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Preserves in Action: Pumpkin Carrot Bread with Pear Vanilla Preserves

pumpkin carrot bread breakfast

I realize that no one really needs me to suggest spreading jam on bread. It is a deeply familiar application and one that requires little in the way of imagination. But, when you find yourself in possession of a very special loaf of bread, it feels like the best way to go.

pumpkin carrot bread

The bread in question is the Pumpkin Carrot from High Street’s new Fall bread line. A crisp crust is coated in pumpkin seeds. The interior is vibrantly orange and studded with sweet currants. And while it’s perfect all on its own, spread with a little salted butter and some smooth pear vanilla jam (recipe coming next week), it made for simple, special breakfast.

pumpkin carrot bread with jam

For those of you who don’t live close enough to get your hands on a loaf of this bread (sadly, High Street has just one location here in Philly and they’re not sharing the recipe), don’t fret. Find a bakery in your town that is using sour dough starters, long rising periods, and interesting flours. Or if that isn’t available, make yourself a loaf of no-knead bread. Open up a jar of jam. And have your own simple, special breakfast.

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Preserves in Action: Open Faced Kimchi & Egg Sandwich

Half a bagel, fried egg, kimchi.

Late last week, I came down with a cold. At first, I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening, but it was not to be ignored. And so I spent the last five days in a bit of a haze, doing only the things that absolutely had to be done. I taught my classes and did the demos I’d committed to doing, but I skipped all extras, including grocery shopping.

Today was the first day that I felt anywhere near normal. I woke up ravenous and headed to the fridge, hoping for something fresh and delicious. Instead, I found a number of weird odds and ends, and no fresh vegetables whatsoever.

There was slightly stale half a bagel, a few eggs, and some end of a jar of the most delicious kimchi ever (it was from the July food swap and was so darn good). And so, I toasted the bagel and spread all the kimchi goodness into it (probiotics!). A single fried egg went on top. And it was delicious.

Eggs and kimchi. Make sure to try it.

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Preserves in Action: Peanut Butter and Spicy Apricot Jam

pb and j

I spend a goodly amount of my time dreaming up novel ways to use homemade jams, jellies, and fruit butters as a way of helping both new and seasoned canners use up their stash. I embrace this charge and enjoy the ways in which it makes explore and experiment.

However, for all the fresh applications I develop, I also believe firmly that there’s often no higher calling for these homemade fruit preserves than a slice of well-buttered toast or a peanut butter sandwich on soft whole wheat. There is a reason that these are classic combinations and that’s because they’re downright delicious.

spicy apricot pbj

One of the pleasures of making your own fruit spreads is that your able to create interesting flavor combinations that are simply unavailable at grocery stores or from small batch producers. Then you can use these ever-so-slightly wacky jams in traditional ways for all sorts of deliciousness.

I recently needed a quick lunch and so made myself a quick peanut butter and jam sandwich. The first jar of jam I could find was a batch of apricot that was gently spiked with a little red chili flake. Instead of searching for something else, I figured that it couldn’t be that spicy and went with it.

The jam did pack a fairly might punch of heat, but was absolutely delicious paired with the sturdy, savory peanut butter. It was an unexpected use of a sweet/savory jam that I’ll be repeating again.

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Preserves in Action: Egg Sandwich with Spinach and Tomato Jam

finished breakfast sandwich

I realize that there is already one egg sandwich with tomato jam in the archives of this site, but I can’t resist sharing my current favorite incarnation.

eggs and greens

It starts with a pat of butter melted in a very well seasoned cast iron skillet. I bought this square one on eBay many years ago and it’s one of my very favorite pieces of cookeware. Once the butter is just melted, I pour in two beaten eggs and tilt the pan to get an even coating.

While the eggs cook, I line the top of the eggs with spinach leaves. You want to get them in there while the eggs are still quite loose, as then they cook into the eggs and will stay in place when you flip.

adding cheese

Then you ease a spatula under the eggs (taking care to work all around so that you know nothing is sticking) and flip. This takes some practice, but as long as the skillet is well seasoned and you used butter (coconut oil also works), you should be able to do it.

Once the eggs are flipped, I turn off the burner and let the residual heat in the pan do the rest of the cooking. This is also the point at which you add some cheese. Cheddar is nice, but dill havarti or creamy goat cheese are also favorites.

folding eggs with tomato jam

I make one fold and add a goodly dollop of tomato jam. Another good option is a caramelized onion jam (there’s a recipe I like a lot in Preserving by the Pint). Fold again and place between two slices of toasted bread. You can also roll it up into a tortilla if you’re feeling more like a wrap than a sandwich.

bitten sandwich

Then, you wait until the sandwich cools ever so slightly (molten hot cheese burns are no good) and then you dig in. The sandwich makes enough that you could cut it in half and share it with a friend if you’re feeling generous.

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Preserves in Action: Potato Salad with Pickles

potato salad angle

Back in May, my dad was in town for about a week. While he was visiting, we took a quick trip down to the Jersey shore to have dinner with my cousin Liz and her family. As is so often the case with my family, the plan was to potluck. Liz and her boyfriend Scott took care of steaks, clams, and a big green salad. I brought a pickle-heavy potato salad and a barely sweetened apple crisp.

dinner plate

I have been meaning to tell you about this salad since that night. It’s actually a dish I’ve been making for nearly a decade now, though I never make it exactly the same way. You quarter enough small red or yukon gold potatoes to feed your particular crowd. Boil them until tender. Drain the potatoes and return them immediately to the pan. Put the pan back on the stove, turn the heat to low, and pour in about 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar. The heat makes it vaporize and the flavor steams right into the potatoes.

boats and weathered wood

Once all the visible vinegar has evaporated, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and toss the potatoes to coat. Remove the pan from the heat and add generous amounts of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add torn parsley, minced celery, diced red onion, and some chopped pickles (most of the time, I use cucumber pickles, but dilly beans and pickled peppers also work nicely). Don’t be stingy with the pickles, really heap them in there.

Toss it all to combine, give it a taste, and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Sometimes you might need more vinegar or olive oil. For best results, eat in the open air, in the company of friends and family.

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Preserves in Action: Roasted Corn Salsa and Black Bean Nachos

black corn nachos

When I was nine years old, I went through a homemade nacho phase. We didn’t always keep tortilla chips around, but when there was a bag in the pantry, I’d layer a generous handful on a plate with shredded cheese and pinto beans. They’d go in the microwave them until the chips seemed toasted and the cheese bubbled. I’d top it with some Trader Joe’s salsa and call it a success.

Note: If memory serves, I only did this when my dad was the parent in charge, because I’m fairly certain my mom would have put the kibosh on any meal that used chips as it’s foundation. I think my dad went for it because I always made him a plate as well.

nachos close

On Monday night, after a long drive home from Western Massachusetts, Scott and I were casting around for something to eat for dinner. We’d already had two restaurant meals that day and the idea of a third did not appeal. After running through the usual suspects (scrambled eggs, pasta with sauce, meatballs from the freezer), Scott spotted half a bag of slightly stale blue corn tortilla chips on top of the fridge and said, “what about nachos?”

His suggestion immediately reminded me of the nachos I used to make and I got to work. I pulled out the last jar of roasted corn salsa from 2012 (it’s one of my favorite recipes from Food in Jars) and another of black beans (from this post).

nachos square

I grated some sturdy Kerrygold Dubliner cheese (they sent me some back in April while I was on the road) and layered it all on the baking sheet that fits into our toaster oven (I’m moved up in the world from the microwave of my youth). I set it to bake at 350 degrees F for about ten minutes, so that the cheese could melt and the chips could shake off the worst of their staleness.

It was a satisfyingly good and easy dinner and the perfect thing to eat after a road trip, while you’re watching the previous night’s Mad Men.

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