Showing posts with label tomatoes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tomatoes. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sun-dried Tomatoes How-To

When your garden is producing more tomatoes than you can possibly eat, or when gorgeous seasonal tomatoes are cheap at the farmer’s market, preserve the sweetness of summer by sun-drying and enjoy the bounty all year round.

This is a different sort of post for me, my first how-to, and I’ve been saving it to share since last summer when I couldn’t pass up cheap seasonal tomatoes and decided to give sun-drying them a try. Turns out it’s easy and our hot, dry summers in Dubai do have an upside!

A framed screen
Some pebbles and other small objects for weights

Tomatoes that are very ripe but still firm and not mushy
Sea salt (Optional)

Wash your tomatoes thoroughly in cool water.

Remove the stems and cut the tomatoes in half, just along one side of the core.

Cut out the core with a sharp knife and discard.

Cut the tomato halves into half again, if they are small, or perhaps thirds if they are larger. You want small wedges that will dry faster.

I debated removing the seeds and pulp but since that is where a lot of the tomato flavor resides, I decided to leave them in. The tomatoes will take longer to dry, if you do the same, but the increased flavor is worth the time invested.  For more information on this, read Why You Should Stop Seeding Tomatoes.

Drain the tomatoes in a colander while you set up the screen outdoors.

In Dubai, it’s so doggone hot that we can’t leave the doors open in the summer anyway so I removed a screen door from the house and balanced it on garden table chairs.  If you have a screen for drying sweaters, this would work also. If your screen has been used outdoors, make sure to give it a good scrubbing to remove any dirt and rinse thoroughly before setting it up in a sunny spot, out of the way of any automatic sprinkler systems.

Lay your tomatoes out on the screen, peel side down and poke toothpicks in around the tomatoes - to hold the cheesecloth off of them - and around the perimeter of the screen - to help secure the cheesecloth in place.

Give them a light sprinkling of sea salt, if desired.

Cover the tomato wedges with a single layer of cheesecloth to stop the birds and bugs from getting to them.  Secure it with the toothpicks around the perimeter and weigh the edges down with little stones and other objects. I started with just the pebbles but ended up adding glass ashtrays and barbecue brushes and whatever else was laying around outside because of a strong breeze.

View from the top

View from underneath.

Balancing the screen door on chairs
Now it’s just a matter of time, patience and good weather. My tomatoes took just two and a half days (54 hours, to be precise) to dry completely because our weather was gloriously hot and the breeze stayed steady. Yours may take a bit longer but, aside from checking that your cheesecloth is still secure, this is all hands-off time.

Sneak peek at 30 hours

I'm calling them done at 54 hours

When your tomatoes are completely dried, store them in a sealed Ziploc in the refrigerator. It’s possible that they could also be stored in a cool, dry cupboard but I wanted to be on the safe side.

To rehydrate the tomatoes before using in a recipe, merely soak them in very hot water until softened. I used mine most recently in a spicy pepperoni sun-dried tomato pesto that was divine!

Need more recipes and ideas for Memorial Day and how to make the most of summer? Check out these links from my fellow Kick Off to Summer participants.

My helper dog was most intrigued by the finished product.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

One-Pan Full English Fry-up

Full English Fry-up is a quick, easy and delicious one-pan breakfast that includes all the traditional parts - bacon, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms and eggs.

Food Lust People Love: Full English Fry-up is a quick, easy and delicious one-pan breakfast that includes all the traditional parts - bacon, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms and eggs.

Years ago, I was watching a Jamie Oliver show – one of his very first ones from the era of his second published cookbook – and he was working all night in a friend’s restaurant, baking the bread for the next day.  After putting in some long, hot hours, he started a one-pan fry-up.  It reminded me of our very late dinners (or very early breakfasts) back in Abu Dhabi.  As I mentioned way back in January, we often cooked a full English breakfast at the end of a night out.  It is indeed a delight after a long night out, but they are equally tasty earlier in the evening as an alternative dinner.

We often have breakfast for dinner and the rest of the family would like pancakes or waffles, and I mostly give in, but this would be my choice every time.

A genuine full English breakfast would also include black pudding, but my local grocery store was out of stock, and baked beans, which are not my favorite.  If my elder daughter and/or husband were in residence, I would have had to add the Heinz baked beans.  They have to be Heinz.  Just so you know.

Also, I’ve made enough for two diners but, in this same pan, I’ve added bacon and sausages enough for four and still have room for four eggs.  Double either the mushrooms or tomatoes (not both) and you’ll be fine.

Ingredients to serve two
2 medium tomatoes
4 medium brown mushrooms
2 rashers or slices back bacon
2 good quality English sausages
Olive oil
2 fresh eggs
Sea salt
Black pepper
Bread for toast, and butter, if desired.

Cut off the stem end of your tomatoes and then cut them in half through the middle, so you see a cross section of the tomato.  Clean your mushrooms and trim the hard stems.

Add your bacon and sausage to a large non-stick skillet.  Cook until the bacon and sausage are both browned.

Drizzle in a little olive oil if the bacon and sausage haven't given off any grease and add in the halved tomatoes, cut side down, and mushrooms and cook until they are also browned and roasty looking. Then turn them over to brown the other side.

Arrange the bacon, sausage, tomato halves and mushrooms evenly around the pan and make spaces for frying your eggs.

Put your bread in the toaster, if serving.

Crack one egg at a time in a small bowl and gently add each to the pan.

Push the button down on the toaster.  Cook your eggs until they are the doneness you desire.  We like runny yellows, so this doesn’t take but a few minutes.  Season the eggs with sea salt and pepper.

Food Lust People Love: Full English Fry-up is a quick, easy and delicious one-pan breakfast that includes all the traditional parts - bacon, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms and eggs.

Remove the toast from the toaster and butter, if desired.  Serve each person bacon, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms, an egg and toast.


Food Lust People Love: Full English Fry-up is a quick, easy and delicious one-pan breakfast that includes all the traditional parts - bacon, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms and eggs.

If you love breakfast for dinner like we do, you’ll want to have a look at all the other lovely Sunday Supper dishes this week.  Breakfast for dinner is the best!

Pin this One-Pan Full English Fry-Up!

Food Lust People Love: Full English Fry-up is a quick, easy and delicious one-pan breakfast that includes all the traditional parts - bacon, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms and eggs.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Rough Puff Tomato and Olive Tart

Hands up, who has been to Paris?  Who’d like to go?  And what is one of the number one destination for tourists in Paris.  The Louvre, of course.  Well, guess what?  I saw some treasures from the Louvre today.  In Abu Dhabi.  Yes, that’s right.   Right here in the Sandpit.  Apparently, a new Louvre is being built, and it is scheduled to open in 2015.  The plans look fabulous and there is already a small museum to introduce the bigger one to come, full of painted treasures by the likes of Picasso, Gauguin, Klee, Magritte, Mondrian and Twombly, as well as sculptures, ceramics, metalwork, tapestry and even a fascinating mobile by Alexander Calder.  Appropriate to the educational mission of the Louvre Abu Dhabi - bridging and connecting cultures - two ancient religious texts, the Koran and the Pentateuch, sit side by side in one protective glass case.  Entrance to the current exhibit - Birth of a Museum - is free, along with the narrated audio guide.  Now I can’t wait for the whole Louvre Abu Dhabi to open.  It’s going to be a beautiful place filled with beautiful things.

And now you know why I am late in posting this recipe.   Let us tarry no longer.  We have tart to bake!

1 rectangle rough puff pastry dough from this recipe
7 oz or 200g large grape or tiny Roma tomatoes
2 spring onions
2 cloves garlic
4 1/2 oz or 125g (drained) fresh mozzarella
3 1/2 oz or 100g feta
15 whole black olives
2 eggs lightly beaten
Sprinkle cayenne – optional

Preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C.

Roll out your chilled rough puff pastry, with a floured rolling pin on a lightly floured surface.

Laying your tart pan on top, cut a circle out of the dough with a sharp knife.

Transfer the circle of dough to the tart pan.

Fold the top under to neaten the edge.

Use a fork to dock the bottom and sides of the dough.

Pop this back in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

(Stack the leftover dough and wrap in cling film and freeze for later use. Don’t make it into a ball or you will lose your layers.)

Thinly slice your garlic, chop your green onions and crumble your feta cheese.

Pit your black olives and halve them and then halve the little tomatoes.   In a small mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs.

Okay, now, in a larger mixing bowl, add in your tomatoes, olives, green onions, garlic and the beaten eggs.  Stir to mix.

Fold in the feta.

Pour the mixture into your tart pan.

 I like to straighten out the tomatoes and olives and make the rounded sides face up, because I think it’s prettier that way, but if you don’t care, skip this step.  The flavor will be just as lovely.  Probably.

Now slice the fresh mozzarella into little pieces and poke them in and around the tomatoes and olives.

Sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper if desired.

If your tart pan has a removable bottom, you’ll want to put it on top of another pan before putting it in the oven.  This will make it easier to remove from the oven when hot.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the crust is nicely golden and the cheese on top is too.

Allow to cool for a few minutes and then remove the tart pan.  Slice into pieces.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Spicy Sweet Tomato Chutney

Spicy sweet tomato chutney based on Madhur Jaffery's delicious recipe from Spice Kitchen. Perfect with any meat.

If you have been reading along for a while, you know that our family has lived all around the world, in a variety of great places.  This nomadic lifestyle introduced us to vegetables, fruit, spices and other ingredients that we grew to love and adopted into our family meals, but when we moved on, sometimes those items weren’t available in the next place and we had to do without.  Mourning the loss not just a little.

With the advent of catalog shopping, the world got a little bit smaller.  When I posted my recipe for potato curry, I went on about Madhur Jaffery’s Spice Kitchen cookbook, and how I came to own curry spices again in Brazil, so I won’t tell the story again here.  But I will show you a photo of the little containers those spices came in because I remembered to take a photo this summer.  Empty now, and a little bit rusty, they live on the small shelves over my sink in Houston and their bright colors make me happy, even when I’m washing dishes.

Anyway, this tomato chutney recipe is adapted from that same well-worn, food-bespattered book. It makes a great gift for neighbors and relatives but I always have a couple of jars on hand for personal consumption.

Spicy Sweet Tomato Chutney

Tomato chutney dresses up a plain grilled chicken breast or pork chops like nothing else can, with a hit of sour, sweet and spicy. But most importantly, it preserves a bumper tomato crop for enjoyment year round.

12 cloves garlic, peeled
1 piece fresh ginger, about 4 inches long, 2 oz or 60g
3 cups or 710ml red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons mustard oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
12 fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon kalonji
4 lbs or 1.8 kg fresh ripe tomatoes (2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes can be substituted)
3 cups or 600g sugar
3 teaspoons salt
1/2 – 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (according to your personal preference – I use at least a teaspoon)

Measure your spices out so that they are ready for adding to the pot in a hurry.

Cut the brown ends off of your garlic and peel and coarsely chop your ginger.

Put the garlic, ginger and 1/2 cup of the vinegar into the container of an electric blender and blend at high speed until smooth.

Halve the fresh tomatoes and cut out the hard cores.

Pretty summer tomatoes from the UAE.  Yes, farms do grow things in the desert. 

Heat the oil in a 4-quart, heavy-bottomed pot with non-metallic finish, over medium high heat.  When hot, add the mustards seeds.  As soon as they start to pop – this takes just a few seconds – add the fenugreek, cumin, fennel and kalonji.

Stir once quickly and add the paste from the blender. Stir paste for one minute then add the tomatoes (and juice from the can, if using,) the rest of the vinegar, the sugar, salt and cayenne pepper.  Bring to a boil.

If such things matter to you, feel free to pick the skins out of the pot with tongs as they become detached from the tomatoes.  Some can be rather thick so I do pick them out when I have that type of tomato.  Otherwise, I leave them in.

Lower heat a bit and cook, uncovered, over medium heat at first and then, as the chutney thickens, on increasingly lower heat for about 1½ - 2 hours or until chutney becomes thick.

Stir occasionally at first and more frequently as it thickens.

Pour chutney into sterilized jars while still boiling hot, putting a metal teaspoon in each jar to keep it from cracking.

Remove the teaspoon and screw the lids on tightly and turn jars upside down until they are cooled.

When the jars are cool, you can turn them upright and the vacuum seal will pop in, keeping the chutney fresh for months in a cool dry cupboard.  If the seal doesn't pop back in, store the jars in the refrigerator.

If you are giving it as a gift, by all means, make and print a pretty label.


Want to continue to enjoy the season’s bounty all year long? Have a look at the wonderful Preserving the Harvest recipes we have for you today.

Cool Condiments

Fabulous Fruits

Other Outstanding Recipes
Vivacious Vegetables