Friday, December 26, 2008

Jam Thyme

One of the fun parts about traveling is being able to shop in local grocery stores. It is a little like an archaeological dig in real time......a true window into other lives and cultures. A friend of mine once said "remember to not shop like you have the car parked in the lot." Anything that passes by the cash register must be hauled back home par avion with all of your other baggage. But....but....how could you possibly leave behind a treasure you dug from the the grocery shelf? Good thing the savory jams a friend pointed out to me came in small jars. Cherry jam with thyme, pear jam with cumin and fig jam with nuts were stacked on the shelf next to the cheese in the Monoprix, Paris' main grocery store. A new taste! Also, one that is simple to duplicate using good quality jam and adding your own spices. There is no need to start from scratch, since you will only use a small amount to accompany cheese. These jams really jazz up an otherwise simple cheese. Brie, goat cheese, or even sharp cheddar are enlivened by the surprise of the herbs or nuts mixed with the sweetness of the jam. Serve alongside roasted meat or ham to make them really special. Use your imagination and availability of ingredients to create your own unique combinations. Any ideas?

Morello Cherry Thyme Jam


2 ounces Morello cherry jam or other cherry jam

1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves removed
In a small saucepan add the cherry jam and thyme leaves. Simmer covered for 10 minutes, then let cool to room temperature before using. Cover tightly and refrigerate to store.
Pear Jam With Cumin
2 ounces pear jam
1/8-1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

In a small saucepan add the pear jam and 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin. Cumin has a strong flavor, so just add according to your taste. Simmer covered for 10 minutes, then let cool to room temperature before using. Cover tightly and refrigerate to store.
Fig Jam With Nuts
2 ounces fig jam
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans or walnuts

Stir fig jam and nuts together and serve. Cover tightly and refrigerate to store.

Raspberry and basil or apricot and rosemary are also flavorful combinations. Just experiment to create your own personal blend.

Written and photographed by Diane