You will see many more posts on tomatoes as they are simply an obsession of mine. I did discover one summer that you can actually eat too many tomatoes. (I hear that gasp) As I tend to obsess over flavors, I also tend to eat one thing for days at a time.....not an entire summer as I did one year. Let's just say that too much of a good thing.....can produce side effects of not so good things. But I digress.....
I am, however, a Nazi in the kitchen on tomatoes. Ask for one on your sandwich in January and you will be told..."No" they are out of season. There is no reason whatsoever to eat a bad tomato or a grocery tomato.....Secondly, Lord help you, if I find you have put the tomato in the refrigerator....my staff will happily, if a bit snarkily, give you the "care of the tomato lecture" to which they were subjected.
The lecture follows: Once you have the wonder of wonders, a true, vine-ripened tomato in your possession, you need to properly care for it if you haven't already eaten it. NEVER, NEVER, put a tomato in the refrigerator. "Why," you ask? Well, tomatoes are fragile jewels that are primarily fluid-filled cells. Once chilled, the delicate cell membranes will break down and render the tomato mealy or mushy. Further, the cold reduces the flavor enzyme into little more than an memory of tomato. So just don't do it. Lecture over, now onto the good stuff....
Since tomatoes are out of season, do not think that I just wait, wait, wait for the tomatoes of summer. No, I think there are some perfectly good canned versions that will do in a pinch. (Stop gasping....canned are better than the faux, "fresh" tomato of the January produce shelf) My favorite winter comfort food is my Mom's tomato pudding. It really needs a new name as this one doesn't really describe the savory casserole brimming with warm, tasty bits of tomato. It is great with chicken, ham or just on its own. Mom serves it every Christmas Eve with chicken tetrazzini and it is perfect!
This is also one of those forgiving recipes that begs you to play around with it and it blesses you with new nuances of deliciousness anyway. So, first the ingredients:
1-15oz can of tomato sauce
1-15oz can of diced tomato
1/2 cup of water
12 tbs of brown sugar
6 tablespoons of vinegar (I use balsamic, but apple cider would do)
2 cups of bread crumbs (I sometimes use croutons)
1 stick butter
You may add herbs such as chives or basil, some garlic or whatnot, but I like the herbed variety of the canned tomato, so I usually just add a bit of salt.
Put the water, sugar, vinegar and butter in a microwave-proof bowl and heat until the butter is melted. Stir it up and add the tomatoes. Stir a bit more. Put the croutons in a buttered dish. I use a round casserole dish. pour the tomato mixture over it and cook for 30 minutes at 375.
Enjoy! I ate two helpings for dinner..........