Friday, December 23, 2011

Sweet, Tart and Spicy Tomato Jam

Someone once told me that divorce is like a death in the family and that you need to go through the five stages of loss in order to get over it. Stages such as denial,  anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance. I think I was over my divorce and "accepted" it a long, long time ago, but I was stuck in a funk with cooking. I didn't divorce cooking, but somehow I felt like I did. And as much as I love cooking I just couldn't (or wouldn't) go to the kitchen and cook something out the blue, or even follow a recipe. I needed a foodie therapist.

This year, during Thanksgiving week, my daughter was in Minnesota for a couple of weeks so I took advantage and took a mini vacation to San Francisco. There I met up with two of my favorite friends from Boston, Gracie and Kerry, who are also major foodies like me. Perhaps it was their company, perhaps it was the crisp San Francisco air, or perhaps it was all that wine we drank, but I began to realize that I needed to start cooking again, not because it was the only way to get my "mojo" back, sort of speak, but because I truly, truly love being in the kitchen and cooking, experimenting, tasting...oh, the tasting!

This little gem of a recipe is from the blog, injennieskitchen, and I stumbled upon it via my friend, Gracie, who made the tomato jam for us to enjoy for Thanksgiving. Once I tasted the jam I knew I had to make it. I took it upon myself to triple the recipe (bad idea) and instead of the 3 hour cooking time, it was actually more like 4 1/2  hours. So take it from me, don't double or triple, just follow the recipe below and it will come out great. I did add a little cayenne pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon) when I made mine, and it gives it just a slight spicy edge. Also, try to use a variety of tomatoes like Roma, Heirloom, yellow and grape tomatoes and don't forget the tart apple. You really need it in order to create a bit of pectin for your jam. Lastly, I did cut down on the sugar by about 1/2 cup for my tripled batch and it still came out sweet and tangy.

The way I love to use this jam is by smearing a little goat cheese on crostini and top with the tomato jam. Also, other ways to use it is as a relish on a burger or just place a dollop of the stuff on top of some cottage cheese. Happy cooking, my friends!

INGREDIENTS (makes 1 1/2 to 2 pints)

  • 3 1/2 lbs tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup finely diced tart green apple

Put all ingredients in a 2-quart pot. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until thickened and jam-like consistency, about 3 hours. Transfer to sterilized glass jars and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks, or use a hot-water canning bath for 15 minutes for long-term storage.

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