Old-Fashioned Cooking: Bread and Chutney


In this modern-day-take-it-out-of-the-freezer-and shove-it-in-the-microwave world, we often lose sight of what real food tastes like. Not too surprising, when you look at the ingredient lists on most prepared foods. I figure if you can’t even pronounce half the ingredients, you shouldn’t rely on it as a major food source. Many so-called foods have more chemicals than food ingredients. Just think about beef stew or chili simmering slowly through the day, ready to warm the cockles of your heart – not to mention your cold hands – come dinner time. Or home-made breakfast burritos or Cornish pasties, stored in the freezer for those mornings when you can barely find the kitchen, let alone think up a menu.

Here’s a twofer, inspired by cleaning up the garden for the winter, which meant 20-odd gallons of tomatoes in varying stages of ripeness. We also had a serious windstorm, which hasn’t entirely settled down yet. It blew down a lot of pears (as well as the sheep’s night-time abode, but that’s another post). So, tomatoes and pears — unlikely bedfellows, you might be thinking, but when spiffed up in chutney and a quick bread, they’re quite compatible. Chutneys have long been a way to use up fruits and vegetables, especially those that weren’t ripe when winter hit. They also added flavor and moisture to bland meats. In the days before refrigeration, for example, you had lamb in the spring and early summer, but mutton from older sheep was available all year long. Chutneys made mutton more palatable. Indian cooking uses a wide variety of fresh, fermented and cooked chutneys. Slices of green tomato bread (toasted is also nice) spread with cream cheese and tomato-pear chutney make an unusual appetizer.

Green Tomato-Pear Chutney
8 pounds unripe green tomatoes, firm and free of blemishes
2 tablespoon kosher salt
4 pounds firm-ripe pears
3 to 4 serranos or other small hot chili
1 garlic bulb, cloves separated, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons very finely shredded fresh ginger
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
3 pounds brown sugar
4 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups dried currants or raisins

Remove the stem core of each tomato and cut them into very thin slices, about
1/8-inch thick. Layer the tomatoes in a large nonreactive bowl or pan,
sprinkling a little salt over each layer and sprinkling all remaining salt over
the final layer. Cover and set aside in a cool place or the refrigerator
overnight. To finish the chutney, drain the tomatoes of all liquid that has gathered,
pressing firmly on the tomatoes to help release the water. Put the tomatoes in a
large nonreactive pot with a heavy bottom. Peel and core the pears and cut them into 1/4-inch lengthwise slices. Add the pears to pot with the tomatoes. Use a very sharp knife to score each serrano, cutting all the way through from the tip nearly to the stem end. Add the serranos, garlic, ginger, chipotle powder, brown sugar, vinegar and currants. Do not stir yet. Set the pot over a medium flame and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce to very low, cover the pan and simmer 30 minutes. Uncover and skim off any foam that has formed. Use a very large spoon to fold the ingredients together gently. Cover the pan and cook until the chutney is very thick, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, uncovering it and stirring it now and then. Be sure to have the heat very low so the ingredients in the bottom of the pot are not scorched. While the chutney cooks, sterilize 12 pint jars and their lids. Ladle the hot chutney into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head room at the top of each jar. Add the seals and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Use tongs to transfer the processed jars of chutney to a tea towel and let cool. Tap on top of each jar to be sure it has sealed correctly. Store in a cool, dark cupboard for up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening.

Green Tomato Bread

 ½ cup melted coconut oil or butter oil

8 ounces nonfat yogurt, plain

3 large eggs

2 cups sugar

2 cups green tomatoes, pureed, juice drained

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

⅛ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two loaf pans. Combine oil or butter, yogurt, eggs, sugar and green tomatoes in a large bowl and mix well. Sift together all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices and add to wet ingredients along with the whole wheat flour. Stir together just until combined. Divide evenly between two prepared pans and bake just until a toothpick comes clean from the center of the bread, about 45 minutes. Let cool in pans, then remove. To retain moisture, wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. May be frozen.


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