Friday, September 3, 2010

going with the flow

Here we are at Labor Day weekend, gulp. Time does seem to, um, move along, sigh.  My game plan is to keep things to a minimum this weekend and enjoy the waning days of heat and long light. A city friend called me yesterday to ask about a tomato jam recipe she had tried that had not quite worked out. The query was whether to seed the tomatoes or not. Well, I have never made tomato jam, nor have I ever given it much thought but as I looked around my kitchen counter and saw all the ripe tomatoes piling up I thought it was not a bad time to consider the recipe.

A little internet research uncovered several versions, ranging from thick and sweet to spicey with lots of texture. The one recipe that suited me best was from a site called White on Rice Couple. It is a really good looking blog and worth checking out. Their suggestion was to play with the basic concept of sweet, savory and spicey, adjusting the ingredients to make it your own. I had some tomatillos from the garden and my own home grown cayenne pepper to add to the mix so I was ready to give it a try. That is when the door bell rang and I was handed a fed-ex package from Santa Fe, New Mexico where my friend and artist Betsy Bauer lives. She had sent me a veritable hoard of New Mexico Green Chilies and Shishito Peppers fresh from the Santa Fe farmer's martket. Wow!! The aroma was heavenly and come on, what timing!!?
New Mexico Green Chili

Shishito Peppers

I decided to immediately add the peppers to the tomato jam and give it a South West twist. The jam is cooking on the stove right now and it smells fantastic. My home is filled with the exotic scent of a far away place. I am giddy with excitement!
Here is the jam at the beginning of cooking. I plan to leave it simmering for at least 1.5 hours.

Try the jam recipe and experiment with the ingredients. I think it will taste great in many variations. And to think I never considered tomato jam before! Silly me.

East Meets West Tomato Jam
-loosely based on the recipe from White on Rice Couple  blog.  Check out their link for variations on this recipe

4 tomatoes, chopped (with seeds left in)
1 whole shallot, peeled
1 stick cinnamon
1 Tbs. whole coriander seed
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbs. Rice vinegar
Juice of 1/2 Lime
1 cup of whole fresh shishito peppers (substitute any other fresh chili)
1 whole Cayenne pepper

Put all ingredients in a pot and simmer for 1-2 hours till thickened. Cool before storing in fridge.

OK.  So here I go with the usual questions. First, would you take out the shallot, garlic, and peppers before serving? I guess the peppers are too fiery to eat? This looks very interesting. I'll have to give it a go.  Deb, with what would you recommend serving this? I imagine it would be delicious served with some cheeses and crusty bread.

However this dish is enjoyed, it most likely will not be the main course or focal point of the meal or appetizers. Therefore, it would not be the dish that the wine choice should revolve around. But if you like a lot of heat for this recipe, remember to choose a wine that does not have a high alcohol content. The heat of the food will only seem hotter and will accentuate the alcohol in the wine. So, even if this is a side, or something to enjoy with hors d'oeuvres, don't pick a wine that will ruin your tastebuds for the other courses. A versatile white with a hint of sweetness might be a good choice. For something that will go with a large variety of foods and apps, maybe look towards an off-dry sparkler for starters. This jam seems like it might be fairly sweet because of the brown sugar. So, beware of choosing too dry a wine. The sweetness of the jam would make a very dry wine seem "blah". But again - this jam would not be the focal point of the meal so there is no need to get to crazy about your wine choice. Versatility is key!


  1. You are correct Amanda, there is a sweetness to the jam, but it is surprisingly not that fiery. The heat comes from the one cayenne pepper I added (and left whole so as to keep the heat moderate) The southwestern chili were actually quite mild and added lots of exotic flavor. I would serve the jam as a condiment with cheese or with grilled foods. DELICIOUS!! -oh and I leave all the spice in the jar and just eat around them.

  2. Deb & Amanda
    Great info on BOTH counts. Amanda, I never thought how the heat of the food would affect the taste of the wine! How interesting, and of course once you think about it makes so much sense.

    Deb, those peppers have my mouth watering!!
    Looks fantastic. I'm off to the farmer's market, not having a friend shipping me peppers, to gather those goodies and cook up a pot of this.

  3. Looks really interesting. I'm a big fan of tomato jam and I'be never made mine spicy. Thanks for the recipe. As for the seeding of the tomatoes in the jam. I make 2 versions and I never seed them and they come out great.

  4. Cool, Deb, glad you put the chilies to good use!! Couldn't resist sending them to you, as I knew you would get very creative with them! hugs, Betsy


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