Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook 

A few more recipes came our way for staff favorites to revv us up in celebration of the tomato. Here they go!

Goat Cheese Mini’s with Smoked Tomato and Olive Relish

Makes enough relish for 3 mini cheeses

I spotted some gussied-up little darlins’ at Whole Foods and decided it would be fun and more affordable to embellish mini cheeses at home. The tiny goat cheese rounds are available without the topping at Trader Joes and some markets in the specialty cheese department. What I purchased was a package of 3 fresh chevre rounds in plain, herb and 4-pepper. The filling and topping make the cheese a centerpiece.

  • 1/2 cup Rita’s Smoked Tomato (recipe in last weeks food blog-8/18/11), very well drained
  • 1 cup fresh tomatoes, finely chopped and drained
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic chives or scallions
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil or lemon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon shredded lemon zest
  • 3-4 ounce mini goat cheese rounds, chilled very cold

Make the relish:

Make sure the ingredients for the relish are very dry-especially the tomatoes. Combine the 2 kinds of tomatoes, olives, garlic chives, walnuts, basil or lemon thyme and lemon zest. Let rest refrigerated for 30 minutes to season.

Place the mini chevre round on a work surface. Dip a very sharp knife in hot water and quickly dry. Slice horizontally through the center of the cheese to create 2 layers. Place the bottom layer on a serving platter and top with relish-pressing down gently. Add the 2nd layer and top with more relish and extra lemon zest.

Serve immediately with toasted bread rounds and crackers.


Tomato Pie

Serves 6-8

Bonnie Finlay, Special Events & Catering Director at Homestead Gardens is the person who plans, buids and orchestrates the Tomato Festival. She passed along a Southern style recipe while confessing tomatoes were an acquired taste.

"This concoction is from my aunt who lives in North Carolina.  The first time I had this I didn't even like tomatoes, but I liked this."

  • 9" pie shell
  • 2-3 large tomatoes
  • 2 medium sweet onions finely chopped
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup total fresh chopped basil and chives,
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350F.

Thinly slice tomatoes.

Fill pie shell with sliced tomatoes then the onions. Sprinkle herbs, salt & pepper over tomatoes and onions.

In a separate bowl mix mayonnaise and cheese; top tomatoes with this mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes.


Moroccan Style Tomato Jam
Yield: About 1 pint


The recipe began with Mark Bittman and traveled through many cooks’ kitchens before I gave it my twist. To get a more exotic result, I reduced the sugar, changed the spices a bit and added whole seeds of cumin and coriander; stating implicitly to dry roast before grinding for the incredible profile. I also added the entire chopped lemon as this is often found in Moroccan cuisine and lends a special character.

The cooking time may vary depending on the amount of liquid in your tomatoes.

  •  1-1/2 pounds good ripe tomatoes (Roma are best), cored and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 fresh lemon, seeded and chopped (yes the whole thing)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed, dry roasted then ground
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed, dry roasted then ground
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small jalapeño or other peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced

Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan, Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.

Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then cool and refrigerate until ready to use; this will keep at least a week.

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