This is a story of family and food and love. My father’s mother, my grandma Julia, had five sisters; my great aunts Jenny, Anna, Helen, Mimi, and Lulu. My Dad learned to cook, bake and preserve from the wonderful women in his family and from my grandfather, who was a butcher.
As a very young girl, I spent the early mornings while my mom and brother slept, with my daddy. In this quiet time he shared the secrets of the kitchen; separating eggs, mixing the lightest batter, transforming ordinary berries into glistening preserves and syrups, or stuffing a sausage and corning a beef brisket. I was enchanted and have never wanted to leave this magical world.
Dad told me that my Aunt Jenny taught herself to make pickles because my Uncle Bill hated garlic and all of the pickles at the market had garlic. Also Jenny made an amazing spread that everyone loved from simple ingredients of dried and canned fruit.
At some point years later we noticed that Dad’s hand began to shake. I remember the awful day when my mom and dad told me that dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. We all spoke of treatments and how we were sure that it would all be OK. However over time this cruel disease robbed dad of his joys of working in my parents antique business, roller blading, photography, and cooking.
As dad’s health declined, we spent a lot of time talking about family stories and recipes. There was something very calming and familiar for him to talk about things like his mother’s huckleberry pie (it was so good that it made him come home early from vacation when he heard she was baking one) and my Aunt Jenny’s delicious apricot and pineapple jam. When I asked him for the recipe for the jam he was not sure how to make it but said he would know it when he tasted it.
Experimentation and tidbits of information; “they must be California sun dried apricots” he remembered her saying, helped us recreate the recipe. I made a few jars and dad took one bite and declared it a success. We recruited my cousins, Aunt Jenny’s children as taste testers and got a rousing approval.
My Dad, Sidney Cohen, was taken from us a little over a year ago and I miss him terribly. He was not the sort for a big fuss and would not have liked any kind of grand celebration or some award done in his name but I wanted honor his memory.
We have made a special vintage recipe version of our Aunt Jenny’s Jam for sale online and at our markets. I will be contributing 10% of the total sales for this jam for the rest of the year to Parkinson’s research. I hope this bright sunny spread will be a delight for my family to share with yours and the money raised with help in some small part to reduce suffering and lead to a cure.
Purchase Aunt Jenny’s Jam
I started this blog to share recipes from my kitchen and mostly that is what I will still be doing here. Once in a while I will share news about my little jam company, Doves and Figs and perhaps a few other places and products that I love. Our website is www.dovesandfigs.com and I would love to have you visit anytime but it will be even more exciting in a month or so when we add our online shop! We have been getting wonderful notices in the press most recently from the Arlington Advocate and the Improper Bostonian. In the meantime, you can order jam by emailing or calling us and check out our Jam Nest for prices, flavors, and contact info.
This June we will be exhibiting at the Fancy Food Show in NYC for the first time. I attended this huge food business show last year and so I know what we are in for and will be bringing plenty of delicious jams for buyers to sample.
In July it will be just two years since we sold our first jar of jam at the Winchester Farmers Market. I made a big stack of 12-jar cases (much more jam then I had ever made at one time before) and hoped to sell them over the course of the summer at Winchester and Arlington markets. I remember saying to my hubby that I hoped to sell a least 6 jars at that first market. He advised me to bring every single jar I had made; I advised him that he was nuts. We did not bring any jars home!
A great market season led to getting a wholesale license and selling in wonderful stores from cheese and gourmet shops to produce shops to boutiques and gift stores with more exciting places coming on all the time.
I would love to know any ideas you have for places that should carry our jam, flavors that we should make, or recipes you have made with our jam that you would like to share. Please leave us a comment here or on Twitter @dovesandfigs or on our facebook page. Thanks and keeping on spreading the local jam love!
We now return to our regularly scheduled blogging from my kitchen for more recipes…
We eat a lot of fish in our house and we are always looking for ways to make this dinner staple more interesting. As an artisan jam maker the one thing we always have plenty of in our house is a large selection of tasty preserves. So I began pairing some of our sweet and savory Fall and Winter conserves and fruit mustards with seafood and came up with some delicious combinations.
When I heard there was going to be a seafood throw down contest at one of the local farmers markets where we sell our jam, I had to share my recipes. One of our flavors, a spicy orange marmalade called South Beach Sizzle was even selected by one of the competitors to be used in their dish. So here are a few pairings you might like to try and I will post more ideas when the summer flavors arrive:
Coat a boneless cod filet with Cranberry Fruit Mustard and a sprinkle of panko breadcrumbs. Place in a lightly oiled shallow baking dish and roast at 350 degrees until the fish is cooked through.
Falling Leaves fig, apple, cranberry conserve fills baked trout with a rich earthy flavor. Take 2 cleaned and prepared whole trout and lay each on a lightly oiled square of foil. Slice and saute a medium sweet onion in a little olive oil until tender. Spread about a tablespoon of Falling Leaves on the inside of each fish. Layer in the sautéed onions. Add a small sprig of rosemary and drizzle with some lemon juice. Wrap the foil around the fish and cook at 400 degrees until cooked through (about 15 minutes).
Make a delightful appetizer by serving grilled shrimp with a dipping sauce of South Beach Sizzle – our spicy orange marmalade.
Salmon and orange marmalade are a match made in heaven. Mix a few tablespoons of Orange Blossom Express blood orange and Meyer lemon marmalade with some dried dill and a teaspoon of hot water. Sear the salmon in a very hot pan, turn the heat to medium and add a splash of white wine. When the salmon is nearly done, glaze with the marmalade and cook for a few minutes and serve.
With the delicious flavors of horseradish and dill, our Spring! conserve makes a great topping for grilled swordfish and other grilled fish steaks. Simply grill the fish until done and top immediately with a few spoons of Spring!.
Sea scallops get a warm smoky heat when paired with Evil Apple our spicy apple and chipotle conserve. Sear Scallops in a mix of butter and oil a very hot pan. Serve imediately over fresh greens with a dollop of Evil Apple on each scallop.
Last weekend was the opening day for the winter market at Mahoney’s Garden Center in Winchester. Our Doves and Figs booth was set between some sweeping potted palms and a large display of citrus trees. I remember vacationing in Florida as a child and driving through orange groves. The heavenly scent of white blossoms and the cheery round orange fruit. It was a great day with lots of people tasting and buying jam and local friends stopping in to shop and say hello. When I got home I could not stop thinking about oranges. I planned several new citrus jam and marmalade recipes and then I bought a big bag of navel oranges and brought my orange obsession to dinner.
I roasted some carrots, turnips, and beets that I bought at the market. When the vegetables were tender, I let them cool slightly and then splashed them with a mix of fresh orange juice, a bit of orange zest, some fig jam, white balsamic vinegar, and a dash of black pepper.
The main course was orange sesame salmon. I dusted the salmon fillets with flour and paprika. The fish was then seared on both sides in a hot pan lightly coated with olive oil. I added a blend of orange juice, rice wine, minced garlic, minced ginger, and a drop of sesame oil to the pan. As the salmon cooked the sauce reduced and thickened almost to a glaze. Just before serving, I sprinkled the fish with toasted white and black sesame seeds.
I served the sesame salmon and the roasted root vegetables with a simple green salad, and jasmine rice into which I mixed caramelized onions. It was a sunny supper for a winter night.
The holidays are over and finally a bit a cold weather has arrived after an unusually warm start to the winter in New England. I awoke early to a dusting of snow on the ground and a chilly breeze outside my window and headed for the kitchen. My favorite time to bake is morning and I thought it would be a nice treat to bring something sweet to nibble on to my client meeting. I had tucked away a few jars of Holiday Table jam (cranberry & pecan with cranberry honey) since my family complains that sometimes I sell every jar of a flavor they like and it also it seemed like a great flavor to use in baking. I made up some buttermilk biscuit dough (recipe below)and patted it out in a long rectangle. I spread some melted butter on the dough and then warmed the jam and spread it on the dough leave a bit of a clean edge on one side. Them I sprinkled a cinnamon sugar mix over the jar and butter and tossed on a handful of chopped pecans. I carefully rolled it up jelly roll fashion (the long side gets rolled) and cut it into one inch chunks. The little rolls were placed in a buttered mini muffin tin and baked at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes. While the rolls baked, I made a quick glaze of one tablespoon fresh orange juice, one teaspoon honey, and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar all mixed together until smooth. When the rolls when done, I turned them out onto a cooking rack and drizzled them with the orange glaze.
Petite Sweet Rolls
2 cups flour
4 tablespoons butter melted
2/3 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
Mix baking powder and flour in a mixing bowl
Mix melted butter, buttermilk, and milk
pour wet ingredients into the dry and mix just to combine
3 oz jam (always plenty of jam around here)
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons cinnamon/sugar mix
1/4 cup chopped nuts or raisins if desired
I love the references to snack cakes or “busy day” cakes in my 1940s and 1950s vintage cookbooks. Even the busiest mistress of the house still needed to whip up a little something for her brood. Some fast food packaged muffin will never meet the daunting task of chasing away the horrible after-school hungries in this house. In the spirit of the busy day cake, I have made up my own favorite speedy snack recipes and the current favorite is Peanut Butter and Jelly Snack Cakes. I bake them in a bar shaped muffin tin but standard muffin tin works fine too.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Snack Cakes
1 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk
2 1/2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
strawberry jam (home-made or store bought)
Melt butter and peanut butter together in microwave or small pan and then cool slightly
Stir in milk and eggs
In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder
Add butter mixture to flour mixture and stir to combine but do not over mix
Fill each muffin cup part way, add a teaspoon of jam, and then add remaining batter covering the jam.
Bake for about 15 minutes until risen and golden brown
Serve warm or cool, plain or topped with berry frosting (below)
3 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
2 teaspoons milk