Sunday, April 30, 2006

Not Quite Apple

This mystery pie was baked to take to a neighbours pre parade party. Without revealing the filling, we asked everyone who tasted to identify the fruit. The responses went like this. “Not quite apple, mango, peach, star fruit, guava?” No. Then there was one guy who upon close scrutiny identified the tomatoes by the colour, texture and seeds then went on to deny his conclusion, “ but its not a tomato pie.” And so it went with every guest who tasted it. This is the way Susan Purdy introduced the recipe, as she was put to the test the first time she tasted a green tomato pie.

adapted from “As Easy as Pie” by Susan G. Purdy.
Advance preparation: The pastry can be prepared ahead and frozen. Complete unbaked pies can also be frozen, though the texture is best when freshly baked.

Special equipment: 9 inch pie plate; pastry brush; large saucepan; colander; aluminium foil strips or frame
Baking time: 425 degrees for 20 minutes; 375 degrees
for 35 to 40 minutes.
Quantity: One 9 inch pie.
Unbaked pastry for 2-crust, 9-inch pie made with Basic All-Purpose Flaky Pastry or Cheddar Cheese Pastry Variation or Whole Wheat Pastry

Peeling the tomatoes is easy to do. Cooks note: I made an “x” on the bottom of each tomato before plunging it into the boiling water for one minute or a little longer. No ice bath necessary. Rest in a colander for a few minutes, core and peel. Some of my tomatoes were a blush color instead of green, but it did not seem to effect the flavour of the pie.

Green Tomato Pie
  • Egg glaze: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • 3 tablespoons crushed corn flakes or Rice Krispies cereal
  • 4 cups peeled, sliced green tomatoes,
    (5 to 6 medium-large tomatoes)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • Juice and grated zest of I lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 5 tablespoon flour plus I tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca

    1) Prepare your favourite pie pastry as directed. Note: when you choose a pie pastry I would not advise one that adds sugar as the crust browns very quickly with this pie baking technique. Roll out half of it, and line the pie plate. Refrigerate the remaining dough. Trim a 1/2 inch overhang on pie plate. Brush the lower crust with moisture-proofing egg glaze and sprinkle with cereal crumbs. Chill the pastry-lined pan in the refrigerator while preparing the filling.
    2) To peel the tomatoes, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut a cross shaped slit in the skin at the bottom of each tomato. Immerse the tomatoes in the boiling water 2 to 3 minutes. Drain in a colander, then cut around the stem ends and peel the skin. Quarter the tomatoes, then cut them in 3/8 inch thick slices and drain them thoroughly in a colander. Put the slices in a bowl.
    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
    3) Add to the tomatoes the sugar, grated zest and juice of lemon, the spices, flour and tapioca. Stir gently. Note that while tomatoes vary greatly, they all contain a lot of water. For this reason, sufficient thickener must be used or the pie will
    be too runny.
    4) Fill the pastry with the prepared tomato mixture. Brush egg glaze around the rim of the lower crust. Roll out the top crust and fit it over the fruit. Trim a 3/4 inch overhang. Fold the top edge under the bottom crust overhang and pinch together to seal, making a raised rim all around. Flute the edge as desired. Cut vent holes in the top. Brush egg glaze over the pie top and sprinkle lightly with a little granulated sugar.
    5) Set the pie in the lower third of the preheated oven and
    bake 20 minutes.
    Reduce the heat to 375 degrees, raise the pie to the centre
    of the oven, and bake an additional 35 to 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Check the pie after half the baking time and add a foil edging if necessary to protect the crust from over browning. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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  • Thursday, April 20, 2006

    Yellow Tomato Soup

    Have you ordered your garden seeds yet? If flowers are for the heart, tomatoes should be for the soul, your garden should have both. Tomatoes require so little from the gardener and for a small effort, you will be blessed with a bounty of fruit. In most cases once you start picking, sharing becomes a requirement, your neighbors will love you. If you need more convincing, just think back a few months to the taste and price of a store bought tomato, how horrible. So now order your seeds, prepare your ground and allow room for at least one yellow tomato plant. The joy of nurturing a garden is a good thing not to mention the delicious results in the kitchen. Pause just for a minute and feast your eyes. on this yellow tomato soup. Of course you can make it red as well.adapted from The Good Cook Techniques & Recipes
    Adapted from the editors of Time-Life books

    Italian Tomato Soup
    Minestra di Pomidoro
    To make crostini, saturate slices of bread with melted butter, spread them thickly with grated Parmesan and cook them in
    a moderate oven for 10 minutes. An anchovy fillet may be placed on each slice. Cooks Note: we normally don't use butter when making crostini, but use olive oil instead. Slice crusty Italian bread into rounds and place in the oven under the broiler till slightly brown about 2 minutes. Take the slices out turn them over and toast the other side. Then rub the toast with a garlic clove and drizzle or brush with olive oil.
    To serve 4
  • 1 1/2 Ib. tomatoes, peeled and chopped 3/4 kg.
  • 1/3 cup olive oil 75 ml.
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed 1
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, basil or rnarjoram15 ml.
  • 2 1/2 cups meat or chicken stock 625 ml.
  • salt and pepper
  • sugar
  • crostini (optional)
    Melt the tomatoes in the olive oil; add the garlic and the parsley or basil or marjoram. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the stock, salt and pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Cook for 5 minutes more only. By this method the flavor of the tomatoes is retained and the soup tastes very fresh. In the summer this soup can be eaten iced, accompanied by hot crostini of cheese and anchovy.
    Cooks note: Concerning the melting of the tomatoes.
    I agree that the tomatoes should not be over cooked, but I like the sweetness created by cooking off some of the liquid rather than adding sugar. To maintain a fresh tomato taste, I add a half a dozen medium tomatoes right at the end. Cook for five minutes, then run the whole works through a food mill to rid it of skin and seeds. I especially like the taste of fresh marjoram in this tomato soup but any bright flavoured herb or a blend of herbs will work just fine.

    Optional garnish of roasted red cherry tomatoes
    and sour cream.
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  • Tuesday, April 18, 2006

    The Glory and the Gory

    Easter Sunday was spent mostly in the kitchen preparing foods for the grand Easter buffet at “Shirley mom's” house. This recipe is one I rescued that morning from an old New York Times headed for the trash. Incredibly I had all the ingredients on hand to make it for the Easter dinner. This is a relatively easy cake that is rich and satisfying. Oh, and about the peep, don't feel bad that was a stale peep saved from last year. As we lingered around the table my niece, Lauren who is an extremely talented jewery and accessory designer could not contain her busy fingers for one more moment. The peep's demise is actually a performance piece made with strawberry sauce. No one need cry.
    Adapted from the New York Times Magazine article titled "The Way We Eat" March 5, 2006

    Lemon-Frosted Pistachio Cake
    For the cake:
  • 8 ounces butter
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup finely ground unsalted pistachios
  • 1 cup finely ground blanched almonds
  • Juice and finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teasoon rosewater
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

    For the icing:
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • crystallized rose petals and shelled pistachios, for garnish (optional).
    1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of an 8-inch nonstick cake pan with parchment paper.
    2) In a mixer fitted with a paddle, cream together the butter and superfine sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the ground pistachios and almonds. Add the orange juice, orange zest and rosewater, and mix well. Using a
    rubber spatula, fold in the flour; do not overmix.
    3) Scoop the mixture into the cake pan, and bake until the top is firm and a light golden brown, about 40 minutes. Lightly cover the top of the cake with foil and continue baking until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry, about 10 minutes. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for several minutes, then remove and cool on a rack.
    4) When the cake is cool, make the icing: mix the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice together in a small bowl, and pour over the cake. If desired, decorate with crystallized rose petals and pistachios. Allow the icing to set for 30 minutes before serving.
    Serves 12. Adapted from "The Kitchen Diaries," by Nigel Slater.
    Cooks notes: Instead of using the rosewater I used one teaspoon of vanilla extract (the rosewater reminds me of the perfume worn by old ladies in church) I also replaced this icing with a seven minute boiled lemon icing based on a Fanny Farmer recipe. The cake improved with age and could be made one day ahead of time. If making a day ahead I would wait to ice and decorate before serving. Fresh pansies from our garden were used in place of the crystalized rose petals. If you are really energetic I believe pansies can also be crystalized. We did not eat the fresh pansies. Keep your eye on the baking cake! My cake was well done in 35 minutes, his recipe bakes for a total of 50 minutes.
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  • Friday, April 14, 2006

    Easter Wishes

    in 2003 we heard about these controversial easter baskets that were being pulled off the shelves of stores in Florida. Of course I ran immediately to the local Wall Mart which I rarely set foot in. Here I found rows of Easter baskets whose chocolate bunnies and peeps had been taken over by buff super action soldiers complete with automatic weapons and explosives. Protests were happening around the nation against the ideas of war and religion being tossed together in a cute little baskets of m&m’s and skittles. A woman in new york “miss bunny” who dressed in a bunny outfit and held a sign reading “there’s someone in my Easter basket... and its GI Joe was arrested by police. After a bit of public outcry these baskets were taken off the shelves of big chain stores. Protesting in this case resulted in the action of big corporations to comply with the wishes of their customers. We wish the soldiers could be pulled from iraq as quickly as these baskets were taken off the shelves of big chain stores like Wall mart and K-mart.
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    Saturday, April 01, 2006

    A Tomato Tradition

    There is something to be said about personal traditions. I am not speaking of the mandatory traditions, associates of the big calendar holidays, Christmas, Hanukkah, Halloween, Easter and so forth. Although I do believe it is ok to endorse any tradition if it brings you happiness. A tradition that develops in you own home or community for what ever reason enriches the day. I pose this question by way of example to explain my thoughts. “What becomes more memorable, the yearly Thanksgiving dinner or your uncles one speciality; the "Pepto- Bismol” coloured cranberry condiment?” Hence you have a tradition to look forward to and speak of later.

    Food perhaps has the richest traditions of all traditions, in part it defines a culture. The seasons preside over food traditions; the planting and harvest are the king and queen of festivities. March in Florida means my tomato vines are yielding in abundance. Having a small yard, my garden is limited to containers, I usually grow three to four pots with different varieties and one pot is always a cherry tomato (sweet 100’s my preference). If you are an experienced tomato grower you understand the dilemma of having a kitchen full of ripe tomatoes. Hence our spring tradition of tomato cobbler, our favourite cherry tomato recipe.

    Mixed Tomato Cobbler With Gruyere Crust
    Serves 8
    Adapted From Martha Stewart Living March 2000
    Resist temptation and allow the cobbler to cool to room temperature before serving so tomato juices have time to collect.

  • 2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups grated gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup ( 2 sticks ) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold, cut
    Into pieces
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds assorted cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • Pinch of fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg
    1) In the bowl of a food processor, combine 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, and 1 cup cheese. Add 1 cup butter; process until mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.
    2) With machine running, pour ice water ( about 1/4 cup ) little by little through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without becoming wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test squeeze a small amount together; if it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
    3) Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each into a disk; wrap in plastic. Transfer to refrigerator; chill 1 hour or overnight.
    4) Melt remaining tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook stirring occasionally, until translucent and softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool slightly.
    5) Place tomatoes in a large bowl toss with the remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar, and the basil and pepper . When the onion mixture is cooled, add to the tomato mixture and toss to combine. Transfer mixture to a deep 9 1/2- or 10-inch pie dish. Set aside.
    6) Heat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out half the dough into a circle 1 inch larger than the pie dish. Remaining dough may be frozen up to 1 month. Transfer rolled dough to top of dish; tuck in edges to seal make 3 to 4 small slits in crust; form a decorative edge if desired. In a small bowl, mix egg with 1 teaspoon water brush egg glaze over crust; sprinkle crust with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Place pie dish on baking sheet to catch drips; bake until crust is golden and insides are bubbling, about 50 minutes. Let cobbler cool before serving. Note I like this pie best when it is still warm, makes a great side dish.

    Additional notes for recipe:
    If tomatoes are extremely juicy add more flour.
    If the tomatoes don’t seem sweet add a bit more sugar.
    Short on basil, us a combination of parsley, thyme and oregano.
    A low casserole dish works better than a pie pan to contain the bubbling juices.

    As a reminder; If you live in the northern climes now is the time to buy your tomato seeds, I like the vast offerings of “Totally Tomatoes”.
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