Earlier this summer, I was invited to try some handmade preserves from PRiMO. I received the jars, and a charming handwritten note from the owner, and popped them into my china cupboard: excited to try them but waiting for just the right moment of inspiration to hit.
Days passed, I admired the jars. I started the beginning of my own summer preserving, and tried to keep up with two active brothers who want nothing more than to be outdoors. Last week, I had a bit of a break when my 9-year-old was away spending a week in the country with my Mom and Dad. I have come to the conclusion that it is exhausting being interested in food when you have a picky eater. I had 6 days where I didn't have to worry one bit about what we were going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and it was the best gift anyone could give me. We ate leftovers and had a rare dinner out, and I put it on the top of my list to make these jars (or part of these jars anyway) into something special to showcase them.
PRiMO is a small company in Denver, CO - and what first struck me was just how personable their PR person was. It seems the whole company is just as down to Earth - and when I tasted their food, I could see why. It's just like homemade, only with the convenience of not making it yourself. I have to admit, when I was contacted I wondered why a specialty food company would want my meager opinion of their preserves! I rarely purchase any jarred foods at all! But with a single taste of the Raspberry-Habanero preserves, I knew why. It's just really that good, and it tasted like I made it myself. Anything sweet and spicy is right up my alley (remember my obsessions with Strawberry-Guajillo Jam and Candied Jalapenos?), and these were no exception. But as a time-saver, a gift to mail-order, or just a special indulgence, I can absolutely recommend trying out the PRiMO line of preserves and tapenades.
I decided to make a jam tart with the spicy raspberry preserves, like the pasta frolla based crostata I had made for a Daring Baker challenge 5 years ago. (5 years! Really?) When I cracked the jar to taste them, they were spicier than I thought (and I'm not complaining), so I quickly decided to alter the crostata to a cream cheese tart. I briefly par-baked the pasta frolla dough in small tart shells and then filled and finished baking them. I think they were a success - though I preferred them fresh from the oven than when they had aged in the fridge for a day or two...
The pasta frolla dough really tastes very similar to a shortbread. Any tart crust you like could easily stand in for it. Should you make the pasta frolla, be sure to save the scraps and re-roll them into cookies (dock them with a fork first). I baked a small dozen at the same time as the tarts, and enjoyed them alongside the morning coffee.
Raspberry-Habanero Cream Cheese Tarts
(4 4 1/2 inch tarts)
Pasta Frolla: (Simona at briciole)
- 1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon (100 g, 3 ½ oz) superfine sugar (I pulsed a half a dried vanilla bean with granulated sugar in the food pro)
- 1 3/4 cup (235 g, 8 1/4 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
- a heavy pinch of salt
- grated zest of half a lemon
- 8 T. (4 oz. / 115 g) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl
Pulse the sugar, flour, salt, and zest in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Empty to a large bowl and form a "well" in the top. (Basically, like how you would go about making homemade pasta.) Add the eggs into the center and beat them with a fork, incorporating flour from around the edges until it gets too difficult to use the fork. Switch to your hands, and gently knead the dough until it comes together into a ball. Form the ball into a disc and wrap in cling film. Let it rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
To parbake, preheat oven 400. Roll the dough on a very lightly floured counter (or between plastic wrap or parchment) to about 1/8 inch thickness. Drape onto the tart tins and reposition the dough so that it isn't stretching but fully covers the bottom and sides. Press your fingers or the rolling pin across the top of the tins to remove the additional dough. (Save the scraps to re-roll for cookies, or to add decoration to the tops of the tarts prior to baking.) Place the tart shells on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until just barely browned.
- 4 par-baked tart shells, bake them just long enough to set them and very lightly brown - recipe follows
- 4 oz. (113g.) room temperature cream cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 c. (100 g.) PRiMO Raspberry Habanero Preserves
After par-baking the tart shells, reduce the oven heat to 350.
Mix the cream cheese in a mediums sized bowl with a hand mixer until well blended. Add the eggs, and mix well, then fold in the preserves by hand using a spatula. Portion the mixture into the prebaked tart shells (bake any extra filling in a small ramekin alongside the tarts) and return to the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the filling is slightly puffed around the edges and set in the center.
I liked these best when they had barely cooled to room temperature, but they were still good when chilled overnight.
For the tapenade, I decided to find some nice looking fish and bake it in parchment. One of my favorite, quick "go-to" recipes is some kind of white fish baked with olives, tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, fresh herbs, and olive oil - I think it was something I read in Gourmet years and years ago. If you are nervous of cooking fish (and I usually am, since I don't cook it as much as I like), put it in parchment and into a 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes and it's perfect every time. Using a pre-made tapenade like this one, with just a hint of spice, makes it all the easier.
You don't really need amounts for this recipe, just top fish fillets with ingredients in the proportion you like. I'll estimate my amounts for the super intrepid...
Trout with Chipotle Tapenade, Tomatoes, & Sweet Peppers
- 3 fish fillets, I used lake trout, but any white fish will do
- 1 large heirloom tomato, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
- 2 sweet Italian red peppers, sliced about 1/8 inch thick
- 2-3 T. PRiMO Spicy Chipotle Tapenade
- drizzle of olive oil, salt & pepper
- parchment paper
Preheat oven to 450.
Cut large sheets of parchment, and fold them in half (they should be large enough to encase the fillets with 1 inch to spare all the way around after they're folded), and cut them into hearts the way you used to make valentines in the 2nd grade (here's a good tutorial, and I swear, I thought about 2nd grade valentines before watching it!). Arrange a fillet on each, and top with tomato, peppers, and the tapenade. Fold the packet starting at the bottom edge and creasing incrementally on the way up around to the top. Place packets on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.
Alongside, I made one of the recipes from Maria Speck's excellent new book Simply Ancient Grains. I have quite a lot of rainbow chard growing, and made just a half recipe of the saffron scented yogurt to top the bulgur salad she includes. Our plates seemed so full, but the food wasn't heavy at all and best of all it was ready in a very short amount of time.
It was nice having some free time to get some projects out of the way - and this project of tasting and reviewing was definitely a highlight. If you find yourself short on time, or just in need of a hostess (or personal) gift, look for PRiMO's line of handmade foodstuffs. I thoroughly enjoyed them!
Disclosure: PRiMO sent me the preserves and tapanade to try at no cost, but as always my honest thoughts and opinions are my own.