Summer Foraging Recipe: Elderberry-Blueberry Jam with Chia Seeds

In the woodland valleys of Central California, Elderflower trees have been in bloom all spring with their prolific, lacy white blossoms.  I've enjoyed making Elderflower syrup, candied elderflowers and sweet Elderflower Tempura.  A few days ago, I noticed that some of the trees are starting to bear fruit -- diminutive, tart little berries, deep purplish-blue growing in heavy clusters.  

Inspired by a love of biscuits and jam, foraging, and adapted from a recipe from Simply Beyond Herbs, I whipped up a simple and delicious jam made from the foraged Elderberries, fresh blueberries and using chia seeds for a perfect jammy consistency.

Enjoy and Happy Foraging!
PrintWith ImageWithout Image Elderberry-Blueberry Chia JamYield: One half-pint jarAuthor: Jenn Erickson Prep time: 10 MCook time: 10 MTotal time: 20 M An easy and delicious sweet-tart jam to make from foraged Elderberries. Ingredients:1 1/2 cups elderberries, rinsedPinch of salt1 cup blueberries, rinsed2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds1/2 Tabl…

Easy & Amazing Parmesan Polenta Fries

Like clockwork,
the crisp chill of autumn blew in
when we set the clocks back.
Comfort food time!

One of my favorite easy fall comfort foods is polenta.
Last week, I shared my recipe for fried polenta squares
with my advanced culinary arts students.

We topped the golden squares with a homemade
balsamic tomato ragout and Italian sausage.
I'll be sharing the recipe here on Rook No. 17 next week.

Last night, I made up a batch of polenta for my family.  This time, I cut the polenta into a shape my girls adore -- fries!  Polenta fries are easy and inexpensive to make.  They make an elegant lunch or dinner side or can be topped with ingredients like chili or Bolognese sauce to make a meal.

Parmesan Polenta Fries

Yield:  approx. 48
Time:  approx. 45 minutes

  • 3/4 cup polenta (I like Golden Pheasant brand)
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Vegetable oil for for frying

Butter an 8x8 baking dish.  Set aside.

Step 1:  In a large glass or ceramic mixing bowl, stir together polenta and water.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Microwave on full power for 8 minutes.  Remove and stir briskly with a fork.  Re-cover, then microwave for 2 minutes more.

Step 2:  Carefully remove plastic wrap.  Add butter and whip with a fork until smooth and creamy.  Add Parmesan and stir until melted.  Pour into prepared baking dish.  Set aside to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes or until polenta has set.

Step 3:  Invert pan over a large cutting board.  Using a large slicing knife, cut the set polenta into thirds.  Then cut each segment into 1/2" sticks.  

Step 4:  In a large nonstick frying pan, heat 1/2" of oil.  When oil is sizzling hot, quickly add 8-10 polenta sticks (don't crowd pan; sticks should not touch).  

Tip:  It helps to have a spatter guard when frying polenta.  The moisture in the cooked polenta causes the hot oil to pop and spatter, which can be dangerous and painful when it comes in contact with your skin.  

Use tongs to turn the sticks over once they begin to brown on the bottom.  Brown on the other side, then remove to a plate lined with paper towels.  Immediately season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Continue to fry remaining batches. 

Serve warm.



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