heirloom tomatoes

Lime Turmeric Salad Dressing

by Anne Maxfield on October 27, 2016

accidental-locavore-lime-turmeric-dressing-on-tomatoesLime, turmeric, ginger – got a couple of superfoods in this salad dressing, so it might actually be good for you.

And Zagat’s has named turmeric “this year’s trendiest superfood“.

The Accidental Locavore had some cilantro that wasn’t going to last much longer so I gave this recipe from Ottolenghi via bon appétit a shot.

Since everything ends up in a food processor, your chopping doesn’t need to be picture perfect.

Makes about ¾ cup.

Lime Turmeric Salad Dressing

  • ¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1” piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove peeled and crushed
  • 1 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon lime zest (from about ½ lime)
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 jalapeno seeded and roughly chopped (more or less to taste)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Put the turmeric, ginger, garlic, cilantro, lime zest and juice and some of the jalapeno into the food processor, pulse until finely chopped.

With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil. Taste and add salt and more jalapeno as needed. Serve over your favorite greens and enjoy!

accidental-locavore-lime-turmeric-salad-dressingMy verdict: Not love at first bite.  Tried the lime turmeric salad dressing on some heirloom tomatoes and then on some local lettuce and was, frankly, underwhelmed.

The original recipe called for a whole jalapeno and this time I was playing it safe. I ended up using about a quarter of a pretty big and spicy one, so unless you’re a heat freak (and/or you know how hot your chile is) err on the cautious side with this.

I think turmeric is an acquired taste. Good in small doses when it blends with other spices. It gave the dressing a slightly soapy taste and adding more lime juice didn’t perk it up. The original recipe called for fresh turmeric (4” piece peeled and chopped) and that might make a difference, but turmeric is hard to come by in my ‘hood. Are you able to find it by you? And have you ever used it?

 

 

 

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10 Things NOT to do at a Farmers’ Market

by Anne Maxfield on July 4, 2016

Accidental Locavore Tomatoes From Farmers MarketIt’s getting to be peak farmers’ market season. The Accidental Locavore thought it was a good time to re-run on of your favorite posts.

During the taping of a cooking show I was talking to a couple of farmers who have been at the various farmers’ markets for years.

They’ve witnessed a lot.

Drunks, dogs and kids all run amuck.

Women with cigarettes demanding to know if the produce is organic.

They’ve seen it all.

Some of their stories may surprise you and if you recognize yourself…

  1. Give yourself time to wander through and see what’s available.
  2. If you pick up a tomato to see how ripe it is, put it down, someone else picks it up, etc, etc., by the end of the day it’s essentially a tomato water balloon. Not good.
  3. Usually farmers are happy to let you taste berries. If you taste a berry and like it, take the box you picked the berry from. Don’t get a new box and don’t add more berries to the box you have.Accidental Locavore Corn From Farmers Market
  4. My big pet peeve at any market: shucking corn. It makes a huge mess. If you take it home shucked, it loses moisture and flavor. You’ve got nothing to grill it in, one of the best and easiest ways to cook corn. The way to see if an ear of corn is going to be good is to look at it. It should look fresh and moist, not dried out. If you are a corn shucker, try picking one or two ears that look good to you. Take them home un-shucked and see how they compare to the ones you made a mess with. My history shows a 98% success rate just going for the good-looking ones.
  5. Talk with the farmers, they’ll welcome your appreciation of their hard work. In return, they will be happy to help you pick out the best stuff and often give you tips on how to prepare it.
  6. Remember, all this beautiful food is really labor intensive. It’s planted, weeded and harvested, primarily by hand. Trust me, these guys work hard, harder than you or I. If you think prices seem higher than at a big supermarket, be thankful you have access to the remarkable taste that only comes from something being picked that morning, at the peak of flavor. Not to mention the variety. Even at the best stores, you never see twenty different kinds of eggplants or forty varieties of tomatoes. Accidental Locavore Farmers Market Exchange
  7. Even if you are in a rush, hand the farmers the money. If you leave the money on the counter, leave it right in front of them so they don’t have to reach across to get it (or worse, someone else picks it up). And if you’re in that much of a hurry, chill (and stop shucking that corn).
  8. Would you leave an empty coffee cup or other garbage on the counter at Tiffany’s? Then why do you think you can do it at a farmers’ market? Because it’s outside??? All vendors have trash cans, usually behind the counter. Ask nicely and they’ll toss your trash.
  9. If you want cheap prices, to be able to run in and out, grab a handful of plastic bags and toss money on a counter, go to a supermarket (use the self-service line). Don’t complain that the veggies don’t taste good.  When you go to a farmers’ market, look for a more personal experience, a slower pace, an interaction with the people who spend their lives bringing us great food to eat.
  10. And if you want to see if a tomato can actually be a water balloon, just do the one thing that’s universally despised by farmers everywhere…shake your bag in their face…

Don’t say you weren’t warned! Did I miss anything?

 

 

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Revisiting Stuffed Tomatoes, A Summer Favorite

by Anne Maxfield on September 10, 2015

Accidental Locavore Heirloom TomatoesEven though my friend Ivan will be rolling his eyes about another tomato recipe–poor guy he’s in Texas (need I say more?), the Accidental Locavore is working through piles of tomatoes, trying to take advantage of all their goodness!  There is very little that can beat a fresh tomato, perfectly ripe and smelling like the essence of summer.

While most of the time, I’m content to just cut them up and toss into a salad, or mix with some local mozzarella and basil from the garden, occasionally the Locavore yearns for an old French favorite, stuffed tomatoes. Now, I’m not talking about breadcrumb stuffed tomatoes, or a tomato gratin, but what I fell in love with in Paris so many years ago, the sausage stuffed ones you find in every boulangerie in the summer.

Accidental Locavore StuffingIt’s one of the key recipes I look for when perusing French cookbooks, rarely found. Even the Internet, that seemingly inexhaustible source of information, has been less than forthcoming. That’s actually not true, it’s just that none of them are the “right” recipe.

When the Accidental Locavore was up in Maine, last month, my mother had an old French cookbook from the sixties and I copied that recipe for stuffed tomatoes, because it had a simplicity that seemed more authentic than most. I had made merguez, with homemade green harissa and thought that might be an interesting (but not traditional) sausage to use. Here’s the recipe for two people:

  • 4 firm tomatoes (I used two really large German Stripe)
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter (olive oil is fine too), plus more for the tops of the tomatoes
  • ½pound sausage, generally pork (if you’re using links, remove from casing and crumble the meat)
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs,  plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 2 tablespoons juice from the tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons parsley

Accidental Locavore Tomatoes StuffedSlice off and reserve the tops of 4 firm tomatoes. Scoop out the centers of the tomatoes and reserve them, discard the seeds. Warm the butter in a medium sauté pan, add the onion and garlic and cook over medium heat until soft (but not browned), about 5 minutes. Mix together the sausage meat, bread crumbs moistened with the juice from the tomatoes, the sautéed onion and garlic, the tomato centers and parsley. Stuff the tomatoes with the mixture, sprinkle them with fine breadcrumbs, dot each with a small piece of butter and replace the caps. Bake in a lightly oiled baking sheet at 300 degrees for 35 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: The tomatoes tasted good and we ate all of them, however they’re not quite French enough. Because I tried to get a finer grind on the merguez, there wasn’t a noticeable textural difference between the sausage and the breadcrumbs. Next time, I’m going to use a good pork sausage, maybe even a breakfast sausage. Panko breadcrumbs might be an interesting substitute for the standard ones, or I’ll just pull out the food processor and make my own. Unless my husband decides he’s had enough stuffed vegetables, there’s still plenty of time left to perfect this. Stay tuned!

Accidental Locavore Merguez Stuffed TomatoesUpdate: This batch was with some homemade (regular) merguez and while they’re fine and spicy, it’s not the traditional way I remember. It really needs some good pork sausage, even a breakfast style would be ok as long as it wasn’t too sweet. I’m also thinking that maybe some toasted pine nuts would give a bit of a crunch, which would be nice. Because you don’t need to have super-ripe tomatoes, and they’re baked, you could get away with them even in the winter.

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Top Ten Tomatoes!

by Anne Maxfield on August 20, 2015

Accidental Locavore Blue Bowl With TomatoesSince you might have a few beautiful tomatoes kicking around, the Accidental Locavore is happy to share some of my favorite things to do with them, starting with:

  1. How to pick a good tomato: some tips to make sure you get the best from the market, whether they’re Purple Cherokees or good ol’ beefsteaks.
  2. But before you go poking all those tomatoesAccidental Locavore Tomatoes Stem Side Down
  3. Why should you store tomatoes upside down? We all know not to store tomatoes in the fridge (kills the flavor), but did you know to store them on the counter, stem-side down? It keeps them fresher longer because the moisture can’t escape through the opening where the stem was. Peaches work this way too.Accidental Locavore Gazpacho With Croutons
  4. If you’re in the mood for soup, here are two very different but equally delicious recipes for gazpacho, smooth and chunky. My current fave is the smooth, but what about you?Accidental Locavore Tomato Mozzarella Basil
  5. You know how to do the classic caprese – tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. If I can find good smoked mozzarella, that’s what I go for, although recently these little mozzarella balls have caught my attention. A drizzle of good olive oil, sea salt and maybe a splash of balsamic and you’re done!Accidental Locavore Chili Tomatoes
  6. If you’ve got a plethora of cherry tomatoes, here’s a recipe for them, packing some heat. It’s simple and quick (and the Martha Stewart story with the recipe will make you smile).
  7. Still have a lot left, or some small heirlooms? This recipe from Ottolenghi is a little more complicated, but well worth the extra 20 minutes!
  8. Moving into main courses, but still using the cherry tomatoes, here’s a good, fresh pasta sauce that comes together in no time. And you can keep it simple, or dress it up, depending on your mood.Accidental Locavore Tomatoes Stuffed
  9. One of my all-time favorite things to do with tomatoes, especially the biggies like the German Stripes I adore, is to stuff them. Any kind of sausage is good, and any size will work, but the really huge ones make a great presentation!
  10. To end, how about a pie? When I make a ratatouille pot pie it’s always a big hit with my friends (and worth turning the oven on for).

Serve and enjoy!

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