Edible Gifts Italian, Greek, Irish

A Tisket, A Tasket, What will I do with all those Tomatoes in my Basket?

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Oven Dried Roma Tomatoes

We also added our home grown basil leaves to the jar.  Gordon topped the jar off with a nice little sprig of 3 of them and it looks like a flower on top.

The first thing that you need for this is a lot of Roma tomatoes.  I would say that I bought about 60 – 70.  We find that using Roma just makes for a more perfect looking, tasting and textured tomato.  A perfect thickness, all you have to do is slice them in half and place them onto a cookie sheet.  But first put down some parchment paper.

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First wash them and then slice them in half.

After Two Hours of Baking

We baked them on 300F for two hours and achieved this result.  Which was great and we did set aside a few of them for our Naan bread pizzas.  Then we put the rest back into the oven so they could dry out a bit more.

After 3 and a Half Hours

So chewy and caramelized!

Perfect!

Next you just want to store your oven roasted tomatoes into a jar, adding layers of basil and even some of our oregano fresh herbs, while covering in extra virgin olive oil.

Makes an excellent gift!

Here we used some of the oven roasted tomatoes on a pizza for me.

Buon Appetito!

Between the 60 – 70 Romas that I bought and the Naan bread pizzas that we ate, they all fit into these two jars.  They do shrink down so consider that when you make them.

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Herbs Make the Perfect Gift
Herbs make the perfect gift all year long especially for the holidays to use in cooking.  Here I’ve placed some thyme and chives into an old pot that used to house a poinsettia.  Looks wonderful!  Fresh herbs are also cancer killers.  Always try and use fresh over dry as often as you can.
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Homemade Mozzarella in Olive Oil

Homemade Mozzarella

Make Your Own Mozzarella Cheese

This also makes an excellent gift when put into pretty clear jars for any occasion.

This was actually pretty easy and exciting to make.  It was a lot of fun on a very rainy day to spend it in the kitchen.

The Ingredients

1 Gallon Milk

1/2 Rennet Tablet

2 Tbsp Citric Acid

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup water

Marinade

Fresh Basil and Garlic to taste

3 cups Olive Oil

1 Tbsp Red Peppercorns

Fresh Basil
Heating water on the stove to dip the cheese into or you can use the microwave. Be sure to use raw unpasteurized milk if you can get it, otherwise use whole milk.
Pour milk into large pot.  Place cooking thermometer into pot.

Using two containers dissolve the rennet in ~1/4 cup water in one container and in a different container dissolve the citric acid in the same amount of water.

Add the dissolved citric acid into the milk and stir well.

Heat the milk to 88’F and the milk will start to look chunky. Now add the dissolved rennet into the milk mixture and stir well.  Heat the mixture to 105’F, turn off the heat, cover, and let the mixture sit for 20 min.

Pour the cheese into a colander with a larger bowl underneath to catch the whey.

Viola!  Your mozzarella cheese!
 
Here you have two options… you can place the cheese in the microwave for 1 min.. add your salt to taste and then start to kneed it like you would dough.  As you kneed the cheese you will see it combine and look more like Mozzarella cheese.
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You can also place the cheese into the hot water and it will heat the cheese like the microwave does and then kneed the cheese as before.

You can also pull it long forcing it through your hand into a ball.  You may need to place the cheese back into the microwave or hot water to make the cheese more pliable while handling it.

Form Into Balls

Chopped basil, garlic and red peppercorns.

 
Heating olive oil on the stove and sauteing the garlic. 
  Crushing Whole Peppercorns
Just place the peppercorns on a cutting board and use the bottom of a small bowl to crush them.  Or any surface that you prefer.
The Base of the Mozzarella Marinade

 

Adding Your Cheese Balls
Now pour over the mozzarella balls and marinade ingredients, the olive oil. ingredients, the olive oil.
Himalayan Crystal SaltYou can use any salt that you like.  We like using exotic salts because they have a different flavor to add to our dishes.  This particular salt is a very light flavor.  Not to mention quite pretty to look at.
Put into the refrigerator to keep fresh and cool.
Enjoy!
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Roasted Olives

Recipe for Roasted Olives

OMG!  These olives are wonderful! 

We made them the night before a trip to take with us to eat with our picnic.  I cannot even describe to you how wonderful that they smell.  It would make the best air freshener ever.

This is now going to be a staple in our kitchen.

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-2 cups Greek olives (or any olives you prefer)

without the pits.

-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil.

-2 – 3 Tablespoons fresh rosemary.

-2 – 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon-thyme leaves.

-About 2 wedges of preserved lemon sliced into skinny strips.

Our Preserved Lemon

-Freshly ground black pepper.

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Pre-heat your oven to 400F

Use a cookie sheet and place aluminum foil down onto it.

In a bowl mix together all your ingredients making sure everything is coated.  Then place on the cookie sheet and cook for about 10 – 13 minutes.  The olives will get a bit wrinkly.  You might want to remove from the oven about half way through and stir around on the tray, then place back into the oven.

(I think these olives would make an excellent edible gift when placed into a pretty jar.)

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Preserved Lemon

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This is truly perfection!

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Ingredients:

  • 8-10 lemons
  • 2 cups rock salt (We used a combination of Himalayan Sea Salt and New Zealand Sea Salt.)
  • About 6 Bay Leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Caraway Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander Seeds
  • 1 1/2 cup Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

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You want to halve your lemons and then slice them down the middle without cutting all the way through.  Also sqeeze the juice out of them and into the same bowl with the cut lemons.

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Now you want to combine all your ingredients except the bay leaves.

We just added everything to the bowl of lemons.

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Now just combine and mix everything together.  We also added some already squeezed Italian lemon juice that we had in the refrigerator.

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Now you want to pack the lemon mixture into some canning jars and placing the bay leaves inside the jars as well.

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We filled the jars up to the top with leftover lemon juice.

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Now place them into the refrigerator for a few weeks for the lemons to preserve and they are then perfect!

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They also make lovely gifts.

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Irish Tomato Chutney

 

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  Beautiful Vine Ripened Tomatoes

The recipe calls for plum tomatoes because they are very meaty but we used these vine ripened tomatoes and they worked very nicely.

Tomato Chutney

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1 cup of sugar (we use the Splenda sugar)

1 ½ cups cider vinegar

2 teaspoons crushed cardamom seeds

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1 ½ pounds plum tomatoes, quartered

1 medium onion (we used a red onion)

2 Tablespoons minced garlic

1 Tablespoon olive oil

½ cup golden raisins

Freshly ground pepper to taste

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The Ingredients

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The Irish Pub Cookbook

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the sugar, vinegar, salt, cardamom, ginger, mustard seeds, and cloves.  Slowly bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, raisins, and pepper.  Reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 to 1 ¼ hours, or until the mixture is thickened.  (After a few minutes cooking time, the tomato skins will separate from the pulp.  Remove the skins with a fork and discard.)  Spoon the chutney into a clean jar or bowl, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.  Makes about 2 cups. 

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Here are the cardamom seeds and beside it a teaspoon of cardamom powder.  I just wanted to show you what the seeds look like before they are ground.

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Adding your onions and garlic

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Bringing your ingredients to a boil.  

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Adding your tomatoes.  I cannot even begin to describe to you how heavenly this smells.  And tastes!

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As the tomatoes cook the skins will start to come off and you are to scoop them out of the pot. 

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We like for the chutney to cook down for a few hours on a low heat.  When the chutney is ready then just put into these jars.  I always look out for these jars when I am out at thrift stores and antique malls.  The chutney looks so good in them.  They also make great Christmas gifts.  The lovely red color is perfect for that.  

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