How to Eat Summer Food All Year


Photo by Regina Charboneau

This is the time of year that I start thinking about preserving all the pleasures of summer. I guess that is what canning and preserving is all about--trying to put summer in a bottle to get us through the other seasons. I know I never like to see summer end. Maybe there is a reason the days are longer and we seem to have more energy this time of year. It is the time to store for the months to come.

If the effort is put out during the summer when tomatoes, peaches, and cucumbers are at their peaks, then the rewards come later. Opening a jar of brandied peaches in November and topping them with some crème fraiche and cinnamon-sugar is a reminder of summer but hearty enough to fit into a fall menu. How easy it is to enhance a pork roast or a fish dish with something you canned during its peak season, making entertaining simple.

Sometimes those small dishes that have three to four ingredients are the most memorable.

As I have told you, I love doing buffets at my dinner parties. Part of creating a memorable buffet is having little dishes of relishes, sauces, chutneys, and even flavored butter. Sometimes those small dishes that have three to four ingredients are the most memorable.

I know everyone knows about fried green tomatoes, but green tomatoes also make some of the best relishes and chutneys. One of my favorite recipes out of my last cookbook is skewers of green tomatoes and shrimp with a green peppercorn-orange glaze. Very few ingredients often provide an amazing dish full of flavor. I make a green tomato relish that is wonderful on top of a thick hamburger with sharp cheddar cheese or a grilled hot dog. The same relish seems downright elegant when served with roast pork loin stuffed with andouille sausage and served with scalloped yams.

Here is a recipe with very few ingredients worth putting away for the fall: Orange-green tomato relish. If you're not into "canning," just put in zip-lock bags and freeze. Canning is really easy, though, and this recipe looks pretty in a jar.

Orange-Green Tomato Relish

Makes 9-10 cups of relish

• 8 medium green tomatoes
    • 3 medium vidalia onions
    • 12 oz orange marmalade
    • 4 cups brown sugar
    • 1 cup cider vinegar
    • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Core bottom of green tomato and cut into quarters. Peel onion and cut into quarters.

In food processor, chop green tomato and onion. Do not puree, but chop into "pickle-relish-size" pieces.

In a 4 quart heavy sauce put all ingredients in at once. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes, stirring until blended and sugar begins to dissolve.

Turn the heat to medium and cook for 40 minutes. The relish should be thick. If it does not seem "syrupy" then cook 10 minutes more.

Can or put cooled relish in zip-lock and freeze. Orange-green tomato relish will last refrigerated for two weeks.