Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday. Whatever you want to call it, I call it Pancake day and it’s here!
Traditionally, pancake day is the last day before the beginning of Lent. During Lent, it is customary to give up things we love (think drinking pop or alcohol, tv, or eating chocolate) so historically families would try to use up things like meat, butter, and flour, and thus the tradition of Pancake Day began. As a kid for Shrove Tuesday my family usually went to a Pancake dinner at the church, which was always an awesome excuse to see friends in the middle of the week. These days, as someone always looking for an excuse to have friends around the table, Pancake Tuesday dinners seemed like a great tradition to start in my house.
You know how in goal setting 101 it is often said that if you want to achieve something you first need to write it down and then you need to make it public? Well almost exactly a year ago I gave myself a cook(those)books challenge. I pledged to try two new recipes a week from my rather extensive collection of cookbooks and cooking magazines. I blogged about it (which is pretty much as written down and out there as you can get) and off I went. But, as with many well laid plans the challenge didn’t go at all as hoped. I guess one could say that I failed. Awesome. And here I thought it was going to be one of the easier goals I had ever set myself.
Well the rains have landed in Vancouver, and I’ve even heard that it has snowed in other parts of the country *shudder*. So at the suggestion of a friend I thought I’d post about something that preserves the sunshine all year round. Preserved lemons.
In my continuous quest to have summer last all year one of my favourite ways to preserve the taste of the season is oven roasted tomato paste. Looking for a weekend project? Making it isn’t difficult, just a bit time intensive. I assure you though your winter meals will thank you for it.
as many ripe roma tomatoes as you wish. (A full baking sheet makes about one ice cube tray worth of paste.)
You will also need:
large sheet pan(s) or cookie sheets
food processor / belnder
ice cube tray
Head to local farmers market and buy a ridiculous amount of tomatoes.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Wash the tomatoes and cut them in half.
Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your sheet pan(s).
Place tomatoes cut side up on the paper. Don’t worry, they can be packed fairly close together. The more the merrier.
Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes.
Sprinkle with sea salt.
Place in oven.
Allow to cook for 3-4 hours. At about the 3 hour mark make sure you check that they haven’t started to burn on the edges.
When they are cooked, remove pans from the oven and let them cool.
When the tomatoes are cool, place them in a blender. Puree until smooth adding more olive oil if necessary. To keep the puree for immediate use, place it in a jar in the fridge. Ensure that there is always a thin layer of oil on top to prevent spoilage. It should last this way for about a week. To save some for the coming months just spoon the paste into an ice cube tray, cover and place in the freezer. When frozen, use a knife to remove the cubes and put them in a labelled container in the freezer. Tomato paste cubes are the perfect size to add a bit of zing to eggs, pasta, beans or vegetables in the coming months.
This was not the post I planned for today. But then something happened.
Yesterday, as I was prepping 40lbs of beautiful field tomatoes for the freezer a friend innocently asked “is that how you peel tomatoes?”. It was then that I realized that every year when I freeze tomatoes (or peaches) I get the same question.
So folks, here ya go.
First. Get some tomatoes.
Next, boil some water in a large pot and set a large bowl of cold water next to the stove. When the water is boiling use a slotted spoon and place them into the water.
Watch them until the skin splits. As soon as the skin splits use a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes and place them in the cold bowl of water.
Place the bowl in sink, and if the water has warmed add more cold water. It is important not to let the tomatoes actually cook at this stage. You just want to be able to peel the skin.
Peel off the skin.
That’s it. You’re done.
What you do now is up to you. You could leave them whole, core them, slice them, quarter them, mash them, seed and puree them, your options are endless. This batch I just quartered and put into freezer bags.
Now they just sit in the freezer and wait for the winter rains as a little mealtime reminder that summer always comes back.