Welcome to the last few days of August, when Michigan parents everywhere are filled with a combination of joy and dread that their kids are finally about to go back to school. We have an odd rule in this state that most schools can’t start before Labor Day, which means that right about now families are squeezing in their last trips and outings and picnics of the summer. After a summer full of small trips, we’re sticking close to home this week and enjoying the bounty of tomatoes from the two plants we managed to keep alive during this sweltering, mostly dry summer. I think I found the perfect way to use them all up with this simple, ever-so-slightly spicy, savory tomato jam. Spread on top of one of these cheddar cream biscuits, and you’ve got yourself the perfect snack for the dog days of summer.
If you’re in the northern hemisphere right now, you’ve probably noticed that it’s hot outside. We’re currently on day three of what feels like 95% humidity, which means my hair is frizzy, I have a constant low-grade headache, and taking my dog for a walk made me as sopping wet as a dip in the pool. Which is all to say that I completely get it if you don’t want to fire up your oven to make these biscuits. If you do find yourself throwing caution to the wind and baking anyways, these biscuits are flaky, fluffy, and filled with pockets of sharp cheddar cheese. Cut in half and spread with butter and this tomato jam, they’ll make turning on the oven seem totally worth it.
The tomato jam you can make on the stovetop, and I promise it’s worth the heat you’ll put into your kitchen. The recipe is from Molly Yeh, and when I came across it I knew I had to put my bounty of summer tomatoes to good use. She paired it with cheddar and thyme scones, which I’m sure is also spectacular; I decided to pair it with cream biscuits to keep things firmly in the savory realm. The jam is, as you’d expect, full of concentrated tomato flavor, with a little spice and just enough sweetness to make it possible to eat it with a spoon. It’s fabulous on these biscuits, but you could also put it on top of burgers or other grilled meat, on corn, on a sandwich… you get the idea. It’s great.
So whenever you decide to crank up the oven again, these biscuits will be waiting for you. Because we all deserve a homemade excuse to sit down, relax, and enjoy these dwindling days of summer.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
- 2 lbs large tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- Black pepper
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Stir in the grated cheese.
- Slowly pour in the heavy cream and stir it into the dough. As you get to the last ¼ cup or so, stop and incorporate everything you’ve poured in. If the dough isn’t completely moistened yet, add more cream until it is. You may not use all the cream.
- Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead it a few times to bring it all together. Roll it out to ¾“ high, and use a 2 ½“ biscuit cutter to cut out 10 biscuits, recombining the dough as needed to get all 10.
- Place biscuits on the baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, until golden brown.
- Combine the chopped tomatoes, sugar, salt, and red pepper in a large saucepan. Add a few turns of freshly cracked pepper (or a pinch if you don’t have a grinder). Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until nearly all of the tomato liquid has evaporated.
- Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Press the tomatoes against the strainer with a spatula or wooden spoon to get as much of the jam out as possible. Discard the tomato skins.
- Stir in the lemon juice, then let the jam cool and refrigerate it until ready to use.