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Raj Patel wins James Beard honor, plus how to make spiced cider jelly


COOKBOOKS

Getting creative with jams, chutneys and more, including spiced cider jelly

Since we’re talking about apples this week, I thought I’d run this spice cider jelly from the new jam and jelly (and preserves and compote) book from Better Homes and Gardens. The editors of this book solved a common problem in preserving books: Giving readers ideas for how to use the jams, jellies and more they make.

My fridge is full of condiments I can’t seem to use up, so it’s inspiring to see a photo of a grilled chicken wrap next to a curry coconut apple butter recipe, rosemary tomato jam served with slices of grilled halloumi cheese or raspberry lemonade jelly spread on a mini cupcake.

This recipe turns a traditional spiced cider drink into a spreadable treat for toasted bagels and fresh biscuits. When warmed, it makes a great glaze for pork chops and pound cake, too. As the editors suggested for the lemon-lime honeydew jelly, this jelly would also be great mixed into a whiskey- or rum-based cocktail.

Ground spices won’t make for a clear jelly, though, so seek out whole from the baking aisle or, better yet, the bulk spice section.

Cider ‘N’ Spice Jelly

5 cups fresh-pressed apple cider

2 cinnamon sticks, broken

8 whole allspice

8 whole cloves

7 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 of a 6-oz. pkg. (1 foil pouch) liquid fruit pectin

In a 6- to 8-quart nonreactive heavy pot, combine the first four ingredients (through cloves). Bring to boiling; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Line a sieve with a double layer of 100-percent-cotton cheesecloth; place sieve over a large bowl. Strain cider mixture through cheesecloth. If desired, reserve spices to add to canning jars.

Wash the pot, then return strained cider to pot. Stir in sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Add pectin. Return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Ladle hot jelly into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. If desired, add some of the reserved cinnamon, allspice and cloves to each jar. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids and screw bands.

Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 5 minutes (start timing when water returns to boiling). Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks. Makes 7 half-pint jars.

— From “Better Homes and Gardens Jams and Jellies: Our Very Best Sweet & Savory Recipes” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $19.99)

HONORS

Raj Patel earns James Beard recognition, to speak at Texas State on Thursday

Earlier this week, the Austin-based author and food activist Raj Patel was one of six recipients of the James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards, an honor the organization gives out every year to acknowledge the important work that happens outside the restaurant world.

Patel, who teaches at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and co-hosts a food podcast called “The Secret Ingredient,” was honored for his work in improving public health through better access to food. The other winners this year were Greg Asbed and Lucas Benitez, co-founders of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers; National Black Farmers Association president John Boyd Jr.; Small Planet Institute founder Anna Lappé; and U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts. They were honored at a recent ceremony in New York.

Lucky for those of us who live here, Patel will be giving a talk that is free and open to the public at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Texas State University in San Marcos. The presentation in the Alkek Library’s teaching theatre (Room 250), called “The Long Green Revolution,” will focus on the influence of technology, the financial industry and armed conflict on historical, current and future food production. You can find out more at the School of Family and Consumer Sciences homepage, fcs.txstate.edu.

EVENTS

Les Dames hosting annual fundraiser auction Sunday

At 5 p.m. Sunday at Barr Mansion, the local chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a group of women food professionals, is hosting its annual Food Fight, an auction fundraiser whose proceeds go to scholarships and grants for Austin women in the culinary, wine, food artisan and hospitality professions.

Attendees will have the chance to bid on culinary experiences, trips and meals while enjoying appetizers from El Chile Group; Quality Seafood; Paella, Tapas and More; and libations from Virtuoso Wines. Some of the packages up for grabs are trips to Napa Valley and Savannah, Ga., brunch for four at Fonda San Miguel and a private party for 30 at Franklin Barbecue. You can buy tickets to the event ($50) or donate to the group by going to ldeiaustin.org/food-fight.


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