Plum Jam

 Beach plum jelly has a taste that's virtually unknown except maybe in the Hamptons, Cape Cod and along the Atlantic Coast. The art of making beach plum jelly, or any jams for that matter, has been revived recently with more people wanting to use local fruits and have a condiment that’s a notch above mass produced jelly-in-a-jar. However, beach plums are kind of fickle, some years they are available and other years, like this summer they are plentiful to pick from their secret spots along the East Hampton dunes. That’s if you are still fortunate to avoid the poison ivy and ticks. A safer bet for me is to make Damson Plum Jam. Or, just reach out to my favorite monks at Trappist Preserves for a mail order jam solution.

Yes, you could say they use a production method of a higher authority. But, what I really love about Trappist Preserves is they use only the best seasonal fruits and make only a certain allotment based on the highest quality, not filling sales quotas. When the Kadota Fig Preserves, or Red Currant Jelly is gone that’s it. And, yes they do make a Damson Plum Jam! 

A lesson learned from the late Fr Robert, “Ordinary, Obscure and Laborious” —the life of monks.

To watch one of my favorite vintage TV Segments from St Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer Ma.

Do You Know Your Jam?

- Jams are made from puréed fruit

- Jellies are made from fruit juice

- Marmalades include peel

- Conserves & preserves are made from the whole fruit, but raisins and nuts may be added 

Click for the complete guide to home canning

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Jam is only as good as your fruit. Taste plums and adjust tartness vs. sweetness according to the ripeness of plums. If only using all ripe plums, peel core and chop one green apple in place of unripe plums to aid in adding natural pectin. 

Damson Plum Jam

recipe by Chef George Hirsch | Makes about 6-8 250-ml jars

2 3/4 pounds very ripe Damson plums

1 cup water

1/4 pound unripe Damson plums; contains added natural pectin

Variable: 4-6 cups pure cane granulated sugar, depends on sweetness of plums and personal taste (you may also use a little honey and cut down on some sugar)

juice of 1/2 lemon

6 orange peels- about 2 inches x 1/4 inch, no whites

Wash plums, add the water and simmer the plums until the skins are soft. Allow to cool and remove the pits. 

Optional~ if you do not want plum skins, strain plums through a sieve to remove skins. I prefer the texture and do not strain.

Combine plum puree, lemon juice, orange peel and sugar in a heavy gauged sauce pot. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring occasionally with a long handle spoon until sugar dissolves. Continue to stir frequently to prevent sticking or burning. Cook until the plum puree and sugar reach the jellying point of 220 degrees F. About 20-30 minutes.

Remove from heat and pour hot jam into hot, sterile canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; making sure the tops of the jars are clean so the lids seal. Adjust two-piece sterile metal canning lids. Place jars into a large pot with a strainer on the bottom so jars do not have direct contact with bottom of pot. Cover the filled and closed jars with an inch or so of hot water and boil for 10 minutes. 

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Backyard Street Food

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A national dish of Indonesia, the satay, is a marinated skewered meat with sauce, usually spicy. Satay is often served in Malaysia by street-side vendors. It's an easy and quick solution to backyard grilling. I thought this would be a fun dish to cook street-side on 67th Street in NYC on Live! The three of us had a blast making this on a NYC street - just imagine the fun you and your guests can have in your own backyard. It's also one of those informal dishes that doesn't require a fork and a knife. 

TIP: I always prefer using metal skewers as I find the food cooks faster and more uniformly. But, when in a pinch and when cleanup of the skewers is not practical, bamboo skewers are very handy. Just make sure to soak the bamboo skewers in water 10 minutes prior to threading, to avoid the skewers from burning up on the grill. 

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Pork Satay with Sesame Dipping Sauce

Makes 6 servings 

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

1 1/2 pound pork tenderloin, cut crosswise into 3-inch-long pieces 

For the Marinade:

1/3 cup sweet onion, chopped fine

1 teaspoon tumeric

1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped 

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil 

2 Tablespoons oyster sauce (Chinese BBQ sauce) 

2 Tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted 

Juice from two limes 

3 cloves garlic, chopped 

2 teaspoons each soy sauce and sesame oil 

1 green onion, chopped 

6 long skewers

Mix marinade ingredients in medium bowl. 

Cut pork lengthwise into thin 1/4-inch slices. Tip: It is easier to cut meat when it is very cold. 

Thread pork onto each of six skewers. Reserve 1/3 cup of marinade in a small bowl. Brush remaining marinade over both sides of pork. Cover pork, refrigerate for one hour. 

Preheat grill to high heat. Grill pork until cooked through, two-four minutes per side. Brush pork with reserved marinade. Serve on a fresh banana or ty leaf if available and top with chopped green onion or red onion.

Although it is very common to serve a peanut dipping sauce with a satay I find my Sesame Dipping Sauce to go better with the pork. 

For the Sesame Dipping Sauce

Recipe George Hirsch | Makes one cup

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar 

 1/4 cup lite soy sauce 

 2 Tablespoons honey 

 2 Tablespoons ketchup 

 1 Tablespoon sesame oil 

 2 cloves garlic, chopped 

 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped 

 1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl one hour before serving. Serve as a dipping sauce for Satay, steamed dumplings or summer rolls. 

Optional: to make spicy add 1 teaspoon chili sauce or hot pepper flakes.

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Spaghetti alle Vongole

Quick, easy and one of the most delicious pasta dishes outside of a good pesto. Afterwards, just sit back and enjoy a crisp Pinto Grigio or Rose like you're sitting seaside on the Almafi coast.  

The clams are the star of this dish, but co-starring is the garlic. You may also call this dish 'Aglio con Spaghetti alle Vongole.'  I've cooked this recipe for years using the sweetness of caramelized garlic, which adds a nice component to this dish. Yes, my family in Italy is shaking their heads right now as they cook with a very little amount of garlic. Go figure? But here in the US we've become accustomed to big flavors in our dishes. So get out my old recipe for caramelized garlic and make a half dozen heads, I guarantee you won't have any left. 

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Spaghetti alle Vongole recipe by George Hirsch

makes 4-6 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle from Know Your Fire Cookbook

1 pound dry spaghetti or linguine

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

2 heads caramelized garlic cloves, crushed

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 pounds Manila or littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed well

1 cup dry white wine 

Juice of 1 lemon

4 Tablespoons sweet butter

Freshly ground black pepper

4 Tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, rough chopped

2 Tablespoons fresh basil, rough chopped

Optional: 1/4 cup lightly toasted bread crumbs

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente.

Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to toss the spaghetti directly into the sauce.

Pre heat a deep side saute pan or dutch oven; add olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes; saute for 1 minute. Add the clams, wine, half the parsley and lemon juice. Cover and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until all the clams are opened, about 5 - 8 minutes. Discard any clams that do not open.

Increase heat to medium temperature add the hot, drained linguine to the pan; add the butter and season with pepper. Toss the pasta with the clams to coat pasta with clam sauce. Top with chopped parsley, basil and toasted bread crumbs. Drizzle with additional olive oil. Serve immediately.

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Rosé Peach Pie

Fresh peaches as seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

George Hirsch's Rosé Peach Pie

Makes 8 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

1 recipe pastry for George’s Favorite 3, 2, 1 Pie Crust, see below

George Hirsch Lifestyle Peach Pie

There are three main ingredients in a Pate Brisee, basic pie crust: 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat and 1 part liquid. 

Flour forms the structure of the crust, fat adds flavor and a flaky texture while the liquid binds the dough. 

Chill the fat (butter, margarine, shortening, or lard) and liquids (milk or water) before you begin. Chilling keeps the pie crust flaky and prevents the fat pieces from melting into the flour and becoming tough. Next, mix the flour, cut the chilled fat into the dry mixture using a pastry cutter or by pinching the fat into the mixture with your hands. The resulting mixture should have fat lumps no larger than the size of raisins. If making pie in the summer time cool off the flour by measuring your flour and refrigerate one hour before making dough.

Pour in the chilled liquid just until the flour is absorbed, mixing gently with a fork after each addition. You should be able to gently press the dough into a ball. Mix the dough as little as possible: you don't want to cream the lumps of fat into the flour, as a crust without lumps of fat will be dense, not flaky. Note that humidity will affect how much liquid the flour will absorb.

Split the dough into two equal parts. Pat them into balls, flattening them slightly, and wrap them in plastic wrap. The dough needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Overnight is preferred. Chilling lets the flour absorb all of the liquid, lets the dough relax and become more elastic, and keeps the fat in separate pieces which will give the crust a lighter texture when it is baked.

To make the pie shell:
Dust a clean, dry surface with flour; caution to not use too much flour or you will dry out the crust. Remove and unwrap one of the discs of dough from the refrigerator. Flatten the dough slightly with your hands and dust the dough lightly with flour before rolling the dough out with a rolling pin. Start rolling at the center of the dough and work outwards.

Working quickly, roll the dough into a circle a quarter inch thick. The size of the dough round should be wider in diameter than your pie pan; the amount will vary depending upon the depth of your pie plate. Use a dry pastry brush to sweep away any excess flour.

Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and roll it out, over the pie plate. Without stretching the dough, press the pastry firmly into the pan and trim any excess dough from the edge. Leave a one-inch overhang to make a decorative fluted edge or trim it to a half-inch if you're adding a top crust. If the dough cracks a little during this process, press it back together with your fingers or patch the cracks with a bit of dough from the outer edges.

Place filling in bottom crust, unwrap the second ball of dough. Repeat the above step to roll out the pie dough. Brush the bottom pie dough around the edges lightly with water to seal the edges of crust. Lay the top piece of pie dough carefully over the filled pie. Tuck the edges of the top crust under the lower crust and press together lightly. Using the rim of the pie plate as a guide, create a fluted edge with your fingers or the back of a fork. 

For the peach pie, cut a small hole to vent the top allowing excess steam to escape during baking. Brush the surface with egg wash; made of one egg and one teaspoon of water and bake as directed.

George Hirsch Rosé Peach Pie

This recipe made with butter will result in a lighter and more flavorful crust. 

George’s Favorite Pie Crust Recipe
Makes one pie or two bottom crusts

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup cold milk

Chill the butter and milk before you begin. Chilling keeps the pie crust flaky and prevents the fat pieces from melting into the flour and becoming tough. 

Next, mix the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Cut the chilled butter into the dry mixture using a pastry cutter or by pinching the fat into the mixture with your hands. The mixture should have fat lumps no larger than the size of raisins. If making pie crust in the summer time cool off the flour by measuring your flour and refrigerate one hour before making dough.

Pour in the chilled liquid just until the milk is absorbed, mixing gently with a fork. You should be able to gently press the dough into a ball. Mix the dough as little as possible: you don't want to cream the lumps of butter into the flour. A crust without lumps of butter will be dense, not flaky. Note that humidity will effect how much liquid the flour will absorb.

Split the dough into two equal parts. Pat them into balls, flattening them slightly, and wrap them in plastic wrap. The dough needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Overnight is preferred. Chilling lets the flour absorb all of the liquid, lets the dough relax and become more elastic, and keeps the fat in separate pieces which will give the crust a lighter texture when it is baked.

George Hirsch's Rosé Peach Pie

To Make Peach Filling with Rosé Simple Syrup: In a small saucepan add, 3/4 bottle Rosé wine, ¼ cup pure cane granulated sugar. Simmer and reduce to about 1 cup. Chill. Pour rosé reduction over 8 sliced peaches and marinate overnight covered in refrigerator. 

Drain the rosé simple syrup after the 8 sliced peaches have marinated in rosé overnight. *Reserve the peach flavored rosé syrup. Add the additional 2 sliced peaches.

8 medium size fresh ripe peaches, cut into 1 inch slices 

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 medium size fresh ripe peaches, cut into 1 inch slices

½ cup cake crumbs, use pound cake, or sponge cake, etc.

Mix flour and brown sugar together, add to peaches and toss until fully combined. 

Roll out pie dough and place the bottom in a 9 inch pie pan. Cover bottom with cake crumbs. 

Fill with peaches, mounded slightly. Roll out top pie dough, cover with a top crust or a lattice crust. To add a richer color to a double-crust or lattice-topped pie, brush the top crust with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with teaspoon of water) before baking. Refrigerate peach pie before baking for 1 hour to slightly chill dough.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

Bake directly on oven rack, do not use a sheet pan. After 15 minutes at 425 degrees F, reduce temperature to 350 degrees F. Continue baking for 30 additional minutes or until done. To test doneness, tap the edge of the crust lightly with finger, and you should hear a hollow sound. 

Chefs Note: *The drained marinated peach syrup can be added to Prosecco or club soda for the best Bellini or peach mimosa!

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Tastes Like Steak

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Today we are grilling-up a vegetable that's flavor resembles a meaty protein. They're so meaty in flavor, eating one is almost like cutting into a piece of steak. Portobello mushrooms make great appetizers, but also have earned it's position on the main course plate.

Portobello mushrooms, a larger relative of the crimini and are the largest of all the cultivated mushrooms with tan or brown caps often reaching 6 to 7 inches across. For thousands of years, Eastern cultures have revered mushrooms’ health benefits. Mushrooms have long been celebrated as a source of powerful nutrients, and can also help us meet the dietary and vitamin D recommendation and also benefit from this leading source of the antioxidant selenium which helps maintain a healthy immune system. (mushroomcouncil.org)

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Gorgonzola Mushrooms

 Makes 4 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestytle

As a variation, add one of the following to the stuffing: 1/4 cup grilled and diced ham; meat from 2 grilled spicy Italian sausages; or 1/2 cup chopped grilled shrimp.

8 large mushrooms, 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter

2 Tablespoons olive oil'1/2 cup chopped grilled onion

3 scallions, grilled and chopped

Puree from 4 cloves Caramelized Garlic

2 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs, or cooked rice, or other grain

1/4 cup milk

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Grill Temperature | high, then medium

Preheat the grill.

Remove the mushroom stems with a knife and set aside. Brush the caps with oil, grill over high for 1 minutes on each side, and remove. Chop the stems and combine with the onion, scallions and garlic in a medium bowl. Add 2 cups of the bread crumbs, milk, cilantro and hot sauce and mix well. Add the cheese and stir until the mixture is smooth. Fill the mushroom caps evenly with the mixture and roll them in the remaining bread crumbs. Brush lightly with the remaining olive oil and grill over medium heat until tender.