In today's era of trendy compotes and 10-ingredient jellies, Coldwater Canyon Provisions takes a refreshingly old-school approach to their preserves and pickles that hint at simpler jam and jelly times. Flavors include watermelon jelly, raspberry and strawberry-rhubarb jam, and pickled okra, beets and dilled green tomatoes.
All the more endearing: Co-owners Rondo Mieczkowski and Danny Barillaro seem truly tickled by their 2010 California State Fair blue ribbon for that strawberry-rhubarb jam (it's usually front and center at events like the Renegade Craft Fair, where we caught up with them recently). They also donate a portion of their sales to Under the Bridges and On the Streets (@Lunch4Homeless), a nonprofit that provides food, clothing, and services for L.A.'s homeless.
Get more on their jams, and suggestions for using up those last spoonfuls (Cocktails! Salad dressing!), after the jump.
"Grandmom would pickle whatever was on hand. You couldn't just go to Ralph's and get strawberries," says Mieczkowski, the main recipe developer. He reworked many of his grandmother's recipes for the evolving Coldwater Canyon line, including her pickled watermelon rinds.
"Well, some are not my grandmom's recipes," he continues. "She never saw habanero jelly like that," he laughs. Mieczkowski's version, as he describes it, is "super hot."
Mieczkowski adds a little extra heat to his pepper jelly, maybe a pinch of cinnamon and cloves to those spiced crab apples. But for the most part, he's more of a produce purist when it comes to jam and pickles. "I understand why people want to play with [flavors] today, make all kinds of experimental things," he says. "But this is California produce -- farmers market blueberries, Blenheim apricots. I mean, they're really pretty great on their own."
In that same "good old days" vein, grandmothers have also long been adept at using whatever leftovers were on hand and turning that lonely last inch or two of jam, jelly or marmalade into something fantastic. "Of course thumbprint cookies," says Mieczkowski, who also had these great jam tips:
-- Use jelly to rim cocktail glasses then dip the glass in sugar or salt, depending on your cocktail frame of mind (Mieczkowski uses his watermelon jelly to make watermelon daiquiris).
-- Microwave jam for a few seconds, then pour it over ice cream. Or stir a little raspberry or other chocolate-friendly jam into hot fudge sauce.
-- Baste a few teaspoons of fig or nectarine jam on chicken the last few minutes of cooking. "Don't put it on by itself too soon, or the sugar in the jam can burn," he advises. Pork chops are particularly good with a hot jelly like that habanero or a jalapeño jelly.
Our favorite tip for leftover jam? Use it to sweeten a salad dressing as you might do with honey. "I make this when I have about a quarter inch of lemon marmalade in the bottom of the jar," says Mieczkowski. It's not exactly a traditional recipe, more a general guideline to use with whatever jams and complimentary vinegar/oil you have on hand. With a little hip hop dinner entertainment bonus on the side.
Citrus Marmalade Salad Dressing
From: Rondo Mieczkowski of Coldwater Canyon Provisions.
Note: "Any good jam will work in vinaigrette," says Mieczkowski, who recommends blueberry, apricot or fig jams with balsamic vinegar. "You can add freshly minced or dried herbs to the dressing, or put herbs directly into the salads."
When you have about 1 inch (a few teaspoons) of lemon or orange marmalade left in a small (8 ounce) jar, add a tablespoon or two of rice wine vinegar, a dash of sesame oil for nuttiness, a couple of glugs of good olive oil, a nice pinch of Kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper. You should have about half the jar full, so 4 ounces total. If the jam was cold, warm the mixture in the microwave (remember: No metal lid) for 5 seconds or so. And then as OutKast sang in, "Hey Ya," seal the jar and shake it like a Polaroid picture.
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