Tuesday, October 16, 2007

how to deal with tomatoes that are past their prime

So as predicted I was unable to post all of last month and the first half of this one. It might be a little too late to post about NYC from August, but moving on...

The weather has finally started to get crisper and more appropriately fall-like, which puts me in a slow-cooking, stewing mood. So far, thinking back, I've made winter squash soup, split pea soup, squash and potato puree, and, a couple weeks back, we made Ethiopian food for the first time at home (misser wot and that mixed vegetable curry that I always forget the name of) using M's cookbook that he bought me for my birthday. I've also been eating a lot of Chinese wheat noodles mixed with oyster sauce and topped with a hard-cooked egg and stir-fried greens.

So this past Saturday at the Mount Pleasant Farmer's Market I purchased the $12 bucket-o'-tomatoes again (*that's about 8 pounds of tomatoes), thinking, (irrationally, in retrospect) that they would be just as deliciously ripe and fresh as the August tomatoes. I selected some romas and other assorted heirlooms. I got them home and discovered that they were a little tough, quickly going mealy, and one of them was smelling a bit off (read: moldy). I had to come up with a way to use them quickly or at least prepare them for later use. The solution came to me fairly quickly in the form of a broiled tomato sauce for huevos rancheros. I just preheated the broiler, rinsed and plopped about a dozen of them in a glass baking dish and slid it under the broiler for about 15 minutes, rotating with tongs as needed until they were uniformly wrinkly and black in places. After letting them cool for a bit I peeled them, mashed them with a pastry cutter, and then added them to a skillet of sauteed minced red onion and a couple of serranos that I've been keeping in the freezer. That simmered for a bit (20 minutes?) to thicken, and thus I managed to solve half of my tomato "problem" in one fell swoop.

We had a surprise visitor down from New York that day, so the three of us enjoyed our plates of eggs out in the deck in the sunshine, served with tortillas (heated directly over the gas flame for a few seconds), topped with tomato sauce and shredded sharp Cheddar, and leftover beans and rice.

I repeated the broiler trick with the remainder of the tomatoes the following night, and this time I remembered to core the tops out and make little "x" slits in the bottom of each tomato prior to broiling for easier peeling. Now they're sitting whole in the fridge mixed with basil leaves, ready to be turned into tomato sauce when I have a minute.

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