"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant."
Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Roasting Roma Tomatoes for Freezing or Canning

 I spent the day yesterday roasting tomatoes to freeze for winter use.  I might be canning some of these as well, but freezing is so easy and really keeps the fresh flavor of the summer in the tomato.

Begin by setting your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Now clean and remove stem end from several pounds of Roma Tomatoes; cut in half lengthwise and place cut side down on a well oiled sheet pan with about a one inch high rim.  I used a stainless steel, well seasoned 12 x 18 inch pan.

Drizzle with Olive Oil and sprinkle with Sea Salt (salting is optional )

I like to add some sliced lemons

After 40 minutes in a 400 degree oven they should look like this.  There will be a lot of juice on the pan too.  Be very careful when you pour them into a bowl.

At this point you may want to allow them to cool if children will be helping you.

Place a large bowl under a cone sieve.  I used a four quart Pyrex bowl.  If you do not have one of these cone sieves, you can use a large mesh strainer over a large bowl and use a spatula to press the tomatoes or a food mill.   You can find one like mine on Ebay ( disclaimer: I am just adding this so you can find one, I do not know this seller.)

Pour tomatoes in sieve, again be careful they will still be hot.  Start rolling the wood pestle around and around to press the tomato pulp through.   Begin slowly so as not to push the tomatoes over the top rim.  Children love to help with this.  I remember doing this as a child in my Mother's kitchen.

Pulp and juice

Making progress

Skins and seeds are all that is left

Add a chiffonade of Basil  (sliced very thin) about 3 tablespoons.  You could also use fresh Oregano in place of the basil to use this sauce for salsa. One batch should make about 5 cups of sauce.  It will be thinner than purchased sauce, but you can reduce it when you defrost it in the winter when you might want to add more ingredients like onion, garlic and meat.  I often use this for pizza and it works fine without reduction.

Pour into sterilized one pint jars.  I used canning jars that are freezer safe.  If you want to do this method be sure to leave at least a 1 ½ inch head space at the top of the jar to allow for expansion.  I also used (sterilized)  regular lids on these jars, but you could use canning lids.  I kept the lids just sitting on the jars and placed in freezer until thoroughly frozen, then tightened down the lids.  You could also use freezer bags or plastic freezer safe containers.  Lock N' Lock makes some nice freezer safe plastic containers.  Your local market may have the freezer safe canning jars available.

I made two sheet pans of Roasted Roma tomatoes which gave me a total of 10 cups of sauce.

You may also use the water bath canning process or pressure canning process, but follow these instructions if using either of these methods.

"Not only the days, but life itself lengthens in summer. I would gather more of it to me, could I do so."
-Richard Jeffries

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tomato Harvest

 I am posting these pictures to share with our friend Jason and anyone else interested in our harvest.  Jason is the wonderful guy we get our perfect eggs from.

The first picture shows our harvest of two days, on July 21st.  The second picture is after giving some away, adding more and after I used a bunch of the Roma tomatoes for sauce; which I will be posting to my blog tomorrow with step by step instructions for roasting and freezing for winter sauce.

The third picture is just a close-up of some of the red cherry, red plum and yellow plum tomatoes we have been harvesting daily.  I pick about 4 to 6 cups of these each day!

I covered the table with long lengths of paper towel.
42 inch round table, I was standing on a chair with the camera at the ceiling! 

the harvest changes daily

One two cup bowl and one 4 quart bowl

Friday, July 23, 2010

Spinach Salad with Orange Muscat Thyme Chicken and Tangerine Thyme Vinaigrette

A little break from tomato eating today!  I have lots of Anaheim Chili Peppers on the plants so I decided to use them in a chicken recipe today.  This is the result.
This is a very flavorful way to prepare chicken breasts.  Today I served it with a spinach salad but it would be just as delicious with a mixed field green salad or served cold in a pasta salad using the vinaigrette on the pasta as well.

Orange Muscat Chicken simmered in Anaheim Chili's and Thyme

  • 3 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, about 1 1/4 pounds
  • 2 teaspoons Grapeseed Oil or Olive Oil
  • 3 tablespoons Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar (Trader Joe's)
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • Zest and Juice from one small Lemon
  • 1 Anaheim Chili Pepper, sliced, discard seeds and white membrane
  • 3 cloves of Garlic
  • 2 generous sprigs of fresh cut French Thyme
  • 1 cup water
Season chicken breasts with sea salt and ground pepper.  Heat saute pan over medium heat and add the oil and seasoned chicken.  Cook for a 1 to 2 minutes and add the remaining ingredients.  Continue cooking for 15 minutes, basting the chicken breasts with the sauce.  Mash the garlic and chili pepper as it softens and continue to baste chicken.  Add about 1/4 more water if the pan is dry.  Cover the pan with a lid and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook an additional 20 to 30 minutes until chicken is cooked through and the sauce has evaporated.  Chicken is ready when temperature reaches 180 degrees F (82 c) on a meat thermometer.  Allow to rest in pan, uncovered until ready to serve.   Makes 3 or 4 servings.  I used one breast on my salad today.

Anaheim Chili Pepper, about 4 inches long

French Thyme from my Herb Garden and small Lemon from our tree.

After 10 minutes of cooking

After 20 minutes, all the leaves should be off the thyme and the peppers and garlic soft.
It should look like this when all the sauce has reduced and chicken is cooked through, I placed the peppers and mashed garlic on top of the chicken.

Tangerine Thyme Vinaigrette (for one)

  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh French Thyme, leaves only no stems
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh Chives, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Tangerine Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Honey Mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Olive or Grapeseed Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Honey
  • Fresh ground Pepper
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
Mix all ingredients together with a fork or mini whisk.  Set aside.

Completed Vinaigrette

Spinach Salad (for one)
Build your salad, by first slicing one chicken breast.  Begin cutting at the smaller end of the breast.  Place the spinach in the center of a large dinner plate, add the chicken spreading out like I show in the picture.  Toss the raisins, pecans and shallot over the spinach.  Drizzle all with the vinaigrette.  You may also add a few blades of chives and a sprig of thyme to the top if you  like.  This is a generous salad and could easily serve two.  Adding some rustic crusty bread would be a nice addition.
  • 4 cups fresh Spinach, about 4 ounces
  • 2 tablespoons Golden Raisins
  • 2 tablespoons Pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 small Shallot or Red Onion, sliced thin, rings separated


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Full Buck Moon a Coming

This Sunday we will have a full moon. You can find out about all the names of full moons at the Framer's Almanac Site.

Summer is fading fast. Plan a nice dinner under the moonlight with the one you love.  Any ideas for dinner?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gazpacho Recipe

Lunch alone today after spending the weekend with my husband for his birthday seemed to be destined for sadness on my part so I decided to make a bright colorful lunch for myself and dined on the patio with the kitties close by.

My kitchen counter is covered with bright red, green and yellow tomatoes so I needed to find something to make that would use a lot.  The result is Gazpacho Soup. 

It is very low in calories; this bowl had only 42 and less than 1% fat.  I included a Lavash Bread roll up using some of the leftover Chicken Fajitas I made for Tony's birthday lunch from yesterday. 

My version of Gazpacho Soup

64 oz. Low Sodium Chicken Broth (Pacific Foods )
18 oz fresh from the garden Red Tomatoes, diced
10 oz fresh from the garden Yellow Tomatoes, diced
4 oz each of Sweet Red Pepper, Sweet Yellow Pepper, Cucumber with skin and White or Sweet Onion, diced
1 oz of Spring Onion or Scallions, sliced thin
4 to 6 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. Balsamic or Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
2 tsp. ground Cumin
1/2 to 1 tsp. ground Chili Powder (I used Ancho )
1/8 cup Parsley, Cilantro and Basil, minced
Dash of Hot Sauce (I used Cholula )

Mix all ingredient together in a 4 quart bowl.  Adjust seasoning to your liking and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.  I sometimes add more seasoning after this.  Serve cold garnished with an herb sprig and diced avocado if you like. 

Hint: if you toast the ground Cumin and ground Ancho chili powder in a small skillet for a minute or two it will add a nice rich flavor to the soup.

This bowl is one of several that I picked up at an estate sale.  I paid all of $2.00 for six of them.  It was perfect for my lunch today and made my soup look very special.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Caprese Salad

Our Heirloom tomatoes are really producing now that the weather is sunny.  Yesterday I made this Caprese Salad for our lunch.  It was so pretty I took a picture of it.

Red, Green and Yellow tomatoes dressed with one of my favorite olive oils, Meyer Lemon Olive Oil;  I used a Buffalo Mozzarella cheese from Trader Joe's and Genovese Basil picked fresh from my garden.  Finish with a sprinkle of sea salt and some fresh ground pepper. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

My Morning Pickings

Here is what I picked from my garden today.  Lots of tomatoes coming in now.  The sun is finally shining again.  We have been covered with a Marine layer for the last few weeks and I was beginning to wonder if I would ever see the sun again.  It has set the tomatoes back a bit, I think. 

Banana Legs Tomato, Pickling Cucumbers, Anaheim Chili Peppers, Unknown green/yellow Tomato ( might be a Burpee Pineapple Tomato), Estiva Tomato, and Purple Calabash Tomato. Sun grape red Tomato and golden Sweet Hybrid Yellow Grape Tomato along with a  Cherry Tomato.  Also a few Debarao Plum Tomatoes.  This plant is loaded and looks to be a winner.  I am so impressed with Estiva too, the plant holds at least 6 tomatoes on each stem.  It is a medium salad tomato.  I will repeat these two next year for sure.

Heading out to pick Patty Pan and Zucchini Squash, Basil and Tomatillo's next.

I have been so busy in the garden this month.  Hope you all are having a productive summer!