Tag Archives: Summer herbs

Heirloom Tomato Harvest

HeirloomTomatoesThere are so many delicious ways to enjoy the tomato harvest. Heirloom tomatoes are especially fun to cook with and they look beautiful displayed in a rustic wooden bowl on a kitchen counter. Or if you choose heirloom tomato varieties with different colors, create a vibrant centerpiece just by arranging them in a simple glass dish on the dining table.

Tomatoes have a long and interesting history. The fruit (yes, tomatoes are technically a fruit if you didn’t know that already) was already being enjoyed by the Aztecs more than 1300 years ago. The Aztecs called it ‘tomatl’  – that’s where our modern day name comes from.

But tomatoes have also been known as Love Apples and Poison Apples. It’s crazy how the humble tomato can have two such different reputations!

TomatoharvestSpanish conquistadors and explorers introduced the tomato to Europe in the early 16th century, and that’s when rich Europeans started to dub the fruit ‘poison apples.’ People got sick and died after eating them. However, it wasn’t the tomatoes making the rich folk sick. It was the pewter plates they ate from. Tomatoes have a high acidity which reacted with the pewter to leach the lead out, causing lead poisoning.

The French called tomatoes pommes d’amour meaning love apples, because they thought the tomatoes were aphrodisiacs. (Then again, is there ANYTHING that the French don’t make romantic?)

A simple gazpacho with tomatoes is perfect for hot summer days. The cold soup is refreshing and helps keep you hydrated. For extra flavor, it’s great to throw a few heirloom tomatoes in too. There are many gazpacho recipes, but here’s the simple version we like.

Gazpacho Soup Recipe:

5 pounds ripe and juicy tomatoes
1 cup of diced red onions
1 large cucumber
1/3 cup of chopped basil leaves
Juice of 1 or 2 limes
Salt, pepper, and finely diced chile peppers to taste.

Skin the tomatoes. (Drop them in hot water for a few seconds till the skins wrinkle and you can slip them off with your thumbs.) Then core and seed the tomatoes – if you do that over a sieve over a bowl, it will catch the seeds but let the juice go through. You don’t want to waste a drop of that delicious juice! Roughly chop about half of the tomatoes. Put the other half in a blender and liquidize to soup consistency.
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and take out the seeds with a spoon, then dice the cucumber. (Skin the cucumber first with a potato peeler if it is very rough skin.)
Then combine all the ingredients, and let chill for an hour or overnight. Go light on the seasoning – once the flavors have blended you can taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!

Caprese in a shot glassAlthough these don’t look like heirloom tomatoes, these mini insalata caprese in shot glasses are so adorable. They’d be great for a party or a wedding. Just pour some tomato juice in a shot glass (spiked with vodka or not!) and then add the skewered tomato, flourish of basil leaves, and mozzarella ball.

If you like a Bloody Mary, then also check out my Uncle Dick’s Bloody Mary recipe.

There are so many different types of heirloom tomato, and the colorful ones often seem to be the most tasty. Try the black-tinted Black Prince tomato, the stripy Green Zebra tomatoes, or the golden pear-shaped Beam’s yellow pear heirloom tomato, which dates to the early 1800s.

red and yellow heirloom tomatoThe Italian word for tomatoes – pomodoro – actually means golden apple. Some say that is because the earliest types of tomato taken to Italy were the golden yellow varieties. The red tomato became more popular later.

You say to-MAY-to and I say to-MAR-to….. However you say it, I hope you’re enjoying the tomato harvest this year. If you have any heirloom tomato recipes you love, share them with us in the comments box below!

AimeeAvatarAimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her husband and best friend, Greg. Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way. She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Find us on Facebook or connect with Or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

Serve Up Summer Herbs in Style…The Old-Fashioned Way

Many of our customers have traditional-style kitchens, and we know many are keen gardeners too. So let’s look at some traditional ways to serve up summer herbs in style! Many of these old-fashioned ideas for culinary herbs are great for entertaining – they’ll look charming on your dining table. Or just enjoy them for a meal with the family.

These gourmet treats can cost a fortune if you buy them ready-made in the store, but they’re easy enough to make yourself. Plus, it’s fun – and very fragrant!

Chill out on a summery day! Chill out on a warm day by sipping iced mint tea. Just steep a generous handful of mint leaves in hot water and refrigerate. Strain the mint before serving in a pretty glass pitcher. Add a dash of sugar to taste if you have a sweet tooth, or squeeze a spritz of lemon for a really summery zing! Garnish with a couple more mint leaves. You can also make your own sparkling herbal water with summer herbs including mint, lavender, and lemon verbena.

Summer herbs are fantastic in oil and vinegar infusionsHerb-infused vinegars and oils are delicious in salad dressings. Pop aromatic summer herbs such as rosemary, thyme, tarragon or dill into a sterilized jar with a nice quality vinegar, like red or white wine vinegar. Be lavish with the herbs – if the flavor is too strong you can always dilute it later to taste. Leave for 24 hours to two weeks in a cool, dark place. An occasional taste test will tell you if it’s ready to rock your romaine or put a frisson in your frisée!

Cooking with summer herbs, the traditional wayFor a herb-infused oil, opt for a good olive oil and follow the same method as for vinegars. Basil and chives are especially lovely summer herbs to give a punch of flavor to oils. You can use the oils too in marinades for meat or to cook vegetables, like these tasty and colorful roast beets with herb oil.

 

Summer herbs in the gardenIf you’re not sure which herbs grow best in your area, many public gardens have kitchen gardens and herb gardens, so you can see what flourishes there. This Friday May 10, 2013, is National Public Gardens Day. Thanks to Better Homes and Gardens magazine and the American Public Gardens Association, you can get free admission to participating public gardens and botanic gardens across the country for up to 10 people. Just print out your free tickets here.

All this talk of summer herbs is making me hungry. As the saying goes: So many herbs, so little thyme!

Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina.  Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!