Curtis Stone.  The weather, being so muggy and hot, has been inspiring me to more salads and less cooking.  A Gazpacho sounded quite cool and refreshing, and it was, it is!  This recipe may be found on his web site and in his book, Relaxed Cooking, as well.


Green Pineapple Chutney with Cranberries

You see here a couple of green, unripe pineapples that no one in their right mind would pick.  However, at the beginning of the season, when the desire for a lovely, sweet, fresh pineapple overrides common sense,  we usually make this mistake at least once, thinking maybe it's ready.  Hope prevails.  Both Bob and I did it.  They sat around for a week or more, and I could see those guys were never going to ripen up.  Meanwhile really, truly ripe ones were happening.

Cooking them into a tangy chutney was the solution.  Lots of wonderful spices, red peppercorns, cranberries, you get the picture.  A double rescue.


Competition Mixed Veggie Mac 'n Cheese

 I was truly forced to do another Christine Wenger book post here.  It was the Mac 'n Cheese cook-off competition in Macaroni and Freeze that did it.  Firstly her descriptions of the contest entries had me planning  ingredients for a nice variation of my own.  Also, the book, "A Comfort Food Mystery" is a fun, food-filled cozy.  Nothing deep here.  Even the cuisine is pretty basic, '50's Diner style stuff, which you might expect, as the heroine runs a comfort food diner.  In between helping solve various murders.

The last one I read, and posted about here, was good and this who-done-it is no exception.  The expected murder, narrow escapes, a wee bit of romance, and food of course. Formula writing, but diverting in the evenings.

The beauty of macaroni and cheese is the infinite diversification possible.  I've made a number of those and posted some of them.  Cauliflower, Tuna, hamburger, salmon, green kale, to name a few.  This particular version was inspired by the one I had at Moon and Turtle, made with spätzle.  After my own session of spätzle making,  a corporate decision was made to not bother again, or to buy a special gadget for making said noodles.  There are enough fine pastas on the market which can be conveniently used.  


Local Ono on the Barbie!

This week with Curtis Stone, current reigning chef at IHCC (I Heart Cooking Clubs), we're On the Barbie!  Grilling whatever.  In my case, Curtis' recipe for grilled salmon was transmogrified to ono, a locally caught, quite delicious fish, the name of which translates to really good.  Some of you folks might know it as Wahoo!  I always think deserving of the exclamation point.

Served up at his website recipe on a Greek salad, with kalamata olives and chunks of feta.


Tinga Poblana - A Smoky Pork and Potato Stew

 This is Potluck week at IHCC, (I Heart Cooking Clubs) and I selected a wonderful recipe from Rick Bayless out of his Authentic Mexican Cookbook.  Which, after perusing the library book with extreme covetousness, for weeks already,  I now have coming via Amazon.  My very own copy.


Pineapple-Bourbon BBQ Sauce

For the weekly theme at IHCC, (I Heart Cooking Clubs) it was Fresh & Fruity with our reigning chef, Curtis Stone.  Just in time for your Fourth of July barbecuing , was my thought, not to mention all the pineapples ripening up around the old ranch.  Which meant a change from the original recipe: for apple, add in a pine.