8.31.2010

The Results are in - See which Profile Pic Won

Did you vote on which profile picture I should use for Project Food Blog? 

.A .B

.C

A.  Looking Up
B.  Looking to the Side
C.  Sitting

Voting is now closed and the results are in. See which one won by checking out my profile at Project Food Blog: http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/contestants/389

For my blog profile picture the looking up image is too tight. There isn't a lot of breathing room and it feels crowded in the side column. Especially since I usually open each post with a large 500x500 image. The sitting photo is nice because my body is angled into the blog and there is enough room in front of me that the image doesn't feel pinched.

I'm actually using all three images as profile pics in various places. The looking to the side image cropped as a square is now my foodbuzz publisher profile, my google profile, as well as my twitter profile picture. They each have their uses. The nice part is they similar enough that I think folks will connect one image to the other, so that I have the freedom to use the best image for the location.

Man who knew profile pictures would be so complicated or cause such a stir!

8.30.2010

Sweet Corn Chowder – Summer Recipe

 

I have never smelled something so heavenly as onions cooking in salt pork. If there is one thing I learned from this excursion into corn chowder let it be that. A couple weeks ago we went out to celebrate the baptism of Jeff’s Nephew/god child. We ate at a tasty restaurant simply called The Café in Ames, Iowa. The daily specials included corn chowder, which I think everyone at the table ordered and devoured. It was kind of pricy at $6 for an appetizer sized serving.  It’s had me hankering to make my own corn chowder ever since.




I turned to my favorite cookbook, Cook’s Illustrated The New Best Recipe. They have a recipe for corn chowder and it is long and involved. But I trust in their recipes and couldn't stop thinking about that soup and I wanted to make it.

To get the freshest corn we stopped at the road side stand and got ten ears. Then we visited the local butcher to get the salt pork and the grocery store to get whole milk and cream. Then the garden to get parsley and thyme. I have now invested way too much time into just the ingredients and I still have to milk the corn. You heard me right. I said, “milk the corn”. Luckily Cook’s Illustrated had a nice illustration of how to milk the corn and I’ll show you too.

Was the corn chowder worth all the work? A big fat fatty yes! It is the type of chowder that melts in your mouth with the perfect balance of sweet and salty. The depth is incredible. First it’s the sweet corn then the salty pork then the earthy parsley and thyme all in a creamy milky texture. This is the type of recipe that I am going to have to make at least once a summer. It’s awful rich and time consuming for more than that. But you better believe I’ll be looking forward to it every time.

This corn chowder is rich enough that a simple slice of bread and a glass of water is all you need to make a meal. And let’s face it all that cream and pork fat makes it a pretty dense dish.

The ingredients:


Summer Sweet Corn Chowder
10 medium ears of fresh yellow corn, husks and silks removed
2 ounces of salt pork, trimmed of rind and cut in half
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large onion, preferably Spanish, chopped fine
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth (I used turkey and it was delish)
2 medium red potatoes diced into ¼ inch pieces
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 cup cream
2 cups whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Prepare the corn.
 
Cut the kernels off four of the ears of corn. It is easiest to cut the ear in half and then use a chef’s knife to cut downwards along the ear. You don’t want to go so deep that you get any cob, just nice juicy kernels of corn. Set aside, you should have roughly 3 cups.

Milk the remaining six ears and the cobs you cut the kernels off. To do this use the coarsest side of your grater and grate the corn off. Then use the back of your knife to scrape off any remaining pulp and juice. You should have about 2 cups of pulp and corn juice.
 

Step 2: In a heavy deep pan like a Dutch oven or stock pot, sauté the salt pork over medium heat, use a flat spatula to press down on the salt pork to help the fat come out as you cook it for about 10 minutes or until both sides of the pork fat are nice and crackling brown. Reduce the heat to low and then add the butter and onions. Cover and cook until softened about 12 minutes. Remove the salt pork and reserve. Add the minced garlic and sauté one minute. Then you’re going to make a roué by adding the flour and whisking it in. Then slowly add the stock whisking as you go.

Step 3: Add the potatoes, bay leaf, thyme, whole milk, corn pulp and then add back in the salt pork. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the potatoes are almost tender, 8-10 minutes. Now add in the corn kernels and heavy cream and return to a simmer; simmer until the corn kernels are tender yet still slightly crisp, about 5 minutes. Take out the bay leaf and salt pork. Serve with a big smile on your face, because you know this will be the most wonderful corn chowder of the summer!

This post was featured on Two for Tuesdays Blog Hop Vol. 12.

8.28.2010

Sprucin' Up My Profile Picture - Please Vote

There is a contest starting this September over at FoodBuzz called Project Food Blog.  They are inviting all of their Featured Publishers (read: bloggers who uses Foodbuzz to advertise) to participate.  Think of it as a reality cooking show like Master Chef in blog format.  There will be a series of culinary blog challenges and contestants will be culled down until only one remains.  The winner will be crowned the Next Food Blog Star plus a featured spot on FoodBuzz.com for a year.  Oh, and get $10,000.  It sounds like fun to me. 

It's also a good excuse for me to spruce up my blog.  Did you notice my blog header got thinner?  Now you can see more of the most recent post with out scrolling down.  I have also decided to host my photos at flicker because Picasso makes them too low quality.  I didn't get a new camera just to put up blurry pictures!  Did I tell you I got a Canon Rebel XSi with a 28-105mm lens?  I bought it used off ebay and I feel like I got a steal of a deal. 

And I'm also working towards a new profile picture.  I ran across this article about what makes a good profile picture from OKCupid.  Yes, OKCupid is an online dating site, but I think the principles are the same.  We are both trying to sell personality and peak people's interest with small online images.  Their study found the most effective profile pictures for girls are ones that:
  1. Are photographed from above (just like every teenage girl on MySpace)
  2. Show cleavage (also might be why pictures from above are popular...)
  3. Have a flirty smile (you want to get to know me.  wink, wink)
  4. Give good eye contact (you can trust me)
  5. Show the girl doing something interesting (conversation starter)
So with that information in mind, I am hoping my profile picture says, "I'm a cute, down to earth, gardener and foodie.  Don't you want to come read my blog?" 

What do you think?  Which of these photos do you like best for my profile picture?

.A .B

.C

A.  Looking Up
B.  Looking to the Side
C.  Sitting

There is a poll box over in the right hand column.  Please vote.  And if you like you can give me more feed back in the comments.  Or even better become a follower of Foy Update (sign up in the right hand column).  I'm going to need all the support I can get for this Project Food Blog contest!

The results are in see which photo is my profile pic: http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/contestants/389

8.27.2010

Tomato and Roasted Pepper Bread Salad - Recipe


I'm not a big fan of bread pudding. It's the sliminess that gets me. It makes me think of my grandfather who, bless his heart, would not put his dentures in for breakfast, and so he ate his toast by dipping it into his coffee until it could barely hold together and was basically drippy bread soup and then he slurped it up. So when I asked for recipe ideas for garden fresh tomatoes and my sister left the message that simply said, "Look up bread salad in your Cook's Illustrated Best Recipe cookbook. You will not regret it!" I thought, oh no it sounds kind of like grandpa's coffee toast or bread pudding.

But then it made me think of the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle when Barbara and her husband go to Italy and they eat all the local dishes including bread salad. So I figured, why not? Let's try it; my sister and Barbara Kingsolver both think it is good.

The recipe calls for a loaf of stale bread cut into chunks tossed with vinaigrette of olive oil and vinegar strewn with roasted peppers, tomatoes and herbs. Seems like it could work and I trust my The New Best Recipe From the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated. It's my go-to cookbook.  My faith is ready to leap.

Jeff made bread salad and we at all of it. It was surprisingly filling; kind of like what would happen if Italian salad and stuffing had a love child. I have to say the hybrid is not that good. Sorry sis, sorry Barbara Kingsolver. I would have rather had a salad with a side of bread. But I tried it and I learned.

I don't think it was a bad recipe. I just think it wasn't for me. Or maybe it shouldn't be served as a main dish. I'm thinking more of a side to a protein or perhaps with the protein mixed in. I bet new mozzarella or provolone cheese would be good or even a hard boiled egg. There needs to be something to cut the vinegar. Normally salad comes with a bit of bread and the bread cuts the vinegar. But the bread was already coated with vinegar so there was no escape from the tanginess.

I think it's a good idea it just needs work. Any suggestions for how to serve bread salad so the vinaigrette isn't over whelming?



Tomato and Roasted Pepper Bread Salad

1 pound sturdy Italian Bread, crusts removed, and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 roasted peppers, diced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 small red onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup chives
1 pound of tomatoes (grape, plum, round, whatever), cored, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Step 1:  Place the bread cubes in a shallow bowl.  Mix the oil vinegar, tomatoes, roasted pepper, onion and half the herbs together in a small bowl.  Allow to set for ten minutes for the flavors to mix and mingle. 

Step 2: Pour the dressing over the bread, add the remaining herbs and toss well.  Season with the salt and pepper,.  If the bread still seems dry, sprinkle with a couple tablespoons of water to soften and toss again.  Repeat until the bread is easily pierced by a fork.  Be careful not to add to much water or you'll get something dangerously close to coffee-toast consistency.

Step 3: Serve immediately once dressed. This salad won't keep more than a couple hours. 

It's tomato time here on my blog. This month I'll be looking at different ways to preserve and eat tomatoes. Check out my first post where there are lots of inspiring comments for how to enjoy tomatoes. I am also adding links to the tomato posts as they are published so you will be able to find them together. Check it out here: Tomato Recipes and Ideas.

8.24.2010

Combo Recipe for Stuffed Tomatoes


In search of more ways to eat tomatoes, lest we get bored with the excesses of summer, I found a couple recipes for stuffed tomatoes.  I've never tried stuffing tomatoes before.  The deterrent was the daintiness.  It didn't seem like stuffed tomatoes would be filling and I was afraid to cover up the amazing flavor of garden fresh tomato with something as mundane as bread crumbs. 

I took all my cookbooks off the shelf and put them on the bed and then sat in the middle and one by one checked for stuffed tomato recipes.  In the end, there weren't that many cookbooks with stuffed tomato recipes. I did find two that I was excited about.  One in the Blueberry Hill Cookbook and one in Nourishing Traditions.  The first was simply egg with cheese and chives on top and the second was a bread crumb stuffing.  They turned out very good individually but together they were amazing.  The egg kind of poached in the tomato cup and the bread crumbs soaked up a little moisture making a stuffing.  Together they balanced the carbohydrate and protein with the acid tomato making a completely delicious meal. 

Plus the two recipes complimented each other nicely.  Making the two recipes really didn't take that much more time than making just one.  Both recipes can bake together in the same casserole dish and for the same amount of time.  So you get what looks like a fancy complex meal but with out all that work. 

The following recipe is for the combo of egg and bread crumb stuffed tomatoes.  It makes two dinner sized servings or four side dishes. 

Stuffed Tomato Combo

8 large ripe tomatoes
4 eggs
2 slices of whole grain bread
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil
1 tablespoons fresh parsley
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Step 1:  Cut the blossom ends off the tomatoes and scoop the insides out being careful not to pierce the walls of the tomato.  Lightly salt the insides of the tomatoes and place them in a buttered casserole.  The tomatoes should fit snugly so they can't slide around much. 

Step 2:  Chop the bread in a food processor until it is fine crumbs.  Add butter, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, basil and parsley.  Pulse a few times to blend it all together.  Set aside. 

Step 3: Drop an uncooked egg - careful, don't break it! - into four tomatoes.  Sprinkle a half tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese and some chives over each egg. Then fill the remaining tomatoes with bread crumb mixture.  Top each cup with half tablespoon Parmesan cheese.   

Step 4:  Bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes or until eggs are set. 

It's tomato time here on my blog. This month I'll be looking at different ways to preserve and eat tomatoes. Check out my first post where there are lots of inspiring comments for how to enjoy tomatoes. I am also adding links to the tomato posts as they are published so you will be able to find them together. Check it out here: Tomato Recipes and Ideas.

This post was submitted to: wildyeastblog.com

8.22.2010

How to Can Tomato Sauce - Recipe and Instructions

So what do you do when you have more tomatoes than you can eat?  Make them into sauce and can them for the winter.  There were a lot of tomatoes on the counter when I left work.  Poor abandoned tomatoes.  The kinds with soft spots or cracks or that weren't quite ripe when they were picked.  I can't stand seeing waste so I took them all home and let them sit a day.  Some of them ripened to a full red and some of them got dangerously close to over ripe.  There were the egg shaped Romas, the fat slicers and the four or five kinds of cherry tomatoes.  But tomato sauce doesn't care.  Tomato sauce is accepting of all kinds of tomatoes.  It takes all into its pot and simmers them down into delicious sauce so that we can enjoy the bounty well into winter. 

To make tomato sauce all you need is tomatoes, lemon juice, canning jars and a water bath canner.  You can make sauce with any amount of tomatoes, but I would recommend having at least ten pounds fresh tomatoes to start with because it really cooks down and you won't get enough sauce to make it worth steaming up the kitchen for the better part of two hours.  In fact the University of Georgia, who is the authority on all things home food preservation, recommends 46 pounds to yield seven quarts (a full water bath canner) of thick tomato sauce.  If you've never canned before UGA has a nice intro to using water bath canners

Canned Tomato Sauce

Tomatoes
1 teaspoon of bottled lemon juice per pint or 2 teaspoons per quart

Step 1:  Cut any damaged parts off the tomato and quarter them.  Don't worry about taking off the skin or getting the seeds out that will come later.  Throw them all into a large stock pot with all their juices.  Simmer them uncovered for about twenty minutes. 



Step 2:  Strain the tomatoes through a colander or loose weave cheese cloth.  The seeds and skins will stay behind and all the good stuff with go threw.  Put the pulp and juice back into the stock pot and simmer until volume is reduce by half.  Mean while fill your water bath canner with water and bring to a boil.  Sterilize your jars, lids and bands. 

Step 3:  Fill jars with tomato sauce straight out of the simmering pot.  Fill the jars to about 1/4 inch from the lip of the jar.  Add the bottled lemon juice. This ensures the tomatoes are acidic enough to prevent the growth of scary things like botulism.  Make sure the lip and rim is clean before putting on the lid and screw bands tightly.  

Step 4:  Process the hot jars in the boiling water bath canner.   Make sure the water level stays at least and inch above the tops of the jars.  It is handy to keep a teapot of boiling water going so that if the water evaporates below an inch you can add more with out dropping the temperature below a boil.  If the temperature drops or the water level gets too low you have to start the whole process over. 

You must know your elevation to determine how long the sauce should be in the canner.  Here's UGA's recommended process time for tomato sauce in a boiling-water canner. 
Step 5: Once the jars have processed.  Carefully remove them from the boiling water and place upside down on a towel to cool.  Once they have cooled check to see of the lid has sealed.  When you press on the lid it shouldn't compress and make a clicking noise.  If it does you should either reprocess the sauce or put it in the refrigerator and use it immediately. 

Once we get through the abundance of summer fresh produce and move into fall, I'll get into recipes using home canned tomato sauce. 

It's tomato time here on my blog. This month I'll be looking at different ways to preserve and eat tomatoes. Check out my first post where there are lots of inspiring comments for how to enjoy tomatoes. I am also adding links to the tomato posts as they are published so you will be able to find them together. Check it out here: Tomato Recipes and Ideas.

Maybe I should host my photos elsewhere because this photo looked very sharp until I upload it to Picasso and now it looks a little fuzzy.  Anyone have experience with this?  Should I just get a flicker account?  I'm sure it has something to do with the hosting of my photos or how blogger put them up.

8.20.2010

Elderberry Pancakes - Wild Harvest Recipe


My co-worker clued me into the ripe elderberries. Large umbels heavy with shiny dark berries were ready to be picked. After work on Tuesday Jeff and I went out and picked a bucket full of berries. Well, actually, we cut. It’s easiest to simply snip the stem taking the whole head of berries.

If you are going to juice the berries you don’t even need to take them off their stems. Put the heads of elderberry fruit in a nylon or linen bag and blanch them in boiling water and then hang them over a pot and let the juice drip out. Resist the urge to squeeze the juice out as this will yield a cloudy liquid which will in turn make jelly or wine cloudy.

However, if you plan to eat the berries whether in pie or preserves then you will need to remove them from their stems. A fork can be a useful tool to comb the berries off the stem or you can gently pull them off by hand.

In the end we picked about eight pounds of elderberries. I have to admit, I’ve never picked them before. I’m not sure what to do with them. I put up a post asking what to do with elderberries and I got lots of answers. I did put about a pint of the berries in really high proof grain alcohol with the idea that we can mix it with simple syrup and make elderberry liquor. Basically the same way limonchello is made. But I still have seven and a half pounds of elderberries.

Then for dinner last night we made elderberry pancakes. I used the recipe for our wedding pancakes. I have an epic post on how to make pancakes.  You can find it here: How to make Perfect Buttermilk Pancakes.  To upgrade to elderberry pancakes you need about a cup of berries. Make sure to get all the little bits of stems out. The stems and leaves contain the mild toxins sambucine and hydrocyanic acid that can cause nausea. The USDA has a nice brochure on elderberry uses, cultivating and history here: http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_sanic4.pdf


So back to pancakes. About a cup of berries is enough for one recipe of pancakes.  Simply sprinkle the berries onto the pancakes right after you put the batter into the skillet. Use a spoon or chopstick to poke the berries into the batter. If they aren't in the batter when you flip the pancake the berries will stick to the pan and could burn.  You could also mix the berries in with the batter and then the batter will turn purple. Either way you will get delicious pancakes.

This time I tried using the bacon grease collected off the forman grill from when we made BLTs last week to grease the skillet.  It made the pancakes a touch salty with just a hint of bacon flavor and a nice crispy edge.  I'd do that again in a heart beat. 

Anyways if you've got elderberries give this recipe a try.  You could even serve them with elderberry syrup. 

8.17.2010

What to do with Elderberries?


I know these aren't tomatoes.  We'll get back to tomatoes in the next post.  But just what are these?  These are elderberries.  We picked a big bucket full of them.  Now what?  I've never picked these before.  Do you know any good recipes for elderberries?  I'm hoping my blog's ability to crowd source will reveal some exciting and tasty ideas. 

It turns out we picked 8.4 lbs of elderberries.  That's a huge amount, enough to try several recipes.  Here's your recommendations so far:

1.  Wine (7 votes)
2. Liquor or cocktails (3 votes)
3.  Jam or Jelly (6 votes)
4. Pie (2 votes)
5. Pancakes (3 votes)

This post was featured in Simple Lives Thursday

8.16.2010

Garden Fresh Tomato Salsa - Extemporaneous Recipe


Another excellent way to enjoy tomatoes is in fresh salsa.  Perhaps the best part of summer is that it is delicious to eat healthy.  We ate these with some baked tortilla chips.  I bought the kind that come in little bowl shapes so you can scoop up big bites of salsa because really tortilla chips are just edible spoons.  Well, edible spoons with salt on them.  The bright acid flavors of fresh salsa will summer up any dish from salad to fish or black beans.  My only problem with fresh salsa is it gets eaten so quickly.  I can never just have some on hand. 

You don't even really need a recipe to make salsa just dice all the tasty, in season ingredients, toss them together with a little lime juice and cilantro and enjoy.  This is a suggested ratio; feel free to adjust as needed.

What do you serve salsa with?

It's tomato time here on my blog. This month I'll be looking at different ways to preserve and eat tomatoes. Check out my first post where there are lots of inspiring comments for how to enjoy tomatoes. I am also adding links to the tomato posts as they are published so you will be able to find them together. Check it out here: Tomato Recipes and Ideas.

This recipe was featured in Two for Tuesdays volume 10. 

Garden Fresh Salsa

5 cups diced tomatoes
1 cup sweet pepper, diced
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped 

1 hot pepper, minced *mince with care or perhaps latex gloves on
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lime juice
Step 1:  Start by draining the juice off the diced tomatoes.  Save the juice and use it if you are canning, making sauce, or drink it.  I just had a great idea.  What about a fresh bloody Mary?  Maybe fresh and bloody don't belong in the same sentence. 

Step 2:  Mix everything, tomatoes, onion, sweet pepper, cilantro, hot pepper, garlic and lime juice together in a big bowl. 

Step 3:  Serve with tortilla chips, with anything involving Tex or Mex.  Also good on fish or just take a spoon and eat it.  It's delicious right away, but give it a couple hours and the flavors meld and the spice really comes out. 


8.13.2010

BLT - The Ultimate Summer Sandwich - Recipe


I've been thinking about home a lot lately. My FaceBook page is full of photos of flood water and tales of life with no water in my home town of Ames, Iowa. Check out this link for more information. It's strange to be here in Indiana where there are no rivers to flood. We are right on the divide where the water runs to the Great Lakes or down to the Mississippi. The best we've got are tiny creeks. Iowa is defined by rivers.  It sits between the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.  However, the growing season here in Indiana feels very Midwest and the dearth of tomatoes is familiar.

We decided we had to make some BLTs. My mother makes them every July and August.  It's the ultimate summer sandwich; so simple and delicious. And only really worth making if you have grown your own tomatoes or picked up some local ones at the farmer's market. I'm happy to discover that it's not just an Iowa tradition. The lady at the meat market informed Jeff she's been selling lots of bacon "because of all the tomatoes." I would hope anywhere tomatoes grow that bacon lettuce and tomato sandwiches are eaten.

BLTs are such a simple sandwich that you must have good ingredients. We buy our meat from a local place simply called "The Beef Market". They sell more than just beef. They sell organic, free range chickens, locally grown, butchered and processed meat. And they make their own brats. Those brats are amazing and a whole other post. They also have excellent bacon. So we got a half pound of bacon.

You might be wondering: aren't you a vegetarian?  No, actually, I'm not.  I do believe in eating responsibly and low on the processed food chain.  We eat meat a couple times a month at most and not in great quantity.  BLT's are a special treat, but not outside my food mantra (which you can read more about here if you like). 

The lettuce, sorry to say came from a regular old grocery.  The farmer's market just doesn't have local lettuce right now. It's too darn hot. That's okay, it was fresh and dark green and that's the basic requirements of lettuce.

The tomatoes are from the estate garden. I work at an arboretum and garden and the founders live right next door. I share an office with their estate horticulturist and she is nice enough to share the abundance of the kitchen garden with the staff. I will never want for tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs or green beans as long as I work there. The beefsteak and roma tomatoes are just coming on but the cherry tomatoes have been producing for quite awhile. So that's what we used on our BLTs.

To keep the house cool we made the bacon on the Forman grill. It also conveniently collects the bacon grease so I can use it in other dishes, like curry or pizza sauce. Jeff made the bread earlier in the day. Fresh bread is twice as delicious as store bought.

I love that BLTs are minimum work and time for such a mouth watering meal.


Classic BLTs - Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwiches

4 slices fresh bread
2 tomatoes sliced thick
4 large lettuce leaves
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 strips bacon

Step 1: Fry up your bacon until it is the desired crispiness. Meanwhile toast your bread and slice the tomatoes.

Step 2: Stacking your BLT is crucial. If you do it right the sandwich won't fall apart as much when being eaten. Start by smearing both pieces of toast with mayo. Then place the tomato on one piece of toast and the bacon on the other. Then put the lettuce on top of the tomatoes and put your two halves together. The mayo will help hold the tomatoes and bacon in place so they don't slide out. The lettuce should be large enough pieces that friction will keep them in place while you chow down.

Step 3: Serve and enjoy your BLTs with other summer classics like peaches, corn on the cob, slices of cucumber or fresh berries. A bowl of ice-cream at the end wouldn't be remiss either. 

Yields two sandwiches. 

It's tomato time here on my blog. This month I'll be looking at different ways to preserve and eat tomatoes. Check out my first post where there are lots of inspiring comments for how to enjoy tomatoes. I am also adding links to the tomato posts as they are published so you will be able to find them together. Check it out here: Tomato Recipes and Ideas.

This post has been submitted to http://www.wildyeastblog.com/.

8.09.2010

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

I was looking for new and delicious ideas for using up the bounty of tomatoes on foodgawker.com when I saw a photo and I wanted it.  Beautiful red tomatoes setting atop a filling of herbed goat cheese in a flaky crust.  Perfect! When we stopped at Trader Joe's I bought ten ounces of goat cheese on a whim.  Cheese is always a good price at Trader Joe's. 

While this tart was really rich and very photogenic I don't know if it is worth using a whole ten ounces of goat cheese.  You can check out the recipe I used here.  The idea of baked tomatoes in a buttery shell is still a good one, I'm thinking I need to try some other recipes.  Anyone have any recommendations for a good tomato tart recipe? I'm all ears.

It's tomato time here on my blog. This month I'll be looking at different ways to preserve and eat tomatoes. Check out my first post where there are lots of inspiring comments for how to enjoy tomatoes. I am also adding links to the tomato posts as they are published so you will be able to find them together. Check it out here: Tomato Recipes and Ideas.

8.07.2010

Olive Oil Packed Sun Dried Tomatoes with Basil - Recipe




Dehydrated tomatoes have a rich bold flavor that when combined with olive oil and basil seems positively decadent.  The tomatoes and basil infuse the olive oil which is lovely on salads, for dipping bread or drizzled over grilled peppers and eggplant.  To learn how to dry tomatoes check out this post: How to Dehydrate and Oven Dry Tomatoes

There is some concern when using oil to store vegetables.  A friend who answers the Family Consumer Science Hotline at Iowa State University pointed me to this link from Colorado State Extension.  Here's an excerpt about storing dried tomatoes in oil:
Dried tomatoes in oil are less of a safety concern than [low acid vegetables like garlic] mixtures in oil because the pH of tomatoes is generally 4.6 or lower. In addition, by drying the tomatoes, conditions become even less favorable to growth of C. botulinum due to a decrease in water activity. However, to ensure safety, it is recommended that all tomato in oil and herb in oil products be stored at refrigerator temperatures.
Store Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil with Basil

4 cups dried tomatoes (from about 12-16 cups fresh tomatoes)
1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil
1 pint canning jar with air tight lid
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

Step One:
Sterilize a pint jar by washing with soapy water and then pouring boiling water over the inside and outside of the jar.  Boil the screw band and lid in hot water. 

Step Two:
Once the jar is dry begin placing the dried tomatoes into the bottom.  Use a clean skewer or spoon to pack the tomatoes together.  Then add a couple sprigs of basil.  Continue layering tomatoes and basil until the jar is full.  Then pour olive oil slowly over the top.

Step Three: 
Insert the skewer or the handle of the spoon down along the sides of the jar five to six times to force any air pockets out.  Make sure the oil completely cover the tomatoes.  Seal with the sterilized lid and band and refrigerate up to one month.

The bonus with packing in olive oil is you get both tomatoes and olive oil flavored with the dried tomatoes. The oil is great for salad dressing, dipping bread or making pasta.

It's tomato time here on my blog. This month I'll be looking at different ways to preserve and eat tomatoes. Check out my first post where there are lots of inspiring comments for how to enjoy tomatoes. I am also adding links to the tomato posts as they are published so you will be able to find them together. Check it out here: Tomato Recipes and Ideas

How do you cook with dried tomatoes or the oil they are packed in?

8.04.2010

How to Dehydrate and Oven Dry Tomatoes

If you're like me and you have limited space, without air conditioning, and you want still want to put up food,  consider dehydrating.  Tomatoes are prolific right now in the Midwest so take advantage of the wealth.  Eight cups of fresh tomatoes are equal to two cups of dehydrated tomatoes. 


Now you can accomplish the drying one of two ways. Dehydrate your tomatoes in the oven or in a food dehydrator.  The oven is faster, but will heat up your house.  The dehydrator, well first you have to have one.  They are great for other things, but if you are just drying tomatoes, it probably isn't worth the cost.  However, if you are dehydrating cherries, herbs, or other garden goodies it may be worth your while because it takes twice the time of an oven, but your house stays cool. I use an older version of the one pictured on the left.

How to dry tomatoes?  The first step is the same for both the oven and the dehydrator. 

Prepare the tomatoes.  The limiting factor is how many tomato halves fit on your cookie sheets or dehydrator rack. Start by washing the tomatoes and removing any stems. Then cut them in half.   Now keep reading for the oven directions or skip ahead to the dehydrator. 

Oven Dry Tomatoes

Place the Tomato Halves on a Cookie Sheet
Toss the tomatoes with a teaspoon of olive oil so they don't stick to the pan. Then arrange them with the cut side up on a cookie sheet and sprinkle them with sea salt. It doesn't matter if the sheet has sides or not. The tomatoes can touch. They will shrink as they dehydrate.

Dehydrate the Tomatoes in the Oven
Put the rack in the middle of the oven to allow for circulation.  Place the tomatoes in the oven on low heat, between 200 - 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on how big and juicy your tomatoes are and how dry you want them, it will take 2-4 hours.

Dehydrate Tomatoes
 
Place the Tomato Halves on the Dehydrator Tray
Arrange the tomatoes with the cut side up on a cookie sheet and sprinkle them with sea salt. Make sure there is plenty of room between the tomatoes so the air can circulate. 

Dehydrate the Tomatoes in the Dehydrator
Put the tomatoes on the dehydrator.  Use the vegetable setting, on mine it is 130-142 degrees F. Make sure to follow the directions that came with your dehydrator.  Depending on how big and juicy your tomatoes are and how dry you want them, it will take 6-10 hours.

Store Dried Tomatoes

Once the tomatoes are dried you can store them in a Tupperware in the refrigerator. They will keep this way for a month. You can also freeze them for up to a year. Or my favorite option, pack them in olive oil.  The next post gives the details on how to make Olive Oil Packed Dried Tomatoes with Basil

It's tomato time here on my blog. This month I'll be looking at different ways to preserve and eat tomatoes. Check out my first post where there are lots of inspiring comments for how to enjoy tomatoes.  I am also adding links to the tomato posts as they are published so you will be able to find them together.  Check it out here:  Tomato Recipes and Ideas

Now the question: What will you do with your dehydrated tomatoes?

This post was featured in Simple Lives Thursday.

***Miranda's method for dehydrating tomatoes in her hatch-back car.  Check it out.

8.03.2010

Tomato Recipes and Ideas

It is full blown tomato season. They are practically falling off the vine, rolling down the grass and into my kitchen. What to do with all that bounty? For the next week or so I’ll be looking at different ways to preserve and prepare tomatoes. I’ll show you how to hot water can whole tomatoes and tomato sauce, make caprese pizza (fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes), bake a tomato and goat cheese tart and how to use your oven or a food dehydrator to make sun dried tomatoes.   Look forward to some excellent tomato recipes and ideas starting tomorrow. 

But first I want to hear from you, what are your favorite recipes for summer tomatoes? Do you preserve them for the winter months or savor them when they are in season?

Here's what I've got for ideas - click to find the recipe:


The Ultimate Summer Sandwich BLT - Summer Recipe

 




 




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