Tag Archives: Home Grown

Two simple but delicious recipes to use up all those tomatoes growing in your garden…

Both of these recipes have been posted in the past (or at least variations of them). And whether you grow them in your own garden or buy them from the market or a store, this is prime tomato season. Both recipes are simple to make a bursting with fresh flavor. 

 

Garden-Fresh Tomato Sauce 

Makes about 3 quarts
4 quarts fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 small onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1 bunch fresh basil
.
Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds; discard the seeds and dice the tomatoes. Heat the oil in a heavy sauce pan; add the onions, then the garlic, then the sugar, salt, fennel, and hot pepper. Add the diced tomatoes and the chicken broth (or vegetable broth). Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook the sauce for about 45 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened. Stir in whole basil leaves and remove from the heat. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Taste it for seasoning, then puree in a blender. Refrigerate until needed.


Spicy and Smoky Tomato ketchup 

 Makes about 2 cups
2 pounds ripe tomatoes
1 small onion, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Remove the cores of the tomatoes, and make a small X-shaped incision on the opposite ends. Drop the tomatoes in the water a few at a time and blanch them for only about 45 seconds, just to loosen their skins. Transfer the tomatoes to a bowl of iced water. Peel away their skins, cut them in half, squeeze out their seeds, and dice them. Transfer the tomatoes to a small pot with the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower to a low simmer. Cook for about an hour, until it becomes quite thick. Transfer to a blender and process until smooth.

Penne Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil, and Twice-Cooked Garlic

This is such an easy summertime recipe you’ll want to make it all the time, especially if you have your own victory garden. It’s bursting with flavor and it comes from the vine-ripe tomatoes, twice cooked garlic, and herbs. And the best part is that the entire dish can be prepared in about 20 minutes (if you are somewhat organized). I finished the dish with a liberal sprinkling of crushed hot pepper and grated Parmesan cheese (which are not reflected in the recipe).

Penne Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil, and Twice-Cooked Garlic

Serves 4

½ pound whole wheat penne pasta

4 tablespoons olive oil

6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced in half

1 small onion, diced

1 small bell pepper, diced

3 cups diced tomatoes

1 cup chicken broth

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 bunch parsley, chopped

1 bunch basil, chopped

Cook the penne in plenty of boiling water, then drain it and set it aside. Combine the olive oil and garlic in a sauce pot over medium heat and cook the garlic slowly for 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the garlic from the pot with a slotted spoon, leaving the oil in the pot. Turn the heat up to medium high, and add the diced onion and pepper to the hot oil. Cook the onions and peppers for a few minutes. While the onions and peppers are cooking, mince the cooked garlic. When the onions and peppers just begin to brown add the garlic back to the pot and cook for another minute or two. Stir in the tomatoes, chicken broth, and salt. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower to a simmer, and cook the sauce until it reduces by about half and becomes slightly thick. Add the pasta to the sauce, gently turning it to coat it evenly and to reheat it. Then stir in the basil and parsley and remove the pot from the heat.


Urban Simplicity.

Penne Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil, and Twice-Cooked Garlic

This is such an easy summertime recipe you’ll want to make it all the time, especially if you have your own victory garden. It’s bursting with flavor and it comes from the vine-ripe tomatoes, twice cooked garlic, and herbs. And the best part is that the entire dish can be prepared in about 20 minutes (if you are somewhat organized). I finished the dish with a liberal sprinkling of crushed hot pepper and grated Parmesan cheese (which are not reflected in the recipe).
Penne Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil, and Twice-Cooked Garlic

Serves 4


½ pound whole wheat penne pasta

4 tablespoons olive oil

6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced in half

1 small onion, diced

1 small bell pepper, diced

3 cups diced tomatoes

1 cup chicken broth

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 bunch parsley, chopped

1 bunch basil, chopped


Cook the penne in plenty of boiling water, then drain it and set it aside. Combine the olive oil and garlic in a sauce pot over medium heat and cook the garlic slowly for 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the garlic from the pot with a slotted spoon, leaving the oil in the pot. Turn the heat up to medium high, and add the diced onion and pepper to the hot oil. Cook the onions and peppers for a few minutes. While the onions and peppers are cooking, mince the cooked garlic. When the onions and peppers just begin to brown add the garlic back to the pot and cook for another minute or two. Stir in the tomatoes, chicken broth, and salt. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower to a simmer, and cook the sauce until it reduces by about half and becomes slightly thick. Add the pasta to the sauce, gently turning it to coat it evenly and to reheat it. Then stir in the basil and parsley and remove the pot from the heat.


Urban Simplicity.

Sweet, Sour, and Spicy Pickles (in just five minutes)

This is a basic refrigerator pickle recipe that can be made in just a few minutes but is really delicious and will keep excess produce for months (if kept refrigerated). I make this nearly every year at summer’s end to store cucumbers still hanging on their vines. You can make it with just cucumbers or (as I do) add other items as well (this really can be made with any produce). I added garlic cloves, onion, hot peppers, dill seed, and a pinch of turmeric for color and nutrition. Anyhow, the basic recipe goes like this:

Slice cucumbers and other vegetables. Layer them in a bowl or crock with garlic and onion, if you like. Make a basic brine using the following measurements: 1 1/2 parts cider vinegar, 1 part sugar, 1 part water, a little salt, and (if you like the color) a little turmeric. Combine all of these ingredients together in a pot, place the pot over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil. Simmer the brine for just a few seconds, then our it over the vegetables. Refrigerate the bowl and the pickles will be ready in an hour or so. Simple as that.

Urban Simplicity.

Chop This! (The easiest and likely the most nutritious and delicious salad you’ll ever make.)

Okay. So if you have a garden–or even if you don’t–now is the time to seize summer’s bounty. Whether you grow it yourself or purchase it at the store, the time is ripe for summer vegetables. And when the vegetables are as perfectly ripe as they are right now, eating them raw (or some lightly cooked) with the simplest preparation is the way to go. The below recipe is just a guide. Use whatever vegetables and herbs that your garden or local market has. But here’s how I made mine.
Raw Summer Salad
Dice a perfectly ripe tomato–or two if you’re eating with someone else–and as much cucumber as you think you’ll eat. Combine it in a bowl with a few slices of raw onion, a minced garlic clove, a sliced hot pepper, a handful of chopped parsley, and also basil. Sprinkle the salad with sea salt, then drizzle it with a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil and good quality wine vinegar. Gently toss together and taste summer.

Urban Simplicity.

Eating Local…Pizza Della Casa

If you’ve been to this blog before you know that I make a lot of bread and a fair amount of pizza, and most of it is made using 100% whole wheat flour. This is the case of the pizza pictured here. And I’m proud of this pizza (not that I’m not proud of other pizzas I’ve made). What I’m proud of is that it can’t get much more local or hand made than this (unless I grew the wheat and made the cheese). Anyhow, the dough was made with my own hands (okay, I used a machine to mix it) using all whole wheat flour. I used the basic bread dough recipe listed below and turned half into pizza and the other half I baked as a loaf of bread. The sauce was made with tomatoes I grew in my front yard. The broccoli, peppers, and eggplant were grown in my front and back yards. I can’t believe what a slacker I am that I didn’t have time to make the cheese… 🙂

Anyhow, as mentioned, the dough recipe is below; if you’d like other ideas for pizza, to see them being made, or a couple other recipe for the dough (one made with white flour and one made with brown rice), click here.

 

100% Whole Wheat Bread

Makes 2 loaves

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
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4 cups whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups water
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1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
3 teaspoons instant yeast
3 teaspoons kosher salt

In one bowl make a preferment by combining 2 cups of whole wheat flour with 2/3 cups water and 2 teaspoons of instant yeast. Begin the autolyse in another bowl by combining 4 cups of whole wheat flour and 1 1⁄2 cups water. Stir each bowl just enough to combine the ingredients, taking care not to get yeast into the bowl with the autolyse. If the contents in either of the bowls need more water, add a small amount. Cover both bowls and allow to rest and ferment for 30-90 minutes, during which time the preferment will begin it’s job multiplying yeast and fermenting flour, and the autolyse will soak the grain, swelling the gluten.

After an hour or so, combine the ingredients from both bowls into the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the honey, olive oil, salt, and 3 teaspoons of yeast (add the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl). Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover it loosely, and allow to ferment for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in bulk. Deflate the dough and allow it to ferment an additional 30 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it into 2 or 3 pieces. Shape into loaves and place into lightly oiled pans. Loosely cover the loaves with plastic wrap and allow to ferment for 30-60 minutes, or until double in size and when gently touched with a fingertip an indentation remains.

Bake the breads for about 30-40 minutes, adding steam to the oven a few times (either with ice cubes or a spray bottle) and rotating the breads every ten minutes. The breads are done when they are dark brown and sound hollow when tapped upon. Remove the breads from their pans and allow them to cook on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Urban Simplicity.

The Reward…

As summer begins to wind down the tomatoes and peppers are coming to full fruition. And one of the rewards each summer is tomato sauce. I make it a few times throughout the season and then usually one bigger pot…which was today. I made about 3 gallons of sauce “hillbilly style” (cooked it outside as not to heat up the kitchen). And I’ve mentioned before that for me cooking things from the garden outside is extra special (does it taste better or am I imagining it) because when I cook it outside it is being cooked just a few feet from where it grew. As the sauce was simmering I sauteed a couple pieces of fish then braised it in the tomato sauce and ate it (tossed with pasta) under grapevines while listening to NPR (and yelling at my pugs to stop jumping up at the table). Anyhow, the sauce is presently cooling in my fridge. In the next day or two I’ll package it in increments and freeze it for the off-season. And eating sauce in the middle of winter–which I made from scratch using tomatoes and peppers that grew in the front/back yards–that is the real reward for the time and care it takes to grow (some of) my own food.

Urban Simplicity.

This is Just One Reason I like to Grow Food

There are of course so many reasons why a person should grow at least some of their own food. I do it to save a bit of money, to keep me connected to the earth, but mostly because the food tastes so damn good. This recipe is a perfect example. It is, of course, the classic eggplant (aubergine) Parmesan. Most, but not all, of the ingredients were grown in my front and rear yards. The eggplant, for example, were grown in my front yard about a foot away from the sidewalk (pavements). The sauce for this recipe was made with tomatoes, garlic, and basil grown there as well. As were the hot peppers–I love spicy peppers–that I sauteed then layered in between the eggplant. That said, if there were one really good reason I went through the trouble to prepare, plant, care-for, and harvest food from my tiny yard this summer it would singularly be this recipe…it was that good. There is something really special about walking out your door, picking food, and cooking it just a few feet/meters away. And I’ve mentioned many times that you don’t need a lot of space. I live in the middle of the city and the entire plot on which my house sits measures a mere 25ft/7.6m by 100ft/30.4m (and 3/4 of it is taken up by the house). Okay…alright…I’ll get off my little soapbox. Anyhow, this was/is so good I couldn’t stop eating it. I didn’t type up a recipe but it’s pretty straight forward. If you do need a recipe this one looks pretty good.

Urban Simplicity.

Bursting with Color and Flavor…

Beautiful aren’t they…just picked this morning. Like much of the nation it has been hot in Western New York and the vegetable plants are loving it. Yesterday when I picked a perfectly ripe tomato for dinner it was not just warm from the sun but actually hot to the touch…it felt like it was cooked, and I suppose it sort of was. Anyhow, with it being so hot, and that I face a stove for most of the day as my job, the last thing I want to do is come home and heat up my teeny kitchen. Thus said, I have been eating variations of chopped vegetable salads for the past two weeks…and I’ve yet to tire of them. Delicious and full of nutrition. And to make a chopped vegetable salad is about as simple as it gets. With summer vegetables in season you can really use whatever you like or have at hand. And during the heat of the day this will definitely keep your kitchen cool.
 
Chopped Vegetable Salad
Choose and wash whichever vegetables you like. My favorites are tomatoes, peppers (sweet and hot), and cucumbers, but anything will really work. Sometimes I add diced or crumbled cheese as well, such as feta, mozzarella, or Parmesan. Dice the vegetables and combine them in a bowl. If it looks like you’ve made to much do not worry because leftovers—after the flavors have thoroughly married—taste equally good. Add whatever other seasonings you like. I usually add sliced onion and minced garlic, plus a good handful of basil, mint, or parsley, or all three. And using a ratio of 3-parts oil to 1-part vinegar or lemon (or a combination of both), dress the salad lightly. A tablespoon of mustard tastes good, too. Mix the ingredients and allow to rest for 5 minutes.