Category Archives: vegetables

Little Green Tomato Fail :-(

In keeping up with the current theme of using what’s left over in the garden (and it may be nearly January, but thanks to this rather mild late autumn we were having, for which I have been extremely grateful, whilst remembering sitting outside of businesses in my car in -7 degree weather waiting for interviews last year… ahem, there’s still a little bit of life in there), we finally made the decision / realisation a few weeks ago, that it was time to finish off the tomatoes.

Now, we had an insane number of tomato plants this year – tumbling ones.  Entirely due to my mother-in-law.  Not sure if I should thank her and encourage this again…  I did attempt to rear 25 plants one year – it was the first of the really wet summers, however, and I got tomato rot and didn’t get a single one 😦

That aside, after picking off all the tomatoes, this is what we were left with:

Actually, we had three bowls, but you get the idea – this is a salad bowl, incidentally…

At first, I thought I’d just try to eat them as they were – never really tried it before, but they’re not part of the nightshade family or anything, and other people have cooked with them and survived, so I gave it a go.  They were fantastic on the first day – just popped them in my mouth as a snack – straight.  Tried it again the next day, thinking I’d fallen upon an exceptionally healthy, free snack.  Alas, it wasn’t to be.  Too much acid in the tomatoes to really eat them this way.  My tummy and I were not particularly pleased with the result.

So then I thought I might ripen them a bit.  so they went like this for a week:

Great use for rather old apples…

That worked reasonably well – certainly more red and yellow in there than green by the week’s end.

So on the weekend, after considering a number of potential recipe ideas, I decided to be brave and use them in a savory dish.  We love our pies, and I figured, after Hester at Alchemy in the Kitchen posted a lovely green tomato and gooseberry pie (http://www.alchemyinthekitchen.ie/), that I would give it a try.

I asked Hester if it would be okay to just go all tomato, as my husband has a fear of gooseberries (something to do with his childhood – I think it’s best not to ask…), and she wisely advised me that something was needed to temper the flavour.  Indeed, as I was popping them into my mouth raw, I thought they would have been amazing with plenty of mozzarella or a queso fresco (not widely available in the UK…).  So I thought I would kind of go there.

Realising quite how tart the tomatoes were, I figured I would roast them first, to bring out the sweetness – and not skimp on the oil (for a change).  They did smell divine whilst cooking – alas, smell and flavour disconnect again…

As ever, this came together on a bit of a spur of the moment day, so I went with what I had in my kitchen, as opposed to what would have tasted best.  So here’s a recipe not to try – take my word on it.

Sour Green Tomato Tart

Ingredients:

For the crust:

250 g fine cornmeal
125g cold unsalted butter, diced
1 large egg yolk
a bit of cold water as necessary

Method:

  • Grease tart or cake tin (I used a springform pan as this is what I had)
  • Add cornmeal and butter into a bowl and rub together until fine crumbs form
  • Add egg and continue to mix until a dough forms – add water slowly to help form the dough as necessary
  • Knead dough briefly if possible.  Cornmeal doesn’t work like a flour, so it may be a bit crumbly
  • Put dough into pan and press out to form a crust – the cornmeal will not roll out.  Use a heavy glass to smooth into corners and avoid an overly thick crust.
  • Prick the base with a fork and leave to chill for 30 minutes.
  • Cover in baking paper and add ceramic beans and bake for 20 minutes at 200C
  • Leave to cool slightly before adding filling

Filling:

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 cups of cherry tomatoes – green
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TBSP oil
  • 3 yellow peppers, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 1/2 c cheese
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C, if not already warm from crust
  2. Mix tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper and oil in zip loc bag and toss about to combine flavours
  3. Spread tomatoes onto roasting pan and roast for about 20 minutes
  4. Whilst tomatoes are cooking, soften onion and pepper by placing in the microwave, covered, for 5 minutes
  5. Add tomatoes to pepper and onion, then add eggs and milk and mix well.
  6. Pour into crust
  7. Top with cheese
  8. Bake at 200C for 20-25 minutes, until filling is set
  9. Slice and wince.

Things I would do differently:

  1. Obviously, far fewer green tomatoes – a few might have added a nice punch, but not sooo many.  This would have been really nice with red tomatoes or anything else really – lesson learned!
  2. The cornmeal crust was nice, but a bit too crumbly – I think it could have used another egg to help it bind, and probably been a bit wetter – would maybe cook it as polenta first
  3. More cheese – I just used what I had to hand, and that was all we had – more cheese would have helped temper the flavour a bit more

Winding down the garden – Chard-fest 2011

I got the nicest e-mail this morning.  It seems an old business colleague who has wronged me would like to make financial restitution to me whilst lying on his death bed.  As the dollar signs flashed before my eyes, I though, do people really fall for these things?  I can kind of understand spam e-mails eliciting more favourable responses (for the scam-er) maybe 10 years ago, but now, not so much.  That said, they can be quite amusing.  My favourite one I’ve gotten lately is from someone who desperately wants to give me an extremely well paid job, and all I need to do is guarantee money laundering.  Brilliant!

As I know that, although I regularly play my Publisher’s Clearing House games, because it’s free, and you know the old saying, you’ve got to play to win… I know that, in reality, it’s probably never going to happen.  So in this belt tightening era (which seems to have been going on for an awful long time now…), I’m very grateful to be in a position to grow some of our own fruit and veg.  That said, it’s getting to the end of the growing season (we’ve had an awfully mild November, so it’s probably gone on a lot longer than it should have!), and it’s time to finish what we can, and get things ready for next year.

Enter chard, which I haven’t been regularly picking, (so we have lots), and which will usually over-winter (so we’ll have again next year).  Time to use it.  So I did.

And it was good.

Chard and sausage saute with home grown mash

Chard

  • 2tsp (or to taste) each minced ginger and garlic
  • 1c white wine
  • 1 stock pot/cube
  • 1tbspn dijon mustard
  • 2-3 pork sausages per person (this was for planned leftovers, so I used 6), could easily use soy/quornsliced into rounds
  • 6c chard leaves, chopped, stalks and leaves separated
  • 3 trimmed leeks, chopped
  • 200g grapes (I prefer red)
  • 400g tin black-eyed peas
  • 0.25c yoghurt or cream
  1. In large pot / dutch oven, bring wine, garlic, ginger, stock pot and mustard to boil
  2. Add sausages and cook for a few minutes until it starts to look less pink
  3. Add leeks, and stalks of chard and cook for about 5 minutes more, stirring infrequently.  Add water if it looks dry (or more wine)
  4. Add grapes and stir in
  5. Add beans and stir in
  6. Add chard leaves in bunches (it’s an awful lot of chard, but cooks down to so little!), adding more as the last batch shrinks to provide more room!
  7. Cook for another 5 minutes to ensure everything is cooked through, then add yoghurt, mix through and heat for another minute.
  8. Serve over/or with (I’m one of those people who kind of doesn’t like food to touch too much…) mash or grain of choice.

   Mash

  • About three medium to small floury potatoes per head, sliced into large chunks
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 0.5 – 1c yoghurt – depending on how floury your spuds are
  1. Boil potatoes (peeled or not – I like them peeled, husband prefers skins on) in plenty of salted water for 15-20 minutes – this will depend on the variety of potato  (as these are some sort of home-grown heritage variety, they were done in under 15 minutes, which is really odd…) in a large pot with lid
  2. Drain potatoes using lid on pot to act as strainer, keeping some of the water with the potatoes
  3. Mash with potato masher to desired consistency (I like a bit of chunk in there…)
  4. Add salt and plenty of pepper
  5. Add yoghurt to achieve desired consistency.
  6. Serve alongside chard.

Tips, tricks, mistakes, etc:

  • I always try to work with slightly frozen sausages.  After 15 years of vegetarianism, I still have trouble touching meat products, so try to handle them as little as possible.  Sausage is no exception.  It’s way less oogie to cut into bits if it’s still a little frozen.
  • I dropped a bit of agave nectar in the pot whilst cooking this, to counteract any bitterness in the chard.  It came out a bit too sweet with the grapes, so I have omitted above.  That said, the chard was buttery goodness.  I think that was all the chard though…

Tony Chachere is my Hero

Around 2001, on a trip home, I discovered something which was to have a major impact on my cooking, and to a degree, improve my quality of life.  Enter Tony Chachere’s:Apologies for the rubbish picture – maybe the BlackBerry phone camera wasn’t the way to go with that one, huh?

I’m a spicy food fan – my mom used to slip hot peppers into our salads growing up.  My dad has fond memories of growing up with something called schoog (which I found is both a hot chili paste and a sweet drink – there are some Hebrew words that I’ve never quite come to terms with – imagine asking for one and getting the other.  Um, no.)

My husband is not.  But as we’ve been together for nearly a decade now (where does the time go – oh yeah.  There), he’s learning to love it.

Enter Tony’s – salty and spicy.  Perfection in a shaker as far as I’m concerned.  And the uses!!!

  • mix it with Parmesan cheese over pasta – yum
  • use it to season a pot of black bean, sweet potato and pepper stew – yum
  • shake some on top of chicken or veg when roasting
  • soups, stews, roasted meats and veg (great on potatoes) you want it spicy and a bit salty (I do love my salt), add Tony’s

Tony’s Roasted Courgette/Zucchini sticks

Ingredients:

  • Two large or four medium courgettes – cut into batons
  • spoon full of oil of you choice
  • generous shaking(s) of Tony’s to taste
  1. Put courgette into a zip loc bag
  2. Add oil, then Tony’s to bag
  3. Zip closed
  4. Shake, shake, shake
  5. Pour into roasting dish
  6. Pop in an oven (doesn’t really need to pre-heat) and turn it to about 400F/200C and roast to your liking (I like mine a bit dark, so left it in there fore about 45 minutes)Things I would do differently
  • Make more – so good.  Can’t wait to restock on my Tony’s in January!