“People think when they make jam that it’s this giant production,” says Schwenke, the pastry chef at 312 Chicago (Hotel Allegro, 136 N LaSalle St, 312-696-2420). But it doesn’t have to be: “You can just make four or five peaches, and keep it in your fridge for a couple days,” which is exactly the approach Schwenke takes with this peach-thyme skillet jam. But while you could easily stop there and spread the jam on toast, Schwenke has three novel ideas: Sandwich the peach-thyme jam between lemon-cornmeal icebox cookies, shake it with black raspberry–infused gin for a cocktail, or swirl it with club soda for a refreshing nonalcoholic spritzer. To make all three, start the gin infusion two days beforehand, then macerate the peaches and mix the cookie dough the night before.
Find Seedling peaches at the Wicker Park farmers’ market, 1500 N Damen Ave, Sundays 8am–2pm through Oct 24.
Lemon-cornmeal cookies with peach-thyme jam with Market Flyer cocktail
For the cookies:
1½ cups cornmeal, toasted in a 350-degree oven until golden, about 20 minutes
¾ cup sugar
Zest of two lemons
½ teaspoon salt
²/³ cup all-purpose flour
For the jam:
4 ripe yellow peaches, diced (to yield about 3 cups), skin on
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 full springs of thyme, picked
Juice of ¼ lemon
For the cocktail:
1 pint black raspberries
.5oz lemon juice
1. Make the jam. Combine peaches, sugar, picked thyme leaves and lemon juice in a bowl. Macerate in refrigerator overnight. The next day, drain three-fourths of the syrup from the peaches. Reserve the syrup. In a small saucepan, cook peaches and remaining syrup over medium heat, stirring continuously, until the peaches thicken like a jam, about five minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Make the cookies. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine toasted-and-cooled cornmeal, butter, sugar, zest and salt, and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs and scrape down. Add flour. Roll into a log, wrap in wax paper or parchment, and freeze at least four hours or overnight. When ready to bake, slice the cookies and bake in a 350-degree oven for ten minutes, or until the sides start to brown. Let cool. Sandwich the cookies with skillet jam.
3. Make yourself a drink. For a nonalcoholic version, pour one and a half ounces of the reserved peach syrup into an ice-filled glass, fill with club soda and stir. For Schwenke’s Market Flyer cocktail, place a half pint of black raspberries in a bottle of gin, shake hard, and let sit for two days. In a cocktail shaker, combine one and a half ounces of the reserved peach syrup, one and a half ounces of infused gin and a half-ounce of lemon juice with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.