"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Monday, September 19, 2011

While the Getting's Good

I don't mean to lambaste you with tomato recipes...but the way I figure it, it just wouldn't be fair not to share these goodies with you.  We've got to get them, while the getting's good.  And it is oh so good.

Today, I'm coming at you with a Kiwi recipe for Tomato Relish.  That's not kiwi, as in fruit, but rather Kiwi as in the wicked cool folks of New Zealand.  And specifically, my uber-cool mate, and former neighbor, Mim.  Also known as the Goddess of the Garden.  This gal has a way with veggies...and kids...and a serious way with words.  Every time I read one of her verbose and hilarious emails, I catch myself thinking, wistfully..."Oh, to be so witty!"  Check out her awesomeness on her blog, BabyGeek.

Back to the point...after enjoying a little frittata with some of her famous Tomato Relish, I timidly asked for Mim's recipe. Timidly, because it was so delicious I assumed it must be a top-secret family heirloom recipe.  Mim laughed, and said, "'Course, mate!  It's from Edmond's!"

Edmonds Family Cookbook is, to the best of my knowledge, as crucial to Kiwiana as Buzzy Bee, Pavlova, and the AllBlacks.  Or L&P.

I think it's actually required, by law, for every household to own or support all of the above.  (Kidding.  Mostly.)

So, I was generously handed that which, while not exactly a secret family recipe, may still be considered an age-old tradition in NZed:  The recipe to beat all recipes for Tomato Relish.  And it is good.  Made with robust, end of summer tomatoes, bursting with tartness and a bit of heat.  My favorite way to enjoy is simply served up with a chunk of good bread and some dry, sharp cheese.  (Did you know that there is a type of cheese made in NZ, called Tasty?  Not the brand, mind you.  The style.  We'd call it extra sharp cheddar, they call it Tasty.  Amazing, those guys.)  Also brilliant served up alongside a frittata, or with an antipasto plate.  On grilled cheese.  The Mister likes to dip his pizza in it.  (I think that's just wrong.)  Point being, it's damn versatile.  And damn tasty. (ha)

Mim's World Famous Tomato Relish - adapted from (Mim's) Edmonds Family Cookbook
- makes roughly 4 pints

1.5 kg/about 3 1/2 lbs tomatoes, blanched and peeled, then halved

4 medium onions, halved then cut into thirds

2 tablespoons salt
2 cups brown sugar
2 1/4 cups malt vinegar *
1 - 3 chillies (Mim calls for 3, I like about 2...take your pick)
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon curry powder (mild or hot, up to you)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup malt vinegar *

*Since malt vinegar can be hard to find in the US, I have managed to successfully substitute apple cider vinegar.  But if you can find it, it's well worth it.  True Kiwi flavor, you see.*

Place tomatoes and onions in non-reactive bowl, and sprinkle with salt.  Cover with a lid and leave for 12 hours.  This works best overnight, so you don't have that strong onion smell knocking you over the head while you go about your day.  The next morning, drain off the liquid.

Put veggies, sugar, first measure of vinegar, and chillies, into a large pot, or preserving pan.  This is going to be bubbling away for an hour and a half, and smelling very vinegar-y, so I like to start the boil on the stove, then move it out to the burner on the barbecue.  Or you can use a camping stove.  Or tough it up, and do it inside, but you may find yourself opening a few windows.

Boil gently (bit under a rolling bowl, definitely over a simmer, since you're reducing) for an hour and a half, stirring frequently, to avoid sticking.  While this is boiling, get your canning equipment set up and ready to go.

Once the hour and a half has passed, your relish ought to have reduced by 1/3 or more.  Mix together the mustard, flour, curry powder and second measure of vinegar, then add to the relish.  Boil for 5 minutes, then pack into sterilized jars, and follow your regular canning process.

It's well worth the effort to make this a double batch, so you get 8 pints, rather than 4 from a single batch.  We go through the tomato relish fairly quickly around here...so more is undeniably better!


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