Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Taking it all off in the kitchen

Stripper tomatoes
I was recently confronted with about 10 pounds of over ripe tomatoes.  Now there are only two things to do with that many tomatoes--make a huge vat of salsa, crank up a margarita machine, and have a party or make a batch of spaghetti sauce.  Because I married an introvert, I was compelled to choose the latter.

The sauce is a no brainer.  Same recipe that I gave you ages ago, but substitute fresh tomatoes for the canned.  (February 2011;  http://minivancook.blogspot.com/2011/02/good-irish-food.html)

Using fresh tomatoes, however, is definitely not as easy as opening up a can and dumping it into a pot.  Fresh tomatoes require that you remove the stem, seeds, any rotten spots,  and the skin.  The first three are easily taken care of with a good paring knife.  But there's a trick to taking off the skin.   If you don't know what you are doing, you'll be fumbling around making a mess of the situation like a teen-aged boy in the back seat of a car.  Do it right and you'll find that the skin will slide off that tomato like a dress falls off an eager woman.  The process finally and fully explains what is meant by the expression "she's one hot tomato."  Indeed, tomatoes aren't the only hussies of the kitchen.  Onions respond in much the same way.

The technique is simple.  Slice a shallow X through the skin of either the tomato or onion at the base, and then quickly submerge them in boiling water for 10 seconds.  Remove with a slotted spoon, and let them cool just long enough so that you won't burn yourself.  The skins will slip right off.
Onions Gone Wild

Photo by A. Gibbons

Garlic usually plays a little harder to get, so the best way to get it out of its sheath is to play a little rough.  Trim off both ends of the clove, and then smack it hard with the base of a heavy knife.  If you want it minced, go ahead and put your upper body into the maneuver.  Use less force if you need the clove intact.  Either way, that papery garlic casing will fall right off.  

And now that your produce is fully prepped, you can finally get down to business--cooking, that is.

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