Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dried Herbed Tomatoes

Ah, so you’ve planted a ton of tomatoes this spring and now you wait. Well, if you happen to have too many tomatoes and you don’t know what to do with them, here’s a great idea: dry them! Dried tomatoes are so versatile that you can literally add them to hundreds of recipes. From pizza, to pasta sauces, dried tomatoes add a concentrated touch of tomatoey goodness that instantly perks up any dish.

And have you seen the prices for commercially dried tomatoes in the store?! The best thing about this recipe is you don’t need any fancy schmancy dehydrating equipment, just an oven and patience will do. Once dried, you can store these delicious little morsels in a ziplock bag in the freezer for 6-9 months. That is if you don’t eat them all first! They're won-der-ful!

Dried Herbed Tomatoes

In large bowl combine:
1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tsp. Lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh chopped (or dried) Parsley
1 Tbl. chopped Rosemary
Dried Pepper flakes to your taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
Amount of tomatoes is up to you (Note: I use Roma tomatoes, as there is less liquid - I use enough tomatoes to cover 3 full cookie sheets...about 3 lbs. worth)

Leave skin on and cut tomatoes into thin slices. Place tomatoes in the oil mixture and refridgerate for at least 2 hours to overnite. Set oven on 200 degrees. Take tomatoes out of mixture and spread on cookie sheet. It's OK if they touch. They will need to oven dry for about 14 to 16 hours (depending on amount of tomaotes). Size of pieces will determine time. For example, put them in the oven about 7pm and get them out the next morning around 10:30am.

The tomatoes are done when they have a leathery feel to them. There usually is some oil left in the cookie sheet, which I blot off with a paper towel. Cool and lay dried tomatoes on paper towels to absorb any remaining oil. Store in ziplock baggie in the freezer for 6-9 months.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On The Hoof

What do they say about the best laid plans?

This past Sunday, hubs and I went to visit my good friend Mary that lives in Deland. Her and her husband own a cattle farm with lots of animals, beautiful landscape, and lovely gardens.

I had some ideas for a few good pictures I needed for my photography class, but mix 4 rambunctious farm dogs with a couple of sticks of cheese, some used red high heel shoes, fishing string, a big red ball, and well...let's just say the cows were more cooperative!

Still it was all good fun. Thanks Mary!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Pickled Asparagus: Tis' the Season!

I wait all year for this to happen, and then I move in for the kill. I’m talking about asparagus season! For Florida, fresh asparagus is obscenely expensive most of the year. It usually runs close to $4 a pound! But for a brief window of time, it’s in season and affordable. I buy as much as I can, gorge, and then make pickled asparagus.

I make this every year and I’m very protective of every little jar. Pickled asparagus is wonderful with any antipasta tray, chopped up in salads, served as a condiment, or my favorite, inside a sandwich wrap. Basically, anything you can do with a pickle, you can do with pickled asparagus. I also like that the spears never lose their crunch, and afterwards, the leftover brine makes a fan-friggin-tastic dirty martini!

Pickled Asparagus
Recipe source: The Joy of Pickling
Makes 5, 12 oz. jars

3 lbs of fresh asparagus (sometimes I need more or less, depending on spear thickness)
5 garlic cloves, peeled
15 allspice berries
50 black peppercorn berries
20 coriander seeds
Red pepper flakes
2 ½ cups white wine vinegar
2 ½ cups water
2 ½ tsp canning salt
2 T sugar

Trim asparagus to fit inside canning jars, giving ½ inch of space from the tip of the spears to the top of the jar. Prepare jars for hot water bath canning. In a saucepot, mix vinegar, water, salt, and sugar; bring to a boil. When brine has boiled, fill each hot jar with 1 garlic clove, 3 allspice berries, 10 black peppercorns, 4 coriander seeds, a dash or two of the red pepper flakes, and a pinch of nutmeg. Fill jars with asparagus spears, tips up, till comfortably full without packing. Ladle brine into jars, giving ½ inch headspace; top jars with prepared lids, then process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Wait 4-6 weeks before eating.

**Note: If you don't want to process for canning, just pour the hot brine over the asparagus and keep in the refridgerator.

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