Monday, June 23, 2014

Savoring the Season: Roasting and Preserving Paste Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a funny thing.  If you enjoy tomatoes then you are easily lured into growing them.  It can be a rewarding experience, or not.  You will surely learn to share your bounty with Mother Nature and all her friends (BUGS and WORMS).  Last season I was on a kick to preserve my tomato bounty without any regard to the varieties being grown in my garden. What is a "duh" moment now alluded me last season.  Are you ready?  Paste tomato varieties are meaty and flavorful.  More importantly they really stand up to roasting.

Fast forward to this season.  I decide to select a variety of tomatoes that include a small paste tomato called Gilberte and the famous Italian variety San Marzano which is considered to be one of the world's best sauce tomatoes.  A glass of wine in hand, it is time to jump online and head over to my favorite seed company High-Mowing and order up my first ever tomato seeds. For the first time I have grown my own tomato seedlings and have close to 40 seedlings that need to be transplanted.  This where my husband rolls his eyes…..I am the only one in the family who enjoys tomatoes.  Go figure!

The first harvest is the small and hearty Gilberte paste tomatoes with a couple Tequila Sunrise peppers thrown in for show.

Halved, with fresh garden onions, garlic and a couple of garden peppers.  Seasoned with basil, oregano, sea salt and fresh ground black pepper and then tossed with olive oil.  Roasted in a pan at 450 degrees for about 30-40 minutes.

Yields pure heaven 

Ready to be processed in a blender.  Served hot wth good pasta or put into freezer bags to be enjoyed long after the season is over.  Can you guess which one I did?

My San Marzano tomatoes are just ripening.  I will let you know how they work out.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Easy Southern Peach Cobbler

Cobblers hands down are one my favorite desserts.   On any given occasion that calls for baking or dessert making,  I leave the task to my husband who can without a doubt work his magic in the kitchen.  This time was different I needed a peach cobbler recipe to call my own.  The journey began with exchanging ideas with friends and co-workers, then there was the endless streams of You Tube Videos, recipe sites and blog posts.  Did I mention the numerous recipe attempts in my kitchen that were failures? Oh, those too.  What was clear, is there are a MILLION delicious ways to prepare a peach cobbler.  

After several attempts with no success, I came across a basic recipe for peach cobbler and with a little improvising (buttermilk for milk, the addition of cinnamon and vanilla) turned out to be a delicious version that I can proudly call my own with "Easy to prepare"  being the key phrase.

Southern Peach Cobbler
Serves 6-8
Recipe adapted from

1/2 cup butter (1 stick) 
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup self-rising flour
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (29 ounce) can sliced peaches in light syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F ( 175 degrees C).  Place butter in a deep 2 quart baking dish and place in oven to melt.

In a medium bowl, mix sugar and flour.  Stir in buttermilk, a little at a tme, until mixed well.  Add vanilla and cinnamon. Stir again until just mixed.  Pour carefully over melted butter in dish. DO NOT STIR.  Spoon peaches and syrup over batter.

Bake in oven 40 to 45 minutes, or until crust is puffed and golden.