We be jammin’ – Tomato Jammin’
To finish National Grilled Cheese Month with a bang, I’m doing a cooking demo on how to make a perfect Grilled Cheese, this Saturday at the Farmers Market at Norfield Grange in Weston, Conn., from 11 to 2. (Stop by for a sample!)
I’ll be cooking two Grilled Cheese sandwiches — The Three Cheese Crisp, and my new creation which I’ve named The Weston, after the lovely Connecticut town I cover for my newspaper. I’ve gotten to know and admire many Westonites in the past eight years, so this is a little something in their honor.
The basic recipe for The Weston is:
• Sourdough Bread
• Butter infused with grated Cheddar (for outside of bread)
• Cheddar Cheese
• Smoked Gouda Cheese
• Tomato Jam (with apples)
But this recipe isn’t carved in stone — yet! At the cooking demo, I’m going to try a few variations and see what people like best. After all, I’m naming it for them. I’m considering adding fresh rosemary to the butter, omitting the Smoked Gouda, possibly adding a crumbled Parmesan Crisp. Stay tuned!
Here is my recipe for Tomato Jam, a key component of The Weston.
Tomato Jam slideshow and recipe:
1 and 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes, washed, cored and chopped (you want to use the skins, seeds and all the juice)
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh, grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/2 cup chopped Granny Smith apple (optional variation)
1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.
2. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then cool and refrigerate until ready to use. It keeps several weeks in the fridge. This recipe can be doubled and tripled, and also canned and processed in a water bath.
NOTE: Tomato Jam doesn’t usually have chopped apples in it, but I thought they would go nicely with the cheddar in The Weston so I added some to this batch. There are many Tomato Jam variations. Some recipes add peaches or even passion fruit. Make this jam your own by adding different ingredients such as cinnamon or cloves, or lime juice instead of lemon. Change out the cider vinegar with a little balsamic (but use balsamic VERY sparingly). Don’t like ginger or cumin? The jam will be lovely without it. I made the jam in the slideshow with four pounds of tomatoes, and a bit looser than usual so it would be easier to spread on The Weston, but it can be cooked as thick as you like. This recipe is quite versatile — and forgiving.