Oct 242014
 
Tomato Salsa and Salsa Verde with pictures of Roma Tomatoes and Tomatillos.

Tomato Salsa and Salsa Verde.

This summer I grew tomatillos and made a great Salsa Verde. At the same time I made some traditional Red Salsa from the Roma tomatoes in the garden. This is a cooked salsa and closely approximates the salsa we are served at our favorite Mexican restaurant. The trick is to peel the Roma tomatoes. I’ve used canned tomatoes and it’s almost as good. In fact you are probably better off with good canned Roma tomatoes than the typical anemic Roma tomatoes that you find in the grocery stores off season.

Tomato Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs. (Approx. 8 large) Ripe Roma tomatoes or canned whole peeled Roma tomatoes.
  • 1/2 large white onion or more to taste, chopped coarsely
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 2 jalapeno peppers or more to taste, chopped coarsely
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoon fresh oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt, or to taste

Instructions

  1. If you are using fresh tomatoes, wash tomatoes and slice off the stem end. Cut an “X” through the peel on the other end. Put the tomatoes into rapidly boiling water. Leave them in a couple of minutes until the skin starts to split and remove them with a slotted spoon.
  2. Let them cool a bit and then pull off the skin.
  3. Place peeled tomatoes or canned tomatoes, garlic, and oregano into a food processor. Process until pureed.
  4. Place the mixture in a heavy pan over high heat.
  5. Finely chop 1/2 onion and 2 jalapenos in the food processor and add to the pan.
  6. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the mixture starts to thicken, about 15 - 20 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat. Cool and then add cilantro and salt to taste. Add additional chopped jalapeno and onion to taste.

Notes

I've used canned tomatoes and it's almost as good. In fact you are probably better off with good canned Roma tomatoes than the typical anemic Roma tomatoes that you find in the grocery stores off season.

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Oct 242014
 
Tomato Salsa and Salsa Verde with pictures of Roma Tomatoes and Tomatillos.

Tomato Salsa and Salsa Verde.

I found some tomatillo plants at the garden center this spring and planted them in the garden, specifically because I had never used tomatillos in cooking and I knew that this would force me to do it. The plants produced prolifically and i perused the web a bit and combined and modified a couple of recipes and came up with what everyone thought was a pretty good Salsa Verde (Green Sauce).  We used it as a dip with chips, but it could be served over chicken or other Mexican recipes.

Salsa Verde

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pound tomatillos, husked and quartered
  • ¼ large white onion or more to taste, chopped coarsely
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 2 jalapeno peppers or more to taste, chopped coarsely
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt, or to taste

Instructions

  1. Husk & wash tomatillos. Place tomatillos and garlic into a food processor. Process until pureed.
  2. Place the mixture in a heavy pan over high heat.
  3. Finely chop 1/4 onion and 2 jalapenos in the food processor and add to the pan.
  4. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the mixture starts to thicken, about 15 - 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat. Cool and then add cilantro and salt to taste. Add additional chopped jalapeno and onion to taste.
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Aug 302014
 
Oven Dried Tomatoes

Oven Dried Tomatoes going into the oven.

Dried Plum Tomatoes are absolutely luscious. The drying process intensifies the flavor and sweetness. These dried tomatoes freeze well and pulling out a package in the dead of winter, returns you instantly to the taste of fresh tomatoes from the garden. They are great in salads and can be used wherever sun-dried tomatoes are called for. It’s also an easier process than canning, and when the peak yields of tomatoes hits in late summer, this is a way to enjoy the crop later in the year, long after the tomato plants have been pulled up.

Oven Dried Tomatoes

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 6 hours

Ingredients

  • Plum Tomatoes (Roma)
  • Extra Virgin Olive OIl
  • Granulated Garlic
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • Salt (If desired)

Instructions

  1. Wash and dry the tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise and remove the stem. (Drying allows the oil to stick)
  2. Spray or brush with Extra Virgin olive oil, and sprinkle generously with garlic, pepper and salt if desired.
  3. Put the tomatoes skin side down on a baking sheet and bake in a 230 degree oven for 6 hours or so until the tomatoes are somewhat dehydrated.
  4. You can use these immediately or freeze for later use.

Notes

At this time I've tested tomatoes that have been frozen for a year and they are good.

I usually don't put salt on them as it can be added when you use them.

An olive oil sprayer makes getting the oil on the tomatoes very easy and avoids waste. It's a great investment. It also keeps you from having to wash a brush every time you use it.

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Jun 222014
 

The idea for this came from and old Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery that we’ve had since we were first married. As usual, it has been modifies for our taste and for ease of preparation. These are nice, light, summer sandwiches that we often take to Ravinia, an outdoor summer music theater that is known for on-the-lawn picnics. Natalie makes up the filling and we put it in the cooler. We split the bread on-site and spray it with olive oil and put in the filling, thus avoiding soggy sandwiches.

Vegetable Picnic Sandwiches

Prep Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 12 French rolls
  • 2 red onions diced fine
  • 2 green peppers diced fine
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and seeded and diced fine
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced fine
  • 40 pitted black or Kalamata olives, chopped (1 can, 6 oz. drained)
  • 24 anchovy fillets, chopped (1 small tin)
  • 1 3 oz. jar of capers
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • Arugula if desired
  • Mayonnaise (Smart Balance Light)

Instructions

  1. Chop all the vegetables except the arugula as directed (1/4 dice or less).
  2. Combine all the vegetables except the arugula. Mix well.
  3. Add just enough mayonnaise to moisten and continue mixing.
  4. When you are ready to serve, Split each roll almost all the way through.
  5. Spray or brush the inside of the roll with olive oil, add some arugula leaves if desired and then spoon in the filling.

Notes

You probably won't need to add salt as the olives, anchovies and capers provide enough salt. The arugula is a later addition to the recipe as I had a lot of it growing, but it really adds to the flavor.

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Mar 012014
 
Mark and Jared at the Chopping Block

Mark and Jared at the Chopping Block

Last Christmas, Natalie gifted our oldest son, Jared and me with a cooking class at The Chopping Block which is a wonderful cooking school and gourmet shop at Lincoln Square in Chicago. (See the link at the left) This was my second class there,  and the first for Jared — hopefully there will be many more.

One of the recipes that we prepared was this soup, and it is to die for. It uses fall and winter vegetables, is very healthy, and is hearty enough to be a complete meal. The combination of spices creates a rich, unique and complex flavor palette. Jared and I couldn’t wait to try this at home, which we both did the week after the class. It is certainly going to be a fall and winter favorite. Many thanks to The Chopping Block for this wonderful recipe.

 

Spicy Chickpea and Leek Soup with Kale

51

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 main servings. 6-8 appetizer sixed servings.

Spicy Chickpea and Leek Soup with Kale

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek, well-cleaned and tender green and white parts cut into medium dice
  • 1 parsnip, scrubbed well and cut into medium dice (about 1/4 X 1/4 inch)
  • 1 carrot, scrubbed well and cut into medium dice
  • 1 Tbsp. of fresh ginger, grated or finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 4-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 tsp. saffron
  • 1 medium sweet potato peeled and cut into medium dice
  • 1 bunch kale, tough stems removed and torn or cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 15 oz. can of chickpeas (Garabanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • Fresh squeezed lemon juice to taste (about 1/2 lemon)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley rough chopped.

Instructions

  1. Heat a deep heavy pot over medium heat and add the olive oil.
  2. Gently saute the leek, carrot and parsnip until lightly carmelized, about 7-8 minutes. Be careful not to burn the vegetables.
  3. Add the ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, cumin, cinnamon, and curry powder, and cook an additional minute or so until the spices are toasted.
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook an additional minute.
  5. Stir in the stock, saffron and sweet potato, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered until the sweet potatoes are almost done.
  6. Mix in the kale and continue to cook until wilted, about 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add the chickpeas and cook until just warmed through.
  8. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste, stir in the parsley and serve.
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