Saturday, January 25, 2014

Chianti tomatoes

This recipe comes to us via an old-fashioned source, not often encountered in these high-tech days of cable TV and satellite cooking shows and a thousand food blogs, all their own feasts of unique and delicious content. It comes to us by word of mouth.

Recently a customer asked for a good chianti to use in cooking. After she had chosen, she opened up and revealed the secret of what to do about all the fresh, homegrown tomatoes with which good gardeners are overrun at this time of year. I listened, blinking in amazement at the simplicity of it, and then as soon as I could, I wrote it all down on whatever came to hand. A paper plate in the employee break room sufficed.

Unhappily, I am not one of those good gardeners blessed with too many homegrown tomatoes, nor do I know anybody who has such a store. (You might think me either laughably or tragically deprived, this being mid-September for heaven's sake. Or maybe both.) My immediate neighbors and I tend to concentrate on highly inedible geraniums and New Guinea impatiens, or in my case, goldenrod. But since you might be pomaceously luckier than me, I share the recipe. Tomato-poor, the beautiful photographs I acknowledge to come from Katie, who lives right here in the same town, cooks, gardens, takes pictures, and shares all -- sumptuously, pomaceously -- on her blog, Katie's Passion Kitchen.

Come to think of it, lush homegrown tomatoes might be better served simply by being harvested, sliced, and eaten as is, rather than soaked and herbed and dried as this recipe outlines. But perhaps you have enough to justify doing it all. Or perhaps the recipe would really shine as a sort of supporting vehicle for store-bought tomatoes, which are not much more than just acceptable, year round. Your choice.

Chianti tomatoes 

Slice fresh tomatoes thickly, and soak them to cover 24 hours in chianti. Drain them, and reserve the wine for use in the same way again -- but only one more time, I was told.

Lay the tomato slices on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with herbs -- parsley, basil, and oregano. Place the baking sheet in the oven, set to the lowest temperature possible -- 175 or 200 degrees F. Bake, or rather dry, the tomatoes for 8 to 10 hours, or overnight, until they are leathery but not crisp.

Freeze them in freezer bags for storage, and use them in all kinds of ways throughout the long, gray-brown days of winter: in breads, in soups, in stews, in sauces, in omelettes, in anything.

A sampling of Katie's recent posts for you to enjoy -- and I am happy to assure you, she far outcooks me:

Easy homemade limoncello

Buttermilk waffles with plum compote

Baked eggplant

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