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    Entries in fresh is best (23)

    Tuesday
    Oct022012

    when life gives you tomatoes

    make salsa!

    Well, it wasn't life actually, it was my friend's dad.

    We've had our first frost already, and for people who do the extreme DIY of food creation and grow their own, that meant emergency harvest of some veggies, and tucking the rest in under a blanket at night.

    With no garden, not even a balcony for containers, I am always happy to accept donations of fresh home grown veggies. However, that was a lot of tomatoes, and they were getting pretty ripe, so I decided to use them all up at once. And since I've been craving heat like crazy lately...

    Roasted Tomato Salsa

    What you need:

    • A lovely assortment of fresh ripe tomatoes ... I guess 2 pounds? Maybe 3?
    • 5 giant jalapenos
    • 1 onion
    • 1 whole head of garlic (yes, a whole head)
    • 1 lime (2 in the pic, I only used one)
    • 1 bunch of cilantro
    • oil
    • salt

    What you gotta do:

    I opted to trim the stem parts off the tomatoes. You don't have to if you don't want to.

    Preheat your oven to broil and move one of your oven racks up a level or two.

    Chop the larger tomatoes in chunks (I did the big ones in quarters and the medium ones in half). Cut the onion into eighths. Cut the stems off the jalapenos, and cut them in half. If you really want to, take out the seeds and whatnot. Peel all the garlics.

    Put the garlic, jalapeno, onion and tomatoes into a 9x13 roasting dish.

    Drizzle on about 1 tbsp of oil, and toss the veggies in the oil until they're all nicely coated. Use your hands. It's okay. It's only food.

    Put the veggies under the broiler.

    If you have a decent oven, they should only take 15-20 minutes to be nice and roasty. After that much time, my tiny and apparently weak broiler had started to brown some of the skins, but the onions and jalapenos were still crispy.

    I gave everything a stir and popped it back in the oven. It took another 20-25 minutes before everything was getting that nice browned roasty colour and smell.

    Time to chop it.

    Put the garlic, onion, and jalapenos (I just fished them out with a spoon) into your food processor.

    Buzz this up for a few seconds. You don't want it too chopped, but if you don't do this step, by the time the onions and jalapenos are chopped, your tomatoes will be soup.

    Drop the tomatoes on top of the pre-chopped stuff.

    A few seconds is all it takes.

    Now, we need something sour. Roasting the veggies, especially ones with super high sugar contents like onions and tomatoes, caramelizes the sugars and makes everything super sweet. That's where the lime juice comes in. You can use lemon juice or even white vinegar in this step.

    This is where you chop and add the cilantro.

    You're also going to want a bit of salt. I used about a teaspoon. The amount of salt you add is really dependent on how you plan on eating the salsa. I was planning on scooping it up with chips, so I used a chip as my taster.

    If I'd salted the salsa by tasting it on its own, I would have ended up with a much saltier salsa. The salt on the chip makes a big difference.

    I got quite a bit of salsa from that little portion of the emergency harvest.

    The small containers went into the freezer since I'm not a canner. And a nice big bowl of it went onto my desk with some chips. And now there is cilantro on my statistics homework.

    How did your garden grow?

    Friday
    Aug312012

    Caprese on a Stick

    Admit it.  Most of you read the title and the voice in your head instantly switched to Jose Jalapeño.  As it happens, there are no jalapeños in this recipe.  It’s really just a traditional caprese salad turned into a delicious, cute, and easy to make, hors d'oeuvre. 

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • Cherry tomatoes
    • Mozzarella cheese
    • Fresh basil leaves
    • 1 Tablespoon honey
    • 1 Tablespoon mustard
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • pinch of garlic powder
    • pinch of onion powder
    • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • Toothpicks

    These cute little balls of fresh mozzarella are the perfect size for putting on a toothpick.  If you can’t find them, though, you can just cut any mozzarella into small cubes. 

    Now, the idea for this recipe came to me from my mom, but I’m pretty sure she got it from a member of her bridge club.  (Yes, I know it's a bit of a cliché, but my mom really is in a bridge club.)  That being said, I’ve never actually seen the original version, but thank you to whichever bridge lady it was who unknowingly inspired this recipe and blog post.  Here’s my take on what sounded like a fabulous idea. 

    Slice your cherry tomatoes in half.  I had to get mine from the grocery store, so I bought 2 different colors.  If you can get some from your garden or local farmer’s market, it will be even better, no matter what color they are.

    Slide one half of a tomato onto a toothpick.

    Next, put the toothpick through a basil leaf, at one end or the other. 

    On goes a piece of cheese.

    Then slide on the other end of the basil so the leaf is wrapped around the cheese, and follow it with the other half of the tomato. 

    Repeat.  As you’ll see, the yellow tomatoes were a little bigger, so for those, I used some mozzarella cheese that I cut into small cubes.  Aren’t they cute? 

    That would be fabulous just as it is, but I thought they’d be even better dipped in a lovely balsamic vinaigrette.  Sure, you can get one in a bottle, but it’s so simple to make, I don’t know why you would.  Everything is better homemade.  Into a small bowl put your honey, mustard, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and balsamic vinegar.  I only had regular yellow mustard on hand, but if you have Dijon or whole grain mustard, it would probably be even better.

    Whisk all that together. 

    Continue whisking as you slowly drizzle in the olive oil. 

    As you whisk the mixture will thicken slightly, and you’ll know it’s ready.  See, I told you it was simple.  Now just pour it into a little bowl. 

    And dip away! 

    I guarantee you’ll close your eyes and let out a long ‘Mmmmm” as your taste buds take in the smooth tang of the balsamic, the creamy saltiness of the cheese, the juicy sweetness of the tomatoes, and the bittersweet anise flavor of the basil.  I don’t know how something so simple can possibly be so amazingly alluring to the senses, but it is. 

    What’s your favorite thing to do with tomatoes?