GRILLED PIZZA WITH VINE-RIPENED TOMATOES!

Seed 99 cents smallerFrom my gardening book From Seed to Table, here’s one of my favorite recipes when the tomatoes are overflowing the kitchen window sills. I miss having our garden this year, but thank goodness for local food markets and farmers markets. And to celebrate the harvest, you can download the book for only $0.99 on Kindle by clicking here???????????????????????????????

Grilled Pizza

This recipe is one I’ve been perfecting over the past several years, and it’s best made with the freshest of tomatoes from the garden. Pizza is personal. I’m sharing my personal recipe, but you may find other toppings you like better.

Just like with pie, it all starts with the crust. You can buy pizza dough, but this recipe is pretty basic and easy to make.

Pizza dough

1 pkg. dry yeast

1 cup warm water

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp salt

2 ½ cups flour (all unbleached white or use half white and half whole wheat)

Olive oil

Beat yeast, sugar, and water until well blended. Let rest for a few minutes. Add salt and flour and mix until dough forms. Knead on floured board until smooth (three-five minutes). Place in a warm bowl coated with olive oil. Cover with damp towel and leave in a warm spot. Allow to rise until dough doubles (approximately an hour). Punch down dough and roll into oblong roll on floured board. (I usually cut dough in half and place one portion in a freezer bag and freeze). Cut into ten to twelve (full dough recipe) or five to six pieces and roll each into a ball.

Roll out each ball into a thin circle, approximately six inches in diameter and place on cookie coated with olive oil. The smaller the individual pizzas, the easier it will be to put them on the grill. Grill at 400 degrees Fahrenheit on side with oil for two minutes or until a crust forms on the one side.

The trickiest part of the whole process is making sure the crusts don’t burn on the grill. You know your grill best. I’ve learned to do this by trial and error and mostly by hovering near the grill and watching.

After one side is grilled, make sure cookie sheet is still coated with olive oil and place crusts back on the cookie sheet with grilled side up. You are now ready to put the ingredients on top of the grilled side.

Pizza toppings

(For six pizzas – double if using full recipe of dough)

3-4 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

½ cup fresh basil, chopped

8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

1 sweet or hot banana pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

8 oz. mozzarella cheese

Parmesan, salt, and pepper to taste

Place sliced tomatoes on the grilled side of crust. Sprinkle minced garlic evenly on top of tomatoes to taste. Salt and pepper the tomatoes to taste. Sprinkle basil and feta over tomatoes. Put on peppers. Finish with the mozzarella cheese. You’re now ready to put back on the hot grill.

You must be very careful at this point so you don’t burn the bottom of the crusts. Again, I’ve had to learn from practice. For my gas grill (which is very old), this method works the best. I put the pizzas on the hot grill and shut the cover leaving burners on high. After 2-3 minutes (without opening the lid), I turn off the grill and let the pizzas sit while the grill cools down. After 20 minutes, the cheese is melted and the crusts are not burned. Sometimes I put the pizzas on the cookie sheet and place under the broiler for one minute to ensure a bubbly cheesy top. Sprinkle the finished product with Parmesan cheese.

grilledpizza2

Final task: ENJOY!!!!!

Where Did Summer Go?

Potato Leaf Tomato

Potato Leaf Tomato

I haven’t forgotten you, Living Lightly blog. In fact, I think of you often, and then something comes along to interrupt so I don’t end up writing the post. I’m sorry.

Now that I’ve apologized, it’s time to move on–right into autumn. Now that I think about it, I know exactly where summer went. It went into enjoying the heat and preserving all the vegetables Robert carried from his overflowing garden to my waiting kitchen. Our freezers (we have three of various sizes) are filled, and I know that I have to spend an hour one day organizing so I can find food during the winter.

The tomato crop this year was the best one since we moved to our home here in western Pennsylvania. In fact, my own personal gardener tells me it’s the best year he’s ever had in more than forty years of gardening.

We canned more than forty quarts of Italian sauce and salsa. There are untold numbers of whole tomatoes frozen, waiting for me to make fresh sauce when the winter winds blow. Then when I said I’d done as much as I could with canning and freezing, we started giving away. We put a box out one Sunday afternoon in front of our house with the sign “Free tomatoes.” Within an hour, it was empty. We refilled it. I looked out at one point and a man was taking the whole box. I opened the front door, and yelled, “Do you want more?”

He smiled and ran to my door where I gave him an additional box. A few weeks ago when I was out trimming flowers, a man pulled into the drive and asked what kind of tomatoes did we grow. I answered that my husband grew a variety of types. He said, “They were the huge ones.” Potato leaf, that’s what they were, and they were huge and red and absolutely delicious.

Writing this post makes me long for those tomato sandwiches of summer.

So tell me, how did your tomatoes grow this year?

From Seed to Table S2T-5

Pasta Sauce from Frozen Tomatoes

10 frozen whole tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

1 chopped onion

several chopped peppers – I use both sweet and hot peppers

fresh or dried herbs in any combination and to taste: basil, oregano, thyme, fennel, tarragon

salt and pepper

Remove tomatoes from freezer and put in refrigerator for 4-5 hours. Rinse under hot water for a few second until skins peel off easily. Let skinned tomatoes sit for an hour or until core can be cut out easily.

In the meantime, sauté onions, garlic, peppers (or anything else you’d like to add such as mushrooms, carrots, or olives) and herbs.

Chop tomatoes, even if they’re still partially frozen, throw pieces into pan with sautéed mix.

Bring to boil then put on low for several hours, stirring occasionally. When sauce is reduced enough, it’s time to use sauce in your favorite Italian dish.???????????????????????????????

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freeze those Tomatoes

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

The tomatoes aren’t producing enough this year for me to make my Italian sauce or salsa. The peppers aren’t doing well either. We blame it on the weather, which has been too wet here for the tomatoes liking. We are getting enough tomatoes to eat at least once a day. I’ve also managed to freeze a half dozen bags of tomatoes for sauce this winter. The sauce I make from the frozen tomatoes is our favorite.

Here’s an excerpt from From Seed to Table on how to freeze and then use those tomatoes in a few months – if you can wait that long.

 

cover - lst draft

 

I asked my Facebook friends if they knew anything about freezing tomatoes, and I received some interesting suggestions. But after canning dozens of quarts of sauces, I wanted simple. I washed the whole tomatoes and let them dry. Then I placed them on a cookie sheet that I put in the freezer. Once the tomatoes were frozen, I transferred them to ziplock baggies where they stayed until I needed them for a sauce. They won’t be much good for putting raw on a salad, but they make a delicious Italian sauce or salsa.

 

 

Pasta Sauce from Frozen Tomatoes

10 frozen whole tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

1 chopped onion

several chopped peppers – I use both sweet and hot peppers

fresh or dried herbs in any combination and to taste: basil, oregano, thyme, fennel, tarragon

salt and pepper

Remove tomatoes from freezer and put in refrigerator for 4-5 hours. Rinse under hot water for a few seconds until skins peel off easily. Let skinned tomatoes sit for an hour or until core can be cut out easily.

In the meantime, sauté onions, garlic, peppers (or anything else you’d like to add such as mushrooms, carrots, or olives) and herbs.

Chop tomatoes, even if they’re still partially frozen, throw pieces into pan with sautéed mix.

Bring to boil then put on low for several hours, stirring occasionally. When sauce is reduced enough, it’s time to use sauce in your favorite Italian dish.

What’s going on in your garden this year????????????????????????????????

 

From Seed to Table – Growing, Harvesting, Cooking, and Preserving Food is available for Kindle on Amazon for $4.99.

S2T-6

Grilled Pizza

Pizza ingredients

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

This recipe is one I’ve been perfecting over the past several years, and best made with the freshest of tomatoes from the garden. Pizza is personal. I’m giving you the way I make it, but you may find other toppings you like better.

Just like with pie, it all starts with the crust. You can buy pizza dough, but this recipe is pretty basic and easy to make.

rising dough

Pizza dough

1 pkg. dry yeast

1 cup warm water

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp salt

2 ½ cups flour (all unbleached white or use half white and half whole wheat)

Olive oil

Beat yeast, sugar, and water until well blended. Let rest for a few minutes. Add salt and flour and mix until dough forms. Knead on floured board until smooth (3-5 minutes). Place in a warm bowl coated with olive oil. Cover with damp towel and leave in a warm spot. Allow to rise until dough doubles (approximately an hour). Punch down dough and roll into oblong roll on floured board. (I usually cut dough in half and place one portion in a zip-lock and freeze). Cut into 10-12 (full dough recipe) or 5-6 pieces and roll into a ball.

ready to roll

Roll out each piece into a thin circle and place on cookie coated with olive oil. Grill @400 degrees Fahrenheit on side with oil for two minutes or until a crust forms on the one side.

The trickiest part of the whole process is making sure the crusts don’t burn on the grill. You know your grill best. I’ve learned to do this by trial and error and mostly by hovering near the grill and watching.

After one side is grilled, make sure cookie sheet is still coated with olive oil and place crusts back on the cookie sheet with grilled side up. You are now ready to put the ingredients on top of the grilled side.

Pizza toppings

(For 6 pizzas – double if using full recipe of dough)

3-4 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

½ cup fresh basil, chopped

8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

1 sweet or hot banana pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

8 oz. mozzarella cheese

Parmesan, salt, and pepper to taste

Place sliced tomatoes on the grilled side of crust. Sprinkle minced garlic evenly on top of tomatoes to taste. Salt and pepper the tomatoes to taste. Sprinkle basil and feta. Put on peppers. Finish with the mozzarella cheese. You’re now ready to put back on the hot grill.

preparing

You must be very careful at this point so you don’t burn the bottom of the crusts. Again, I’ve had to learn from practice. For my gas grill (which is very old), this method works the best. I put the pizzas on the hot grill and shut the cover leaving burners on high. After 2-3 minutes (without opening the lid), I turn off the grill and let the pizzas sit while the grill cools down. After 20 minutes, the cheese is melted and the crusts are not burned. Sometimes I take the pizzas on the cookie sheet and place under the broiler for one minute to ensure a bubbly cheesy top.

Enjoy!

yummy

I’d love to hear about your experiences with grilling pizza. It’s been fun to taste and test this recipe over the years. It’s one my daughter asks for whenever she visits so hopefully when she’s here in October, we’ll still have some tomatoes.

Kitchen Love

Seven jars of love

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

This past weekend we put up seven quarts of Italian sauce from our tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic and basil. See my post “The Tomato – Luscious and Delicious for the process and recipe.

This is our third year for preserving the harvest from our garden. We’ve developed a rhythm for our time in the kitchen as we make sauce. My husband washes, peels and cuts up the tomatoes, peppers, and onions. I prepare the garlic and basil. I squeeze the juice and seeds out of the tomatoes after my husband does his thing with them. Sometimes the process gets slowed down because he pulls out seeds from the very best to use next year.

Preparation

The whole process – from washing the tomatoes to pulling the jars of sauce out of the canner – probably takes four hours. It’s not a cost effective process if only dollars and cents are factored. But there’s other considerations. Nutritionally, the minerals and vitamins from the vegetables are outstanding. The taste alone justifies the time.

And then there’s the other and perhaps the most important part. Robert and I love working together in our kitchen handling the vegetables we’ve nurtured. We handle the tomatoes and other vegetables with loving care. I am lost in the texture of the tomato as I squeeze each one. The smell of garlic and onion sauteing in olive oil beats eau de cologne any day. For mere hours, we are suspended and lost in the garden of our creation. The love we pour into our concoctions cannot be calculated on any cost analysis.

As the sauce simmers and boils down, we begin taking the pulp and straining it into juice. Then it’s time for our Bloody Mary or Maria (with tequila) with juice from our garden. Last night we savored our first taste of the sauce on pasta (I wanted the flavors to meld so I let a meal-sized portion rest in the fridge for two days). We both agreed this year’s batch is definitely the best – until next year rolls around.

Ready for winter

How about you? Do you think preparing your own food (even if it’s not from your garden) is worth the effort?

 

Saving Herbs

basil and sage

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Two of our herbs have done remarkably well this year. I have basil planted in the ground and in pots and all seem to love to heat and alternating dry and wet conditions. The sage took over this year in the same spot where we’d successfully grown parsley in the past two years, even through our mild winter. However, the parsley has done very little this spring and summer and I miss it!

We’ve been drying our sage for burning in the house as a purifier. When I went to find a page for the many wonderful uses of sage, I discovered the burning of it does more than cleanse our spirits and our homes – it also has medicinal properties for sinuses and headaches. Maybe this is why my migraines have finally disappeared this week. We pulled the sage down from the light fixture a few days ago and have been burning it in a large shell all over the house. I’m very impressed. beautiful sage drying Basil is one of my favorite herbs. It’s easy to grow and works in just about any dish. It is beautiful cut and placed in a vase with water. I cut off the leaves as needed. In the past, it seemed the leaves wilted after a few days. However, this summer I filled a small container with water and cut stems and it lasted for more than a month. It even rooted so now I have another basil plant in a pot outside. I hope to keep that going through the winter.All of my basil plants were headed to seed recently, so I gave them a trim. I ended up with this vase full, plus eight cups of leaves. Time for pesto. I’ve adjusted this recipe over the past two years, and it works wonderfully. Here’s my version of a large batch of pesto for freezing. Please note: Add the Parmesan cheese after thawing and before using.

Patricia’s Pesto (for freezing)

8 cups packed fresh basil leaves

4-6 cloves of garlic

3/4 cup pine nuts

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Combine basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor (you will probably need to do this in batches) and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the olive oil and process until mixed in and smooth. (If you want to use immediately add 1 1/2 cups of cheese at this point. DO NOT ADD cheese if freezing.)

I fill ice cube trays with the mixture. This batch took about a tray and a half (making approximately 24 cubes).pesto cubesFreeze the cubes and then place in a zip lock bag. Whenever I want to use pesto on pasta or in a sauce, I pull out a cube or two or three, add the cheese and it’s good to go. I’ve been told these should be used within six months. That’s about how long they lasted in our house so I’m not sure it that’s true or not. Enjoy!

pesto for winter

The Tomato – Luscious and Delicious

ripening on the vine

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

We’re eating tomatoes with every meal and still the windowsills in our home are filled with the beautiful red bounty of summer. The tomato is one of the most versatile of vegetables because it’s fantastic raw, but it’s also a wonder for turning into a myriad of sauces and dishes.

overflow from the garden

As the counters and windowsills filled with tomatoes, I knew it was time to pull out the canner and begin making sauce. I’m not going to sugarcoat this process – it’s time-consuming and requires two people if you’re doing any amount at all of sauce. My husband and I love growing the vegetables and as hard as it is to do, we love preserving it as well. When I served a sampling of the sauce we’d created the other night, we both sighed in contentment at the flavors all provided by food we grew right outside our den door. Besides, if we weren’t making our own food, we’d probably just be sitting in front of the television. There’s plenty of time for that when the weather turns cold.

preparing

Here’s my recipe for pasta sauce. We made 12 quarts with the ingredients below:

2 1/2 bulbs of garlic, cloves peeled and crushed

5 large onions, chopped

6-8 sweet peppers (I used yellow and red because that’s all we had for this batch), chopped

10 hot peppers (jalapenos/cayenne) – we like some heat so this is a personal choice

2 cups fresh basil leaves (add any other Italian herb you have), chopped

1 cup of dried Italian herbs

1 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

35-45 tomatoes (the photo shows all that I used), skinned, squeezed and chopped)

We prepared all the ingredients except the tomatoes first. I put them in the pot and sauteed to meld flavors while we prepared the tomatoes.

sealing the flavors

 

We like heat in our sauce so we put in approximately ten hot peppers, mostly seeded. We started doing this a few years back when we had too many jalapenos and found that we love it this way.

hot and spicy

Now the real work begins. To peel the skins easily, drop 4-5 tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 30-45 seconds; then remove to ice water for the same amount of time. My husband then starts peeling and cutting out any bad spots on the tomatoes. He cuts each tomato into quarters and puts in a big bowl. I then begin a process that will help take out some liquid from the tomatoes. I’ve learned this is just the best way to do it. I pick up a handful of the quarters and squeeze out juice and seeds. Then I cut into smaller pieces and put in a sieve and press down, getting out more liquid. Then I throw the meat left into the pot. The sauce then simmers (with frequent stirs) for several hours.

simmering

I put the hot sauce in sterilized, hot canning jars (9 quarts and 1 pint) with a tablespoon of lemon juice in the bottom of each quart (about a tsp. for a pint). I still had sauce left, so I froze a container and kept back enough for us to sample. I processed in the rolling water bath for 50 minutes.

Next batch will be salsa!