Posts Tagged recipes

What is to be done?

We’ve had a serious tomato glut this year, despite the best efforts of spouse and self to gorge on tomato sandwiches, tomato salad and various types of gazpacho. A sandwich of home made bread, home made pesto, home grown tomato and artisan cheese has been my perfect lunch. But it only uses a couple of slices of our heirloom giants.

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So this morning I turned the oven on very low — still a bold undertaking given Toronto’s prolonged heatwave — halved some of our cherry tomatoes, added salt, pepper and olive oil, put the tomatoes in the oven and retreated to my air conditioned office until mid afternoon.

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And the result is pretty damn good, like essence of heirloom tomato. It’s so simple that it hardly seems worth posting the recipe, but here it is anyway.

Slow roasted tomatoes

Slice or halve the tomatoes (depending on size), put on a baking sheet and brush generously with good quality olive oil. Grind on a little salt and pepper, and add a few garlic cloves, unpeeled.

Roast for 4-8 hours, depending on your mood and how chewy you think the tomatoes ought to be. Mine are still pretty moist. Store in the fridge.

You can cover them with olive oil for a longer shelf life, but I don’t think they are going to last that long.

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Next up. Using some of the spoils in King Arthur Flour’s #bakealong challenge, which this month offers a yummy sounding bread that I might eat in a single sitting.

Something that combines gardening, preserving (of sorts) and baking bread? How can I go wrong.

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Blueberry cake

Sometimes there is such a thing as serendipity. A few years back, when I first played around with blueberry jam, I had such a glut of the berries that I used some of them for a rather awesome blueberry cake. It was moist, it wasn’t sweet, it oozed blueberries and it tasted really tasted good.

But then I lost the recipe, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember who gave it to me, so I couldn’t ask for a repeat.

So imagine my surprise when I noticed that I’d saved that recipe in a blog post that I never got around to posting. Baking time.

cakeBlueberry yogurt cake

1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt)
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond essence
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups fresh blueberries

Grease and flour a 9x13x2 baking pan (or do as I did and use a 10-inch circular pan).

Cream butter & sugar. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and almond essence and beat well. Sift dry ingredients together; add gradually to the egg mixture, alternating w/sour cream (or yogurt), ending with flour mixture. Fold in 1 c. of the blueberries. Pour 1/2 the batter into the pan and spread it out carefully. Scatter the remaining blueberries on top, and then spoon on the remaining batter, trying not to disturb your berry layer too much. Bake at 350F for 45-50 min (mine took just over an hour, but then the pan was smaller). Cool in pan 10 min, then turn onto a rack to finish cooling.

The friend who gave me the recipe suggests leaving the cake in the pan until it’s completely cool, but I managed to get mine out of the pan without major mishap.And then I struggled to wait for it to cool before cutting myself a sample.

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Blue magic

One minute I had blueberries. Next minute, or so it seemed, I had jam. Perhaps the easiest jam on the planet.berries

It started with a visit to the pick-your-own farm on the way back from a bike trip this weekend, and we scooped up $10 worth of blueberries in very short order — a surprisingly large quantity.

I did look up a couple of recipes, because blueberry jam is not one of those that I make every year. But I ignored both of them in favour of a modified 6:4:2 ratio — six cups fruit, four (scant) cups sugar and the juice of two lemons. One of the recipes suggested simmering the berries in a half cup of water for 10-20 minutes, so I simmered for five minutes, and I added a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar at the end, because I thought the blueberries could use a little extra tang.

And it was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sort of set. First I had a blue liquid, with a few floating berries, and I thought I’d be pouring blueberry syrup on my ice cream all year. Then it boiled up, to double the starting volume, and then quite suddenly the volume went down, the liquid thickened up, and I started scraping seriously jelled jam off the sides of the preserving pan. How easy can things get?

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Blueberry balsamic jam
(makes 5 250mm jars)

6 cups blueberries
1/2 cup water
4 (scant) cups sugar
juice of 2 lemons
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Wash the berries, and put them in a heavy preserving pan with a half cup of water, and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the berries start to break down a little. Add the lemon juice, and then the sugar, a little at a time, and then bring to a rolling boil. Boil hard until it sets, which took less than 5 minutes. Add balsamic, and boil for another minute or so, just for good luck.

Bottle in sterilized jars. You should then waterbath for 10 minutes (according to USDA guidelines), but I skipped that stage. The lemon juice and the balsamic should make this jam plenty acidic enough to store, and it’s only a few jars. There’s room in the fridge for that.

Eat on toast, on bagels, on muffins, on yogurt, or spoon it out of the jar. It’s good.

 

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Just chillin’

I picked up an almost-new ice cream maker in a yard sale last year, and it sat in the kitchen cabinet all year, which is exactly what the spouse said would happen when I brought it home.

True, some friends and I made one batch of peach ice cream with straight-from-the-farmers market Ontario peaches, and I liked the alchemy of churning a thick liquid into an even thicker ice cream in a supercooled metal drum. But that peach ice cream wasn’t “must make this again” delicious, and I wasn’t a fan of the two-day process of making, cooling and churning. First you make a custard with eggs, milk and cream, with all the angst that that entails (will it curdle, will it set?) and a fruit puree, and then you chill everything thoroughly before the churn.

The final product had little ice crystals, was too hard to scoop from the freezer (it lacks the emulsifiers and other gunk they add to commercial ice cream) and I also admit that cutting corners by not peeling peaches was possibly a mistake. The bits of peel were sort of crunchy.

So that was it until this summer, when I got two ice cream books out of the library and tried again.

Let’s just say that churning so-called no-churn ice cream in an ice-cream maker makes something that’s seriously good. There’s no eggs, no custard and not even any sugar, although you do add a can of sweet, gooey condensed milk.

Amazingly easy vanilla ice cream
(Adapted from No-churn ice cream, by Leslie Bilderbeck)

1 300g can of sweetened condensed milk
3 cups cream (I used one of whipping cream, which has 35 percent fat, and two of table cream, which is a mere 18 percent)
2 tsp vanilla extract
juice of half a lemon
Pinch of salt (to lower the freezing temperature)
Splash of white rum (also to lower the freezing temperature)

I put the condensed milk in the fridge the night before, so I started with cold ingredients. Then you mix everything together and pour the (very runny) liquid into the ice cream maker. Let it churn for 20-30 minutes until it thickens up. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze.

To my surprise, this ice cream is actually scoopable from the freezer, unlike last year’s peach experiment. It’s smooth, and it tastes particularly good with fresh fruit, or even with a runny jam slathered over the top. I will make again, perhaps as early as this weekend. I will not think about the calories.

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So very good

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Strawberry jam is always a little tricky, not the jam for a novice canner at all. Unless the fruit is seriously unripe, and hence only marginally tasty, strawberries are seriously short on pectin, which means it’s easy to make strawberry syrup, but distressingly difficult to make a strawberry jam that sets. My mother’s method was to boil stuff until the jam is almost brown, or giving up in despair and rushing out to get commercial pectin.

But I’m not a fan of commercial pectin — it adds a taste and a texture I don’t like — so I’m always looking for alternatives. For the last couple of years, I had a lot of success with the surprise addition of a kiwi fruit to a batch of jam (the little black seeds are marginally disconcerting, but you don’t taste the kiwi at all). But this year I discovered a few cubes of homemade crabapple pectin languishing in the bottom of the freezer.
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If I threw one of those into the mix toward the end of the boil, would my jam set? And what about the taste?

After three quick batches of strawberry jam, two of them with mint, I report astonishing success. This jam is deep rich red, with satisfying chunks of fruit. It mounds pleasantly on the spoon, rather than drizzling down the sides, and it tastes of summer. All I need to do is boil up more crabapple pectin later this summer, and I’m good to go.

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Strawberry jam

6 generous cups strawberries
4 slightly skimpy cups sugar
juice of 2 lemons
1-2 tbsp finely chopped mint (optional)
1 cube of crabapple pectin

Wash and hull the strawberries, and cut them into halves or quarters. Add sugar and lemon juice and allow to sit while you prepare the next batches of fruit. Heat gently until the sugar is dissolved, and then bring to a rolling boil for five minutes. Add the pectin and boil for another five minutes or so. Test for set, bottle in clean jars, waterbath for 10 minutes.

Try not to eat it all at once.

Rating: 4.999 (out of 5)

I admit I didn’t skim off all the foam, so there are little white flecks in some of the jars, which means it wouldn’t win any competitions at the Ex. But what’s a fleck or two between frends. This jam is knock your socks off awesome.

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More yellow magic

My thought-provoking tomato jam barely made a dent in the carpet of ripe yellow tomatoes on the table in the sun room, so I moved promptly on to chutney, a yellow tomato-apple option that hit any number of my chutney must-have buttons. In addition to some 4 cups of chopped up tomatoes (and this was half the recipe) it used  apples and onions for flavour, chilli, ginger and mustard for heat, cider vinegar for bite and golden sultanas and white sugar for sweetness. The recipe demanded a single clove of garlic too, which seemed so small as to be totally irrelevant. I left it out. But I did throw in two cups of tomatillos, using up the last of the 2015 harvest. I liked tomatillos last year, when I only had a dozen of them. This year it’s been a struggle to use them up. chutney

And while I know chutneys need to wait a month or so for the flavours to meld together nicely, I couldn’t resist trying one of my eight jars. Two conclusions: it’s quite pleasant, even straight out of the preserving kettle. And it could have used more heat.

Sweet yellow tomato chutney (adapted from the Bernadin book of home preserving)

2 cups cider vinegar
5 cups chopped, peeled apples (I used a mix of Macs and Empire)
4 cups quartered yellow tomatoes (recipe said to peel them. I didn’t)
2 cups quartered tomatillos (or just use more tomatoes)
1-1/2 cups golden raisins (sultanas)
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 small chili peppers, seeded and chopped (use 3 or 4 next time)
2 tbsp mustard seeds, lightly crushed
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1 tsp cinammon
1 tsp salt

Put all the ingredients in a big pan, bring to the boil and then simmer until chutney thick (about 30 minutes). Bottle in sterilized jars. Waterbath 10 minutes.

Chutneys take time to boil down, but you can’t really find a more simple recipe.

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Tahini cookies

I know sesame works for sweets (halva, sesame bars), but tahini, which is made from crushed up sesame seeds, always ended up in hummus, or even in a simple tahini-lemon-garlic-yogurt-water sauce for drizzling over roasted vegetables. But tahini in a cookie? This is something I have to try.

The recipe (adapted as always) came from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook, which is one of the few cookbooks that I’m actually looking at right now. Ottolenghi uses heavy cream in his mix, and cinnamon on top, but I went for Greek yogurt (because it’s what I had at home) and cocoa nibs for the topping, because I love the contrast of bitter cocoa and sweet cookie. I felt tempted to substitute almond essence for vanilla extract, and I wish I had. I can’t taste the vanilla, but think the sweet bitterness of almond would be a good thing to add. Next time. There will be a next time.

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Tahini cookies (adapted from Jerusalem)
100g sugar
150g butter
110g tahini
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
25ml Greek yogurt
270g flour
cocoa nibs for the topping

Mix butter and suger until a little bit creamy (recipe says don’t let it get aerated, so I tried not to). Add tahini, vanilla and yogurt, and then add flour and mix until it comes together to a dough. Knead gently. Pinch off little balls of dough (about 20g each) and roll to a circle, and then dip one end in the cocoa nibs (I put them on a saucer), and put onto a cookie sheet, spaced an inch or so apart. I lined my sheet a silicon mat, so it’s easy to remove the cookies when they are done. Flatten the balls gently with the base of a glass or mug.

Bake for about 15 minutes in a preheated 400C oven. They should be golden at the edges.

Cool on a wire rack, then store in an airtight container.

Enjoy

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