I’ve been wanting to make this since last fall. Waiting for good onions. And the right mood, of course.
This batch turned out pretty yummy, even himself said, “it’s good.” Don’t be escared when you see the jalapeno – it just adds an ever so slight pleasant warmth. You can leave it out, if you like.
This is fan-fucking-tastic stuff on a cheese board, on a grilled burger with some blue cheese, or in a grilled cheese sammich with a strong cheese like an aged white cheddar or Manchego.
Balsamic Onion Jam with Fig
yield: 2 pints
1 Tbsp. mild vegetable oil
3 sweet onions, sliced in ¼” thick crescents
1 jalapeno, sliced in thin crescents
⅓ c. white sugar
⅓ c. brown sugar
1½ c. balsamic vinegar
¼ c. cider vinegar
½ c. dried mission figs, sliced in quarters
In a large non-reactive pot on low, lightly sweat the onions and jalapenos and onion until the onions start to become translucent. Add some S&P and everything but the figs. Simmer, still on low, for an hour.
Add the figs, simmer on low for another hour-ish. When it is done, the mixture should be reduced by half, and the liquid thick and syrupy and almost evaporated. Pay lots of attention that it doesn’t scorch.
Put in a sterile jar and keep in the fridge for several weeks.
I don’t know the ph of this, so although I think it will waterbath can ok, I don’t know for sure. Research that before you do.
It’s almost spring, kind of a pre-spring really. I say this because Sprouts had quarts of strawbabies for 97 cents, and I was all over that. But…..although they were red, they were not really flavorful or sweet. So, what to do with a ton of non-optimal berries?
Then I remembered this awesome book I checked out from the library about small-batch canning, Food in Jars. I’d checked it out to read while planning a fig-onion-jam-making party, only it’s winter and the onions are all shite and not yet worthy of jam making. That mother is still totally happening, but once the onions are fat and sweet and not stringy and hot. But I digress. So, strawberry jam was now on the agenda. Last time I made it, I added some vanilla and it was awesome. So, there we go – I now had a plan.
I did this granny-style, 1:1 by weight fruit to sugar. Plus a 3″ piece of already scraped vanilla pod.
It is really yummy, but quite sweet. And a little heavy on the vanilla (I guess I was expecting a miracle and the cooking to make the berries have more berry-ness?). This is the kind of jam for crostatas, or afternoon tea, or sandwiched in a white layer cake. We had it with some orange scones (the usual recipe, with the zest of half an orange added, and just a little egg wash and sparkle sugar on top.)
This was a fun Friday morning off project, only took a couple of hours. If you’ve never canned before, I can highly recommend Marisa McClellan’s book, or The Spruce has a great visual beginner’s guide. It’s not hard, but there are some safety bits that are essential.
Ok – Here’s the recipe for Vanilla Strawberry Jammy Jams
2 pounds fresh strawberries; washed, stemmed, cut in half
2 pounds sugar
3″ piece of vanilla bean pod that’s already had its seeds scraped out. (or a one-inch piece of whole pod)
In a big stock pot on a very low flame, mix the berries and sugar. Use a potato masher to smoosh it up. Toss in the vanilla bean pod. Check on it and stir it every ten minutes or so at the beginning to make sure the sugar isn’t burning. Once it’s liquidy, let it barely bubble away for about two hours, then start to stir it every 15 minutes or so, again to make sure the bottom doesn’t scorch. When it sheets on a spoon, it’s ready (What the hell does that mean? Read on, baby!) At that point you can can it in a water bath, or put it in to freezer jam jars. Or just refrigerator jars. With all that sugar, it’ll stay good for quite a long while. Take some to the neighbors – mine loved it!
I’ll post about those scones later; I tried a Nigella trick and tossed the dough in the freezer for 20 minutes before cutting the dough. THAT was amazeballs and I am definitely doing THAT again.
It all started with a jar of jam. A beautiful, urn-like, Costco-sized jug really, filled with sparkling fig jam. Fig is my favorite, next to apricot, and the best brand is Tuna’s (which Caravan stopped carrying!) I was so sad until that moment in Costco. That is, until I got home.
Because, you see, this gorgeous golden Greek jug of hope held a horrible, horrible secret that only revealed itself when you took your first bite. Vanilla. They put FUCKING VANILLA in the jam. It tasted like my father’s pipe tobacco smelled. So, great. Now I had a Costco-sized jug of inedible fig jam taking up precious refrigerator space. And it stayed there for several months while I decided what to do. Then it occurred to me: crostata di mamellata!! Of course. Found a nice nonna recipe on The YouTube. It used oil and eggs in the crust – intriguing! I tried it and took it in to the office. It was lovely, and consumed with glee.
But overall the feedback was that it was too sweet – I’d made the layer of jam too thick. Everyone loved the vanilla now that it was in a tarte. I thought the crust needed a pinch of salt, and would taste better with butter than oil. General consensus was that it tasted like a giant fig newton. I’m cool with that. And realized essentially this is like those stained glass cookies you make for the winter holidays.
Fast forward to Saturday morning, time to try those adaptations. This time the dough mixed in the food processor, and I used melted butter instead of the oil. I thought this was a good idea. Oh, lawdee lawdee lawd. Do not ever do this. Ever. For reals. Learn from my pain. What an awful, greasy glob it made. I hoped by putting it back in the fridge for an hour, it would become useable. It was. Whew, dodged that bullet.
For the sweetness, the second batch which (THANK GAWD) finally ends that damn jar of fig jam, I stirred in the juice of one lemon. That did the trick, and balanced out the sweetness nicely. If I could do dairy, a dollop of mascarpone or plain Greek yogurt would be absolute heaven on this puppy.
The next time I make this, I will use either apricot or bosenberry jam. And I shall feast, betches!
Let’s make this – and I hope you check out the nonna video – I love the Italian technique, whether it is pasta for noodles or for pastry you beat that egg then slowly add in the flour. With your damn hand, dammit. Because centuries of practice going back to the Roman Empire cannot be wrong.
Crostata di marmellata
2 eggs, beaten
½ c. butter, cool-ish
½ c. sugar
1 tsp bkp pwd
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp. salt
2 c. AP Flour
Filling: a jar of jam (about 1.5-2c)
Set aside 2Tbsp. of the egg. Preheat your oven to 350*. In the bowl of your food processor, put the dry ingredients and briefly pulse to combine them. Add the butter, pulse til it looks like fine crumbs. Add the liquid, and pulse again to combine.
You will wind up with a crumbly mass. Turn it out on your floured board and gently knead a few times. Cut off 1/3 and set it aside. Roll out the larger piece to fit the bottom and sides of your pan(s). Fit it in the pan and trim the edges. Roll out the remaining dough to the same thickness (about 1/4″) in a big rectangle-ish shape and using a swirly-edged pasta cutter, slice it in to ½” wide strips. place these in the lattice style of your choice on top of the jam, and pinch them in to the dough at the edge. You’ll have many strips left. When that is done, smoosh down the dough at the sides of the pan with your finger, it should be about ¼” higher than the jam. Take the remaining strips and place them around the circumference. Gently brush all the dough with the reserved beaten egg, and sprinkle with the sparkle (or normal, or turbinado) sugar.
Bake 350* for 40m. Cool completely before slicing. Then have with your afternoon caffe with the neighbors.
Mmmmmm. Cake. I LOVE cake. Nothing in this world tops a plain yellow cake. Except maybe a yellow cake with my Meme’s fluffy frosting. (Snort. Nothing tops a cake…. ok ok.) Don’t get me wrong, chocolate cake is delicious. But yellow cake is sublime.
So, what if I told you that you could have cake for breakfast and that it would be slightly healthier than pancakes? As in, it has less sugar (unless you’re some kind of weirdo who eats pancakes without syrup.) Silliness aside, the ingredients for pancakes or this yellow cake are practically interchangeable. Add some low-sugar jam, and we’re done.
We picked this jam up at Costco, and it’s quite tasty. It is not very sweet, though – so if you like a really sweet jam, this is not for you. But for a cake filling, it is spot on.
2 c. AP flour
1 ¼ c. sugar
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350*. Get out two 8” or three 6” round pans.
Alrighty, y’all know I love me the creaming method of cake creation – so here it is:
In the Kitchenaide, with the paddle attachment, put all the dry ingredients. Give a couple spins to combine, then toss in the stick of butter (Cold from the fridge is fine). Run on medium for a couple of minutes, until the mixture looks like a bowl full of fine crumbs.
While that’s going, line the bottom of the cake pans with parchment, then grease and flour the pans. No, this is not overkill. You could parchment the sides, as well, if you want a super-smooth side. I didn’t – I’m lazy.
Back at the mixer, when the mix looks like crumbs, pour in the three liquid ingredients, bring up to medium high then high for about three minutes – until the mixture looks fluffy and is a lighter color than when you started.
Evenly divide between the pans. Give each a good whack, and bake for 30-35 minutes (start testing at 25 for the six inchers.) And, I weigh mine when it’s by three because otherwise I have vastly different sized layers. Eyeball it at your own risk.
When they test clean with a toothpick, cool on a rack for ten minutes (they’ll still be warm), then remove the cake from the pan. Cool completely. Layer with your compote or jam, sprinkle with powdered sugar and you are good to go.
What about Meme’s frosting? I will try and fit that in to a post here soon. The interwebs knows about it, especially because the Pioneer Woman extolled its wonder a while back – check it out if you can’t wait!
Our fabulous neighbors who market have struck again! This time with four pounds of cherry tomatoes from the Market on the Move. But it’s December, so cooking them was the main option. Ya’ll know I love me some cherry tomato jam, so I thought it’d be fun to mix it up a little this time around. Add some spice. Add half onion. I’d been reading about slow cooker jams, so I thought, “Hey! Let’s try it!”
So, I got all the ingredients in the crockpot about midday, happily anticipating canning some jam after dinner. …. Fast forward to 6 pm. Yes, that would be six hours later. When suddenly I remember an essential element of jam making: evaporation. And an essential element of the slow cooker’s success: lack of evaporation. I had a soupy mess that looked almost exactly like it did six hours earlier. Sigh. So, I had to ice bath those puppies and started again the next morning. A couple hours on low in a stock pot on the cook top, and we were ready to rock and roll.
This version is very tasty, but it can’t stand on its own as a jam like previous versions – say with a bacon or cheese scone. With a good strong cheese like asiago or Manchega and some crispy bread, though? We are talking seriously tasty.
Bon appétit! Try it, and share how it goes!
3.75# grape or cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
1 large white onion, grated
2 sm. White onions, in ¼” crescents
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smooshed
½ c. balsamic vinegar
3 dashes Worsteshire sauce
3 tsp. grated ginger (or 3 Dorot frozen ginger cubes)
1 tsp. Liquid Smoke
2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 tsp. pimenton dulce ahumado
1 tsp. red chili flakes
1/2 tsp. ground clove
Freshly ground black pepper
Put everything in a big stock pot, cook on low until it is reduced to a good jam consistency. Put in sterile jars in the fridge or the freezer. If you’d like to can, I’ll put a link below with the directions.
For canning directions. These folks know their stuff
So, you know when you go to Costco and get that HUGE clamshell of cherry tomatoes, and you tell yourself – Oh! I’ll eat all of them. They look so good! I’ll have some every day!
Only a week later they look like this?
Or, maybe you have a neighbor who went to Market on the Move and brought you four pints of them? (Because you have the best neighbors ever!)
What to do, what to do? Soooo many cherry tomatoes. Some a little on the sad side. Well at our house, that means cherry tomato jam.
This stuff is like grown-up ketchup – it goes on everything. On a sliced baquette with some goat cheese. On a pork chop. On a ham and cheese scone. On a bacon sandwich. Everything, I tells ya.
I make mine with the toms, some grated onion and sliced shallot, thyme, sugar, balsamic vinegar, worcestershire, garlic and olive oil.
Since these were M-O-M cherry tomatoes, and most likely not organic, I gave them two good washes with soapy hot vinegar water.
Anybody with a split skin, I tossed. (Hello? Hot soapy vinegar water?) Next, slice the toms in half. These aren’t cranberries – they don’t automatically pop when they’re done. Trust me, I’ve tried. You get stuck trying to mash them at the end and it’s a pain. Plus, this way you can inspect each one.
Throw them in the pot and simmer on low for a couple hours. I actually wound up having to add some tomato paste to mine. It *is*January, they weren’t exactly chock full of tasty tomato-loids.
You can can it at this point. Or freeze it. Or just toss it in the fridge for up to a few weeks. I’ve been known to make a mini batch of these when I’ve got a partial pint mummifying on the counter.
I tried to use less sugar this time, and it did not set up – it’s like a thick tomato jam sauce type thing. But still *very* tasty. Just not as pretty. And, unfortunately, I’ve promised some to friends so hello, cooking shame. Haven’t seen you in like…a day.
Alright – moral of the story? Never throw away ageing cherry tomatoes again!
Cherry Tomato Jam, Not-So-Cherry
Sweet and tangy with thyme, vinegar and mild onion. Yum!