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

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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.

 

 

 

 

Overnight French Toast Casserole 

I’m not sure how it took me this long to discover the following recipe, but it is deliciously magical in ease of preparation and a must try for a brunch or breakfast-themed weeknight dinner.

Whenever I entertain, I seem to follow a strict pattern of attempting to cook too many complicated, different brand new dishes all at once. Ultimately I am left scrambling in the kitchen and can’t enjoy the company of my guests. A few weeks ago I broke this habit by making at least 3/4 of my Pumpkinfest Brunch menu make ahead dishes that took little or no prep the day of.

 

i was able to make the pumpkin tarts, hasbrown casserole, quiche, cheeseplate, and the french toast bake the day before

This was by far the easiest and most popular dish at the party and certainly fed a large crew! I even made a half sized version last night for dinner and served with fresh fruit and peppered bacon.

My adaptations to the original recipe from Food.com are the additions of vanilla, nutmeg, allspice, salt and maple syrup.

The first time I made this I had leftover pumpkin pie filling and stirred 1/3 cup in the egg and it was very tasty and subtle.

Some pecans on top would also be lovely!

 

full sized version


Overnight French Toast Casserole 

SERVINGS 9-12 

1⁄2 cup butter 

12 slices white bread (I use brioche, raisin bread, or a freshly sliced italian or french loaf)

1 cup brown sugar (*You may wish to reduce the amount of sugar used to 2/3 cup.)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon allspice or ground cloves

Dash of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 eggs

1 1⁄2 cups milk

1 tablespoon maple syrup 

Powdered sugar and maple syrup (for serving)

DIRECTIONS

Melt butter in a 9 x 13 casserole dish. 

Put 6 slices of bread in bottom of dish.

In a bowl mix 1 cup brown sugar with spices and salt. 

Sprinkle 1/2 of this sugar mixture over bread.

Add another layer of 6 slices of bread.

In a bowl, whisk eggs with milk, maple syrup and vanilla until well blended.

Pour over bread layers.

Sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.* 

Bake covered at 350F 30 minutes.

Uncover and continue baking 15 minutes or until set and browned.

Top with powdered sugar and drizzle with maple syrup before serving. Raspberries and whipped cream served on the side make it very decadent! 

Leftovers reheat very well. 

 

make it in 10 minutes one night or morning and enjoy later!

*It really only needs to sit for 10 minutes before it is ready to bake- so don’t worry if you are hungry NOWish lol!


Greek Lasagna (gluten free)

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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).

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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.

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