Yesterday I was talking on the phone with Sagrario from the magazine Vainilla y Azafrán (@VanillayAzafran) about the changes in the ways people learn how to cook these days, specifically the ways they learn to cook our food. Whereas a couple of generations back most Dominicans learned how to cook from their moms, aunts and grandmas, a new generation of urbanites is learning from magazines, TV, and nowadays increasingly from the internet.
I have to say that without the internet my repertoire would be significantly smaller. Yay for the internet!
While I love my traditional Dominican food (hello, Department of the Obvious?), I also love exploring other cuisines. I have my favorite Thai website (also managed with the same concept as this one, and she too answers questions!), I read a lot of awesome cooking blogs which I visit regularly, I’ve bookmarked my favorite baking blogs, and if they were books they’d be all dog-eared by now.
The good thing about, at least some, cooking sites and blogs is that there is an actual person behind it, often somebody willing to answer questions and make suggestions. Much as I like my cookbooks and TV cooking shows, they can’t beat that (Martha, why don’t you answer my calls?).
Cooking, and sharing it with friends and family, is a joy; it should always be a joy. I am so glad to be around in an era where there are so many ways to learn, explore and taste, and so many awesome people willing to share what they know. This is my way of paying it forward.
When it comes to learning and sharing this is a great dish, it is easy to prepare, very forgiving, exotic and delicious. Who can resist a nicely-presented jar of delicious jam? And for a lot of people outside the Dominican Republic a jar of tomato jam will certainly be a surprise, though it should not be so because after all, tomatoes are fruits.
Tomato jam may be an unorthodox way of serving tomatoes, that is until you remember that tomatoes are fruits. Cherry tomatoes have the perfect light flavor that this dish needs.
For this you can either use the larger and “meatier” plum tomatoes, or go with the milder and prettier cherry tomatoes. I prefer cherry tomatoes though. In the Dominican Republic this is usually served as a dessert and served in a thin syrup, but if you want to turn it into jam just let all the liquid evaporate. The process is basically the same.
- 6 lb [2.7 kg] cherry tomatoes
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 star anise
- 2 cups of sugar
- 1 cup of raisins (optional)
- A pinch of salt
- Wash the tomatoes and make a superficial cross cut on the opposite side of the stems.
- Drop the tomatoes in abundant boiling water (enough to cover them). Remove from the water when the peel starts to come off. Let the tomatoes cool down to room temperature.
- Peel the tomatoes by pinching them on the stem side with your thumb and index finger. Squeeze the tomatoes to extract the seeds, catch into a separate clean bowl.
- Strain the seeds to get all the juice you can.
- In a heavy saucepan boil the cinnamon and star anise in two cups of water until the water becomes lightly colored. Add the tomatoes, tomato juice, sugar, raisins and salt.
- Boil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until you reach the desired consistency (with a light syrup to serve as dessert, no liquid to make it into jam).
- Chill before serving.