Aug 7, 2012

TOMATOES, FRIENDS and BEARDS

(In which we utilize the whole tomato, host a porch portrait session of bearded dudes, and see good friends drop by.)


Way back when, we all worked within the pink walls of that ubiquitous shapewear company. (You know the one. It ends in -x.) I traveled, loved legwear, learned the PR industry, and made lifelong friends. That last one? The best part.

Christine, Suong, and Allie. We had each other and we had fun - but we had dreams and wanted OUT.

Christine wanted to become a chef. Allie had dreams of becoming a stationer. Suong sought a way to combine her passion for food and writing. I wanted out of Atlanta, away from florescently-lit offices, to travel and garden. And I am. We are. Christine went on to attend culinary school and open Squash Blossom Kitchens. Allie now owns and designs for Honey Bee Invites. Suong is a rockstar publicist at ML&A, the main PR firm for Atlanta-area restaurants.

This is about Christine, little Italian beauty and kitchen goddess. Check out her catering biz and blog if you have a sec (and hire her if you're in Atl!). Taking inspiration from her tomato recipes last week, I turned our ripe reds in the garden into delicious jam, tomato butter, roasted tomatoes -- and then put them all together on crostini. Below is my take on Christine's original recipe.

On Sunday, we served the crostini at our last-minute dinner. Jim wanted to photograph men with beards as a test for an upcoming project, so we decided to turn the porch portrait session into country-fried-steak night. Ellis ran around with his new electric guitar that Thayer found at J&J, Lee cooked the steaks and gravy, LeeAnn and I made cookies and the crostini, Hardy manned the beans, and the dogs did their dog-thang. It was a good one, and the only thing missing (besides my parents) were the instruments and music that normally accompany these guys.

In other newz, we've had some great friends drop by lately, and it was so good to see them. Among the folks: the Bilheimers (in from Austin), Ben & Wendy (in from Atlanta), and bearded dudes from The Corduroy Road and Dead Confederate. They've gotten to see what you may have missed, and were sent home with garden goodies. We have LOTS of tomatoes, eggplants, chives, and peppers in the garden now... lemme know if you want any (seriously!!).

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Roasted Tomatoes, Butter, Jam & Crostini

6-10 tomatoes
olive oil
salt & pepper
1/4 - 1/2 cup diced onion
1 tbsp kosher salt
pinch red pepper flakes
herbs of your choice (I used dried thyme and oregano)
juice from 1 lemon
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter

4 oz. goat cheese
baguette

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Roasted Tomatoes - Core and quarter tomatoes, then scrape insides out into a medium saucepan. Set saucepan aside. Place the tomato skins on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper skin-side down. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with s&p. Slow roast in oven for 2-3 hours, until they're dry.
3. Tomato Jam* - Add the following to your tomato centers in the saucepan: onion, salt, red pepper flakes, herbs, lemon juice and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir periodically and let simmer until mixture thickens, about 1 hour.
4. Crostini - Slice baguette, top with goat cheese, jam, roasted tomatoes and basil. Sprinkle with s&p.
5. Tomato Butter - Soften butter. In a food processor, pulse butter and half of roasted tomatoes until combined. Salt to taste.

*I'm not a cinnamon lover - nor did I have Indian 5 Spice in the house - so I based my jam on this sweeter version.

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