Tomato Jam

Tomato jam will change your life.

Ok, this is a little dramatic, but for me every once in a while I begin to start ordering out, buying frozen foods and giving up a little in the kitchen. Even folks who love cooking get sick of having to make dinner every day and I start to call it in, literally. I am a person who craves change, moving forward, and learning new things, so to push myself out of these ruts it takes a new recipe that is exciting and makes me think “hmm, I never knew that existed!” when I taste or read about it for the first time. Tomato jam did just this and got me back in the kitchen and although I am not one to toot my own cooking horn I must say it is one of the tastiest things I have ever made.

I first tasted tomato jam at Scaddabush in Toronto, alongside mozzarella I filmed being made like a true tourist, sea salt, and focaccia crostini. It was surprisingly sweet yet tart with deep, caramelized flavours very different from even a slow long simmering of tomato sauce. Yesterday I made mozzarella for the first time (I didn’t even cheat and do it from fresh curds like those sneaky Scaddabushers) and it was good alone but lip smackingly tasty with this tomato jam. The jam actually took much longer to make than the cheese, but effort wise there is no comparison. Basically you just throw this in a pot, simmer it for at least an hour until it is a sticky beauteous concoction and try not to eat it all before you jar it up.

*If you look around at tomato jam recipes, there are many variations but none seem to note that the amount of sugar you use needs to vary based on the natural sweetness of your tomatoes. I bought the best tomatoes I have ever tasted this week at market, little golden heirloom cherry tomatoes which are amazingly sweet. They did not need much sugar, but almost any other variety would need a few teaspoons more.

This recipe makes 1 jar so I suggest you double it if you intend on sharing. However a little goes a lonnnng way. In addition to a Scaddabush copycat board that will save you $15 and impress the socks of guests. In addition to eating it by the spoonful, ideas for using up your jam include:

  • on any kind of meat really (grilled chicken, pork chops)
  • on hamburgers and hot dogs
  • as a dipping sauce for grilled cheese or deep fried grilled cheese
  • as a baste for a pork roast
  • with grilled peaches on crustoni with some fresh ricotta or burrata
  • on fresh bread with cream cheese
  • atop baked brie with some nuts
  • stirred into pasta with pesto or balsamic to give it a more savory note
  • atop mac and cheese
  • on an antipasto platter
  • on eggs
  • on anything you would put chili sauce on
  • in a mini jam/honey jar with some fresh cheese and bread as a lovely gift

image1

Tomato Jam

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, diced, or 4 medium tomatoes, quartered, or equivalent (try to find heirloom!)

2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (you could also use white balsamic or white wine vinegar)

2 tablespoons of sugar (more if your tomatoes are not very sweet)

sprinkle of sea salt

pinch of chopped fresh rosemary

dash of allspice

dash of ground ginger

Add together in pot and simmer on low for 1-2 hours or until thick and jam-like. Taste and stir regularly to see if you need a little more sugar (or vinegar if you add to much sugar. It should be on the sweet side with a touch of tang.

 

 

 

 

The Quickest (and bestest) Roasted Brussel Sprouts 

I don’t often make brussel sprouts as I am the only person in my house who cares for them. I bought some at market the other day with intentions of a home made kale, cabbage and brussel sprout salad but then yesterday started considering alternatives that aren’t smothered creamy poppy seed dressing. I landed on wanting to roast the lovely little things, but I also wanted to eat within 10 minutes so I adapted a quick roasting method from The Kitchn to make it even easier (and smoke free). 

The result was perfectly charred brussels within 10 minutes of turning on the oven. They are so much better than the kind that is roasted into submission for 30-45min (sometimes even an hour!) in most recipes. The result here is an inside that is tender but still has some substance, just like with roasted brussel sprouts that you usually get in a high end resturant.  

Quick Roasted Brussel Sprouts

 

in only 10 min!

 

Fresh brussel sprouts

Oil (I used 1tb of grapeseed and 1tb olive)

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Turn on broil and place cookie sheet on middle rack.

Meanwhile wash then cut the ends of the sprouts off and let the first few outer layer leaves fall away.

Cut sprouts in half, giant ones can be quartered. 

Dump on cookie sheet and toss in oil and salt and pepper, then arrange them so they are cut side down.

Cook 5 minutes or until lightly charred. 

Take cookie sheet out – if bottoms of sprouts aren’t nicely caramalized just leave them on the cookie sheet a few minutes (still out of the oven) to cook the bottoms a little more.

Serve warm or with a drizzle of balsamic or balsamic reduction. 

Flourless Banana Chocolate Mini Muffins 

 

mini muffin or two bite brownie ? You decide!

 
Just to be clear, I love flour. All forms of gluten really, but flour based things in particular. But when my daughter was born (nearly 2 years ago now I can’t believe it!) I had an “aha” moment where I realized I was entirely responsible for everything that went inside this tiny person’s body and my choices would inform her relationship with food for the rest of her life. 

Woah- that’s a lot of pressure! I started to learn more about food and consider my nutritional choices more carefully. Two years later I am sixty pounds lighter than before pregnancy and am still learning so much about food and how it works in our bodies. Although my little one is no stranger to Tim Bits and sometimes eats things with “Mc” in front of them, she also loves kale chips, spinach smoothies and as of last night, these tasty, fudgy little two bite brownie type mini muffins. 

Thanks to Emma over at Better with Cake for the original recipe which I made a few changes to. They were soooo good and everyone at work shouted “send me the recipe!” in between mouthfuls. They satisfied my craving for something fudgy last night and were even better the next day when my little one was looking for a treat. The best thing is – not one dirty bowl! They are made in the blender and come together before the oven preheats 🙂

Flourless Banana Chocolate Mini Muffins 

Makes approx 36 mini muffins (can also halve recipe) 

2 eggs

1/2 cup maple syrup

4 teaspoons of vanilla or scrapings of one vanilla bean 

2 tablespoons of butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled sightly

2 overripe bananas

4 tablespoons cocoa power 

4 tablespoons of unsweetened nut butter (I used sunflower but peanut, almond, cashew or similar would be fine- if you are using regular sweetened peanut butter reduce the maple syrup)

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoons of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (I used epicure pumpkin pie spice)

1 teaspoon of sea salt 

4 tablespoons of mini semi sweet or dark chocolate chips

2 tablespoons of semi sweet mini chocolate chips 

—–

– Preheat oven to 350 f and line a mini muffin tray with papers or grease.

– Place all ingredients except choc chips into your food processor or blender and process/blend until well combined. FYI – the batter will be very, very runny. Don’t worry! 

-Add your 4 tablespoons of chocolate chips and stir to combine.

– Spoon/pour batter into your prepared muffin tray (I use approx 2 teaspoons per mini muffin).

– Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on tops. 

– Bake for 10-12 mins until the tops spring back when lightly pressed and a toothpick has just a few crumbs attached when inserted into the centre.

– Allow to cool in the muffin tray slightly before transferring directly into your mouth to a wire rack to cool completely.

These are better (and less banan-y) the next day but are also good warm! 

The best squash in the world!

Happy Thanksgiving y’all. Today I’d like to share something I’m thankful for, which is the discovery of the BEST kind of squash. I had never heard of or seen this type of squash until it showed up in my farm share last year, and the first time I tasted it I knew I was in love. The prep is SO quick as the skin is edible (and tasty!) and it cooks in about 20-25 minutes. It is so sweet you don’t even need brown sugar! 

What is this magical, earth shattering, life changing squash you ask ? Where can you find squash that is ready to go in the oven before it is done preheating and so tasty everyone will fight for the leftovers? 

One word folks: Delicata.

 

named for it’s delicate (edible) skin

 
Once I learned of their exsistance I began to notice them more and more at roadside stands and farmers markets. I buy 4 or 5 at a time as they are such a great addition to any dinner and cook in the same amount of time as many meats. 

So get your hands on some delicata today and let me know what you think! This isn’t so much of a recipe as a recommendation to try this delictable winter squash (pun intended) and then tell me how it changed your life.

 

a healthy alternative to onion rings!

 
Roasted Delicata Squash Rings

Use 1/2 delicata squash per person.

Preheat oven to 425f.

Line cookie sheet with parchment.

Scrub squash and cut in approximately 1/2″ rings.

Scoop or cut out seeds.

Toss in enough melted butter to coat and salt and pepper (nutmeg is nice too- not to much). You can do this in a bowl or on a cookie sheet. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes and then flip and cook for another 10 minutes or until nicely browned. 

Enjoy!

One ingredient healthy ice cream!!! (No ice cream maker needed!!)

I don’t usually overuse exclamation marks, but this shit was impressive!

With just banana you can make ice cream that is just as good as soft serve!

I. Had. No. Idea.

My husband is a soft serve snob and when he tasted it he looked at me like I had really pulled a fast one over on his taste buds.

“This can’t be just banana!” (him)

“It is!” (me)

“Don’t eat it all!” (both of us)

Okay, are you ready? Here’s the recipe… freeze cut up banana then blend it up until creamy (my ninja made short work of it). That’s basically it!

IMG_7168
ONE INGREDIENT ICE CREAM

Recipe adapted from the Kitchn

* cut the (very ripe) banana in chunks then store in Tupperware, a jar, or similar in freezer for 2-24 hours. Blend in blender/food processor until creamy.

*It will go through a grainy stage before it turns creamy.

*add ins are unlimited! Vanilla and a touch of salt were divine. Peanut butter, honey, or caramel would be tasty too!

*don’t worry about storing it as you will likely gobble it all up.

I’m serving this at my next dinner party and I bet no one (who hasn’t read this 😉 will be able to guess what it is made of. It is not very “bananay” and consistency is so much like soft serve it really is amazing!

Roasted Squash with Pomegrante Rice Stuffing

Even though my husband and I are not vegetarian every once in a while we like to have a meatless main course which helps to cut down on both meal costs and calories.

I used to make a dish similar to this but with cous cous and Mediterranean seasonings and always used to use acorn squash. However my CSA share has yielded a great variety of squashes including delicata, carnival and red kuri.
*Any squash that can hold stuffing would be fine in this recipe but the carnival squash really was divine and all three of the aforementioned squashes have edible skins; just give them a good scrub before baking like you would a potato.

I cheated a little and used a bistro package of pre cooked unseasoned basmati rice which was heated slightly less than directed in the microwave one minute but we are quite picky eaters and it was very good! All was devoured and little miss Violet really enjoyed hers.

Serve with a salad for a very satisfying

Serve with a salad for a very satisfying and healthy meal

Roasted Squash with Pomegranate Rice Stuffing

Adapted from Chow com.

Serves 2-3

3 medium size carnival squash*

4 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

2 medium shallots, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

2 cups (or 1 small bag of bistro rice) of any cooked rice mix

1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins

2/3 cup pecans, chopped and toasted

1/2 cup chickpeas

seeds from half a pomegranate

1 tsp. thyme or Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 and cut squash lengthwise and seed.

Place squash cut-side up on a baking sheet, brush with 2 tablespoons of melted butter, sprinkle with sugar and a little salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until just fork tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon of the melted butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When it foams, add the onion, shallots, carrot and celery, season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in the thyme and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and stir in the rice, pecans, cranberries/raisins, chickpeas, the majority of the pomegranate seeds and measured salt and pepper.

Divide the rice filling among the roasted squash halves (about 1/2 cup for each) and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of butter over top. Continue roasting until the squash is completely fork tender, the edges have started to brown, and the filling is heated through, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Greek Lasagna (gluten free)

IMG_5798.JPG

Greek lasagna you say? What the heck is that? Okay I admit it, I kind of tricked you with this title as this recipe is actually for moussaka, which is basically Greek lasagna and happens to be naturally gluten free. However the name moussaka conjures images of something strange and fishy more than it does a meaty, saucy, creamy eggplanty type delight and wanted you to give it a fair chance.

Moussaka is practically the national dish of Greece. The dish originated in Turkey as a lamb and eggplant braise, which was then reworked by the Greek chef Tselementes and became the dish it is today. The classic version is still prepared almost the same way wherever you go in Greece.

Peter Conistis

I saw moussaka being cooked on the food network a year or so ago and have made it many times since then. Guests never have any idea what it is but always seem to enjoy it quite a bit.

Here is how it differs from Italian lasagna:

-No noodles! Instead to create layers there are usually sliced potatoes on the bottom and a layer of eggplant (can be substituted for zucchini) in there somewhere as well.

-Many recipes do not contain cheese, and if they do it is usually feta or a hard Greek sheep cheese called Kefalotyri (κεφαλοτύρι) . I have used feta, no cheese, and a blasphemous combination mozzarella and ricotta, as I describe here. All were delicious. Instead of using the no- cook ricotta mix for the topping as I have described here you can use a béchamel sauce with an egg (or two) mixed in at the end. This makes it a much more frugal dish than lasagna (which you must buy ricotta for) if using the béchamel sauce.

-The sauce is tomato based like Italian Lasagna, but usually has spices like cinnamon or allspice included, which makes the flavour out of this world! Since stumbling across moussaka I have been putting cinnamon in all my Italian style tomato/pasta sauces as well and it is very good. Subtle and most people can’t quite guess what the ingredient is.

-Some recipes I have seen use beef, some lamb, and some a combination. I have used beef, ground pork, and a combination and they are all very good. We aren’t lamb lovers but if you are I am sure that is tasty (and more traditional) as well.

I heavily adapted this recipe from Chef Peter Conistis and it was much easier than other recipes I have used due to the no cook cheese topping (I also used leftover meat sauce from Won Ton Wrapper Mini Lasagnas I had made for a party a few days ago which made assembly a breeze).

br />
IMG_5777.JPG

Greek Lasagna (Moussaka)

Sauté 1/2 lb. of pork, beef or combo, drain, add a chopped onion and a few minced cloves of garlic and either a jar of tomato sauce or a can of crushed or strained tomatoes). Add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of sugar, and 1 cup of water or red wine.

Cover and simmer on low for as long as you have (10 minutes – a few hours).

Preheat oven to 400f convection.

Wash and slice 3 large potatoes or 6 small (I used new potatoes). Toss in salt, pepper and oil and throw into an oiled casserole dish (I used an 8×8 but it was really pushing the limits).

Slice 1 large eggplant or 3 baby eggplants lengthwise and toss in oil and salt and pepper. Place on parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake eggplant and potatoes in oven together for 20 minutes or until eggplant a little brown. Remove from oven and turn oven down to 375f.

Meanwhile, in a bowl mix half a large container of ricotta, 1.5 cups of grated mozzarella, a handful of chopped parsley, salt and pepper, a dash of nutmeg, 3/4 cup of half and half cream, and 2 eggs.

Push potatoes around in dish so they are evenly layered.

Pour all of your meat sauce over the potatoes.

Lay the eggplant in a layer (slightly overlapping) overtop of the meat.

Pour on your ricotta mix.

Refrigerate for later baking or bake for 30-40 minutes or until browned.

Storage: The next day, separate cut slices onto foil lined pan and freeze for a few hours. Remove from pan, wrap each slice in plastic wrap and place in a labelled freezer bag. Stores well for several months and individual slices reheat great in microwave or toaster oven.

IMG_5780.JPG

Secrets to the PERFECT KALE CHIP

 

kale chips cooked on rack

kale chips cooked on rack

My kitchen is bursting at the seams with two things these days; delicata squash (more on this soon), and kale. This summer has been THE summer of kale in my life and although all these salads, smoothies, and cheesy kale won ton cups were delicious, I’ll admit the whole kale in everything bit was getting a little old. Until…. I did a little experiment.

My amazing CSA often offers all three types of kale and I did something radical- just for you, my readers! (all five of you). I tried purple kale, curly green kale, dinosaur kale, different temperatures, gas and electric stoves (I am a spoiled I admit it), convection versus baking, on a rack, on a cookie sheet, on parchment, on foil, curly side up, curly side down, with seasonings, just salted… AND I polled all 10 or so family members about which they preferred.

I knew I had a winner when my carnivore brother was poking around the kitchen after dinner asking “any more of those kale things?”

This is what I learned people, enjoy.

  • Dinosaur/Tuscan kale makes the BEST chips. Red/Purple
    Kale chips are pretty good too. Dinosaur kale (the best kale for salads) is surprisingly the best for chips too! All hail the winning kale!

  • Purple kale has a nuttier flavour and dinosaur kale has a more satisfying crunch.
  • No one prefers the green curly kale chips – save your green kale for smoothies, salads, and in cooked dishes
  • On a cookie sheet works the same as on a rack but the chips cool nicely on a rack
  • Oil each leaf evenly (after destemming) by rubbing briefly with oil and a bit of salt
  • Taste a leaf before you cook to determine if further salt is needed
  • It does not matter if the leaves are placed curly side up or down on the pan
  • Seasonings are overwhelming; let the kale speak for itself
  • Store in a jar and they will keep crisp for at least a day (if I could keep them around for more than 24 hours I could tell you if they keep longer)
  • Thank you to Oh She Glows for the kale chip tips and all dressed kale chip recipe which I used as a starting point the first time I made these.

my kale chip experiment

my kale chip experiment

Kale Chips

Purple or dinosaur kale (or combo)

oil ( a few tablespoons)

salt (to taste)

Preheat oven to 275 convection (or 300f if you don’t have convection). Pull chunks of kale leaves off stems and discard stems. Wash kale leaves and dry well. Pour oil and salt into a small bowl. Using your hands, rub a small amount of oil onto each leaf (both sides- make sure to get into the crevasses on the back of the dinosaur kale) which should only take a second or two per leaf. Lay on cookie sheet making sure leaves don’t overlap (1 bunch of kale will take at least 2 cookie sheets). Cook chips 1- 2 cookie sheets at a time (on the same rack) for 10-15 minutes or until crisp, cool on rack and serve immediately or store in jar.

crispy, perfect kale chips

crispy, perfect kale chips

Extra Crispy Baked Buttermilk Chicken Breasts

IMG_5474.JPG

 

For many years, the crispiest baked chicken has alluded me. I have even resorted to deep frying at times to attain restaurant quality crispiness. But oh the calories and oh the mess!

Not anymore, folks! This recipe starts off with REAL buttermilk. Yes you can make your own buttermilk by souring milk with a little vinegar or lemon juice, but I have found that it is just not the same as the juiciness (meat marinades) and fluffiness (baked goods) real buttermilk guarantees you. You can either buy it in the store or use the buttermilk produced when you make your own butter.

Many recipes go on about panko being the only way to ensure a crispy breaking on baked meats. I never got on the panko bandwagon as I find they are so big they don’t evenly coat everywhere and have a tendency to fall off. Either way, you don’t need them for this recipe and the tiny bit of butter and oil really gives them a deep fried crispness and rich taste without too many extra calories.

This recipe will not disappoint!

Extra Crispy Buttermilk Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1.5 cups of buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or paprika
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup of cornmeal
1 tablespoon of grapeseed or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of melted butter

Turn the chicken breast over so the nice looking side is down and use the edge of a plate, a mug, or similar to pound them a little so they are flatter and more even.

Marinade chicken in a zip lock bag with the spices and milk for 2-24 hours.

Preheat oven to 400f.

Combine salt and pepper, breadcrumbs, cornmeal, and flour on plate.

Foil a cookie sheet and spread the oil over the area the chicken will sit.

Use tongs to remove chicken from marinade, shake a little to remove excess, and coat very well on both sides with breadcrumb mix.

Place on cookie sheet and drizzle butter over each top, trying to lightly cover the surface.

Bake for 15 minutes, flip and another 10-15 minutes until evenly crisp.

Serve immediately.

 

 

Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

IMG_5459.JPG
All too quickly summer is fading into the background and fall is taking over. Soon we will be onto soups, braising and slow cooking. But for now, try to hold onto it a little mouthful of summer (and cinnamon buns!) with this recipe. I decided to make this last minute for a brunch a few days ago and was able to find local strawberries, peaches, and apples to include with the rest of the imported fruits (mangos, limes, and kiwis; lucky you if these are YOUR local fruits!) which I think really made the dish.

This unique recipe was a hit and is perfect for this time of year. People were a little cautious at first but once it is announced (or labelled) as “Fruit Salsa” everyone is on board!

I adapted these recipes from The Yummy Life and only made a few small changes. Although the original author and other versions I have seen (including the similar one from Pampered Chef  via “The Girl Who Ate Everything” which includes preserves) note that you need to make this just a few hours before you serve it, I think it would be fine if you made it the night before and just added in the zest and apples the next day (apples changed colour and became softer and zest took over flavour profile).

Drain your salsa before serving (or serve with a slotted spoon).

*The original recipe for the chips uses water, which likely works just fine. However Alton Brown, Julia Child, and I all agree that the chips made with butter will be far, far, tastier.  When served at an event, it’s worth it!

Store in zip lock bag for your event if transporting but then a glass jar is your best bet.

Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

serves 10 as a light appetizer

Salsa:

1 mango

1/2 pint of strawberries

2 kiwis

2 apples, peeled

1 peach (can replace with another mango)

2 limes

2 tsp. of lime zest

1 tablespoon of honey

Dice all of your fruit small like you would if making fresh salsa or chopping onions. Toss with remaining ingredients. Tastes very good when served immediately, even better an hour later, and is okay after that for about a day.

Chips:

1 package of whole wheat tortillas (large)

1/2 cup of melted butter (may need more)

3/4 cup of white sugar

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons of cinnamon

1/8th tsp. allspice (opt.)

Preheat oven 400f

Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Mix sugar, salt, and spices together.

Layer your tortillas on one cookie sheet and begin brushing both sides lightly with melted butter*, then stacking them on a different cookie sheet.

When you are done with the buttering, go through and sprinkle sugar mix on both sides of tortillas and stack them back on the first cookie sheet. Cut through them with a pizza cutter or sharp knife and divide like a pizza.

Space out on your cookie sheets (you may have to do multiple batches but if you have enough cookie sheets and a convection oven, maybe not! Reduce temperature by 15-25 degrees if using convection).

Cook for 8-10 minute or until crispy. Cool before storing.