I was in an upscale cheese store in Midtown. A great store we know well. A jar labeled “Tomato Jam” caught my eye. I knew that I could convince Suzen to take it home since it said “tomato” and the “jam” part would just slip past her. Particularly if I mumbled over the right syllable. I was home free.
Before I put it into my shopping basket, I was just curious about how much? I turned the jar over. Adjusted my glasses. Then adjusted my jaw. Carefully, oh so carefully, did I rest that $14 bottle of jam back atop the stack. I spend money, but I have limits.
I sought out my wife. Suzen was inspecting a counter of blue cheeses, figuring what to buy. “Something from Oregon?” she asked me.
“Anything, sweetie,” I answered with a pant that caught her eye. “You’re not going to believe what I just saw.”
We fled in shock and awe. We went from that cheese store to a farmers market a few blocks away, bought tomatoes and determinedly bent our way home. We made our own jam: 4 half-pint jars for maybe $12. This jam is beautiful to behold and tangy on the tongue.
We owe this financial relief to our friend Miriam Rubin and her new book Tomatoes. I suppose “heirloom” is one of those trigger words. Is it really “heirloom” or just an adjective put on to pull me in? We know Miriam researched and tested her recipes with laser precision. It’s heirloom and a gem and something you want to try.
The publisher of the book, the University of North Carolina Press, had not expected me to blog this recipe but has kindly allowed me to do so. This book is from their Savor the South series. You can get more information about the book by visiting: http://uncpress.unc.edu/books/10104.html
If, if you have that pause about making jam and having to sterilize the lids and what happens if you mess up and … Relax. This jam is made, cooled, and stored in the refrigerator. You can run your jam jars through the dishwasher on the high heat cycle. Or, just do what we do: use a big sauce pan filled with water and boil the jars for 5+ minutes while you are tending to the tomatoes. It’s less angst that you think and you’re going to smile at the first bite.
How have we served this jam? As party appetizers with goat cheese on small slices of toasted, homemade bread. With Bourbon on the rocks. Hey, the book says “Savor the South!”
Heirloom Tomato Jam with Lemon
Yield: 3-4 half-pint jars
- 4 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, such as Cherokee Purple, Bandywine, or Delicious, peeled, cored, seeded, and cut into ½ inch pieces [about 5 ½ cups]
- 2 medium lemons, preferably organic, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise, seeds removed
- 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 3-5 tablespoons lemon juice
Put the tomatoes and lemon slices in a large, heavy, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Stir well and bring to a boil, crushing the tomatoes with a potato masher. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Sir in the sugar, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently and skimming off any foam, until thick, about 30 minutes. Stir in the 3 tablespoons lemon juice and cook until thickened and jamlike, 5-8 more minutes. Taste, and if it’s too sweet, add 1-2 tablespoon more lemon juice and return to a full boil
Spoon immediately into clean, hot half-pint jars and fit the jars with 2-pieced lids. Let cool, then refrigerate the jam until ready to serve.
Source: From TOMATOES: a Savor the South® cookbook by Miriam Rubin. Copyright © 2013 by Miriam Rubin. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press: www.uncpress.unc.edu
“I need you to make cocktails on Thursday. Sparkling cocktails,” Suzen told me last week.
“How many people?”
“Oh, time for punch.” I gave my natural reaction. I was not making cocktails for 32 people.
“No, individual cocktails. I suggest you do research.” Apparently I was.
And so I have. For that many people, I needed something different and exciting. And easy. I didn’t want to be squeezing lemons or limes or oranges for 30+ people. I didn’t want to have three or four alcoholic components. I needed volume, production, swiftness.
This is why God has given us sorbet. You get flavor, coldness, and — when slightly softened — scoopability. That’s a technical term that has nothing to do with cat litter.
For that many people, I scaled up, putting softened sorbet in our Vitamix and processing to get a base for this cocktail. I had seen a recipe for this beverage that called for orange flavored vodka. For this lunchtime event, we wanted a less forceful drink, so I substituted a simple sugar syrup. I added just enough additional champagne to get a “flowing” mixture. You can then simply pour this mixture into each champagne flute, and top off with champagne. Gently stir to mix. Top with the raspberries and savor the bubbles.
Lemon sorbet works perfectly. You can go down another flavor profile: mango, peach, raspberry, … You can even offer up two or three pitchers, each with its own flavor and color.
Be prepared: people drink this readily and happily.
Lemon Sorbet Bellini
Yield: enough for at least 10 servings
- 1 pint lemon sorbet, softened
- ½ cup simple syrup
- 1 cup champagne
- Chilled bottles of champagne [one or more]
- 1 pint of strawberries
Combine the sorbet with the simple syrup and 1 cup of champagne in a strong blender. Our Vitamix was a godsend here. Process until you have a smooth mixture that is thick but pourable. You may need to adjust the amount of champagne depending on how much you have softened the sorbet. So, I would add the champagne gradually.
Put 2+ tablespoons of this mixture in the bottom of a champagne flute. Fill the flute to the halfway point – or more. Garnish with a raspberry.
Source: Brian O’Rourke