Since the tomato is a member of the nightshade family, it was slow to gain acceptance on the American dinner table; many believed it contained the same poisonous properties as its cousins in the same family. However, in the early 1800's, an eccentric New Jersey man Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson brought them back from a trip overseas. Announcing an amazing display of courage, he shocked his hometown by consuming an entire basket of tomatoes in front of a crowd of spectators, who probably expected him to die afterward. He didn't, and interest in the tomato grew. It is an excellent source of Vitamin C and a good source of Vitamin A, potassium and iron. It also has the chemical lycopene, which helps reduce the risk for prostate, breast, endometrial, colon, lung and stomach cancers.
Spicy Tomato Jam
4 large lemons
5 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cups light muscovado sugar or packed light brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 scant teaspoons red pepper flakes
4 small cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
8 1/8 -inch-thick slices peeled ginger
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the lemons in wide strips, leaving the bitter white pith behind. Squeeze the lemon juice through a strainer into a large, wide saucepan. Add the lemon zest, tomatoes, sugar, cumin, 4 teaspoons salt, the red pepper flakes, cinnamon sticks, cloves and ginger. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are juicy and the sugar dissolves, 15 to 20 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are dark and syrupy and a candy or deep-fry thermometer registers 220 degrees F, 40 to 50 minutes (the timing may vary depending on the juiciness of the tomatoes). Reduce the heat if the mixture starts to scorch. Discard the cinnamon sticks.
Meanwhile, sterilize four 8-ounce canning jars and lids. Fill the jars with the tomato mixture, leaving 1/4 inch headspace, then seal and process.
Tomato and Sweet Onion Salad
1 pound ripe mixed tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 pint Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 small sweet onion (such as Vidalia or Maui), thinly sliced t
1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup 1/2-inch pieces fresh chives
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Combine tomatoes, onion, basil, chives, oil, vinegar, and sugar in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
Salad can be made up to 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill.
Tomato Cobbler with Gruyere Biscuits
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 pounds cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
For the biscuit topping
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese (2 1/4 ounces), plus 1 tablespoon, for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, plus more for brushing
Make the filling: Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool.
Toss onion mixture, tomatoes, flour, and red-pepper flakes with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and some pepper.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make the biscuit topping: Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or rub in with your fingers until small clumps form. Stir in cheese, then add cream, stirring with a fork to combine until dough forms. (Dough will be slightly sticky.)
Transfer tomato mixture to a 2-quart baking dish (2 inches deep). Spoon 7 clumps of biscuit dough (about 1/2 cup each) over top in a circle, leaving center open. Brush dough with cream, and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon cheese. Bake until tomatoes are bubbling in the center and biscuits are golden brown, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Let cool for 20 minutes.