Roasted Tomato Salsa

September 10, 2014

Grilled Tomato Salsa

 

Margaux says…

I don’t know why it took me so long to make salsa.  I make so many other things from scratch, like salad dressing, hummus, granola, sometimes peanut or almond butter…why wouldn’t I make my own salsa, too?  So this summer I’ve been making salsa as often as I make hummus, like, weekly!  It’s so much better than store bought.  I’m posting this recipe because it’s the easiest, quickest, and most fresh tasting for all your garden tomatoes you’re harvesting (and I’m pining after!).

The original recipe called for grilling the tomatoes, but I tried that once and found that it just dried them out too much, and the salsa ended up really thick.  If you have exceptionally juicy romas, it might work better, and then you would get that nice fire-roasted charcoal flavor, but I recommend sticking to the oven method if not.  I got the idea of broiling them in the oven from a Martha Stewart chili recipe that we also love.  The oven method still chars them, and really brings out the flavor of the tomato (we also love oven roasted tomatoes around here…if you haven’t tried that yet, I highly recommend it).

Roasted Tomato Salsa

This makes a pretty small batch…just a little more than a jar of salsa that you would buy at the store.

4 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half

1-2 jalapenos, sliced in half and seeded  (*note on spiciness below)

1/4 red onion

1/4-1/2 cup chopped cilantro

juice from 1/2 lime

salt and pepper

Preheat your broiler on high, and place the rack 3″ from the heat source.  Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Place vegetables on sheet and broil for about 5 minutes, until they start to char.  Take jalapeno and onion off and place in a food processor or blender.  Turn tomatoes over, and broil for another few minutes until they start to char on the other side.  Remove from oven, take skins off of tomatoes, and place in the food processor or blender.  Pulse a couple times, then add cilantro, lime, salt and pepper.  I add about 1/4 tsp salt, and then pulse a few times until it’s the desired consistency.  Pour into a bowl, taste, and stir in more salt and pepper if needed.  Store in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze.

*Note on spicy.  We like our salsa really spicy, and our son likes it kind of spicy, and our daughter likes it mild.  Ha.  So it all depends on the jalapeno seeds.  If you don’t take out any seeds, you’re gonna have pretty spicy salsa.  If it’s a good jalapeno, it’s gonna be really spicy.  For medium spicy, I take out all but a tiny bit of the seeds.  For mild salsa, I take out every trace of seeds from the jalapeno.

Sweet Onion Jam

July 8, 2014

 

Sweet Onion Jam | Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

I was in our local coop the other day and was happy to see Chef Kate of Community Cooking with Kate doing a food demo.  The things she demos are always delicious and use seasonal ingredients, plus she gives out recipes!  I especially liked this onion jam, something I don’t think I’ve ever tasted before. Yum!  I made this yesterday for a potluck dinner + movie with friends for our appetizer. Chef Kate served the jam with gruyere cheese and artisan nut thins crackers, so I followed suit. I have to confess I was a little worried whether we would like this. Not to worry, every last morsel of crackers, jam and cheese were gobbled up with a side of rave reviews! So next time you want to serve a unique appetizer, I highly recommend this. A glass of Prosecco is a great match.

2 large sweet onions, like Vidalia

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or a few sprigs of fresh

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup dried apricots, diced

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar

NOTE: you can adjust ingredients up or down to taste. You can also substitute golden raisins for the apricots.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom pan over medium heat till shimmering. Add the onions and the salt and saute for about 15 minutes, until translucent and fragrant.

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Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

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Reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for 30-45 minutes until caramelized. Check every so often to stir and add water if it’s becoming too dry in order to prevent scorching. I used the entire 45 minutes.

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Serve with cheese and crackers or crostini. I think a manchego or a pecorino romano would work well as options to the gruyere. Randy thought this was equally delicious without the cheese.

 

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

September 4, 2012

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

I’ve wanted to make oven roasted tomatoes for a couple of years, but never got around to it.  My brother John made some recently which spurred me into taking the plunge.  In addition to asking friends and family for recipes and tips, I looked at several online to get a picture for various approaches.  There are a lot of recipes out there, but with only slight differences in cooking temps, times and methods.  There are two definite camps, however, when it comes to seasoning.  One camp uses only salt and pepper and the other adds herbs and garlic.  So, always one to see for myself and draw conclusions, I made a batch of each.  The results were great in both cases!  I have already used the plain in ratatouille in place of some of the fresh tomatoes, and we had the seasoned ones on pizza last night (yum!).  I look forward to making more while it’s still tomato season and to experimenting further with both types for appetizers and in sauces and pastas.

I used 10 Roma tomatoes in each batch, but you can use as many tomatoes as you’d like and regular garden tomatoes as well as Romas.  My hunch is that if the tomatoes are very juicy,  squeezing out some of the juice would aid in the carmelization, but I can’t say for sure.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Preheat oven to 375°.  Have handy baking dishes or jelly roll pans.

Plum (or regular) tomatoes, cut in half (or quarters for very large tomatoes)

Olive Oil

Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Optional seasoning:  oregano, thyme, chopped garlic

Place tomatoes, cut side up,  in a baking dish or jelly roll pan.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Add salt and pepper and seasoning of your choice.  Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 45-60 minutes, until tomatoes start to carmelize.  Remove from oven, cool slightly and then remove to a platter to cool completely.  Once cooled, remove the skins – they will slip off very easily.  These will keep several days in the fridge or you can freeze using freezer bags or containers.  I hope to freeze a few packs of these because I can picture how fabulous it would be to get a hit of summer in January!

COOK’S NOTES:

Be judicious about the amount of salt.  I used about a teaspoon of kosher salt on the plain tomatoes and felt they were too salty.

I used just oregano and thyme for the seasoned version, but I think rosemary and basil would also be good.

Don’t be daunted by what the pans look like after!  I soaked these for about 30 minutes in very hot water and dish washing liquid and they wiped clean easily – no elbow grease required!  I used a Pyrex dish and a Le Creuset cast iron lasagna pan.  Both worked, but I think the Pyrex had a slight edge in terms of results.

Aunt Suzy says . . . .

This is a delicious casual meal for any occasion that’s a lot of fun to cook and serve for a crowd.  Think football playoffs!  My brother and I cooked these great pita sandwiches last Sunday and served them with a number of Mediterranean items – hummus, roasted chickpeas, olives, tabbouleh and Corfu salad.  We waited till half-time of the Bears-Seattle game to serve -my niece, Katie and her cousin make it clear who we were rooting for!  Good meal, great game outcome!  (Go Bears!!) Many sides work with these sandwiches and a peppery Cotes du Rhone or California Syrah works really well.

This recipe is comprised of several components – sauteed onions, red pepper-date relish, sausages, feta cheese – that can be assembled into the pita pockets to individual tastes.  Randy likes to substitute hummus for the feta and these can be made vegetarian by omitting the sausages.  These can also be served as appetizers on toasted regular (non-pocket) pita wedges, omitting the sausage. The amounts specified here served 7 people.  All quantities are adjustable to your taste and number of people.

The Onions

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon EV olive oil

2 white onions, sliced

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan or skillet.  When shimmering, add the butter.  When the butter is melted and bubbling, add the sliced onions.  Saute on medium-high heat stirring constantly until beginning to brown – about 10 minutes.  Turn the heat down to medium and continue to cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until soft and golden.  Set aside.  NOTE: I heard about a technique for slicing the onions that minimizes the stringy membranes.  Cut the onions in half length-wise and then slice in that same direction – from top to bottom rather than across.  Yellow onions can be substituted for the white.

The Pepper-Date Relish

3-4 roasted red peppers, sliced in lengthwise strips (about 1/4″)  and then in half

1/3 cup chopped dates

1-2 tablespoons poppy seeds

2-3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

2 tablespoons EV olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

The Sausages/Assembling the Sandwiches

8 sausages – lamb, merguez or flavorful chicken sausages

1 1/2 cups feta cheese, in chunks or crumbles

8 pita pockets, whole wheat recommended

A NOTE ON THE SAUSAGES: If you are near a Whole Foods, brother John discovered delicious lamb sausages from New Zealand in their freezer section – flavored with Sofrito.  Some Whole Foods have fresh lamb sausage.  I use either fresh-made merguez Moroccan lamb sausage or lamb-blueberry-pine nut sausage, both from Clancy’s Meats in my neighborhood – definitely worth a trip for you Twin Cities residents.  We also use some of the fully cooked, highly flavored chicken sausages found at places like Co-ops, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

DIRECTIONS: Cook the sausages according to directions till just done, but still juicy.  If it’s warm out, you can grill on either a gas or charcoal grill.  Cut into smallish pieces on the diagonal. Cut the pitas in half and wrap in foil and heat in the oven till warm.  To make the sandwiches, place the onions, sausages, red pepper-date relish and feta into a pita pocket half.  Enjoy!

Aunt Suzy says

Our exploration of summer cocktails continues.  I mentioned in a previous post that Randy was experimenting with Gimlets after seeing an article on them in a local magazine.  Coincidentally, friend Christie Quinn went to a class out in San Francisco on how to make Gimlets and sent us 3 different recipes for the drink – from basic to what looks like Gimlets on steroids.  We made the basic last night and it was so much better than the concoction we tried with Rose’s Lime Juice (yuck!).   Randy also made this outstanding hummus recipe that was featured on Fresh Tart, a local food blog I follow.  The promise was for tasty and creamy homemade hummus rather than the usual gloppy (my word), and we really liked it.  Another thing that attracted us, besides the creaminess, was the use of preserved lemon.  Most of the time when you use preserved lemon in recipes, you throw out the pulp, but this recipe used peel and pulp.  We had some pulp left over from the recent tagine we made, so we added that.  A winning hummus that we will make again (and probably tinker with, knowing us)!

Gimlet (amount we used for 2 cocktails)

1 1/2 parts Gin, Hendrick’s recommended (3 shots)

3/4 part simple syrup (2 jiggers)

3/4 part fresh lime juice (2 jiggers)

cucmber slice

Place cocktail glasses in the freezer a couple of hours prior to the cocktail hour.  (I love this instruction because it assumes that we all have a cocktail hour 🙂 vs. stating “prior to serving”.)  Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake vigorously.  Strain into glasses.  Garnish with a slice of cucumber.  Randy and I tried it both up and on the rocks and both liked rocks better given how hot it was out at the time (even though we know this is probably heresy to Gimlet purists). 

Aunt Suzy says

This is a delicious dish that is also versatile.  The original recipe called for using it as a topping for bruschetta.   We served it at room temperature as a side salad for a cookout meal, and I can also see it served warm as either a side dish or a vegetarian main dish.  Many options!  Here’s a photo of the finished salad.

The Vegetables

8 ounces asparagus, cut into bit-size pieces

1 1/2 cups mushrooms, quartered (white, crimini, baby bella or shitake)

1 tablespoon EV olive oil

1 can (15-ounce) cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

Toss the olive oil with the asparagus and mushrooms (I used crimini).  For outdoor grilling, place in a wok or grill pan and place over the fire.  Close the lid and cook for 4-5 minutes, until tender, stirring once mid-way through.  For oven roasting, place on foil on a cookie sheet or broiler pan bottom and roast at 425 for 6-7 minutes, stirring once mid-way through.  Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in the beans.

The Dressing

1 minced or pressed garlic clove

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon water

1/4 cup EV olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and whisk till slightly emulsified.  Pour dressing over the vegetable mixture while still slightly warm.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Baked Feta

May 15, 2010

Aunt Suzy says . . . .
A few years ago, I saw this recipe for an appetizer of baked feta cheese in Food & Wine Magazine. I had never heard of baking feta cheese before, but it looked delicious. It turns out it IS delicious!! It’s super easy to make and a hit when served with baguette, crackers and an assortment of olives. Several types of feta are available in solid blocks vs. crumbles, which is what you will need for this dish. For friends who live in Minneapolis, Bill’s on Lake & Aldrich is the place to get it. For those of you who live near a Trader Joe’s, they carry Greek feta in a block. I prefer French sheep’s milk feta when I can find it. Enjoy this beautiful and tasty dish with a Sauvignon Blanc or a French Pinot Noir.

Margaux Says…
Aunt Suzy actually gave me this recipe years back with her “Dinner in a Box” gift that she gave my husband and I as a wedding gift. It was a really fun gift that I will probably do for someone someday: in the year after we were married, four times we received a box from her that contained a menu with recipes, some ingredients and a few cooking implements to go with that we didn’t have yet. One of the menus contained a recipe for roasted beets, and as a side note she included this recipe, as a way to use the beet tops at another meal (you serve the feta on sauteed beet tops). I’ve used it several times now, and I LOVE it! We’ve even served it at a cocktail party, with slices of crusty bread, and it was a hit.

BAKED FETA
Serves 4

½ pound feta cheese cut in a ¾-inch slab
2 tablespoons olive oil 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves
¼- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper 1-2 teaspoons lemon zest
1-2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Cut the feta into 4 triangles and place in a glass baking dish. Place the pepper, garlic slices, oregano leaves and lemon zest on top of the cheese. You can vary the quantities of these ingredients to your taste. Pour the olive oil over the cheese carefully so as not to disturb the other ingredients. Marinate 5 minutes to 1 hour. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes till custard-like, but not browned. Lift cheese sections onto a serving plate (or individual plates) with a spatula and pour hot olive oil over all.

To serve with beet greens:

one to two bunches beet tops, stems trimmed and chopped into 1″ strips
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic for about a minute, then add greens in bunches and saute until just wilted. Transfer to serving platter, then arrange cheese pieces over top. Pour hot olive oil over all.