Along the Grapevine


17 Comments

Wild Grape Curd

DSC03249.JPGA delicious adaptation of lemon curd, this wild grape dessert has just as many uses. By using fresh or frozen wild grape juice, it is ready in a matter of minutes. It can be used as a topping for pound cake, ice cream or baked in tarts or pastry or even just as is – it’s that good. All you will need is a few wild grapes which are available now for the picking!

DSC03255.JPG

This is a rare year in S.E. Ontario. The grapes appeared about 6 weeks ago and are still going strong. It is the first time I have been able to harvest them even after a frost which is when they are at their sweetest. The only drawback is there are few leaves left on the bushes, so they are a little harder to identify. Be sure that they are in fact grapes and not Virginia Creeper. The former grow in a dense, elongated bunch as seen in the photo above, while the Virginia Creeper grows in a widespread bunch, and have redder, fleshier stems as seen below.

20091003153904 Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) vine with blue berries - Oakland Co.JPGIn a past post, I produced the juice by heating the berries until soft, then straining them This time I tried a different method as I wanted some fresh, uncooked juice for making sodas and juice. For 6 cups of fruit, I added two cups of water and then pressed them through the food mill. It was this juice I used for making the wild grape curd.

Wild Grape Curd

Ingredients

1 cup grape juice

4 eggs and 1 egg yolk

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, cut into small pieces of about 1 Tbsp. each

Method

Beat together the first three ingredients in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl (or use a double boiler) over simmering water and stir constantly. Once the mixture coats a metal spoon (about 8-10 minutes) remove it from the heat and gradually add the butter one spoonful at a time and mix until it has all melted and blended in with the curd. Cool and refrigerate. It will keep for five days in the fridge.

I also used this same juice to make a quick and easy jam by mixing together 2 cups of juice, 1 1/2 cups sugar (1/3 cup of which was lavender scented) and 4 Tbsp chia seeds. I cooked all this together on the stove top until sufficiently thickened. I had never heard of making jam this way, but have since learned it’s been done before. No wonder, it so easy, can be made in small amounts and is also great for baking. I used it to make pop tarts.

As for the seeds and skin which get separated for the juice, no need to throw them all out. Fill a jar about 1/4 full with the pulp, then fill with white wine vinegar and allow to sit for at least three weeks before straining, longer if possible, and you will have a fruity vinegar which can be used as is or reduced and thickened with butter to make a gourmet sauce.DSC03268.jpgRelated posts: Wild Grape Ketchup;  Burmese Cake with Wild Grape Glaze.

Linked to: Fiesta Friday #143; Cooking with Aunt Juju, Spoon in a Saucepan.


4 Comments

Pulled Venison with Wild Grape Ketchup

At this time of year, our hunter friends often regale us with a good supply of venison –  a real treat. I have learned how to cook it through experiment. As all game, it can be tough and needs some special care and attention, especially if it is not a young animal.  I  learned that an acidic marinade of wild fruit and berries, sometimes beer or wine is what it really needs as a tenderiser. So when I decided to try a pulled venison and found no suitable recipe on-line, I used my wild grape ketchup I made in the summer. As it is already rich in flavour, I added only some juniper berries as a spice along with garlic and onion. My own junipers are buried in snow, so for the time being cannot experiment with them. I used some commercial ones which you can find in most good shops selling spices.

100_0948

If you don’t have any wild grape ketchup on hand, you can use the recipe I have given and simply use a dark grape juice.

Pulled Venison

1 venison roast (approx. 4 lbs)

1 1/2 cups wild grape ketchup

2 onions, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

juice of 1 lemon

2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

10 juniper berries, crushed

1 Tbsp liquid smoke (optional)

1 tsp salt

Cut the roast into four pieces. Place it in a slow cooker. Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over it. Turn the slow cooker on to high, and once it is good and hot turn to low and cook for 6-8 hours, until the meat can be pulled.

Remove the meat from the sauce, pull it with two forks. Meanwhile, continue cooking the sauce while pulling the pork. Remove about 1 cup to be used as a sauce, and put the pulled meat into the remaining sauce and heat through.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you could do it in a heavy, covered pan in the oven 325 F to begin with and then when hot lower it to 275 F for roughly the same amount of time.

This can be used as a sandwich filling, but I served it on a bed of mashed turnip, potato and parsnip with sauteed brussel sprouts on the side. It was every bit as tender and tasty as I expected it to be.

100_0953


Leave a comment

Marganita

This is turning out to be a great year for grapes, at least in Eastern Ontario. I have managed to cut down on the labour of picking them by putting stems and all into the food mill. If you don’t have a food mill, it is a great investment for around $20. You often see them in flea markets, and they do exist in some kitchen stores too. I use it for apple sauce, ketchup, grapes, tomato sauce, etc. and especially at this time of year, it is indispensable.

100_0441

In an effort to come up with more ways to enjoy this bounty of grapes, I made a margarita-like drink with some of the granita from yesterday’s post, and named the drink marganita. Definitely a success, and with this hot weather continuing at least for to-day, will have another when my day’s work is done. Here is the recipe.

Marganita

For each glass, mix in a blender,

1 oz. tequila

juice of 1/2 lime

2 ice cubes

1 generous Tbsp. granita

Pour into glasses which have been wetted and dipped in a mixture of chili pepper and salt. Garnish with lime zest.

100_0489


Leave a comment

Wild Grape Granita

DSC_0006

Granita is the simplest frozen dish ever – just a mixture of fruit, sugar and water. It makes a refreshing snack on a hot day like today, can be used as a dessert, or served alongside cheese. I like to think of it as a gourmet popsicle.

There are plenty of recipes out there for granitas of all kinds of fruit, but the only ones for grapes I found were for cultivated grapes. The wild grapes have so much more flavour and colour, not to mention nutrition. Also, I have just too many grapes and felt it was time I experimented some more.

Method

1. Make a sugar syrup of 3 cups sugar and 1 cup water. Just mix these, heat and stir until all the sugar crystals have dissolved. Set aside to cool. If you don’t use all of it, you can put it aside for ice teas, lemonades, etc,

2. Remove the berries and put in a saucepan. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer for about five minutes. Strain, discard seeds and skins, and return to the saucepan.

3. For 3 cups of juice, add 3 cups of sugar syrup and the juice of 1 lemon. Mix together and pour into a container with a lid to be frozen. Once it starts to freeze, break up the ice with a fork. Repeat this about every 45 minutes until the mixture is frozen right through.

Tip: Use a shallow container with a tight fitting lid. It will freeze much more quickly. Also, when adding the sugar, don’t add it all at once so you can test for sweetness. If you pick your grapes after the first frost, they will be sweeter than the ones I am using, so might require less sugar.