Sunday, December 1, 2013

annie's sun-dried tomatoes

May I introduce you to my new favourite dip?

Only . . . it's not quite a dip.

It's more like a soft, plump piece of the most flavourful sun-dried tomato you can imagine hanging out next to a golden piece of garlic that spreads like butter when it hits your cracker.

The sun-dried tomato and the garlic have a bit of very good olive oil* to keep them fluid, and that's it.

I like to serve this concoction with a little wooden spoon from Japan that allows it to work in its magical twilight between liquid and solid.

You spoon it onto your cracker or crisp bread, take a bite before the oil dribbles too far down your chin, and head back for more. (But someone else has now got the spoon, so you also get to learn patience. Bonus.)

This sort-of-dip has an unusual technique. First you let the garlic soften and get golden in that good olive oil, then stir in the spices, then a bit of plum and balsamic vinegars. Finally, you stir in some plump rehydrated tomatoes.

All those additions quickly make friends and that humble sun-dried tomato becomes (so I think) the very essence of what a sun-dried tomato should be.

Many, many thanks to my friend Haruko who first introduced me to this recipe. She brought it to book club and I begged for the recipe. At the next meeting, she came with a hand-written purple recipe card.

Haruko calls this Annie's Sun-Dried Tomatoes, because her dear friend Annie gave her the recipe. Turns out, it's originally from Wilderness Cuisine by Carole Latimer. (You better believe I am going to request Wilderness Cuisine at the library right now. There. Done.)

I think this is the kind of recipe that gets around a lot between friends.

* I like like this Sicilian olive oil, which is surprisingly reasonable for its big flavour.

one year ago: cheese ball!
two years ago: spiced ginger mounds
three years ago: walnut slugs and spicy cajun almonds
four years ago: seafood chowder for a cold autumn day

annie's sun-dried tomatoes
slightly adapted from wilderness cuisine by carole latimer
yields about 1 cup

3/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes (dry)
6 tbsp. good olive oil
 10 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. salt
5 whole peppercorns
2 tbsp. ume (Japanese plum) or rice vinegar
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Cut the garlic into thick strips (in half for a small clove, maybe 4 or 5 for a big clove). Gently heat a pan over low heat. Add the olive oil and garlic and cook for about 15 minutes. Make sure they're not burning: you just want them to slowly get golden.

While the garlic is cooking, bring the sun-dried tomatoes to a boil in a small pot with enough water for them to swim around. Let them boil for a couple minutes to rehydrate. Drain. Put the sundried tomatoes on a cutting board so they can cool down a bit. Once they are cool enough to touch, cut them into long ragged strips.

Measure the spices and add to the garlic once it's golden. Stir and cook five more minutes. Add the vinegars and cook two more minutes. Stir in the cut sun-dried tomatoes. Serve with crackers or crisp bread, or set aside to serve at room temperature. Store in the fridge if leaving out for more than a couple hours. Set out an hour ahead of time to bring to room temperature.

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