Thursday, August 25, 2011

For Better or Worse - Roasted Tomato Sauce

It was our anniversary last week, on Thursday, we had nothing in the house and planned to go out on Saturday night but I still wanted to make a nice dinner.

We had *nothing* in the house ... except ... a bowl of very ugly tomatoes. It all looked so promising. A week earlier I had taken these photos. See those huge, multi-forking branches of big, beautiful ready-to-ripen homegrown tomatoes?

heavy loadlooks promising

Well, a week later they looked like this! We've had a very, very rainy August and it was just too much for the dear things.

the ugly toms

Some had ripened enough though that I was able to trim off all the bad spots, a whole bunch of garlic and a few scallions for the best ever Roasted Tomato Sauce.

prep for roast tomato sauce

It's a breeze to make ...
hot peppers
To spice things up just a tad, I added one. Axel 
is not a fan of hot but I didn't even notice it. 
Tonight I'm going for two and hoping for just a 
tiny kick. We can all use a little spicing up, right?
  1. Cut tomatoes in half or quarters and squeeze out seeds (optional, the first batch I didn't, the batch I'm making for tonight I did - I think it will just make the sauce just that much smoother and more enjoyable.) Oh wait, "how many tomatoes?" you ask ... Enough that the bottom of the pan is covered. I used a 9" x 13" baking pan and it made enough sauce for four hearty servings.
  2. Peel and roughly slice four to five or more scallions.
  3. Peel as much garlic as you can stand - I probably used about 7-8 gloves and it was very garlicky but yummy good.
  4. Add a chili pepper if you like some heat.
  5. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and a healthy drizzling of olive oil.
  6. After about an hour at 200C / 400F it looks something like the middle picture, I gave it a stir and then just kept checking it every once in a while until it was starting to brown and most of the juices  had evaporated.
  7. Blend the sauce until it is smooth, serve over warm pasta and top with grated parmesan (or in my case now that we've discovered the source of all my tummy troubles - mature goat's cheese).
It turned out to be a lovely evening, Axel opened a couple bottles of wine and we devoured my peasant meal. Sometimes it pays to have nothing in the house, it's often my most creative moments. Not that roasted tomato sauce is all that original but it did make me feel better about losing that glorious crop. Better luck next year .. and here's to another 14. Cheers!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Zucchini Bread or Muffins

This simple recipe makes a wonderful, moist "bread" that's not too sweet.  The whole wheat flour adds a lovely nutty flavor and "healthy" color to the loaf.

zucchini slicesZucchini Bread

1-1/2 Cups / 300 g sugar
1 Cup / 235ml vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 Cups / 250 g all-purpose flour
1 Cup / 140 g whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups shredded zucchini
1 Cup / 100 g chopped walnuts or pecans - optional

Cream sugar and oil together. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add dry ingredients and mix well, the batter will be thick. Stir in zucchini

zucchini loavesBake at 350F / 175C for 45-55 minutes until golden brown and an inserted knife comes out clean.  Cool on wire racks for 15-20 minutes before removing from pan.  If baking muffins, check them at 25 minutes and monitor closely.

Makes two regular loaves or four mini loaves. I baked these in my Pampered Chef mini loaf pan and had enough batter left over for two ramekin-sized muffins.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mock Apple Pie / Zucchini Pie / Courgette Pie

Click here to skip to the Recipe

Call it what you like but it's good and is sure helpful when trying to use up a bountiful zucchini harvest. My mom used to make it, we all thought she was weird or at least a couple of us did. But then I was faced with her dilemna, a HUGE zucchini that just couldn't be eaten between the two of us no matter how I did the math. A few years ago, my neighbour gave me the infamous monster zucchini along with a recipe for soup which I still need to try but it was soo hot that summer that soup didn't sound good so I turned the oven on instead. Yep, who's weird now?

So I made "apple" pies and took one to my neighbours, but didn't tell them anything. Well, these lovely people have huge sweet teeth so when I asked if they liked it they just said "it wasn't so sweet." Well, I cracked and confessed that it wasn't apple pie. A week later they baked and brought me a cake ... a Bretagne Apple Tart .. hehe with whole apples in it .. there was no mistaking what kind of pie that was.

A few weeks later I made mock apple pie again and took it to a friends. The husband is a bigger apple pie freak than Axel. We served up the pie with whip cream and dug in. Eh, it was ok but not completely doing it for me. There is just something very strange about eating a pie that tastes like apple but you KNOW it's zucchini. About five minutes into his piece, we asked Andy what he thought, to which he declared "this is an apple, APPLE pie, yummm!" Axel and I nearly fell out of our chairs, offended Andy in the process and confessed again.

The impetus to nail this recipe came yesterday when I decided to make it to take along to a cooking evening with a bunch of other ladies who also harvest at our local CSA. We have an over-abundance of Courgettes (Zucchini) and Red Beets. In the course of our evening we made five different Red Beet recipes - but that's a whole other story.

In the meantime, I can report that the pie went down a success and a few ladies asked for the recipe. Normally I would happy pass on the one I used but after I started to follow it I discovered things which were just a bit wacky so I cut back on this, added that, changed another so I'm just calling this one my own and telling you how I did it.

Mock Apple Pie / Zucchini Pie / Courgette Pie

6-7 cups zucchini - peeled, seeded and chopped
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Cup / 220g packed brown sugar
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

One package puff/filo pastry or a prepared pie crust or your favorite pie crust recipe. Yesterday I used a puff pastry, it was lovely and I think it's firmness held the pie together very well.

Crumble topping: Cut together: 1-1/4 Cups / 150g flour, 1/3 cup / 70g sugar, 1/3 cup / 75g butter or margarine.
  1. Peel the zucchini, cut into quarters, cut out seeds (unless they're very young zucchini and then I don't bother) and chop into apple-pie like chunks. Toss these into a frying pan with the lemon juice and cook just until they're done and still firm enough to bite into. Pour into a sieve and allow to drain thoroughly while they're cooling.
  2. In a separate bowl (large enough for your zucchini later), mix together the remaining four ingredients. Add the cooked zucchini and mix well.
  3. Line 9-10" / 23-25cm spring-form with a pastry or the crust of your choice. Place the filling in the crust and sprinkle crumble mixture on top. If you're using a spring-form, pull the edge of the pastry away from the pan and fold down over the pie.
  4. Bake at 400F / 200C for about 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Tongue in cheek disclaimer: I FORGOT to take a picture of the pie I made yesterday. I was stressing all day that it was going to turn into Mock Apple Flop and I completely forgot. So my pie looked different, but we just won't let that get in the way. It looked close enough.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I say Zucchini, He says Courgette

I only ever remember my mom making zucchini bread or pan-frying them like this ... but without the garlic and onions. Just a splash of salt and pepper.

zucchini / courgette with red onion and garlic

And simple still tastes the best to me.  Chop on large-ish or several smalls, add a chopped red onion and a couple of gloves of garlic to a pan with a tad of butter. Don't overcook or stir them too much or they'll turn to mush. 

Tonight I even left out the salt and pepper and served them with rice, white fish and a fresh tomato salad - or toe-mah-toe salad as Axel would say.

If you think speaking "one" language at home should be easy .. think again .. we have had some funny moments and some frustrating ones.  We might say Tomato and Potato different but we spell it the same. If I'm looking for my purse, I better tell him it's my handbag that's missing. He keeps his purse in his back pocket while I keep my wallet in my purse.
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