Sunday, September 28, 2014

Forgotten Skills with...Tomatoes!

Several years ago Dominique bought a book by an Irish cook and writer called Forgotten Skills.  As suggested by the title, it's about certain lost or at least wandering aimlessly cooking arts, like canning, bread making, and pickling.

We're a little bit intimidated by this book but a week or so ago I bought a bushel of tomatoes from the Amish farmer who supplies our herd share products.  Not knowing exactly what a bushel looked like, I almost left the farm with only one of these big boxes.  Fortunately (?), someone set me straight and I took them both home with me.

Now what?  Keep in mind, I don't even really like tomatoes that much, although a sliced heirloom with fresh mozzarella and basil is wonderfully cool, juicy and delicious for a summer lunch.  And we did serve up a few this way.

For the rest, I turned to Forgotten Skills and put them up in 2 ways.  First and easiest is halving or quartering them and slow-roasting them in the oven.  Her recipe calls for 100 degrees for 5-6 hours, but my oven felt only tepid at that temperature and I cranked it to 250.  We've been serving these roasted tomatoes as a side for breakfast and our guests seem to be loving them.

Another way to dispatch lots of tomatoes is to make tomato paste.  Tomato preparation is nearly identical to roasting:  clean, core, and quarter.  Before dumping them all into a big pot, you cut a few onions and give them a little warm up in some oil.  Then you let the whole thing cook for a very long time until it's as thick as you want it to be.  Forgotten Skills calls for a food mill to mush it up but we don't have one and I thought the immersion blender did a fine job.  Our paste isn't nearly as thick as that which you get in those tiny cans but it's so flavorful and has a wonderful texture.

I made a final batch of roasted tomatoes today and about halfway through the cooking I needed to bake a loaf of banana bread for an hour so I just turned up the heat and put it in with the tomatoes.  They look ever-so-slightly burnt around the edges and drier than the previous batch.  I have a feeling they're going to be even better and more flavorful.

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