THE MAGIC OF SUN DRIED TOMATOES . . . preserving the magic of summer all winter long

IMG_3627Through the halcyon days of summer I plundered the garden for the fattest, juiciest,  reddest of red tomatoes.  The days shortened.  Marine fog drifted across the fields poking destructive fingers into the garden.    Time to harvest the tomatoes, ripe or green.    The heady fragrance of tomato leaves surrounded me as I  filled my basket with these last jewels of summer.IMG_3621-001The green tomatoes were tucked single layer in closed cardboard boxes.  As they changed colour out they came to sit in a bright window.  Taking the sun.    I had already frozen tomatoes for soups and stews.  These tomatoes were to be oven roasted and frozen.

IMG_3626I cut the little cores out.   Sliced the tomatoes in half.  Placed them in parchment lined pans ( saves scrubbing pans ).   The tomatoes were sprinkled with a little coarse sea salt and freshly ground black paper.  Then  with a breeze  of olive oil and graced with whole sprigs of fresh thyme.

IMG_3634Roast the tomatoes at 275F for about five hours.  Then increase the oven temperature to 300F for the last hour.  Watch these little darlings.  The smaller tomatoes will brown faster and should be removed.  You don’t want them to become dry and brittle.  Toss the dried thyme.    Store the tomatoes in plastic freezer containers with layers of parchment papers between the slices.  Five pounds of fresh tomatoes will reduce down to about one pound.

IMG_3639It really is like magic!   Oven roasted tomatoes on pizza are  nothing short of divine.     Tossed in pasta dishes they are brilliant shots of colour and flavour.      Roasted tomatoes in the humblest of sandwiches takes the sandwich to delicious heights.  Or try coarsely chopped roasted tomatoes  and goat cheese on a baguette.

Bon Appetit dear friends.

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Posted in Appetizers and Starters, Baking, Breakfast and Brunch, Christmas Food Ideas, pizza, Vegetables | Leave a comment

CRANBERRY, APPLE AND WALNUT CAKE

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This is one of those desserts masquerading as something it is not.   It’s baked in a pie plate.  It looks like a pie.   But it is a delicious,  easy peasy cake.    The inspiration comes from  Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame,  one of my most favorite cook-book authors.

This is the cake to whip up when you just can’t face another pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.    It’s an absolutely doodle to make.  It simply hums along when you serve it with morning coffee.   It is so rewarding.   Combing tart cranberries and apples with a sweet cake topped with walnuts and cinnamon sugar.    Could you ask for anything more?  Of course.  Top your slice of goodness with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

(chef’s note:  If you use frozen cranberries defrost before adding to your cake)

CRANBERRY, APPLE AND WALNUT CAKE
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: cake
Cuisine: dessert
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: 8
A quick and easy to make cold weather cake delicious with morning coffee o rserved as a dessert with ice cream.
Ingredients
  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen (defrosted and drained) cranberries
  • 1 Honey Crisp or Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup lightly packed light- brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1¼ teaspoons cinnamon - divided
  • 2 extra-large eggs or 2 large eggs and 1 egg yolk at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ pound (4 oz) unsalted butter melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped roasted walnuts
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine in a large bowl the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon. Give it a good stir and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the eggs on medium for two minutes.
  4. Add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the melted butter, vanilla and sour cream and beat on medium until combined.
  5. Add the flour and salt and mix on low speed JUST until combined.
  6. Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate. Pour the batter over the fruit covering it completely.
  7. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar, the chopped roasted walnuts and ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter.
  8. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes until a tooth-pick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Posted in Christmas Food Ideas, Desserts, Desserts and sweets | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

AMARETTI COOKIES . . .

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An Amaretti cookie is a cookie with attitude.    It is an elegant bite of crunchy, chewy wonderfulness,   heady with the perfume of almonds,  perfect with exactly the right amount of sweetness. Amaretti cookies are definitely not your common, home-baked … Continue reading

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ZUCCHINI AND SWISS CHARD GRATIN

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All through the long and glorious summer the garden  rewarded us with fresh, fresh vegetables.  I  walk from the kitchen across the long stretch of grass and into the garden.  It is another world of vegetables going quietly about their … Continue reading

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ZUCCHINI FRITTERS WITH FETA

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I have a magic  zucchini factory in the garden.   One minute beautiful yellow flowers, then POOF elegant slender zucchini. .  They can be served as an hors d’oeuvre or a starter course.  They don’t need a sauce.  Simply sprinkle some … Continue reading

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DECADENT DATE SQUARES … aka MATRIMONIAL SQUARES

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I will never forget the first time I tasted date squares.  I was still in public school.    My best friend’s Mom was an excellent cook and baker.   One day after-school she served us a treat that  had me over the … Continue reading

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CHICKEN LIVER PATE WITH FRESH HERBS

IMG_3331You know when Edith Piaf is singing in your kitchen something wonderful will be cooking on the stove.  But first you must wander  into the garden and snip a basket of fresh herbs … some sage, a little marjoram and a few branches of thyme.  These fragrant herbs are the stars of this chicken liver pate that is dead simple to whip up,  costs next to nothing and is very, very French.

HERBED CHICKEN LIVER PATE is best served a day or two after you’ve made it.  You can also freeze half the recipe, which makes it just about the most perfect “appy” to have on hand.

This recipe has you simmering the chicken liver in melted butter just until it turns pink. Then everything is turned out into a food processor and puréed until silky smooth.  It really is easy as one-two-three.   Serve is with lots of crusty bread or crackers.

CHICKEN LIVER PATE WITH FRESH HERBS
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: Appetiser
Cuisine: French
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: 8-10
A buttery rich, silk smooth chicken liver pate seasoned with fresh garden herbs. It's super easy to make and costs next to nothing.
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup (6 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tb finely chopped garlic (l large garlic clove)
  • 1 lb chicken livers - trimmed
  • 1 generous tsp minced fresh thyme (or ¼ tsp dried)
  • 1 generous tsp minced fresh marjoram (or ¼ tsp dried)
  • 1 generous tsp minced fresh sage (or ¼ tsp dried)
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg (do not use dried)
  • a couple of pinches of powdered cloves
  • a couple of pinches of cayenne pepper,
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper (or more to taste)
  • 4 tbsp brandy, sherry, port
Instructions
  1. Melt ½ cup (4 oz) butter in a large skillet over moderate heat.-
  2. Add the onion, garlic and ¾ tsp salt stirring until softened - about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the herbs, pepper, seasonings and livers and cook stirring until livers are cooked outside but still pink when cut open - about 8 minutes. It is important you do not over- cook the livers. I like to see them still pink around the edges. You are basically poaching the chicken livers in butter.
  4. Stir in the brandy, sherry or port and remove from heat.
  5. Puree mixture in food processor until smooth.
  6. Taste the pate for seasonings and add more brandy, salt and or pepper at this time.
  7. Transfer the pate to two 1 cup crocks or 4 small ramekins and smooth tops.
  8. Melt the remaining ¼ cup (2 oz) butter in a very small saucepan over low heat, then remove pan from and heat and let butter stand 3 minutes. If you are using the small ramekins you may need a little more butter.
  9. If using herb garnish put sprig on top of pate.
  10. Skim froth from butter, then spoon enough clarified butter over pate to cover its surface, leaving milky solid in bottom of pan.
  11. Chill pate until butter is firm, about 30 minutes then cover with plastic wrap and chill at least for 2 hours. Pate will keep well in refrigerator for one week. Once butter seal has been broken cover its surface with plastic wrap.
  12. To freeze double wrap with plastic wrap. To use defrost in refrigerator for 4 -5 hours.
  13. T

 

 

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Posted in Appetizers and Starters, Baking, Breads, Chicken, Christmas Food Ideas, Fish and Seafood, Recipes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

PORK RIBS ASIAN STYLE

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More than forty  years ago ROXY’S BISTRO served French cuisine with a decided Asian flavour.  Today they call it fusion.  We called it “Andy’ style”.   WHERE TO EAT IN CANADA listed ROXY’S BISTRO in the one hundred best restaurant … Continue reading

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ORANGE CHOCOLATE GLAZED COTTAGE CAKE

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Bundt cakes generally have a dense crumb the better to hold the exotic turban shape of the bundt pan.  This is also the reason that bundt cake pans have a centre hole.  It allows the cake to bake more evenly.  If you haven’t a bundt cake pan an angel food cake pan will do the job.

To show off the bundt cakes beguiling curves we serve the cake up-side-down.  If the cake cooks too quickly or the oven is too hot the cake will develop a decided hump on the top crust.   You’ll have to slice this off but it does make nice nibbling for the cook.  Baking this cake ( or practically any other cake) at a 325F temperature instead of the suggested 350F generally eliminates this problem.  Start checking your cake after 35 minutes to see if your tester comes out dry.  Be prepared to bake your cake (depending on the size) for up to an hour or more.    When you start smelling the delicious aroma of  cake you know your it is just about ready to  come out of the oven.  The cake should have shrunk ever so slightly away from the edges of the pan.

 

 

ORANGE CHOCOLATE GLAZED COTTAGE CAKE
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: easy to make bundt cake
Cuisine: baking
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: 12-14
Two pans and basic pantry ingredients make this a simple to make cake. The crumb is fragrant and dense and the ganache glaze compliments the fresh orange flavour,
Ingredients
  • for the pan
  • 1 tbsp soft unsalted butter
  • 1½ tsp all-purpose flour
  • for the batter
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp orange zest
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp kosher sea salt
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup canola oil
  • ⅔ cup strained orange juice (2 oranges) at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • for the glaze
  • ⅔ cup finely chopped bittersweet, semi-sweet or dark chocolate
  • ⅓ cup whipping cream (35% cream)
  • 2 tsp honey or light corn syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Arrange rack in center of oven.
  2. Brush the inside of a 10-cup Bundt pan, two 5-cup double Bundt pans, or a large tube pan with the mixture of blended butter and flour.
  3. In a large bowl rub and sugar and orange zest with hands to release the natural oil.
  4. Whisk in the flour, baking powder and salt.
  5. In a second large bowl whisk eggs then add the oil, orange juice, buttermilk and vanilla and whisk again to combine.
  6. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir JUST until combined.
  7. Pour into prepared pan (pans)
  8. Bake until a tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 60 minutes.
  9. If you are using the double Bundt pans your cooking time will be shorter. Start checking at 35 minutes. The large pans will take longer.
  10. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for twenty minutes, then turn out and cool another forty minutes.
  11. to make the glaze
  12. Place the chopped chocolate into a small bowl.
  13. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until bubbles start to form. Watch carefully.
  14. Pour over the chocolate and let stand one minute. Stir until smooth.
  15. Stir in the honey or corn syrup then drizzle generously immediately over cake.

 

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Posted in Baking, Breakfast and Brunch, Desserts | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

CRUNCHY SPICED CHICKPEAS

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This is a Mediterranean version of Japanese wasabi peas.  Perfect for serving with cocktails.   They are salty, spicy, lemony and loaded with fresh herbs.    My herb garden is lush with these aromatic herbs, a perfect time to make … Continue reading

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