Posts Tagged ‘tomatoes


pear and tomato cheese

When Julie was over with her green tomatoes, we made pear and tomato cheese. Think something between a jam and a fruit leather.

pear and tomato cheese

The recipe is from Oded Schwarz’s Preserving, which is the first preserving book I ever bought and is full of pretty pictures and sometimes crazy notions. J-P and I made pear and tomato cheese for the first time about six years ago in Boston. It was delicious, but we did a lot of things wrong: we used whatever tomatoes came in our CSA, we made a double batch, we cooked it down in a stock pot rather than something with more surface area… It took more than seven hours of simmering to get it to the right consistency. We’ve been shy of it ever since, but finally got up the courage for another go this past Sunday.

Here’s how to do it right. Yields about 2.5 pounds, and that is plenty. Please don’t try a double batch.

  • 2 lbs Roma tomatoes (really important to use a dry variety of tomato)
  • 1.5 lbs pears
  • .5 lbs apples
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cups water
  • granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Coarsely chop tomatoes, pears, apple, and lemon. Put in pot with water and bring to a boil, then simmer about 30 minutes, until the fruit is mushy. Pass the mixture through a food mill or sieve. Measure the resulting puree and add 1.5 cups sugar for every 2 cups of puree. Put this mixture, with the spices, in a roasting pan or something with similar surface area that you can set over two burners. Return to a boil, then simmer forever (about 4 hours), stirring frequently. (We returned it to a stock pot after a couple of hours, out of fear of burning it.) It’s ready to be poured into oiled pans (we used two pie plates) when it plops/heaves rather than bubbles, and you can draw a clear line through it with your spoon. Let sit in the oiled pans for at least 24 hours, then turn out and coat with granulated sugar. Use a cold, clean knife (which you will clean frequently) to cut squares, which you will roll in more granulated sugar and store in tins between layers of waxed paper.


fried green tomatoes

Julie came over today to make, among other things, fried green tomatoes. We’ve had poor luck with batters for fried vegetables, but today we hit on something that really worked.

1. Dredge the tomato slices in flour (seasoned with salt, black pepper, and cayenne).
2. Dip the floured slices in a wash of egg, buttermilk, and the same seasonings.
3. Coat with coarse cornmeal and the same seasonings.
4. Fry in vegetable oil, drain on paper towels–the usual.

The buttermilk (left over from the picnic chicken of a while back) added a nice tang to the tomatoes’ sweetness, and the coarse grind of the cornmeal gave good crunch, though it did mean that we had to change the oil after each batch.


corn and tomato tart

salad and tart

Last night, J-P and I swapped chores: he did the overdue laundry, I made a fancy dinner.

I got the recipe online a few years ago, probably after looking at yet another week’s delivery of CSA corn and tomatoes with a mixture of delight and despair. I’ve made it enough times at this point that it didn’t matter last night that I couldn’t find my printed recipe and couldn’t be bothered with looking it up online again. Here’s what I did:

  • Before work, take a bag of pie crust scraps from the freezer and put them in the fridge to thaw.
  • After work, roll out enough dough to form a 9-inch or so round.
  • Put the rolled dough back in the fridge; the rest goes back in the freezer.
  • Heat the oven to 350 F.
  • Heat some olive oil in a large pan.
  • Slice 3/4 of a large yellow onion, chop half a yellow bell pepper, and chop one small jalapeño.
  • Cook those in the olive oil with some salt until they are soft and sweet.
  • Slice the kernels off three ears of corn.
  • Add the corn to the pan and cook briefly, then let vegetables cool.
  • Slice one medium-large tomato.
  • Grate some cheese in the gruyère range. Last night I used an idiazabal.
  • Beat an egg with a little salt. (Are those veggies cooled yet?)
  • Dust a flat cookie sheet (no sides–I turn mine over for this) with cornmeal.
  • Put the crust on the cookie sheet.
  • Pile the corn-onion-pepper mixture (as much as you can fit) in the middle of the crust, leaving an inch or so bare around the edge. (Reserve the rest of the filling, or make less in the first place.)
  • Put tomato slices on top and sprinkle with cheese.
  • Pinch up the edges of the crust, then brush exposed crust with egg and sprinkle with cornmeal.
  • Bake about 40 minutes.
  • Top with fresh black pepper and serve.

The original recipe calls for a crust from a softer dough that contains cornmeal, but using what I had with a tactical dusting of cornmeal gave a pleasantly crunchy result. The original lacks peppers but has basil; we had peppers and lacked basil. The change gave just the tiniest hint of bite, not enough to mess with the tart’s otherwise delicate flavor.

The inside bottom crust came out a little damp from the huge pile of vegetables I put on top. Next time, I will poke holes in the bottom (it also inflated a bit), brush it with egg before adding the filling, and put a layer of tomato slices in the bottom before adding the corn-onion mixture.

Note that the filling is very loose and won’t hold together when the tart is cut. I don’t find it a problem, but if you do, I can think of two fixes. One, use less filling and hope the cheese on top acts as a binder. Two, add some beaten egg to the filling.


dry farming

My precious

It’s funny the seasonal favorites you forget from year to year, Yesterday, it was dry-farmed tomatoes from Happy Boy Farm (nestled here with the first jalapeos I’ve seen at a San Francisco farmers’ market).

In-season tomatoes are great; dry-farmed tomatoes are greatness concentrated. They taste like sunshine.

Dry farming has the same effect on figs. Sure, California has figs, and I appreciate that. But they’re watery and bland compared to my grandfather’s central Texas figs, which get minimal rainfall and maybe a weekly watering during the fruiting season. Those figs are like candy.

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