Peas & Pomegranates In My Kitchen

In My Kitchen this month we have been chipping away at the exteno and things are progressing nicely. A few of the cabinets are in place,

IMG_6905 and we have delivered a trailer load of timber which we removed from the old section of the house, to our  bench top man. These lumps of timber will hopefully be transformed into beautiful timber bench tops, that are full of character and it’s nice to think we’ve put a little of the old house back into the mix.IMG_1116-2After a busy day and when you don’t feel like cooking much, it’s great to reach into the freezer for some easy goodies. I made and froze this tomato soup following the guidelines from Francesca at Almost Italian and it is terrific. Easy peasy, heat, serve and slurp!Tomato soupIn My Kitchen is sourdough Banana bread. I made this banana bread using Teresa L Greenway’s recipe from her Northwest Sourdough site. If you are a keen student of sourdough, you can’t do better than learning from Teresa. I have been referring to her work for many years and she has become something of a celebrated guru in all matters of sourdough. Teresa now offers online tutorials through Udemy and they are an excellent source of information. Her success is very well deserved! I used half the recipe for a loaf and the other half for individual ‘muffin’ style banana breads. The crumble is a lovely addition and they are very light and fluffy. Mr ATMT said he didn’t really like banana bread, then I served this up……IMG_6916Oops, overfilled this tin. That smelled good for a while while it burned off the element!IMG_6908Roast veggies with a twist.

As I mentioned before, we have been looking for quick, hassle free meals at the end of the day and tonight I did a simple roast vegetable dish with a little twist. I roasted, sweet potato, eggplant, parsnip, a couple of onions and Dutch Cream potato in a recycled foil tray. These veggies were sprinkled with sumac, salt and olive oil and roasted for about an hour. I added the cherry tomatoes to roast for the last 15 minutes or so and at this stage I removed the eggplant and mashed it with some black pepper and lemon juice, setting it aside until serving time.

IMG_6918 Onto the plate I stacked, the eggplant mash, quickly cooked peas (so they retained their bite), then the assorted roast veg with cherry tomatoes laid across the top. I sprinkled the lot with chopped coriander then drizzled the last of the magnificent Bill Granger Caramel Vinegar Sauce (left over from our pork belly feast) over the roasted vegies. This was then crowned with pomegranates, I love these fruits, the fresh popping of these seeds is delightful. Fresh and tasty, the coriander worked so well with the sauce. Delicious!

IMG_6935That’s all for In My Kitchen this month, why don’t you pop over to Maureen at Orgasmic Chef  and see who else she has hooked together this month.

 

Converting Tomatoes.

In between having a lovely (although short), overnight Easter camping get together, I have been converting tomatoes into pickles and soup and making stock from scraps from the soup and what I had saved in the freezer.  I was delighted last week to find when I got home, a large box of Periform Abruzzo tomatoes sitting on my verandah. Two years ago, I gave George from Tarra Valley Foods  some of this variety and he saved some seed and has had wonderful success saying the yield has been great. How lovely of him to pass on some of his harvest back to me. If ever you are heading east on the Princes Highway and go through Rosedale, call in and sample (and buy) some of George and Jenny’s beautiful preserves. They also enjoy a chat and would make you feel most welcome.

So these tomatoes were converted into:

Tomato Pickles.

This Tomato Pickles Recipe was given to me a couple of years ago and it has turned into a family favourite. I rarely make tomato sauce anymore as this pickle can be used in so many ways we prefer it and you can knock some up pretty easily. Tomatoes and onions chopped and brined overnight (this is a double batch).IMG_6722 Hopefully this will be the last season I’ll need to resort to this method for cooking. Actually I can guarantee it will be the last, coz if I don’t have the new kitchen next year I won’t be making anything! Brown vinegar, sugar and spices cooked with tomatoes and onions. When cooked for about 40 mins I added a couple of tablespoons of cornflour (real, not wheat) to maintain its gluten free title.

Gas burner verandahThe pickle is then bottled. I did cut back the sugar content by about a third and we find it still quite sweet but not too much so.Tomato Pickles

Tomato Soup

I read on Francesca’s blog a couple of weeks ago about her ‘Moulin Rouge retro Tomato Soup’ and it really appealed to me so on went a batch of that. Francesca used a Mouli to press (puree) the cooked ingredients but I used my tomato passata processor and it worked well. Happy, mine isn’t as pretty as Francesca’s but it tastes lovely and we now have quite a decent stash of ready to go meals in the freezer.

Here are the veggies cooking and the last of my home-made stock going in to the pot.

IMG_6738I ran all the cooked goodies through the tomato mill a couple of times to get the maximum flavour possible extracted.IMG_6748Then into freezer containers (reclaimed take away meal boxes) for a rainy day. When I cook/reheat this I will add some fresh basil and white pepper before serving.

IMG_6749As I said, not as pretty but I was very happy with the taste. We added a dollop of greek yogurt and it was a nice balance.Tomato Soup

Stock

With the end bits of what went into the soup, a few of the onion skins and tops and tails from the pickles plus having used up the last of my stock in the soup, it was time to make up some more stock. This is so satisfying and I haven’t bought stock for years now. It is so easy. As you prepare dishes any trimmings or bones etc just get tossed into a bag or container in the freezer and you add to it every time you have some. when the bag is full, pop the whole lot into the slow cooker (not the bag!) with some peppercorns (I don’t add salt) and let it simmer away overnight.

Slow cooker stockI notice this bag also had a chicken carcass in it from a roast chicken.

IMG_6737I now have about 5 litres of beautiful stock that I know what is in. The chook has had a great feed of pickings and the remainder of the cooked matter will go into the compost. Win, win all round!

Dehydrating

Years ago my friend bought a dryer and I have used it most seasons since to dry something or another. I usually do tomatoes then store them in Spanish olive oil with garlic and chilli and we eat them as a snack. This year though I am making tomato powder. I did this years ago and it was quite good. You dry the tomatoes really well then blitz in a processor and store the powder in a good air tight container and use it for seasoning as needed.

Drying tomatoesThe tomatoes after 6 hours in the dryer.

IMG_6755I love doing this with bananas. Buy them when cheap, slice and dip in lemon juice, dry and munch, munch, munch!

Last but not least-Seed saving

I put all of the dodgy bits of tomatoes and rough tops and bottoms into a bowl. There were loads of seed in some of them so I filled the bowl with water and will let them ferment for a few days then I will separate the seed from the pulp and dry and store the seed. Once the seed is removed the rest will go into the compost and the whole cycle begins again.

IMG_6760Next week or so will be passata time! Now that’s a fun thing to do in a limited kitchen. What are some of your best tomato saving tips?