Saturday, August 22, 2009

Preserving the Heat

After a few very strong summer storms, only one jalapeno pepper plant remains in our little backyard garden. Fortunately it's a prolific one and I picked 15 fairly large peppers the other morning.
We have a couple of ways to preserve these for use later in the year, but the best way is to freeze them. After being frozen, they're good for cooking in soups and casseroles.
Here's how I flash froze my harvest that day:
First I washed all the peppers, then dried each with a paper towel. I dried them so that when I freeze them, the pieces won't have ice on them.
Cut off the stem end and slice down the middle of the pepper.
Use a spoon and scoop out the ribs and seeds. This removes most of the heat - I like the heat, but Greg's not a fan.
Now there is just the pepper shell. I sliced these length-wise into thin strips, then cut the strips into small pieces.
Doing that left me with a nice tray of diced jalapenos. Place a piece of waxed paper on a cookie sheet before spreading the pepper pieces into a single layer.
Now place the tray in the freezer for a few hours. When the pieces are frozen, you can put them in a Ziplock bag and store in the freezer for later use.
I would so love to show you a photo of my freezer bag full of goodness, but when I got the tray out of the freezer in the garage and was walking into the house, I dropped it and all my pretty frozen pepper pieces landed in the doorway - some inside the house on the floor, some on the porch. I didn't even say a bad word - I was speechless...
Like I said earlier, it's fortunate this is a prolific plant. I will be able to put some peppers in the freezer in another few days, and will definitely be more careful walking around with the tray.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mexican Caviar

Yes, another tomato recipe - 'tis the season! :o)
I actually made this several weeks ago when my sister and her family were visiting, so I had to use store-bought tomatoes. It was still tasty, but I think with fresh-from-the-garden fruits, the flavor would be amazing!

Mexican Caviar
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
5 green onions, chopped
3 TBS olive oil
3 1/2 TBS tarragon vinegar
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chile peppers
1 (2.25 oz) can chopped black olives
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp salt
In a medium bowl, mix together all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight before serving.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Caprese Salad

One the of the simplest, tastiest ways to enjoy fresh tomatoes and basil is the classic Caprese salad. Jess and I had this with our supper the other night, using the first ripe tomato and some fresh basil from the garden.
I like to chiffonade my basil and sprinkle over the top of the sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Add a little salt and pepper, then a quick drizzle of olive oil.
This was a fresh and flavorful side dish that we served with grilled chicken.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tomato Time!

It's time for tomatoes from our garden. They're several weeks late this year, but we haven't had an abundance of hot weather all summer, and that's what they need. Anyway, late ripeners they may be, but they're finally red and finally ready for feasting!
I've posted a couple of tomato recipes in the past couple of years, including Roasted Tomato Soup and cheese topped tomato slices. We'll make these again, but I'm also trying some new things. Tonight was this cheese and tomato tart from Our Best Bites. It was easy to whip up with a purchased pie crust that was in the frig needing to be used.
Cheese and Tomato Tart
1 recipe for pie crust (or just use a pre-made pie crust if you're short on time)3/4 c. light sour cream (I had to use part sour cream, part plain yogurt)
1/3 c. light mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip)
1 Tbsp. coarse grain or Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 small onion, minced

4-5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

2-3 Tbsp. butter (I used 2 TBS olive oil, 1 TBS butter)

8 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded

3-4 fresh, ripe Roma tomatoes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare pie crust and place in the bottom of a 9" pie plate. Set aside (preferably in the fridge).

Heat butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic until tender and fragrant. Set aside and allow to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir in cheese. Set aside. (This is where I added the onions/garlic mixture. The recipe didn't say when to add them in.)

Slice tomatoes about 1/4" thick and layer in the bottom of the pie plate.
Top with cheese/sour cream mixture.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown and the top is bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to stand at least 30 minutes in order to set. Cut into 12 wedges and serve! This can be served by itself as an appetizer or with a spinach or Romaine salad with a light vinaigrette for brunch. Or a snack pretty much any time you want...

You can see that this was pretty wet, and not really set up when I cut it to serve for supper. Before putting it away in the frig, I did pour off some of the wetness, and hopefully it'll be firmer tomorrow.

It is very rich, so a small piece is a good idea. If I make this again, I'll add some fresh herbs to the cheese mixture.

Jessi's review: "It's different."