From the Market — Week 7

Cherries

Well, things certainly have been buzzing around here. Even though I’ve neglected this blog for a while, I want to take a moment to pat myself on the back (gingerly, so I don’t dislocate a shoulder) for getting anything done at all. You see, I’ve been shooting another cookbook! (Not my own!) In my spare time! Which means every weekend! Minus the two vacations we’ve already scheduled! I’m hoping the exclamation points give me a little energy, because it’s a grueling pace, but I’m already so happy with the way things are going that I don’t mind the lack of rest. (OK, that’s not entirely true. My resentfulness does overflow on occasion when Gil’s taking a nap while I’m slaaaaaving away in the kitchen, but it’s what I signed up for, so I just suck it up.)

So in addition to the 2-3 recipes I’m cooking, styling and shooting for the book each day, I try to eke out a little something of my own to share here. This was my most recent stab at something new:

Asparagus and cherry tacos…whaaaa? I know, I wouldn’t have thought of that combination, either, but The Kitchn’s newsletter featured the recipe and made it sound so good, I had to give it a shot. I really should’ve made the asparagus salsa as well, but I was taaaahrd (a Southern kind of tired that hits you deep in the bone marrow) by Sunday afternoon and just couldn’t bring myself to cook one. more. thing. Still…it was quite luscious with just a spritz of lime juice and farmer cheese instead of the queso fresco.

And since cherries were still in the market, I took the opportunity to rework that jam I’d over agar-agared a week before. I still wanted to use agar agar as a thickening agent, because it doesn’t require cooking the fruit — I like the idea of a really vibrant and fresh-tasting jam. Halving the amount called for on the package yielded exactly the consistency I was hoping for, so yay for progress.

recipe after the jump

Strawberry-Cherry-Almond Jam

This recipe is based on ratios to start, then finishing to taste. Sorry, I know it’s kind of a pain, but also a great way to make it your own.

1 pint strawberries, hulled
1 1/2 quarts cherries, pitted
sugar
agar agar flakes
slivered almonds
almond extract

Weigh the fruit, place in a large bowl, then either mash or chop with an immersion blender to desired consistency. (I kept it a little chunky, but go ahead and purée away if that’s what you like.) Add sugar to equal 1/3 to 1/2 the weight of the fruit. I kept it on the lower end because the strawberries and cherries were already very, very sweet. Stir, and let fruit macerate on the counter for 6 hours.

Strain liquid into saucepan and set solids aside. Taste the juice — add a little sugar if it’s not as sweet as you’d like or some water if it’s too sweet for you. Add 1/2 tablespoon of agar agar flakes for every cup of liquid in the pan, bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the agar agar is dissolved. The package directions said this step would be about 10 minutes, but it took a full 20 minutes for me.

Remove pan from heat and stir in fruit solids, slivered almonds to taste (I had 1/4 cup in the fridge, so that’s what I used) and almond extract to taste (1/4 teaspoon for me because I love almond flavor). Cool to room temperature, then spoon into jars and refrigerate to set. Freeze any portion you don’t think you’ll use within a couple of weeks.