Thursday, September 14, 2017

Spicy Tomato Jam & Cheddar Biscuits

Tomato jam uses up lots of tomatoes which are still streaming in from the potager, though at a lesser pace. Three pounds makes around two cups (470 ml). It will keep in the fridge for a week or two and any surplus can be frozen.

These tender biscuits can be pulled apart with your hands

Ingredients for Spicy Tomato Jam
makes around 470 ml/2 American cups, 8 fluid oz each, adapted from Serious Eats

  • Tomatoes (the best you can find, I used romas from our garden), 1.4 kg/3 lbs, skinned, cored, chopped
  • Sugar, granulated, white, 4 T (the original recipe called for 2 cups or 32 T, feel free to use that amount, I am sure it will be delish and very jammy, but I was aiming more for a condiment plus our garden-fresh tomatoes are very sweet on their own)
  • Ginger, freshly grated (I used frozen minced ginger), 1 T
  • Red pepper flakes, 1/2 to 2 tsp (I used 1/2 tsp which resulted in a mild level of heat)
  • Salt, 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon, ground, 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin, 1/4 tsp (I substituted caraway seed which gave a nice earthiness, is in the same family as cumin, and was in our larder)
  • Lemon juice, freshly squeezed, 4 T (a large lemon should do it)

Place all ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed pot (I used enamelled cast iron). Stirring frequently, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat and simmer uncovered for around two hours. When is thick, thick enough? The first indication is the 'parting of the red sea' test. If a swipe across the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon stays for around thirty seconds you are getting closer to getting a jam consistency. A rule of thumb is when the jam is still watery, higher heat makes sense, when pretty thick, a lower one does. Stir occasionally and don't leave the pot untended longer than fifteen minutes.

When you can pile the jam to one corner of the pot and it stays there like a mountain smugly satisfied with its stationary status . . .

. . . you are done. The jam can be eaten right out of the jar with a spoon; accompany fish, poultry, and meat; adorn grilled cheese, BLT, and burgers; cosy up to some scrambled eggs; gussy up a cheese platter.

Ingredients for Cheddar Biscuits
makes around 16 two-inch/5 cm rounds, from Fannie Farmer, my culinary bible

  • Flour, white, all-purpose, 280 g/2 cups (American measure, that is, 8 fluid oz each cup)
  • Salt, 1/2 tsp
  • Baking powder, 4 tsp
  • Cream of tartar, 1/2 tsp (I leave this out)
  • Sugar, granulated, white, 1 T
  • Vegetable shortening (I substituted sweet butter, cut into small cubes), 8 T (1/2 American cup, 4 fluid oz)
  • Milk, 15o ml (2/3 American cup, 5.3 fluid oz)
  • Cheddar, sharp, 8 T (1/2 American cup, 4 fluid oz), finely grated and loosely packed (if more cheesiness is desired, pack the cheese down, but the biscuits may be less fluffy)

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C/425 degrees F (for more crustiness, preheat to 230 degrees C/450 degrees F which is the temperature I used). Mix the first five ingredients in a bowl. Stir in the cheese.

Add the shortening or butter. Work it with your fingertips till the texture is that of coarse meal.

Pour in the milk all at once. Mix with a wooden spoon

The dough will be crumbly.

Knead it 14 times. That's right. 14 times. Not more or less. I never question Fannie. Flour a board well as the dough is somewhat sticky because of the cheese. Pat out dough to a thickness of 1.3 cm (1/2 inch). Cut out rounds with a 5 cm (2-inch) cutter. Gather the scraps and cut again. Repeat till all or most of the dough is used.

Properly cutting out the dough, that is, with an up and down motion with no twisting, will give you loftier biscuits.

Ah, the whiff of cheddar! Whets the appetite for sure

Place them, slightly touching each other (this gives crusty outsides and fluffy insides), on buttered cake pans or pie plates. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and when they don't leave an impression when touched.

Oh my. So GOOD! The pairing of spicy tomato jam with cheddar biscuits is a sublime one. Gobble them up as a snack or serve them with scrambled eggs for brunch.

À la prochaine!

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