Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My mother picked a whole lot of tomatoes in advance of Irene, to keep them from being split/knocked off/etc, and then went out of town, so I got em. There must have been at least 100 - enough to cover my couch and couch-length coffee table, and then some. Here's a quickie guide to what I did with them.

Roasted puree: this was the base for nearly everything else, apart from tomato sandwiches and tomato pie. A single layer of whole tomatoes goes into a pan, drizzled with a little olive oil, and roasts at 350 for a few hours - until the volume has noticeably reduced. After cooling slightly, the tomatoes are pureed and then strained to remove seed/skin/core.

Why roast? It intensifies the flavor a bit - particularly with slightly underripe tomatoes or anything you get at the supermarket - but it also reduces the volume (good for storage) and does a lot of the cooking up front. The tomato sauces I made were finished in much less time for having roasted the tomatoes - a more hands-off step - in advance.

Kale in tomato sauce - nothing but chopped red kale cooked in tomato sauce instead of pork stock. Frankly, the kale was taking up too much room in the freezer, and this was a way to use it up.

Ketchup: I'm never thrilled with homemade ketchup, so tried to make this a little more interesting. Tomato puree and kimchi simmered for a while, pureed, strained; vinegar, sugar, ginger, celery seed, allspice, Worcestershire added; simmered until thick and ketchuppy.

Soup: tomato puree, carrots, kimchi, simmered, pureed, strained; okra, carrots, ginger, chopped tomato.

Creole sauce: onions, carrots, green pepper, chopped and sweated for a long time - 45 minutes? - in bacon fat; chopped tomato, tomato puree, Worcestershire, Tony Chachere's, hot sauce, bay leaves; simmer until thick.

Italian sauce: onions, green pepper, fennel, squash, chopped and sweated for a long time in olive oil and butter; tomato puree, oregano, basil; simmer until thick.

Pizza sauce: tomato puree, basil, oregano, marjoram, tomato leaves, fennel pollen, simmered until thick.

Creole tomato butter sauce: bay leaves simmered in tomato puree with Worcestershire, a little hot sauce, and sliced okra, until thick; heat turned off, two sticks of browned butter stirred in.

Strawberry tomato jam: sliced strawberries and chopped tomatoes (pulp removed), macerated in sugar and a pinch of salt for a day; simmered until the juices are released, then rested overnight; simmered with addition of lime juice until jam.

Tomato water: fresh tomatoes pureed and strained through a towel (you'll need to squeeze the towel eventually) to produce a mostly clear tomato liquid. Frozen for later use.

I'm sure I'm forgetting a couple things, in the blur of constant tomato cooking.

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