Sunday, December 8, 2013

Spicy Persimmon & Ginger Beef Stir-fry

Ingredients for Spicy Persimmon & Ginger Beef Stir-Fry

Searing the beef

Colorful, mildly sweet and spicy beef

Most of you know that I have been making jam for a little while now.  This is something I learned from my awesome sister-in-law, Jeanne while visiting her up in Northern California.  After getting down the basics, I decided to try making jam with uncommon fruits.  Uncommon to jam-making , that is.    Since my mother loves persimmons I chose that to be my first step in canning outside of the box. 
I have gone beyond persimmons since then and I’ll share my adventures in future posts.  This Spicy Persimmon & Ginger Beef Stir Fry is one of the first recipes my son, Toby, and I have collaborated on.  Most of the ingredients as well as the technique are basic, but the addition of chile pepper flakes and persimmon jam gives this dish an updated exciting taste.
Spicy Persimmon & Ginger Beef Stir Fry
2 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, mince
½  teaspoon chile pepper flakes, or more to taste
2 lbs London broil or other lean cut of beef
3 medium carrots peeled, sliced diagonally
½ cup rice wine
1 leek, white and light green parts sliced ¼” horizontally
1 cup sliced green onions
8 tablespoons Hummingbird Hill Persimmon Jam
On high heat sauteé garlic, ginger and chile pepper flakes until fragrant.  Add beef and let cook until just a little bit pink.  Allow juices to evaporate, or remove with a spoon, leaving no more than 1 tablespoon.  Add carrots and 1 ½ tablespoons rice wine.  Stir fry until all the liquid has been absorbed.  Add leeks and scallions.  Add more rice wine if meat and vegetables begin sticking to pan.  Add 8 tablespoons Hummingbird Hill Persimmon Jam and stir to coat beef slices.  Cook another 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.
I used a cut of beef called London Broil because it is lean and uniform in size but any other lean cut will work.  Placing the beef in the freezer for about 30 minutes prior to slicing and using a very sharp knife aids in achieving thin slices.  The essence of stir frying is to cook food very quickly over high heat.  Thus it is imperative to have all the ingredients ready and prepped beforehand, and have them lined up close to the wok.  As soon as the wok is very hot, pour a thin line of room temperature oil down the side of the wok.  Sautéeing the dry aromatic ingredients like garlic, ginger and chile pepper flakes first infuses the oil which will later flavor the meat.  Toby, in his artistic and perhaps Le Cordon Bleu-trained way laid the beef slices one by one flat against the wall of wok to sear them.  Chinese cooks would probably toss the whole lot into the wok!  When Toby saw that there seemed to be a lot of juice from the beef accumulating at the bottom of the wok, he removed most of it to prevent the meat from steaming.  We want them seared after all! 
You will notice that my carrots are crinkly.  I use a crinkle cutter to add dimension and texture to my vegetables.  The crevices are also a good place for the yummy sauce to cling to.  Although this is a stir-fry, liquid is added to prevent the ingredients from sticking to the wok.  Rather than using water, I use alcohol or broth to add flavor.  And finally, the jam is added last to prevent it from caramelizing too much and burning in the hot wok. 
None of the flavors overpowered each other; everything came together well.  The persimmon jam’s sweetness is the first to hit your taste buds, followed by rich beefy flavor tempered by the sweet leeks, and then you get little (or a lot!) explosions from the chile pepper flakes.  You calm your mouth down with steamed white rice, and then it craves more of that scrumptious flavor, and the cycle starts all over again. 
Stay tuned to more recipes using our extraordinary jams. 
What would you use Hummingbird Hill Persimmon Jam for?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Hummingbird Hill Kitchen Artisanal Jams

Hummingbird Hill - a virtual French cafe

Our delicacies in front of the Louvre.




                                                                                                                     English Scones

       Macadamia Mango Cheesecake
                                                                                                               Macadamia Persimmon Bars

Macadamia Mango Cheesecake with Toasted Coconut
                                                                                   Passion Fruit, Plum Sage, Meyer Lemon Curd, Persimmon

I want to share something very special with all of you: the debut of Hummingbird Hill Jams. As you may know I’ve been making jams for about a year now thanks to my awesome sister-in-law and culinary creator, Jeanne.  Right away I decided to make unusual jams; flavors you don’t normally see in grocery stores.  The first unconventional flavor I made was persimmon because my mom loves persimmons.  By having persimmon jam, she could enjoy this flavor throughout the year, not just November through January. 

There were so many fruits to try!  I was making so much jam I couldn’t give them away fast enough!  Around the middle of the year several of my college friends and I had a get-together.  We usually get together about once a year or whenever someone is in town.  So anyway, I gave them jars of jam, too.  A few weeks later one of my BFFs, Ray, called to tell me he’s gained a lot of weight because of the jams.  My question was, “But did you like them?”  His response was an overwhelming YES!  He was delighted about the unusual flavors, and in particular about the jackfruit jam.  Jackfruit, or langka as it is known in the Philippines, is a tropical fruit native to South and Southeast Asia.  It is also found in parts of Africa and the Caribbean.  The jam captures the jackfruit’s essence so completely that you will be transported to the tropics!  We talked about the potential of these jams and he encouraged me to keep experimenting. 

In August my son, Toby and I met with Ray to kick ideas around about jams and food in general.  Ray told me to read food blogs.  I asked, “What is a blog?”  After his explanation, Ray suggested I look into writing one myself.  After “looking” into it, I realized the only way to learn it is to jump in feet first.  My other sister-in-law who is equally awesome and creative in other ways, Marie, told me all about her blog.  The next day I had a blog called KitchenCanDo.  So I took pictures and wrote posts.  Along the way, we decided on Hummingbird Hill as our name, and the blog changed accordingly.  It looked like we were going to go into business.  Another of my BFFs, Rose Mary, told me about Cottage Food Operations, a newly passed bill in California where people can legally make food in their home kitchens to sell to the public.  It may be legal but it is by no means easy.  In the meantime, I played around with more flavors and recipes, and Ray, Toby and I honed the look of our jams.

This past weekend we had the opportunity to participate in my parish’s Christmas Market.  This was going to be a litmus test for our products.  We went into it without any expectations. Ray’s car was packed to the hilt with props, and it took us a few hours to set up our booth.  As you can see from the pictures, we had a virtual French café complete with bistro tables and chairs.  My jams were on a pedestal in their handsome new jars and sleek (and chic) labels!  Some of Ray’s world famous decadent desserts were served, this time infused with our jams.  The table was laden with our goodies, and set in front of a painting of the Louvre done by Toby. 

So how was the response you ask?  Well, it was simply wonderful!!  People grazed on our samples and drank our tea.  They were bowled over by our display!  Many commented they felt like they were in Europe!  People sat at the tables eating their goodies, chatting amiably with other parishioners.  Others asked about our products and remarked at how delicious they were.  A few people even asked if we cater.  Yes, we do!  We can bring our display to your party, we told them.  We can do just a dessert table, a tea party, a luncheon, or whatever you want.  We are caterers and party planners.   

Our current lineup of preserves is: Jackfruit Jam, Kiwi Jam, Mango Jam, Meyer Lemon Curd, Passion Fruit Jam, Persimmon Jam, and Plum Sage Jam.  And as you can see in the pictures, we have delectable cakes and pastries. 

We wish to thank everyone that believes in us, supports our vision, and has helped us in any way.  I urge you to tune in frequently to see our progress, and hopefully someday soon we will meet at Hummingbird Hill.