In My Kitchen, November 2013

Gearing up for the holidays! I love this time of year, preparing for big family meals, making clever little gifts from the kitchen, cookies and treats galore, is always so much fun!

I was late with the October In My Kitchen so I vowed to be on time with this one. Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial hosts this great gathering of people all over the world sharing what’s “In My Kitchen”. Link back to Celia’s site to join in!

Tonight we are getting our first freeze of the season. The tomato plant that was planted back in April has turned out to be one monster of a plant, producing tomatoes the size of soft balls weighing between 9.5 and 16.4 ounces each! The plant has a basket full that should get harvested before the freeze. I’ll have to pull out my dad’s Green Tomato Chow Chow recipe, after we slice, bread and fry a couple first.

Final Harvest!

Final Harvest!

I enjoy a good fried green now and then, after I’ll try a pie.

I have fresh turmeric in my kitchen this month!

Fresh Turmeric

Fresh Turmeric

I felt so lucky to find it. We’ve been using it for sautes, potatoes rice and all kinds of dishes. You do have to be careful though in that is notoriously famous for staining everything it comes in contact with, bright yellow. Fingers, boards, clothing, so use caution if you  don’t want anything stained by the intense color of fresh turmeric. I put a paper towel down on my cutting board before using fresh turmeric to protect it from stains.

Turmeric is a great healing spice so it is good to find ways to work some into your diet. One of my favorite dished to make with it is an Indian dish called “Aloo Gobi“. This is a dish made from cauliflower and potatoes and is very aromatic and delicious.

I started taking an online course from Rosalee de la Foret in Canada on “The Taste of Herbs.” This course takes 5 months and breaks herbs and spices into 5 categories. You learn about the healing properties and how to use the herbs and spices.

She approaches Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda concepts with an ease that makes it so understandable.

So far, I find it very informative. I’m glad I signed up.

Rosalee may offer the course again in the Spring so if you are interested, visit the Taste of Herbs website here: http://www.tasteofherbs.com/standby_pages/25720

Below is the blueprint that is the foundation of the course.

Isn’t that interesting?!

I found these adorable little dishes in a shop. I couldn’t resist them. Robert is wondering what I’ll use them for so I’ll have to put on the creative cap to show him how essential they are to have in my kitchen.

Irresistible small dishes

Irresistible small dishes

I have a big bowl of apples!

Fresh Crisp Fall Apples

Fresh Crisp Fall Apples

We gave some out for trick or treats last night along with mandarin oranges and organic lollipops. I drew pumpkin faces on the mandarins. When the kids got to choose, It was surprising how many chose fruit over the candy!

Trick or Treat Goodie Basket: Mandarin Oranges, Crisp Apples and Organic lollies

Trick or Treat Goodie Basket: Mandarin Oranges, Crisp Apples and Organic lollies

We made sure everyone got an orange, even the parents.

And then there was the time this month, I walked into the kitchen and saw a delicious plate set up and I ate it. Only later to realize I ate the photo shoot.

I’ll be cooking and hosting Thanksgiving at my house this year! I am so excited. I’ll have to plan on taking lots of photos and writing lots of posts with ideas for the upcoming holidays.

In the meantime, What’s in your kitchen this month?

I ate the photo shoot

I ate the photo shoot

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Green Tomato Chow-Chow

This is my Dad’s Green Tomato Chow-Chow recipe. I think it originates from Nova Scotia, Canada as it is also known as “Nana’s Chow-Chow. It is made only with green tomatoes and onions, vinegar and spices. All my life, I’ve eaten precious rationed portions of this delicious mixture and called it Dad’s Green Tomato Chow-Chow.

I’m here to tell you this is really good stuff.

There are many recipes for chow-chow out there, Southern recipes call for everything left in the garden that is harvested just before the first frost: cabbage, peppers, onions, cucumbers. This one is different. And, it gets better as it ages.

Wash the tomatoes, and there is no peeling or seeding required!

Green Tomato Chow-Chow

Chow Chow PicIngredients:

8 cups chopped green tomatoes

4-6 medium sweet onions, sliced

1/2 cup kosher salt

(use non-iodized salt)

2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

1 teaspoon turmeric

(If using fresh turmeric, shred about 1 inch of a knob)

Grating fresh turmeric

Grating fresh turmeric

2 Tablespoons Pickling Spice in a bag (I used a tea ball)

Wash and slice the tomatoes and onions.

in a large bowl, sprinkle the salt over the tomatoes and onions; set a plate on top, cover and let this sit overnight. In the morning, rinse the tomatoes and onions to remove the salt. Strain, place into a large pot with the vinegar, sugar, turmeric and pickling spice.

Simmer the tomatoes and onions with pickling spices

Simmer the tomatoes and onions with pickling spices

Green Tomato Chow-chow

Bring to a boil, reduce to an active simmer and then let this simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.

The entire mixture will cook down to a lovely sweet, tangy concoction with a jam like consistency. This is so good on grilled meats, as a glaze for ham or chicken or as a condiment with cheese.

One of our favorite ways to have it is with beans and cornbread. It makes the meal.

Chow-chow with grilled chicken leg quarters

Chow-chow with grilled chicken leg quarters


This is what it looks like when finished

This is what it looks like when finished

My Dad says this is a real treat because it is only made with the green tomatoes picked just before the first freeze. He says he can’t pick a tomato when it can turn red on the vine. He loves his tomatoes! I know he spoiled me from store-bought tomatoes. Every year, I always grow a plant or two. Sometimes successful, sometimes not. It’s a tradition to grow tomatoes every year.

I’ve encouraged mom to make him a Green Tomato Pie because he has been fascinated with making pies that taste like apple but not using apples. In the past he’s used zucchini and Ritz crackers (separate pies), so I hope he can add green tomato soon.

Another delicious slice of Green Tomato Pie

Another delicious slice of Green Tomato Pie

When I asked mom to make him a pie, he quickly said there weren’t enough greens left and frankly he’d rather have chow-chow.

I’ll have to wrap and send him a bottle to see how he likes it.

#greentomatochowchow #chowchow #southerncooking #pickling #dadsrecipe #southernfoods #passeddownrecipes #recipesfromhome

Jar of Green Tomato Chow-Chow

Jar of Green Tomato Chow-Chow

 

Green Tomato Pie or “Pied Green Tomatoes”

Final Harvest!

Final Harvest!

With a frost settling in, everyone is scrambling to gather whatever tomatoes are left on the vines.

Faced with a basket of lovely green orbs, here’s what I decided to make with them.

"Pied" Green Tomatoes!Be sure the tomatoes are hard and show no signs of ripening or else they will turn to mush when cooked.

Green Tomato Pie or “Pied” Green Tomatoes

  • 4 cups peeled and cut green tomatoes
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons instant tapioca
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • Pie crust for top and bottom crusts

Use a peeler to remove the skin from the tomatoes. Because they are green, the traditional method of blanching them in boiling water, shocking and then peeling does not work. The green tomatoes are hard, like an apple, so peel them as you would apples. No need to remove seeds, as the seeds are hardly developed.

Chop the tomatoes into bite sized pieces. Put them into a sauce pot with the lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt; bring to a simmer over low heat.

Chopped Green Tomatoes simmering for pie filling

Chopped Green Tomatoes simmering for pie filling

You will notice a lot of juice being released by the tomatoes. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Stir this mixture often. When you see it come to a boil, add the sugar and simmer for 5-6 minutes. You want the tomatoes to become tender but not mushy.

Add the butter and instant tapioca to the simmering tomato mixture, remove from heat and cool. The tapioca thickens the juices as it cools. You want the mixture to be cool when you put it into the pastry shell.

While the tomato filling is cooling, make your pie dough, roll it out and line your pie tins or tart shells. If using already made (store-bought dough) prepare your pie pans.

Pre-heat your oven to 435°F while you fill the pie shell.

Fill the shells with the cooled tomato filling. Be sure to cut vents into the top crust. Seal the edges of the crust; brush the top with milk and sprinkle with sugar. I like to use raw sugar for the larger crystals.

Green Tomato Pie in the oven

Green Tomato Pie in the oven

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. You may need to add a foil shield around the crust edge to prevent it from getting too brown. Do this only after the edges are browned already, not when you first put the pie into the oven.

Additionally, place the pie on a sheet pan to catch any drips that may bubble out of the pie during baking. The sheet pan is easier to clean than the oven.

Believe it or not, I couldn’t find a single solitary pie tin of any kind in my kitchen! I used to be a pie making queen. Where are they? All I could find is the fluted tart pans. So I had to use them and put a top crust on anyway. I tried a strusel topping but I didn’t care for the flavor combination with the filling. So I suggest you use a top crust.

If you have a bunch of green tomatoes hanging around, try this pie. It tastes like apple pie made with Granny Smith Green Apples, the texture is the same too.

Whip up some whipped cream, add a dash of cinnamon and serve.

I still have a full basket of green tomatoes so next I’ll be making my Dad’s Green Tomato Chow Chow. Watch for the recipe!

In the meantime, make a Green Tomato Pie. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!

A delicious Green Tomato Pie

A delicious Green Tomato Pie

Another delicious slice of Green Tomato Pie

Another delicious slice of Green Tomato Pie

Green Tomato Pie

Green Tomato Pie

Ketchup or Catsup? Make Your Own

Whether you call it Ketchup or Catsup, we all love vibrant tomato ketchup for one reason or another. I can’t imagine eating pot roast without it, and it is divine with burgers and fries.

Did you know you can make it at home? Leave all the preservatives, artificial flavorings, high fructose corn syrups, red dyes behind you and follow this recipe. This looks vibrant, tastes great and your friends and family will simply LOVE it! Best of all, you know exactly what is in the food you are serving.

Picmonkey Homemade tomato ketchup

This is one small way we can take control of our food and avoid GMO‘s, high fructose corn syrup and other hidden sugars, fats, salts and preservatives. Take a stand against Big Food and learn to make your own ketchup! It’s small, but it will have a very healthy effect of your family!

Homemade Ketchup

For the spiced vinegar:

  • 1-1/2 cups white distilled vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon broken stick cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed

For the ketchup:

  • 5 ½ pounds tomatoes
  • 1 cup granulated sugar – separated into two ½ cup measurements
  • ½ medium onion chopped fine
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon non-iodized salt

Method:

Combine the first four ingredients. Bring to a boil; remove from heat then set aside to cool.

Wash the tomatoes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove the core from the top of the tomatoes and cut a shallow X into the bottom end.

A "Tomato Shark" makes removing the blossom end simple and quick

A “Tomato Shark” makes removing the blossom end simple and quick

Scratch a shallow X on the bottom

Scratch a shallow X on the bottom

The skin will split when ready, the more ripe the tomato, the quicker this happens.

The skin will split when ready, the more ripe the tomato, the quicker this happens.

When the skin splits, plunge into ice water to stop cooking.

When the skin splits, plunge into ice water to stop cooking.

Slip the skins off the tomatoes, cut and squeeze out the seeds.

Slip the skins off the tomatoes, cut and squeeze out the seeds.

Set a large bowl of ice water near the pot of boiling water. Place the prepped tomatoes into the boiling water. As soon as the skin splits, remove and place the warm tomatoes in the ice water to stop cooking.

Slip the skins off the tomatoes. Slice them in half around the center of the tomato, not from top to bottom. Squeeze gently to remove all seeds. Do this over a strainer that is over a bowl to catch the juices that come from squeezing the seeds out.

Cut the tomatoes in quarters. Combine half of the tomatoes with ½ cup sugar, onion, garlic and cayenne pepper in a deep stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil and allow the tomato mixture to boil vigorously for 30 minutes, stirring often to avoid scorching.

After 30 minutes, add the remaining tomatoes and sugar and boil for another 30 minutes. At this point you will need to stir it often as the mixture gets thick.

Strain the vinegar and discard the spices. Add the spiced vinegar to the boiling tomato mixture, stirring constantly for 15 minutes or until the desired texture is reached.

Test the consistency by placing a small amount of the ketchup on a small plate. There should be no watery run off. If there is, keep cooking.

For smooth ketchup, puree using a stick blender, or use a blender to puree the hot mixture. Bottle the hot mixture in sterilized jars or another non-reactive container.

Store under refrigeration unless processing in a water bath canner. An “Old Wives” trick is to wrap each jar in brown paper to protect the color during storage. Not necessary if you store the jars in the refrigerator.

A vibrant bowl of homemade ketchup

A vibrant bowl of homemade ketchup

Roasted Tomatoes Provençal

These slow roasted Tomatoes Provençal are a wonderfully delicious way to enjoy the full ripe flavor and natural sweetness.

TomatoesI do this to use up any extra tomatoes we don’t get around to eating fresh. One week both Robert and I brought home an arm load of fantastic heirloom tomatoes from the local farmers market.

Being February when we bought them, I knew they weren’t local but they sure looked and tasted great.

Roasting Cornish Hens for dinner one evening, I decided to also roast some tomatoes.

Here’s how:

Tomatoes Provençal

  • Good quality ripe tomatoes
  • Kosher salt or French Grey Salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Herbs d’ Provence
  • Olive oil
  • Pinch of sugar (Optional)

Slice the tomato in half. Slice it across the middle, rather than top to bottom, to expose all the seed pockets.

Gently press out the seeds, catching them in a wire mesh strainer.  Place the cut and seeded tomatoes in the strainer, cut side down. Allow them to drain for about an hour or so.

Reserve any juice and press out any additional juice from the seeds. Set this aside for later.

Use a shallow baking dish. Place the tomatoes cut side up into the dish. Don’t crowd them as we want them to roast and concentrate all around. If they are crowded together, only the outside edge will get thoroughly roasted.

Sprinkle salt, pepper, herbs and sugar is using over the tops of the tomatoes. If you like, you can also add garlic, I chose to leave it out this time.

Seasoned, ready to roast tomatoes

Seasoned, ready to roast tomatoes

Drizzle a light bit of olive oil over the tomatoes and roast them, uncovered, in a 350°F oven for at least an hour and one-half. Keep an eye on them as you do not want a dried up leathery tomato (good sometimes, not here).

When the tomatoes are done roasting, allow them to cool before serving. Their full flavor potential is best at room temperature or slightly above.

Here we served them along side of grilled cheese sandwiches and butternut squash soup.

Lunch!

Lunch!

Be prepared! They will go so fast so be sure to roast more than you need.

If, by chance, you have any left over, you can make great roasted tomato marinade or  roasted tomato vinaigrette or even roasted tomato soup.This afternoon, I am putting some on grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. YUM!

Typically though, you have to roast the tomatoes specifically for these dishes as there never seems to be any left over.

What do you Keep in your Pantry?

Let’s talk about kitchen staples. I think it would be fascinating to see what other cultures and kitchens around the world always keep in their pantries.

Depending upon your cultural background, your staples will be different. Being located in the American South there is some influence of region like grits and corn meal and green tomatoes.

I am studying Nutrition Concepts and Medical Nutrition Therapy to gain a Certified Dietary Manager Certification. One of the concepts we study is the difference in food choices based upon religious or cultural influences.

Having lived in many places in the world, there are things I reach for and things that are added due to a cultural influence, like couscous and preserved lemons for instance.

However, there are things that are always there, ready to make something to eat.

  • Fresh garlic – if I get too much, I confit the garlic and reach for that too.
  • Onions – from red to sweet to shallots and scallions
  • Parmesan cheese – a block so it can be shredded, peeled or grated
    Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, the true "par...

    Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, the true “parmesan” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     

  • Eggs – large organic ones. I love Araucana eggs which are also known as “Easter Egg chickens” since their eggs are colored pink, blue and green naturally
  • Canned organic tomatoes and tomato sauce
  • Potatoes – both russet and new potatoes; sometimes sweet potatoes, but not always
  • Basmati rice and brown rice blends
  • Fat free milk – I like to drink it (yes, still!)
  • Half and half – for coffee and tea
  • Fresh European Butter – Plugra is my brand of choiceHomemade Lime Tart Butter & Eggs
  • AP and Bread Flour – for making breads, tarts and dredging
  • Canned beans – black, dark red kidney, garbanzo, white kidney beans
  • A variety of vinegar – apple cider, rice wine, red wine, white wine, balsamic (expensive and less so) and basic white vinegar
  • Oils – olive, vegetable and toasted sesame (because I like Asian food so much!)
  • Chicken stock
  • Chicken and Turkey meat
  • Canned tuna and salmon
  • Anchovies and sardines
  • Dijon mustard
    English: Dijon mustard Maille Originale, 213 g

    Dijon mustard Maille Originale, 213 g (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     

  • Yeast
  • A variety of pasta shapes – spaghetti
  • A jar of Dukes Mayonnaise – yes, I should make my own but this is so I don’t have to
    Only Duke's for Tomato Pie.
  • Some kind of pickle or pickles – either I make them of buy some. Gotta have a pickle with a sandwich
  • and new to my pantry is Coconut oil for saute
  • Last but not least, a variety of salt and pepper

.

What do you keep in your pantry? Please share!

Fresh Curried Tuna Salad

This simple recipe for Fresh Curried Tuna Salad can be used in several different ways. It is a nice spin on traditional tuna salad.

Choose high quality fresh tuna – fresh really does make a difference.

The first time I tried this recipe, it was immediately taken back and put on my restaurant’s menu. It became a best seller. While I no longer have my restaurant, it is a permanent part of my recipe repertoire.

Yes, it is that good. Try it, you’ll see!

Side note: You can use canned tuna for this salad if you want. While the taste and texture of fresh tuna is amazing, canned tuna also makes a tasty salad.

Squeeze the lime juice into the dressing if you are using canned tuna instead of fresh tuna.

For a complete twist on everything, substitute Salmon for tuna.

Fresh Curried Tuna Salad

1 pound (#) fresh tuna loin
Juice from 1 lime
salt and pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon madras curry powder
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped

Squeeze the lime juice over the fresh tuna, sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the fish in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes – for 1″ thick piece of tuna.

  • Time it more or less, depending upon the thickness of the fish.
  • You want a trace of pink left in the fish so as not to over-cook it and make the fish dry.

While the tuna is cooking, mix all remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Remove the fish from the oven. Cut into medium or small dice and cool.

Add the tuna to the dressing and serve as desired.

Serving Suggestions for Fresh Curried Tuna Salad

Top your favorite sandwich roll

  • With the salad, lettuce and tomato
  • Don’t forget the sweet pickle

Stuff a tomato

  • Cut the top from a tomato
  • Scoop out the insides
  • Turn upside down on a paper towel for 10 minutes to drain
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Fill with Fresh Curried Tuna Salad
  • Garnish plate with lettuce, chopped eggs, etc.

My most favorite way to serve this:

Fresh Curried Tuna Salad Nicoise Style

Salad Nicoise is a classic French salad. It is presented with tuna, potatoes, green beans, eggs, tomato and a wonderful light vinaigrette seasoned with mustard.

To create this lovely salad, boil some new potatoes in salted water until done.

For this salad, I used tri-colored new potatoes: white, red and blue. It makes an attractive color contrast on the plate.

Once the potatoes are drained, dress them while still warm with Mustard Vinaigrette. Cool.

The recipe for Mustard Vinaigrette is at the end of this post

Steam some green beans until tender; dress these with the Mustard Vinaigrette white still warm. Cool.

Line a plate with lettuce leaves and a small mound of cut salad greens.

Arrange the plate with Fresh Curried Tuna Salad, potatoes and green beans.

Complete the salad presentation with Nicoise or Kalamata olives (pitted of course), tomato wedges, chopped hard-boiled eggs and cucumber and anchovies, if desired.

Salad Nicoise makes a great dinner entrée. This is one of my all time favorite meals.

If you ever find yourself in Paris, or anywhere in France, it is highly recommended you indulge in one there. They vary somewhat from region to region, but are always delicious.

I hope you enjoy making and eating Fresh Curried Tuna Salad.

Salad Nicoise

Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1 teaspoon minced shallots
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon style mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Whisk all ingredients, but not the oil, in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the oil until well blended.