Tag Archives | condiments

Classic Tomato Jam Sweetened With Honey

five pounds tomatoes

It’s Monday morning and I’m just getting to the recipe I promised for Friday afternoon. I apologize to those of you who’ve been holding onto tomatoes all weekend in the hopes that this honey-sweetened tomato jam would appear. I have a bad habit of widely underestimating how long things are going to take me to accomplish and sadly, this post was delayed because of my poor estimation skills.

chopped tomatoes

Every since it first appeared on this blog, my friend Amy’s recipe for tomato jam has been one of the most popular things I’ve posted. The original post has hundreds of comments and nearly every time I teach a class or do a book event, someone comes up to me raving about the wonders of tomato jam.

honeyed tomato jam

It’s one of my favorite things as well. I smear it on turkey burgers, serve it with goat cheese, and use it as a dipping sauce for roasted sweet potatoes. Essentially, it’s a very fancy, chunky ketchup-substitute that can be used in all manner of both sweet and savory applications.

finished honey sweetened tomato jam

All summer long, I’ve been pulling out the sugar in many of my favorite recipes and dropping in honey instead. This recipe is the latest to undergo the conversion and I think it might be the most successful swap to date. The slightly honey flavor pairs beautifully with the tomatoes. The spices continue to sing and the yield is comparable to the sugared version. Truly, the only difference I’ve noticed is that this honey sweetened version isn’t as glossy as its counterpart. Happily, the sheen is the only thing that’s missing. The flavor is there in spades.

A couple of things to note. The length of time this jam can spend cooking varies widely. Stay close to the stove, stir regularly, and use a stainless steel pan in case it scorches. Towards the end of cooking, you should be stirring near constantly. You know this jam is finished when there’s no visible water separating out from the fruit. You’ll also hear a slightly sizzling noise as you stir towards the end of cooking. That’s a sign that the sugars have concentrated that the temperature in the pan is elevated beyond the boiling point of water. When you hear that, you are mere moments away from completion. Keep stirring for a moment or two longer and then pull the pan off the heat.

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Happy New Year + Black-Eyed Pea Salsa

black-eyed pea salsa

I hope everyone had a good holiday season! I spent Christmas out in Portland, Oregon with family and got plenty of quality time with my parents, uncle, sister, brother-in-law, and my newly walking nephew (he’s in that sponge stage, where he’s learning as fast as you can say the words. It’s incredible).

I got back to Philadelphia a few days ago and promptly came down with Emmett‘s cold (13 month olds cough in any direction they’re pointed, including straight into your face). Other than an exploratory mission on Sunday to Costco to use our new membership cards, Scott and I have barely left the apartment in days. Oh, how I’m tired of this tradition of mine to end the year mucus and congestion.

black-eyed pea salsa

 

In the hopes of forging different New Year traditions that have nothing to do with NyQuil, kleenex or throat lozenges, I made a very simple take on a classic “good luck for the New Year” dish. Black-eyed pea salsa.

It’s essentially Texas Caviar, but a version that omits bottled salad dressing and is scaled to fit into a quart jar (because who doesn’t like a salsa that can be made straight into a jar?). It’s good with tortilla chips and even better on top of salad greens and a little crumbled feta (if you’re trying to inject a little bit of healthier eating into your new year).

black-eyed pea salsa above

 

As far as New Year’s hopes and resolutions go, my plan is to keep the year simple. To find a little peace where I am instead of always having my eye on the next thing. To stop tying myself into knots of struggle and let things move in flow and at their own pace. And to remember how incredibly lucky I am to have such a vibrant community of friends and readers out there across the world (thank you all for being part of that!).

And on to the recipe…

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Recipe Reminder: Chive Blossom Vinegar

Philadelphia’s Headhouse Square Farmers’ Market reopened for the season yesterday. This is the biggest farmers’ market in this city and I look forward to it all week long. My friend Shay and I met up early and walked down to be there for the opening bell. We saw some of our favorite vendors, bought strawberries and ate tacos al pastor.

There were piles of rhubarb, plenty of green garlic and flats of tomato plants (oh, to have a garden in which to put them!). I also spotted several farmers with bundles of blooming chives, which reminded me that it’s time again to make chive blossom vinegar.

I made it for the first time last year and it’s been one of my favorite pantry items ever since. The finished vinegar is impossibly pink and flavorful. I like using it in salad dressings and as a way to add a bit of acidity to soups.

For those of you who made your own chive blossom vinegar last year, how did you work it in to your kitchen life over the last 12 months?

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Chive Blossom Vinegar

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I use a lot of vinegar in my day to day cooking. Between quick vinaigrettes, a splash to add balance to different dishes and the array of pickles I regularly make, it’s a favorite item. I typically have between 5-7 varieties including apple cider, white wine, cheap balsamic, a spendier balsamic, rice wine and basic distilled white vinegar. I’m also working my way through a jar of blackberry vinegar I made last summer by steeping spent blackberry seeds in a basic vinegar.

plucked chive blossoms

Many months ago, I spotting mention of chive blossom vinegar somewhere out there on the wide, vast internet (sadly, I’m not sure where it was, so I can’t give credit for this brilliant idea). It planted itself into my brain and though I can lay no claim on any chives myself, I hoped again hope that I might be able to lay my hands on some blossoms this spring in order to make a batch.

Last week, a friend mentioned on Twitter that in the course of her work as a gardener, she composts so many herb cuttings that she should start an herb CSA. While the comment was off-hand and mostly kidding, I mentioned that I was always happy to adopt any herbs in need of a home. As luck would have it, she had access to wide swaths of chives and their blossoms. I’d get to make my vinegar after all.

making chive vinegar

Chive blossoms smell ever so gently of onion and when steeped for a week or two, they give both that fragrance and their light purple color over to the vinegar. The actual process is so easy that you don’t need an actual recipe.

Pick a generous number of chive blossoms. Soak them in cool water to remove any dirt or bugs that might have taken refuge inside the blossoms. Dry them well (salad spinners are great for this) and stuff them into a jar so that it is between 1/2 and 2/3 filled with blossoms (I used a half gallon jar). Fill the jar with white vinegar. Because I’m cheap, I used a basic distilled vinegar. If you’re fancier than I am, try white wine vinegar.

Let the blossoms steep in the vinegar for two weeks in a cool, dark place. When the time has elapsed, strain the vinegar and pour it into any jar you’d like. Use anywhere you think it would taste good.

How is springtime treating the rest of you? I’ve been enjoying the rhubarb and asparagus and am looking forward to the coming abundance of strawberries.

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Preserving Lemons

preserved lemons

I first tasted preserved lemons when I went out to Ojai for a press trip out to the Sunkist lemon groves two years ago. (What a divine trip that was. Three days in Southern California in the midst of a messy Philadelphia winter.) By the time you eat a preserved lemon, it has little in common with the fruit as we know it. Strategically slit and salted, the lemons change character radically, until all you have left is a savory, tangy, yielding condiment that acts as serious flavor player.

And, as preserving projects go, this one couldn’t be easier. It’s just a matter of scrubbing, trimming, slicing and packing with salt. No boiling water baths or sterilization necessary.

Here’s how it works. You give your lemons a really good wash and then trim both ends to remove the remains of the stem and the little nub. Then slice them as if you’re cutting them into quarters, but not all the way. The goal is to have each lemon cut in four pieces but still attached to the whole. They always look a little like one of those fortune teller games we used to make in elementary school to me.

Once all your lemons are prepped, cover the bottom of the jar you’ll be using with salt (either kosher or sea salt is best). One by one, hold each lemon over the jar and spill a tablespoon of salt into the cuts. Pack them into the jar as you fill them with salt, using a bit of force to get them in if necessary. I used a 1 1/2 liter Le Parfait jar and found that it held nine lemons quite nicely. Spread some salt between each layer of lemons and make sure to top the jar off with a good pour as well.

Keep out on the counter for the first three days, giving the jar a good shake once or twice a day to help spread the salt and activate the juice production. If they aren’t producing a whole lot of juice, feel free to open the lid and press down to help things along. On the fourth day, take a good look at your lemons. They should be submerged in their own juice by this point. If they are not, top the jar off with some additional juice. Stash them in the back of the fridge for at least three weeks. After that, they should be ready to use. However, they’ll keep this way for at least six months (if not longer).

When you’re ready to use one, remove it from the jar and give it a rinse. Chop into tiny pieces and toss in salads, braises or grain dishes. I imagine it would be wonderful in this salad, in place of the braised lemon slices.

If you’ve bought or made them before, what’s your favorite way to use a preserved lemon?

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Can Jam: Sweet and Sour Pickled Red Onions

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Once again, I’ve waited until the last possible moment to post my Tigress Can Jam recipe. Motivated by deadlines? Yes, that would be me.

Despite my lack of action, I actually have been thinking about what to make for weeks. I initially wanted to do a red onion and rhubarb chutney. I even had a few stalks of ruby red forced rhubarb (purchased for my April Grid contribution). However, I left it waiting a few days too long and the rhubarb puddled in the bottom of the crisper. I took it as a sign that fate wanted me to do a solo red onion condiment.

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Last weekend, I bought several hefty red onions and have been gazing at them for the last seven days waiting to be moved. Wednesday (or thereabouts), I decided that I wanted to make something akin to a bread and butter pickle (I’m a sucker for the combination of sweet and puckery). Tonight I settled down on the floor in front of the stretch of bookshelves that hold the canning volumes, in order to cobble a recipe together.

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I stole inspiration from Linda Ziedrich’s favorite bread and butter pickle recipe (did you see that Linda left a comment on Rurally Screwed recently? I am star struck!), while using the proportions and cooking guidelines for pickled onions from So Easy to Preserve. What I got was a gently hued, softly cooked, slightly sweet pickle that I cannot wait to heap on a burger or suck down with a mild, soft cheese.

Updated June 29, 2010: These pickles are amazing on salads, particularly one built on a base of spicy arugula. Just thought you should know.

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