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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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Preserves in Action: Whole Wheat Crepes

three rolled crepes

I taught myself to make crepes when I was in high school from a recipe in my mom’s fabric-bound copy of the Joy of Cooking. I was home sick from school (though truly, I wasn’t particularly ill) and needing something to do with my time, turned to the kitchen for entertainment.

crepe batter

The first crepe was terrible (I’ve since learned that the first one always is), but I soon found the right flame and amount of batter to pour and eventually made myself a satisfying stack of paper-thin pancakes. I don’t remember exactly how I ate them, but imagine that either peanut butter or maple syrup was involved.

second crepe

These days, I make crepes far less often than I’d like, but when I do remember to blend up a batch of batter, I am so very happy to have them on my plate. I’d like to make them a more regular part of my culinary rotation, because they make such a glorious vehicle for jams and fruit butters.

stack of crepes

I mostly still follow the Joy of Cooking recipe (they’re called French Pancakes in my edition), but do make a couple adjustments. I use whole wheat pastry flour in place of all purpose and blend the batter using my Vitamix to ensure a lump-free cake. When I want to make a batch that can be used in a savory situation, I omit the vanilla extract and powdered sugar.

crepe with lemon curd

Normally, I post these Preserves in Action recipes on Thursdays, but since today is known in some quarters as Pancake Day, I thought I’d move this one up a couple days for the sake of timeliness. I’m so rarely coordinated when it comes to holidays such as these, but there’s a first time for everything!

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Preserves in Action: Homemade Tomato Soup

finished tomato soup

We are in the throes of another winter storm here in the Philadelphia area. Schools are closed, roads are impassable, and the sidewalks are treacherous. I don’t find the weather too much of an inconvenience, as I always work from my dining room table or my desk behind the television and thanks to my canning habit, I can go for days without needing to grocery shop.

roasted tomatoes packed in oil

But the conditions have been bad enough that Scott’s office has been closed at least three times since the beginning of January. He was home again today and around noon, managed to look both plaintive and hopeful as he said, “Do we have anything good for lunch?”

There’s been a bit of chatter on the Food in Jars Google Community page about tomato soup and so I suggested the classic pairing of toasted cheese sandwiches and bowls of warm soup.

pouring tomato puree

This qualified as good in his book and so I got out a small soup pot, pulled down a jar of tomato puree, and got to cooking. I started by browning 1/2 a minced onion in 1 tablespoon of butter. While the onions sizzled, I chopped up a few of my precious slow roasted tomatoes and added them to the pot.

I’ve taken to keeping a jar of these tomatoes in the fridge, packed in olive oil (a good layer of oil keeps them from getting moldy). It makes them more readily available for use than if they’re all frozen and so I use them more often in my daily cooking. They do add such a fabulous punch of concentrated tomato flavor.

February 13

Then I added 1 quart of the tomato puree (simply tomatoes run through a press and simmered until slightly thickened prior to canning), 1 cup of half and half (milk would have been fine too, but since I had the good stuff, I went with it), 2 tablespoons of honey, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

I simmered the mixture of a few more minutes and then used to an immersion blender to smooth out the lumps and bits of onion. It was perfect for the chilly day and we both had two bowls.

For those of you also living through this latest round of weather, I do hope you’re staying warm and well-fed!

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Preserves in Action: Shredded Chicken Chili

pulled chicken chili

On Wednesday, I wrote about how to make your home canned beans from dried (have you entered the giveaway sponsored by Mighty Nest yet?). Since so many of you mentioned in the comments that you like to use canned beans in chili, I thought that I’d share the basic chili recipe I use all the time. It uses 2-3 jars of beans and at least 2 quarts of preserved tomatoes.

When I have the time, I braise boneless skinless chicken thighs in puree of tomatoes, onions, garlic cloves, and fresh cilantro leaves until they shred easily. If I’m running short on time, I skip the braised chicken and instead just stir a pound ground turkey meat directly into the cooking chili (in that case, I add both jars/cans of tomatoes directly to the cooking chili). Of course, another option is to skip the meat entirely, but it would make my husband sad if I did that in our household.

pulled braised chicken

Let’s have a word about this shredded chicken. It’s an awesome addition to chili, but that’s not all it’s good for. I’ve been known to eat it wrapped in a tortilla or spooned over some braised greens. It’s incredibly flavorful and easy to make. I’ve taken to keeping a batch stashed in our freezer for lazy nights. Oh! One last thing about this chicken. Sometimes the onions make it a little bit sweet and so I’ll add either a splash of lime juice or the brine from a jar of pickled jalapeños to balance things out.

My apologies for the less than stellar photos in this post. I made this chili for dinner one night and forgot entirely to take pretty pictures. I snapped the image at the top of the post (it was the very last bowl) just moments before I ate it for a quick solo dinner. And we all know, the total lack of natural light in my kitchen makes photography hard, even on the most lovely natural light days.

But enough of that. On to the recipe!

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