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Tomatoes And Corn

Contributed by: Jennifer A. Wickes

The History of the Tomato

Tomatoes are apart of the nightshade family, which include potatoes and eggplants. Tomatoes originally come from South America and were introduced to the European cultures, via the Spanish. The Europeans were not open to trying tomatoes, as a lot of members of the nightshade family are poisonous. Later, the French tried these tomatoes and began to call them "pommes d'amour", apples of love. They felt that tomatoes carried aphrodisiac qualities! It wasn't until the 1900's where the tomato gained popularity in the United States.

Tomato Varieties

There are many different types of tomatoes, including, but not limited to: Beefsteak tomatoes and Globe tomatoes, excellent raw or cooked, Plum (or Roma) tomatoes come in yellow and red varieties, Grape tomatoes are baby romas, Green tomatoes, excellent for relishes, frying and broiling, and Cherry tomatoes and Yellow Pear tomatoes, great as a garnish or for salads.

How to Choose a Tomato

Tomato season is June through August. The best tomatoes available for purchase are vine-ripened tomatoes. Unfortunately, these are the most perishable, which is a reason why most supermarkets purchase green tomatoes and allow them to ripen at the store. These, unfortunately, will NEVER have the flavor or texture of a vine-ripened tomato. Look for firm tomatoes, with no blemishes, a distinct tomato aroma, that gives slightly to pressure, and should be heavier than it appears.

How Do You Store a Tomato?

At room temperature. They should NEVER be placed in a refrigerator or placed in direct sunlight.

If I Have An Unripened Tomato, How Do I Ripen It?

Place in a pierced paper bag with an apple at room temperature for several days.

The Nutritional Qualities of a Tomato

Tomatoes are high in fiber, Vitamins A, B & C, potassium, iron and phosphorus. A medium tomato only has 35 calories.

Suggested Wines

Depending on what you serve with your tomato dish, try drinking a Chardonnay, a Fume Blanc, a Chenin Blanc, a Zinfandel or a Syrah.

Recipe

Salsa

copyright by Jennifer A. Wickes

  • 4 tomatillos (Mexican green tomatoes, if none are in your area, use more tomatoes)
  • 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 celery rib, thinly sliced
  • 2 jalapeņo peppers (or more for heat)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1-tablespoon cumin
  • 1-teaspoon salt
  • 1-tablespoon lime (or lemon) juice
  • 1-cup corn (optional)
  • 1-cup black beans (optional)

Peel tomatillos (like an onion). Put in a pot and bring to a boil. Boil 10 minutes.

Mince tomatoes, onions, celery, jalapeņos (if extra heat is desired, use seeds), garlic and cilantro.

Crush tomatillos and add to tomato mixture.

Add salt, cumin and lime (lemon) juice.

Mix thoroughly. If "optional" items are desired, add now, and mix again.

Let the salsa sit over night.

Serve with chips, eggs, grilled meats, tacos, burritos or fajitas.

Makes 4 cups.

The History of Corn

Most Europeans never heard of corn until the first settlers came to America and met the Native Americans. Before that, corn was a generic name for any cereal grain. The settlers loved this vegetable as every part of the plant could be used for something: husks are used for tamales, the silk for teas, the kernels to eat, the stalk for fodder. Plus so many products can be made from this plant too: corn flour, corn meal, corn oil, corn starch, corn syrup, bourbon and whiskey. Corn Varieties The two most popular varieties are: White corn: smaller and sweeter kernels, Yellow corn: larger, fuller-flavored kernels.

How to Choose Corn

Corn season is May through September. It is best to use the corn right after it has been picked as the sugars in corn gradually convert to starch, thus making the corn less sweet as time goes by. Ears should be bright green, tightly fitting around the cob. The silk should be a golden brown. The kernels should be plump and juicy coming all the way to the tip of the cob in tight rows. How Do You Store Corn? Corn should be cooked as soon as it is purchased and eaten that day, but it can be stored in the refrigerator up to one day. Strip off the husk and silk immediately before cooking, and not before.

If I Have Unripened Corn, How Do I Ripen It?

You cannot. Throw it away, or wait until it ripens before you pick it. >The Nutritional Qualities of Corn

Corn is high in fiber, and contains iron and Vitamins A & C. A medium ear of corn contains 140 calories.

Spices for Corn

  • chives
  • cilantro
  • cumin
  • dill
  • fennel
  • mace
  • marjoram
  • mint
  • oregano
  • parsley
  • saffron
  • savory
  • tarragon
  • thyme

Equivalency

  • 2 medium ears of corn = 1 - 1 1/4 cups kernel
  • 10 oz. frozen corn = 1 3/4 cups corn

Trivia

The Spanish and the French feed corn to their cows and pigs in order to fatten them up for the meat industry. So, how much corn are you eating?

Suggested Wines

Serve a wine that would accompanythe main dish or focus on the spices used.

Recipe

Roasted Corn On The Cob

copyright by Jennifer A. Wickes

  • 4 ears of corn (white or yellow)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper
  • salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Dress ears of corn with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish and cook 45 minutes in the oven.

Yields: 4 servings

This article was originally published at Suite 101.
Jennifer Wickes is the editor at "Cookbook Reviews" and "Cooking With The Seasons", which has been voted to be one of the Top 100 Culinary Sites on the Internet! For more information about Jennifer Wickes or her columns, please go to: http://www.suite101.com/profile.cfm/CulinaryJen


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