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Holiday recipes: Jezebel Jelly, a Retro Christmas gift

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At a party not too long ago, where all the ladies brought some sort of pick-up food for the buffet, one contribution stood out. A lovely pottery dish with a cheesy, bubbling spread, full of flavor and punch. Everyone tracked down the person who brought this and begged the recipe. To our surprise, she told us it was “just that Jezebel Jelly.” She’d prepared it the way her mother had for parties by whipping the cream cheese with a little cream, spreading it in the dish, pouring the jelly over it and heating it until bubbly. She served it with baguette slices and it was a huge hit. Most of the people in that room had not had Jezebel Jelly in ages and we were all delightfully surprised, and reminded that things become classics for a reason. Her presentation, I must say, was much more elegant than the sauced block version.

So all these memories made me want to share Jezebel Jelly again. Jezebel Jelly has a real kick to it, so it goes well with creamy cheeses. Try it poured over a block of cream cheese if you want, or in the hot dish version. It goes well over a baked brie. It makes a great spread on a turkey or ham sandwich, and is an excellent accompaniment to pork. Use it as a glaze for a pork loin or a sauce for pork chops. And it is wonderful with that other classic Southern party tradition, a great silver platter of sliced, roasted pork tenderloin or a joint of country ham served with bite-sized biscuits or rolls. Jezebel Jelly in a silver bowl alongside will be a real treat, and probably bring back some happy memories.

And for the record, the nice little bonnet and tie on the jar in the photo are from, let’s say, a vintage set found at the very, very back of a drawer in my mom’s kitchen, from the days when she gave jarred gifts. I do like to be authentic.

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