Sunday, September 02, 2007

towmaytoes, towmahtoes, mayders, mates

Because of the recent overcast my tomatoes blighted off, and so I've had to go out two months early and stop them...trim off ALL the leaves and ALL the growth ends. There were a fair amount of unusably blighted tomatoes on the vine as well, and those I hove out into the easement for the boids.

Still, I'm pleased with the return I got on my 6.00 investment. Yes, I punked out and bought plants. They weren't bad, either. This years' saladette was a bit sweeter than I care for, but nice and meaty. Oddly enough, my Burpee 'Boy' series beefsteak was a nice balanced fruit, quite a bit more emame than I'm used to getting from a beefsteak variety. Another nice feature was that the fruit came more flesh than seed and wasn't watery a bit. It turned out to be more useful around the kitchen than the saladette.

Most of both went towards sauce, as usual. And as usual, I messed around with my sauce method.

This time I think I have the sapsucker knocked.

The first thing I learned when I started messing with tomatoes is not to season the product. Tomato sauce is not mashed up tomatoes with stuff in's just mashed up COOKED DOWN tomato. You're making one brick, in other words, not the whole house. If you make it the first way you end up with something that tastes overwhelmingly of the additions, not the tomatoes. I don't even add salt. No onions, peppers, anything. Just tomato is the best way. You can add what you want later when you're using it in a recipe.

Previously I've simmered off the excess moisture, which was a mistake. I ended up with a weak, red, pulpy substance that tasted of tomato, not tomato sauce.

Next, I froze whole tomatoes and thawed them over the sink. This worked somewhat better. The clear sugary juice dripped off and I was left with a nice soft fruit I only had to squeeze in order to process-it slipped the skin and the seeds effortlessly. Still, once I'd tasted the resulting cooked pulp I noted that I was still missing a significant portion of the whole flavor. Tasting the cast fluid told me where a lot of it had gone...down the sink. Tasting the skin answered the rest of the question. Skin adds flavor and color... and I'm convinced that's where any individual varietals' particular taste is held.

The only method of tomato preservation that I've ever used that left me satisfied with the flavor was dehydration. Unfortunately, I killed my dryer. Oven drying requires special racks, which I would have been happy to buy or make...but the sheer mess of the prep involved in processing tomatoes for drying kept making me stall on that.

Suddenly it hit me like a bolt from the blue...dehydrate the slurry, dipshit.

This makes the best sauce I've ever put up. It tastes like tomatoes. Not 'tomato substance' but real tomatoes, that mouth-filling whole flavor. Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to give you

-Harvest and wash tomatoes. They should be full ripe (gel around the seeds will be red, not greeny-yellow clear.)

-Seed tomatoes...this is done by halving the fruit on it's equator. Then hold it in the palm of your hand over the sink, cut side down, and squeeze gently. The seeds will hang down or drop out. Any acrobats can be scraped away with a knife. You don't have to get them all. In fact, you don't even have to do this; I do because I like the mouth feel better without seeds.

-Process tomatoes - heave the tomato halves, skin on, into the Cuisinart and process until no longer in big chunks. It doesn't have to be perfectly smooth at this stage. A couple of whirls should do it. ( if using a blender, chop the tomato halves into smaller pieces and process in smaller batches.)

-Fill a baking pan-doesn't matter what shape- 2 inches deep with slurry, spread evenly

Put into cold oven and set to 275

Every 45 minutes or so, stir the slurry. It might take several HOURS for this to finish...depending on the juiciness of the tomatoes and the humidity of the house. Have another project going. ( This is a perfect opportunity to train your gimp!)

It is done when it is reduced by half. Cool, then run though the processor once again. (At this stage it may not go through a blender without a lot of scraping. You could also use a stand mixer on 'High' for three minutes.)

-Dump into Tupperwares and pop into the freezer!

This gives you a product with a consistency somewhere between canned tomato sauce and tomato paste. You can go the extra distance and reduce by 2/3 for paste, but this will mean stirring the sauce a little more frequently to ensure that it all gets cooked evenly and the edges don't burn.


Here is a recipe I'm going to make next is sooooooooooooo good!

The first recipe is reprinted from Martha Stewart Livings' website. It's a good recipe overall except for the pate brisee, which sucks. Instead, use the Joy of Cooking pate brisee recipe. (Rombauer-Becker 1975 is the best edition, in my opinion.) The times and methods transpose seamlessly.

The addendum is my super high-calorie version, which will rock your world like a bad mammer jammer. DAYUM it's good!!

BRITS AND OTHER GODLESS FOREIGNERS: please use the handy conversion charts* I've linked to below for nomenclature and measurements!

Tomato Tart Serves 8 (or two greedy piggies for dinner!)
1 head garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1/2 recipe Pâte Brisée
2 ounces Italian fontina cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 pounds firm but ripe tomatoes (4 medium), cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place garlic on a piece of
aluminum foil. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Wrap to
enclose garlic in foil, and place on a small baking
sheet. Bake until soft and golden brown and the tip of a
knife easily pierces the flesh, about 45 minutes. Remove
from oven; set aside. Raise oven temperature to 450°.
When garlic is cool enough to handle, using either your
hands or the dull end of a large knife, squeeze the
cloves out of their skins and into a small bowl; mash
with a fork, and set aside. Discard the papery skins.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a
1/8-inch-thick circle, about 12 inches in diameter. With
a dry pastry brush, brush off the excess flour; roll the
dough around the rolling pin, and lift it over a 10-inch
tart pan with a removable bottom. Line the pan with the
dough, pressing it into the corners. Trim the dough so
that it is flush with the edges; transfer to the
refrigerator to chill, about 30 minutes.

3. Spread roasted garlic evenly on the chilled crust.
Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Arrange the tomatoes on
top of the cheese, in an overlapping circular pattern.
Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining
cheese, and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.
Transfer to oven. Reduce temperature to 400°, and bake
until crust is golden and tomatoes are soft but still
retain their shape, 45 to 55 minutes. Transfer to wire
rack to cool for 20 minutes, and serve warm.

My version!! methods and times are the same as above.

Tomatoes sliced and drained, pate brisee shortened with salted schmalz. Smoked fontina cheese.
Spread for bottom:
-1/2 cup white onion, minced, BROWNED
-two tbl shallot, pressed, BROWNED
-1 tsp. garlic, pressed- raw
-olive oil to moisten
whir to paste with immersion blender


*here is a nifty Fahrenheit to Celsius conversion
dealie...just enter a number and click!

and here is a conversion chart for all kinds of shit,
including cooking nomenclature. scroll down to choose the
conversion category you want:


  1. I am too busy feeding cats to cook for myself. Please send tarts. Thank you.

  2. You know they sell tomatoes in shops these days. Even Anne Rice vampires have to try to keep up to date with progress.

  3. Ha!!! Tomato blight!

  4. Please post:

    Apple butter / apple sauce

    Pesto that ya put in cubes and freeze

    tart dough that doesn't have the physical qualities necessary to bludgeon a thing =...( le sad. mine are as hard as tack bread.


  5. also, we just cooked up some of the tatoes with rosemary & shallots you so kindly gave us. DELISHISH! oh lord. really. the tatoes, they are like little flurfy starchy bombs from heaven. lovely.

  6. danator: i don't think i can huck 'em that far. *tries* nope. nailed a seagull, though.

    knudie: vampires are indifferent to trends, and to tomatoes. i know this because sumas is chock-full of vampires. all of them wear chanel.

    mj: yo MAMA has tomato blight.

    ssa1: will do. next post. unless something more interesting occurs to me.
    ssa2: you are welcome. you Biker father made hashbrowns with them. if you don't use the leeks right away, chop and freeze to use as a toss-in ingredient.

  7. Fried green 'maters!!! I want 'em fried!

  8. Any suggestions what I should do with my three cherry tomatoes? (the sum total of my crop) :(

  9. I've planted some cherrie tomatos this year too, the fruits had about the size from red currants, so much to my green thumb :)

  10. mmmm yummy, can I invite myself to dinner as I am not motivated to cook. Use too - prided myself on it - don't do it anymore.

  11. I the cookty chef like you the cookty chef - recipes!! We are kind backly by the recipes! Files and that? Jumps rounf then by me, jumps round then by you andby the hens of the male hens and show? Proposed and accepted - by bee boss.

  12. Anonymous8:38 AM

    nothing better than a homegrown tomato sandwich. preferrably with the tomatoes having been put in the refridgerator for a while to get ice cold. yummo!

  13. I have an appointment to keep, but I'll be back for a full read and maybe a "try this one" later. Don' go 'way, girl!

  14. awaiting: do you have a recipe for fried green tomatoes? honestly, do you? the Amazon and I tried the Martha Stewart ones and they SUCKED ASS. and it sounds so good, though! how green do the tomatoes have to be? i've heard almost ripe-not really green, more pink. anyway, give us the secrets of the fried green tomatoes that are edible!

    frobi: oh my darling, i'm sorry. that blows. a lot of folks here had their maters blight too because of the overcast and the rain. it's just been a bad year everywhere for sun-lovers i guess. the only guy i know who had a bumper crop this year was the guy who grows his in a passive solar tomato house-a south facing lean-to with old windows used as the light wall. bastard.

    mone: hey, you! i don't know anyone who had a good cherry tomato crop this year. i blame france. btw, which blog of yours is the one i should be reading?

    gale: come on over. bring rocky and the dorgs. we'll have the Biker's Jack Daniels pork bbq sandwiches and some North Fork Porter!

    mu tai dong: you trading the exchange method? i have method, list, bring component real time with e-mail trading the food way you, me! bring it zip! having my e-mails! food method white trash exchange food method bridport!!

    pink: ok, now, you need to provide me with a total rundown on the tomato sandwich, girl...the bread, the other ingredients, star charts, the whole nine. believe it or not i never heard of that and i'm a tomato addict!

    dinamow: i won't. do you grow a garden where you are? what do you grow in it? seriously, i'm interested to know. i always wondered what other people around the world plant in their food gardens. and you live in such a-for me!-exotic place, too...enquiring minds want to know!

  15. Those stubborn beggars which refuse to ripen at the end of the season are great for chutney. You can keep chutney at the back of the cupboard for years - it just gets better. Always good to give to people you don't really like.

  16. Came here by way of your comment in'Wide Lawns'.
    Have to tell you, seriously, this is only second time it's happened, but laughed so hard at some of the pics on your 'the post about 'Old Knudson' that tea came out my nose (painful but worth it)!
    Also, if I had any talent at Tomatoe growing, I would do it and try out your recipes (LOVE cherry toms)but my fingers are more 'pale and blue' than green, so I'll have to persuade a friend to try it for me!
    Brilliant blog....if you don't mind I'd like to link to you....I'm a lazy bitch and It's easier (and more efficient) than just bookmarking!

  17. reg: what the hell IS chutney, really? is it a side dish? a condiment? what? seriously...this is one of those words that everyone i ask defines differently.
    i remember a vile substance called 'piccalilli' ...same thing? everyone swore it was wonderful but i refused to touch it because it looked like ground up hornworms.

    pumpkin: welcome! and thank you! you go right ahead and link. knudson was a trial and his punctuation sucked, but his naked friends did a hell of a job on the place, i gotta admit.

  18. "You like potato and I like potahto,
    You like tomato and I like tomahto
    I'll take Dan Quayle for 200"

  19. Have a free Wikipaedia on me........"Chutney, as a genre, is often similar to the salsa of Latin American cuisine, or European relish insofar as it usually involves a fresh, chopped primary vegetable/fruit with seasonings added, to be used as a condiment for another food."
    Great with salads and on sarnies. Branston Pickle is a bastardised chutney only is mass produced, sweet rubbish. You have that?

  20. 4clontarfWhat a great blog! We were googling info on eating blighted tomatoes and stumbled here. I can't wait to read more.

    You can check our little farm blog out at Seven Trees

  21. "Occam's Razor Tomato Sauce" has just earned a place in my "Stephipes" card file. I will try this soon with store tomatoes, but I can't wait to do it when I can grow my own. Pirate will lurve it!

    ooh, and the applebudder. i loves me my applebudder. pirate is a pom; he does not know the joy that is real applebudder. he will lurn.