Archives for posts with tag: tomatoes

leeksleeks

I am very full. I write this almost immediately after eating Sunday night dinner, a meal one shouldn’t miss. Tonight we had beef short rib, slow cooked for 9 hours with red wine, mushrooms, carrots and smoky bacon. The rib was tender and left the clean, sleek bones behind in the slow cooker. We had mashed potatoes made smooth with a hunk of butter and big scoop of chicken stock from a roast during the week. On the side, softened leeks. I watched the leeks slowly steam in butter and oil through the glass lid of a fry pan and the light green colour, like a perfectly ripe avocado, reminded me of a very good leek recipe I have been meaning to share.

cross sectionquarters, lengthwise

The leek is probably my favourite vegetable. A strong declaration perhaps when you consider the variety, the sheer abundance and colour of the vegetable world. But the sleek, white, sturdy and soil-dusted trunk with the green fan tops are my most loved. I cannot pinpoint when the leek became a crucial part of my culinary arsenal, which is likely another measure of favouritism – never a conscious decision but a slow integration until you cannot remember ever cooking without it. I realised I began most meals by dicing a piece of a leek rather than an onion or like the meal tonight, sauteed leeks became as common as steamed broccoli or green beans for the vegetable side. Then much like broccoli once made the leap from a humble side to the star of the show (think roast broccoli), leeks began to do the same.

placed in dishtomatoes

These leeks do indeed steal the show. They are acidic, bright and sweet. They are like ribbons, almost pasta in texture; wide wraps of tender noodle. With tomatoes and a robust mustard vinaigrette, they seem an entirely different vegetable to the diced and sauteed and the gently cooked leek for soup.

beforeafter

I’ll let the photos do the talking here. It’s late on a Sunday and between the title and the photography clues, I’m sure you get the idea – that there is perhaps more to the leek than we thought.

Roasted Vinaigrette Leeks

This serves as a generous accompanying dish for four people. Goes superbly with chicken, but also with pork chops.

2 leeks
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 pinches salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
minced garlic clove (I didn’t use this but just thought it might be a nice addition)
1-2 tomatoes, diced
handful sun-dried (can use no tomato or either all sun-dried or fresh)

Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Cut the white of the leeks in half lengthwise then each length into quarters, lengthwise. Place the leeks into a large oven dish with the chopped tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes. In a bowl or jug mix the vinaigrette ingredients together and pour over the leeks. Cover with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven and remove the tinfoil then gently mix, basting the leeks with the sauce. Place back in the oven with the tinfoil removed for another 15-20 minutes until soft and floppy.

It has been a while since I studied and I have forgotten how to do it. (Though, past exam results would question if I have ever known how to do it.) Instead of re-reading and re-writing notes on topics I will possibly never ever contemplate again, even in the deep, dark recesses of my brain, I find myself pondering the deeper questions of life… what to get my sister for Christmas? Why didn’t I buy that lovely biscuit tin in France? Why did my mother not have me learn French In-vitro? What would I do if I won Lotto? What to cook for dinner? Coffee or tea?

And today’s question: could I make tomato chutney from canned tomatoes, a cheater’s tomato chutney of sorts? Could I? Is this a dangerous thought to be thinking right now? I am having wondrous visions of my business communication notes splattered delightfully in a sweet, red, juicy sauce…

A tomato chutney, I feel, is one of life’s staple ingredients. If made with the right ratio of brown sugar to vinegar to spices it really is the most versatile of condiments. A good tomato chutney can liven any dish. Take the corn fritters I had for lunch: palm sized, crisp edged, buttery yellow fritters with hints of coriander and pieces of red capsicum, well seasoned and kindly re-heated in the oven, rather than the microwave which makes all the difference. They were everything a corn fritter should have been. But, I couldn’t help thinking a sweet tomato chutney with traces of spice and ginger could have made these fritters truly exceptional.

This chutney, this chutney, you will be eating from the jar with a teaspoon. It is more like a jam, but don’t let that hinder its versatility. I think I will eat this on toast with a generous spreading of butter, or in rice dishes, or stirred through cream cheese for a dip, or atop baked potatoes, or as an omelette flavouring, or in any egg dish for that matter, or with cold roast chicken in a sandwich, or simply with cheese and a cracker.

This chutney-jam is very easy to make. Just mix everything in the pot until it reaches jam-like consistency. As it shimmers and simmers away the colours begin to change to richer and darker hues, the colour of ripe chillies, or smashed berries.

Ideal for dramatic note-staining. Or eating by the spoonful.

Tomato Chutney-Jam

Adapted from this recipe and this recipe.

1 800g tin of whole peeled tomatoes in juice plus 1 400g tin.
330-ish ml of white wine vinegar (or cider vinegar, or just plain white vinegar)
1 cinnamon quill
4-5 whole cloves
1 head garlic, finely diced
1 piece of ginger about the size of your thumb, finely diced
handful raisins
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
pepper
generous pinch of chilli flakes (optional)

Pour the tins of tomatoes into a medium-large pot. Chop roughly with a knife. Using the 400g tin, fill 3/4 of the way up with vinegar, swirl to gather left over tomato juice. Pour into pot. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and leave uncovered for 90minutes, or until liquid has reduced and the consistency is thicker.

Take 2 preserving jars and sterilise in hot water or the oven. When jam has finished cooking, pour into jars and place lid tightly on top. Leave to cool. The jar lid should make a ‘pop’ sound as it seals itself.

If you plan on eating the chutney within 2-3 weeks, preserving jars are not necessary, simply place in fridge.

N.B If you would like a less sweet jam reduce the white sugar content to only half a cup.