Someone in my home has jam envy. And it's not me.
There was a night when I was out of town and Danny stayed up stirring until he ended up with eight large jars of strawberry-rhubarb jam, except that this batch never quite thickened. We forgot about jam for a while. But June brought apricots, and now there's a batch of my jam in the fridge. It's been a part of breakfast (and dessert) ever since.
He should be jealous. David Tanis, chef and columnist, says apricots make the "cat's meow" of jam. The jam against which all others should be measured. I got it right on my first try. You will, too.
Tanis is all about eating real food when it's in season, and you should find apricots at least through this month. I've done a quick roast of them and served them for breakfast with yogurt, but this jam is my favorite. The recipe comes from his cookbook, Heart of the Artichoke. This book is organized into seasonal menus, but it starts off with his kitchen rituals, which are essentially simple pleasures of the everyday kitchen. Peeling an apple. Making morning oatmeal. Beans on toast. And knowing how to make a little jam.
Tanis makes it easy to follow along. The jam is sweet and tart, like a perfectly ripe apricot. The taste alone won us over, but the color remains a brilliant shade of orange and for me, that seals the deal.
Spread it generously on a slice of buttered toast or swirl it into oatmeal. My next batch may end up pressed into the center of thumbprint cookies. Or I might try infusing the jam with herbs or vanilla. This jam will become a kitchen ritual for us.
Ileana Morales is a writer who cooks in a small apartment kitchen in Tampa with boyfriend Danny Valentine, an education reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. For more of their kitchen adventures, visit Ileana's blog, alittlesaffron.com. She can be reached at [email protected]