Tonight was epic. At least in terms of making. The other night I made some ricotta cheese. I was curious, it was easy, I now have ricotta cheese in my refrigerator. Another night I made tomato jam. Not as easy, still good. I’ve been dreaming of a way to use the tomato jam and so tonight my wife and I had a crostini party. We had some leftover fancy bread (onion and caraway) that I did not bake. I cut it up and toasted it in the oven. We had red onions, the ricotta, the tomato jam, some green onions, and some last minute pickled peppers (more on these in a second).
It was awesome. The ricotta was unsalted so a sprinkle of salt and pepper just before a smear of jam and some red onions was just the trick. The tomato jam was significantly elevated paired with the onion. The peppers were great but, as I would find out later, should have had a bit more time to rest.
I think a crostini party (think fondue party) would be a great idea. Make a spread of all the various things you might put on a crostini. Let’s be honest it’s a pretentious way of having a cheese and cracker party, but the possibilities are intoxicating. Cheeses, hummus, pickles, salty meats, veggies, some jams, honey, and baby you’ve got a stew going. My wife and I are going to get something like that on the calender for a friends night.
So I’ve seen the pros do a “quick pickle” for his competition shows on the food channel. I was desperately curious about pickling as he (and others) make it seem so easy. So I poked around online and found a reasonable consensus for a basic pickle brine. The “quick” is that the vegetable in question doesn’t ferment, simply brined. While I was unpacking our latest grocery run I noticed we had a red bell pepper that was on it’s last leg so I decided to try pickling it (if it turned out poorly, no loss).
They turned out really good. The brine was dead simple, I guessed at the seasonings with which to brine based on a couple of quick searches online. Earlier I said they should have rested. I put these on the table for supper and the brine was still a bit warm. A few hours later, after making some apple jam (more on this in a second), I tasted them again. After having had a chance to sit and chill, the red pepper flavor came out of hiding. They were much better having rested.
In general, this was quick, easy, and a great way to take a veggie in a new direction to add a new dimension of flavor to the meal. The simplicity and the fact that I can play with the seasonings, make this bit really exciting in terms of riffing on a core concept.
So it’s apple season and as Minnesotans, we have to find something to validate ourselves. One of these extrinsic validators is the Honeycrisp apple. Fall brings with itself the apple harvest and I’ve been planning on doing some apple jam for a couple of weeks. Cub finally brought out the apples. For this round, I used a combination of Honeycrisp, Braeburn, and Gala.
It turned out awesome–even the second three jars to which I added bourbon 😉. That being said, I think next time I’m going to run the apples through a grinder to make more of an apple sauce jam. Maybe that’s just apple sauce 🤔 … I could also take the jam and season it like apple pie. Apple pie jam 🤔 …
In any case, the jam turned out great and was yet another round of jam practice.