the taste space

Moroccan Tomato Chili Chutney

Posted in Sides by janet @ the taste space on September 19, 2012

When I go travelling, I love to take cooking classes. When I went to Morocco, I took a lovely private cooking class in Marrakesh, with the chef from a near riad. We made a sampling of traditional Moroccan mezes (tomato jam, stuffed zucchini and zaalouk), two entrees (apricot and lamb tagine and chicken bastilla) and milk bastilla for dessert (photos from Casa and Marrakesh here, from the desert and Fes/Meknes).

We toured around Morocco, and when we arrived in Fes, it was rainy. Since most of our activities were outdoors, I contemplated doing yet another cooking class at a local restaurant. Instead, we opted to eat lunch there and I bought their cookbook, Clock Book, to take home.

A few months later, I went vegan. You wouldn’t think it, but Morocco was quite meat-heavy.  With so many flavourful vegetarian options on the web, you’d think they would be easy to find in Morocco. Not so.

Of the dishes from the cooking class, the mezes were vegan-friendly. I can’t seem to remember where I put my recipe for tomato jam, but it is unlike any jam you might think you know. Slowly simmered tomatoes are infused with cinnamon, sweetener and topped with sesame seeds.

However, this leads me to this month’s Random Recipe which was to randomly pick a tea time treat. I have a few cookbooks, but none with a section for tea treats, so I randomly flipped through cookbooks until I found a tea-appropriate treat. That’s when I pulled out Clock Book and it fell open to this Tomato and Chili Chutney, very reminiscent of tomato jam, although definitely more of a chutney with the vinegar. The cookbook paired it with fried crispy squid but like tomato jam, I figured it would be nice with a simple bread or cracker. I am a sucker for cinnamon, and paired with tomato and a sharp vinegary bite with a touch of heat from the red chiles, this was a unique chutney.

While I halved the recipe, it still made a lot (around 2 cups), so we will see how it combines with Indian snacks, too.

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Wellness, to Eat, Make, Grow and to Random Recipes and Tea Time Treats.

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How to Can Pureed Tomatoes

Posted in Sides by janet @ the taste space on September 5, 2012

First of all, thank you for all the warm fuzzies regarding my grandfather passing away. Never a fun affair, but he lived his 92 years really well. Once I came back I knew I had to tackle my half crate of tomatoes. They don’t wait for you. Even if you had a funeral to attend.

Once you buy a crate of tomatoes, you are committed.

I didn’t think 50 lbs of tomatoes was that much. I mean, the guy next to me bought 2 crates. I had ho-humed over buying San Marzano tomatoes for $19/big crate but when the Romas came on sale for $10/bushel (53 lbs), I decided I had nothing to lose.

Two weekends ago, I made a bunch of tomato-based dishes. I also slow-roasted them (cored, halved, 250F for an hour or so, drizzled with a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper, then froze them), dehydrated them (cored, halved, dehydrated at 135F for 24 hours, then stored them at room temperature) and may turn some of them into powder, too. My fridge and freezer are becoming quite full so I turned to canning last weekend.

First of all, this may be a do as I say, not as I did kind of recipe. I consulted with two expert tomato canners: my mother and grandmother. Both assured me that canning tomatoes was simple. No need to fuss with a water bath. Just blend tomatoes, simmer, place the hot tomatoes into a hot jar and screw on a hot lid. So that’s what I did. And it was easy, just time consuming due to the sheer amount of tomatoes.

There are countless ways to can tomatoes. This is an ancient art. But, not a time to experiment. People have died from improper canning. Botulism is real.

I originally wanted to make a bunch of tomato-based mother curry sauces (bring on the fabulous Balti sauce!) but my Mom was adamant not to can anything with oil or garlic. If I did, I had to follow a tried-and-true recipe. Low-acid foods require pressure canning. Science is at play. Safety is paramount.

So I kept things super simple.

I didn’t peel my tomatoes. I pureed them in my blender.

I didn’t strain any seeds or skins. I used my Vitamix.

I didn’t add anything to the tomatoes. Although, I should have added lemon juice to decrease the pH, based on the revamped safety recommendations (revamped as in 1988).

I also didn’t water bath my tomatoes. I should have and will do it next time. Even if it would make this so much more messy and time consuming. My “old world” method is super easy but not considered safe. However, I will use these canned tomatoes since we haven’t encountered a problem yet.

Now for a bit of a breather before I look out for fun cooked tomatoes recipes.

Here are multiple ways to can tomatoes. And I think I have finally found my no-sugar pickled beet recipe!

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Elena.

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