Toast Post

Hello jam fiends. Kate here.

Last week, Rachel came to me in a flurry of excitement. She had just read Molly Wizenberg’s most recent blog post on Orangette, wherein Molly describes her new love of toast. “I love toast!” Rachel said. “I totally understand and agree with everything Molly says in her blog. I love toast. We have to blog about toast.”

A few days have passed, and we all talked excitedly about toast: when we like to eat it, what kind of bread we like, what kind of jam or marmalade is best on toast (a heated debate, as you may well imagine). And, well, Rachel’s been a little bit busy making jam out of thousands of berries every day, so I thought I’d hop in and share our conclusions about toast. It may not be quite as elegant an articulation as Molly’s, but I do think it gives a peek into how fanatical we at Blue Chair are about perfect jam pairings.

Rachel’s favorite: Irish brown bread with English Marmalade is right up there. With strong black tea, of course!

Jamie’s favorite: English muffin (from Arizmendi, or Lori’s at the pop-up market), with lots of butter and East Cost Blueberry Jam. Paired with PG Tips black tea (with honey and milk).

Kate’s favorite: Walnut bread, spread with Black Plum Jam with Candied Citrus & Bay. A cup of red chai to drink.

Luz’s favorite: Elderberry-Orange Marmalade, with salted butter, on Firebrand bread.

The great toast debate was so much fun that we’re thinking it will be a monthly feature for Blue Chair Fruit. What jam and toast (and, apparently, tea) pairings are your favorite? What should we try?

The Great Beer Bread Experiment

Turns out it’s International Beer Day tomorrow (August 5). We love any excuse to bake, and thus The Great Beer Bread Experiment was born: bake a loaf of beer bread, and pair it with some of our favorite jams and marmalades.

We used this recipe, and the beer of choice was Scrimshaw. Before we knew it, a fresh-baked loaf of delicious (albeit slightly sweet*) bread was in our little hands.

The candidates for perfect match with beer bread: Red Raspberry-Strawberry Jam, Golden Sweet Apricot Jam, Nightfall Blackberry Jam, Lemon-Pink Grapefruit Marmalade, Seville Orange Marmalade with Vanilla and Muscovado, and English Marmalade. We chose the widest flavor variety possible. We’re very scientific like that.

Our results indicate that marmalade is an excellent match for beer bread. While the Seville Orange Marmalade was a little too intense for this batch of beer bread, we want to try it with bread made with a stronger beer — maybe Guinness. The Lemon-Pink Grapefruit was a little too light for the Scrimshaw. If we make a Stella Artois beer bread, Lemon-Pink Grapefruit will be our choice.

Jam, it turns out, is better suited for a lighter bread that does not taste like beer. However, we did think the Nightfall Blackberry jam was pretty delicious with this bread — it was a close second for the favorite pairing. We’d recommend using Nightfall Blackberry to accentuate a blackberry or other berry ale.

The clear first-place winner was the Seville Orange Marmalade with Vanilla and Muscovado. The strong notes in this marmalade — molasses-y muscovado sugar, rum, and vanilla — held up against the beer flavor, while simultaneously accentuating the different notes in the beer. Some of us may have gone back for a second helping. In order to verify our results.

Happy International Beer Day!

*This recipe recommends a bit too much sugar for our taste.

How to Use Marmalade: Yogurt Cake with Lemon Marmalade Glaze

Yogurt Cake with Lemon Marmalade Glaze

We frequently have farmers’ market customers ask us what to do with marmalade, beyond spreading it on toast and eating it with a spoon. Here’s an application we love, that’s a little off the beaten path but still pretty easy: use your favorite marmalade to glaze a simple cake!

The cake recipe here is simple enough — its light, sweet flavor is the perfect base for any Blue Chair Fruit marmalade. We glazed this cake with our Lemon Marmalade with Lavender and Cardamom, and we think the subtle lavender notes, along with the slightly tart bitter lemon taste, really make this simple cake sing. You can strain out the citrus rinds (they make a lovely snack while you wait for the glaze to set), but we love the extra surprise kick they give.

Of course, the sky’s the limit here. What about playing up the sophistication by using Bergamot Marmalade — and then serving with Earl Grey tea? Or, if you’re feeling sweeter, glaze with Strawberry-Meyer Lemon Marmalade.

It may be time to sneak back in the kitchen for another slice…

Oooh… our jams in a pop tart!

Love this blog post from Blame it on the Food; check it out!

This Week: Strawberry-Marsala Jam with Rosemary

We had a great time making jam this week with our fabulous Aroma and Albion strawberries from Dirty Girl Produce in Santa Cruz, and wanted to share this recipe, which originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle last year! It got raves from many of our friends who made it, and it is one of the few jams we make annually. We hope you’ll enjoy this chance to make the most of this season’s last strawberries…

IMG_8838STRAWBERRY-MARSALA JAM WITH ROSEMARY

3 pounds 14 ounces hulled strawberries
2 pounds 6 ounces white cane sugar
scant 3/4 cup strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
Approx. 1/8-1/4 cup sweet or medium-sweet Marsala
3 to 4 6-inch stalks fresh rosemary

Place a saucer with two metal spoons in a flat place in your freezer. Rinse rosemary well under cold water, pat dry between  two clean towels,  and set aside.

In a 16-quart copper preserving pan or stainless steel kettle, combine berries with sugar and lemon juice. Place pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring frequently. After a few minutes, as juice starts to run and mixture begins foaming a little around the edges, gradually raise heat to high, stirring often.

Boil hard for approximately 20-30 minutes, gently scraping the bottom every few minutes with a heatproof rubber spatula to be sure mixture is not sticking. If it begins to stick, reduce heat slightly, being sure it continues at a rapid boil. Continue to cook, scraping bottom frequently, until foam subsides; the mixture acquires a darker, shinier look; and the berries appear softened and saturated with liquid, approximately 25 minutes total.

Turn off heat. Do not stir. Let mixture sit a moment, then use a metal soup spoon to carefully scrape all the white foam off the top of the mixture. When you have removed every last bit of white, stir in the marsala, little by little, tasting as you go. The flavor should be present, but not overpowering. Return to medium heat and cook,  stirring frequently. If necessary, gradually lower the heat to prevent scorching.

After 3-5 minutes, your jam should again look glassy and dark. To test for doneness, remove the jam from heat and take a small representative half-spoonful (one containing both the liquidy and the more solid portions of the mixture) and carefully transfer it onto one of your frozen spoons. Replace the cold spoon in the freezer for 1-2 minutes. Remove from freezer and nudge it gently with your finger. It should by this time be neither warm nor cold; if still warm, put it back in the freezer for a moment. Tilt the spoon vertically to see how quickly your jam runs; if it runs slowly, and if it has thickened to a gloppy consistancy, it is done. If it runs very quickly, or appears watery,  cook for another minute or two, stirring, and test again, repeating more times if necessary. This jam, while spreadable,  has a relatively loose texture.

Turn off heat but do not stir. Skim all remaining foam from the surface of your jam, then stir well to be sure berries and liquid are evenly distributed. Place rosemary stalks into jam, stir, leave 1 minute, taste (mixture will very hot!), and either remove sprigs or leave to steep another moment. Pour into sterilized jars and process according to manufacturer’s instructions.

yield: approximately six 8-ounce jars.