Tag Archives | apricot jam

Spicy Apricot Jam

After a couple lackluster years, this season has been a truly spectacular one for apricots. Thanks to their availability, I’ve canned my way through at least 25 pounds of these, the very sunniest of stone fruit. I made a bunch of this basic apricot jam (it’s a little runny but so delicious), there was this batch of sour cherry apricot jam, and then there’s this spicy jam.

It’s sweet, spicy, and perfect for glazing roast chicken, using on baked brie, or even on a very grown-up pb&j.

If you want to see the making of this preserve in action, I demoed how to make this jam last night on a Facebook livestream. If you missed it, you can find it here.

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Simple Apricot Jam Recipe

This simple apricot jam is made with just fruit and sugar. The recipe is calculated using a three to one ratio, so it can easily be scaled up or down, depending on how many apricots you have to start.

A vertical image of jars filled with simple apricot jam

This is the first summer in nearly six years that I’m not working on a cookbook. While this scares me a little bit (I like knowing that I have the next project locked down), it also feels totally liberating. Because it means that I am free to make whatever I want. What’s more, everything I make can eventually make it to the blog. I don’t have to hold anything back.

Apricots spread out to ripen on an old sheet tray

A couple weeks ago, I got about 22 pounds of apricot seconds from a local grower. If I was producing for a book, those apricots would have been earmarked for particular projects. I would have needed to have made interesting flavor combinations. What’s more, I would have been timing every aspect of the cooking process, to be sure that I could accurately represent the process in writing.

Pockmarked and scarred apricots in an old blue and white colander

Instead, I made three large batches of plain, unadulterated, totally simple apricot jam. Just apricots and sugar, measured by weight, macerated overnight, and cooked down into slightly runny, intensely tart, vividly orange jam.

Chopped apricots for simple apricot jam

Because, my friends, as much as I like apricot butter, apricot jam spiked with rosemary or thyme, and apricot chutney, this very simple apricot jam is one of my favorite things on the planet. And because I was canning only to please myself, that is what I made.

Apricots cooking down into a simple jam in a copper preserving pan

My whole sensory self was engaged as the jam cooks. I watched the bubbles, felt the fruit thickening as I stirred. The fragrance of cooking sugar rode up with the steam and the sound of the boil became more frenzied as the process neared completion.

Finished basic apricot jam in a copper preserving pan

This is not canning that easily fits into a book. It doesn’t bring anything new or novel to the table. It is, in fact, how people have been making jam for a very long time. But it brings me joy. It’s artful, creative jam making.

A cluster of mason jar filled with simple apricot jam

A note on working with seconds. Normally, when calculating recipes by weight, I measure out the fruit before I pit and quarter it, figuring that the loss will be minimal. However, when I’m working with seconds that require more trimming and culling than unmarred fruit, I wait until after I’m done with the prep work to weigh the fruit and calculate how much sugar to use. It’s this second approach that you’ll see reflected in the recipe below.

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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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Honey Sweetened Apricot Thyme Jam at Simple Bites

apricots in a bowl

 

This time of year, I get a little bit obsessed with apricots. I buy them by the half bushel from a local orcharding family (I get the seconds, which are cheaper but just as tasty) and make five kinds of jam, butter, preserved halves, mustards, and ketchups, all from apricots. I also eat my way through a small mountain of them plain, because there is nothing in the world so good as an apricot that ripened on the tree, traveled all of 100 miles and has never seen the inside of a cold room.

I’ll have a new apricot recipe or two for you guys soon, but also wanted to point you in the direction of a apricot post and recipe I wrote for Simple Bites that went live today. I dearly love this simple, small batch of honey-sweetened apricot jam, made herbaceous with a few fresh thyme leaves. It’s still lovely on toast, but really shines when served with a creamy wedge of cheese or some succulent tidbit of roasted meat.

The recipe is here. I daresay that it will make you want to leap up and find your way to the closest quart of sunny stonefruit to make your own batch.

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A Giant Potato Pancake for Eat, Write, Retreat’s Amazing Apps Culinary Challenge

after the oven

Last year, I went to a bunch of food writer/blogger conferences in order to see beloved people, make some new friends, and help promote my book. In contrast, 2013 has shaped up to be a quieter year (which is fine by me). I’m skipping the bulk of the gatherings in order to spend a little more time at home and save my pennies for next summer’s book push. In fact, the only conference I’m participating in is Eat, Write, Retreat, which is landing in Philly in just a couple of weekends.

two russet potatoes

Part of the fun of Eat, Write, Retreat is that organizers start building the conference community well before everyone arrives at the DoubleTree. One of the ways that they’ve done this is by inviting everyone who registered before April 15 to participate in the Amazing Apps Culinary Challenge. Now, I’m not typically someone who gets excited about challenges and contests, but this one is a little different.

peeled

While there are prizes to be awarded at the conference, I actually felt like I won the moment the box arrived, thanks to all the OXO goodies (as well as a gorgeous assortment of potatoes) that it contained. Potatoes, graters, and ricers, oh my! What’s more, I’ve been needing something to shift me out of the cooking rut I’ve been in recently. Inventing an appetizing little dish featuring potatoes and using some of those new tools was just the boost I needed.

grated

I grabbed the two large, russet potatoes from the basket (approximately 1 3/4 pounds) and got to work. I peeled then and shredded them on the coarse OXO grater that was in the box.

Any time I’m shredding just a pound or two of potatoes, I opt for a hand or box grater. It’s so much easier to clean than my food processor. Then, I bundled up the shreds in a tea towel and squeezed as much water out of them as possible. If you’ve ever made a latke, you know the drill.

on the stove top

Then I whisked together two eggs, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, two tablespoons minced green onions, one tablespoon chopped dill, and several turns of a pepper grinder. While whisking, I also heated three tablespoons of olive oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet and heated my oven to 425 degrees F.

I added the potatoes to the batter and stirred until they were well combined. Then I spread the potato batter out in the hot skillet. It was quite thick, so I used my spatula to tease it out into an even layer. Do take care not to make a perfectly smooth surface, as it will brown better with a few crags and nooks.

closer potato disk

Once in the skillet, I cooked it over high heat on the stove top for about five minutes, until a peek at the bottom of the pancake told me it was just starting to brown. Then slide the skillet into the oven.

The trick with a giant potato pancake like this one is that you want to bake it first, until the interior is cooked, and then you turn on the broiler to get a really nice, crunchy top. Mine took approximately ten minutes of baking and another four of broiling before I was satisfied with the color and texture.

with toppings

Now comes the appetizer part. This potato pancake can actually go a couple of different ways in that department. For a cocktail party, you could slice it into slivers and top it with a number of delicious tidbits. The potato pancake is just as good at room temperature as it is hot, so works quite nicely on a table of finger foods.

In the picture, I’ve dolloped each wedge with a little bit of mascarpone cheese and then added something tasty on top (from top to bottom, you have last summer’s apricot jam, a grape tomato half, and a sprig of dill). Little strips of smoked salmon or trout would also be fantastic.

under eggs and mache

For a more perfectly plated appetizer, here’s another serving option. Cut the potato pancake into quarters. Top with some baby greens (I used mache) and a perfectly fried egg. The texture of the crunchy potato layer with the delicate leaves and runny egg is seriously great (I ate that plate right up as soon as I was finished with the photos).

It’s a good starter for fancy brunches or a farm to table-style dinner. It’s high in Vitamin C. And it’s also great for those folks who can’t manage a pasta course, due to wheat or gluten allergies. For those who have a jar in their pantry, a dab of tomato jam would not go amiss here.

How would you turn a giant potato pancake into an appetizer?

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Preserves in Action: Apricot Jam on Ricotta Cheese

Friends, this week (like so many of the others in recent memory) has left me breathless and dashing from one thing to another. I have so much I want to say here and so little time in which to do it. However, I hate leaving this space fallow for too many days in a row, so I’ve dropped in to offer up a quick little mention of one of my current favorite ways to eat up jam.

It is simply a piece of toast, spread with ricotta cheese and topped with some sort of preserve. The one you’re looking at now is apricot jam. It works equally well with something with a peach, plum or cherry base (ricotta likes the stonefruits). It’s basic, grocery store ricotta that I first picked up on a whim a few weeks back. Now it’s a refrigerator staple.

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