Here’s an idea you can jam out to: putting jelly in each course of your next meal! Yes, the jam pun was intentional… I’ll be making more of these throughout the rest of this post hopefully.
But seriously, jellies, jams, preserves… all of these are wonderful things, yet we almost never use them as ingredients in our meals. More often than not, they’re just a spread we indifferently and unexcitedly lather over our morning toast. Shame on us!
Here are three recipes — an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert — to preserve your love of jelly (see what I’m doing here?). Oh, and before I forget, if you honestly don’t know the difference between a jelly, a jam, and a preserve, this site gives a great primer – its worth knowing the differences going forward. Lets begin:
Appetizer: Texas Cheese and Cracker w/Jam
- Small crackers (something light and airy, as little flavor as possible… preferably no salt)
- Strawberry jam (not jelly or preserves)
- Goat cheese
- Cream cheese
- Pecans or peanuts
- Toast the peanuts or pecans in a skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes.
- Chop the nuts into tiny chunks. (You can probably do this step beforehand if you want.)
- Place the cream cheese and the goat cheese on a plate and pour the jam over the top.
- Place nuts next to the cheeses.
- Finally, place the crackers next to the cheeses and nuts.
This appetizer makes a great dipping dish that’s easy to prepare and impressive to your guests or your significant other coming over for dinner.
Entrée: Slow-Cooked Pork Loin w/ Jam and Ginger
- 1-1.5 pound pork tenderloin (or boneless chicken breast for those of you who don’t or won’t eat pork)
- 1/3 cup mint jelly
- 1/3 cup strawberry lemon jam
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup regular soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon ginger (dried) or 1 tablespoon fresh grated (or you can buy pre-minced ginger at the store; it comes in a small jar similar to the minced garlic you often find)
- 1 1/5 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (unless you can’t take the heat!)
- 2 sliced jalapenos
- 1 sliced scallion
- Put your slow cooker on low heat and add the pork or chicken.
- Take all the ingredients minus the scallions and mix them in a small bowl, and drizzle the mixture over the meat in the slow cooker, making sure that the sauce covers all surfaces of the meat.
- Leave the meat to cook in the slow cooker for 5 hours or until the meat is tender and cooked almost all the way through. You know the meat is done when it reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees F or it is mostly white on the outer age and only slightly pink in the center (don’t worry; pork is much safer to eat partially cooked than it used to be). If you are able to, flip the meat every hour or so.
- Slice meat into pieces of a half-inch thickness and use a ladle to spread the juices from the slow cooker over the slices.
- Garnish the sliced scallion.
This entrée goes great with a lighter-bodied, juicy red, such as a Zinfandel with little or no oak. You could also go with a Chardonnay.
Dessert: Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies
This is by far the most difficult recipe.
- 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup peanut butter, smooth or chunky as you prefer
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup fruit jam, a reduced-sugar variety works best
- Mix the white and brown sugar together using a mixer on medium speed.
- Add the peanut butter and the butter until you get a smooth mix.
- Add eggs in one at a time.
- Add the vanilla, baking soda, and salt.
- Add in the flour slowly (little dumps at a time, not adding a new dump until the first has disappeared into the mix)
- Spread out a large piece of nonstick baking parchment and on top of it, flatten out the dough into a rectangle shape that is ¼ inch thick.
- Use a pizza cutter or some other instrument to cut the dough into four strips down the longest side of the rectangle.
- Cover with more parchment and move to a cookie sheet where you will freeze the dough for 25 minutes.
- Place 1/3 cup of jelly on one of the strips and place another strip on top of it. Repeat this layering until you have quadruple-decked dough with jelly in between.
- Wrap in wax paper then plastic wrap and freeze for two hours.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Cut the block of jelly and dough into ½ inch thick pieces (cut with the layers perpendicular to the cutting board).
- Transfer cuts to a non-stick cookie sheet.
- Bake for 12-18 minutes or until golden brown.
- Let cool for 10 minutes then transfer to cooling rack with a spatula.
And there you have it, you manly Martha Stewart, you. Who said cooking is for wimps? Before you know it, all the ladies will be coming over to binge on your grub. 😉