Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Playing Catch Up

Howdy from the Circle-
Dot-K Ranch, here in Ketchup, Idaho.
In response to two avid readers (oh, I've got a huge base, people), I'm going to talk about the ketchup I made yesterday.
I didn't use a recipe, though I'm sure you could find one on the Internet (a quick check turned up a few with — shudder — bell peppers added to the mix, along with gobs of sugar and spices... and then there was the one with added cornstarch!).
Here's what I did. Last summer I oven-roasted scads of tomatoes (quartered, tossed with good olive oil). When they had cooked down a bit (an hour and a half at about 400ºF, IIRC), I passed them through a food mill to remove the skins and seeds. I spooned the resulting sauce into freezer bags, and I've been picking them off ever since. Still got a few to go before real tomato season begins this summer.
So, my recipe would go like this:
1. Last summer, make some tomato sauce and freeze it.
2. Today, take out as much frozen tomato sauce as you think you'll want (I only made about four or five tablespoons of ketchup, so I guess I used a half cup or less).
3. Put the tomato sauce into a saucepan with some honey to taste, along with salt and just a few semi-hot red chile flakes. Don't forget to throw in a fresh laurel leaf (see, this is where it gets all wonky, because you don't have a Greek laurel tree on your patio like I do), and a tiny peeled, cracked clove of garlic. Oh, and a little splash of nice vinegar. (These quantities, though terribly vague, are for that small dab I ended up with.)
4. Cook it all down very gently, probably no longer than 30 minutes, tasting and adjusting flavors once in a while (you really can't resist, but try and save some for the burgers, now, willya?).
5. This recipe is the Eat Local Challenge 100-mile version. If you want to use dried, imported spices, by all means... go ahead. I find the fresh laurel leaf adds all the exotic, aromatic flavor I want.
See how simple it is? See why I'm not being specific about quantities?
And oh, boy. It is tasty. The tomato flavor really comes through, it's so fresh. I really wouldn't want to muck it up with cloves and brown sugar and long, long boiling.
But I couldn't resist putting it in one of those squirt bottles. Strictly for photographic purposes, you understand.


Catherine said...

Love the picture! Thanks for sharing your recipe.

Anonymous said...

Really interested in your coming out with the info on the bay leaf. I had thought from some of your earlier posts that you were using California bay leaves, which are so much more potent. When I first moved to Marin and had innumerable huge bay trees on my property I had dollar signs in my eyes, imagining -- well, you get the picture of rows of glass jars on shelves......I came to cherish my sort of spindly bay laurel (as in Greek) in a patio pot. I used the California variety only to make decorations or to put on top of Christmas packages sent eastward with redwood branchlets and evergreen rosemary and other herbs....Is your laurel cunningly shaped into a little lollipop shrub?
..........Will try msking some ketchup/catsup soon.......Thanx

Ilva said...

CC you have enlightened me!

cookiecrumb said...

I should probably post a picture of the Greek laurel. The leaves are not long and curved like California bay. They are dark green, shiny, and shaped like lemon leaves. (Think of a laurel wreath: Yup, that's it!) The "tree" has three main "trunks" (thick central stems) and it's almost three feet tall, leaves all over (no lollipop pruning!). It likes sun; we had it in a part-shade place for only a few months, and some leaves developed mold and turned yellow.
Yeah, Jennifer! Like my wacky salt experiment. I'm the condiment lady. :D

Shaun said...

Thanks for the recipe! Now I have to go out and buy a greek laurel tree...

Dagny said...

I cannot help but think of "Honey We're Killing the Kids" now whenever I think of ketchup. (The family on this week had a serious ketchup habit and the doctor banned its use in their household.)

cookiecrumb said...

Shaun: You're welcome! You could do worse than having your own laurel tree, BTW. I keep mine in a pot on the patio, so it'll go with us if we move.

Dagny: Most commercial ketchup is just "red sugar."

Dagny said...

CC, that's what the doctor said. What I couldn't get over was that these folks wanted it on every meal.

Marc said...

A message from the Ketchup Advisory Board: "Ketchup contains natural mellowing agents that help you get over the post-holiday blues. And its festive red color really brightens up almost any dish."

Plenty of great bits about ketchup at the Prairie Home Companion web site.

cookiecrumb said...

"Mellowing agents"? What, is it loaded with SSRIs? :D
I have no doubt they're referring to "sugar."
Onward to the PHC ketchup archives... Thanks, Marc.

cookiecrumb said...

OK: My favorite from the (PHC) Ketchup Advisory Board:
"Ketchup has natural mellowing agents that let Democrats let go of old grudges and embrace the future."
Must. Have. Ketchup.
Grrr... (::head explodes::)

mary grimm said...

Thanks for the recipe. I think I'm going to make it and take it with me when I visit my kids next week--I love to spring culinary surprises on them.