In this week's Patchwork, the tomato and potato blight that is infecting crops reminds Barbara Ganley of her Irish roots. Read the column here, then try out some of the recipes below.
(As she wrote it)
Prepare a stiff dough that holds the fruit together. Bake in slow oven. After cooling, brush with brandy or whiskey. Repeat two-three times a week.
My Favorite Salad Dressing
(With thanks to Stacie Cassarino)
Play around with the balance, depending on the flavor of your shallot and lemon and what you intend to pair with the dressing — if I am serving a simple leafy green salad, I’ll intensify the lemony flavor; if I am using it to dress cooked vegetables, I might add a touch more vinegar. It all depends.
Start with a teaspoon of finely minced shallots and a pinch of sea salt (I rub it between my fingers to release its scent) in the bottom of a shallow bowl. Add a tablespoon of champagne vinegar and let it sit for at least a few minutes (and for as long as you like). Whisk in olive oil, little by little, tasting as you go. Adjust amounts to suit your palate and accompaniments. Add lemon zest if you like or any fresh herb calling from your garden.
Green Tomato Chutney
See Amanda Hesser’s recipe in “The Cook and the Gardener.” I start with her basic ingredients: 6 peeled, sliced apples (for the pectin) to 4 lbs. of peeled, cubed green tomatoes (I peel them with a vegetable peeler), fresh ginger, raisins, onions, garlic, 3 cups raw sugar, 2 cups red wine vinegar, peppercorns and allspice and then embellish and adjust according to what I have in the garden.
Sometimes I’ll replace some of the tomatoes with summer squash; this year I’ll add tomatillos, perhaps figs or pears, cloves and coriander.
Throw everything together in a large pot (keep out a cup of vinegar) and cook over low heat for an hour, add the reserved vinegar and simmer until it has the consistency of jam — it will take another hour at the very least. Ladle into sterilized jars and process for 20 minutes in boiling water bath.
Early in the day, harvest perfectly ripe tomatoes (or get them at your farmers’ market). Cut them in half along the long side. With a small spoon, take out the seeds. Lightly sprinkle the cut sides with salt and sugar and lay on a baking rack about the size of a cookie sheet, cut sides up. I use a cake-cooling rack. Place in a low, low oven (mine goes down to 150) and roast slowly until still pliable but dry. It could take 6-10 hours. Check them from time to time as they cook — you don’t want them to over-dry and become hard.
I use these delectable tomatoes to intensify Italian tomato sauces and alongside preserved lemons in Moroccan-inspired dishes. Chopped into a bit of olive oil, they are tasty on top of bread and cheddar.