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Recipes for Realtors: What to do with green tomatoes…and figgy butter and plantain crackers

This remarkable tomato butter (marmalade) will be a recipe you repeat year after year. It’s made with your green beefsteak tomatoes, fresh on the vine, not yet fully ripened or, alternately, left on the vine at the end of the season. Gift package it and my green tomato butter is the perfect gift for a friend who doesn’t cook.

If you don’t have a garden, buy a large beefsteak tomato plant and grow it in a large container on your patio or on your balcony. All you need is a few hours of sun and a little water. The plant will nearly take care of itself and might surprise you with an abundance of produce.

Spread the green tomato butter like you would spread mayo on a roast beef sandwich or add it to a crushed beef rolled sun-dried tortilla. See my tortilla fillings here.

Add a dollop of green tomato butter to a grilled crostini or use as a tapas topper with your favourite goat cheese.

Make a green tomato bruschetta, served on a grilled slice of French stick or Italian bread and just before serving add a little green tomato butter, dotted on the fresh chopped green tomatoes. Sprinkle grated rock-hard leftover parmesan cheese over top and pop under the broiler for just seconds.

Add a dollop of green tomato butter, floating on a dab of sour cream, just at serving plate time, to my freshly made green tomato soup recipe. The secret is the cloves.

Your freezer has as many frozen tomatoes in it as it will hold and you’ve eaten so many fresh ones in salads and soups that you think you’ll turn into a tomato if you eat another one. But winter creeps up faster than you realize and we’ll have to resort to buying imported or tinned tomatoes.

Use up the last of your garden crop by turning it into green tomato butter and tomato chutney. While one is sweet, the other is tart. Or freeze the base for green tomato cream soup. You require no special tools, just a very large pot.

It’s easy to half the recipe.

Note that green tomatoes are just red tomatoes that haven’t ripened yet.

Green tomato butter

  • 10 lbs. nearly ripe green tomatoes
  • 2 cups white balsamic vinegar
  • 6 cups of white sugar
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 T ground cloves – (I prefer McCormick brand)
  • 1 t cayenne pepper
  • 1 T ground cinnamon

Remove any stock handles and leaves. Rinse tomatoes well to remove any sandy soil. Put tomatoes and white vinegar into an uncovered large pot, bring to a soft boil, and cook down on simmer, stirring occasionally, until half the liquid evaporates. This could take up to three hours. Be patient. The fragrance will fill the house with a delightful scent that is familiar to canning season.

Add the sugar and the spices and simmer another half hour. Stir occasionally to make sure the sugary mix doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Concentrate. The ingredients will form a jam- like consistency.

Pack, hot, in uncovered hot sterilized jars. Allow to cool completely and cover. I use paraffin wax to seal after the butter has cooled completely under a clean white cotton bleachable tea towel. Store glass bottles of green tomato butter in a cool, dark place. This recipe makes enough to fill nine or 10 small jars.

If you have not made green tomato butter before, you definitely will want to try this recipe. It’s so simple to make and I cannot think of a better way to describe it than to just say it is plain old-fashioned “delicious.” My green tomato butter is superb as a fondue accompaniment to roast beef. It is also good with cold sliced beef, veal, seafood and poultry.

Served as a side dish on grilled crostini with my steak tartare, this green tomato butter adds a little extra special gourmet touch.

Figgy butter – and uses

A good way to use up figs that have been marinating a long time in your brandy bottle in the fridge (they get a little mushy if marinating a long time):

Mash a few figs marinated in cognac. Sprinkle with just a few grains of salt. Spritz with white balsamic vinegar. (The best white balsamic I found several years ago was at Fortinos. Their own house brand. Sometimes not so easily found; stock up on it when there’s plenty. If you go back to get more, it likely will be all gone.)

At this stage, if you add grape seed oil, you have a great salad dressing; just add a few grinds of peppercorns. Toss fresh sliced peaches over baby spinach leaves or mesclun (peaches love pepper) and/or strawberries. Using a potato peeler, top with a little fresh Parmesan cheese.

Stir mashed marinated figs into a pound of softened butter. Whip the butter just a little with a hand-held mixer. Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice and add just a pinch of fine lemon zest. Stir in a teaspoon of unadulterated brandy from the liquor bottle.

This “figgy butter” is great spread on thick moist slices of fresh pound cake. Or even use the figgy butter as the butter in a recipe for a walnut loaf.

For using the figgy butter in between cake layers, add a little icing sugar just like you would for making butter icing.

This mixture is great spread between layers of genoise, alternated with stiff Chantilly cream and pastry cream (different than pudding because it has cooked flour in it as a stabilizer; it’s what is used in éclairs and cream puffs).

Using a long, serrated bread knife, split a genoise into three equal layers. Stick large toothpicks around the cake as cutting guidelines. A string of unwaxed dental floss comes in handy.

Spritz the base bottom layer with cognac or drizzle with a little fig cognac marinating jus. Between the bottom two layers, spread the figgy butter icing quite thick. Between the middle and top layer, spread the pastry cream. On the top layer, spread the thick Chantilly cream.

Position three split-in-half small fresh figs like a teepee, in the centre of the top layer cream, to decorate, so people know what to expect.

Serve cold in generous wedges in a puddle of crème anglaise. Going overboard? Serve a split fresh fig on the serving plate. Float a large fresh mint leaf.

Genoise is a dream come true to work with. Makes a great jelly roll or log, too. White or chocolate. Or cafe au lait.

If you want a spectacular way to use the marinated cognac figgy butter, mix it with mashed blue cheese and place a teaspoon on each hot seared ready-to-eat lamb chop, or on a medium rare filet mignon.

First deglaze your sauté pan with the same cognac brandy and drizzle drippings over each serving.

A dollop of figgy butter is great on small pork loin medallions, also. Even on skinless chicken breasts, just at serving time. After you have deglazed the sauté pan (keep the stuck-on bits), in the same pan, scald a cup of cream. Let rise and fall three times to thicken and reduce.

Make a cream puddle on each oversize presentation serving plate and position the meat or poultry off centre.

Drizzled over french-cut green beans that are just parboiled to retain their green colour, this figgy butter is a great surprise.

To complete any of the serving plates, a wonderful heaping serving of my orgasmic mashed whipped potatoes. (I didn’t name that recipe, but I surely did make it…)

Want to really impress your guests? Drop a few dollops of cold figgy butter on top of fresh cooked lobster claw and tail meat, filling up a fresh homemade lobster roll, on a base of crispy shredded iceberg lettuce.

Just another reminder: do not overcook the lobster; it will continue to cook in its own heat. Make certain the lobster is just barely cooked. Four to five minutes should do.

If you are a lobster lover, there’s nothing quite like it. I had never heard of doing such a thing, but one day just decided to try it. How do you spell WOW!

If you don’t drink cognac, as I don’t, but love the delightful aroma (so I cook with it), a nice flute of really good champagne goes nicely with the lobster roll. As does a wonderful bubbly pink champagne colour Royal de Neuville crackling rosé, if available.

Sadly, this product has been delisted in our area for a number of years, but I understand it is still available in Quebec, at least in restaurants. But it is illegal to buy it there and carry it across provincial boundaries. Who knew?  When I was teaching we bought it by the case through the importer; we gave a lot of it away. The Royal de Neuville pink crackling rosé served in champagne flutes makes a beautiful table service and marries well with all courses.

Enjoy true gourmet treats. Share my originals with your friends and family by gifting them my hard bound or soft bound cookbook… coming soon!

© From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks ~ Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience