A couple of days ago, I visited the New York Times’ column The Minimalist by Mark Bittman to find some new recipes to try. If you don’t know him, Mark Bittman is a food journalist, former editor of the Cook’s Illustrated magazine, and an author of several cookbooks, most notably How to Cook Everything. He also collaborated with one of my favorite chefs, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, on two cookbooks, Simple to Spectacular and Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef. He has been an advocate of the minimalist approach to cooking, preparing dishes that are simple, straightforward, and unfussy. He’s definitely my kind of cook. Anyway, I was looking for recipes with tomatoes since I had a good supply of them. I ran across this article and accompanying recipe and was immediately intrigued. The recipe was pretty straightforward and I had all of the ingredients in the pantry already. Plus, the photo that accompanied the recipe was stunning – the deep red color of the homemade tomato jam made it irresistible.
Since I used my mix of red and yellow tomatoes, the color of my jam was not as deep or as rich but the jam itself turned out to be a huge success. It has a unique and interesting flavor unlike any tomato preparation I’ve ever had. It is sweet and tangy, with hints of cinnamon and cumin, but the tomato flavor comes through as well. I’m not a big fan of cloves so I left that ingredient out, but I did add the zest from the lime. I think I would add a little more of the red pepper flakes next time around to spice it up a bit more. This would be perfect with some salty cheese like a Spanish Manchego or on a unique spin on the BLT, like we did. Fabulous!
Yields approximately 1 pint
1 1/2 pounds good ripe tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt (After tasting the jam, I adjusted the seasoning by adding more salt)
few grinds of ground black pepper, to taste
1 jalapeño or other peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced, or red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Over medium heat, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture reduces to the consistency of a thick jam. This will take approximately 1 hour to 1-1/2 hours. Taste and adjust seasoning, then cool and refrigerate until ready to use. The jam will keep for about a week.
Adapted from Mark Bittman