20 September 2010

Tomates du jardin potager

It's chilly again this morning — in the mid 40s F. Walt said he actually saw frost yesterday morning over in the neighbors' big yard. Nighttime skies are crystal clear, so the temperature really drops. Today's high is supposed to be in the 70s, and it will feel warmer than that out in the sun.

Seventy-five ripe red tomatoes

We're feeling better about the chilly mornings because yesterday we harvested tomatoes. We picked about 100 or more, all red. And about 75 of those were already perfectly ripe. We also picked some that still need ripening.

Peppers and tomatoes, yesterday's haul

We picked peppers and eggplants too. There are cayenne peppers, jalapeños, and something you might call banana peppers. Peppers are easy to preserve. You just wash them, poke a hole in each one with a skewer or a needle, pack them in jars, and pour boiling vinegar over them. They'll keep indefinitely. We're still using peppers that we packed that way in 2004 — the last time we had a good pepper crop.

The 2010 red tomato harvest at La Renaudière

Now we have to figure out what to do with all these tomatoes. Last year we successfully oven-dried quite a few of them, so that's an option. We can always make and can more sauce, like the sauce we put up a few days ago. That's a longer, more involved process. If we had room in the freezer, we could just freeze some of the tomatoes whole, for sauce-making during the winter. But the freezer is pretty much full.

With the eggplants, some tomatoes, and some potatoes from the garden, we made moussaka yesterday. More about that later. Here's the recipe in French, for anybody who's interested:
avec pommes de terre

3 ou 4 aubergines (1 kg)
500 g de viande hachée
4 tomates (500 g)
300 g de pommes de terre
70 g de concentré de tomate
1 oignon
1 gousse d'ail
huile d'olive
noix de muscade
½ c. à café de cannelle
2 feuilles de laurier
10 cl de vin rouge
50 g de gruyère râpé

Béchamel (au fromage) :
60 g de farine
60 g de beurre
70 cl de lait
Sel, poivre, noix de muscade
1 jaune d'œuf
50 g de gruyère râpé

Découper les aubergines en rondelles de 3 à 4 mm d’épaisseur. Faites dégorger les aubergines avec du sel durant 1h.

Pendant ce temps, épluchez les pommes de terre et coupez-les en rondelles de 2 mm d’épaisseur. Pelez les tomates.Rincez puis épongez les aubergines

Faites revenir les aubergines à l’huile d’olive dans une poêle puis réservez. Faites revenir les pommes de terre à l’huile d’olive et réservez. On peut les faire au four.

Faites revenir à l’huile d’olive l’oignon et l’ail hachés. Ajoutez la viande hachée et assaisonnez avec le sel, le poivre, la muscade, la cannelle, les feuilles de laurier, et faites cuire 10 min. Ajoutez les tomates pelées et coupées en morceaux, le concentré de tomate, et le vin, puis laissez mijoter 15 min, jusqu’à ce que le liquide soit évaporé

Faites une sauce béchamel. Salez, poivrez et ajoutez de la noix de muscade râpée. Hors feu, ajoutez le jaune d’œuf puis le gruyère râpé.

Le montage de la moussaka
Disposez dans le fond d’un moule à soufflé ou à gratin, une couche de pommes de terre. Disposez ensuite une couche d’aubergines et puis la moitié de la viande hachée.

Disposez une nouvelle couche d’aubergines, et terminez la moussaka avec le restant de viande hachée.Pour finir, versez la béchamel.

Cuisson de la moussaka
Enfournez la moussaka à 180°C durant 45 min. A la moitié du temps de cuisson, disposez sur le dessus de la moussaka 50 g de gruyère râpé et laissez gratiner.

A la sortie du four, patientez 10 minutes avant de déguster la moussaka, qui s’accompagne très bien avec une salade verte.

Click here for the translation.


  1. Please, please, send some Moussaka my way! Just reading the recipe my mouth was watering all over the keyboard.

  2. I'm very excited to be arriving in St Aignan 2nd October. Hope that the weather hasn't become too chilly by then. I admire your garden and all of its produce. Some years ago my entire potato crop yielded enough potatoes to fill the palm of my hand. Last season was the first time that our tomato crop was so abundant that we had tomatoes to share. You certainly have green thumb.

  3. thanks for the great series on Cantal cheesemaking! Wow! I just loved it. Especially the cows.

    My buddy milks his cows in the field - usually tied to his kid's swing set. Their calves actually cause the momma's to "hold" their milk so they are kind of a pain.

    There has been a trend for my artisan cheeses here in the State.. but the rules are very very strict, as you can imagine.

    thanks again!

  4. I think it's interesting to see a Frech recipe for a Greek dish.

  5. The Moussaka sounds delish!

    If there's any freezer room, you could chop some tomatoes, bag them in small quantities. Then, for winter soups just take out what you need and drop them into the mix. I've found that method better than freezing whole.

  6. Thanks Ken! See? Everyone is cutting the.. um.. curds! I get an "F-" for goat milk mozzarella.. I just can't get it right. But I'll take the tips here and see if I get better results. Or maybe I just need a water buffalo...

    And thanks for the post on moussaka.. I haven't made it for years but I think I might give it a whirl. The best moussaka I had was in Paris, of all places.

  7. I love the moussaka recipe. I have vegetarian kids, so will substitute the meat with different types of veggie burgers mashed together. One must be creative in this world! Your veggies look so wonderful!

  8. Hi Jackie, I'd add some mushrooms to the veggie burger if I were doing it -- if the kids will eat mushrooms.

    Ann, so far the weather has been very good, in spite of (or because of) the cool mornings. But you never know. Rain is supposed to come tomorrow and temps (near 80F today) will fall. Don't worry though, October weather can be very nice.


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