August 2010 Archives

Fresh Tomato Salsa Recipe

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another macro salsa 2.jpgIf you don't have fresh local tomatoes grown outside in the sunshine, don't bother making this recipe.  I'm not being a tomato snob, I'm really not.  With recipes where you roast or cook tomatoes you can coax more flavor out of less than stellar fruits, but when making recipes with fresh tomatoes you need the very best. 

I learned to make this fresh tomato salsa from my friend Norman's good friend Margie, about 19 years ago.   

Fresh Tomato Salsa

yields one big bowl of salsa

Ingredients:

6 ripe slicing tomatoes
1 small red onion
2 Serrano chilies
1 bunch cilantro, minced
1 lime
1/2 tsp salt


burnt skin 2.jpgMethod:

Cut the tomatoes width-wise, exposing the pockets of seeds, and over the sink or your compost squeeze the seeds out.  After removing the core, dice them into 1/2" pieces, put in a large bowl. 

Dice the red onion fine, and add it to the bowl with the tomatoes.    

Roast the Serrano chilies by pushing onto a skewer (metal or wood, doesn't matter) and hold over an open flame.  Turn the chilies around so all of the skin is charred.  Once the peppers are blackened and cooled enough not to give you a second degree burn from handling, rinse them in cold water, peeling the charred skin off.  Mince them into very fine bits and add them to the bowl.

Mince the cilantro very fine and add to the bowl with everything else.

Quarter the lime and squeeze it into the bowl.

Add the salt.

Now stir it up really well and eat it right away.


minced pepper 2.jpg
Recipe Notes:  I like it best eaten right away but Philip thinks it's best after sitting for a few hours.  It will become watery at the  bottom of the bowl.  The heat of peppers varies, Serranos are generally a pretty hot pepper but I've bought some that were a lot more mild than I was expecting.  This is usually a pretty mild salsa.  If you would like more heat: add more peppers. 

Check out our other salsa recipe:
Pico de Gallo


This is a vegan recipe.
This is a gluten free recipe.

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Baked Garlic Eggplant Recipe

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baked garlic eggplant 2.jpg
Like so many people I know I didn't love eggplant when I was growing up.  I didn't hate it but it was last on my list of vegetables to cook for myself when I left home because my mom didn't know how to turn the dry flesh into succulent eating.  I know how to do this now and the secret is simple.

FAT.

The first brilliant eggplant experience I had was when I was twenty five years old.  A friend came to Philip's birthday party for which we were making spaghetti and her gift was an eggplant.  I'm afraid we weren't particularly enthusiastic.  She took one look at our faces and decided that an eggplant in our hands might be a terrible thing so she marched into our little city kitchen and taught us how to make eggplant that no one could dislike.  There was butter and baking involved.  True to her word, we became fans of everything eggplant from that moment on.

I don't cook with butter very often.  I prefer olive oil.  Either way, the very best eggplant is always cooked with fat.  That's my opinion and no one will budge me from it.

This way of cooking eggplant will yield a very soft somewhat buttery flesh (even though it's made with olive oil) and renders the skin tender.  The garlic bakes until it's golden, rich, and has a mild nutty flavor.  If you like a firm eggplant treatment* you won't like this.  I think it's sublime put on a slice of good bread with stone-ground brown spicy mustard and a thin slice of mild nutty cheese (such as Fontina).  It can also be used to make a great eggplant spread or added to a pasta sauce.


Baked Garlic Eggplant Recipe


Ingredients:
4 small round eggplants (or 2 large ones)
1 whole head of garlic (two if the heads are very small)
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper


Method:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the tops off of all the eggplants and then cut them in half lengthwise.  Using a sharp knife cut slashes into the flesh diagonally- you want to cut down to about 1/2" from the skin.  Don't cut all the way through.  Then cut slashes diagonally in the opposite direction.  Put the halves onto a baking sheet.

Peel all the garlic cloves.  Leave small cloves whole but cut large ones in half lengthwise.  Divide them between all the eggplant halves evenly.  Stuff the garlic into the cuts in the eggplant. 

Drizzle the olive oil over the eggplant.  Use all of it.  Grind pepper onto the eggplant halves and sprinkle salt on them. 

Bake the eggplant for 40 minutes and then check it.  Baking times will depend on the size of your eggplants.  Even large ones should be done under an hour.  When the garlic and the top of the eggplants have turned golden and the flesh is soft when you press a fork into it, they're done.



Recipe Notes:  You can cook eggplant faster in a hotter oven but you won't get the melting quality of the flesh that way.  I love grilled eggplant but this recipe is about getting a succulence out of the eggplant that grilling (or roasting in a hotter oven) won't achieve. 





*Really?  If anyone truly likes a firm eggplant treatment, may I suggest they hightail it to Aberfoyle to the local time-share restaurant on the hill where you can get a plate of salad with raw eggplant in it.  I happen to love the Scottish best of all people on earth but I have to say that they do not know the proper treatment of an eggplant.  What can you expect of a restaurant that thinks chicken soup is vegetarian?  But really, I love Abberfoyle.  Nothing could be more charming than the tiny farm store at the bottom of the hill with the surly people in it and the scary dog.  I've been twice and will go again!

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