Archives for posts with tag: Basil

I came home from Vermont on Labor Day with a weighty bag of small plum-like tomatoes from my stepmother’s garden. I was housesitting for her and my father and part of my laborious duties included picking the ripe fruits from their vines. While the Sun Golds burst with the flavors of sun and summer, these more Roma-like tomatoes seemed better suited to gazpacho or a sauce.

The bag sat on my counter in Brooklyn for most of last week until it occurred to me to roast them, concentrating their flavors for a sweeter, more flavorful punch. I like raw tomatoes, I do. They’re one of August and September’s exquisite pleasures: slicing the juicy fruit, whether beefsteak or heirloom, seeds spilling over the edge of the cutting board. Layered with good buffalo mozzarella and basil, or just biting into one like a peach. But I find, after a while, I want my tomatoes cooked. I want the tastes condensed, the flavors warm. Maybe it’s just summer turning into fall.

So I decided I needed more tomatoes. I swung by my local farmer’s market Saturday after the tornado/tornahdo left Brooklyn and the sun came out blazing. A stand had a $1/lb bin of bruised tomatoes that needed a home – I was more than happy to adopt these forsaken ones. I lugged six pounds home for six bucks.

Once home I sliced all the tomatoes and arranged on a baking sheet, drizzling olive oil and salt on top. I roasted them in a 225 degree oven for one hour, a little more, turning once, until they were shriveled and syrupy. These are great to eat just like this – tossed with pasta, or on toast, in a salad, or mixed with rice. But I thought marinated in olive oil with the basil and garlic I brought home from Vermont would be even better. So quite unintentionally I found myself stuffing the roasted tomatoes into glass Ball jars and sealing their lids in baths of boiling water.

A friend came by and said, “you’re canning!” And so I was. Sort of. But I think of it more like cheating – preserving the rich flavors of summer without spending days on a factory line in my kitchen. It took all of a couple of hours to fill four Ball jars this weekend. I know that won’t get me through the winter, let alone fall. September? Maybe.

Roasted, marinated tomatoes, for fall

Tomatoes, any variety, the cheaper/uglier the better
Olive oil
Garlic
Salt
Chili peppers, optional
Basil, optional

1. Slice the tomatoes into wedges (unless very small in which case halve them). Arrange on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Bake at 225 F for at least one hour, and up to one and a half hours.

2. Cool completely before transferring to a Ball or Mason jar with a sealing lid. Add a few cloves of crushed garlic to each jar, also adding basil and small dried peppers if you’d like. I add a dash more of Maldon salt. Pour olive oil in the jar until the tomatoes are coated and marinating in the oil.

3. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Turn down the heat to a vigorous simmer and add your jars with the lids on tight. Let sit in the simmering water for at least five minutes, or until the jars are sealed and the lid doesn’t pop when you push on the center.

Advertisements

Yesterday the rains came. But in a very springy, misty, pleasant kind of way, where the light outside is still bright. I was hard at work but something about the sight and sound and smells propelled me into my kitchen.

Having been away this weekend where I wasn’t able to do any cooking, or healthy eating for that matter, I came home craving my kitchen, my food—greens, grains, avocados, spice. I’ve also been doing a spring cleaning of sorts, drinking gingery-spicy fresh juices, eating mostly vegetarian, and back on Chinese herbs for my allergies. (But don’t worry, I throw in the occasional pork taco or tiramisu for good measure.)

Recently, I started skimming Eat Right For Your Type, written by naturopathic doctor Peter D’Adamo. As a B positive, I’m advised to eat venison, rabbit, goat, and mutton for my protein, and avoid chicken as it contains a blood type B agglutinating lectin. Also on the avoid list for B’s: sesame seeds, peanuts, corn, tomatoes, lentils, buckwheat, and wheat. I’m not sure how much stock I put into this but would be curious to try it at some point and see how it affects my blood sugar levels and energy.

Blood type B’s are somewhat uncommon among white U.S.’ers and Europeans, and today are mostly clustered in India, northern China, and Korea. The blood type originated in the cold climates of the Himalayan mountain region and may have mutated from blood type A in eastern Africa as a response to climatic change many, many centuries ago.

Back to lunch…So I’m grappling with some big work deadlines, and this usually means lunch on the go, or no lunch at all. But yesterday I spent a bit of time getting reacquainted with my kitchen by making this rice salad. It’s basically brown rice that’s mixed with raw spinach (which wilts when combined with the warm rice), toasted walnuts, basil, and goat cheese with a homemade raspberry vinaigrette.

You could do any number of variations on this (channeling Mark Bittman)—wild rice instead of brown; arugula or lamb’s quarters in place of spinach; toasted pecans or hazelnuts instead of walnuts; blue cheese or shaved parmesan instead of goat; and a lemon or balsamic dressing in place of raspberry. I also think tempeh could be a fine addition and boost the protein if you’re so inclined. So could mutton, of course.

This salad is light and springy, perfect for lunch, and as far as I know, approved for us B’s.

Rice Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

2 c cooked rice (about 1 c dry rice)
Bunch of spinach, cleaned and trimmed
1/2 c toasted walnuts
1 c raspberries
1/2 c olive oil
Splash red wine vinegar
Fresh lemon juice
Handful of basil, roughly chopped
4 oz. soft goat cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper, to taste

When the rice is finished cooking, transfer to a large bowl and add the spinach, to wilt, and the toasted walnuts.

In a blender or food processor, combine 1/2 c of the raspberries, the olive oil, vinegar, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and some salt and pepper, and blend until smooth. Add the desired amount (I used all of it) to the rice mixture and stir will. Before serving add the basil, goat cheese, and remaining raspberries, cut in halves, and salt and pepper to taste.

Photo below from my dining room window, courtesy Instagram, of yesterday’s springy rain. Oh, and Remedy was featured this weekend in the New York Times T magazine in a piece about up-and-coming “foodieodicals!”

Let’s face it, you come to the North Fork to eat. Ok, and kayak, swim, and stroll through Greenport. And, well, grill, eat fried clams, fish, and go to farm stands. Well that’s why I come to the North Fork. For the rest of the week I’m in Orient Point at the very end of the Fork, about 2 1/2 hours due east from Brooklyn. Past Riverhead and Cutchogue, beyond Southold and Greenport, and just before the lighthouse.

Here’s a snapshot of today’s eats. There were small and sweet Peconic Bay scallops; marinated hanger steak; ginger and lime cocktails; tomatoes marinated in pesto; Sri Lankan sambal; succotash with bacon; and greens with herbs in a lemon-mustard dressing.

I had a 4 1/2 year-old sous chef to help with the steak marinade. It went something like this: set aside 2 lbs of skirt or hanger steak. In a large bowl combine 1/2 c soy sauce, juice from 1 lime, 1 shallot finely chopped, 1/2 c thinly sliced scallions, and a couple of pinches of Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper. My sous chef loved squeezing the lime, determining “what’s a pinch of salt?” and dredging the steaks through the marinade. Let the steaks marinate for 10-20 minutes before grilling, then grill to medium rare. As someone said between bites, this steak tasted like chocolate. It was dark and smoky and caramelized and delicious.

My friend Sumathi made the cocktails. Mine was 1 tbsp simple syrup with fresh chopped ginger, 1 tbsp lime juice, club soda and a splash of orange juice, garnished with chopped cucumbers and basil. The grown-ups had Brooklyn Gin in theirs.

To make the scallops, wash and dry 1 lb (or 2 or 3 lbs, frankly, you can eat these things like candy corn) bay scallops. Rub a little bit of olive oil on the scallops and season with salt and black pepper. Sauté in a dry hot skillet for about 2 mins. on each side. Serve with squeezed lemon juice.

If the weather cooperates, tomorrow morning will be for tennis, the afternoon for swimming, and the evening—I hope—for oysters, more bay scallops, and taking my friends’ money (aka poker).

%d bloggers like this: