October’s Green Tomato Late Season Harvest

Digging around in my freezer, I came across a frozen reminder of the season just past. A tub of green tomato salsa reminded me I never got around posting about that late season crop of green tomatoes.

Way back in late October, the night’s were getting chilly and I still had a ton of green tomatoes on the vine. I harvested 4 pounds of green tomatoes on October 27th and another 4 pounds a few weeks later.  Back in those balmy fall days, I posted this photo on Instagram of my harvest and asked “What would you do with them?”

Comments suggested pickles, chutney, fried green tomatoes and, of course, green tomato salsa.  I harvested mostly grape and cherry sized tomatoes, so I opted out of frying them. My current overly excessive stockpile of fermented vegetables also meant pickles were out.

So, armed with supplies I scrounged up from my cupboards and refrigerator, I landed somewhere between a green tomato chutney and a green tomato salsa. I don’t have a recipe to tell you about because, seriously, I tossed this together using stuff I already had around the house – onions, garlic, dried hot peppers, smoked salt, pepper, cayenne powder and lime juice.  I opted to make a run for fresh limes if only for the fresh zest to really amp up that hit of lime flavor.  Why zest? Well, I think Bon Appetit put it best… “Zest is the Best”!

These tomatoes were very, very, very. .  .very under-ripe, so the flavor landed somewhere between cardboard and chalk – not too different than green picked flavorless red globes that are ripened with ethylene gas except they were also quite dry and firm. So, I helped get the juices flowing by including a couple of red tomatoes (not ethylene ripened, but the few ripe ones on the vine).

Given the lack of ‘tomatoey’ flavor, these green tomatoes were really just a blank canvas to paint  flavors like lime, smoke, garlic, onions and heat onto.
I buzzed the tomatoes through the food processor for a rough chop then dumped them into a slow cooker with a generous helping of sea salt and smoked salt.  I also crumbled in dried cayenne and chipotle chiles.  Right now, I am obsessed with this Yakima – Applewood Smoked Salt from Gryffon Ridge Spice Merchants out of Maine.

While those simmered away, I stuck quartered onions and a whole head of garlic under the broiler to roast and get get a bit of caramelization and char for more layers of flavor.  Keep an eye on them because it is only a matter of a few moments to go from caramelized and lightly charred right to allium charcoal.

With the onions and garlic ready, I added them to the slow cooker full of tomatoes with the juice from three limes (note, be sure to zest them before you juice them), covered the whole mess and let them simmer away for a few hours. Yes, I said “hours”. Heck, go overnight.

As a finishing touch, I gave the pot a few buzzes with the immersion blender to eliminate any big chunks. This can also be done in the food processor. However, the longer this simmers the softer those chunks and then a hand potato masher will suffice.

Now, rather than 4 pounds of green tomatoes, I owned a HUGE pot of green salsa. Feeling too lazy to hot water bath can, I divvied up the salsa into 8 and 16 ounce portions and stuck them in the freezer to be discovered on a snowy winter day and used for delicious enchiladas or as a simmering sauce for chicken or simply as a tortilla chip dip.

Happy Cooking!

Come, Take a Cooking Class with Me!

Whew. 2016 is wrapping up and it has been a wild year.

I am not into New Year’s resolutions and making a big hoopla out of  starting anew on January 1st.  I don’t look at the start of the new year as this fantastical day when a page turns and things suddenly change. While 2016 had both its ups and downs, honestly, the downs were devastating and life-changing events that are seared into my memory with sadness, pain and grief.
Cooking with Kimi Logo

So, this year, I am actually looking forward to closing the book on 2016 and starting 2017 with a fresh new outlook. To prepare, I spent the several months in planning mode and put effort into my venture, Cooking with Kimi.

I made myself a cute little lCooking with Kimi in action, cooking classogo. I got fancy pictures taken so I looked like the bad-ass cooking instructor that I am.

I spent time ‘curating’ my presence on social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (insert unabashed plug to beg you to ‘like’, ‘follow’, ‘share’, ‘repost’ and <3 me often and with great enthusiasm).

I made cool new business cards and swag.
Cooking with Kimi Cooking Class Swag

I also started teaching cooking classes out of my home as well as filing up my winter calendar with cooking classes all around Boston.  Which is why I am asking all of you to come, cook with me!

Check out all the cooking classes coming up in 2017 (click the titles to register):

Don’t forget, you can always find all of this in a calendar format on my Upcoming Events & Classes page!

Happy Cooking!

Taco Night with Recipes by Alex Stupak

On Sunday, the Boston Area Cookbook Club took on Taco Night –  Alex Stupak Style. Tacos: Recipes and Provocations came out in 2015. It caught my eye. On one had, img_20161109_101855tacos are ubiquitous creations where anything eaten in a folded tortilla earns the name taco. Yet, this cookbook gets rave reviews (like this one on Food52). Several ‘Best of’ lists also lauded lauded it in 2015 (like this one from Epicurious).  So, does that make this book a conundrum, oxymoron or just confused?

As a kid, tacos usually meant tearing open an envelope of ‘taco seasoning; and dumping it over cooked ground beef. We loaded the greasy, beefy, salty mixture into the bottom of a stale taco shell that might sat on a grocery store shelf for weeks… months… years. We topped it off with shredded, yellow, generic cheese, chopped iceberg lettuce, jarred salsa and a splash of hot sauce. Sometimes, diced tomatoes or sour cream made an appearance.

Inevitably, the grease soaked through the bottom of the shell making a soggy mess. Often resulting in something more like a nachos than a tacos. Continue reading Taco Night with Recipes by Alex Stupak

Soothing lemon honey ferment for scratchy throat season

I woke up Tuesday with a tickle in my throat and I opted to pretend it wasn’t there. I woke up Wednesday with that tickle still in my throat and I furled my brow and wished it went away. I woke up Thursday with that tickle turned into a scratching on my tonsils and I decided to pull out my lemon honey ferment and a hot cup of tea. And now, that tickle in my throat is feeling soothed as can be.

Sure, you can dip a spoonful of honey and a squeeze of fresh lemon into a hot cup of tea, gingerlemonhoneybut why not take it to the next level with a little microbial action? Especially when it is so easy to do.  It only takes two ingredients. You can add a third if you are daring.  Actually, it is not only lemon and ginger that get in on this fun honey action, but garlic is also a favorite. Check out this recipe by Killer Pickles for more about her Honeyed Garlic recipe.

Here are the in-depth and detailed (read: super easy) instructions to making your own honey-lemon (and ginger, if you are so inclined) at home.

  1. Buy a pint of raw honey.
  2. Thinly slice whole, preferably organic, lemons (2 works well for a pint of honey).
  3. Thinly slice ginger with the skin on, if you are using. (You can peel is, but there are a good number of yeasties on the surface of ginger).
  4. Layer the lemon, ginger and honey into a quart jar (this will expand, so better for a bigger jar).
  5. Shake, shake, shake it up.  Make sure you fully coat all the lemon and ginger in the jar.
  6. Wait. Shake. Wait. Shake. Do this twice a day for 5 days.  During those wait times, make sure the lid is not tightened to allow gases to escape. Don’t forget to re-tighten it to shake or you will be a sticky mess.
  7. At the end of 5 days, remove the lemon and ginger to a separate container. You can leave it in there indefinitely, but it will get more and more bitter from the pith.
    prepping-lemon-honey-ferment

Now, you have a deliciously infused honey and delicious honey coated and softened ginger and lemons.  Both should be stored in the refrigerator because they will continue to ferment at room temperature. If that honey keeps fermenting, soon you will have an alcoholic mead, which can be yummy and soothing in its own respect. But that wasn’t really the goal here, was it?

How does this work, you ask?  Well, honey inherently contains some great yeast microbes that allow it to ferment on its own. You can learn a bit more about it from the good people at Cultures for Health.  A pure honey or honey in the hive doesn’t ferment because bees are so super smart that they k
now to dehydrate honey to less than 18% water content to prevent fermentation.  As soon as you add the lemons and ginger, the water content gets high enough to allow the honey yeasts, the ginger yeasts and even the yeasts on the surface of the lemon to get to work.

What can you do with this? Well, you can eat both right from the jar because they img_20161027_145334are delicious. You can use the them to flavor hot or cold teas and drinks. For that scratchy throat, I opted for a delicious fall tea I received in my monthly Try the World box because they had a lovely fall flavors Apple Cinnamon Black Tea from IT by jugias. You can top ice cream with them or add them to an ice cream base. You can make a deliciously infused sauce for something like, say, pork chops.

 

I did a bit of digging to find out if there are any specific probiotic benefits to this concoction. While, yes, it is the microbial action of yeasts transforming the flavors and textures for the lemons, gingers and honey, it does not appear these yeasties have any particular health benefits other than providing you a bit of happiness from their amazing flavors!

Happy Cooking!