Pucker up!

August 24, 2009

kissingcooking

Most people don’t realize that cooking is like kissing: doing it a little usually leads to doing it a lot more.

Just the other day I started making a peach and blueberry crisp (yes, another one – quit looking at me like that!) and lo and behold, while it was in the oven I prepped these tomatoes. They went into the oven after the crisp was done so that we could have a yummy, fresh pasta sauce for dinner. After all, if the kitchen is already going to need to be tidied, why not make it worth your while?

Oven Roasted Fresh Pasta Sauce:

  1. Combine some seeded tomatoes and a chiffonade of basil in a bowl. Toss with good quality balsamic vinegar, minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil and spread on a baking sheet.
  2. Roast the tomatoes in a 300°F (150°C) oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the tomatoes are softened and the pan is getting brown. Deglaze the pan with a few tablespoons of dry sherry and smush up the tomatoes with the edge of a spoon.
  3. Spoon the sauce over hot, lightly oiled pappardelle and garnish with shreds of Parmesan or asiago cheese. Or, do what I did last night and top each bowl with a disc of bocconcini cheese and lots of cracked pepper.

Produce panic part one: peach and tomato salad

August 13, 2009

peachtomatosaladThis salad was the result of a panic attack: I looked at the counter and realized that I had way too many ripe peaches and tomatoes. The solution? Transform them into something fast!

I can’t seem to resist over-buying when I’m in the produce aisle at this time of year – everything looks so fantastic; it’s local; it’s good value and I just want it all! The downside to buying peaches and tomatoes by the basket instead of two or three at a time when you’re a family of three is that you have to eat a lot of produce quickly to avoid the guilt of wasting the best fruit you’ll taste all year long.

Peach and tomato salad

3 peaches
Balsamic vinegar
1 beefsteak or field tomato
4 fresh basil leaves (approx)
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
4 handfuls mâché or another tender, small leaf lettuce

Blanch and peel the peaches. Cut them into wedges and toss with enough good quality balsamic vinegar to coat all over. Slice the tomato into wedges and add it to the bowl. Thinly slice the basil leaves and sprinkle over the fruit. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Toss gently.

Taste and add more vinegar, oil, salt or pepper as needed. Toss with the lettuce and serve immediately.


Dana’s Big Gardening Adventure: It’s over

October 17, 2008

This picture shows one of my rescued, window sill-ripened Brandywine tomatoes perched on a rescued Cherokee Purple tomato that itself is perched upon a can of organic Ontario tomatoes. This pic was taken a couple of weeks ago but I saved it for today.

At this point, most of my readers (at least the ones in Canada) will have very little produce to harvest from their gardens. A cabbage remains here and there; a few carrots or beets, tops blackened by frost might still be salvageable; and, maybe a few of you in the warmer parts of Ontario like Pelee Island or in BC on Vancouver Island have some Brussels sprouts waiting for a good frost.

For the rest of us, it’s back to the produce section where many of the options are trucked in from warmer climes. While I will buy lettuce and other produce from around the globe during the colder months, I was heartened to see this can of tomatoes at Planet Organic. It’s nice to know that even if the growing season is over, that good quality local produce solutions can still be found if you look for them.

Will you try to buy products like these tomatoes now that the colder weather has arrived? Or will you put your locavore practices aside until spring?


Dana’s Big Gardening Adventure: A tomato rescue

September 18, 2008

When I heard this morning that our temperature had dipped to a lowly 8 degrees celsius last night I had a bit of a panic attack. My heirloom tomato plants (brandywines, cherokee purples) and my two big boy tomato plants have produced a plentiful but late-to-ripen crop.

So, today I staged a tomato rescue. I’ve spread this bounty out now on parchment-lined baking sheets to ripen. I’ll report back to you about whether these potentially delicious orbs ripen or atrophy. Keep your fingers crossed!


Dana’s Big Gardening Adventure: forming a tomato support group

August 29, 2008

 Occasionally, we all need a little help to stand straight (especially after tequila!) and it turns out tomatoes are just like us.

I’ve learned a lot with my big gardening adventure experiment. One of my recent lessons is that tomato cages aren’t strong enough to support a healthy tomato plant. Stakes, I’ve learned, are the way to go.

When I planted my tomato seedlings in late May they were less than 6 inches tall and the cages I found at the local garden centre seemed more than adequate support for the mature plants I envisioned they would grow into; however, as you can see above, I was wrong. So very, very wrong. This picture was taken right after I got home from holiday two weeks ago. While I was away in the Yukon, my poor tomato plants had fallen and couldn’t get up!

It’s so hard for me to believe that in April these bushes, now waist high and laden with heavy fruit, were but mere tomato seeds. Their growth is really astonishing!

I made an emergency run to the garden centre and picked up some lightweight but stiff metal stakes and some stretchy garden tape. After working the stakes into the soil near where the plants are rooted, I carefully untangled the arms of each plant and did my best to tether them to the stakes. So far my bindings are holding and within the next day or so I’ll be eating tomatoes!