With invention and inspiration, producer and philanthropist Henry Simonds plunders his fall vegetable patch for ingredients. Because every bruised windfall tomato and too-ripe pepper is good enough for jams and relishes, he regularly conjures up cauldrons of wizard-level end-of-season goodness for use with bread and butter, on a cheeseboard, or as a condiment with the Sunday roast.
Good Intentions Fig Jam
This jam was a way to use up produce that was showing signs of turning, so Henry rescued it and had to remove any mold or bad spots. “Sometimes we have good intentions to use things when they are fresh but lose focus and have to do the right thing by them later,” he comments.
1 delicata squash
1 tsp olive oil
1 container Black Mission ﬁgs, approximately 8
2 tbsp unsalted sweet cream butter
1 green apple, cored and seeded
1 handful perilla leaves and buds
1 cup old red wine
1 cup water, enough to cover the mixture
¼ cup light brown sugar or maple sugar (I used Paul Family Farms Maple Sugar)
1 tsp ground ginger, or to taste
1 tsp whole clove tops or ¼ tsp ground clove
More zest of clementine
Cinnamon, nutmeg, other fall spices, optional to taste
1. Half the squash and remove seeds and guts, cutting away any discolored sections.
2. Cut into strips and place on baking sheet or pan outer skin down.
3. Brush or spray with light olive oil and place in the oven at 425 degrees until browned (some blackened toasting is okay and adds caramelization).
4. When ready, remove squash and let cool until it can be handled, then scoop out meat with a spoon or knife and set aside. (Skins are good for compost.)
5. Wash ﬁgs, remove stems and any moldy or discolored spots on the surface.
6. Heat a pot or Dutch oven on medium-high and melt butter (don’t let it burn!).
7. Add the ﬁgs and squash and stir to cover and simmer.
8. Zest the clementine (it does not produce a lot but adds nice ﬂavor) and set aside.
9. Peel and remove pith from clementine and de-seed if any, then add to pot, mashing it a bit to release the juice and pulp.
10. Chop the apple and add to pot.
11. Snip or chiffonade the perilla (you can substitute tarragon if you have it or pineapple basil or pineapple sage, etc.) and add to pot.
12. Stir it all together, than add the red wine, 1 cup of water enough to cover mixture, ¼ cup brown sugar. Bring to a boil, making sure that the sugar is dissolved into liquid.
13. Turn down and simmer until apple is soft.
14. Remove from heat and let cool enough to handle, then blend all the contents in a blender or Vitamix.
15. Quickly rinse the pot or Dutch oven to get out any residue, then return to stove top.
16. Force blended contents through a wide-gauge sieve or strainer into a pot to remove any remaining seeds or hard chunks.
17. Return to simmer, adding ground ginger, clove tops or ground clove, clementine zest and set of ½ a lemon.
18. Serve or store in fridge or process in jars for shelf storage.
Green Tomato Chutney
This recipe comes in handy in July when Henry harvests early tomatoes before going away for summer vacation. He adds, “It is also good in fall when the tomatoes no longer seem to ripen or when you decide to cut back your tomato bushes to improve ripening.”
8 cups green tomatoes, any variety or size—cherry, Roma, grape
1 large orange pepper (or red or yellow to contrast with tomatoes)
1 medium green pepper + a baby pepper!
½ medium white or yellow onion, diced
1 tsp lemon juice, 2-3 slices worth
1/2 cup raisins (or substitute any dried fruit)
2 sprigs tarragon, minced
1 tbsp chiffonade of mixed leafy sweet herbs (sweet basil, mint, shiso, perilla, Thai basil)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup white wine vinegar (Substitute cider, white distilled, or rice. Avoid red or balsamic as it will make the chutney brownish in color.)
1 cup white sugar
1 dash ground cinnamon
1 dash ground nutmeg
1. Wash and clean tomatoes, removing stems and woody piths. Chop in food processor (or by hand for a lot of messy work).
2. Process in batches and add each to pot or Dutch oven when desired size is met. (Note: Vary how ﬁnely you chop each batch to make for a smooth and chunky chutney.
3. Bring tomatoes to a boil and then simmer on medium-low.
4. Remove stems and seeds from peppers and rinse under cold water to get all the seeds out. (No biggie if you don’t.)
5. Dice peppers or chop lightly then process in Cuisinart to desired thickness. Add to simmering tomatoes.
6. Mix onion, lemon juice, raisins, tarragon, mixed leafy herbs, sea salt, ground turmeric, and ginger into tomato-pepper blend and bring back to a boil.
7. Reduce heat to simmer.
8. Stir in vinegar and sugar and simmer until dissolved and absorbed. (Note: Taste-test throughout, adding vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices.)
9. Stir and simmer until desired thickness is reached (approx. 210-215 degrees on candy thermometer).
10. Remove from heat and let cool. Serve or store in fridge or process in jars.
Hot Pepper Relish
A refreshing bite of spice is made rather nice with sugar and spice. All you need is a simple bit of grilled or roasted chicken, and this condiment’s magic is revealed.
5 hot Italian peppers with seeds
3 jalapeños with seeds
1 sweet Italian yellow pepper, with or without seeds
1 sweet Italian red pepper, with or without seeds
1 green bell pepper, cored and seeded
2 small purple peppers, cored and seeded
3 garlic cloves
1/2 sweet white or yellow medium onion
1 tbsp kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup vinegar, white, white wine, or apple cider
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp ground mustard seed
1/2 tsp celery seeds
1. Chop pepper and dice in food processor or by hand to your size preference––make sure not to liquify and blend.
2. Dice or chop ﬁnely in food processor the garlic cloves, onion, and sea salt.
3. Mix with pepper mixture.
4. Place mixture in layers in a medium-to-large strainer over a bowl, sprinkling salt over each.
5. Layer as you go to draw out excess water. Cover with a cloth.
6. Allow to sit 1 hour to overnight (in fridge if later).
7. Mix the vinegar, sugar, ground mustard seeds, and celery seeds with pepper-onion mixture in a pot or Dutch oven.
8. Bring to boil, then simmer until liquid has evaporated and been absorbed into relish.
9. Season to taste with any spices, additional, salt, sugar, or honey to your liking.
10. Serve or store in fridge or process in jars for shelf storage.
Dense and rich, with chewy bits of fennel stem stewed in for texture, this will transform a ham dinner into a something ready for primetime. When that ham goes into syndication as sandwiches, the jam keeps it fresh and entertaining.
1 bunch fennel shoots
1 green apple
3 green peppers, stemmed and deseeded
1 tsp ginger, to taste
1 cup sugar (more or less to taste)
1-2 tbsp green vermouth
1/4 cup cider vinegar to taste
1 purple pepper, thinly sliced and diced
1 tbsp fennel fronds, chopped or snipped with kitchen shears
1 chiffonade of perilla and mint leaves (substitute tarragon or pineapple basil or the like)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of grains of paradise or ground black pepper
1/2 tbsp mescal or bourbon
1. Thinly slice and dice fennel, peeling woody parts to reveal softer center before chopping.
2. Core and dice apple.
3. Thinly slice and dice green peppers.
4. Mix 2/3 peppers and remaining fennel and apple in pot or Dutch oven and cover with water.
5. Bring to a boil, then add ginger, sugar, green vermouth, and ¼ cup cider vinegar.
6. Continue to boil until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to low boil or simmer, stirring and scraping bottom to avoid burning and caramelization.
7. After 10-15 minutes, add remaining 1/3 green peppers, purple pepper, fennel fronds, perilla and mint leaves, pinch of salt, Grains of Paradise, and mescal or bourbon.
8. Stir and continue to simmer until temp reaches 215 degrees on a candy thermometer or to desired consistency.
9. Let cool and serve or store in fridge or process in jars for shelf storage.
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