Now that autumn is just around the corner, I wanted to share a great tip about storing tomatoes. One year I planted 3 San Marzano tomato plants and I had so many tomatoes, it was impossible to cook them all. I was still getting baskets of tomatoes in late September, so I had to find a solution.
After picking another basket of beautiful San Marzanos, I just took them and put them into a gallon freezer bag and put them into the freezer. No washing, no fuss and they were still warm from the garden.
About two weeks later I remembered them and was expecting the worse, but when I took them out to make a sauce, they were perfect. I put a little bit of lukewarm water on them and the skins came right off and I then chopped them and made a wonderful sauce. They had lost none of their flavor.
The only important thing to remember, is that this will only work for tomatoes you plan on using for cooking, as the texture will not be suitable for slicing.
I picked my last batch in early October and then used them in March of the following year. They had been frozen for almost 6 months and they were lovely.
Staying with our Asian theme, here is a favorite dish of mine. I wanted to find a way to make it without the ground pork, so it would have all of the flavor I love, but without the heaviness and greasiness of the pork.
It has a few critical ingredients, which might take a bit of time to find, but once you have them you will have enough to make this dish many times.
I have divided it into four steps to make it easier to follow. Give the recipe a quick read, so you know what ingredients to have prepared prior to starting cooking.
Combine these ingredients into a small mixing bowl and mix thoroughly, and set aside.
½ cup Vegetable Broth
1 Tbsp Chili and Garlic Paste
2 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
2 tsp Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Cornstarch
Preheat your wok until hot and then add 3 Tbsp of oil and stir fry the garlic, ginger, mushrooms and green onions until just slightly softened.
3 Tbsp Oil
4 cloves of Garlic, minced
1 inch piece of fresh Ginger root, peeled and minced
6 Tbsp fresh Shitake Mushrooms finely chopped.
6 Green Onions, chopped, white part only. Set the green bits aside for dressing the dish at the end.
Add in the black beans, peppercorns and chili bean paste and sauté briefly.
1 Tbsp Fermented Black Beans, mashed.
1 tsp Szechuan Peppercorns, ground. These are critical, so keep looking until you find them.
1 Tbsp Chili Bean Paste, also called doubanjiang
Add the tofu and gently toss for 1 -2 minutes. Then add the vegetable broth mixture and gently toss until the dish thickens. Sprinkle the reserved green onions on top as garnish and serve with white of brown rice.
14 oz Firm Tofu, cut into ¾ inch cubes
When I crave Chinese food, this is the flavor I want, spicy, sour, sweet and savory. I believe that\’s why this dish is so popular, as it gives you most of the essential tastes combined into one dish.
1 Tbsp of Hot Bean Paste
After cutting the tofu, mix in the hot bean paste and set aside.
1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
Prepare the sauce mixture just before beginning to cook and set it aside.
6-8 dried whole Red Chilies
1 inch piece of fresh Ginger Root, peeled and minced
I love chili, and I am very committed to making it in an authentic manner. I really enjoy vegetarian chili. I like the bold tastes, but appreciate the lower fat and the no meat aspect.
I have a couple of versions of this, depending on what I have in the pantry. This is the basic recipe and then feel free to add whatever you like. I’ll include some optional items at the end to spur your creativity.
3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 large Onion, chopped
3 tsp of Salt
1 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
1 large Yellow Pepper, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 large Red Pepper, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 Large Orange Pepper, chopped into 1 inch pieces
4 cloves of Garlic, whole
4 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Ground Chipotle Peppers, optional
1 Tbsp Hot Smoked Paprika
1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
1 4 oz can of fire roasted Green Chilies
1 15 oz can of Black Beans, including juice
1 15 oz can of Pinto Beans, including juice
1 cup of fresh or frozen Corn
2 32oz cans of crushed Tomatoes
1 bottle of Dark Beer
Get out your large stock pot or cast iron pot, as you want this to cook slowly. Add the oil to the pan and heat it up and then add the onions, salt and pepper and sauté until the onions start to slightly caramelize.
Then add the peppers and do the same. When they are really soft, add the garlic cloves and sauté for one minute of so and then add the dry spices. Carefully cook and keep stirring until the rawness of the spices are gone.
Now add each of the remaining ingredients, stirring as you add each one. When they have all been added, bring it up to a simmer and then reduce the heat down and let it simmer gently for 2-3 hours. Serve with grated cheese or sour cream and some finely chopped green onions. Add hot sauce as desired.
Sweet Potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
Carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
Lima Beans, 1 cup
Garbanzo Beans, 15oz can
Red Beans, 15 oz can
Allow to cool thoroughly before serving.
This is a fun dish to prepare and it’s great for kids. It’s more Tex Mex, than true Mexican, but it’s tasty, hearty, healthy and painlessly vegan.
This can easily be prepared ahead of time and then popped into the oven when you are ready to eat. If it’s coming right out of the refrigerator, give it an extra 5 – 10 minutes in the oven.
2 cups of Boca Crumbles or similar.
3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 medium Onion, chopped
2 cloves of Garlic, chopped
1 tsp Salt, omit if Taco Spice has salt.
3/4 cup Corn, frozen is fine.
2 Tbsp Taco Spice, or Chili Powder
1 15 oz can of diced Tomatoes
1 15 oz can of Pinto or Black Beans
Daiya Cheddar shreds
Black Olives – Optional
Preheat your oven to 375 and then add oil to a sauté pan. Add in onion, garlic, salt and sauté until translucent, then add corn. Sauté for 3-5 min.
Add Boca Crumbles and taco spice. Sauté until heated through. Add in tomatoes and beans and cook until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.
Add a layer of the mix to the bottom of an oven proof baking dish, and then layer on the corn tortillas, a bit of the cheese and continue layering until you reach the top.
Finish with additional cheese, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes and serve.
Note: If you can not find fresh corn tortillas, you can substitute tortilla chips, but use unsalted chips.
I have made this bread so many times and it really is easy. I found it in a book called “Bread, from sourdough to rye”. It is a very comprehensive book and well worth a look.
I have made it hand formed and also in square loaf pans. I find it works best with the square Pullman loaf pans, and I have also made it in the bread machine.
Just a couple of basic things to remember:
1) Make sure your yeast is fresh.
2) Make sure your water is not to hot, otherwise it will kill the yeast.
4 1/2 cups AP Flour
1 1/2 tsp of sea salt
1 3/4 cups tepid water
0.6 oz of cake compressed yeast or one package of active dry yeast
1 Turkey basting bag – Optional
Mix the flour, sea salt into a bowl. If it is cold, warm the flour in a microwave for 15 seconds.
If you are using compressed yeast, then crumble it into your tepid water, if you are using the packet of active dry yeast, then sprinkle that into the flour mixture, not in the water.
Now either pour the yeast and water mixture into the flour mixture and mix with your hands, or just add the 1 3/4 cups of tepid water if you are using the active yeast.
If you are using a bread machine, just follow the instructions, as you will now have put in the dry and wet ingredients and the machine should take over from here.
Work with your hands until the dough comes together. If it feels a bit tacky, then add a bit of extra flour, working one tablespoon at a time. Vice versa, if it is a bit crumbly add in additional tepid water one tablespoon at a time.
Knead the dough on a surface with a bit of flour to stop it from sticking, but not too much flour, for 10 minutes until it feels elastic and has a sheen.
Put the dough into a large bowl and cover with plastic cling wrap and put it in a warm place. It will take between 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours depending on the temperature in the room.
Once it has risen punch it down with your fist and then gently shape it into a circle and place on a greased loaf pan. Do not handle too much.
Slip the loaf pan into a large plastic bag and just seal it off. A turkey basting bag is ideal for this purpose, and they can be reused. Or if going to put into a square Pullman pan, just form it and then cover the Pullman pan with plastic cling wrap. After approx. 1 hour, the loaf should have doubled again.
Place it into a preheated 425 degree over and bake for 35 minutes until golden brown. Let it cool fully before slicing.
Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheets and then move to racks to finish cooling. Serve with ice cold milk and enjoy!
This is so simple, and is a standard quick meal in most homes in Italy. It’s a late night, “come home and throw it together after drinking” pasta When I need a quick meal that satisfies and gives me a great garlic fix, this is it.
Normally I start the water, and by the time it’s boiling, the rest of the dish is already cooking and almost ready to go.
1 lb. of pasta, this is a perfect dish for linguine, spaghetti or even fettuccine. Avoid the tube pasta, as they tend to take on a bit to much oil.
6 Tbsp. of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. of freshly chopped Garlic
3 Tbsp. fresh Parsley, chopped
Fresh ground Black Pepper
Start the water and add salt to the water. Use more salt than usual, because salt does not dissolve well in olive oil, so we will not be adding any to the olive oil mixture.
Add all of the other ingredients into a small sauté pan and gently cook them while the pasta is cooking. Do not overheat, or the garlic will brown and get bitter. Chop the parsley and set aside.
This would be perfect with an Italian white wine like Pinot Grigio or Gavi.