You WILL love me for this post. I guarantee it. But, will you also hate me? That I am not sure but I certainly hope not. The problem is that this tomato jam and these cheddar biscuits are glorious and once you make them, you may crave them every day for a very long time.
And they are not exactly slimming or particularly healthy. I feel I am one of those cartoon characters from the seventies where the little devil and angel are off of my shoulder, both egging me on to pick them. Well, I chose the dark side my friends.
I am choosing to share these recipes with you and I will forever be responsible for that. I accept the fate of my actions, and I have decided that being a little bit devilish is something I just will have to live with.
My obsession with the jam and biscuits started with my dad. He was shocked and horrified when I had told him about our ensuing restaurant reservations for our weekend vacation. We weren’t going to Solace?! No, no, that wouldn’t do at all and he proceeded to explain that I couldn’t live without trying their famous tomato jam with cheddar chive biscuits.
I promptly changed my reservations to include this local, quirky little restaurant with chicken wire and naked plywood on the walls. Very, very good move. My dad is brilliant! Of course, in his defense, he has been trying to tell me this for years…actually four decades. These biscuits melted in my mouth with the perfect tang of the sharp local cheddar and the sweet and spiciness of the house made tomato jam (did I mention they also served them with orange infused butter?).
Holy he!!. Nothing else compared all weekend, and we ate extremely well at some of our favorite places. I woke up the next morning utterly focused on one thing…replicating the jam and biscuits. I shopped for giant, perfectly ripe tomatoes, surfed the internet until my palate agreed with two versions of these delicacies and when home, went right to work.
I brought the biscuits and jam to our Sunday Dinner at my parents’ house and served them to eleven very grateful people. We happily slathered the tomato jam onto toasted filet mignon and havarti sandwiches. That’s what I’m talkin’ about and you know what?! My dad claimed that my jam and biscuits were every bit as good as Solace’s…perhaps better. WHAT?!!! Did I hear that right?! Mission accomplished.
So be forewarned, these biscuits and tomato jam are completely addictive but utterly divine so if you choose to accept this mission, please do so at your own risk. Then you can just love me. I’d really rather that.
Adapted minorly from Food in Jars
Makes about 4-5 pints
5 pounds tomatoes, finely chopped (I used organic hot house but use what you have in your garden)
3 cups sugar
8 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon salt (I used smoked sea salt and believe this made a big difference…totally tasted the smokiness)
2 t. ground red pepper (she calls for 1 T. red pepper flakes which I didn’t have)
To make the tomato jam: Finely chop the tomatoes. No need to peel or seed. YES, you can thank Marisa of Food in Jars for that wonderful, glorious bit of advice. Put them in a large, Non-reactive pot. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until the mixture forms a jam-like consistency. This will last a week in the fridge in typical storage. If you want proper storage and canning instructions, please see Food in Jars. Marisa is immensely knowledgeable and has excellent instructions for canning/jarring and has a great book out too.
Cheddar Chive Biscuits
Taken from Sweet Life who got the recipe from Joy the Baker’s Cookbook (One Hundred Simple and Comforting Recipes)
Makes 11 biscuits, honestly I could not get a dozen out of this recipe no matter how hard I tried.
3 C. all-purpose flour
1 T. granulated sugar
4 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. cream of tartar
3/4 t. salt
1/3 C. unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3/4 c. cold buttermilk, plus 2 T. more for topping
3/4 c. cheddar cheese, cut in small cubes
3 T. diced chives
Coarse sea salt for topping
To make the biscuits: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour through 3/4 teaspoon salt.
Cut your stick of butter into small cubes and mix the cubes into the flour mixture with your hands. It’s simply the best way to incorporate butter into biscuits. You want to stop crumbling the mixture when the butter crumbles are about the size of a pea. See photo of “shaggy” biscuit dough. When you leave pea sized butter pockets, then that create air pockets in your biscuit and a fluffier biscuit.
Chop your Cheddar into small cubes. Chop your chives into a fine dice. In a large liquid measuring cup or small bowl, beat together buttermilk and egg. Add the cheddar chives to the dry ingredients and stir.
Form a well in the dry ingredients and add half of the buttermilk mixture and stir together. Repeat with the rest of the liquid ingredients and stir just until it comes together and scrape the sides of the bowl.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for five minutes (recipe calls for 8 minutes but I simply don’t have that kind of patience). Form the dough into a 1.5 inch thick semi-square by pressing with your hands. Trim the sides with a pairing knife until you have a pretty good square and then cut into 9 biscuits. See above photo in post for example. Use the tidbits of dough left over to make two more biscuits.
Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet and brush with the reserved buttermilk (2 T. approx.). Sprinkle each biscuit with a pinch of coarse sea salt. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Please serve them warm. That is truly how they are supposed to be eaten. They are much better the first day but can be stored in an air-tight container for one more day and reheated.