Here in Tasmania it's been a long, hot summer, probably the hottest on record. Unfortunately this changing climate has a lot of downside for the island including more fire risk our beautiful wilderness areas (see Richard Flanagan's article for a brilliant summary of this). Some of our traditional crops and farming methods are not faring so well; bushfire smoke can easily ruin berry crops, for example.
The flip-side of this recent season is that many of us growing tomatoes at home have a bumper crop. I was at a friend's Chinese New Year celebration recently and there were cherry tomatoes in/on everything, so I could hardly bring him some from my garden, could I? Luckily tomatoes are so special that you can do a zillion interesting things with them so here's my take on a cherry tomato jam. The effect is somewhere in the middle ground between a pasta sauce and ketchup, and you might be surprised how versatile it is.
Use it for bumping up sandwiches to the next level: try on a piece of toasted sourdough with a layer of hommous, the cherry tomato jam, some black olives on top and shreds of cos lettuce. Use in place of ketchup in, well, everything. Stir it through cooked gnocchi and top with some freshly-chopped parsley, lemon juice and olive oil. Spread it on grilled vegetables. Mixed it with a mashed avocoado to make a creamy relish. Add to a cooked pizza for an extra kick of tomato goodness. Fold through some cooked white beans for your own lovely 'baked beans'.
500g cherry tomatoes
1 Tbs raw sugar
1 Tbs cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon thyme (dried or fresh)
black pepper to taste
Wash your 500g of cherry tomatoes. Depending on how big your cherry tomatoes are, halve or quarter them.
Place the the tomatoes in a small saucepan with 1 Tablespoon each of raw sugar and cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the 2 peeled cloves of garlic (left whole). Simmer for about half an hour on low heat until it starts to get a little sticky. There will be a lot of liquid to start with but it will thicken eventually.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and take out the 2 garlic cloves (keep for soup stock). Stir through 1/2 teaspoon each of paprika and thyme. Allow to cool and keep in a sealed jar in the fridge.
Time: 5 mins prep, 30 mins cooking, plus cooling time,
Gluten-free & nut free: yes
Variations: adjust the spices to send the jam in the direction of your choice. For example use zaatar for a Middle Eastern style jam, galangal powder and lemongrass for Thai/Southeast Asian, some cumin and fenugreek seeds for Indian/South Asian, and so on.
I'm not a big mustard eater but I do like sharp tastes so once in a while it's just right. I also felt like making something I could give as gifts and mustard, being a pretty common food, seemed like a good choice. Who doesn't like home made preserves in jars?! In this case I felt that using the flavour and kick of radishes would be a good complement to the natural characteristics of mustard seeds. In addition I wanted to see if fermenting the mixture as a 'live' mustard would produce a good result.
In the end I was really happy with this; the mustard has lots of depth, good flavour and doesn't simply blow your nose off. It's complex and a little bit fruity actually. I have since tried making mustard this way with a few different seeds - see Variations at the end - and the results are still good. If you love your condiments, you could do worse than try making your own.
Tip: Be sure to use food grade radish seeds for sprouting. DO NOT USE radish seeds for growing vegetables as they may have been treated with a fungicide. In Australia I get my radish (and other) sprouting seeds from Green Harvest.
This is an interesting and tasty achar or pickle from Nepal. I made some for the Nepalese-Indian class that I held in conjunction with Gita Sharma last week. I say interesting because it's not actually that hot...provided you choose the right chillies. I find mild chillies have more in the way of flavour and that too much heat can destroy nuances as well as the lining of your mouth. And for my untimely bout of do-as-I-say-not-do-as-I-do, I used a mix of green and red chillies in the batch I made just so I could take a photograph for this blog post.
10 long green chillies
1/2 Tbs oil
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 Tbs sesame seeds
1/2 cup water
1 lemon (juice of)
1. Cut the green chillies crossways so you have small rings. Heat the 1/2 tablespoon of oil until quite hot.
2. Gently fry the green chillies and the tablespoon of fenugreek seeds.
3. After a couple of minutes, when the chillies look as though they have softened, add the 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds. Stir briefly.
4. Carefully add 1/2 cup of water. Simmer for a about 5 minutes until the water has reduced.
5. Remove from heat and stir through the juice of 1 lemon and a little salt. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Cooking Times -
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Time: 5 minutes
We blog about once a month on vegan and food topics in and around Hobart.