Tag Archives: tomatoes

Adventures with Edible

30 Aug

It’s not that I haven’t been cooking! But I have been working a lot with the Edible publications this summer in addition to traveling and neglecting my garden, so let me share a couple of items with you.

This shrimp fra diavolo was out of this world!

This shrimp fra diavolo was out of this world!

Last week, a whole Edible team headed to Amagansett in the Hamptons to spend some time with food and wine personality and writer David Rosengarten. That was loads of fun. You can see the advance outtakes here and get a great recipe for a stacked Italian salad.

Alici salati...salted anchovies

Alici salati…salted anchovies

Eileen, my editor, stopped in before a wine class she was teaching! Pre-gaming with style

Eileen, my editor, stopped in before a wine class she was teaching! Pre-gaming with style

Yesterday the little man and I blanched, pureeed and froze five pounds of tomatoes. If you haven’t seen how on Hot, Cheap & Easy yet, click to see it on Edible Long Island.

Little hands, big help

Little hands, big help

2014-08-29 10.03.18

And here are a couple of pictures from stories for the Edible Long Island Travel issue; my lucky task is to cover some of Long Island’s most delicious international restaurants!

 

The Ellas: A Taste of Africa

The Ellas: A Taste of Africa – Deer Park

FADO, Huntington: Croquetas de bacalhao (I know they are not called croquetas in Portuguese, but don't have my notes at the moment!)

FADO, Huntington: Croquetas de bacalhao (I know they are not called croquetas in Portuguese, but don’t have my notes at the moment!)

FADO: Flan

FADO: Flan

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New Favorite Nosh: Tomato and Cucumber Sandwich!

19 Aug

This is barely a recipe, but it’s what I have been eating for breakfast and lunch (and sometimes in between with a cup of tea).

 

I like it with rye toast (shown here), but it reaches its apex with white bread....

I like it with rye toast (shown here), but it reaches its apex with white bread….

Toast and butter two slices of bread. Layer thinly-sliced cucumber (peeling is optional) and tomato – preferably fresh from the garden – on the bottom slice. Sprinkle with salt and top with the second slice. Cut in half and eat!

 

 

20 Summer Tomato Recipes and Techniques (including rescuing and freezing!)

31 Jul

Here it is finally, a round-up of recipes for using summer tomatoes, including rescuing tomatoes past their prime and processing for freezing (without the trouble of canning!). Bookmark this one….

1. The Easiest of All: Chopped Tomato Sauce

Light and beautiful, any kind of tomatoes will do, as long as they are garden fresh!

Light and beautiful, any kind of tomatoes will do, as long as they are garden fresh!

2. Speedy Bruschetta (great for using up tomatoes past their prime salad days)

A lovely way to start a meal (or grate some cheese over and call it a movie snack)

A lovely way to start a meal (or grate some cheese over and call it a movie snack)

3. Pan-Roasted Cherry, Grape or Sungold Tomatoes (Oil-Free options and another way to use up those minis gone soft)

4. Grilled Cherry Tomato Salad or Burger Topper

This recipe has terrible photos so I am not using them here, but great flavor.

This recipe has terrible photos so I am not using them here, but great flavor. Try it!

5. Roasted Plum Tomatoes with Garlic and Basil

Bung these in the oven while roasting other veggies!

Bung these in the oven while roasting other veggies!

6. Spanish-style Stuffed Tomatoes

Stuffed Tomatoes!

Stuffed Tomatoes!

7. Provencal Vegetable Tian (baked layered summer veggies with olives)

Assembly is easy on this vegetable tian

Assembly is easy on this vegetable tian

By the time it came out of the oven, my natural light was gone...but you get the idea.

By the time it came out of the oven, my natural light was gone…but you get the idea.

 

8. Marinated Mini-Mozzarella Balls

Perfect for a summer BBQ or buffet (and big savings over the pre-marinated from the Italian deli

Perfect for a summer BBQ or buffet (and big savings over the pre-marinated from the Italian deli

 9. Classic Criollo Tomato and Avocado Salad

The go-to side for spicy, salty, strong-flavored creole cooking

The go-to side for spicy, salty, strong-flavored creole cooking

 10. Cannellini and Tomato Salad (no cook)

Add crusty bread and you've got yourself a no-cook hearty cool meal!

Add crusty bread and you’ve got yourself a no-cook hearty cool meal!

11. Pan-Roasted Tomato and Tomatillo Salsa (fat-free)

Pretty all the way from start to finish

Pretty all the way from start to finish

2012-08-26 04.56.47 tomato tomatillo

12. Oven Charred Tomatillo and Tomato Salsa

Oven Charred...Yum

Oven Charred…Yum

Next page: Bisque; Watermelon Feta and Tomato Salad, AND several ways to preserve tomatoes by freezing!

Continue reading

Almost Instant Bruschetta (Quickie tomato spread)

18 Oct

Got a tomato and some day-old bread?

Swirl around to soften and Bob's your uncle!

Swirl around to soften and Bob’s your uncle!

Use it up deliciously and look fab doing it.

A lovely way to start a meal (or grate some cheese over and call it a movie snack)

A lovely way to start a meal (or grate some cheese over and call it a movie snack)

Ingredients:

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)

A few ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 or two cloves garlic minced

Day-old bread, sliced and lightly toasted

Salt to taste

Directions:

Heat oil in a skillet. Toss in tomatoes and garlic and stir around at medium until skins begin to separate. Spread on toasts. Sprinkle with salt. Serve.

Glow!

Glow!

Summer Tomato Recipe (or just chop fresh tomatoes over warm pasta and you’re done!)

16 Oct

We won’t be eating this light and fresh summer way much longer.

The little man and I pulled out the tomato plants today. They could have stayed in a bit longer and we might have had a few more vine-ripened tomatoes, but he took off all the little greenies (“39, Mom! I picked 39 tomatoes!”), holding up his shirt hem to make an impromptu bag for them, while I folded the netting (okay, attempted to fold the netting and then just balled it all up because it was making me crazy) and then he pulled out all the plants (about ten) I threw them in the leaf compost and we called it an afternoon. After a summer of garden disasters, the pounds and pounds of tomatoes we got from our ten plants was a true joy. And I have several quarts of sauce and puree in the freezer for later!

Light and beautiful, any kind of tomatoes will do, as long as they are garden fresh!

Light and beautiful, any kind of tomatoes will do, as long as they are garden fresh!

My dad (he of the crazy-ass mostly vegan diet) just had surgery for bladder cancer last week, so we’ve been very, very busy with other things, not least of which is preparing food for everyone so that we all continue to eat well and keep up our strength while we work on his recuperation and everything else (like work — fullltime and freelance — and school and soccer and violin — and on and on). So yes, the healing and kitchen are going great guns, but the writing is not.

So this is not even a recipe, but a solution. Boil pasta in generously salted water and drain, reserving 1/4 Cup of pasta water.. Chop up fresh tomatoes and toss them into the pasta with a splash of olive oil, a splash of pasta water, a couple of basil leaves if you’ve got and maybe some finely minced garlic. Serve with grated cheese/a sprinkle of salt, Or not. Eat. Move on to the next thing and try not to mourn the end of the summer tomatoes. Save your seeds and plant more next year!

From my garden. I love this moment of the harvest season, when you realize it's almost over and therefore appreciate these flavors that much more.

From my garden. I love this moment of the harvest season, when you realize it’s almost over and therefore appreciate these flavors that much more.

400th Post – A celebration because YES, I have ripe tomatoes!

7 Sep

This is my 400th post, which seems to be quite a lot. It’s funny how much energy you can manage to put into the things you love. Even when you don’t have any energy to spare.

Another view....

Another view….

So I am not going to say much, just show you my paste tomatoes, which are lighting up a summer that was otherwise dark with failed crops….

And more to come...provided we keep a few steps ahead of the blight!

And more to come…provided we keep a few steps ahead of the blight!

Thanks to all of you for your visits and comments, It is terrific to know that there are so many kindred spirits out there gardening, cooking, eating….I would love it if you would take a moment to tell me what some of your favorite posts or recipes are!

Your friend in food,

Natalia

(P.S. that is not blossom end rot on that ripe one in the background…just a funny ripple in the skin. Whew!)

Make Your Own (Freezeable) Tomato Puree

29 Aug

While I wait, anxiously, for my own paste tomatoes to ripen before some sort of blight gets them (my tomatoes are abundant and my only hope left for a reasonable harvest of something this summer), my CSA, Restoration Farm, is piling on tomatoes of all stripes..I think we picked up 7-10 lbs this week alone, and since the friend we share with , Allison, has not been around, we’ve been taking it all home. So…I have made and frozen a couple of quarts of sauce recently, using the simple recipe that follows.

Bubbling puree. Stir occasionally to break up.

Bubbling puree. Stir occasionally to break up.

There are other ways to do it (some cooks just blanch, peel and run through the food mill and don’t cook it at all; while some, including me, just blanch and freeze whole tomatoes), but I like this because the puree is smooth and ready to go in a pinch and the hint of garlic gives it a round flavor without taking it in a particular ethnic direction.

I strain the sauce through a regular strainer, then eat the seeds and solids!

I strain the sauce through a regular strainer, then eat the seeds and solids!

The blanching may seem daunting at first and yes, it does add time to what you are doing, but it is so simple and I like to watch the tomatoes float up and down in the bubbles and slipping off the peels so easily is somehow satisfying.

So give it a try if you get your hands on some paste tomatoes and enjoy summer freshness when there is snow on the ground!

The final product! Tomato puree that will be great when the weather turns....

The final product! Tomato puree that will be great when the weather turns….

Tomato Puree

3-5 lbs paste tomatoes

3-5 cloves garlic minced

½ tsp coarse salt

To blanch tomatoes, put a big pot of water on to boil. Be ready with tongs and a big bowl of ice water on the side.

Rinse and core tomatoes. Drop into boiling water (you will probably have to do batches). Remove each tomato as soon as its skin starts to wrinkle/split, and drop in the ice water.

Once the tomatoes are sufficiently cooled to handle, slip off the peels and discard peels or add to stock (thanks John Picardi, or was it Mad Dog for that tip!).

Dump the water from your big pot and add the peeled tomatoes, split or chopped in half if you like. (If you have a food mill, you can put the tomatoes through the mill first to eliminate seeds. Or, there is another suggested way to do it later in the recipe). Add garlic and salt, bring to a boil, then simmer for five, ten, 15 minutes…however long you want. The flavor is bright early on and mellows somewhat with more cooking, so it is up to you which you prefer.

When you’ve reached desired flavor, let cool. At this point, since my food mill is missing a piece, I press the sauce through a strainer into a bowl. The solids remain in the strainer and…true confessions…I use that as a spread on toast because the seeds don’t bother me there, but they do bother me in a smooth sauce. Then pour the sauce into a freezer-safe container (you will yield anywhere from a pint to a quart depending on quantity of tomatoes and how much liquid evaporated in the cooking) and freeze for a fresh neutral tomato puree in the middle of winter!

Pan-Roast Your Way to Flavorful Fat-Free Tomatillo Salsa

2 Sep

Wanna get roasty flavor from your tomatillos and tomatoes without added oil or turning on the oven? Try pan-roasting, an old Mexican technique that I learned about from Reed Hearon’s La Parrilla: The Mexican Grill (Chronicle Books 1996).

Pretty all the way from start to finish

According to Hearon, Pan-roasting dates back to the times when Mexicans didn’t have enough natural fats available to fry or sauté. It is pretty easy and gives an added depth to those bursting-with-freshness summer flavors. Just cook whole vegetables at a low temperature till they brown thoroughly and Bob’s Your Uncle! Continue reading

Everything Must Go! How to make a mad-mixed pasta sauce to eat now/freeze for later)

22 Aug

We are drowning in abundance. It happens every August if you garden or belong to a CSA; there are so many tomatoes, so many peppers, so much zucchini….it all gets lost in the fridge faster than you can cook it!

So, with pick-up coming the next day and a fridge full of last week’s haul getting ugly, I took as much as I could and cooked it down into sauce – some for now and some for the freezer, in small containers that will make a fast meal when school starts and dinner needs to be now and lunch needs to be ready the night before. I have freezer-packing panic!

Blanche! (Tennessee Williams moment)

Here is an Everything Must Get Used Before Our Next Pick-Up tomato sauce recipe. I used SunGolds, cherries, paste tomatoes, slicers, heirlooms, anything that had been sitting all week getting sad.

How-to for blanching tomatoes follows the recipe….

Everything Must Go Pasta Sauce

3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 Cup onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 green peppers, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

(Optional bits and bobs: half a zucchini, a bit of eggplant – bung in anything that will cook down soft and not mess up the overall color too much — chopped small).

6 lbs tomatoes (paste tomatoes preferred, but I used an incredible mix), cored, blanched and peeled*

1 Tbs dried oregano and thyme (2 Tbs if using fresh)

¼ Cup red wine

½ tsp salt (or to taste)

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot at medium high until liquid and fragrant. Lower heat to medium and add the following vegetables one at a time, stirring to coat before adding the next: onions, garlic, peppers, carrots, celery. Cook at medium (or lower if you have time) until vegetables are soft and translucent, at least five minutes. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add herbs and wine and lower to a lively simmer. Cook down for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The more you cook it, the smoother it will get, but also the more dense. Add water 1/4 Cup at a time as desired.

(Optional step: Using an immersion blender, liquefy the sauce to desired smoothness)

Correct seasoning and serve over pasta/freeze for later! Will keep three months in the freezer.

To blanch, keep reading!

A pile of peels

*To blanch and peel tomatoes: Bring two quarts of water to a boil. Meanwhile, core the tomatoes (take out the stem and white core with a paring knife) and prepare a large bowl of ice water. When the water boils, drop tomatoes in. In two minutes (or less) you will see the skin begin to peel back or split. Remove each tomato as this happens and drop in ice water. When tomatoes have cooled,  take them out of the ice water and peel (the skin should come off easily). They are then ready to cook down, or freeze in freezer bags for later use (later can be as long as next spring! and you don’t have to peel them if you are freezing for later use).

Roasted Plum Tomatoes with Garlic and Basil

21 Sep

As the weather cools, I am turning the oven on more and more (the big oven). Packing the oven uses less energy and is a great way to use up an abundance of garden vegetables. Roast everything one evening and have veggies for side dishes, quick pastas, lunchtime wraps, and whatever else you can think of for the next three or four days!

On this occasion I packed the oven with tomatoes, eggplant, onions and peppers, and pattypan squash in separate  dishes…all at 450° for approximately 30 minutes. It was quite a production, but more on those recipes later!

Today’s installment is yet another delicious way to get the most from the end-of-season tomatoes and basil. This method turns little plums into savory-sweet disks that dress up any dish they are around. They marry well with pizza, feta, mozzarella, hummus, olives…anything Mediterranean.

Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic and Basil

24 plum tomatoes (or as many as will fit on your rimmed baking sheet and increase other ingredients accordingly), halved, with core and seeds scooped out

3-4 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs balsamic vinegar

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp black pepper

1 Tbs fresh basil leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Place tomatoes on rimmed baking sheet. In a bowl, whisk remaining ingredients (except basil) together until blended. Stir in basil and drizzle over tomatoes, allowing oil to also seep under. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until tomatoes begin to caramelize. Serve atop toast, in a wrap or just eat right off the baking sheet!

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