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condiments

Inspired by Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette, as featured in June 2013’s Bon Appetit. Instead of being loose like a vinaigrette, I make this tomato dish more like a jam. It is amazing how the tomatoes thicken with a bit of heat and the flavor intensifies to become an addictive condiment.

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1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 Tbsp chives, thinly sliced

1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
2. Cut half of the tomatoes in half, and leave the rest whole.
3. Add the tomatoes to the pan once the oil is hot and season with salt and black pepper. Stir frequently until soft and broken down, about 5 minutes.
4. Squeeze juice of 1/2 lemon into the pan and cook for 1 minute longer.
5. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chives. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

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My boss had a bunch of tomatoes that he didn’t want. Frankly, I didn’t really want them either, but I’m lazy and cheap and grew up in a house that was on the board of the Clean Your Plate Club. So, like the good Brooklyn bag lady I am, I threw them in the tote bag and escorted them to their destiny.

Destiny, as it so happened, involved low-and-slow oven action and a healthy sprinkling of seasoning. Two and a half to three hours later, you get something that looks like this:

Aw nuts. Forgot to take a picture. ¬†Well, I guess you’ll just have to make it to see for yourself.

6 tomatoes (I had a combination of plum and vine-ripe), quartered
1 T olive oil
1 1/2 t curry powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper

Drizzle tomatoes with the oil. Add seasoning and toss to combine. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 250-degree oven for 2 1/2-3 hours, or until most of the moisture has evaporated. (Note: the tomatoes can be roasted at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time, or even longer at a lower temperature. Just depends on the texture and level of moisture you’re shooting for.)

Well, really it’s compound butter. I’m just so damn angry that I hadn’t thought of this recipe on my own. And I’m sure you will be, too (though since I’m sharing, you’re probably so happy that we’re friends. You’re welcome). It’s honey-curry compound butter, for crying out loud!

Since I didn’t create it, I’m just gonna go ahead and provide a link to the recipe, saving myself minutes upon minutes of typing. Wow, look at all this time I now have…

One of the most essential concepts I’ve been studying in culinary school is the art of sauce making. Jax Past would scorn at the very idea of a sauce, believing that taking short cuts would yield just as good a product. Jax Present knows better. Jax Present understands that a sauce deserves as much attention–or perhaps more–than the thing with which it will be paired. Many sauces require time to develop each layer of flavor that will eventually come together as something else entirely.

I recently prepared pork loin with a grainy mustard sauce. Unfortunately, the pork was too dry for my taste, but thankfully I had lovingly nurtured several raw ingredients into a sauce that made up for the protein failure.

In a large saucepan, brown roughly chopped carrots, celery and onions over high heat, stirring occasionally. Once the vegetables have caramelized, pour stock (homemade is preferred, but in this instance I was only able to use store-bought, low-sodium chicken broth) into the pan and reduce over medium heat. (At this point, you can add any herbs you’d like, as well as crushed garlic.)

Once the sauce has reduced by about half, strain through a fine-mesh strainer (or a colander lined with paper towels or cheese cloth). Wipe down the sauce pan and add a pat of butter. Sprinkle in finely minced shallots and cook gently to avoid any color development. Add a generous splash of white wine and reduce until it has almost completely evaporated. Pour the reduced stock into the pan, stir in grainy mustard and a touch of heavy cream and reduce further, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Season with S & P to taste.

Jax Future will absolutely make this sauce, and so should you. Serve over any protein you’d like (but I think pork works particularly well, so long as it’s not mutilated), preferably without pants.