I recently convinced myself that August is National Tomato Month. Possibly because I have spent the last several weeks gorging on the beautiful New England tomatoes making their way to the Boston farmers’ markets and local farm stands.
Imagine my dismay when I discovered that August celebrates many foodstuffs, including sandwiches, catfish, and peaches, but according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, National Fresh Tomato Day falls on April 6th.
Now, if you dragged yourself through many, many miserably damp days in March and April of 2014, you know for a fact that there was not a local, sun-ripened, fresh tomato to be found in Boston on April 6th. And I’m not the only person who thinks August is the time to celebrate the glorious tomato. Consider the world-famous, tomato-centric celebration known as La Tomatina in Buñol, a small Spanish town in Valencia that attracts over 30,000 people every August.
This is the perfect time to enjoy beautiful ripe tomatoes of all varieties. They are also a superfood, rich in Vitamin C and fiber, as well as beta-carotene and lycopene. Read more about the health benefits of eating tomatoes in the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.
If you’re looking for new ways to enjoy tomatoes, here are a few of my favorite recipes:
- Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes from Smitten Kitchen
- Roasted Tomato Soup from 101 Cookbooks
- Heirloom Tomato Tart from Joy the Baker
And of course, you can always just eat a perfectly ripe tomato all on its own, preferably over the kitchen sink.
This delicious, flavorful Vietnamese dish is a personal favorite shared by a close friend. It’s a soup to make any time of the year to enjoy among family and friends.
Prep time: 1 hour and 15 mins.
Cook time: 2 hours
2 tbs. reduced sodium soy sauce
3 stems of green onion, chopped
1 tbs. beef spice (Gia Vi Nau Bo Kho)
1 tbs. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1lb beef stew meat (chuck)
Marinate beef with sugar, salt, beef spice, soy sauce, green onion, and garlic for at least 1 hour. For best flavor, marinate overnight in the fridge.
1lb carrots, chopped
1 stem of lemongrass, cut into 5 inch pieces
1 tbs. canola oil
2 tbs. beef spice (Gia Vi Nau Bo Kho)
1 tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 clove of garlic, chopped
6 (8oz)cans of reduced sodium chicken broth
1 pkg rice noodle (Banh Pho Tuoi)
herbs (mint, cilantro, and/or basil leaves)
1. Brown garlic with oil in a 6 quart pot, after it turns a golden color, put meat in.
2. Cook meat thoroughly, and then add 4 cans of chicken broth and 4 cans of water.
3. Add beef spice, sugar, salt, and then stir.
4. Add pieces of lemon grass stem (only used for flavor, to be discarded upon serving).
5. Let simmer for about 1 ½ hours.
6. Add carrots, 2 remaining cans of chicken broth and 2 cans of water.
7. Let simmer for ½ hour more, stirring occasionally.
8. Cook rice noodles as indicated.
9. Discard lemongrass pieces and serve soup over noodles in a bowl.
9. Garnish with mint leaves, basil, or cilantro.
Yields approximately 4 quarts | Serving size: 3 cups | Calories per Serving: 306 | Servings: approximately 5
Passover begins Monday evening, April 14th and here is an easy matzo bark recipe with that appealing sweet and salty combination.
3 sheets matzo
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 c pecans, toasted
1/2 c unsweetened coconut, toasted
1 chocolate covered toffee bar (such as Heath or Skor), chopped
2 tsp flaky sea salt
- Heat oven to 350 F. Place matzo on baking sheet and bake until golden brown (10 minutes)
- Sprinkle chocolate over the matzo, return to oven and bake until it melts (about 30 seconds)
- Remove the baking sheet and spread chocolate over the matzo with back of spoon or spatula
- Sprinkle with pecans, coconut, toffee bar and salt. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes
- Refrigerate until firm (at least 10 minutes) and then break into pieces and enjoy!
Spring is here, even if the weather seems to indicate otherwise! Take your mind off the snow and brighten up your day with these vibrant lemon cookies. They are one of my favorite springtime treats. Enjoy with a cup of tea, a dollop of ice cream, or unadorned, by the fistful.
Crispy/Chewy Lemon Cookies
from Cate’s World Kitchen
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract (if you don’t have any, you can add an additional tsp of zest)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (takes about 2 medium lemons)
1 1/2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest (2 medium lemons will probably give you enough, but I’ll often use 3 for extra zing)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
1. Stir the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Cream the butter and shortening until smooth.
3. Beat in the sugar and mix on medium-high until light and fluffy.
4. Add the extracts, lemon juice, and lemon zest and mix until smooth.
5. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until combined.
6. Roll a scant tablespoon of dough at a time into a ball then flatten slightly and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.They spread a lot while baking so make sure there is ample space between them, unless you want one giant cookie (which, hey, maybe you do!).
7. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until edges are golden.
8. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. You’ll want to be sure to get the cookies off the cookie sheets while they are still hot and soft, as they will harden quite a bit as they cool.
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