It's Tomato Harvest Time; In Fact, It's Roasted Tomato Basil Soup Time!

It's harvest time and it is unbelievable what a few tomato plants can produce.  And when I look at the lack of care and attention they have been subject to from me, I can only imagine how much larger the bounty could have been had I taken interest in their well-being. Thank goodness my wife spends time nurturing the plants, or else they'd be mere memories of the bedding plants they once were.

But tomatoes we have a-plenty and now the test is on as to how to use all of them.

I like them sliced with a dash of fresh ground pepper, some chives and a wee little bit of salt.

But I really love tomato soup, a lot. From Mom's homemade to the much, and I might say unfairly maligned, Campbell's Tomato Soup, to this recipe below.  Tres yummy, all of them...

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 lbs tomatoes, cored and cut in half (Roma, beefsteak, cherry bells, type matters not really)

3 Tbsp butter (olive oil can be used, but butter adds so much more to this soup)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cups yellow or sweet onion, chopped (about1 large onion)
1 red bell pepper, cleaned and chopped
2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup minced chives
2 cups yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 tin (5 oz) tomato paste
6  cups chicken broth (you can use vegetable stock if you like, not as good, but you can use it)
2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
2 Tbsp finely minced fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup heavy cream (whipping cream) - This can be omitted, but I like it!!!
1 Tbsp sugar (optional, but it can add depth, I use it)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F

Lightly sprinkle sliced tomatoes with salt and oil the baking tray with the olive oil.

Place sliced tomatoes on baking tray, roast for about 30 minutes, or until slightly charred.

Place a 6 quart pot over medium heat, melt butter then add onion, garlic, red pepper, chives, potato and carrots - sauté, stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent.

Add the tomato paste and stir constantly until the tomato paste begins to darken.

Add roasted tomatoes, thyme, 1/2 of the fresh basil, cayenne, and the chicken broth, stir well to incorporate.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Once potatoes are soft, blend soup mixture using an immersion blender, continue until a smooth/velvety texture is achieved.

Add heavy cream, sugar, salt and pepper to taste, continue to heat but do not bring to a boil.

Once soup is at temperature use your taste buds as a guide to determine if you would like to add more or all of the remaining fresh basil.  I think the basil should be a background complement to the tomatoes, not the star of the show, but use more or less as you like. It is your soup after all.

Serve hot and garnish with whatever floats your boat. I like grilled cheese sammies with my tomato soup and you should too!

Can we stop here and talk for a minute? 

When cooking with tomatoes there are two schools of thought; one school likes the seeds removed and the other school doesn't care - I'm in the ‘I don't care school’.  But if you are, you can slice the tomatoes lengthwise and squeeze the seeds out before roasting them. I will admit it does make for a smoother soup, and along with coring the tomatoes it may add to your tomato soup enjoyment level if you do.  It is your call. 

Disney Style Smoked Turkey Legs

Smoked Turkey Legs a la Disney World

8 large turkey legs or thighs

1 US gallon (3.8 liters) ice cold water

6 oz brown sugar

4 oz white sugar

8 oz kosher salt

3 oz InstaCure #1 (a must!!!!!!)

¼ cup Snowy Palms No Salt Creole Spice

3 Tbsp powdered garlic

3 Tbsp Liquid hickory smoke

In a large stainless steel pot or bowl, mix together all ingredients except the turkey legs. Stir until all the solids are completely incorporated into the liquid.

Place turkey legs in to brine, making sure they are completely submerged.  Place into fridge.
I  used a bowl filled with brine to keep the meat submerged

Brine for 72 hours. Stir completely every 12 hours or so.

Remove turkey legs from brine and rinse well under cold water.

Place legs onto wire rack to dry for an hour.
Smoke turkey legs at 220ᵒ F until they reach 185ᵒ F internal temperature.  I used apple wood for the smoke.

I put smoke on them for 3 hours then simply keep the heat at 220F until they reach 185F. Depending on your smoker it may take a a few more hours to get up to temperature. USE A MEAT THERMOMETER AND DO NOT OVER COOK!!!!!!  Really!
These can be kept in the fridge for 1 week or frozen for 3 months.

To heat for service, place a wire rack in a pan and add a quart of water.  Place turkey legs onto rack and then cover tightly with foil.

Cook in 400ᵒ F oven for ½ hour.  Remove and serve hot.
When you purchase these at Disney World the serving cart keeps them in a steam tray and that is what the difference is when you compare them to ones you can get at State Fairs, and other theme parks. The Disney World ones are superior by far.

These can be purchased in Canada under the Winkler brand, but home smoked is best!

Snowy Palms Resort 

Fried Green Tomatoes; A Down South favourite...

Until 9 years ago I don't recall eating fried green tomatoes at any prior point in my life, and then I traveled to Oklahoma on business. Oh my.

In my numerous travels through that wonderful state I was treated to a number of evenings out at great restaurants in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City (OKC) areas and while there were fantastic barbecue joints, great steak houses and in OKC, a restaurant that occupied an old gas station that served up the best fried chicken I have ever eaten in my life; sadly all I remember about that great place aside from the incredible fried chicken was that it was close to the OKC airport. But what about the fried green tomatoes you ask?

One day as I was being guided around Tulsa and being that it was nearing lunchtime my guide took us to a place that while not someplace I would have entered unassisted, it was a local favourite he told me and we set to trying it out.

Its specialty was fried catfish along with other items that were all made better by a dunking in the deep fryer; deep fried - okra, green beans, potatoes of course and green tomatoes, my god those fried green tomatoes. Spellbinding they were. I yummed up a plate of catfish and green tomatoes, fried of course, and promised myself I will have to try them again. Well, as much as I savoured those morsels in Tulsa I didn't eat them again until last year.

After much gentle prodding and less gentle haranguing I cobbled together a number of raised garden beds for my wife to exercise her green thumb, and one of her exercises was tomato plants, one of which was a beefsteak plant, and by late August the tomatoes were huge but green. So we picked them to ripen indoors to beat the frost, and as we were packing them I remembered my deep fried culinary adventure in Tulsa, and fried green tomatoes were being demanded by my memory, hence, the recipe below was the result.

We've already had 2 meals of fried green tomatoes this year and the beefsteak plants are loaded right now, so more fine dining, deep fried style, will soon be underway.

Enjoy, but remember to exercise and take your statins....

                        Remoulade (fancy French word for mayonnaise based sauce)

1 cup mayonnaise

2 Tbsp chili sauce

1 Tbsp Creole spice

1 Tbsp horseradish, (don't use creamed horseradish)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp hot sauce (I like Cholula)
1 tsp capers, minced fine (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced fine or pressed
Salt and pepper to taste
2 lbs large green tomatoes (about 4), cut crosswise into 1/4" thick slices

1 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour (or rice flour for a gluten-free delight)

1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp pepper
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 cup masa harina (corn flour)
2 eggs, beaten until you get a confession
1/4 cup water
Oil for frying

Pre heat oil to 350 F in a large pot or deep skillet (oil should be at least 3" deep)

First make the remoulade:

In a medium bowl add all the remoulade ingredients together and whisk to combine. Cover bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Place the tomato slices on a wire rack then sprinkle both sides with salt, wait 15 minutes then pat both sides dry with paper towel.

Mix the flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne in a shallow bowl or pie plate.

In a medium bowl blend the eggs and water together, set aside.

Dredge the tomatoes in the flour mixture ensuring they are well coated, place flour coated tomato slices back on the wire rack, place rack in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Add the masa harina to the flour dredge mixture you used to coat the tomatoes, mix well.

Once the coated tomato slices have rested in the fridge, dip the tomatoes in the egg mixture, and then dredge each slice in the flour/masa mixture.

Then place them back on the rack and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes in the fridge.This ensures the coating will stay stuck to the tomatoes.

Add the tomatoes to the hot oil and fry in batches of 3-4 slices, do not crowd them!

Fry until golden, about 1-2 minutes, then flip (the tomatoes, not you) and fry for a minute or two longer until they are golden brown and crisp (they will float to the top when they are cooked).

Drain cooked slices on a paper towel for few seconds, then place onto serving plate to serve.

Garnish with minced chives or shallots, or serve them naked to eager diners along with the remoulade sauce!

Snowy Palms Resort