Showing posts with label local. Show all posts
Showing posts with label local. Show all posts

August 22, 2012

tomato jam (and country ham)

I have a vivid, fond memory of walking out to my Opa’s garden in the summer as he checked on his crops.  He grew plump, bite-size cherry tomatoes and I loved picking them from the vine and popping them right into my mouth.  I can close my eyes today and still taste that sun-warmed, juicy tomato with a hint of dirt.  “Nothing like a Jersey tomato,” he’d say.  “They’re the best.”
New Jersey tomatoes are indeed fantastic.  It is the Garden State, after all.  But really, a local, homegrown tomato from anywhere is just fine with me.  I’ve spent many a summer in Tennessee, and the red, orange, yellow, and green beauties from these local crops are simply delicious.

Hands down, the cherry tomato is my favorite.  A larger tomato can’t burst with flavor in that way.  When the heirloom cherry tomatoes start showing up at the markets, I’m a happy girl.  Sometimes I’m overzealous in my plans for them, and I’ll end up with a pint of cherry tomatoes looking a bit sad and wrinkled.  However, this is when they’re perfect for the simplest, happy little recipe: tomato jam. 

It calls for just four ingredients and about 30 minutes of prep/cook time.  It’s a slow, lazy recipe that’s perfect for slathering on bread for sandwiches, topping over meatloaf or burgers, or chilling and adding to pasta salad. 

Tomato jam
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 tbs honey
1 tsp coarse or flake salt
1 tsp dried thyme

Chop tomatoes into thirds or fourths, depending on size, leaving seeds & juice intact.  Place tomatoes in a sauté pan over medium heat, cooking until juices begin to release – about five minutes.  Reduce heat to low; add honey, salt, and thyme.  Cook on low until tomato mixture reduces and thickens, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.  Cool to room temperature.

I revisited this recipe when this year’s Tomato Art Fest recipe contest called for ‘best sandwich.’  Last year’s competition stung a bit (read: I didn't win), but I was inspired by the sandwich category and bounty of local ingredients.  And thus, the “Tennessee Ham & Jam” sandwich was born.

Humble brag time: yours truly won 2nd place for that entry.  What’s more, one of the judges asked for the recipe, and it also was featured in the Tennessean.  I’m still beaming.

Tennessee Ham & Jam
Country ham ‘salad’/tomato honey thyme jam/fresh romaine, tomato, onion/crusty bread
makes two sandwiches
½ lb country ham (about two large slices)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 oz goat cheese, softened
1 tbs half & half
½ tsp honey

Crusty Italian bread – four pieces
romaine lettuce – two large leaves
sliced fresh tomato
shaved red onion, if desired
prepared tomato jam

Ham ‘salad:’ Heat a skillet over high temperature.  Add the ham and sear on each side until nicely browned.  Deglaze with balsamic vinegar until absorbed into the meat.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  Dice ham; set aside.

In a bowl, whip goat cheese, half & half, and honey until smooth.  Mix in ham until thoroughly blended.  Chill until ready for use.
To assemble sandwich, toast four pieces of Italian bread.  Place a layer of ham salad on two of the slices; spread tomato jam on the other two slices.  Place lettuce, tomato & onion atop ham salad and top with the bread/jam.  Cut and serve immediately.

This recipe was inspired by a childhood favorite - ham salad - blended with the use of overripe tomatoes that needed to be repurposed.  Local ingredients were used in this recipe:  Noble Springs Dairy, The Hamerycountry ham, local tomatoes and lettuce, local honey, Silke’s bread.

May 15, 2012

Savor Nashville + a contest

Remember the episode of Friends where Rachel and Monica battled against Chandler and Joey in a game about how well they know each other?  They're neck and neck, until Monica and Rachel lose (the apartment!) because they can't identify what Chandler does for a living.

"Oh gosh, it's something to do with numbers...and processing.  He carries a briefcase."
"Something to do with transponding..." 
"Oh, oh!  He's a transpon...a transponster!"
"That's not even a word!"

Welcome to the world of public relations.  I feel fairly certain that most of my family members couldn't tell you what I do for a living.  Cue another favorite, this time the film version of Bridget Jones's Diary.  I don't just "fanny about with the press releases," you see.

In a nutshell, it's my job to make sure you, the public, hear about the exciting things going on with my clients.  The great thing about working for a small agency is that we seek out and work with clients whose products and services are of personal interest to us.  That said, I spend a good part of most days talking about, writing about, dreaming about, and well, eating food. 

So if I didn't tell you about Savor Nashville, I wouldn't be doing my job. 

The annual culinary weekend does an exceptional job of showcasing the local food scene, not just in Nashville but in surrounding areas. 

I love the concept of the Celebrity Chef Dinner, which brings in award-winning chefs from other markets.  It's like I get the opportunity to try out new restaurants without having to leave the city, which is great for someone who's not doing too much traveling these days.  This Saturday, May 19, Savor Nashville will offer a five-course meal prepared by Chef James Boyce of Cotton Row in Huntsville, AL and Chef Bruce Moffett of Barrington's Restaurant in Charlotte, NC. I've seen the menu, and I'm already planning on which forgiving (read: stretchy) outfit I should wear to accommodate all five courses.  It will be an evening of culinary firsts for me, as I've never tried a quail egg, which will make an appearance in the first course.  And true to form, I'm most excited about the dessert course: peanut butter and jelly in phyllo with strawberry compote, milk chocolate ice cream and salty peanuts.  All the stuff in between sounds decadent (stretchy pants): roasted halibut with potato pave, wilted greens, green garlic soubise and caramelized shallot vinaigrette, followed by beef short ribs with grits, balsamic portabella mushrooms, herb salad and provencal tomato. Each course will feature wine pairings from Cultivate

The weekend of Eating All The Delicious Things continues Sunday, May 20, with Challenge to the Chefs: a local chef cook off where contenders must use the following local ingredients:  Benton's Bacon, Goo Goo Clusters and Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey.  Attendees will get to meander about, watching some of Nashville's legitimately best chef talent work to prepare incredible food.  And then we get to eat it.  There will be a Bloody Mary bar, plus samples from Cascal, Juice Nashville and Jack Daniels.

Job perk: I've already sampled an incredible creation that includes all three of the local ingredients.  Deb Paquette made a Goo Goo Cluster quesadilla with spicy bacon, bourbon apple relish, and bourbon caramel sauce for a recent TV segment.  That won't be her contest entry, but I'd sure vote for the chance to eat it again. 

Tickets to Savor Nashville are still available.  Don't miss this weekend of culinary genius.  Hey, if you need stretchy clothes, I'll even lend you a pair of maternity pants that I haven't yet parted with. 

Now, the contest*! 

I'm giving away a pair of tickets to Savor Nashville's Challenge to the Chefs, set for this Sunday, May 20, 12 p.m. at Union Station Hotel.

To enter, leave a comment telling me which of the Challenge to the Chefs local ingredients you'd most like to cook with.

For up to two additional chances do the following, leaving a separate comment for each:

  1. Follow @nashlifestyles on Twitter and tweet the following: "a delicious giveaway! i just entered to win tickets to @nashlifestyles' #SavorNashville Challenge to the Chefs."
  2. Become a fan of Nashville Lifestyles magazine on Facebook. 
The contest is open from now until Friday, May 18 at 1 p.m. CST. Please leave a valid email address with your comment so I can notify you if you’ve won. I’ll draw a random number that afternoon and the corresponding comment will be the winner.

*Attendees must be 21 or older to attend.

Contest is closed.  Congratulations to commenter #18, James!

Full disclosure:  Though this event is something I publicize for a living, the decision to post about my personal experience was unprompted by the event organizers.  And yes, I will be wearing stretchy clothes.