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. 

Eggies in a Basket – the perfect Valentines Day Breaky

Full disclosure- Violet wasn’t even here during the making of this dish as Grandmas are freakin’ wonderful and she had a V day sleepover. She did arrive home during the “enjoy” step however and snag some bacon (for what I am told is her FOURTH breakfast haha – she just might be a hobbit.)

I, like everyone else on the internet apparently, first wanted to make this dish after seeing it prepared on V for Vendetta, a great film.

V makes eggies

The marvel of V being able to make the eggies is that he was able to score real butter during a time of strict rations. I’ve seen a few very,very wrong recipes for this dish out there, but even the most misguided seems to grasp the base principal; this dish is all about the butter. 

There are only three things you need (in addition to a pan and spatula, come now don’t be so literal), good bread, good eggs and, of course, butter!

 

Our Valentines Day Breakfast

Eggies in a Basket 

Turn frying pan to medium and melt 1 tablespoon of butter per piece of bread.

Tear a hole in centre of each slice.

Once butter is melted, place bread in pan for a few seconds then flip, ensuring both sides have sucked up some buttery goodness.

Crack an egg into a wee bowl and carefully pour into centre of each slice (or crack directly in bread hole if you are a pro).

Once the whites have started to firm up a little and turn white (this only takes a minute or two), get a spatula out but before you flip, get another tablespoon of butter ready and throw it in and melt a bit beside the bread, then flip bread and let it soak up all that melted butter.

Many recipes say to wait a few minutes at this point but that will result in over cooked eggs. If you want some runny yoke, remove from the pan as soon as both sides of bread are nicely browned and crisp. 

Serve immediately, with a mimosa because they are awesome.


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!

Rustic Zucchini Basil Pesto

The best thing about this recipe is….. NO food processor! That`s right folks, this “rustic“ pesto invented by moi requires just a wee bit of grating (the zucchini and parmesan), chopping (the basil), and NO pine nuts (keeps the cost down but would be lovely sprinkled atop your creation I`m sure).

A few days ago I thinking about making pesto but was worried about taxing my wee basil plant too much by stripping it nearly bare to get enough leaves to make it. Then one night making dinner I had some leftover zucchini and inspiration struck; If the zucchini could supplement the basil I wouldn`t need as much! A quick google search reveals yes, zucchini pesto is a thing! I was feeling lazy so I skipped the whole recipe surfing step I usually spend quite a bit of time on, as well as the whole getting out a food processor bit that is usually necessary with pesto. The result was amazing! I have now made this twice this week and guests rave about it. The word `rustic` is culinary code for `lazy`, didn`t you know? Make some lazy zucchini basil pesto today and say “Mmmmmmmmmm”   “mmmmmmmm”  thanks Violet’s mom!

If you have never had bread that has been baked then rubbed with fresh garlic, you are in for a treat and a suprise. The bread will take on much more flavour than you would expect with such a brief encounter with the garlic, yet it is still delicate and much more pleasant than little chunks of garlic.

packed with flavour, freshness, and crunch

packed with simple, fresh flavours this appetizer is a hit!

Rustic Zucchini Basil Pesto with Garlic Crostini 

1 handful of fresh basil, chopped

1/4 cup grated parmesan (large hole side of grater)

1/2 cup grated zucchini (large hole side of grater)

salt and pepper

a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

FOR PESTO: Mix all ingredients above in a small bowl with a fork until somewhat blended.

TO SERVE: Make garlic crostini by slicing a baguette, brushing both sides with melted butter, adding a bit of salt and baking at 400 for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Rub with half a fresh clove of garlic and serve with a spoonful of pesto, or for an extra treat grate some extra parmesan and sprinkle on bread. Return to oven for a few minutes to melt cheese before topping with pesto and serving.

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.