One of the books I recently reviewed was fellow Canadian Grace Massa Langlois' Grace's Sweet Life: Homemade Italian Desserts from Cannoli, Biscotti, and Tiramisu to Torte, Tartufi, and Struffoli. Full of rich and fairly complicated to pass off during the week recipes, I couldn't readily make a full-out dessert from the book. However, like I wrote in my review, because the fare is that complex, there's tons of easily achievable mini-recipes to try out! I have a couple of those to share with you too - the first one being this dead simple, yet so incredibly brilliant, method for making jam. Grace's method bakes the berries with the sugar and lemon juice instead of being cooked down on the stove - which may be an old trick to some but it was a complete novelty to me! Jam isn't all that difficult to make anyway, but since there's no pectin or boiling times to fuss with this version is essentially foolproof, not to mention easily scalable (I made a small batch that my mom can eat within a few weeks, since it isn't canned). Even the amount of sugar isn't set in stone, I reduced it with no effect whatsoever, and the zest of a lemon helps to "brighten up" the mixture too.We have a little countertop convection oven at home, so I used that to keep the house cool, and because I'm far too lazy to clean my food mill and my food processor I skipped the "de-seeding" part of the recipe. Honest food with simple ingredients is like that - open to interpretation, substitution and modification because there is simply nothing fiddly in it to worry about!
Almost any "soft" fruit will work in this - berries, peaches, plums, groundcherries, fresh figs... even mango and papaya! Regardless of which fruit you choose to roast for this jam, keep in mind that it's flavour is getting concentrated through roasting and there isn't a ton of sugar to hide poor quality fruit behind. For us in the summer, that means we're going local and in season all the way - I used strawberries, blueberries and cherries from the farmer's market that were all grown nearby, and without a doubt they were the reason why this jam tastes so good!