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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lazy Summer Sunday Arvo - Ha! (Part 2)

So after I was finished with my plums around mid-day, I then sat and peered intently at the tomatoes on the windowsill, counter and table. 

I carefully measured out 1 kg of tomatoes and gleefully chuckled to myself.  "I've made a significant dent!  Ha, take THAT!"  Just out of curiosity, I wandered outside with my handy basket to relieve the plants of the one or two ripe ones that I knew would be waiting for me.  I stood there, staring with utter disbelief and more than a little despair.  I went back inside with over a kilo of freshly picked tomatoes.  So much for my dent!

I decided to make pasta sauce, as I had cleared a little space in the freezer.  Since I preserved tomatoes yesterday (no post on that.  not quite sure how they turned out yet), I simply couldn't bear the idea of blanching and peeling more tomatoes today, so I cut them in half and tossed them on a tray.  Then inspiration struck...

I quartered 2 onions and nestled some sprigs of thyme and some bay leaves among the veggies.  I drizzled the whole thing with olive oil and sprinkled it with mixed herbs and coarsely ground salt.
I love beautiful looking food - it looked so pretty.  I popped it in the oven at 150 Celsius for about an hour.
After I did a few rounds of my knitting, I went outside and picked a bunch of basil and oregano.  I chopped it up and left it in a bowl, ready to use.
After an hour in the oven - it smelled incredible!

Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes and onions (throw out the herbs) and put them in a food processor and whizz up until it's a consistency you like for pasta sauce.

In another pan, with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, saute some crushed garlic until it's fragrant.
Mix in whizzed sauce and chopped herbs.  Add 2 tbsp of tomato paste and the secret ingredients - a couple of glugs of red wine and of Worcester sauce (the sauce gives it that little something that it needed to take away the tartness of the tomatoes.)  Season to taste with salt + pepper.

Simmer for about 20 minutes to thicken it.  I could have let it simmer longer, but I wanted it to be a little bit liquidy, as I planned to freeze it.  It is also imperative that you test it with fresh bread.  Do not burn your tongue (as I may have.)

Put in container and let cool.  All ready to freeze for up to 4 months.

It.  Tastes.  Amazing.  I figure that's about 2 really generous servings, so it works out to about 4 Weight Watchers ProPoints.

When I use it for pasta, I'll probably throw in some spinach, mushrooms and mince meat to bulk it up a bit (the meat will add to the points value though.)

As I have said many times, I've got an abundance of tomatoes, so I've already planned for the next time I make it - I will roast it with a head of garlic (wrapping the cloves in tin foil so they don't stew in the juices that come out of the veges) and a red capsicum (I was a bit disappointed to find that I did have one in the fridge that I could have used today.)  Yum!

I've already had dinner tonight, but the thought of my pasta sauce is making my tummy rumble again!

Lazy Summer Sunday Afternoon - Ha! (Part 1)

Lazy is the last adjective I would use to describe my day today.  I've been buzzing around, like a fly on crack, creating, stirring, bottling and testing (the best part.)  It was hot today.  The kind of hot where you just want to lay where you may and let the breeze wash over you.
She lay motionless for at least an hour.  I would have worried if she didn't jump up when I shook her cat biscuits.
Not to brag, but my kitchen smelled awesome today.

I started the morning by attacking my 2 kg of plums that my lovely friend J brought me from her tree on Thursday.  After a brief moment of panic (if I was meant to peel the plums or not) and a quick phone call to Phill's nana, I took a break and trundled off to the grocery store to get some jam sugar.  Nana had used some the other day (with the recipe on the back) and it was apparently amazing.

2 kg of perfect plummy goodness.

Peeled, stoned and cut in halves.  I just couldn't resist popping a couple of bits in my mouth (I had to test it you know.  Quality control.)  Seriously?  Could you resist that sight?

I never realised how much sugar goes into jam.

Add 1 1/2 cups of water to the plums, boil until mushy.

Use trusty potato masher to crush the plums.

Add copious amounts of jam sugar (7 cups) and stir until dissolved.  Do not let boil yet.
Stir in 2 knobs of butter (20g) and bring to a rolling boil.  Let boil for 10-15 min.

Test frequently for setting point (spoon a bit on a cold plate, let cool slightly and run your finger through it.  If it forms a channel, you can take start bottling it, as it will set when it cools.) 

Moisten wax paper discs and affix on jars with a rubber band immediately after putting in jam (use a sterilized funnel to get it in the bottles.  Watch your fingers, the jam's very hot!)  
For my first attempt, it was okay - I've been examining my jars all day and it still looks a bit runny to me.  I'd let it boil a bit longer if I were to do it again.

So in a nutshell - the recipe is as follows (a combination of one from the Edmond's Cookbook and the recipe on the back of the jam sugar packet.)

Plum Jam
Weight Watchers ProPoints:  1 point per tablespoon
  • 2 kg plums - pitted, peeled and halved (chop them up if you want to skip the potato masher step.)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 7 cups sugar (white sugar will work, but the jam sugar is quite nice and has extra bits in it to help it set apparently.)
  • 2 knobs butter (20g - I think the butter gives the jam that lovely glossiness)
  1. Peel, pit and chop the plums - halves or smaller, your choice.
  2. Place in pot with water and boil until mushy.
  3. Mush up more with masher.
  4. Add sugar - stir until dissolved.  Do not let boil yet.
  5. Once sugar is dissolved, add butter and boil briskly for 10 - 15 min.
  6. Test frequently for setting point (then bottle when ready!)
  7. If you're using wax discs, don't forget to moisten them before putting them on the jars (like I forgot.)
  8. Store in a cool, dark place.
I'm planning to have toast and jam for breakfast tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tomatoes Galore

Holy hell.  I'm overwhelmed with tomatoes.  I've got to do some preserving this weekend, but in the meantime, I thought I'd try my hand at tomato sauce.  Phill's parents were here on Sunday, and apparently Dad really likes it freshly made.  He said it had burned a tiny bit, so it had caramelized (which is true, I remember the burning and mild panic) but otherwise it was a success.

From beginning to end...
It was dead easy, and tastes pretty good.  Sorry for the old school measurements - it's an old family recipe... thank goodness for Google!  I know a lot of these chutney/sauce recipes do have a lot of sugar in them, but if you're not having heaps at once and very often, I think it's okay.

Phill's Nana's Tomato Sauce (via Phill's Mum)
Makes: approx 1 litre
Weight Watchers Points: 1 point per tbsp (based on approx 66 tbsp in 1 litre)

4.5 lbs tomatoes
1 lb onions
1/8 cup table salt
1 lb brown sugar
1/4 oz all spice
1/4 oz peppercorns
1/4 oz cloves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 level dessert spoon cinnamon (I guessed about 2 tsp)
375 ml malt vinegar

Cut it all up and boil for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.
Strain and bottle (I don't have a proper strainer, so I blanched and peeled the tomatoes first and then mashed it up while cooking.  Next time, I may give it a whiz in the food processor before bottling.)