Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Zucchini Relish

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

When I was growing up, my mom made zucchini relish every year, so now I make zucchini relish every year.   One batch is enough to get me through a whole year of tartar sauce, chicken and tuna salad, and hot dogs.  Yes, I know hot dogs are not one of the best things I could be eating, but I love hot dogs and have to have them every once in a while.  I’m a relish, mustard, and onions kind of a gal. Anyway, I made a batch of zucchini relish this weekend, but it barely put a dent in my zucchini supply.

This is a forgiving recipe, and measurements don’t have to be exact. I use honey, but you could use sugar if you want. I tend to like more of vinegary tang than sweetness in my relish, so my recipe uses quite a bit less sweetener than most recipes. Also, most recipes call for celery seed, but we all know how I feel about celery (it’s an evil, vile vegetable and my husband is allergic).  My standard substitution for all things celery is fennel.  If you like a little spice you could add some jalapeno to the recipe.  My husband is a big baby when it comes to spicy foods, so I’m close friends with the many bottles of hot sauce that inhabit my kitchen.  One of these days I’ll get around to giving you my recipe for homemade tequila hot sauce.

Zucchini Relish
1 monster zucchini (about 3 pounds, or 8 cups)
4 large onions (about 1 pound)
2 large red and/or green peppers
4 tablespoons kosher salt
2 1/4 cups cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups honey
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1 heaping teaspoon ground fennel seed
1 heaping teaspoon ground coriander seed
1 heaping teaspoon salt

Shred or finely chop zucchini, onion, and peppers.  A food processor makes quick work of it.  Sprinkle the 4 tablespoons of salt over the chopped veggies, mix it in well, and set it aside for a couple of hours.  I’ve seen some recipes that call for letting it sit overnight, but I’ve found a couple of hours does an adequate job of drawing out the excess water in the vegetables.

 I went outside and planted a row of snow peas for the fall garden while I was waiting. Then I got my canning gear out, and got my jars washed and ready to receive the relish.

Next, rinse the vegetables well in a fine mesh colander with cold water.  Squeeze excess water from the veggies and place them in a non-reactive pot.

Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.  Continue to simmer for about half an hour, until the relish begins to look a little translucent.   Ladle the relish into jars, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  Yields about 9 half pints.

BLT Soup

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

I love homemade soups in general. They tend to be quick, versatile, and nutritious.  Soups help me economize both time and leftovers. Some can be thrown together quickly when crunched for time, others can be simmered in a slow cooker to be ready and waiting at the end of a long hard day. I do have a few soup recipes requiring quite a bit of prep, and not for the faint of heart cook…. like my Hot & Sour Soup. I like to freeze leftover soups, which provide a quick solution on those days when things don’t go as planned, or I suddenly find myself with a house full of unexpected guests (usually hungry teenage boys).  Today I was in the mood for soup, but we’re having unseasonable, record-setting 85 degree weather. I’m still in winter food mode, and having a difficult time switching culinary gears.  It’s simply too warm for something like my Fire Roasted Tomato and Wild Rice Soup, and Chilled Avocado Soup is just all wrong for March.

My BLT Soup recipe, with its light potato soup base and fresh raw veggies,  is perfect for transitioning seasons. This recipe was inspired by a similar soup I had in a restaurant years ago.  I did find a few BLT soup recipes online, but not like the one I ate all those years ago.  After some tinkering this is what I ended up with.

BLT Soup
4 or 5 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons flour
3 cups chicken broth
1 heaping tablespoon corn starch
Salt & Pepper

BLT Toppings
Crumbled bacon
Shredded lettuce, or other greens
Chopped Tomatoes
Croutons (Zesty Tomato Garlic Croutons recommended)

If you make your croutons and bacon ahead of time, this soup can be relatively quick to put together.  Here’s my bacon technique (I get some really great bacon made from organic pastured pork, and no added nitrates). I cut the bacon into pieces using my kitchen shears, and then toss it in the pan to cook. I try to keep a jar of crumbled bacon on hand in the refrigerator as a quick salad topping.

See my earlier post for making Zesty Tomato Garlic Croutons …. or use store-bought if you prefer.

Melt butter and olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add diced potatoes and cook until tender.  Don’t worry about the potatoes sticking to the bottom of the pan a little.   Once the potatoes are tender, add flour and stir until all oil and moisture is absorbed.  Next add the chicken broth and stir until the broth starts to heat up.  Mix the heaping tablespoon of corn starch with 2 or 3 tablespoons of water, and add to the broth.  Continue to stir until the soup thickens. Salt and pepper to taste.

This is one of those soups that does not have to be served piping hot.  In fact, I like to wait for it to cool a little before I assemble my bowls.

Assemble by ladling soup into bowls and then topping with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and croutons.

Zesty Tomato Garlic Croutons

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

You’re going to need these croutons for the next recipe I post.  I suppose you could use store-bought, but these are better…. at least I think so!

Sometimes I’ll whip up a batch of my Honey Whole Wheat Bread just so I can let it go stale for making croutons.  My family loves croutons. We throw ’em in soups and salads.  Of course they go into French onion soup.  I’ve even caught my 17 year old munching on them like popcorn.

Croutons are a snap. Coat stale bread cubes in flavor bombed oil, toast in the oven, and viola! Croutons! I just throw it all together (not the bread cubes) in my food processor, and taste as I go.  I use tomatoes I’ve dried myself, which don’t have as much moisture as store-bought sun dried tomatoes.  I have to soak them in a little water before I get started, or they won’t pulverize properly in the food processor.  This recipe makes up a batch of flavored oil which is more than needed to make a batch of croutons.  It can be stored in a jar in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 weeks, and can be used in a variety of ways: croutons, tossed with pasta, or spread on sandwiches for an extra punch of flavor.

Zesty Tomato Garlic Croutons
Cubed stale bread
1 cup sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
4 or 5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2-3 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup olive oil

Place all ingredients (except cubed bread) into a food processor and let ‘er rip. Process until the mixture is relatively smooth.

Place bread cubes in a bowl and spoon some of the tomato-oil mixture onto the cubes.

Toss until the bread is completely coated with the tomato mixture, adding more if needed.

Spread the croutons on a baking sheet and toast in a 350° oven.  Check the croutons about every 5 minutes and give them a quick stir.  Because of the sugar content of the tomatoes, the croutons will tend to caramelize, and you want to be careful not to burn them.  My croutons took approximately 15 minutes.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread and a Few Bunny Trails

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Before I get on with this, I’m warning you my motivation is on its way back,  and I was a little camera happy this morning.

I realize bread making is a little time consuming, but I think it’s worth the effort. You’re probably wondering how I manage to bake bread several times a week when I work a full time job.  Here’s the beauty of working from a shop located on the same property where I live.  I can head to my kitchen on my lunch break, and mix up a batch of dough and knead it.  It’s not uncommon to find a batch of dough rising in my office.  At the end of the work day, I take it back to my kitchen, ready to pop in the oven.

I don’t know why I haven’t blogged my bread recipe before.  I make it so often I could do it in my sleep.  I’ve fiddled around with different ways of making bread over the years. The resulting conclusion of all this fiddling….. the books, famous chefs, food network, etc….. they’ve made it WAY too complicated.  No wonder so many people are intimidated by homemade bread.  Seriously folks, bread has been the staff of life, successfully feeding and nourishing mankind for thousands of years….. it can’t be that complicated!  Of course, in the last 100 years, we’ve managed to corrupt the stuff beyond what our ancestors would recognize as bread.  However, that’s a whole ‘nuther conversation.  Anyway, I’ll show you how I make bread, and I’m warning you…. I break a lot of rules.

I don’t have a convenient local source for bulk organic grains and flours, so I have them shipped from Heartland Mill out of Kansas.  You can shop online, but I tend to phone my orders so I can have them ship on my business’ UPS shipper account.  I’ve got a negotiated volume discount with UPS. Heartland’s prices are fantastic, and even with shipping I’m paying less than if I bought 5 pound bags of organic Bobs Red Mill from the local grocery.  I purchase in 25 or 50 pound quantities, depending on the type of flour.  I tend to use about twice as much all-purpose flour as I do whole wheat flour.  I’m still working on that. I keep my flours and grains in 6 gallon buckets stored under some of my canning shelves in the basement.

Yes, I’m a little OCD.  Yes, I know the shelves are bowing a little. Drives me nuts!  I’ve got a bunch more shelving on the opposite facing wall.  Everything in the buckets is organic: durum semolina for pasta, rye flakes, steel cut oats,  arborio rice, wild rice, green coffee beans, whole wheat flour, unbleached all-purpose flour. The wooden crates are where onions, squash, and sweet potatoes are stored. The large jars on the shelves are dried herbs, spices, dried fruit, and other things of that sort.  I have an arsenal of herbal witch doctory on that shelf. Top shelf is elderberry juice, jams, salsa, and assorted pickled veggies and relishes.  If you’ve ever received a food gift from me, it’s a good bet it came from the top shelf.

So, on to bread making. This is my base recipe for bread, and I vary it depending on what I’m making. If I’m making raisin bread I’ll add more honey, a little cinnamon and some raisins.  I’ll form it into focaccia and slather it with olive oil and olives, artichokes, or roasted red peppers. I’ll form it into bagels, boil, then bake them. This recipe produces one average  sized loaf.  I don’t like to make 2 loaves at a time, since I prefer fresh bread and there are only 3 of us in the house these days.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
Up to 1/4 cup honey
1 egg
1 to 1 1/2 cup warm water

I usually just throw my ingredients into the bowl without measuring: one part each of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour, about 1/2 palm full kosher salt, a scant palm full active dry yeast, and a palm full vital wheat gluten.  I decided to be kind and give you some measurements.  I warned you I break rules.  No messing with extra containers, softening yeast in water ahead of time.   I just dump all the dry ingredients together and give them  a quick stir with my spoon.

A little bunny trail here with some information on ingredients.  Bread does not taste good without salt. (period).  Most recipes don’t call for enough.  I use more salt.  Salt does tend to slow down the activity of yeast, yeast feeds on sugar, and this recipe includes plenty of honey.  See where I’m going with this? I’ve never had a problem with the salt preventing the yeast from doing its job.

I include vital wheat gluten when using whole grain flours because I get a better rise from the dough as well as a lighter crumb in the finished bread.  You can choose to leave it out, but you’ll probably end up with a heavier more dense loaf of bread.

Next, combine the honey, egg, and warm water. A quick aside on water amounts.  The amount can vary depending on your flour.   My current batch of flour needs about a cup, but I’ve needed to use as much a 1 1/2 before.  If your dough is a little too wet, just work a little more all-purpose flour into it when you knead the dough.  I’ve developed a sense for how the dough should feel, and know when I need to use more or less water.

Don’t worry if the warm water causes the egg white to get a little hazy, because you’re just going to mix it up like this.

And then dump the wet into the dry.

Stir it until it forms a rough dough.

Dump it onto the lightly floured counter top and knead for about 5 minutes.  At this point I walk away from it, and let it rest for 5 minutes while I do something else.  I took the time to refill the nearly empty flour canisters I keep on my counter. Knead the dough for a few more minutes, until it feels smooth and elastic.  Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a bowl and turn the dough in the oil to coat it.

Cover the bowl with a cloth and set it in a warm draft free place to rise until doubled in size.  Rising time will vary depending on too many factors to list.  Expect anywhere from 1 to 2 hours for the first rising. This batch took 2 hours because the house was cool this morning.  This is one of my favorite vintage tea towels.  It’s too pretty to use for any messy kitchen work, so I use it as a proofing cloth.

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down, knead it a few times, and place it back in the bowl with a drizzle of oil to rise a second time.  The dough will rise more quickly the second time.

After the dough has doubled a second time, punch it down, knead it a few times, form it into a loaf, and set it aside to rise for the last time.  I love crusty free form loaves, but my guys don’t care for crust, so I bake the bread in loaf pans.  I do whatever it takes to keep them from requesting that soft, tasteless, chemical laden, plastic wrapped stuff that passes for bread these days.  This last raising will take as little as 30 minutes. 

Once it has doubled, place the loaf in a 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes. Yet another bunny trail….. baking time and temperature.  350 for 30 minutes is what works for me.  My oven is not properly calibrated, so I bought an oven thermometer to make sure my oven is properly preheated.  As I mentioned before, my family likes a less crusty, soft crumbed bread.  If I had it my way, I’d make a crusty free from loaf baked at about 400 or 425 for about 20 minutes, on a stone, and with steam for the first few minutes of baking.  My point being, do what works for your quirky oven and personal taste.

I know you’re supposed to let the bread cool before cutting if you don’t want to mangle your loaf.  Mangling be damned! I wanted a piece so I cut it right away, slathered it with some homemade strawberry vanilla jam, and made myself very happy.

 

 

Fire Roasted Tomato and Wild Rice Soup

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

I am long, long overdue to post a recipe. In fact, I was looking over post archives, and noticed that I didn’t post a single thing last January.  It must be a hibernation thing.  All I feel like doing lately is snuggling in with a pair of knitting needles, a pot of herb tea, and a pair of warm squishy socks.  This morning I was forced to come out of hibernation, thanks to several inches of snow last night.  I had to bundle up and dig out my chicken coop so I could feed the girls.

This particular soup recipe is a winter regular in my household, and my 16-year-old son’s favorite. I always make this after we’ve had a roast chicken, using the leftover meat and stock that I’ve made from the carcass. The rest of the ingredients are always on hand in my pantry and root cellar from late summer preserving efforts.  I used up the last of my fennel at Christmas when I made Pasta E Fagioli Salad with Fennel for my overseas house guests, but I found some nice fat organic bulbs at a local grocer. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m going to tell you again …. I don’t cook with celery.  I think it’s an evil, vile, nasty vegetable, and my husband is allergic. The carrots were pulled from the winter garden tunnel last week.

Fire Roasted Tomato and Wild Rice Soup
Olive oil
2 carrots, diced
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced (or other celery like veg)
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped ( I use more)
7 1/2 cups chicken broth (if I don’t have enough broth, I cut it with water)
1/2 cup wild rice
Bay leaf
Leftover chicken
2 pints fire roasted tomatoes (you can substitute oven roasted or canned tomatoes)
Salt to taste

Soften carrots, fennel, onion, and garlic in olive oil.

Add chicken broth, rice, and bay leaf; bring to a simmer, cover and cook until rice is tender. Add leftover chicken and tomatoes and their juices to the soup.  Salt to taste. Bring soup up to temperature and serve.

Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwich

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

I finally got around to experimenting with that wonderful Old Kentucky Tomme goat cheese I picked up on my vacation last month.  Just in case you don’t remember which cheese I’m talking about, it was this one.  I’ve been aging it in the cheese drawer I have in my basement refrigerator.  Yes, I have a whole drawer devoted to cheese! Doesn’t everyone?

Capriole Goat Farm suggested it with grilled apples and onions. I decided to take it a little further, and ended up with a Saturday afternoon lunch that officially made my comfort food list.  I’m not sure what type of cheese to recommend you try with this, since you probably won’t have access to Capriole cheeses.  If you’re fortunate enough to have an exceptional cheese counter, you could try to find some type of French tomme cheese, preferably goat.

First, I threw some onions into a pan with a little olive oil and softened them. Then I added some peeled, sliced apple and cooked the whole mess over medium heat until softened and golden. I had some slightly stale homemade honey wheat bread I had made a couple of days earlier, which is excellent for grilled sandwiches or toast.  I’m not kidding! Liberally buttered, stale homemade bread crisps up in the pan better than anything.

Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwich
Buttered slices of stale homemade bread
Genoa Salami
Grilled apple & onion
Capriole Old Kentucky Tomme goat cheese

Layer salami, apple & onion, and goat cheese on the buttered bread. Toast in a pan over medium heat until warmed through and the cheese begins to ooze.

It was good … REALLY good!  The tang of the salami, sweetness of the apple and onion, combined with the gooey, goaty goodness of the cheese were a perfect marriage of flavors.  I’ve still got some cheese left.  As soon as I get some more salami, I’m making it again.  And the next time I won’t forget the bottle of shiraz that’s sill lurking in my basement.

Chocolate Cardamom Plum Jam

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

I found my inspiration for this jam earlier last week on the Grow It Cook It Can It blog. Of course I couldn’t leave it alone, and had to play around with the idea until I created something that was mine. I like to make old-fashioned cooked jams, so I almost always remove the pectin from a recipe.  I also prefer to use honey in place of sugar. Also, last year’s experiment with Salted Butterscotch Peach jam taught me that a bit of salt has it’s place in jam.

There’s no way I can top my inspiring blogger’s post on her jam, and the wonderful poem by William Carlos Williams , so I’m not even going to try.

When I give some of the measurements, notice that I indicate amounts “up to”.  The amount of honey, lemon juice, and spices will depend on the ripeness, sweetness, and acidity of the plums.  These factors can vary quite a bit, so I always taste as I go. My plums were perfectly ripe and very sweet.  I used only 1 cup of honey and the juice of 1/2 a lemon.  Also, I found that only 1/2 ounce of the chocolate gave me  what I wanted without overwhelming the flavor of the plums.  If you’ve never cooked with cardamom, let me warn you that a little can go a very long way.  If you’re using store-bought ground cardamom, you’ll probably end up using a whole 1/4 teaspoon.  If you split the pods and grind the seeds like I do, then you’ll need less. One last note, because this is a cooked jam, the volume will reduce by almost half … another reason it’s important to go easy on the spices, taste as you go, and adjust at the end of the cooking (if needed).

Chocolate Cardamom Plum Jam
3 pounds skinned, chopped plums (approximately 6 cups)
1 to 1 1/2 cup local raw honey
Up to 1/4 cup lemon juice
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 to 1 ounce grated, good quality 100% cacao baking chocolate
Salt to taste (optional)

To make skinning plums easy, drop them in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds, and then remove to ice water.

Place plums in a wide shallow pan over medium heat.  Add honey, lemon juice, and cardamom. Once the mixture reaches a boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, or until the plums reach the desired jam like consistency. Add grated chocolate and stir to incorporate.  Add salt to taste.

If you would like to can the jam, prepare jars and lids according to standard canning practices. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.

Jackstraw Eggplant (Aubergine)

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

I have no clue why this recipe is called jackstraw.  It’s what I always heard it called while I was growing up.  Jackstraw is actually an old-fashioned name for a game of pick-up-sticks.  My mom never made this enough to please me when I was a kid, and I would always angle to be the one who got the last piece.

Another piece of trivia from my childhood is that I was a voracious reader, and read every kind of mythology I could get my hands on.   I can’t look at eggplant (also known as aubergine) without remembering the Turkish myth about a famous Turkish dish called Imam Bayildi.  It goes like this:

“A long time ago there lived a Turkish imam, well known for his appetite and love of good food. One day he surprised his friends by announcing his engagement to the beautiful young daughter of a rich olive oil merchant.  Part of her dowry was a consignment of the very finest olive oil. The wealthy merchant gave the groom twelve great jars of the prized oil, each one as big as a man.

Following the wedding, the young daughter quickly revealed her talents as a Turkish cook and every day prepared a special dish for her new food-loving husband. Stuffed aubergine in olive oil was his absolute favorite, and so he asked his wife to make it for him every night as the centrepiece of his dinner. Being a good wife, she did as she was told, and made the delicious dish for twelve days in a row. On the thirteenth day, however, when the imam sat down to dinner, his favourite aubergine dish was starkly absent. The imam demanded to know the reason for its disappearance. The bride replied, “My dear husband, I cannot make your favourite dish anymore, for we have no more olive oil. You will have to buy some more.” The lmam was so shocked by the news that he fainted. And so ever since that day, his favorite dish has become known as ‘Imam Bayildi’,(the imam fainted).”

I’ve had a bumper crop of these beautiful Italian heirloom eggplant this year.

If you’ve ever cooked eggplant, you know how much oil it will soak up during cooking. If you make the following recipe, be sure your oil is well heated before you add the eggplant, and it won’t absorb quite as much oil.

Jackstraw Eggplant
Eggplant
Flour
Egg
Panko Crumbs
Oil for frying

Peel eggplant and cut into 1/4″ slices.  First flour the slices.

Then give the slices an egg bath.

Finally, coat the slices in Panko crumbs.  My mom always used corn flake crumbs, but once I discovered Panko a few years ago, they became my preference.  Nothing crisps up quite like Panko crumbs.

I like to have all my eggplant coated and on my cutting board before I begin frying.

Heat oil over medium high heat. Fry a few slices at a time.  You’ll get the best crispy results if you don’t crowd the pan. OK, a little bunny trail about oil.  I use lard, but feel free to use olive oil.  I won’t go into a lengthy explanation of my views on oils and saturated fats, but I will tell you that I eat real fats.  Real raw butter from cows raised on grass, real lard from pigs allowed to roam pasture. Real beef fat from cows raised on grass, not grain.  Real chicken fat from happy, roaming chickens.  You get the picture.  I wouldn’t touch those highly processed tubs of lard they sell in the grocery store with a 10 foot pole. Back to business.

Once the eggplant is browned on both sides and tender, place on draining rack or paper towels.  I like to eat my Jackstraw eggplant sprinkled with a little salt and Parmesan cheese, and served with a simple salad of fresh garden tomatoes with a little basil, salt, and pepper.  I’m ashamed to say I ate two whole medium sized eggplants for dinner this evening. See what happens, Mom, for not feeding me enough eggplant when I was a kid.

Pickled Nasturtium Capers

Friday, September 9th, 2011

I love that something so pretty can also be so useful.  I plant nasturtiums in my vegetable garden as a companion plant to help deter cucumber and squash beetles, as well as several other garden pests. In addition to being helpful in the garden, all parts of the plant are edible.  The leaves and flowers can be used in salads, and earlier this summer I showed you how I make nasturtium vinegar.  I also read some information indicating nasturtium has a place in herbal medicine with antibiotic, antifungal, antibacterial and possibly antiviral properties.  I have yet to confirm if this information is true, and plan to do some digging around.

Yesterday I picked nasturtium seeds and pickled them.  They grow in little clusters of three, and should be picked green for pickling.

Pickled nasturtium seeds are also called nasturtium capers, poor man’s capers, and California capers.  I made a very small batch consisting of 2 small jars.  I’ll probably make a couple more jars before the first frost.

Nasturtium Capers
1 cup green nasturtium seeds
2/3 cup white wine or rice wine vinegar
1 heaping teaspoon kosher salt
12 peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 small bay leaves

Rinse seeds thoroughly.  I placed mine in a bowl with a little salt and had to rub them a little bit to get them clean.  It’s been raining, and the dead blossoms were stuck to the seeds.

Follow standard practices for getting your canning jars ready.  Place 6 peppercorns, half the fennel seeds, and one bay leaf in the bottom of each jar.  Add seeds to jars.  Combine vinegar and salt in a pan and bring up to a boil.  Pour vinegar over seeds.

Place lids on jars and water bath process the seeds for 10 minutes.  It’s best to allow the “capers” to rest in the jars for a few weeks to fully develop their pickled flavor.

Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Monday, September 5th, 2011

The last few weeks have been a blur of canning, preserving, and getting our household ready for winter.  In the last two weeks  I’ve frozen fire roasted tomatoes and canned dilly beans, roasted red peppers, pickled eggplant, zucchini relish, tomatoes, and elderberry juice. I’m going to show you the roasted tomatoes now, but after that which would you like to see next?  I winged the zucchini relish recipe and forgot to write it down, but I think I can remember what I did.

Last weekend my husband and I hosted a wood splitting party in the woods. We invited lots of friends and family to come help us cut and split our winter wood supply, and I cooked breakfast and lunch over a campfire. We also a threw a little fun into the mix with some skeet shooting.  This winter when the snow is blowing and the wind howling, we’ll remember our friends as we toss another log into the wood burner. As you can see, we still have a lot of stacking to do.

Fire Roasted Tomatoes
Plum style tomatoes
Grill
Tongs

These are the real deal. Not oven roasted. Not the canned tomatoes from the grocery labeled “fire-roasted” (which taste nothing like what I make on my grill).  This is painfully easy, but requires a little time and patience. I think it’s worth the effort. Although any tomato could be roasted,  I highly recommend firm, ripe (but not overly ripe) plum style tomatoes which will hold up better on the grill.  I grow San Marzanos and think they’re the best cooking tomato on the planet.

Wash and dry the tomatoes before roasting.  Instead of dunking the tomatoes in scalding water to remove the skins, the tomatoes are going to be roasted to char and loosen the  skins.

Preheat your grill, making sure it’s good and hot.  This works best using screaming hot temperatures. Plop those tomatoes right onto your grill, and close the lid for a couple of minutes.  Don’t be surprised if you hear some snapping and popping noises as the skins dry out and char.

I check the tomatoes frequently, and turn with a pair of tongs as the tomato skins split and blacken.  The tomatoes will gradually soften as they roast, cooking them just enough to freeze well.  I suppose they could also be canned, but I tend to use the roasting/freezing method when I have smaller quantities on hand that I want to deal with quickly.  I save canning for a day when I have a lot of produce, and lugging out all of my canning equipment will be worth the effort.

Remove the tomatoes to a shallow pan to cool when the skins are loosened and charred.

Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle comfortably, start peeling the skins off. Do not try to rinse them, or you’ll lose the flavor you’ve work so hard to get.  It’s fine if there are little blackened specks on the tomatoes.  After peeling, pack the tomatoes into freezer containers, pressing down to push out air bubbles. Pour any juices left in the pan over the packed tomatoes. Freeze for use in your favorite winter recipes.  One of these days I’ll get around to sharing my Roasted Tomato and Wild Rice Soup.