Monday, January 30, 2012

Tomato Jam, Eggplant Crème, & The Savory Tomato Muffin Adventure

If you didn't see my New Year's post, check out the veggie napoleons. They rocked. Perfect combo of flavors, absolutely delicious ingredients, and all veggies- so a nice change from the typical heavy dips and cheese & crackers people usually bring to cocktail parties. But with a roasted tomato on the bottom, they were slightly tricky to eat. I wanted to do something more creative then just put the veggies on top of bruschetta bread (although, that does taste good). I decided to attempt a reinvention of the veggie napoleons (ummm.... have I been watching too much Top Chef?!)

This is what I came up with: savory tomato muffins with a tomato jam filling and the eggplant mousse topping (unchanged from the original recipe). A totally different appetizer that's filling but healthy.

These were easy to make, came out ok (I ate & mildly enjoyed a few mini muffins), but here's a hint: whenever you see "adventure" in one of my recipe posts, it usually means I screwed something up. In this case, I think the muffins weren't the best pairing for the jam and eggplant topping after all.

So, instead of telling you how to make something that I won't be making again, here's a new (as in, not previously seen on my blog) component that was a success: the tomato jam. It's easy to make, and could go well as a spread on breads, possibly on tofu or lentils, or with veggies. It's just slightly sweet but with a bit of acidity. The recipe came from a cooking class I took a while living in Boston, and was originally intended to be paired with turkey medallions..... so....who's up for tofu medallions?! ;-)

Recipe from BCAE's Spa Cuisine At Home Cooking Class, Chef Nadine
Tomato Jam Ingredients:
  • 4 plum or roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar (white balsamic works)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Tomato Jam Instructions:
  1. Chop the tomatoes and place in a saucepan; add in other ingredients.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer until a thick consistency is reached (about 45 min for the full batch above; I halved the recipe and it only took about 20 minutes).
And yes, I'm going to post more pictures of the muffins, because I like these pictures ;-)
Assembly of the mini muffins: I simply hollowed out 1/4 tsp and added 1/4 tsp of the jam. Follow by piping the eggplant mousse, and garnishing with a small basil leaf.

The eggplant crème I originally posted here. Since I didn't put the exact ingredients & instructions in that post, here goes (recipe from Vegan Yum Yum):
Eggplant Creme Ingredients:
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup raw unsalted cashews (which I soaked in water for about 30-45 minutes)
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
Eggplant Creme Instructions: 
  1. Cut the ends off of the eggplant and peel off the skin. Cut into cubes and place on top of paper towls on a plate in a single layer (you will probably need to do this twice to fit all the eggplant). Microwave for 8 minutes to remove excess water; repeat for the rest of the eggplant as needed.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and saute the eggplant until tender and golden brown, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add the eggplant and all the other ingredients to a food processor and blend until creamy. Note that I soaked my cashews first (I simply use a little less nuts and fill the measuring cup with nuts & water), and include the water in the processor, since it helps to make the mix very creamy.
  4. Season with salt to taste. To serve, use a piping bag or simply spread!
I think this could also work really well as a spread in a veggie sandwich.

Last and least: the muffins. Actually, they could be fine on their own as an accompaniment to a tofu scramble or savory brunch. But for this recipe idea, the pairing was a little dense for the mousse topping and didn't balance the sweet jam. The flavors just didn't all come together. Given I don't plan on making these again, I'll do what I usually don't do: here's the link to the recipe I based my muffins off of. (I almost always copy full recipes in case a link ever changes, since this blog grew from my wanting to be able to easily share & access recipes I use from anywhere. But I always give credit!).  I did also make a few minor changes: First, I halved the recipe, since I didn't want a big commitment. I also only used 1 Tbsp of oil, and I did not halve the tomato. Second, I used 1/2 chickpea flour (yeah! my first time using!) and 1/2 whole wheat flour. Third, I added 1 Tbsp of regular sugar.

Overall, these were fine, but not a real success. I'm sharing mainly because: 1) I like my pictures ;-) and 2) the tomato jam and eggplant mousse are good components to use elsewhere.

As for the "reinvention" of the veggie napoleons, I recommend sticking to the original!


  1. I have always wanted to make tomato jam during the summer when tomatoes are abundant - thanks for sharing your recipe!

  2. I like the pictures too - the muffins definitely make for a creative and fancy presentation, so its too bad they didn't meet your expectations taste-wise!

    1. Yeah, I'm still wondering if there isn't a way to do this better... maybe a lighter bread? Regular flour? Or just keep as the original I guess! Too many other recipes on my to-do list...including ones you are posting- I am really hoping we'll host a superbowl party instead of going to a bar, purely so I can make stuff ;-)

    2. Hmm...maybe a tart or puff pastry base would be better instead of the muffins - just an idea! I agree, I've never gone out to watch Super Bowl, I enjoy sitting on my own couch with homemade food much better!


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