Susan S. Yeske: Dining In - Recipe of the Week

Local preserve maker adds to holiday favorites



Gregory Benjamin Conocchioli has been making preserves since he was 8 years hold and currently makes 40 varieties.

The fragrance of Christmas is wafting from the pots of Gregory Conocchioli, aka Gregory Benjamin, Bucks County’s gold medal-winning preserves maker.

Conocchioli is hard at work creating his Christmas preserves, which are only available during the holiday season. This year, they have increased to three: Gregory’s Holiday Reserve, a combination of raspberries, cranberries, pears orange flavor and spices; Country Christmas Marmalade, made using raspberries, cranberries, pears, oranges and spices; and his new Sugar Plum Conserve, made with an apricot base, cranberries and dates.

The holiday favorites are just three of the 40 varieties of preserves and marmalades Conocchioli makes over the course of a year. Each has its own flavor and fragrance and they range from Dark and Stormy Marmalade that is steeped in a craft spiced rum, to Manhattan Marmalade made using Bucks County’s own Dad’s Hat rye whisky, to Sealed with a Kiss Chocolate Orange Marmalade made for Valentine’s Day.

Conocchioli was only 8 years old when he first helped neighbors make spiced peach jam at the height of peach season in his hometown of Staten Island. He has been making preserves ever since.

Most years he made them as holiday gifts for family and friends. It wasn’t until 2012 that he made 150 jars of his Very Berry Preserves to be given as favors at his niece’s wedding.

Within weeks the recipients were contacting him, asking where they could buy his preserves. That was the beginning of his business, which has grown dramatically over the past five years, boosted by awards from Cooking Light and Real Simple magazines and an Artisan Gold Medal Award for his Country Christmas Marmalade from the World’s Original Marmalade Awards in Cumbria, England.

Conocchioli started out with eight fruit flavors, expanding his repertoire over the years. Each new preserve results from testing and experimentation. “When combining flavors, it’s been like a chemistry project,” he said.

“You start off with a hypothesis and take off from there.”

Conocchioli uses as many local ingredients as he can find, and only uses the best possible ingredients. A resident of Solebury, he makes his preserves in the basement kitchen of the nearby Carversville Christian Church, where the fragrance of fruit adds a perfume to the air.

Gregory Benjamin Preserves are sold online at preservesandmarmalade.com and in stores including JustFood in Buckingham; The Larder, Tubby Olive, Michener Art Museum and Mountain Lake Pool & Patio in Doylestown; Living Earth in New Hope; and the Pearl S. Buck House in Perkasie. Conocchioli is currently running a special on his website.

This recipe from Conocchioli’s website is perfect for holiday entertaining, and can be made using any of his holiday preserves in place of the Spiced Peach.

Baked Spiced Peach Brie
½ cup Gregory Benjamin Spiced Peach Preserve or any of the holiday preserves
1 pound French brie cheese
¼ cup pecan pralines or crushed pecans
French bread, cut to rounds

Cut Brie into approximately 1-inch pieces. Toss pieces of brie in Spiced Peach or other preserves.

Pour brie/preserve mixture into a casserole dish. Top mixture with pralines or pecans. Bake at 325 degrees until cheese is melted. Serve with French bread rounds.

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