As you may know we have a glut of tomatoes. I have wanted to make tomato ketchup for a long time. My mum made us a big batch of it when we were little and of course being kids we all tucked into expecting it to taste exactly like the famous stuff and we were all bitterly disappointed and voiced our opinion of this to our poor mother. I often think back to that moment now and feel very sorry for my mum. I have special empathy for her now, of course, as my own children often voice their disappointment with what I have just placed in front of them, mostly by exclaiming ‘yuck!’
As you grow older though your tastes change and this tomato ketchup tastes much better than the famous stuff.
This recipe is adapted from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s recipe in The River Cottage Cookbook (ISBN 0 00 220204 2)
1.5 kg tomatoes
1 large onion (I used red as that is what we have grown in the garden)
1 small red pepper ( or half a big one)
50g soft brown sugar
100 ml white wine or cider vinegar
A square of muslin or tea towel, boiled for a few minutes to sterilise and then filled with the spices listed below and tie with string to make a spice bag.
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp cumin seed
½tsp mustard powder
piece of cinnamon stick
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp ground mace
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, bashed once to bruise
1 ½ tsp black peppercorns
½ – 1 tsp paprika and salt to taste at the end of cooking
Chop the tomatoes, onions and pepper and then place in a pan over a medium heat and cook until really soft. I cooked them for about 25-30 minutes.
Rub the tomato mixture through a sieve over a bowl to achieve a smooth skinless purée.
Place the purée back in the clean pan and add the vinegar and the sugar and the spices in the bag. Bring the mixture to a boil and the reduce the heat and simmer gently until the mixture is a good tomato ketchup consistency. Keep tasting as you will need to remove the spice bag when they have infused the mixture to your taste. I removed my spice bag after about 15 minutes and simmered the ketchup for about 40 minutes.
Add paprika and salt to taste. Pour into warm sterilised jars and seal. This made 1¾ jar fulls for me.
I keep my jar in the fridge and intend to use it within a few weeks but Hugh FW says that it should keep for about a year. I can testify that it is great on a bacon sandwich.
This post has been waiting for me to write it for a while. I made this dish probably about ten days ago, but it’s been the end of the summer holidays and we have been making the most of our time with the girls.
This was the harvest from our polytunnel:
We were very excited as this is the first time we have had success with growing aubergines. Mr OC planted a mixed seed collection and these beauties were the result. We kept them in the house on the windowsills until the fruit appeared and then transferred them into the polytunnel and this, I think, has been the secret of our success. The ones planted directly into the polytunnel have produced flowers but no fruit, which was our experience last year. Our tomatoes have been brilliant this year, supplying a constant stream of ripe fruit and our basil is beautifully scented. I think this particular harvest is from a supermarket plant that I had pretty much used up in the house and so put it in the greenhouse and it has survived and gone from strength to strength.
I wanted to do something which made the most of both the aubergines and the tomatoes. Sometimes, the aubergine gets a bit lost when baked with a tomato sauce when I do an aubergine lasagne thingy. That is OK (and really quite delicious) when the aubergines are from the grocers, but when you have looked at them growing every day for a few months you really want them to be the centrepiece. I do minted aubergines quite a lot, but the mint is over and cut back in the garden now. Michele at Cooking at Home posted a wonderful and very inspiring pomodoro crudo the other week and so this seemed perfect to adapt a little for an aubergine and tomato salad.
So the tomatoes were diced and thrown into a bowl with some crumbled feta, salt and pepper and extra virgin olive oil and the basil and left to marinate whilst I got on with roasting the aubergines.
This picture doesn’t compare with Michele’s, so pop over to her site for a more beautiful image, where she uses mozzarella with her tomatoes.
I sliced the aubergines, sprinkled them with olive oil and seasoned generously with salt and pepper.
I then roasted them in the baking oven of my Aga, which is the equivalent of 180°c (gas mark 4) for about 20 minutes until soft and golden.
I placed the aubergines on the serving platter and placed the tomatoes and the lovely juices all over.
It’s best to leave it to stand for five minutes or so for the juices to be absorbed into the aubergine and then serve with lots of bread to mop up the juices.
This was a dish which definitely made the best of our polytunnel harvest.
Spring has nearly sprung. We have had some really spring-filled days in the last week or so, with blue cloudless skies and a watery sun. The washing has been hung outside to dry, bringing the fresh smell back in with it. It’s a sign of the times to come, or at least we hope it is. This change in the weather inspired me to make something that tastes of the summer and nothing reminds us more of summer than our oven dried tomatoes that were from our bursting at the seams polytunnel last summer. This dip was taken down to my parents’ house as part of a shared meal and it was really very tasty and it will be made again and again, I am sure of it.
It used up the last of the Total yoghurt – well they did give me a batch with a decent shelf life.
1 garlic clove, crushed
2-3 tbsp oven dried (or sun-dried) tomatoes in oil
3 tbsp fresh basil leaves
200g Total Greek yoghurt
salt and pepper
Blend the garlic, tomatoes and basil leaves in a food processor or blender, leaving them a little chunky, and mix with the yoghurt. Add salt and pepper to taste.
I call this my standby pasta sauce because it is the dinner I always turn to when I have failed to plan what to cook for dinner and it is already 5 o’clock. I put in whatever I have in the cupboard or fridge. The base is a couple of cloves of garlic and a tin of tomatoes (or if it’s the summer and the greenhouse is in full flow a handful of fresh tomatoes whizzed to a passata in the blender), then I add a chilli if I have one or ½ tsp of dried chilli flakes, basil leaves or ½ tsp dried oregano. There is usually a chorizo sausage lurking in the fridge, and if I feel like it ( and have them in the cupboard) I add caper berries and olives. Tonight I had an aubergine that needed using up. It is really adaptable and is quick to cook. The girls, of course, won’t consider spoiling their favourite dinner of plain pasta with anything that resembles a sauce, so this dinner has something for everyone!
The recipe below is the one I served tonight.
1-2 cloves of garlic chopped finely
1 400g tin of plum tomatoes (whizzed with a hand blender until smooth, but this isn’t absolutely necessary)
small handful of basil leaves, or ½ tsp dried oregano
1 chilli, chopped finely or ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
chorizo sausage, sliced into bite sized chunks
salt and pepper
Chop the aubergine into cubes and fry in a pan with a little olive oil for two minutes over a medium heat. Add the chorizo sausage and fry for another two minutes until both are browned. Turn the heat down a little and add the garlic, chilli and basil leaves and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and simmer for about ten minutes until the tomato sauce is thick. Season to taste and serve with the pasta shape of your choice and plenty of parmesan cheese.
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