close-up photo of H. Weal, co-author of The Weal MealI came up with this one a couple years ago, when I wanted to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but was all out of jam. I had recently learned how to make simple syrup (boil a 1:1 ratio of water and sugar until sugar dissolves) and figured, cooking down some fruit into the mix should yield a jam-like result. I was right! But it was ridiculously over-sweetened; essentially liquid candy. I dialed the sugar content WAY down in subsequent batches so that the flavor of the fruit was front and center. I found out later that a proper jam is supposed to have a nearly even ratio of sugar to fruit, so it’s more appropriate to label this chunky concoction a dessert sauce – but I’ve only ever used it in place of jam and pancake syrup. I prefer using frozen fruit because it’s pre-prepped (rinsed, stemmed, etc.), at peak flavor year-round, and doesn’t rot when I forget I have it on hand! — H. Weal

2 cups (10 ounces) frozen strawberries
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar

small (1-quart) pot
kitchen scale (optional)
measuring cups and spoons
cooking spoon

1. Combine all ingredients in pot over high heat until boiling.
2. Reduce to medium heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until strawberries break down and sauce thickens – about 14 minutes.

• Near the end, you may want to use a masher to break down the larger chunks of fruit.

25 minutes

3/4 cup