Gorgeous Greek Fish

It’s a while ago now since I published my book Recipes from an Unknown Kitchen so I don’t run through the pages that often. And strangely I find I use it just like any other recipe book on my shelf. I find myself looking for a good recipe when friends are coming round and look for inspiration from the shelf only to find one from my book that I had loved enough to write about but had forgotten. I think that’s the problem of having a) a LOT of cookery books and b) not being able to make a decision. 

This came from a hand-written recipe book from the 1990s I don’t know the name of the author sadly, but she did often add the names of the people who gave her the recipes, there are quite a few recipes from Dick, Mary and Hilary. The book came with an envelope stuffed with newspaper cuttings and lots of notes on pieces of paper where he/she had jotted down recipes on the first piece of paper which came to hand.

Anyway with Norma and Mike coming round I needed a nice fish dish and found the perfect answer in my book. I’m not sure why I don’t eat this every week because I love it so much and it is so easy to make. 

Mary’s Greek Fish

1 large tin of peeled tomatoes

Bream, haddock or cod for 4

Large handful of fresh parsley and oregano

2 large onions

1 clove of chopped garlic

½ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 180oc/35of/gas 4

Place filleted fish in a flat oven dish with a lid. Fry the chopped onions in olive oil very gently until transparent add the garlic and continue cooking for a few more minutes.  Add the tomatoes, then when mushy add the chopped herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture over the fish and bake in the oven for around 3/4 hour.

This doesn’t need anything with it apart from some crusty bread to soak up the last juices.

Recipes from an Unknown Kitchen

Totally Tomatoes!

It’s February, the time of year I start getting my tomato seeds on the go. As readers of my blog will know I am a bit obsessive about tomato growing and the hardest part of it is deciding which varieties I am going to go for each year.

Figures vary on how many varieties of tomato there are, but a conservative estimate is 7,500. So you can see my problem, I have only got room for about 10 varieties, that is if I want to grow anything else and I try to grow a mixture of outdoor and greenhouse, beef, plum, cherry,and of various colours, so the calculations are complicated. Add to that the fact that I have a shoe box full of tomato seeds and I to rotate them so that the seeds don’t get too old. 

The seeds I have come from a variety of sources, some bought from seeds suppliers, some I save myself or from friends’ saved seeds but mostly I get them from seed swaps. Over the years I have found some really interesting tomato varieties at seed swaps, at the Arundel seed swap we used to get a visitor whom we called Mr Tomato because he grew vast numbers and always brought along interesting varieties. It was from him that I first found Ivory Egg, Livingstone’s Favourite and Bloody Butcher. 

So what am I going for this year? On the large side I’m going for Cherokee Purple, a delicious sweet tomato great with a bit of olive oil and pepper and for small Piccolo, a sweet red variety I grew from seeds saved from a tomato that originally came from a ‘well known’ supermarket. One year the piccolo plant came through as an orange tomato that lasted on the plant until late November and stored in a basket until January. Replanted these seeds have stayed true and I call them Golden Piccolo, they will be in the greenhouse again this year as it is lovely to have fresh tomatoes in winter.

So where am I? Oh yes, the next is Jazz Fever, from Mr Tomato, a red fruit which I haven’t tried before. I always have to grow Black Cherry, my favourite large cherry, so sweet and juicy it is very hardy and prolific. Then Green Zebra and Ivory Egg both for the taste and colour variation. Then two from seed that I actually bought – Pomodoro Costoluto Fiorento from Franchi seeds and Crimson Crush from Dobies. The Crimson Crush I grew from plants last year, these are sold as blight resistant and whether that is true or not they were delicious and grew outdoor with no problems.

Then there is ‘Big Plum’ I don’t know if this is the right name but it certainly is a big plum and great for cooking and last but not least Sungold, whose little golden fruits brighten up a salad.

I think that’s eleven but who’s counting?

I’ll let you know how I get on and if I can restrict my self just to these. Meanwhile do visit your local seed swap and try new varieties. Here’s some options or look in your local press for one near you.

Seedy Sunday 

Garden Organic Seedy Sunday

 

Tomato Day – an obsessive’s day in the kitchen

I am a bit of a tomato freak and grow quite a few varieties all over the place every year, so I set aside one day in September to make the most of the end of harvest tomatoes. Friday was Tomato Day in my house. Turn off the phone, turn up the music, strip the tomato plants, get out the recipes and get cooking. Each year is a mix of old favourites and new recipes. This year thanks to a bloomin’ bountiful crop I came up with some lovely food and had a great day at the same time. And I still have lots of fresh tomatoes to enjoy.

Tomato Ketchup from Thane Prince’s Book Jams and Chutneys – Preserving the Harvest. This is THE BEST ketchup recipe I have found, especially as I use Elderflower Vinegar instead of cider vinegar. The mixture of spices really set it ahead of others and I have made it for the last three years since I discovered Thane’s book.

Tomato Soup, a great staple recipe I found whilst researching Recipes From an Unknown Kitchen, sounds fairly ordinary but it is hearty and warming and it freezes well. (page 112 if you want to make it).

 

Cherry Tomato Focaccia with Basil from Flavoured Breads by Linda Collister – all the better to dip into your Tomato Soup.

Tomato, Red Pepper and Red Onion pasta sauce with basil, an old favourite recipe to stock the freezer

 

 

 

Celery, Lentil and Green Tomato Warmer is new recipe from Greens 24/7 by Jessica Nadel. I won this book earlier in the year and what a fab book it turned out to be. A bowl of this was rushed round to a friend with a cold who needed a bit of nourishment the rest disappeared on Friday night!with for winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, but certainly not least, Green Tomato End of Harvest Soup from In Praise of Tomatoes by Ronni Lundi. I love this book and although I have copies in my shop I have my own copy, never to leave the kitchen. This soup is absolutely great and I will be making it again – a lot –  with green tomatoes, onions, celery, squash, beans, courgette, corn kernels, carrots, greens (kale or collard), potatoes, thyme. Everything I have on the allotment – hurrah. I used runner beans, everything I cook has runner beans in at the moment.  I can’t tell you how delicious this is – so try it. Buy the book!

 

 

 

 

 

 

For In Praise of Tomatoes by Ronni Lundy Click Here

For Recipes From an Unknown Kitchen Click Here

What’s in a name?

One of the side pleasures of gardening are the fabulous names of flower and vegetable varieties. I am captivated by flower variety names especially roses. Who could resist Spirit of Freedom, Dizzy Heights or Teasing Georgia, all climbers, or Tess of the D’Urbervilles (sigh) or Eglantyne (was she a Borrower?) or Snow Goose (a rambler reaching for the skies) or for your lover, Thinking of You. Reading rose catalogues is a trip through a garden of imagination. And while we are on roses how about Pretty Lady (a showy floribunda) or with a scone Lady of Shalott (a spiced tea rose). My advice, if ever you feel a little lacking in romance read a rose catalogue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegetables on the other hand have some weird and wonderful names. I am a bit of a tomato freak (I have nine varieties on the go this year) and have found some great varieties at seed swaps where you find the best names. I couldn’t resist Bloody Butcher and Jazz Fever even though I have no idea what they are like. Livingstone’s Favourite and Mrs Fortune went straight into the basket as well with the aptly named Green Zebra and Yellow Headlights. What about Sub Arctic Plenty, which was allegedly developed in the 1940′s for U.S. military to provide tomatoes to their troops in Greenland or Ivory Egg, a great plum tomato that looks a bit like a duck’s egg and tastes lovely.

Ne Plus Ultra pea says it all there is no better than this variety which is going great guns on the plot.

But beans seem to have the edge. My favourite, again from a seed swap is the lovely French Bean District Nurse, a rampant, prolific and tasty purple spotted bean, or Good Mother Stallard or Lazy Wife and there is always French Bean Trail of Tears which, so the story goes, were the beans carried in the pockets of Cherokee Indians on their tragic forced relocation from North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains to Oklahoma in 1838-1839. A bean planted for each person who died along the way.

Perhaps one day there will be a rose named after me – Rita’s Romance or  more likely something like Rita’s Red Hot Radish!

Totally Tomatoes

The tomato seeds are coming on. I’m sure yours are further ahead than mine but I am still excited. I think I should be signed up to TA (Tomatoes Anonymous) and I am trying to keep the varieties I plant each year to a reasonable number. This year there are nine varieties, Piccolo (taken from seed from a Tesco tomato many years ago) a lovely sweet cherry tomato, Golden Piccolo which sort of mutated from the ordinary Piccolo and which last year I was still picking in November and eating fresh in January, Sub Arctic Plenty - Allegedly developed in the 1940′s by the U.S. Military to provide fresh tomatoes to their troops in Greenland, Marmande, Black Cherry, Ivory Egg, (a prolific cream coloured plum tomato), Clear Pink Early, Black Seaman (a beef type tomato which is a Russian Heritage tomato), Euro Money (I don’t know what these are like I’ve never tried them before)

Most of my tomato seeds I have got from seed swaps and some are not available anywhere other than swaps. So I keep my seeds going by changing the varieties I grow each year. Do you have a favourite tomato?

Looking forward to a nice bowl of tomatoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are looking for a bit of inspiration on how to grow tomatoes or what to cook with them here are a couple of suggestions.

In Praise of Tomatoes - http://shop.refriedbooks.co.uk/in-praise-of-tomatoes-11028-p.asp

 

 

 

 

Tomatoes and How to Grow Them - http://shop.refriedbooks.co.uk/tomatoes-and-how-to-grow-them-12247-p.asp

 

Tomato ketchup with a difference

Following tomato day I thought I’d let you in a secret of perfect tomato ketchup. the following recipe is from Jams & Chutneys by Thane Prince. As you can see I have started eating it already.

Tomato Ketchup

Ingredients:

3kg of really ripe tomatoes, 500g chopped onions, 8 plump garlic cloves, 1 large red pepper deseeded and chopped, 200g celery chopped, 225g golden granulated sugar, 250ml cider vinegar, 1/2 – 1 teaspoon tobasco sauce (optional – I added a chopped red chilli) and spices – 15 cloves, 20 allspice berries, 1 teaspoon celery seeds, 10cm cinnamon stick, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns.

Methods

Put all the spice ingredients in a grinder and whizz until reduced to a powder or if you feel energetic crush use a morter and pestle.

Put the tomatoes, garlic, red pepper and celery in a large pan. Cover and cook gently over a medium heat for about 15 minutes or until all ingredients are very soft. Pass through a fine seive or mouli. Return the ingredients to the cleaned pan and add the sugar, vinegar and ground spice mix. Simmer for around 20 minutes until it thickens. Remove from the heat add the tobasco if you are using it, pot into hot sterilised bottles, seal with vinegar proof lids and label.

The extra dimension? I used 150mls of cider vinegar and 100mls of elderflower vinegar. I thought this was being a bit extravagant but the addition made the best sauce I have tasted. The vinegar was from Stratta http://www.stratta.org . who I hope will be a the Grow, Cook, Eat Event at West Dean on 5/6th Oct so that I can buy some more. http://www.westdean.org.uk/Garden/News%20and%20Events/GrowCookEat.aspx