Market Finds: Tomato Hoarder Edition

Market Finds: Tomato Hoarder Edition

There’s nothing that says love than a big bowl of tomato soup. Why not share this recipe, brimming with Farmer’s Market bounty, with your numero uno?!! Click to skip to the recipe

Heirloom Tomato Soup

 

Facemask in hand, I was strolling the mark last week and found a few exceptional produce offerings.

It is TOMATO TIME.

The varieties of heirloom tomatoes are on full display at almost every farmer’s stand.  If there were a TV show that centered on tomato hoarders, I would be featured on episode number one! I just can’t help myself.

I fill my straw basket with these red, ripe beauties and then take them home and display them on my counter. 

Luckily, I am married to the numero uno tomato consumer and we eat them at every meal. But, when the numero uno consumer can’t keep up with the number one hoarder, we have a problem. 

Enter my recipe for heirloom tomato soup. I think you are going to love this one.

One of the most interesting additions to my soup is elephant garlic. Remember those beautiful garlic scapes we found in the spring? Well, those scapes are on the top end of growing bulbs of garlic that are dug up right about now. 

The cloves from this garlic are huge and have more of the texture of a turnip than a potato. The taste is more delicate and doesn’t overpower the flavor of this soup.

Last but not least, I found delicate zucchini squash blossoms still attached to their mini mates. These need to be dealt with quickly, as they don’t have an awfully long life span in the fridge.

I stuffed the flowers with a combination of ricotta, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and roasted them alongside the mini-squash for a delightful bite of cheesy vegginess. 

It was an excellent side dish for the soup. A super YUM on the Yum-O-Meter.

I offer my soup recipe for you to try this week, whether your strolling the market or not. 

There’s nothing that says love than a big bowl of tomato soup.

Why not share one with your numero uno?!!

Heirloom Tomato Soup

Elephant garlic gives this soup a unique flavor as well as an interesting texture.

Ingredients

2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, about 6 large

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium red onion, peeled and diced

3 cloves elephant garlic, thinly sliced, about ¼ cup (substitute with 3 cloves regular garlic)

1 cup sherry 

1 (28-ounce can) crushed tomatoes

1-quart vegetable stock

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

½ cup half and half

Yields:   A crowd

Time:   60-minute cuisine

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Peel the tomatoes by first slicing the skin crosswise at the stem and then placing them in boiling water for just a few seconds. Transfer the tomatoes to a colander and peel the skin. Cut the tomatoes into chunks.

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes more. Pour in the sherry and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and vegetable stock. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the soup for 20 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to emulsify the soup. You can also use a stand-blender or food processor to accomplish this step but cool the soup first. You don’t want hot soup in a blender!

Stir in the half and half. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning. You can add more salt and pepper if you like, or any other herb or spice you want to flavor your soup. It’s all good!!

Crazy for Farmer’s Market Soup

Crazy for Farmer’s Market Soup

When the weather cooperates with the farmers, the bounty is just beautiful! This summer the sun shone through even when it rained! Our spring was cool and rainy, and the summer has proven to be warm, yet not hot. All in all, the mountains and foothills have flourished with lush greenery, abundant flowers and gorgeous, just gorgeous produce. It’s really, really hard to pass up the varieties of tomatoes, squash, lettuces and peppers.

I came home with a basket full…… (ok, two baskets and a bag) of tomatoes, peppers, chard, more peppers (shishito), basil and at least three varieties of baby squash. And the sunflowers… well I filled every vase in my house with these babies, the flowers of which were bigger than my hand!

Look at this haul:

I decided to make soup. The day was one of the few drizzle days signaling what I hope will be a long and languid Indian summer. I pulled out THE SILVER PALATE, one of my favorite cookbooks. There’s a recipe in there for a big batch of minestrone soup.

I used that recipe as I guideline, whilst merging my own farmer’s market ingredients, to create a soup that is just full of veggies, accented with spicy sausage and filling pasta. This recipe makes enough soup for you to share with friends or save for a busy weekday meal.

Maybe you can’t find a market near you, but don’t use that as an excuse not to make this soup. Grocery store produce will do just fine. And you needn’t worry about following an exact recipe… I sure don’t! Enjoy your soup!

Farmer’s Market Minestrone

serves a crowd

45 minute cuisine plus simmering

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 to 5 links Italian sausage, sliced into ½-inch circles

1 large onion, peeled and diced

2 to 3 large carrots, peeled and diced, about 2 cups

1 medium zucchini, diced, about 1 cup

2 medium yellow squash, diced, about 1 cup

2 poblano peppers, seeded and deveined, diced, about 1 cup

6 large garlic cloves, peeled and diced

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

4 cups beef stock

2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons coarse black pepper

Outer rind of 2-inch piece of Parmesan cheese

1 bunch of kale, stems chopped, leaves rolled and chopped

Parmesan cheese grated

Chopped fresh basil leaves

12 ounces small elbow macaroni

Heat olive oil in a deep soup pot over medium heat. Add the sausage and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove the sausage from the pan. Add the onion, carrots, zucchini and squash to the pot. Cook until the veggies are soft and beginning to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the peppers and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes more.

Pour in the tomatoes and beef stock. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a simmer. Add the sausage back to the pot. Tuck the cheese rind into the soup. Stir the kale into the soup. Add water to the pot to make sure all the ingredients are covered in liquid.

Continue to simmer the soup until the kale wilts and the cheese melts, at least 45 minutes and up to several hours on the stove over low heat. You can add additional water as needed. Continue to taste the soup and season with salt and pepper as needed. Add the macaroni and continue to simmer while the pasta cooks in the soup. When the pasta is plump and soft, the soup is ready!

Serve the soup with a garnish of grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of fresh basil on top.

 

Blackberry Season Calls for a Jam Session!

Blackberry Season Calls for a Jam Session!

It’s that time of year, mid-summer, when blackberries are ripe for the pickin’! Just last week, I found blackberries the size of quail eggs at the local farm stand. When I went back this week, sadly they were gone. I guess all those berry pickers have scarfed up the ones, so recently come to market…To stop my wails, the very kind lady let me know the berries will make a return in three weeks! Yay oh yay!

In the meantime, she suggested homemade preserves to see me through the dry spell. That’s when I found a lovely jar of blackberry jam! I gathered up all the jam I could hold, and came home to my kitchen to create a snack treat for my nieces and nephews, coming for a visit.

The result was this lovely, crumbly, streusel-like bar with the richness of farm grown blackberries. And, yes, they were a hit!

If you’re in the North Carolina area, check out these local U-pick farms with berries galore!

 

Blackberry Jam Oat Bars

Yield about 16 (2-inch) bars

30 minute cuisine

 

2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup unsalted butter, melted, 2 sticks

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Zest from 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons

2 cups Blackberry Jam

3 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat a square baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

Stir together flour, oats, melted butter, sugars, baking powder, salt and lemon zest in a bowl. The dough will be coarse and crumbly.

Stir together the jam and cornstarch in a bowl.

Press half of the dough into the bottom of the pan. Spread the jam/cornstarch mixture over the top. Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the jam. Bake until the top of the bars begin to turn golden brown and the jam is bubbling, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the bars in the pan. Cut into squares.

 

 

Easy Mexican Street Corn, Skillet Style

Easy Mexican Street Corn, Skillet Style

As any visitor to Jorj.com might surmise, summer and its farmer’s markets are a big deal to me. I try to visit one every Saturday – not just for ingredients to use in weekend dinners, but for recipe ideas to take me and my family through the season with full bellies and empty plates. This month, inspiration struck when I passed a vendor making Mexican street corn.

I play with corn in Canvas & Cuisine – fresh, roasted ears get slathered in a savory pesto sauce. I was reminded of those flavors when I tasted corn on a stick at the farmer’s market this weekend.  I could isolate all kinds of yummy flavors – from peppers to lime juice. There was the tang of tomato and cojita cheese, and bright notes of cilantro – and like all good things, the undeniable presence of sour cream.

Determined to go home and duplicate that taste, I hit the various veggie stands and came back with everything I needed to make Mexican Street Corn – only thing is, it rains a lot in the summer, and backyard BBQs aren’t always possible. I transformed the dish into a skillet version that went over really well as a side this Father’s Day.

A popular item, there were requests for more. I’d run out of fresh corn on the cob at that point and discovered that frozen kernels work just as well. The results were super savory and the juiciness at the bottom of the bowl so good, it got my mind on corn chowder recipes for fall – just gotta get through this beastly summer first!

So, here’s my lighting fast recipe for a bright summer side dish – you can make it in the time it takes a thunderstorm to roll past your house, and the sun to start shining again!

Mexican Street Corn Skillet Style

15 minute cuisine

Serves 4

4 cups corn kernels (shucked from fresh ears of corn or frozen)

1 large red tomato, diced

1 bunch chives, washed and chopped, about ½ cup

1 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped, about ½ cup

Juice of 1 lime

1/3 cup cojita or feta cheese

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon sour cream

Salt and pepper

Olive oil for sautéing

In a skillet set on high heat, sauté the corn, herbs, lime juice, cheese, and cayenne in 2 tablespoons olive oil for 5 to 8 minutes. Add the sour cream and mix with a spatula, lowering heat. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Grill Me Something, Mister, with Salad on the Side!

Grill Me Something, Mister, with Salad on the Side!

It’s that time…. Father’s Day! To all you Dads out there, enjoy your day. To all you moms and kids old enough to know your way around a kitchen, here’s a fresh farmer’s market salad, WITH an amazing easy to put together dressing.  Trust me, it’ll be the only side dish you need to go with perfectly grilled steak, pork or chicken. I’ve included a few extra photos in the cooking instructions to show you what a scrumptious possibility this salad actually is – but before I get to it…

DADS, here’s a foolproof way to create a flavorful grilled dish.

It’s a simple technique of using a board sauce! On your cutting board, chop several cloves of garlic and use the flat side of the knife to smush (a grown up cooking term) the pieces into the board. Choose your favorite herbs like thyme and rosemary, and finely chop these on your board. Drizzle the herbs and garlic with olive oil and dot the board with pieces of butter. Sprinkle kosher salt and coarse black pepper over everything. Now, your board is ready.

Remove your cooked steak (or pork or chicken) from the grill and place it onto your board. Use tongs to flip the steak several times, coating both sides with melty, buttery, garlicky goodness. Cover the steak with aluminum foil, and let it rest in the “sauce” for several minutes. The steak will absorb the flavors of the board sauce, as well as all its juicy goodness. After 4 to 5 minutes, remove the foil and cut the steak into slices right on the board.

You can serve the steak with your favorite side dish, but for all of you Moms out there, here’s an adaptable farmer’s market salad. It’s the perfect way to utilize all the fresh ingredients you’ve piled into your basket at the market. This recipe (like most) is only an inspiration and a guideline. Use whatever veggies you have on hand, and flavor them with your favorite herbs and spices. It’s all good!

Farmers Market Salad

With Roasted Garlic Buttermilk Dressing

serves a crowd

1 hour cuisine

 

Prepare the veggies:

10 baby red potatoes, halved

2 or more tablespoons olive oil

1 or more teaspoons kosher salt

1 or more teaspoons coarse black pepper

2 tablespoons garlic scape pesto

3 bulbs garlic

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 bunch baby carrots

1 bunch purple spring onions, green tops removed

1 red bell pepper, seeded and deveined, cut into strips

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and deveined, cut into strips

2 beets, roasted, peeled and sliced into rounds

1 bunch radishes, tops trimmed and cut into rounds

½ cup white balsamic vinegar, plus 1 tablespoon

1 tablespoon granulated sugar, plus a smidge

1 lemon, cut in half

1 bunch haricot vert

1 pint baby tomatoes, cut in half

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

For dressing:

½ cup buttermilk

½ cup sour cream

2 tablespoons fresh chives

I head red leaf lettuce, torn into large pieces

Preheat the oven to 375°. Place the baby potatoes onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with some of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until the potatoes are golden, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Drizzle the warm potatoes with pesto and toss to coat. Cool to room temperature.

Cut the top ⅓ from the garlic bulbs. Drizzle with some of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with oregano and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Place the bulbs onto a piece of aluminum foil. Wrap the foil around the garlic leaving an opening at the top of the pouch. Bake until the garlic is soft, and the cloves begin to crawl out of their skins, about 40 to 45 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Place the carrots, onions and peppers onto a baking dish. Drizzle with some of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until the veggies are just crisp tender and beginning to soften, about 5 to 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Whisk ½ cup vinegar and 1 tablespoon sugar in a large bowl. Place the beets and radishes into the bowl and toss to coat. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain the veggies from any excess liquid.

Bring a pot of water to boil over medium high heat. Squeeze the lemon and place into the pot. Add the haricot vert and blanch until just crisp tender and dark green, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the beans to a bowl with ice water to stop the cooking process. Remove the green beans from the ice water bath and transfer to a dish lined with paper towels.

Place the tomatoes into a bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar. Season with salt, pepper and a bit of granulated sugar. Toss.

Place the buttermilk and sour cream into the bowl of a food processor or into a blender. Squeeze the garlic cloves into the cream. Add in the chives and season with salt and pepper. Puree the dressing.

Line a large platter with lettuce leaves. Lay the veggies onto the lettuce in bunches. Serve the dressing on the side. You can arrange the salad several hours in advance. Cover with plastic wrap. Bring the salad to room temperature before serving.