Preserved Strawberries and Jamón Serrano on Little Toasts from 'Canal House Cooks Every Day'


[Photograph: Hamilton and Hirsheimer]

I have a terrible habit of stockpiling open jars of jams and jellies in the fridge. I'll open a jar and eat a few servings over a week or two, drizzled into yogurt or smeared on toast. Inevitably, though, the second half of the jar will languish in the back of the fridge after I've grown tired of that particular strawberry, peach, or blackberry preserve. So recipes like Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer's little toasts with preserved strawberries and jamón serrano in Canal House Cooks Every Day are a godsend (to me and my sad, half-empty jars). Pairing sweet, tender strawberries with salty, fatty ham is an easy way to battle jam palate fatigue as it turns a breakfast staple into a fast hors d'oeuvre.

Why I picked this recipe: Leftover preserved strawberries plus salty pork? Count me in, many times over.

What worked: The small drizzle of vinegar atop these toasts was a wise final touch, adding necessary brightness to the intense sweet-salty flavors of the preserves and ham.

What didn't: I thought the double layer of strawberries contributed a bit too much sugar to the toast. A single berry is plenty.

Suggested tweaks: You could use any thinly sliced cured ham in place of the serrano. Smoky speck would be a particularly intriguing alternative.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Canal House Cooks Every Day to give away this week.