I know everyone is concerned about the effects of Hurricane Irene on the homes and infrastructure and beaches of the Eastern Seaboard. But I have had a different thought; what about all of the farms in the storm’s path? Some of the best tomatoes I have ever eaten have come from New Jersey. I love buying corn picked that same day on the tip of Long Island. What about the Hudson Valley farmers that supply markets like the NYC Union Square Greenmarket? Not to mention stores like Fairway? Thankfully, Thistle Cove Farm says it was a lot of wind and not worse, but I wonder how the rest of the farms got through.
Here in SoCal, the world stops with a speeding drop of rain. I can’t imagine a major catastrophe here. As I picked my way through the markets this weekend, I was grateful for our consistently perfect weather, which contributes to consistently great produce. Can you ever have too many tomatoes? No, I don’t think so. I use what I grow in the garden, supplemented by heirlooms from Valdivia~
When I return home each Sunday after the market, late afternoon, I am usually tired, but cooking what I found that same day gives me my energy back and is very relaxing to me. Today I took the week’s tomatoes and got busy with some simple recipes I will share here.
A French “tian” is like a gratin, but it really refers to the clay baking dish. To make a Provencal eggplant tian, select some small to medium sized eggplant, onion (whatever color you find!) and tomatoes~
Slice the tomatoes, onion and eggplant into approximately 1/4” slices; arrange tightly in a baking dish alternating slices; it’s best to select eggplant, onions and tomatoes that are approximately the same diameter, but don’t worry if they are not~ use peeled garlic cloves to fill in the spaces, drizzle with olive oil; I used avocado oil today~
Cook at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. Then dust with sea salt and ground pepper; using a fork, press the veggies down to the same height and to release some of their juices. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes or so until it looks slightly roasted and done. Sprinkle with Parmesan or (in this case Trader Joe’s Four Cheese mix) at the last minute and you have a great veggie meal; add a little crusty bread and wine and this is all you will need~
Next, I took the end slices of the tomatoes from the tian and added more tomatoes from the garden, and put them in a pie tin with a few partially seeded jalapeno peppers; leave the seeds in if you want it really spicy~
Bake at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the tomatoes and chiles have roasted~
Leave the tomato peels on, but remove the tomato cores when slightly cooled. Process in a Mini-Prep or food processor; you will end up with a slightly chunky and spicy sauce. We had this tonight on top of pan fried filet of sole from the Saturday Corona del Mar market, but my sister is coming by shortly to take the rest so she can put it on scrambled eggs for breakfast; the family favorite~
For dessert tonight the gang is having home made vanilla ice cream with roasted figs, from the market today. Make an X on top of each fig, add a small piece of butter and some vanilla sugar; cook at low temp for about an hour…. yum~
My Mom asked me for some flowers today (pink~ of course), which will grace the table~
More recipes soon. This week we will wind up for the Labor Day weekend and create a great menu based on whatever we find fresh at the markets~