I miss my grandparents so much. My granny Helena, in particular. And I miss her cooking.
As a kid, to arrive at my grandparents house for a weekend or holiday meant having an yogurt cake waiting for us on the table, right out of the oven. There was a special joy when dinner was steak and fries and carrot soup. And at the end of the meal, there was always some jam, namely a pear jam that my brother really loved.
Maybe it’s my memory playing tricks, and my imagination taking over, but I remember my grandmother being an extremely consistent cook, The cake always came out the same, perfectly crunchy outside and soft inside. The steaks I mentioned were fried in a big pan, and had a not-so-thick-but-very-yummy sauce with lots of garlic slivers that I would push aside in my plate. And to go with it, the perfect thick-cut fries. The velvety carrot soup was the only one we ate without making a scene. I can almost taste it right now, if I just close my eyes.
Patience is one of the most important qualities in the kitchen, and my gran was the most patient person I have ever met. My mom inherited a big part of that patience, and although I’m not even close, I’d like to think that characteristic has somehow been passed on to me too. As well as the pleasure of cooking for others, the love with which you prepare a meal somebody else is going to taste. Or a small pot of jam we’re going to give away.
Consistency, now that’s another story. Somehow, making anything in the exact same way, all the time, goes against my very nature. Seems like a paradox: I am very patient, but I also get easily bored. Maybe that’s the definition of creativity: a need to search for different ways to do something because of a deep aversion to repeating anything. This is true for every aspect of my life, personal, profissional and, of course, in the kitchen.
And this takes us back to my gran’s wonderful pear jam, which she cooked over and over again, every year, in exactly the sam way. Honestly, there was no reason to change it, it was perfect as it was.
The first time I tried to cook it, I did follow the recipe word by word, and it was heavenly. But the second time, I started to experiment with it. And today I bring you one of those experiments, a successful one: the one where I added a handful of raspberries to the pot changing both the flavour and the colour.
The taste of the raspberries, in these proportions, is quite subtle and made me think of candy. It may well be a cousin, but this isn’t pear jam anymore. (Pearberry?Raspear?Raspeary? I like to mix the words like they were ingredients) Is this better or worse than the original? It’s a question of taste. For me, it certainly isn’t worse, which is why I’m sharing it here. Regardless, it’s different from anything you might find in a supermarket shelf, which is a great reason to get to work, and give some little post of jam to all your friends.
It’s obviously perfect on toast, and I really like to combine it with the saltiness of cream cheese. It also complements unsweetened greek yogurt nicely, again because of the flavour contrast.
- 1 kg of pears, peeled and cored
- 600g sugar
- juice of half a lemon
- 125 g raspberries
Poor the lemon juice in the bottom of a big pan.
Cube the pears and add them to the lemon juice, tossing to coat well.
Add the sugar and the raspberries, and cook it gently for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, carefully crushing the raspberries as the break apart.
It will be ready when the spatula leaves a trail when you run it through the bottom of the pan.
Pour into sterilised pots while still hot.