Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic

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The last of the summer”  We had a cold snap right at the beginning of September, so hubby harvested  the tomatoes, and suddenly they’ve all gone ripe at once.   Lots of years I will make tomato sauce and freeze it, but it’s a bit of work.  Roasting is easier, and probably just as tasty, or perhaps even more so.  These amounts are approximate, it’s not rocket science (thankfully!).  The addition of herbs is wonderful, rosemary, basil, oregano, or even thyme.  But as you can see in the picture, I didn’t add any to this round of roasting and they still taste delightful.  Serve hot over your favorite pasta, with crusty bread to sop up the juices.  Freeze small portions (about 3/4-1 cup containers), to add to pasta sauce in winter.

Roasted Tomatoes

about 4 cups, cut cherry tomatoes in half, chop larger tomatoes in bite size pieces

garlic cloves, peeled, a head or more for intense garlic flavor

salt and pepper, generous lashings

olive oil, splash it freely

optional, a small sprinkle of sugar, a teaspoon or less, to help caramelize the tomatoes

herbs to taste, fresh or dried

Spray a large glass baking dish with cooking spray.  Place tomatoes and herbs in a single layer in the baking dish.  Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with sugar, if using.  Bake at 375°F,  30-40 minutes, or until garlic cloves are tender.

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Roasted Rosemary Potatoes and Garlic

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Toss chunks of potato and peeled cloves of garlic with a tablespoon or two of olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Spray a baking dish with no-stick spray to prevent potatoes from sticking to the pan.  Add a couple of sprigs of rosemary.  Bake in a hot oven (425 degrees F) until potatoes are sizzling, browned and fork tender, about 30 minutes.

Fettuccine Alfredo

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Fettuccine Alfredo

1 pkg fresh fettuccine (350-450g)

1 1/3 cups cream (18%)

1/4 cup butter

1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan  Reggiano cheese (Gruyere is also suitable)

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tbsp finely chopped parsley for garnish

In a large saute pan over low heat, melt butter.  Add minced garlic as butter is melting.  Do not brown.  When butter is completely melted, stir in cream, and continuing over low heat, let the butter and cream gently simmer together about 5-7 minutes.  Add grated cheese, stirring to melt and grind in pepper .  Reduce heat to warm.  While butter and cream are simmering, cook fettuccine according to package directions.  When noodles are cooked, drain and add into sauce.  Sprinkle with parsley to garnish.  Serve immediately.

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Picklemania

Hubby was busy on the weekend cleaning up the garden.  He found a small treasure trove of cucumbers.  We haven’t had any frost yet, so there they were, soaking up the sun, undisturbed and stealthily growing.  We certainly like fresh cucumbers, but it seemed appropriate to pickle the last of the harvest.  A quick and easy method is refrigerator pickles.  The riffs on this theme seem endless, so I closed my eyes and picked one–fridge dills.  I sliced the cucs, prepped the jars, added lots of fresh dill sprigs and cloves of garlic to the jars, stuffed them with the slices of cuc and then poured boiling hot brine into the jars.  Pretty simple.

Fridge Dills

8 cups water

4 cups white vinegar

1 cup course pickling salt

1/4 cup sugar

12 – 14 smallish to medium cucumbers, ideally pickling variety, but any kind will do in a pinch

4-5 cloves of garlic per jar

3-4 sprigs of fresh dill per jar

In a large pot, heat the water, vinegar, salt and sugar together until salt is dissolved and liquid has come to the boiling point.  Meanwhile, wash four or five quart-size jars and lids.  (The beauty of fridge pickles is that the jars really don’t need to be sterilized, just clean.) Wash and slice cucumbers (or cut into spears).   Peel garlic cloves and separate dill into sprigs.  Divide garlic and dill into jars.  Pack jars with the cucumbers slices, then carefully pour the boiling brine into each jar, filling almost to the rim (the hot brine will cool and contract to the perfect level).  Put lids on the jars (they will be very hot touch!).  Once the jars have cooled to room temperature, store in refrigerator.  You can eat them within 24 hours, but if you wait a week or so, the taste will develop more fully.

Split Pea and Ham Soup

My mom used to make split pea and ham soup once in a while when I was a kid, but this is the first time that I’ve attempted it.  My childhood memories of  this particular soup aren’t all that fond, so maybe that’s why I’ve waited so long to give it a whirl.  Mom was (and still is) a very great cook , so I can only think it was my immature taste buds that led to the “ewwww” factor.  Hubby, on the other hand, is quite delighted that I’ve taken the plunge.  He’s always been a fan.  So here’s my version of:

Split Pea and Ham Soup

Make the broth first:

In a large pot, cover your ham bone (hopefully it has some nice meaty bits still clinging to it) with cold water.  Roughly chop a large onion and several (3-5) stalks of celery, including the leafy stems.  Add to the pot.  Season with your favorite seasonings, I put in 3 bay leaves and some salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a slow simmer.  It will take at least 3 hours to make a rich stock.  Once the stock is to your satisfaction, remove from heat, and when it’s cooled a bit, fish out the ham bone and the meaty pieces.  Strain the broth until clear.  Discard the mushy veggies.  Cut meat into small pieces and reserve in the fridge.  Skim off undesired fat from the top of the broth.

Now the soup:

Return the clear stock to the stove with a couple of bay leaves and taste to adjust seasonings.   Pick over and rinse the split peas, then add to the stock.  Use 1 cup per about 3 cups broth (a guesstimate of the amount of broth is fine).  Over a medium simmer, let the peas cook until tender, about an hour.  At this point, if you prefer a smoother texture, use an immersion blender to puree the mixture, or you can even just mash a bit with a potato masher for a courser texture (which is what I did).

While the split peas are cooking, prepare the vegetables.  For about 6 cups broth, I used 3 carrots, 1 large onion, 3 ribs of celery and 3 cloves of garlic.  Dice and saute the veggies in a bit of oil or butter for about 4-5 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired.  Add the sauteed vegetables to the stock along with the reserved meat.  Turn heat to low and let the soup simmer until vegetables are desired tenderness.

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