A jam, or a butter, or a conserve? Honestly, I don’t even know. Do you ever have those food preserving (or cooking, or baking, etc.) moments when you think to yourself, “I have no freaking clue what I’m making, but… fingers crossed it works and tastes half way decent”? My sentiments Thursday evening when I was asked, “remind me again, what is it exactly that you’re making?!” While perusing the local farmers’ market last weekend, post yoga, hungry, and feeling creative, I found myself day dreaming of the savory flavors of the roasted onion jam that I made a couple years ago. Caught in that late winter come early spring produce limbo (i.e. no fresh fruits or anything close to resembling it), I found myself thinking, “aside from pickles what other preservation method can I employee this week?” I spotted a bountiful bunch of carrots and scallions at the Maple Springs Garden farm stand and thought to myself, “is carrot jam even a thing? hmm…”.
Sweet, tart, weirdly apricot tasting, and somewhat resembling something you may have tasted at an Asian restaurant, the set of this experimental jam shocked me when I woke up this morning. “Holy crap it worked!” I find myself torn over whether to call this a jam or a butter as the texture is more of a butter, but the preservation method follows that of a classic jam. Nonetheless, enjoy this roasted carrot jam atop toasted bread or savory crackers, paired with a mild cheese and salty cured meat.
If you’re lucky enough 🙂 to follow me on Instagram you may have noticed that the week before last I was frolicking around the central coast of California. Half of the trip was for work and the other for play. Killing a couple days before my science obligations, I found myself wandering around Pacific Grove just south of Monterey. Looking for lunch recommendations, the lovely hostess at Crema suggested that I check out Happy Girl Kitchen Co. for some post yoga fare. “Awesome”, I thought, “cute name”. What she failed to mention was that Happy Girl Kitchen Co. was a pickle haven… I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a tad over excited when I realized I just walked into a pickle wonderland, “wait is this a trick, where am I? Hello, God?”. While there I couldn’t help but snap a couple photos, order a pickle plate, and grab a few souvenirs, including a jar of their pickling spice. I could have purchased a jar of each pickle product, but alas I only packed one bag. I will admit that I typically skip pre-made pickling spice mixes as I’m not a huge fan of those sweeter fall-time flavors, but the smell of this one had me as soon as I twisted off the top. “We like our blend to be very savory and so ease up on the sweeter spices such as cinnamon, cloves and fennel.” Check out their online shop for more.
Wait a minute, did she say preserved seafood?! Preserved local NC seasonal seafood?! Yep, you read that correctly. Cured, smoked, fermented, pickled, dried, confit’ed seafood. Last Wednesday I was lucky enough to attend Piedmont Restaurant‘s winter edition of their Seasons of the Sea Dinner. In collaboration with Raleigh’s Locals Seafood and NC Catch, Piedmont’s Executive Chef John May and Executive Chef Justin Burdett of Local Provisions in Asheville joined forces to create an astonishing multi-course seafood tasting menu highlighting seven different food preservation techniques. Even this seafood hesitant girl couldn’t pass up an offer as enticing as this… oh, and did I mention the funky wine pairings by Piedmont’s animated general manager Crawford Leavoy, duh!?
Not only did I meet some awesome new lady friends (!!), but this seafood-themed dinner completely expanded my narrow view of seafood, in particular preserved seafood. “We focused on manipulating things in interesting ways so to get that preservation experience”, says Piedmont’s chef May in explaining the inspiration for the evening. While presentation, taste, and “wow-value” was an obvious goal, the major aim of this dinner was education on the “mentality of how you would have eaten before you could go to just go to the grocery store everyday…”, stated May.