Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Week Ten: Holy Tomatoes + Bonus Fruit

My friend recently tweeted a complaint that I’ve never been able to articulate very well myself, wondering if it was a “New England thing to only enjoy the beginning of summer and spend the rest dreading the coming of winter.” I’ve also wondered the same thing – we still have beautiful long evenings, after all, and oh right, six more weeks of summer, according to the calendar! Even the farm newsletter referenced the dreaded onset of autumn – so the weather’s been a little chilly (75º instead of 95º), fine, but jeez, people! It’s bad enough we’re putting out fall scents at the store... I'm even drinking a pumpkin beer as I write this.
Carrots, white peppers, and dill, cilantro, and jalapenos.
Anyway. Despite the farm’s concerns over tomato blight lately, we were allowed to take five pounds (!) of tomatoes this week – in addition to 2 pints of cherry tomatoes from the picking fields. Matt, Aly, and Dan are in heaven – me, I’m indifferent. I tried my first cherry tomato last night, after admitting that “I don’t like tomatoes” actually meant “I’ve never really eaten a tomato”… not sure I’m impressed. But now I know!
Tomato-y glory. I think there are only three pounds left.
In addition to tomatoes, Aly got some cucumbers (none for me – I've still got three in the fridge!), lettuce, onions, and corn (which was grilled to have with dinner). I got more carrots and potatoes for our rescheduled fancy dinner party, and some celery and white peppers. I’m excited to try the celery – the newsletter hinted that it’s really different from the grocery store stuff, so hopefully it’ll make a good stock addition! I’ve been saving vegetable peelings for a while (carrots, onion skins, etc.) with a master plan of making vegetable stock sometime in the future… yum.

Lettuce and onions

Skinny celery
We also got a “bonus melon”. Jury’s out on whether it’s a cantaloupe or honeydew.
Yeah bonus!
We had to reschedule dinner with our parents for this week, but since I’d prepped a bunch of the food earlier in the week, we had some friends over instead… and I’m glad I had a test run! Turns out that you need to keep an eye on cheeses while they’re baking in the oven, otherwise their containers might lose the ability to contain the melty goodness, and then you have melted Camembert all over the floor of your oven. It missed the electric heating coil… Barely.

I tried a recipe for an onion jam to have with the cheese, which turned out pretty well – although I wasn’t really thinking about the recipe’s intended purpose/volume versus mine when I was shopping… so I ended up with way more than we could eat on Friday. Noted for this week! I did have a chance to bake those beet cupcakes as well, which I brought to a party on Saturday night. They were a hit, happily, and it’s always fun to let people in on the secret ingredient!

Onion Jam (from Weber) (This week I will likely halve this recipe)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large sweet yellow onions, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup balsamic vinegar (not aged)
½ cup packed golden brown sugar
¼ cup dried currants or raisins

Warm the butter and oil over medium-high heat in a big (really big) skillet. I used my mandoline slicer with the "thin" blade option to slice the onions - add these and the salt to the skillet.
Lots of onions!
Cook about ten minutes until the onions are tender and they've reduced in volume by about half. I always have to guess at what that might look like, so I generally go by time here. Stir frequently so they don't burn. 
A half cup of sugar makes the vinegar and onions go down...
Add the vinegar, sugar, and raisins to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 35 minutes until the onions become "jam-like" (again, not positive what that means!) and most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat; serve at room temperature. I reheated it for dinner on Friday:
Fairly certain I made gillyweed?
I'm going to change up with way I pre-cut the onions before I mandoline-d them; I found the slices of onion halves ended up being too big and stringy. I think I'll quarter along the stem next time.

Golden Beet Cupcakes (from The Ivory Pomegranate)
I doubled this recipe and got exactly 18 cupcakes, so I think a safe assumption is that the amounts in this list makes nine cupcakes.
1 medium-sized golden beet
2 eggs
1 cup and 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature 

Wrap the beet in foil and roast at 350º for about an hour until tender. When it's cool enough to handle, peel and chop. (Mom and I steamed our beets.)
They're striped! How pretty?
Blend the beet pieces and eggs in a food process or blender until smooth. Whisk together dry ingredients, then use an electric (handheld or stand) mixer to incorporate the butter. Fold in the beet/eggs mixture until just combined - don't overdo this, otherwise the cupcakes will get tough. Line cupcake pans with papers and spoon batter in. Bake at 350º 18-22 minutes, rotating back to front and switching racks if needed halfway through. Let cool before frosting.

I have to admit, I was a little wary of these instructions while I was putting everything together, but they seem to have turned out ok. Next time I think I'll try the standard "cream butter and sugar, add eggs, then add dry stuff" method and see if that turns out any different.

Buttercream Frosting (roughly adapted from

Head over to the site if you need lots of frosting - theirs makes enough to fill and frost a  9"x13" sheet cake or two 9" layers. I didn't need nearly that much, so I used roughly the following amounts:

12 ounces powdered sugar 
1/2 stick ish of room-temperature butter
1/4 cup milk, barely
1 capful vanilla extract (you could also use mint or almond flavoring, whatever floats your boat)
Food coloring if desired

Combine everything in a big mixing bowl and combine at low speed until well incorporated and no butter lumps remain. Add food coloring, if using, and frost away. If it's too runny, add more sugar/too thick, add milk a spoonful at a time. 

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