Friday, September 5, 2014

Spicy Homemade Chili Sauce and a Tomato Pie

This is written especially for my brother-in-law Phil who is wondering what to do with all his tomatoes.

Sweet and hot peppers are coming on in the garden while tomatoes continue to ripen.

Having canned or frozen all that we plan and given much to friends and family, what else can be done with tomatoes? Tomato Jam, Tomato Pie (our friend Chef Jeff gave us a recipe_below); Salsa; Insalata Caprese, and most useful of all is our  Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes, a tomato base that we use all year long in various soups and stews, Tomato soup and sauces.

We made a spicy Ketchup last year, and yesterday Chili Sauce came to mind. How will we use it? The possibilities are endless: atop a meatloaf, hamburger, scrambled eggs, omelet; mixed with horseradish and ketchup for a shrimp sauce…

Spicy Chili Sauce atop today's Frittata
Spicy Homemade Chili Sauce from Diana’s kitchen
yield: 9 half-pints and 3 pints

2 TB extra virgin olive oil
2 cups onion, diced
2 cups sweet red pepper, diced
2 cups green pepper, diced
1 cup orange pepper, diced
2 jalapeno pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, diced
1 TB kosher salt
10-12 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored, skins removed and chopped
2 tsp ginger
2 TB pickling spice in a bag (see recipe below)  
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup brown sugar
½ cup organic cider vinegar

In a large cast iron Dutch oven, heat the oil and sauté onion, peppers, garlic, and salt for 5-7 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes and heat to boil. (Excess juice from the tomatoes can be drained off and used in another recipe; this should reduce some cooking time.)

Tie spices in a cheesecloth bag. Add all remaining ingredients_ ginger, spice bag, bay leaf, brown sugar and vinegar. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for about three hours or until desired thickness. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.

Remove spice bag. Pour into sterilized jars, leaving ½ inch head room. Wipe rim, adjust the lid and screw bands; process jars in boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes. (If you have any questions on proper canning, be sure to consult Canning Guidelines from the professional sites.) 

Note: An immersion blender could be used to puree some of the sauce, but for now we like the chunkiness of the vegetables.

Pickling Spice 

2 TB mustard seed
2 TB whole allspice
2 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp black pepper seed
2 tsp whole clove
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf, crushed
1  2" stick cinnamon
1 tsp dill seed

Combine all and store in a glass jar. 

Tomato Pie adapted from Chef Jeff 

1 (9 inch) pie shell (I made it with lard)
4-7 ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 sweet onion, caramelized
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons fresh basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake the pastry shell for 8 to 10 minutes or until browned.

Slice tomatoes and lay out for a few hours, season with kosher salt and crushed black pepper. Slice and caramelize onion in olive oil. Shred cheeses and mix with mayo.

Place onion in the bottom of cooled pastry shell. Slice tomatoes and arrange over onions. Add black pepper to taste.

In a medium bowl, combine the cheeses, mayonnaise and basil. Spread this mixture evenly over tomatoes. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, then 400 for 5 more minutes to brown on top.  Let sit 30 minutes. Slice and enjoy. Once cooked, garnish with more fresh herbs.

Note: We made a few adjustments because of our calorie counting. :) Nonetheless, a delicious pie!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Physalis peruviana or Cape Gooseberry

These berries grow wild at high altitudes in Peru and Ecuador, were grown before 1807 at the Cape of Good Hope and from whence they were exported to Australia, England...

Mildly tart, and very pleasing to our pallet is this citrusy pineapple-flavored burst of wonderful!

Like the tomatillo, its relative, it has a papery calyx that turns yellow to gray when the fruit is ripe. In picking them off the vine, merely place your finger at the top of the mature shell, give it a little squeeze and if ripe, the fruit will release.

Nothing to do but pop one in your mouth for a burst of great flavor. Dip them in chocolate, make jam, jelly, into a salad, or as we did, make a quick sauce to server alongside a pork roast. Delish! 

Physalis or Cape Gooseberry Sauce from Diana's kitchen
1  1/4 pound berries
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup raw unfiltered honey or brown sugar
1/2 stick of cinnamon
 2-3 whole cloves
pinch of salt

Place all ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to a slight boil, and with the lid on, simmer for about 5 minutes until the berries begin to collapse. Remove the lid and allow to cook until desired thickness, 10-15 minutes. Discard clove and cinnamon.
Note: there is a natural sweetness and wonderful flavor about these, so I chose not to mask that.

PS: thank you, Julio for bringing these seeds back from Germany and allowing us to experience them

Ananas D'Amerique A Chair Verte Melon

Mighty can come in small packages.

The sweetest, most flavorful, down-your-arms-juicy melon, is this 1 to 1 1/2 pound specimen from our garden. A rare melon from 1794 and grown in Thomas Jefferson's garden, tells me if it was good enough for him, then so be it for us.

It was a special treat to receive these seeds as a free gift_included in our order last year from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company.