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.

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Grandpa's French Dressing - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

I grew up in a big salad-eating family.  We ate a salad with every meal, and I loved it. Of course, it was iceberg lettuce, with shredded carrot and red cabbage on top, but I thought it was soooooo good.  At my grandparent’s house I loved it because it was drenched in this dressing, which we called “Grandpa’s French.”  I never knew where he got the recipe, or if he came up with it himself, and I had no idea what was in it other than oil, vinegar, paprika and a clove of garlic.  So I was never able to recreate it.  For years we ate salads with just plain oil and vinegar, or with Newman’s Italian (for a store-bought dressing, it’s pretty good).  Then, right after I had Desmond, my Aunt Judy and mom somehow found this recipe in my vintage Betty Crocker cookbook.  If I remember this correctly (I was in the “new mom haze’), we all agreed that it sounded just like Grandpa’s French!  So we made it.  Lo and behold, it tasted like Grandpa’s French!  Could it be?  He got the recipe from a cookbook??  I always imagined that it was some culinary genius that he came up with on his own.  But of course, it’s from Betty Crocker.  That was my grandma’s cookbook.  She was a “Betty Crocker” loyalist (vs. my Granny, who was in the “Better Homes and Gardens” camp).

Grandpa's French Dressing - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

I’ve been making this dressing for us ever since.  We haven’t bought dressing in YEARS…once you know the formula for a good vinaigrette, there’s really no point in buying dressing.  It’s 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar (or citrus juice, like lemon or lime), and spices.  Every once in awhile, I’ll make some other kind, but for the most part, we always have this in the cabinet (and yes, we keep it in the cabinet and not the fridge, just like my grandparents did).  This dressing is always a hit with everyone that tries it…I’m constantly getting asked for the recipe.  So I thought I should probably post it.  I wish I had a photo of my son drinking it out of the bowl after he finishes his salad…he likes it THAT MUCH.

Grandpa Major’s French Dressing

3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika (Grandpa used regular, but I like the flavor of smoked)
1 tsp dried mustard
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, whole*

Place all ingredients in a jar or dressing bottle, place lid on it and shake until completely combined. It’s best to make it at least a few hours before using, even better the day before, so the flavors have a chance to infuse.

*I prefer putting a whole garlic clove in, rather than mincing it.  My aunt minces it before putting it in.  It’s your call…but, Grandpa put it in whole, for what it’s worth.  🙂

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.

 

Spiced Pear Butter

January 23, 2012

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I saw this recipe on recently on Pinterest, and coincidentally, I had just bought a bag of Anjou pears (my favorite!) so I thought I’d try it.  The original recipe was for double the quantities listed below. It just so happened that my bag of pears was exactly half the weight called for.  The recipe also said it made way more than it did for me – not sure how I ended up with a smaller quantity of finished product.  It said the yield was 4 cups, so I recommend having on hand 4 sterilized half-pint jars and lids just in case.

I can testify that this is delicious on English muffins and sour dough toast.  I have a hunch it would be also great with pancakes, biscuits and scones.  The original post recommended stirring it into oatmeal – that sounds good too!

These quantities yielded about 2 1/2 cups of pear butter for me

3 1/2 pounds pears, preferably Anjou or Bartlett

1/4 cup water, a little less if the pears are extra juicy

Zest and juice of 1 small lemon, Meyer if available

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 teaspoon cardamom

1/3 teaspoon nutmeg

Peel, core and dice the pears.  Put in a stainless steel saucepan with the water, lemon zest and juice.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Let cool.  Puree the pears with a hand-held blender, keeping some of the texture.  Do not liquefy.  (Alternatively you can use a food processor with a metal blade.  Just be careful not to over process.)  This step can be done up to 1 day ahead of time.

Add the sugar, vanilla and spices to the pear puree.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer at a medium bubble, uncovered, until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally.  This took me about 45 minutes.  This will vary depending on how “liquidy” the puree is to start.

While the pear butter is cooking, prepare the jars.  Pour boiling water into half-pint mason jars.  Place lids and screw rings in a saucepan and simmer until ready to use.  When the pear butter is to the consistency where it holds together in a spoon, spoon the hot pear butter into the jars (emptied of the water).  Tamp the pear butter down and add a little more to fill the jar.  Dry the lids and rings with a paper towel. Place the lids on and tighten with the rings.  To seal, turn the jar upside down immediately and leave to cool.  Refrigerate when cooled.

Sweet & Spicy Tomato Jam

September 11, 2011

Aunt Suzy says . . . . .

I’m not sure I had every heard of tomato jam before; maybe on the periphery of my awareness, but nothing that ever sunk in.  What made me seriously consider tomato jam is this post on The Wednesday Chef, specifically the photo of a fried egg on top of toast smeared with the jam.  I love fried egg sandwiches, so I was sold.  I made one for breakfast this morning on top of sour dough rye and it was quite a taste treat . . . even though it didn’t look good enough to photograph and besides I was hungry!

I think this jam has lots of possibilities – as an accompaniment to roast chicken, on top of grilled salmon, as an appetizer with baguette and goat cheese are a few ideas.  I’ve been wondering how it would be on a peanut butter and jam sandwich which I might have to try soon.   Luisa notes that this is a Mark Bitman recipe originally published in the NY Times.  I especially enjoyed reading the accompanying article about his discovery of tomato jam and the process he went through perfecting the recipe.  This recipe made about 1 1/2 cups of finished product for me, but I think I might have cooked it down a little more than necessary.  (the original article said it made a pint – 2 cups)

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (about 5 cups), cored and coarsely chopped (Roma recommended but not essential)

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated or minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon salt

1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and minced (or red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan and stir to blend thoroughly.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.

Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam.

This took 50 minutes for me, although the original recipe suggested about 1 hour 15 minutes.  I recommend checking at 45 minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn or get too thick.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  (see note below) Cool to room temperature.  Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.  The original recipe said this will keep at least a week, but I have a hunch it has a much longer shelf life if kept in the refrigerator.

UPDATE August 16, 2012:  I’ve now made this jam a few times, including today.  I found that measuring out the tomatoes to 5 cups is better than going by pounds.  That amount of tomatoes made 2 cups of jam.  Also, 50 minutes seems to be the magic number for when this jam is finished – for me anyway.  I recommend sterilizing half-pint jars with boiling water, filling them with the hot jam, capping and then turning upside down to seal.  The jam will then last a lot longer in the fridge before being opened for use.

Rhubarb Ginger Jam

May 27, 2011

Aunt Suzy says . . .

It’s rhubarb season and time to get busy!  This recipe comes via my friend, Sue, who got it from her cousin, Madelyn, also a friend.  I’ve never made rhubarb jam or sauce, preferring to go straight to desserts.  I’m glad I made it and am on my second batch – it’s fun to give to friends.   From search results, I saw several recipes that used fresh ginger and think I will try that next.  I also learned this recipe was published in the Washington Post in May of 2007, which acknowledged it came from Bon Appetit.  The jam can be stored in the refrigerator without having to go through a canning process.

8 cups chopped rhubarb (roughly 2 lbs.)

2-2 1/2 cups sugar (I used 2)

1/2 cup crystallized ginger, finely diced

zest of 1 lemon

Place all ingredients in a large pan or Dutch oven.  Stir to combine and then place over medium heat, stirring constantly (so it won’t burn) until the sugar melts.  This takes 10 minutes or so and requires some muscle – I thought it would never melt!


Once the sugar is melted, turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Turn heat down to medium-low and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, at a good bubble until thickened.

The recipe said it could take from 20-40 minutes to get to the desired thickness.  I cooked both batches for 20-25 minutes and was pleased with the results.  I think there’s a caution about cooking it down too much because it thickens somewhat after taking it off the heat.  Cool to room temperature, although if you’ve got some vanilla ice cream on hand, scoop some out and put the jam on it while still warm!

Once cooled, place in jelly jars.  Refrigerate. Alternatively you can seal the jars by placing the jam in the jars while hot. Place the lid on the jar and turn upside down to create a vacuum.  After 15-30 minutes, turn the jars upright to seal the lid.  Refrigerate after opening. The quantities in this recipe made a little under 5 cups of finished product.  I’ve had it on said ice cream and on toast, but I bet it would be good mixed with plain yogurt or served on pound cake.