This is a sponsored post on behalf of Dairy Farmers of Canada.
One of my favourite things to do during Toronto summers is to get outdoors. As soon as the weather starts to warm up, it’s like the whole city comes alive again.
Patios suddenly appear on city sidewalks that were covered in snow banks just a couple of months ago, live concerts, farmers markets and movie screenings pop up in local parks, and weekend festivals take over streets all around town.
And if none of that tickles your fancy, there’s always the option to hop on a bike for a long ride by the lake, or to take the next ferry to the Toronto Islands for a quick getaway. (Well, except for this year, that is… the islands are still recovering from that horrible rainy spring we just had.)
And, needless to say, almost all of these activities are twice as fun if you pack a nice picnic to enjoy along the way.
My MO when it comes to picnics is to keep it simple. Crusty buns with cold cuts and sliced cheese, to be assembled into sandwiches at the very last minute. (Because no one likes a soggy sandwich, amirite?) A salad that won’t wilt in the heat, like potatoes in a mustardy dressing or chickpeas in a bright lemon-based vinaigrette, or perhaps just a tub of mixed olives from the supermarket if I’m feeling really lazy. And a sturdy dessert that doesn’t mind getting a little jostled, like strawberry madeleines or chocolate chip cookie bars.
However, this month I was inspired to make a fancy little cheese board featuring our Canadian cheese of the month, Tipsy, a wine-soaked cow’s milk cheese. Made by Gunn’s Hill Cheese right here in Ontario, Tipsy spends several days soaking in Cabernet Merlot wine from the nearby Palatine Hills Winery, which gives its exterior a deep, dark purple colour and subtle fruity aroma.
Maybe it’s that gorgeous wine-red colour or maybe it’s just the name, but I knew right away that this cheese was meant to be paired with sangria. However, since sangria isn’t the easiest thing to pack for a picnic, I decided to whip up a batch of sangria-infused strawberry jam instead.
I wasn’t too sure how this idea of mine would work out, but I’m happy to say it turned out so much better than I thought. You know that tasty fruit that’s left at the bottom of the pitcher when the sangria is done? Well, this jam tastes exactly like that – full of fresh strawberry flavour and hints of red wine and citrus, and ever-so-slightly boozy thanks to a splash of orange liqueur added at the very last minute.
And best of all, it’s the perfect jam for impatient people who don’t have half a day to slave away stirring a big pot of bubbling-hot jam, or futzing with hot water canners and wire racks and sterilizing jam jars.
All you need is ten minutes, one pot, and one jar. That’s it. The rest of the day is yours to do with as you please.
The only downside is that you only get that one perfect jar of jam out of this recipe, but that just means you’ll have to plan ahead and make a second batch once the first one is gone.
Once you’ve finished making your jam, it’s just a matter of waiting for the next lovely sunny day.
Then, pack up a picnic basket with a pretty wooden board, a nice fat wedge of Tipsy, a bowl of fresh summer fruits, some fancy crackers, and your precious jar of jam. If you’re feeling ambitious, add a dry-cured chorizo sausage, a loaf of bread, and a bottle of nice red wine (or some sparkling lemonade, if you want to keep things PG-13).
Finally, grab in your biggest picnic blanket and your favourite dining companion (or maybe just a good book you’ve been meaning to read for a while), and go out in search of a grassy spot in the shade for a perfect summer afternoon.
Like this jam, summer’s only around for a short while… so get out there and enjoy it!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada. Thanks for supporting the brands that keep the Crumb Test Kitchen running! All opinions, as always, are entirely my own.
- 3 cups fresh strawberries, washed and roughly chopped
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 tbsp red wine
- 1 tbsp orange juice
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp orange liqueur, like Cointreau or Triple Sec (optional)
- In a small bowl, stir together the strawberries, sugar, red wine, orange juice and lemon juice. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight to let the strawberries absorb all the flavours.
- The next day, transfer the strawberries and their liquid into a food processor and pulse 2-3 times, or until you have a chunky puree.
- Scrape the berry puree into a wide, shallow pan set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until the jam starts to thicken. (You can test the set by placing a small saucer in the freezer, and spooning in a small dab of jam – if it wrinkles a bit when you push on it with your finger, your jam is done.) Stir in the orange liqueur, if using.
- Spoon the hot jam into a clean half-pint (250ml) jar that’s been set on a trivet or other heat-proof surface, and let cool to room temperature before transferring to the fridge. The finished jam will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.