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Friday, March 25, 2016

Tomatillo Jam and Morning Glory Muffins--Perfect for Easter Brunch!

Tomatillo Jam with a hint of citrus

Tomatillo Jam and Morning Glory Muffins--Perfect for Easter Brunch!
by Victoria Challancin

One of my good friends owns a very classy boutique hotel here in San Miguel that serves the most delicious tomatillo jam.  Because I know it to be her late mother's recipe and a personal treasure, I would never ask for the recipe.  Of course, that doesn't stop me from swooning over it and dreaming. In a recent class I decided to try make some version of this delicious treat, secretly knowing it would enhance my PBJ indulgences--and that my Mexican cooks would be dazzled.  I looked about and came up with a lovely version by Karen Hursh Graber of Mexico Connect.  I paired it with a family favorite from the King Arthur Flour Company,  Morning Glory Muffins,  which are so brimming with all things healthy that even my husband eats them.

But before I give you the recipes, let me repost a few notes on tomatillos from an earlier post of mine. For ideas on how to use them, see the original post here.

A Few Notes on Tomatillos
Let's blame it on the Spanish Conquistadors, shall we?  Blame them for exactly what this time, you ask?  That misnaming a variety of Aztec-based words that they just might not have understood at the time.  In Nahuatl, that wonderful agglutinated language of the ancient Aztecs, the word tomatl simply referred to any plum fruit with xitomatl referring to regular red tomatoes and miltomatl referring to tomatillos.  The Spanish, delighted with their new gastronomic finds, simply returned home with the term tomates, which is what they cal red tomatoes in Spain today and with tomatillo, or "little Tomato" to refer to tomatillos, the red tomato's little green cousins, or kissing cousins, as we like to say in the South, as they are only very distant relatives.

What exactly are tomatillos?  Like tomatoes themselves, they belong to the larger family of Solanaceae, or Nightshades, along with potatoes, eggplants, tobacco, mandrake, belladonna (are you seeing a connection with the "Deadly Nightshade" moniker yet?), chiles, and petunias, to name a few.  Breaking the family down a bit more, you find the genus "physalis" which includes gooseberries, ground cherries and tomatillos, all part of the kissing cousins of the Paper Lantern group, called this because some of them have papery cellulose husks which must be removed before eating.

Here in Mexico the names become even more confused.  Unlike the Spanish, Mexicans refer to their own red tomatoes as jitomates and tomatillos as tomates verdes (i.e. green tomatoes), or more commonly just tomates.  In all my years of teaching Mexican cooks, well over a thousand of them, I have never heard them call this fruit "tomatillos," though they certainly know the word; they always just say "tomates."

While typically found green in the markets, still nestled in their paper husks, other varieties also exist.  My favorite are the walnut-sized purple ones, which are slightly sweeter, and the very tiny green tomates de la milpa, or "tomatillos of the corn field," which are about the size of a blueberry.  When shopping for them, choose firm tomatillos that fill out the husk.  Remove the paper husk and scrub to remove the natural sticky substance on the surface of the fruit before using.

Nutritionally speaking, the tomatillo is a good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper, as well as being rich in vitamin C and dietary fiber as well.

Tangy, bright, tart, the tomatillo is a perfect fruit to add a bit of zing to any number of dishes.  The interior of the tomatillo is highly seeded, yet the seeds are not removed as they often are with tomatoes; in fact, you probably can't remove them due to the way they are structured. Their tart lemony flavors lends itself beautiful to other Mexican ingredients such as avocado, and they are a perfect addition to a salad in their raw form.  And of course, let us not forget this heavenly tomatillo jam!
A healthy Morning Glory Muffin with a puddle of tomatillo jam

Recipe:  Tomatillo Jam
Mexican Tomatillo Jam
(Recipe by Karen Hursh Graber)
Mermelada de Tomate Verde
Makes about a half pint

1 pound tomatillos, husked, washed and chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup lime juice
Zest of 1lime
Zest of 1 orange
Pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in a large pot, stir, bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until thickened to a loose jam.  It will thicken more as it cools.  Ladle into a sterilized half-pint jar, cover and allow to cool.  Refrigerate for up to 6 months.

The muffins alone 
Cook's Notes:  These easy-to-make muffins (the grating of the apple and carrot are the most difficult part--hardly difficult at all!) are absolutely delicious.  I am always pleased that recipe makes so many, then surprised when they don't last a nanosecond in our house!  These muffins hardly need either butter or jam (I use both), but a smear of cream cheese is just wonderful.

Recipe:  Morning Glory Muffins
Makes 12 muffins (I always get more than this)

1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) raisins
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) whole wheat flour, traditional or white whole wheat
1 cup (7 1/2 ounces brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (7 ounces) carrots, peeled and grated (I don't bother to peel them)
1 large tart apple, peeled, cored, and grated
1/2 cup (2 ounces) sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup (2 ounces) chopped walnuts (or other nut of choice)
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) sunflower seeds or wheat germ, optional (don't leave out the seeds!)
3 large eggs
2/3 cup (4 5/8 ounces) vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup (2 ounces) orange juice

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin, or line it with papers and spray the insides of the papers.

To make the muffins:  In a small bowl, cover the raisins with hot water, and set them aside to soak and plump while you assemble the rest of the recipe.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt.  Stir in the carrots, apple, coconut, nuts, and sunflower seeds or wheat germ, if using.  

In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and orange juice.  Add to the flour mixture, and stir until evenly moistened.  

Drain the raisins and stir them in.  Dived the batter among the wells of the prepared pan (they will be full almost to the top)

Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, until nicely domed and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes in the pan on a rack, then turn out of pan to finish cooling.

Morning Glory Muffin with Tomatillo Jam (on my mothers Wedgwood)

The tomatillo jam...with a Moroccan spoon

Happy Easter!

Parting Shot:  Detail from a Mexican Tree of Life

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.

Flavors of the Sun International Cooking School
San Miguel de Allende, México


SL Designer said...

I'm looking forward to baking these muffins. The ingredients listed certainly are healthy ones. Love all the added crunchies included in the ingredients. Thank you! Sharon Lasher

laura ann loveland said...

As always, Vicky, another beautiful, informative, and yummy post! Wishing you and yours a Felices Pascuas!

Eha said...

A very happy Easter, Vicki, to you and all your family! Reading your heading forewarned me there might be transcontinental ingredient problems . . . not so! Tho' not a baker per se absolutely love those muffins, think the whole blog a wonderful lesson as all of yours are, and shall do my best to find some tomatilloes not usual in our part of the world . . . what a very easy recipe!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

These muffins look packed with goodness! And I'm intrigued by the tomatillo jam. We've had tomato jam which we love but tomatillo would be so good too :D

Nagi@RecipeTinEats said...

Another yummy post! The tomatillo jam looks so perfect with that muffin!

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I hope you had a wonderful Easter, Vicki. The muffins sound delicious and the jam intriguing.

Tania|My Kitchen Stories said...

I love tomatillos and I cant believe nobody grows them in Australia. I could eat one of those Morning Glories right now!