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Posts Tagged ‘Tomatoes’

I saw this vegetable at the farmers’ market and thought it was a pumpkin.  Turns out, it’s not a pumpkin.  It’s a red kobacha squash, also known as a sunshine squash.  The guy at the stand assured me it was delicious though, so I figured it would sub just fine in this recipe.  It’s also the closest thing to a Halloween recipe I’ve got.

If you buy one, a word of warning.  Sharpen your knives, clear your countertop, and summon  your inner Freddie Krueger.  This is quite a bit more difficult than cutting a sandwich in half.  By the grace of God, goddesses, Xenu, and the Flying Spagetti Monster, I got this thing cut open without stabbing myself or breaking everything in my kitchen.  I had a few near misses, but chopped it all up without incident

 This is the first Rick Bayless recipe I’ve ever made, and I’m definitely interested in trying more now.  This recipe was unusual.  I don’t usually cook vegan meals, so it was a nice change.  I served it over rice, making it also a gluten free meal, so this dish would be a great contribution to a potluck or buffet, if you have a lot of friends with various dietary restrictions.   The recipe took a while to prepare, so it’s not really a good weeknight meal, but it makes a ton of food, so your labors will be worth it.  The recipe says it serves four as a main course, but my husband and I ate it for dinner, then for lunch, and still had leftovers.  To mix things up a bit, we  the last of it as a taco filling, piling it on corn tortillas and topping them with cotija cheese – really, really good. 

Smoky Braised Mexican Pumpkin (or Squash)
Recipe by Rick Bayless, via Martha Stewart

Ingredients

Three to six 1/4-to-1/2- ounce stemmed, dried chipotle chiles, or canned chipotle chiles en adobo
3 large cloves garlic
5 medium (about 8 ounces) tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and halved
2 medium round, or 4 to 5 plum, ripe tomatoes, or one 15-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups sliced Swiss chard
1 teaspoon coarse salt
4 cups peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes fresh pumpkin, preferably from a 1 1/2-pound wedge cut from a tan or green Mexican pumpkin or a 2-pound pie pumpkin 
2 poblano peppers, cut into 1 inch chunks (not in the original recipe, but I had some and figured I’d use them)

Directions 

Make the salsa: If using dried chiles, preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add chiles and toast, turning frequently and pressing down with a flat spatula, until very aromatic, about 30 seconds.  Transfer chiles to a small bowl and cover with hot water. Let sit until chiles are rehydrated, for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure even soaking.

Place garlic and tomatillos in the skillet. Toast, turning occasionally, until soft and blackened in some spots, 3 to 4 minutes for the tomatillos and about 5 minutes for the garlic. Transfer garlic, tomatillos, and their juices to the bowl of a food processor or jar of a blender.

Drain chiles, either from the soaking water or their canning liquid, and discard liquid. Add chiles to the tomatillos and process to a fine-textured puree. Set aside.

If you are using fresh tomatoes, the original recipe recommends cutting them up and roasting them in the oven for a few minutes.  I didn’t see the point, and just skipped that step.  I don’t think it makes a difference, and the recipe is complicated enough as is.

In a large heavy skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Saute onions until soft and translucent.  Add the stems of the chard and the diced poblanos, if you are using them.  Saute for about 5 minutes or so, until they start to soften.  Add the chard and a few tablespoons of water. (I used the water leftover from soaking my chipotles.)  Add the salsa and tomatoes and stir to combine.

To make this dish ahead of time, cover and refrigerate sauce for up to 2 days, then continue cooking as follows.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the diced pumpkin and squash evenly in a glass baking dish (the recipe said 9×9, but I had enough food for a 8×13).  Pour the chard mixture over the squash.   Cover baking dish with foil and bake until pumpkin is tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Dish can be cooled and refrigerated at this point, if desired, then continue cooking as followed when ready to serve.

To continue cooking, uncover dish and raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Continue baking until sauce has reduced slightly and top becomes crusty, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately, with rice, corn tortillas, or whatever you’d like.

 



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Just like last year, I’ve been buying up my beloved dry farmed early girl tomatoes like crazy.  They are the best tomato ever, and if you are lucky enough to find them at your farmers market, buy them.  You won’t regret it.

With those tomatoes on my mind, I was quite excited to stumble across this recipe in this month’s Food and Wine.  The tomatoes don’t get cooked, so it’s really a perfect recipe to savor the last of the amazing summer tomatoes.

Pasta with Tomatoes, Anchovies, and Almonds
Recipe by Food and Wine

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds  tomatoes, cored and finely diced.  I used dry farmed early girls, but the recipe recommends beefsteak.  I think any meaty tomato that doesn’t have a lot of water in it would work.
1/4 cup finely shredded basil leaves
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup salted roasted almonds
3 large oil-packed anchovies
1 large garlic clove, smashed
1/2 cup grated fresh pecorino cheese.  I used parmesan, but the recipe recommends Fiore di Sardo.
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 pound pasta.  I used fetticine, but the recipe recomments spaghettini

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the diced tomatoes with the shredded basil, scallions, olive oil and crushed red pepper.  Season lightly with salt and black pepper and let the tomatoes stand for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a mini food processor, pulse the almonds with the anchovies and garlic until finely chopped. Add the 1/2 cup of cheese and the capers and pulse to combine.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, shaking off the excess water. Add the pasta to the tomatoes along with the chopped almond mixture and toss well. Serve the pasta, passing extra cheese at the table.

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Frozen Bloody Marys

I’m several weeks behind in my blog posts because I’ve been traveling and running around busy with other things.  But, we are still getting tons of gorgeous tomatoes around here, so I figured I should get this up before they are gone.  For a while, I was having crazy bloody mary cravings.  I’m not sure why, though I suspect it was due to a particularly fabulous one I had for brunch one morning at Gather.  A recent Food and Wine had a recipe for frozen ones, so I thought I’d give it a try.

They recommended yellow tomatoes, but I could only find orange.  I also skipped the basil because in my haste to finally quench my Bloody Mary thirst, I forgot it.  They were so delicious though.  I will say that the leftovers were better the next morning after they had thawed out in the fridge.  The texture was thick and icy, but a little easier to drink.  My recipe also made way more tomato ice cubes than they said it would, so I just keep them in my freezer along side some vodka with a jalapeno in it, ready to go for my next breakfast emergency.

Frozen Bloody Marys
Recipe by Food and Wine

Ingredients
4 jalapeños, sliced
1 cup vodka
2 pounds yellow (or orange or red) tomatoes, cored and halved
16 Thai basil leaves (optional)
Salt
Yellow cherry tomatoes, halved, and basil flowers, for garnish (optional, as my boring glasses below indicate)

Directions
In a jar, cover the jalapeños with the vodka. Let stand for 3 hours, then strain.

In a food processor, puree the tomatoes. Pass the puree through a fine sieve into a large measuring cup; you should have 2 cups of juice. Pour it into ice cube trays and freeze until firm, about 3 hours.


In a blender, combine the jalapeño vodka, tomato ice cubes and basil. Blend until smooth and season with salt; if the drink is very thick, add a little water and blend again. Pour into rocks glasses, garnish with cherry tomato halves and basil flowers and serve.

If I had to do one think differently, I would put salt on the rims of the glasses.  Otherwise, they were perfect.

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It has been freezing here in Berkeley for the last week or two and a warm bowl of soup was just what I needed.  I found some lovely San Marzano tomatoes at the farmers’ market and this recipe from Epicurious got rave reviews, so I thought I’d give it a go.

It’s a lovely soup.  The recipe calls for 6 cups of stock, which is way too much.  Use 4 to get a thick, hearty soup.  It would be a good base for a minestrone or to add a small pasta noodle shape to it, in which case, the extra broth would probably be needed.  Don’t skimp on the herbs and use good, firm plum tomatoes to make this. 

Roasted Tomato Soup
Recipe from Epicurious

Ingredients
3 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
8 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1 1/4 teaspoons dried
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/4 teaspoons dried
1/4 teaspoon (or more) dried crushed red pepper
6 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt broth
6 tablespoons chopped fresh basil and grated parmesan, to serve

Directions 
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle tomatoes with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Roast until tomatoes are brown and tender, about 1 hour. Cool slightly.

Transfer tomatoes and any accumulated juices to processor. Using on/off turns, process until slightly chunky.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, rosemary, thyme and dried crushed red pepper. Add chicken stock; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until soup thickens slightly, 15 minutes or so. Remove from heat. 

To serve, season with salt and pepper, stir in the chopped, and a bit of grated parmesan. 

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I made this ages ago for a party but have had a busy few weeks and no time to post.  Better late than never, I guess!

I was inspired by an Epicurious recipe for a corn and tomato bruschetta, though I changed it up quite a bit to make it more like a salsa.  It really worked.  It was light and summery and fresh.  Epicurious suggests serving it over burgers or quesadillas.  I think it would be nice over grilled fish as well.

Grilled Tomato and Corn Salsa
Loosely adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients

2 large ear of yellow corn, husked
1 small red onion (about 6 ounces), peeled, halved through root end
Olive oil (for grilling)
1 1/2 pounds medium tomatoes (such as cluster or vine-ripened; something firm and not watery, about 5)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika*
pinch of cayenne, optional

Directions

Prepare grill (medium heat).  Brush corn and onion with oil; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place corn, onion halves, and tomatoes on grill. Cook until corn is charred, onion is just tender, and tomato skins are blistered and loose, turning often, about 12 minutes for tomatoes and 15 minutes for corn and onion. Transfer to foil-lined baking sheet and cool.

The recipe then recommends coring the tomatoes, halving, and squeezing out the juices and seeds before giving them a coarse chop.  This made a huge mess, and frankly, I’m not convinced it was worth it. I think a better approach would be to core the tomatoes and dice.  Then grab them loosely and give them a little shake over a sink to get out the excess liquid.  I can’t vouch for this approach since I didn’t try it, but suffice it to say, I don’t think having a bit of extra tomato innards in the salsa is a bad thing, so if it makes things easier, give it a try.   Whatever you do, put the tomatoes into a bowl.

Cut the corn kernels from cob and toss in with the tomatoes.  Dice the onion and add that too.   Mix in garlic, lime juice, paprika, and a splash of olive oil.  Toss in a pinch of cayenne if you want a bit of heat.   Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The dish can be made a few hours in advance and the leftovers held up alright overnight in the fridge.

I served it up with tortilla chips and a big bowl of my super delicious guacamole.

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I have a girl crush on Ina Garten.  I want to move in with her, into her gorgeous house in the Hamptons, and cook and drink French wine with her and her friends every night.  We’ll pick fresh herbs from the garden, Michael will bring the flowers for our table setting, and Miguel will take the photos for my food blog.  Jeffrey is out of town most of the time, so surely she has room for one more, right?

Until that dream comes true, I will have to live out my fantasies making her recipes from my old kitchen in Berkeley.

This recipe of Ina’s is really good.  It’s fast and simple, since you can prep the other ingredients in the time it takes the pasta to cook.   It’s a really unusual combination, but it works.    When she made it on her show, she included cherry tomatoes.  While the Food Network website’s recipe doesn’t include the tomatoes, I did because I found a pint of this season’s first tomatoes at the farmers market.  I wouldn’t skip them – they add a sweetness that balances nicely with the pepper.  I also used penne instead of noodles because I think the tomatoes mix in a little better with shorter pastas.

Pasta with Pecorino and Pepper
Recipe by Ina Garten

Ingredients
1 tablespoon whole black Tellicherry peppercorns
1/2 pound dried pasta – I used penne, but Ina recommends an Italian egg pasta, such as tagliarelle
1 cup freshly grated aged Pecorino cheese (4 ounces), plus extra for serving
2 tablespoons heavy cream – I used half and half
1 tablespoon unsalted butter – I used about half that amount
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions
Place the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle and crush them until you have a mixture of coarse and fine bits. (You can also grind them in a small food mill or coffee grinder.) Set aside.

Fill a large, heavy-bottomed pot with salted water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package until al dente.  While the pasta is cooking, mince the parsley, grate the cheese, and halve the tomatoes.

 When the pasta is done cooking, reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.  After you drain the pasta, return it to the pot.   

Working quickly, with the heat on very low, toss the pasta with 1/2 cup of the grated Pecorino, the crushed peppercorns, cream, butter, parsley, and 1 teaspoon salt, tossing constantly. If the pasta seems dry, add some of the reserved cooking water.  Once everything is combined, turn off the heat, and add the tomatoes and the remaining cheese.    Serve immediately with a big bowl of extra grated Pecorino for sprinkling.

And because at Ina’s house, no meal is complete without a glass of wine, I served it with some lovely sauvignon blanc from St. Supery.  How bad can that be?

 

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I’ve been on a major polenta kick recently.  I had never really made it until I made the braised pork with balsamic and grapes, and now I’m hooked.  It’s cheap, and while it’s a minor pain in the neck to make since it requires that you stir pretty much non stop for 10-15 minutes, it goes so well with so many things.

I wanted to do something a little different with it, so I found this recipe and whipped up a batch.  It’s delicious.  I only made half the batch, and used a bit more liquid than he recommended because I like mine really soft and creamy.   The recipe made a ton – enough for two sides with pork chops and a salad, and then for two main courses topped with slow roasted tomatoes.  The proportions below is about half of what the original recipe calls for.

Polenta With Goat Cheese and Rosemary
Adapted from the September 20, 2009 New York Times, adapted from Matthew Kenney

Ingredients
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, plus more as needed
1 cup polenta
3 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Directions
Bring the stock to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan over high heat.  Whisk in the polenta in a steady stream, then decrease the heat to medium.   Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, more constantly than you would think possible, until the polenta begins to thicken, approximately 10 minutes. 

Add the cheese and rosemary and stir for approximately 2 more minutes.  Stir in the butter, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. 

It keeps well on the stove, though it thickens as it rests, so you may need to hit it off with a couple tablespoons of liquid just before serving.  I finished cooking it before starting on my main course, and just added a splash of milk and gave it a stir just before serving.

To serve the polenta, I cooked pork chops in a cast iron skillet.  When those were done, I took them out of the pan, and added a minced shallot, a bit of chopped fresh rosemary and sage, a pat of butter, and a 1/2 cup or so of apple cider.  Simmer for a couple minutes and voila.  I poured that over the pork chops and polenta.  It was a really fantastic fall meal.

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I was lucky enough to find some dry farmed tomatoes at the farmers market here in late October, so I put those to work with the leftovers.  I slow roasted them and poured them and the juices into a heavy pan with a bit more water.  Simmered for a few minutes and then spooned the sauce over the warmed polenta. 

IMG_0129

Yeah, it looks gross, but it tasted amazing.

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