Month: September 2014

Maple Roasted Pear Halves

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve * Paleo *

CIMG9809

Happy New Year.  Sorry I was too busy with the holidays to post last week but I hope today’s post will make you so hungry you will find it in your heart to forgive me.

Last week’s fruit from the CSA was pears.  I ate a few and gave away more but still was left with four, by now overly ripe, pears.  So here is my dessert of the week.  They’re easy to prepare and quite yummy and would also be great served with vanilla ice cream (if you can have it) or coconut sorbet.
(more…)

How to Peel and Seed a Tomato

CIMG9650

Good Morning, it’s Friday time for This and That.  Since I’ve been making recipes using fresh tomatoes for the last few posts (and probably will for the next few posts as well), it only seems right to show you how to prepare them for cooking.  Now to be honest…in all my recipes I don’t bother to peel or seed tomatoes because the skin and seeds don’t bother me in the final products.   But, if you want to be really sophisticated, skinning a tomato really does improve the dish.  Seeding the tomato can change slightly the consistency, so unless the recipe writer suggests that tomatoes be seeded, assume that they should not.

I know of two ways to skin tomatoes.  The most popular is to place the tomatoes into boiling water for a minute or two and then immediately plunge them into an ice water bath.  I don’t love this method because the tomatoes feel cooked and mostly I don’t like to have to mess up pots and bowls when I don’t have to.  Here’s how I do it (but you need a gas range):

Peeling a Tomato

Pierce the blossom end of the tomato with a fork

CIMG9698  CIMG9702

Turn your burner onto high and hold the tomato in the flames, rotating it, until all the skin has blistered (it’s okay if it chars in places)

IMG_7183

Using your fingers or a knife, pull the skin from the tomato until all the skin has been removed

CIMG9710  CIMG9713

CIMG9721  CIMG9718 

 

Seeding Tomatoes

This can be done to tomatoes that have been skinned or unpeeled tomatoes

Cut the tomato in half, through the middle (not the blossom)

CIMG9722  CIMG9731

Put half into the palm of your hand and squeeze over a bowl or garbage can to catch the seeds you want discarded

CIMG9744

The tomato is now ready for chopping, dicing or whatever the recipe calls for.

Shakshuka (shakshouka)

Wheat free * Dairy free * Gluten free * Vegetarian *  Parve * Paleo

CIMG9640

It would be lovely if I could tell you that I fell in love with Shashuka while I was in Israel or when I first tasted it in my favorite middle eastern restaurant, however, truth be told, I saw the recipe in the cookbook Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi and was compelled to try it.  Turns out it’s quite yummy and a great way to use ripe summer tomatoes.  The first time I made Shashuka was last summer.  I followed the recipe to a “T”, except I confess it goes against my very being to use 1/2 cup oil in a recipe that serves 4 – so I reduced it to 1/4 cup – everything else I did exactly…until it came to adding the 1 cup of water.  The recipe said to add water until the mixture is saucy – but my mixture was so saucy before I added even a drop of water that I just shrugged my shoulders and figured it was just another poorly written recipe – how disappointing.  The end result, however was quite delicious.  Scroll forward 6 months.  It’s January,  I’m making Shashuka for company and this time my tomatoes are just not giving off any juices.  Suddenly I need that 1 cup of water to make the recipe work – so Mr. Ottolenghi, I apologize for doubting you.

Two weeks ago when I made Ratatouille, Irwin had brought me beautiful tomatoes from his garden.  This week Sheila brought me tomatoes from her garden

CIMG9650

which is why I was moved to make Shakshuka in the first place.  There will be many more tomato recipes to come very soon.
(more…)

Tomato Paste and Bananas

CIMG6380-001

OMG that sounds like an awful combination!!  What on earth can you do with tomato paste and banana?  Good question.  If you have a recipe that uses them together, please be sure to forward it to me.  But since this is Friday, and Friday is our day for This and That – the topic is:  What do you do with over-ripe bananas and open cans of tomato paste beside discard them?  The answer to both is:  freeze them.

Freeze the tomato paste in 1 tablespoon portions and then you have them on hand for any recipe that calls for less than the full can.   You can toss them into soup or sauce that needs a little flavor or color boost or any recipe that calls for tomato paste.

Place a large piece of plastic wrap on a flat surface.  Measure the tomato paste in a tablespoon and place the contents of the tablespoon onto the plastic wrap.  Do the same with 2 more tablespoonsful.  Fold the wrap over the tomato paste and place one tablespoon of tomato paste in the gaps between the three you have folded in the plastic wrap.  Continue until you have used all of your leftover tomato paste.

CIMG9133  IMG_1535

 

IMG_1541-001 IMG_1544 IMG_1547 IMG_1551-001 IMG_1556

IMG_1563-001

Frozen Banana Coins are like nature’s ice cream.  Whenever you’re feeling a yen for something sweet just pop one in your mouth.  They’re also great for smoothies.

Prepare them the same way as the tomato paste.

CIMG7686 CIMG7687 CIMG7690 CIMG7693

Here’s a recipe for a breakfast smoothie using frozen banana coins
(more…)

Ratatouille

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve * Paleo *

CIMG9295  CIMG9387

I was going to devote this post to explaining my absence of posting last week – but – it’s TOMATO SEASON and I just made the most fabulous Ratatouille I ever made or tasted.  What made it so special were the amazing, home grown, organic tomatoes my friend Irwin grew in his garden in The Hamptons.  This recipe couldn’t wait until next week or the week after because now is when you can get fabulous local tomatoes too.

I have been making Ratatouille since I graduated from college and got my first apartment.  To give you a sense of how long ago that was, let me say that my very large studio apartment with separate kitchen in Greenwich Village rented for $140/month.  My favorite story about that apartment was when my father’s uncle, Walter, who was close to 80 at the time, was visiting from Argentina he entered my apartment and announce that now he had been here twice.  I assured him that it was only his first visit – but he retorted – “yes, my first and my last!” (did I mention it was a 5th story walk-up?)

But back to Ratatouille.  I usually put a little vermouth or wine in my recipe and, if necessary, some sugar and even tomato paste (that’s when the tomatoes are not perfection), but just to give you a hint about what I’ve been so busy doing – I’ve been on the Whole30 – a very strict paleo routine.  This plan eliminates every speck of sugar and alcohol so when I sat down to write this version (there are others in one or two of the books I’ve written) I was worried the end result wouldn’t be as good as my usual recipes.  Imagine how delighted I was when the recipe came out sheer bliss – even better was using it as a nest for my poached eggs for breakfast.

This recipe is written a little less exactly than I usually like because, once again, all the cooking times and ingredients will vary depending on how ripe and sweet your tomatoes are.  Just use the photos as a guide to see what the mixture should look like at the various cooking stages.
(more…)