Sunday, 9 October 2011

Cooking with Green Tomatoes

Green Tomato Recipes and Cooking Ideas

For anyone in northern Britain, this year has been a bumper year for growing tomatoes, but a truly terrible years for getting those tomatoes to ripen. As a result I've been dusting off all my green tomato recipes, as well as learning new ones.

As well as the usual pickles, chutneys and mincemeats I've been making hashes, fried accompaniments and even cakes. Yes, that's right — cakes. After all the tomato is a fruit and it actually works very well as an ingredient in fruitcakes and pies.

Below is a recipe for a green tomato pie that's based on an original from the American South.

Green Tomato Pie

enough rich shortcrust pastry for a double crust 22cm diameter pie
8 medium-sized green tomatoes
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp freshly-grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground mace
120g granulated sugar
2 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
1 tbsp butter

Thoroughly wash the tomatoes, peel them and then slice quite thinly. Place the tomato slices in a saucepan and mix with the lemon juice, lemon zest, salt cinnamon and mace. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the tomatoes have begun to break down.

At this point, stir together the sugar and cornflour and beat into the tomato mixture. Continue cooking this mixture until the liquid is clear and forms threads as you remove the spoon from the pan. Stir in the butter then take off the heat.

Set aside to cool as you roll out the pastry. Take just over half and roll out until large enough to cover the base and sides of your pie dish. Spoon in the green tomato mix then roll out the remaining pastry to form a lid.

Crimp the edges sealed and trim off any excess pastry. Use a sharp knife to cut a few steam holes in the top and dust with a little caster sugar. Transfer to an oven pre-heated to 210°C and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through and the filling is piping hot.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. This pie can be served either warm or cold.

Date, Green Tomato and Walnut Loaf

160ml boiling water
140g dates, de-stoned and chopped
100g green tomatoes (weighed after peeling, de-seeding and finely chopping)
1 tsp baking soda
120g margarine
120g sugar
one egg
250g plain flour
70g chopped walnuts
4 drops vanilla extract

Mix the dates, green tomatoes and baking powder and pour over the boiling water and allow to stand. Beat the margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy then add the egg and mix well. Add the flour and mix together. Stir-in the date and green tomato mixture (and their liquid) along with the vanilla extract. Mix well and pour into greased and lined loaf tin.

Transfer to an oven pre-heated to 170°C and bake for an hour, until the cake has coloured and cooked through (a skewer inserted into the centre should emerge cleanly).

Allow to cool then tip out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before slicing and serving.

For many more green tomato recipes check out the Celtnet green tomato recipes links page.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Soul Cakes for Halloween

The baking and serving of 'Soul Cakes' for All Saints' Day (and Halloween) is an ancient tradition.

These were flat cakes flavoured with saffron that were proffered both to guests and to the souls of the dead on All Hallows' Eve (Halloween), for it used to be believed that the spirits of the departed would return to their homes on this night. As a result candles were lit to guide their way and food and drink (including soul cakes) were put out for them.

Recipe for Soul Cakes

50g butter
150g caster sugar
560g plain flour, sifted
3 egg yolks
generous pinch of saffron
1 tbsp mixed spice
1 tsp allspice
3 tbsp currants
2 tsp milk

Gently warm the milk then combine with the saffron in a mortar. Grind these together well then set aside for 20 minutes to infuse.

In the meantime, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat the egg yolks and add to the creamed mixture a little at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sift together the flour and spices then stir into the currants. Add the milk and saffron mixture and enough additional milk to form a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and shape into flat cakes about 5 or 6cm in diameter. Transfer to a well-buttered baking tray and place in an oven pre-heated to 180°C and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly golden. Allow to cool on the tray for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

This recipe is adapted, with permission from the Celtnet Soul Cakes recipe page.

If you would like to learn more about the traditions and history of Halloween, and want more Halloween recipes, then please visit the Halloween History and Recipes page.
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