Books, it seems, take a lot of time. Writing them, sure. But then there’s the promoting and marketing of them too, which requires one to plan writing, events, classes, and parties, all hopefully to be published or take place around the time the book comes out. My oh my, have I been doing a heck of a lot of that this month. Since my book comes out in November, I’m organizing it now. Thankfully, Perigee/Penguin has supplied me with a top-notch publicist to help, because, oh lordy, I had no idea how much work it was!
So whenever I have a chance to relax, I do a little cooking. As the summer heat forges on ahead, I’ve been thinking about ways to bring seasonal produce to the cheese plate. Tomatoes, I’m looking at you.
Cheese has a wide circle of friends. An extremely social animal, it loves hanging out with seasonal produce, honey, olives, salami, sugary tidbits, and pretty much anything preserved. One of the cheese’s closest friends is marmalade. A sweet-savory concoction, marmalade provides that extra bite that a jam lacks. Although traditionally made from citrus fruit, modern marmalade can be made from vegetables (or fruits that taste like vegetables, hey there, sneaky tomato fruit!). One of my favorite types of marmalade for cheeses- goat cheeses especially- is in a tomato marmalade. I make mine with heirlooms, a little butter for richness, herbs, vinegar, brown sugar, and oil-cured black olives.
Make a large batch and give out in the height of tomato season, or refrigerate and use within a week or two. Chevre, crottins, fromage blanc, teleme, ricotta, crencenza, …. imagine any of these slathered with sweet, punchy, tomato-olive marmalade over toasted focaccia or crostini. Mmm Hmmm.
Tomato & Olive Marmalade Recipe
2 ¼ pound multi-colored heirloom tomatoes
2 small green tomatoes
½ teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons salted butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons balsamic or pomegranate vinegar
15 sprigs thyme
1 cup black oil-cured olives, pitted
Preheat oven to 275 degrees
Core the tomatoes and cut into halves and quarters. Place skin side down on a roasting pan and season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Top the tomatoes with thin slices of butter, sprinkle evenly with sugar and vinegar, and scatter whole thyme sprigs over the dish. Roast in the oven for 45 to 55 minutes until the tomato skins are slightly wrinkly and the tomatoes have lost a fair amount of water and sweetened considerably. Let cool.
Once cool, chop the tomatoes into small and medium sized pieces, remove the whole sprigs of thyme, and save any excess cooking liquid. Put the tomatoes in a large mixing bowl. Roughly chop the olives and add to the bowl. Add as much cooking liquid to the bowl as you’d like- I like a juicier marmalade, many like it drier. Keep in the fridge and bring to room temperature before eating.