Tag: jam

Product Review: Amour Spreads

Amour Spreads Apricot Rose Jam // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Almost a month ago now, when I made that fig challah, my friend Jahnavi came over to enjoy it with us. Her contribution to the meal (which didn’t just consist of fig challah, but also shrimp and corn/green beans/zucchini) was some hand picked tomato and basil, as well as a beautiful jar of Apricot Rose Jam.

Jahnavi’s mother and her husband, Casee and John Francis, own Amour Spreads, a jam company in Utah. The company is family owned and operated, and they make all of their jam from peak season, organic ingredients. With flavors like apricot rose, blood orange rosemary, savory heirloom tomato, and pear lavender, these jams make my mouth water. This jam packed the essence of apricot into a jar. It was perfect – bright, tangy, sweet – with a hint of rose that added a lovely complexity to it. It has been perfect smothered on toast in the morning, and I can imagine it would be perfect to use in rugelach or as a glaze for your Thanksgiving turkey.

The other day my friend Elsa was making fun of me because when I’m making baked goods I always like to find recipes with unexpected/unconventional ingredients (like chocolate chip, thyme, and sea salt cookies, for example…). But to me, that’s what makes food exciting and interesting – unexpected flavor combinations that taste completely new. I can’t wait to try some of Amour’s more unique flavors.

Kolacky Cookies

Kolacky Cookies

For Christmas, Jonah and I went to Salem (where his Grandma Patty lives) with his parents. It was my first real Christmas and Jonah’s family made it so wonderful. They pulled out all the stops, and even though we’re adults we still left cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for his reindeer. And it was all worth it because he left us a thank you note!

Anyway, the day before Christmas was full of baking: I made cookies (the chocolate peppermint cookies I made with Carmelle), Susan (Jonah’s mom) made pies, and she also made these wonderful cookies called Kolacky cookies. Pronounced ko-lach-key, these are Slovak cookies from Randy’s (Jonah’s dad) aunt. They’re yeast cookies, so they rise and get kind of flaky like bread, and are filled in the center with jam.

Kolacky Cookies


3 cups flour
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup sour cream
1 egg
Jam (we used the homemade raspberry jam that Jonah and I had made Susan for Christmas)
Powdered sugar


Mix butter with flour, sugar, and salt using a mixer (or pastry blender). In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the yeast mixture, sour cream, and egg to the flour mixture, combine well. If the dough is too dry , add a little bit of milk. If it’s too wet, add a little bit of flour. Ball the dough up, wrap it in buttered or greased wax paper, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

After removing the dough from the fridge, roll it out on a floured surface until thin. Fold it in thirds and re-roll it. Then do that again (the “fold it in thirds and re-roll it” part). The last time you roll it out, you want to get it to be about 1/4-inch thick. Now cut it with cookie cutters into round/square/diamond shapes, just nothing too crazy. Imprint the cookies with your thumb and fill the imprint with about 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of jam. Now let them rise for 1 hour. (During this time you can preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Back them for 15 minutes. After removing from the oven, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

These cookies were a nice change from a lot of the goodies we’d been eating because they weren’t so sugary sweet. But I liked the touch of fruitiness from the jam and that the cookies were a little more scone or bread-like. And they were a big hit with the family, as you can see from the photo below.

Kolacky Cookies

A new cookbook and some jams

Ad Hoc & Jam

Ad Hoc & Jam
Ad Hoc & Jam

Ad Hoc & Jam

For my birthday, I received the most beautiful cookbook: Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller. If you don’t know who Thomas Keller is, well then it’s time to get educated. He is the chef at The French Laundry in Napa Valley, perhaps one of the most famous restaurants in the world: it has won many (that’s right, many) James Beard Awards. He has another restaurant, Per Se, in New York, and both of these restaurants have been awarded 3 Michelin Stars. He is the ONLY AMERICAN CHEF to have had two restaurants both get 3 stars.

But this cookbook is from another restaurant he recently opened. He intended to open a burger joint in an old diner, but when he purchased the space his team was too busy. He decided instead to open a temporary homestyle cooking restaurant called Ad Hoc: no menu, 4 courses, 4 days a week, simple food. Well of course, being Thomas Keller and all, it worked incredibly well and is no longer temporary.

So I bring the cookbook home and I’m looking through it and there’s a section called “Lifesavers.” This section is full of what he calls staples, though not like flour and eggs. There are tapenades, jams, pickled things, candied nuts, anything you might need to make an ordinary dish or meal into an extraordinary one.

I decide, with Thanksgiving coming up and my mom having asked for some appetizer help, that I’d whip up a couple of jams. The two that seemed most appealing to me were the Fig and Balsamic Jam and the Red Onion-Cranberry Marmalade. Now, keep in mind while reading this that I have never made a jam before in my life and I have never canned (in fact, I was quite scared of it before). These recipes don’t require actual “canning” or one of those crazy sets with tongs and crazy jar contraptions. Thank goodness.

Fig and Balsamic Jam

Note: So you see this recipe and maybe you say, “Excuse me, what is a sachet? I thought this blog was about stuff everyone can do!” And to you I say, “It is, my friend! I will tell you what a sachet is!” Mr. Keller is all about sachets. In this case, you’ll want about a 5 or 6 inch square of cheesecloth. Place the peppercorns towards the bottom of the square, roll the cheesecloth over them once, fold in the ends, and keep rolling. Now tie it at both ends with cooking twine. See how you have a nice little package of peppercorns? Now you won’t have to try to fish them out of the jam later. Keller also uses this technique with lots of herbs like bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns, etc. (you know that feeling when the recipe says “remove the bay leaf” and you cannot find it for the life of you? no more!).

Another note from Mr. Keller: “Note on Plate Testing: To check that compotes, jams, and jellies are at the right consistency, put a tablespoon of what you’re cooking on a plate and chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. If it is too thin, return to the heat, cook a few more minutes, and retest.”


2 lbs figs, preferably Black Mission or Kadota, stems removed and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, tied into a sachet
Fresh lemon juice


Put everything but the lemon juice into a pan and attach a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, do not worry! You can still just follow the instructions and eyeball things, which is what I ended up doing anyway. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring to break up the larger pieces of fig. Cook until the jam reaches 215-220 degrees. My candy thermometer did not want to get up that high. I cooked this stuff for hours and it would still only get to 205 or so. Keller has a nice little tip in his book that says:

So I did my own version of the plate test which was to turn off the heat, let the whole pot cool on the stove while I did something else (hulu, anyone?) and then came back and checked it. It needed a bit more cooking, so I brought it to a simmer again for another little while. Now remove the sachet and stir in the lemon juice to taste. Spoon the jam into a canning jar or two, cover, and let cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate up to 1 month.

Red Onion-Cranberry Marmalade


1/4 cup canola oil
3 cups diced red onions
1 cup chopped dried cranberries
3 cups apple juice
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbl apple pectin (This is Keller’s fancy pectin he gets from lord-knows-where. I just used plain pectin, found at my local New Seasons near the canning jars.)
1 Tbl plus 1 tsp orange zest


Heat the oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the red onions and cook very slowly for about 20 minutes, until the onions have softened but not colored. Add the cranberries and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the apple juice and cider vinegar. In a separate bowl, combine the sugars and pectin, mixing well so that the pectin will dissolve smoothly, and add this mixture to the pot along with the orange zest. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan, bring to a simmer, and cook until it registers 215-220 degrees. I did the same thing as last time where, because my thermometer didn’t want to get that high, I just let the whole pot cool and then cooked it more if it needed it.

Transfer the marmalade to a canning jar, cover, and let cool, then refrigerate for up to 3 months.

Not so hard, right? These made wonderful Thanksgiving appetizers when paired with some good crackers and cheese (we used mostly Rain Coast crackers, goat cheese, and brie). I bet they’d work great for Christmas appetizers too…