Friday, September 28, 2007

Back from Vacation

I was going to sweep in here with a post on chicken and just ignore the fact that I haven’t been around for a while. Then I thought to myself “Holly, these people aren’t idiots. They are going to notice that you’ve been gone.” And so I listened to myself and I am sheepishly asking your forgiveness for my long absence. I took an unexcused late summer vacation.

"Where did she go?" You ask. Nowhere at all.

I have been seeing to the house, my job, my marriage and my family. I have been visiting, sleeping, lounging, and of course, eating. I spent a few blissful weekends at the beach, listening to the waves roll in at night. I have been frequenting the farmers market, canning and getting ready for winter. I have been in denial that summer is going anywhere at all. My freezer is filling up gradually. Not enough to keep us in local food for the winter, but it is a start, and I know that next year will be better.

One way that I decided to preserve summer for the dark days of February was by roasting 7 quarts of beautiful beefsteak tomatoes. These reduced to the most lovely concentrated flavor and the garlic and thyme complement their richness. I’m looking forward to zipping these up into a creamy roasted tomato soup with a big hunk of bread a couple months down the road. In the mean time, we have been using the stash in the fridge to make up some mean dinners for the early fall. The other night it was sautéed pork with green peppers, onion and roasted tomatoes over pearled couscous. Divine!

Thanks for your patience with me. School's back in session. My pencils are sharpened.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes (adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine)

6 beefsteak tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 350F.

Prepare a roasting pan (or two) that can accommodate 12 tomato halves. Line the pan first with aluminum foil and then with parchment paper

Cut the tomatoes in half across the equator. Place cut side up in the roasting pan. Sprinkle each half with garlic, a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar and thyme leaves. Drizzle all tomatoes with the olive oil.

Roast for 3-4 hours or until the tomatoes have collapsed and browned at the edges. Keep in the refrigerator or freeze for winter.

Sautéed Pork with Green Peppers, Onion and Roasted Tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large green pepper
1/2 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
2 center cut pork chops
1 cup chicken broth
3 oven roasted tomato halves, coarsely chopped

Slice the pork chops into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a medium sauté pan or fry pan, heat olive oil, add peppers and cook about two minutes. Add onion, cook for two more minutes, until the onion begins to soften. Add the garlic and cook for one minute, until the smell of the garlic blooms.

Turn the heat up to high. Move the vegetables to the edge of the pan and add the pork. Allow the pork to brown in the pan. Add the chicken broth and the tomato halves. Continue to cook until the pork is cooked through, about two more minutes.

Serve over pearled (Israeli) couscous.

(serves 2)